Factors Contributing To The Rise And Nature

Of Nazism Essay, Research Paper

The Rise of Nazism

A multitude of different factors contributed to the rise of Fascism within the period of post-World War 1 Germany. As Adolf Hitler was the perpetrator and mastermind behind much of the rise of Fascism in Germany, factors which contributed to his opinions and ideals must obligatorily be looked at in this topic. His failed attempted career in art, the death of his mother, his homelessness in Vienna; all of these circumstances and more contributed to his Fascist ideals, and therefore to the rise of Fascism and the popularity of the Nazi Party. Other incidents unrelated directly to Hitler bestowed extremists much power as people were dissatisfied with the current state of affairs and the republic provided extremists (namely the Nazis, other right-wingers and the Communist Party) with a scapegoat. Incidents such as the Great Depression radically aided Hitler and made his ends much more achievable.

Without Hitler, the National Socialist Party would never have reached the popularity that they achieved with his political genius. At a young age Hitler was exposed to the swastika, German nationalism and militarism, which obviously left lasting impressions. The failure of his art exam coupled with the death of his mother at age 18 crushed him, and set the scene for his years of misery in Vienna, a time when he conceived many of his ideas on politics and race which would have huge consequences in the future.

After his involvement and Germany?s loss in World War One, Hitler felt ?Stabbed in the back? by his scapegoats, the politicians in Germany and primarily the Jews. Lacey, G. Op. Cit, p33. Extra betrayal lay in the signing of the Versailles treaty. One year afterwards, Hitler joined the German Worker?s Party finding that it reflected political thinking much like his own. This group would become the Nazi Party by 1920 and Hitler?s membership was a turning point for German Fascism.

In April 1921 the allies of World War One demanded payment from Germany for the damages caused by the war. The bill instantly began to cause huge inflation because of Germany?s defiance in refusing to continue payments. Salaries were paid in worthless money ? often it was better to burn money and keep firewood because that was more valuable. The Nazis felt the time was right to strike. Lacey, G. Op. Cit, p38. The Munich Beer Hall Putsch was a total failure in terms of Hitler?s goal to take over Germany by force, but it did put much attention onto the Nazis. Hitler?s trial had enormous media coverage, and many liked the ideas they heard Hitler relate there. The judges became so sympathetic that they agreed to find Hitler guilty only after being assured he would get early parole. Hitler served only nine months in prison.

When the stock market collapsed on Wall Street in 1929, it sent financial markets all over the world into chaos. The German economy was severely hit because it was built out of loans from America and relied on foreign trade. The History Place, Op. Cit. Soon the middle class standard of living that many enjoyed was ruined. The Great Depression began and they were cast into poverty and began looking for any solution. This event was a blessing for Hitler and he would take advantage of it.

After failure in 1923, Hitler wanted to overthrow the German democracy legally by getting elected while at the same time building a Nazi government that would one day replace the democracy. The elections were set for September 1930 and the people were tired of suffering. The Nazis made their move.

The Nazis campaigned relentlessly in 1930 and Hitler won over audiences with almost theatrical speeches. They promised something for everyone and appealed to every class; even their name was all-inclusive ? The National Socialist German Worker?s Party. On Election Day they won over 18 per cent of the total votes, which got them 107 seats in the Reichstag. Nazi SA celebrated the victory by smashing in the windows of Jewish shops, restaurants and department stores, an indication of things to come. Encarta 99, Op.Cit ?National Socialism?

In 1932 Hitler came close to being elected president through his growing popularity. In July the Nazis gained 230 seats in the Reichstag to become the largest party in Germany.

On the 29th of January 1933, a false rumor circulated that Schleicher was about to arrest Hindenburg and stage a military takeover of the government. When Hindenburg heard of this, he decided to appoint Adolf Hitler as the next Chancellor of Germany. On the 30th, Hitler came into power.

The burning of the Reichstag building by Marinus van der Lubbe on February 27, 1933 was an ideal opportunity for Hitler to state an emergency decree and therefore his desire to rule by whim was one step closer. Laquer, W. Op. Cit, p104. On March 23, the Reichstag met in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin to consider passing Hitler’s Enabling Act. It was called the “Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich.” If passed, it would vote democracy out of existence in Germany and establish the legal dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. The Act passed with only the social democrats opposed. Under Hitler, the State, not the individual, was supreme. Fascism had risen and prevailed in Germany.

The Nature of Nazism

Fascism and Nazism in 1930?s/40?s Germany was not completely unadaptable. Unpopular ideas were sometimes dropped and popular ideas often suddenly became values of the Nazi Party. Hitler?s first purpose was to appeal to the masses before he controlled them. Typically, however, the Nazis would crush opponents simply because they were Hitler?s scapegoats or because they defied the dictator in some way. Almost completely totalitarian, Nazi fascism succeeded in controlling the press and eradicating opposition – although many people were dissatisfied with the Nazis, complaints never rose above a private grumble for fear of discipline. Real problems only arose within the party, organisations more interested in building their own power than cooperating with other groups for the good of Germany. Lacey, G. Op. Cit, p79.11 Hitler?s fascism was extremely racial, militaristic and nationalistic.

The Nazis did drop unpopular policies if they seemed to be alienating ordinary Germans or promoting too much condemnation. Kristallnaht, a Nazi attack on Jews in 1938 was so disapproved of by Germans and even some Nazi leaders that from then on all offensives against the Jews were not publicized. Ibid, p107. 12 Their agenda of euthanasia was supposedly put to an end after widespread objection from church leaders in 1940.

A major factor of fascism is the destruction of opposition. Nazism was no exception as organisations such as the SS were particularly adept at destroying opponents? lives. Any opposition, and the SS and the police would have complete power to arrest, punish or execute ?enemies of the state? who did not follow Hitler or give him total loyalty. Encarta Encyclopedia 99, Op. Cit, ?National Socialism? 13

Fascist Germany was a propaganda state. Nazis believed that if they controlled what people heard, thought and said then they would be able to attain total loyalty. The use of propaganda had already been proven successful in election campaigns and Hitler and Goebbels believed that it was just as important while they were in power. The History Place, Op.Cit.14

Hitler believed that so-called Aryans; blonde, blue eyed people, were superior to other races. He believed that problems in the past came about by the Aryan race being ?tainted? by mixing with other races. His policies had always been racist and were especially aimed at the Jews and as a dictator he was no different. Ibid. 15 In fascist Germany Jews would be removed from positions of power, either forcing them to leave the country or isolating them from Aryan Germans, which brought about concentration camps.

Organisations within the Nazi Party were often in competition with one another and policies were often determined by power struggles between these groups. Leaders only suggested policies because they thought it would increase their standing in the party or help them gain favour with Hitler. This meant policies were often disjointed or inefficient. Laquer, W. Op. Cit. p142. 16

In conclusion, the fascism in Nazi Germany was in many aspects a typical form of fascism. The predominant factor contributing to this fascism would be Hitler?s yearning for power to mould Germany in his image. As dictator with the help of propaganda and the favour of the masses on his side, Hitler succeeded in creating a racially intolerant, nationalist, militaristic, one-party police state with little more than private grumbling and slight internal conflict to worry about. Being adaptable and able to improvise also aided this fascist dictatorship.


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