Nazism, commonly known as National Socialism, (German: Nationalsozialismus), refers primarily to the ideology and practices of the Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler; and the policies adopted by the government of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, a period also known as the Third Reich. The official name of the party was Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei
Nazism was not a monolithic movement, but rather a (mainly German) combination of various ideologies and groups, sparked by anger at the Treaty of Versailles and what was considered to have been a Jewish/Communist conspiracy (known in the vernacular as the Dolchstoßlegende or “Stab-in-the-Back Legend”) to humiliate Germany at the end of the First World War.
Among the key elements of Nazism were anti-parliamentarism, ethnic nationalism, racism, collectivism, eugenics, antisemitism, opposition to economic liberalism and political liberalism, the official German language name of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (commonly known in English as the Nazi Party). Party members rarely referred to themselves as Nazis, and instead used the official term, Nationalsozialisten (National Socialists). The word mirrors the term Sozi, a common and slightly derogatory term for members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands). When Adolf Hitler took power, the use of the term Nazi almost disappeared from Germany, although it was still used by opponents in Austria. described by the National Socialists, featured a claim that the war effort was sabotaged internally, in large part by Germany’s Jews. The National Socialists suggested that a lack of patriotism had led to Germany’s defeat (for one, the front line was not on German soil at the time of the armistice). In politics, criticism was directed at the Social Democrats and the Weimar government (Deutsches Reich 1919–1933), which the National Socialists accused of selling out the country. The concept of Dolchstosslegende led many to look at Jews and other so-called “non-Germans” living in Germany as having extra-national loyalties, thereby raising antisemitic sentiments and the Judenfrage (German for “Jewish Question”), at a time when the Völkisch movement and a desire to create a Greater Germany were strong.
On January 5, 1919, the party that eventually became the Nazi Party was founded under the name German Workers' Party (DAP) by Anton Drexler, along with six other members. German intelligence authorities sent Hitler, a corporal at the time, to investigate the German Workers’ Party. As a result, party members invited him to join after he impressed them with the speaking ability he displayed while arguing with party members. Hitler joined the party in September 1919, and he became the propaganda boss. The party was renamed the National Socialist German Workers’ Party on February 24, 1920, Hitler ousted Drexler and became the party leader on July 29, 1921.. The core concept of Nazism is that the German Volk is under attack from a judeo-bolshevist conspiracy, and must become united, disciplined and self sacrificing (must submit to Nazi leadership) in order to win.
Hitler's political beliefs were formulated in Mein Kampf. His views were composed of three main axes: a conception of history as a race struggle influenced by social darwinism; antisemitism and the idea that Germany needed to acquire land from Russia. His antisemitism, coupled with his anti-Communism, gave the grounds of his conspiracy theory of “judeo-bolshevism”. Hitler first began to develop his views through observations he made while living in Vienna from 1907 to 1913. He concluded that a racial, religious, and cultural hierarchy existed, and he placed “Aryans” at the top as the ultimate superior race, while Jews and “Gypsies” were people at the bottom. He vaguely examined and questioned the policies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where as a citizen by birth, Hitler lived during the Empire’s last throes. He believed that its ethnic and linguistic diversity had weakened the Empire and helped to create dissent. Further, he saw democracy as a destabilizing force because it placed power in the hands of ethnic minorities who, he claimed, “weakened and destabilized” the Empire by dividing it against itself. Hitler’s political beliefs were then affected by World War I and the 1917 October Revolution, and saw some modifications between 1920 and 1923. He formulated them definitively in Mein Kampf.
Fascismsee Fascism and ideology In both popular thought and academic scholarship, Nazism is generally considered a form of fascism — a term whose definition is itself contentious. The debate focuses mainly on comparisons of fascist movements in general with the Italian prototype, including the fascists in Germany. The idea mentioned above to reject all former ideas and ideologies like democracy, liberalism, and especially marxism (as in Ernst Nolte) make it difficult to track down a perfect definition of these two terms; however, Italian Fascists tended to believe that all elements in society should be unified through corporatism to form an “Organic State”; this meant that these Fascists often had no strong opinion on the question of race, since it was only the state and nation that mattered.
German Nazism, on the other hand, emphasized the Aryan race or “Volk” principle to the point where the state seemed simply a means through which the Aryan race could realize its “true destiny”. Since a debate among historians (especially Zeev Sternhell) to see each movement, or at least the German one, as unique, the issue has been for the most part settled, showing that there is a stronger family resemblance between the Italian and the German fascist movement than there is between democracies in Europe or the communist states of the Cold War; additionally, the crimes of the fascist movement can be compared, not only in numbers of casualties, but also in common developments: the March on Rome of Mussolini to Hitler’s response shortly after to attempt a coup d'etat himself in Munich.
Also, Aryanism was not an attractive idea for Italians who were seen as a non-Nordic population, but still there was a strong racism and also genocide in concentration camps long before either was in place in Germany. The philosophy that had seemed to be separating both fascisms was shown to be a result of happening in two different countries: since the king of Italy had not died, unlike the Reichspräsident, the leader in Italy (Duce) was not able to gain the absolute power the leader in Germany (Führer) did, leading to Mussolini’s fall. The academic challenge to separate all fascist movements has since the 1980s and early 1990s been ground for a new attempt to see even more similarities.
According to most scholars of fascism, there are both left and right influences on fascism as a social movement, but fascism, especially once in power, has historically attracted support primarily from the political right, especially the "far right" or "extreme right."
NationalismHitler founded the Nazi state upon a racially defined “German people” and principally rejected the idea of being bound by the limits of nationalism. That was only a means for attempting unlimited supremacy. In that sense, its hyper-nationalism was tolerated to reach a world-dominating Germanic-Aryan Volksgemeinschaft. This idea is a central concept of Mein Kampf, symbolized by the motto Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer (one people, one empire, one leader). The Nazi relationship between the Volk and the state was called the Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community), a late nineteenth or early twentieth century neologism that defined a communal duty of citizens in service to the Reich (as opposed to a simple society). The term “National Socialism” derives from this citizen-nation relationship, whereby the term socialism is invoked and is meant to be realized through the common duty of the individuals to the German people; all actions are to be in service of the Reich. The Nazis stated that their goal was to bring forth a nation-state as the locus and embodiment of the people’s collective will, bound by the Volksgemeinschaft, as both an ideal and an operating instrument. In comparison, traditional socialist ideologies oppose the idea of nations.
MilitarismNazi rationale invested heavily in the militarist belief that great nations grow from military power and maintained order, which in turn grow “naturally” from “rational, civilized cultures”. The Nazi Party appealed to German nationalists and national pride, capitalizing on irredentist and revanchist sentiments as well as aversions to various aspects of modernist thinking (although at the same time embracing other modernist ideas, such as admiration for engine power). Many ethnic Germans felt deeply committed to the goal of creating the Greater Germany (the old dream to include German-speaking Austria), which some believe required the use of military force to achieve.
Racism and discriminationThe Nazi racial philosophy was influenced by the works of Arthur de Gobineau, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, and Madison Grant, and wholly embraced Alfred Rosenberg’s Aryan Invasion Theory. The theory traced Aryan peoples in ancient Iran invading the Indus Valley Civilization, and carrying with them great knowledge and science that had been preserved from the antediluvian world. This “antediluvian world” referred to Thule, the speculative pre-Flood/Ice Age origin of the Aryan race, and is often tied to ideas of Atlantis. Several of the founders and subsequent leadership of the Nazi Party had been associates — and very occasionally members — of the Thule-Gesellschaft (the Thule Society), which romanticized the Aryan race through theology and ritual.
Hitler also claimed that a nation was the highest creation of a “race”, and “great nations” (literally large nations) were the creation of homogeneous populations of “great races” working together. These nations developed cultures that naturally grew from “races” with “natural good health, and aggressive, intelligent, courageous traits”. The “weakest nations”, Hitler said, were those of “impure” or “mongrel races”, because they had divided, quarreling, and therefore weak cultures. Worst of all were seen to be the parasitic “Untermensch” (“subhumans”), mainly Jews, but also Gypsies and Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, the disabled and so-called anti-socials, all of whom were considered “lebensunwertes Leben” (“life-unworthy life”) owing to their perceived deficiency and inferiority, as well as their wandering, nationless invasions (“the International Jew”). The persecution of homosexuals as part of the Holocaust (with the pink triangle) has seen increasing scholarly attention since the 1990s, even though many homosexuals served in the Sturmabteilungen.
According to Nazism, it is an obvious mistake to permit or encourage plurality within a nation. Fundamental to the Nazi goal was the unification of all German-speaking peoples, “unjustly” divided into different Nation States. The Nazis tried to recruit Dutch and Scandinavian men into the SS, considering them of superior “Germanic” stock, with only limited success.
Hitler claimed that nations that could not defend their territory did not deserve it. He thought “slave races”, like the Slavic peoples, to be less worthy to exist than “leader races”. In particular, if a master race should require room to live (“Lebensraum”), he thought such a race should have the right to displace the inferior indigenous races.
“Races without homelands”, Hitler proclaimed, were “parasitic races”, and the richer the members of a parasitic race were, the more virulent the parasitism was said to be. A master race could therefore, according to the Nazi doctrine, easily strengthen itself by eliminating parasitic races from its homeland. This idea was the given rationalization for the Nazis’ later oppression and elimination of Jews, Gypsies, Czechs, Poles, the mentally and physically handicapped, homosexuals and others not belonging to these groups or categories that were part of the Holocaust. The Waffen-SS and other German soldiers (including parts of the Wehrmacht), as well as civilian paramilitary groups in occupied territories, were responsible for the deaths of an estimated eleven million men, women, and children in concentration camps, prisoner-of-war camps, labor camps, and death camps such as Auschwitz and Treblinka.
EugenicsThe belief in the need to purify the German race led them to eugenics; this effort culminated in the involuntary euthanasia of disabled people and the compulsory sterilization of people with mental deficiencies or illnesses perceived as hereditary. Adolf Hitler considered Sparta to be the first “Völkisch State”, and praised its early eugenics treatment of deformed children.
AntisemitismAccording to Nazi propaganda, the Jews thrived on fomenting division amongst Germans and amongst states. Nazi antisemitism was primarily racial: “The Jew is the enemy and destroyer of the purity of blood, the conscious destroyer of our race;” however, the Jews were also described as plutocrats exploiting the worker: “As socialists we are opponents of the Jews because we see in the Hebrews the incarnation of capitalism, of the misuse of the nation’s goods.” In addition, the Nazis articulated opposition to finance capitalism with an emphasis on antisemitic claims that this was manipulated by a conspiracy of Jewish bankers.
HomosexualityAn estimated 100,000 homosexuals were arrested after Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s. Of those, 50,000 were suspected to be incarcerated in concentration camps, making for 5,000 to 15,000 deaths. According to Harry Oosterhuis, the Nazis’ original view toward homosexuality was at least ambiguous if not openly tolerant or even approving, with homosexuality common in the Sturmabteilung(SA) which was critical to Hitler as the paramilitary arm of the NSDAP. Thus, the eventual arrests of homosexuals should not be viewed in the context of “race hygiene” or eugenics. Völkisch-nationalist youth movements attracted homosexuals because of the preaching of Männerbund (male bonding); in practice, Oosterhuis says, this meant that the persecution of homosexuals was more politically motivated or opportunistic than anything else. For example, the homosexuality of Ernst Röhm and other leaders of the Sturmabteilung was well known for years and became the basis for satire and jokes, including in the Army, which was highly suspicious and resentful of the SA’s power and size. Röhm was killed chiefly because he was perceived as a political threat, not for his homosexuality. Indeed, it was only after the murder of Roehm that the Nazis publicly expressed concern about the depraved morals of Roehm and the other S.A. leaders who were shot. …Hitler in addressing the surviving storm troop leaders in Munich at noon on June 30, just after the first executions, declared that for their corrupt morals alone these men deserved to die.
Once in power, Nazism declared itself incompatible with homosexuality, because gays did not reproduce and perpetuate the master race. In 1936, Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the SS, created the "Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion." Homosexuality was declared contrary to "wholesome popular sentiment," and gay men were regarded as "defilers of German blood." Homosexuals were persecuted for their sexuality. When they were prisoners in a concentration camp, they were forced to wear a pink triangle.
ReligionHitler extended his rationalizations into a religious doctrine, underpinned by his criticism of traditional Catholicism. In particular, and closely related to Positive Christianity, Hitler objected to Catholicism’s ungrounded and international character — that is, it did not pertain to an exclusive race and national culture. At the same time, and somewhat contradictorily, the Nazis combined elements of Germany’s Lutheran community tradition with its northern European, organic pagan past. Elements of militarism found their way into Hitler’s own theology; he preached that his was a “true” or “master” religion, because it would “create mastery” and avoid comforting lies. Those who preached love and tolerance, “in contravention to the facts”, were said to be “slave” or “false” religions. The man who recognized these “truths”, Hitler continued, was said to be a “natural leader”, and those who denied it were said to be “natural slaves”. “Slaves” — especially intelligent ones, he claimed — were always attempting to hinder their masters by promoting false religious and political doctrines.
Anti-clericalism can also be interpreted as part of Nazi ideology, simply because the new Nazi hierarchy did not allow itself to be overridden by the power that the Church traditionally held. In Austria, clerics had a powerful role in politics and ultimately responded to the Vatican. Although a few exceptions exist, Christian persecution was primarily limited to those who refused to accommodate the new regime and yield to its power. A particularly poignant example is seen in the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. However, the Nazis often used the church to justify their stance and included many Christian symbols in the Third Reich .
Volkism was inherently hostile toward atheism: freethinkers clashed frequently with Nazis in the late 1920s and early 1930s. On taking power, Hitler banned freethought organizations (such as the German Freethinkers League) and launched an “anti-godless” movement. In a 1933 speech he declared: “We have… undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” This forthright hostility was far more straightforward than the Nazis’ complex, often contradictory stance toward traditional Christian faith.
The prevailing scholarly view since the Second World War is that Martin Luther’s 1543 treatise, On the Jews and their Lies, exercised a major and persistent influence on Germany’s attitude toward its Jewish citizens in the centuries between the Reformation and the Holocaust . The National Socialists displayed On the Jews and their Lies during Nuremberg rallies, and the city of Nuremberg presented a first edition to Julius Streicher, editor of the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer, the newspaper describing it as the most radically antisemitic tract ever published. Against the majority view, theologian Johannes Wallmann writes that the treatise had no continuity of influence in Germany, and was in fact largely ignored during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
According to Daniel Goldhagen, Bishop Martin Sasse, a leading Protestant churchman, published a compendium of Martin Luther’s writings shortly after the Kristallnacht; Sasse applauded the burning of the synagogues and the coincidence of the day, writing in the introduction, “On November 10, 1938, on Luther’s birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany.” The German people, he urged, ought to heed these words “of the greatest antisemite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews.” Diarmaid MacCulloch argued that On the Jews and Their Lies was a “blueprint” for the Kristallnacht.
Anti-capitalist rhetoricNazi publications and speeches included anti-capitalist (especially anti-finance capitalist) rhetoric. Hitler attacked what he called “pluto-democracy,” which he claimed to be a Jewish conspiracy to favor democratic parties in order to keep capitalism intact. The “corporation” was attacked by orthodox Nazis as being the leading instrument of finance capitalism, with the role of Jews emphasized. The National Socialist party described itself as socialist, and, at the time, conservative opponents such as the Industrial Employers Association described it as “totalitarian, terrorist, conspiratorial, and socialist.”
The Nazi Party’s 1920 “Twenty-Five Point Programme” demanded: …that the State shall make it its primary duty to provide a livelihood for its citizens… the abolition of all incomes unearned by work… the ruthless confiscation of all war profits… the nationalization of all businesses which have been formed into corporations… profit-sharing in large enterprises… extensive development of insurance for old-age… land reform suitable to our national requirements… Nazi Party officials made several attempts in the 1920s to change some of the program or replace it entirely. In 1924, Gottfried Feder proposed a new 39-point program that kept some of the old planks, replaced others and added many completely new ones. Hitler did not mention any of the planks of the programme in his book, Mein Kampf, and he only mentioned it in passing as “the so-called programme of the movement”.
Hitler said in 1927, “We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance.” However, Hitler wrote in 1930, “Our adopted term 'Socialist' has nothing to do with Marxian Socialism. Marxism is anti-property; true Socialism is not.” In a confidential 1931 interview, Hitler told the influential editor of a pro-business newspaper, “I want everyone to keep what he has earned subject to the principle that the good of the community takes priority over that of the individual. But the State should retain control; every owner should feel himself to be an agent of the State… The Third Reich will always retain the right to control property owners.” Party spokesman Joseph Goebbels claimed in 1932 that the Nazi Party was a “workers’ party” and “on the side of labor and against finance”. Privately, Hitler stated in 1942, “I absolutely insist on protecting private property… we must encourage private initiative”.
Ideological rootsThe ideological roots that became German National Socialism were based on numerous sources in European history, drawing especially from Romantic nineteenth century idealism, and from a biological reading of Friedrich Nietzsche’s thoughts on “breeding upwards” toward the goal of an Übermensch (“superhuman”). Hitler was an avid reader and received ideas that later influenced Nazism from traceable publications, such as those of the Germanenorden or the Thule society. He also adopted many populist ideas such as limiting profits, abolishing rents and generously increasing social benefits—but only for Germans.
The Nordic myth has been attributed to an inferiority complex. Phillip Wayne Powell claimed that the Nordic myth began to arise “in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, a powerful surge of German patriotism was stimulated by the disdain of Italians for German cultural inferiority and barbarism, which lead to a counterattempt by German humanists to laud German qualities.”
M. W. Fodor claimed in The Nation in 1936, “No race has suffered so much from an inferiority complex as has the German. National Socialism was a kind of Coué method of converting the inferiority complex, at least temporarily, into a feeling of superiority”.
RomanticismAccording to Bertrand Russell, Nazism would come from a different tradition than that of either Liberalism or Marxism. Thus, to understand values of Nazism, it would be necessary to explore this connection, without trivializing the movement as it was in its peak years in the 1930s and dismissing it as little more than racism.
Antisemitism was shown to be a handy tool for Nazis to gain support, mainly because of the popular Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Personal accounts by August Kubizek, Hitler’s childhood friend, have varied, offering ambiguous claims that antisemitism did and did not date back to Hitler’s youth. One reason is the higher Jewish community in Austria and Germany because Germany had been a haven for many Jews over the years, including influential families such as the Rothschilds, although World War I and the Dolchstosslegende ended that legacy. Anti-Judaism had already been widely transformed into antisemitism before 1914 because of the new Europe-wide post-Darwin theory of racism. Historians universally accept that Nazism’s mass acceptance depended upon nationalistic appeals and fear against “non-normal people” (which also could include xenophobia and antisemitism) and a patriotic flattery toward the wounded collective pride of defeated World War I veterans.
Many see strong connections to the values of Nazism and the anti-rationalist tradition of the romantic movement of the early nineteenth century in response to the Enlightenment. Strength, passion, frank declarations of feelings, and deep devotion to family and community were valued by the Nazis though first expressed by many Romantic artists, musicians, and writers. German romanticism in particular expressed these values. For instance, Hitler identified closely with the music of Richard Wagner, who harbored antisemitic views as the author of Das Judenthum in der Musik. Some claim that he was one of Hitler’s role models, a comment of Kubizek’s that is also disputed.
The idealization of tradition, folklore, classical thought, leadership (as exemplified by Frederick the Great), their rejection of the liberalism of the Weimar Republic, and calling the German state the “Third Reich” (which traces back to the medieval First Reich and the pre-Weimar Second Reich) has led many to regard the Nazis as reactionary.
MysticismNazi occultism is a term used to describe a philosophical undercurrent of Nazism that denotes the combination of Nazism with Germanic mysticism, cryptohistory, and/or the paranormal. The Germanenorden and its offshoot, the Thule Society, were esoteric secret societies which, while only a small part of the völkisch movement, led into the Nazi party.
Heinrich Himmler, by contrast, showed a strong interest in such matters, although as Steigmann-Gall points out, Hitler and many of his key associates attended Christian services.
Ideological variantsNazism as a doctrine is far from homogeneous, and can be divided into at least two sub-ideologies. During the 1920s and 1930s, there were two dominant Nazi factions; the followers of Otto Strasser and the followers of Adolf Hitler. The Strasserite faction eventually fell afoul of Hitler, when Otto Strasser was expelled from the party in 1930, and his attempt to create an oppositional left-block in the form of the Black Front failed. The remainder of the faction, which was to be found mainly in the ranks of the SA, was purged in the Night of the Long Knives, which included the murder of Gregor Strasser, Otto’s brother. Afterwards, the Hitlerite faction became dominant. In the post-World War II era, Strasserism has enjoyed something of a revival among many neo-Nazi groups.
List of elements of the Nazi ideology
- The National Socialist Program
- The rejection of democracy, and consequently
unions, and free
- Führerprinzip (Leader Principle) as a total belief in the leader (responsibility up the ranks, and authority down the ranks)
- Extreme Nationalism
- Nazism and
Racial policies of the Third Reich and Nazi
- The creation of a Herrenrasse (or Herrenvolk) (Master Race = by the Lebensborn (Fountain of Life; A department in the Third Reich)).
- Aryan Supremacism; more specifically, ranking of individuals according to their race and racial purity, with the Nordic race favoured the most
- Limited freedom of religion (Point #24 in the National Socialist Program)
- Rejection of the modern art movement and an embrace of classical art
- Association with Fascism or Totalitarianism
- Animal welfare, see Animal welfare in Nazi Germany
- Environmentalism: In June 1935, the Reichsnaturschutzgesetz (Reich Nature Protection Law) was enacted. It was valid in West Germany till 1976. Some historians have either argued that this law was the symptom of an actual interest of the Nazi regime in the preservation of the natural world, or that it was not a Nazi law at all, but rather the nonideological expression of previous ideas. Others have contested these views, and claim that the Reichsnaturschutzgesetz reflected instead key elements of both progressive preservationism of the 1930s, such as the concepts of natural monuments and nature protection areas, and of Nazism, such as racialism and nationalism.
- Kraft durch Freude The well-being of the working classes.
- Public health (Anti smoking campaigns, asbestos restrictions, occupational health and safety standards)
Ideological competitionNazism and communism emerged as two serious contenders for power in Germany after the First World War, particularly as the Weimar Republic became increasingly unstable. What became the Nazi movement arose out of resistance to the Bolshevik-inspired insurgencies that occurred in Germany in the aftermath of the First World War. The Russian Revolution of 1917 caused a great deal of excitement and interest in the Leninist version of Marxism and caused many socialists to adopt revolutionary principles. The Spartacist uprising in Berlin and the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919 were both manifestations of this. The Freikorps, a loosely organized paramilitary group (essentially a militia of former World War I soldiers) was used to crush both these uprisings and many leaders of the Freikorps, including Ernst Röhm, later became leaders in the Nazi Party. After Mussolini’s fascists took power in Italy in 1922, fascism presented itself as a realistic option for opposing communism, particularly given Mussolini’s success in crushing the communist and anarchist movements that had destabilized Italy with a wave of strikes and factory occupations after the First World War. Fascist parties formed in numerous European countries.
Many historians, such as Ian Kershaw and Joachim Fest, argue that Hitler’s Nazis were one of numerous nationalist and increasingly fascistic groups that existed in Germany and contended for leadership of the anti-communist movement and, eventually, of the German state. Further, they assert that fascism and its German variant, National Socialism, became the successful challengers to communism because they were able to both appeal to the establishment as a bulwark against Bolshevism and appeal to the working class base, particularly the growing underclass of unemployed and unemployable and growingly impoverished middle class elements who were becoming declassed (denounced as the lumpenproletariat). The Nazis’ use of pro-labor rhetoric appealed to those disaffected with capitalism by promoting the limiting of profits, the abolishing of rents and the increasing of social benefits (only for Germans) while simultaneously presenting a political and economic model that divested “Soviet socialism” of elements that were dangerous to capitalism, such as the concept of class struggle, “the dictatorship of the proletariat” or worker control of the means of production. Thus, Nazism’s populism, anti-communism and anti-capitalism helped it become more powerful and popular than traditional conservative parties, like the DNVP. For the above reasons, particularly the fact that Nazis and communists fought each other (often violently) during most of their existence, nazism and communism are commonly seen as opposite extremes on the political spectrum. Nevertheless, this view is not without its challengers. Several political theorists and economists, primarily those associated with the Austrian school, argue that nazism, Soviet communism and other totalitarian ideologies share a common underpinning in socialism and collectivism.
The simplicity of Nazi rhetoric, campaigns, and ideology also made its conservative allies underestimate its strength, and its ability to govern or even to last as a political party. Michael Mann defined fascism as a “transcendent and cleansing nation statism through paramilitarism”, with “transcendent” meaning that the all classes were to be abolished in order for a new, organic and pure people: all classes are abolished by transition, all “others” (an estimated two-thirds of the German population alone).
Support of anti-communists for fascism and NazismVarious far right politicians and political parties in Europe welcomed the rise of fascism and the Nazis, out of an intense aversion towards communism. They saw Hitler as the savior of Western civilization and of capitalism against Bolshevism. During the late 1930s and the 1940s, the Nazis were supported by the Falange movement in Spain, and by political and military figures who formed the government of Vichy France. The Legion of French Volunteers against Bolshevism (LVF) and other anti-Soviet fighting formations formed.
Nazi economic policy
see Economics of fascism Nazi economic practice concerned itself with immediate domestic issues and separately with ideological conceptions of international economics.
Domestic economic policy was narrowly concerned with four major goals to eliminate Germany’s issues:
- Elimination of unemployment.
- Rapid and substantial rearmament.
- Protection against the resurgence of hyper-inflation
- Expansion of production of consumer goods to improve middle and lower-class living standards.
All of these policy goals were intended to address the perceived shortcomings of the Weimar Republic and to solidify domestic support for the party. In this, the party was successful. Between 1933 and 1936 the German Gross National Product (GNP) increased by an average annual rate of 9.5%, and the rate for industry alone rose by 17.2%.
This expansion propelled the German economy out of a deep depression and into full employment in less than four years. Public consumption during the same period increased by 18.7%, while private consumption increased by 3.6% annually. According to the historian Richard Evans, prior to the outbreak of war the German “economy had recovered from the Depression faster than its counterparts in other countries. Germany’s foreign debt had been stabilized, interest rates had fallen to half their 1932 level, the stock exchange had recovered from the Depression, the gross national product had risen by 81 per cent over the same period…. Inflation and unemployment had been conquered.”
German marriages increased from about 511,000 in 1932 to 611,000 in 1936, while births rose from 921,000 births in 1932 to 1,280,000 in 1936. Suicides committed by young people under 20 dropped by 80% between 1933 and 1939.
Internationally, the Nazi Party believed that an international banking cabal was behind the global depression of the 1930s. Control of this cabal, which had grown to a position where it controlled both Europe and the United States, was identified with an elite and powerful group of Jews. Nevertheless, a number of people believed that this was part of an ongoing plot by the Jewish people, as a whole, to achieve global domination. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which began its circulation in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, were said to have confirmed this, already showing “evidence” that the Bolshevik takeover in Russia was in accordance with one of the protocols. Broadly speaking, the existence of large international banking or merchant banking organizations was well known at this time. Many of these banking organizations were able to exert influence upon nation states by extension or withholding of credit. This influence is not limited to the small states that preceded the creation of the German Empire as a nation state in the 1870s, but is noted in most major histories of all European powers from the sixteenth century onward. Nevertheless, after the Great Depression, this libelous and unverified manuscript took on an important role in Nazi Germany, thus providing another link in the Nazis ideological motivation for the destruction of that group in the Holocaust.
The Nazis viewed private property rights as conditional upon the mode of use. If the property was not being used to further Nazi goals, it could be nationalized. Government takeovers and threats of takeovers were used to encourage complance with government production plans, even if following these plans cost profits for companies. For example, the owner of the Junkers (aircraft) factory refused to follow the government’s directives, whereupon the Nazis took over the plant, placed the owner Hugo Junkers under house arrest, then compensated him for his loss.
Central planning of agriculture was a prominent feature. In order to tie farmers to the land, the selling of agricultural land was prohibited. Farm ownership was nominally private, but ownership in the sense of having discretion over operations and claims on residual income were taken away. This was achieved by granting monopoly rights to marketing boards to control production and prices through a quota system. Quotas were also set for industrial goods, including pig iron, steel, aluminum, magnesium, gunpowder, explosives, synthetic rubber, all kinds of fuel, and electricity. A compulsory cartel law was enacted in 1936 which allowed the Minister of Economics to make existing cartels compulsory and permanent and to force industries to form cartels where none existed, though these were eventually decreed out of existence by 1943 with the objective being to replace them with more authoritarian bodies.
In place of ordinary profit incentive to guide the economy, investment was guided through regulation to accord to the needs of the State. The profit incentive for business owners was retained, though greatly modified through various profit-fixing schemes: “Fixing of profits, not their suppression, was the official policy of the Nazi party.” However the function of profit in automatically guiding allocation of investment and unconsciously directing the course of the economy was replaced with economic planning by Nazi government agencies. Government financing eventually came to dominate the investment process, which the proportion of private securities issued falling from over half of the total in 1933 and 1934 to approximately 10 percent in 1935–1938. Heavy taxes on business profits limited self-financing of firms. The largest firms were mostly exempt from taxes on profits, however government control of these were extensive enough to leave “only the shell of private ownership.”
Taxes and subsidies were also used in order to direct the economy. Underlying economic policy was the use of terror as an incentive to agree and comply. Nazi language indicated death or concentration camp for any business owner who pursued his own self interest instead of the ends of the State.
It is often regarded that businesses were private property in name but not in substance. Chritoph Buchheim and Jonas Scherner dissent, saying that despite controls by the state firms still had significant freedom in planning their own production and investment activities, though they admit that the economy was state directed.
Many companies dealt with the Third Reich: Volkswagen was created by the German state and was heavily supported by the Nazis; Opel employed Jewish slave labour to run their industrial plants; Daimler-Benz used prisoners of war as slaves to run their industrial plants; Krupp made gas chambers; Bayer worked with the Nazis as a small part of the enormous IG Farben chemistry monopoly; and Hugo Boss designed the SS uniforms (and admitted to this in 1997). There has been some disagreement about whether IBM had dealt with the Nazis to create a cataloguing system, the Hollerith punch-card machines, which the Nazis used to file information on those who they killed. Some companies that dealt with the Third Reich claim to have not known the truth of what the Nazis were doing, and some foreign companies claimed to have lost control of their German branches when Hitler was in power.
Types of Nazi supportersGerman Nazis: Though Nazi Party membership was carefully regulated (and even closed off at a certain point), many non-affiliated citizens of the Nazi State described themselves as dedicated Nazis. After the war, the most prominent Nazis were convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg Trials, where 21 were executed. Party members—even those who were ordinary citizens—experienced a post-war “purge” where they were stripped of property, assets and often forced to abandon their positions. As part of Nazi Germany, Austria also experienced denazification, though this process occurred to a smaller degree only much later.
Foreign supporters: During and prior to World War II, there were numerous people outside of the German Reich who became adherents to the Nazi ideology. Some foreign born ethnic Germans had ventured from their homelands to become citizens of the Nazi State in the pre-war years. This was particularly the case around São Paulo, where people had left in the thousands despite the fact that, at the same time, efforts were being made to draw the Germany-born population into the region. Other Nazi supporters, such as William Joyce and the “Lord Haw Haw” cast, took flight from Britain, especially after the downfall of the British Union of Fascists. Similarly, parties supportive of the Nazis had failed to influence their own countries. Some people in the German-American Bund were incarcerated during the war, as were potential Nazi supporters in the U.S.
Post-war Nazis: George Lincoln Rockwell, a former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, became a prominent Nazi in the 1950s and formed the American Nazi Party. Some became admirers or sympathized with the plight of Nazi Germany because they saw it as the defender of Oswald Spengler’s “West”. From this point of view, the Nazi State was brought to its knees trying to solidify a self-sufficient Europe and ward off the influence of the Soviet Union and the United States, political and otherwise. Spenglerians such as Francis Parker Yockey supported this view, and his magnum opus, Imperium, has sold over twenty thousand copies since 1948. Essentially, Yockey was convinced that Nazi Germany was a step towards Spengler’s Imperium, and during the Cold War, Yockey dedicated his life to promoting a general European rebellion against the overlordship of both the Soviet Union and the United States.
Esoteric Nazis: Some individuals have been fascinated by National Socialist philosophy in a spiritual or esoteric direction, including: Savitri Devi of France, Julius Evola of Italy, and Miguel Serrano of Chile.
Nazism in popular cultureThe term Nazi has become a generic term of abuse in popular culture, as have other Third Reich terms such as Führer (often spelled differently in English-speaking countries). Related terms (such as fascist or Gestapo or Hitler) are sometimes used to describe any people or behaviours that are viewed as thuggish, authoritarian, or extremist. Phrases such as grammar Nazi, feminazi, open source Nazi, and parking enforcement Nazi, are sometimes used in the United States. These uses are offensive to some, as indicated by the controversy in the mainstream media over the Seinfeld “Soup Nazi” episode. These types of terms are used frequently enough to inspire Godwin's Law.
Some people strongly associate the blackletter typefaces (e.g. Fraktur or Schwabacher) with Nazi propaganda (although the typeface is much older, and its usage was banned by the Nazi German government in 1941).
In films such as the Indiana Jones series, Nazis are often portrayed as villains, whom the heroes battle without mercy. Video game website IGN declared Nazis to be the most memorable video game villains ever. The main antagonists in the manga Hellsing are vampiric Nazis.
- Brown House
- Consequences of German Nazism
- Ex-Nazis: former Nazis influential after 1945
- Fascism and Ideology
- Final Solution
- Glossary of the Third Reich
- Adolf Hitler
- The Holocaust
- Nazi occultism
- Nazi propaganda
- Nazi war criminals
- Political ideologies
- Pursuit of Nazi collaborators
- Reichstag fire
- Songs of the Third Reich
- Weimar Republic
- World War II
- The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town 1922–1945
- Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany
- Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (1985). The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology: The Ariosophists of Austria and Germany, 1890–1935. Wellingborough, England: The Aquarian Press. ISBN 0-85030-402-4. (Several reprints. Expanded with a new Preface, 2004, I.B. Tauris & Co. ISBN 1-86064-973-4.)
- ——— (2002). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity. New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-3124-4. (Paperback, 2003. ISBN 0-8147-3155-4.)
- Victor Klemperer (1947). LTI — Lingua Tertii Imperii.
- Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War
- The Anatomy of Fascism
- David Redles (2005). Hitler’s Millennial Reich: Apocalyptic Belief and the Search for Salvation. New York: University Press. ISBN 0-8147-7524-1.
- Economy and Class Structure of German Fascism
- Wolfgang Sauer “National Socialism: Totalitarianism or Fascism?” pages 404–424 from The American Historical Review, Volume 73, Issue #2, December 1967
- Richard Steigmann-Gall (2003). The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919–1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- List of Adolf Hitler books
- Hitler’s National Socialist Party platform
- Nazi Beliefs
- Blind Obedience: Fuhrerprinzip and Befehlnotstand
- German Propaganda Archive
- NS-Archiv — Large collection of original scanned Nazi documents
- AxisHistory — Information on the Axis countries
- Profits über Alles! American Corporations and Hitler by Jacques R. Pauwels
Nazism in Arabic: نازية
Nazism in Asturian: Nacionalsocialismu
Nazism in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Нацыянал-сацыялізм
Nazism in Bosnian: Nacizam
Nazism in Breton: Naziegezh
Nazism in Bulgarian: Националсоциализъм
Nazism in Catalan: Nazisme
Nazism in Czech: Nacismus
Nazism in Welsh: Natsïaeth
Nazism in Danish: Nazisme
Nazism in German: Nationalsozialismus
Nazism in Estonian: Natsionaalsotsialism
Nazism in Modern Greek (1453-): Εθνικοσοσιαλισμός
Nazism in Spanish: Nazismo
Nazism in Esperanto: Naziismo
Nazism in Basque: Nazionalsozialismo
Nazism in Persian: نازیسم
Nazism in French: Nazisme
Nazism in Irish: Naitsíochas
Nazism in Galician: Nazismo
Nazism in Korean: 나치즘
Nazism in Croatian: Nacizam
Nazism in Indonesian: Nazisme
Nazism in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Nazismo
Nazism in Icelandic: Nasismi
Nazism in Italian: Nazionalsocialismo
Nazism in Hebrew: נאציזם
Nazism in Georgian: ნაციონალ-სოციალიზმი
Nazism in Kurdish: Nazî
Nazism in Lithuanian: Nacizmas
Nazism in Hungarian: Nemzetiszocializmus
Nazism in Macedonian: Нацизам
Nazism in Malayalam: നാസി പാര്ട്ടി
Nazism in Marathi: नाझीवाद
Nazism in Dutch: Nationaalsocialisme
Nazism in Nepali: नाजीवाद
Nazism in Japanese: ナチズム
Nazism in Norwegian: Nasjonalsosialisme
Nazism in Norwegian Nynorsk: Nazisme
Nazism in Uighur: Natsist
Nazism in Polish: Narodowy socjalizm
Nazism in Portuguese: Nazismo
Nazism in Romanian: Nazism
Nazism in Russian: Национал-социализм
Nazism in Simple English: Nazism
Nazism in Slovak: Nacizmus
Nazism in Slovenian: Nacionalsocializem
Nazism in Serbian: Нацизам
Nazism in Serbo-Croatian: Nacionalsocijalizam
Nazism in Finnish: Kansallissosialismi
Nazism in Swedish: Nazism
Nazism in Tagalog: Nazismo
Nazism in Tamil: நாசிசம்
Nazism in Tajik: Нозисм
Nazism in Turkish: Nazi
Nazism in Ukrainian: Нацизм
Nazism in Volapük: Netasogädim
Nazism in Yiddish: נאציזם
Nazism in Chinese: 纳粹主义