What is Nazism?
Nazism is the ideology and actions associated with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany and is officially known as National Socialism. Hitlerism was a term used frequently during Hitler’s rise to power in Europe in the 1930s.
Nazism is a fascist movement that rejects liberal democracy and the parliamentary system. Its beliefs include virulent antisemitism, anti-communism, scientific racism, and the application of eugenics. Pan-Germanism and the ethno-nationalist Völkisch movement, which had been a key component of German nationalism since the late 19th century, were the origins of its extreme nationalism.
The phrase “National Socialism” was coined in an attempt to construct a nationalist conception of socialism as a counter to both Marxist international socialism and free-market capitalism.
Nazism attacked cosmopolitan internationalism, rejected Marxist conceptions of class warfare and universal equality, and tried to persuade all segments of the new German society. In the two Reichstag general elections of 1932, the Nazi Party received the greatest proportion of the popular vote, making them by far the largest party in the legislature, albeit still short of an outright majority.
Because none of the parties were willing or capable of forming a government in alliance,
Rise of Nazism after 1930s:
- The National Socialist German Workers’ Party (or Nazi Party for short) was a minor party on the radical right of the German political spectrum before the Great Depression in 1929–1930. The Nazis received only 2.6 percent of the national vote in the Reichstag (parliament) elections on May 2, 1928, a significant decrease from 1924, when they received 3% of the vote.
- Following the election, Weimar Germany was controlled by a “Grand Coalition” of Germany’s Social Democratic, Catholic Center, German Democratic, and German People’s parties for the first six months of the economic crisis.
- Germany was in a bad mood from 1930 to 1933. The country had been heavily struck by the global economic downturn, with millions of people out of job. Millions of others joined the unemployed in linking the Depression to Germany’s national humiliation following World War II defeat.
- Many Germans saw the parliamentary government coalition as ineffective and incapable of resolving the economic crisis. The rise of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party was aided by widespread economic misery, fear, and the perception of worse times ahead, as well as anger and impatience with the government’s apparent failure to manage the crisis.
How did Adolf Hitler happen?
- Following a series of electoral victories for the Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany in 1933. He ruled with absolute power until his suicide in April 1945. When Hitler came to power, he destroyed Germany’s democratic institutions and turned it into a war machine bent on conquering Europe for the benefit of the so-called Aryan race.
- On September 1, 1939, his invasion of Poland began the European phase of World War II. During the war, Nazi military forces rounded up and executed 11 million people they considered to be inferior or undesirable.
- As Führer (leader or guide), Hitler had absolute power, but he could not have risen to power or perpetrated such atrocities on his own. He enjoyed the active support of Germany’s formidable officer class as well as millions of ordinary citizens.
How were Hitler and Nazis possible?
- Hitler rose to power through the Nazi Party, which he founded after returning from World War I as a wounded veteran of the annihilating trench warfare. The harsh conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, which the Allies forced the new German government, the Weimar Republic, to accept along with an obligation to pay $33 billion in reparations, enraged and humiliated him and other loyal Germans.
- Germany had to hand over its prized overseas colonies as well as valuable swaths of her homeland to France and Poland. The German army was drastically reduced, and the country was prohibited from having submarines or an air force.
- Payment of the crippling reparations de-stabilized the economy, resulting in disastrous, out-of-control inflation. By September 1923, four billion German marks were worth the same as one dollar. A wheelbarrow was required to transport enough paper money to purchase a loaf of bread.
- Hitler, a captivating public speaker, addressed political gatherings in Munich, pushing for a new German order to replace an ineffective and wasteful democratic administration. This New Order was distinguished by an authoritarian political system based on a leadership structure in which power flowed downward from a supreme national leader. The Nazi Party’s ultimate goal was to grab power through Germany’s parliamentary system, install Hitler as dictator, and build a community of racially pure Germans who would follow their Führer on a campaign of ethnic cleansing and world conquest.
Nazis Rise to Power:
- Alfred Rosenberg took over as provisional leader of the Nazi Party while Hitler was in prison following the Munich Putsch in 1923. Rosenberg was a poor leader, and the party split over important topics.
- The Munich Agreement’s failure Hitler had learned from the Putsch that he would not be able to seize power by force. As a result, Hitler decided to change tactics and concentrate on gaining democratic support for his party and gaining power.
- Following his release from prison on December 20, 1924, Hitler persuaded Bavaria’s Chancellor to lift the Nazi Party’s prohibition.
- Hitler convened the Bamberg Conference in February 1926. Hitler intended to bring the party back together and lay out a strategy for the coming years. While there were some minor divisions, Hitler was mostly successful in bringing the socialist and nationalist wings of the party together. Hitler rebuilt the Nazi Party in the same year to make it more efficient.
New Framework of the Nazi Party:
- It was a system that split Germany into Gaue regions. A Gauleiter was the leader of each Gaue. Each Gaue was then subdivided into Kreise, or subsections. Each Kreise had its own leader at the time, known as a Kreisleiter. After that, each Kreise was divided into smaller areas, each with its own leader, and so on. Each of these sectors was accountable to the section above it, with Hitler at the apex of the hierarchy.
- The Nazis also formed new groups for other professions, such as children, doctors, and attorneys. These were intended to infiltrate established social systems. These political shifts transformed the Nazi Party from a paramilitary group intent on destroying the republic by force to a political party seeking power through elections and popular support. as well as assisting the party in gaining more members
How did the Nazis consolidate their power?
The Reichstag Fire:
On the 31st of January 1933, Hitler, acutely aware of his lack of a majority in the Reichstag, called for new elections to try to shore up his position.
The Nazis wanted to raise their vote share in order to gain a majority in the Reichstag. This would empower them to rule without opposition and without the interference of coalition governments. The Reichstag, the German Parliament building, was set on fire and burned down on February 27, 1933, as the campaign entered its last, desperate days.
Following the incident, there was a sense of panic and terror. This continued until Van der Lubbe, a young Dutch communist, was arrested for the crime.
Anti-communism was aided by the Nazi Party’s use of the fear atmosphere. This panic aided in turning the public against communists, who were one of the Nazis’ principal foes, and 4000 people were imprisoned as a result. The Emergency Decree for the Protection of the German People was signed the day following the fire.
The signing of the Emergency Decree provided the Nazis with a legal foundation for persecuting and oppressing any opponents who were branded as traitors to the republic. People may be imprisoned for a variety of reasons.
Basic human liberties including freedom of speech, property ownership, and the right to a fair trial before being imprisoned were also taken away by the edict.
Elections of 1933:
The Reichstag gained a lot of voters to the Nazi party. The SA also waged a genocidal terror campaign against any and all Nazi opponents. Many people were afraid to vote at all, and many of them chose the Nazi Party out of fear for their own safety.
Neither the elections were free nor fair. The elections were held on March 5, 1933, with an extraordinarily high turnout of 89 percent. However, this still didn’t give the Nazis a majority.
The Enabling Law:
Hitler proposed the Enabling Law to the Reichstag on March 23, 1933. Instead of passing laws through the Reichstag and the president, this new law granted Hitler the right to rule by decree. The law, if passed, would provide the prerequisites for totalitarian government.
On March 24, 1933, the Bill was passed with 444 votes in favour and 94 votes against. Despite the fact that President Hindenburg and the Reichstag remained in place, Hitler was now able to rule by edict.
The Night of Long Knives:
From June 30 to July 2, 1934, the Night of Long Knives, also known as the Röhm Putsch, was a purge of the SA leadership and other political opponents. Over 150 people were murdered and hundreds more were detained as a result of the SS and Gestapo’s actions.
The Reichswehr, which had previously been an independent organization, swore personal allegiance to Hitler beginning on August 20. By 1935, the SA had shrunk by 40 percent, to 1.8 million members. The Reichstag approved a bill legalizing the purge as emergency defense measures on July 13, 1934.
Gleichschaltung was the Nazi Party’s process of gaining total control of Germany. It’s also known as Nazification or coordination. The majority of the work was done between 1933 and 1934. Gleichschaltung was implemented in all aspects of government policy.
Gleichschaltung attempted to reach every element of German rule, but this was not always achievable. Local governments were more difficult to penetrate, with just 60% of mayors belonging to the Nazi Party by the end of 1945. Despite this, Gleichschaltung was fairly successful overall.
Death of Hindenburg:
On August 2, 1934, President Hindenburg died at the age of 87. Shortly after Hindenburg’s death, Hitler stated that the chancellor’s and president’s posts would be united to form the Führer and chancellor. Hitler declared that he would take up this new position.
The German people were asked to vote on whether they approved of the merger of the two offices and Hitler’s new role as Führer on August 19, 1934. 95.7 percent of the electorate cast ballots. Hitler received 89.93 percent of the vote.
There was no longer any limit to Hitler’s power after Hindenburg’s death. He’d risen to the position of dictator.
End of Hitler Era:
Since at least 1943, it had become increasingly clear that Germany would capitulate under Allied pressure. The German 6th Army, which had been drawn deep into the Soviet Union, was devastated at the Battle of Stalingrad in February of that year, and German prospects for a protracted attack on both fronts vanished.
The Western Allied armies then landed in Normandy, France, in June 1944, and began steadily pushing the Germans back toward Berlin. By July 1944, several German military commanders had accepted their impending loss and sought to depose Hitler so that a more advantageous peace could be negotiated.
Their attempts to murder Hitler were unsuccessful, and Hitler retaliated by killing nearly 4,000 of his fellow people. Faced with a Soviet siege of Berlin in January 1945, Hitler retired to his bunker to live out his last days.
Adolf Hitler commits suicide by ingesting a cyanide capsule and shooting himself in the head on April 30, 1945, while holed up in a bunker beneath his Berlin headquarters. Soon later, Germany surrendered unconditionally to Allied forces, putting an end to Hitler’s fantasy of a “1,000-year” Reich.