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5.2 Nazism in Germany

After the First World War, the political situation in Germany presented a confused look. The establishment of the Weimar Republic followed the abdication of the Kaiser. His constitution was the most liberal one made so far in the world. It existed at an inopportune time of poverty, unrest, and national humiliation. Numerous parties also emerged during this time. Moreover, the appearance of reactionary organizations such as the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazis) worsened the already existing confusion. As the political situation deteriorated, the Nazis benefited the most. Adolf Hitler led this party.

Exhibit 5.3
Adolf Hitler

Hitlerís career began as an agitator in 1923 when he tried to seize political power in Bavaria by force. As he failed in his attempt, he was imprisoned. In prison he wrote his famous autobiography, Mein Kampf (My Struggle). Hitler was released soon and leniency was showed towards him. The strength of the Nazis, in Reichstag was as high as 12 to 107 in the general elections of 1930 and it became the second largest group in the German Parliament. Hitler lost the presidential election by a narrow margin in 1932, and the Nazis won 196 out of 584 seats in fresh elections. Even though the Nazi Party did not garner a clear majority in the polls, theirs was the largest group. Hitler assumed the office of the Chancellor and headed a coalition ministry. After the death of the president in 1934, the office of the President and Chancellor were combined and Hitler came to be popularly known by the title of íFührer.í

The two important pillars on which the Nazi regime rested were totalitarianism and racial exclusiveness. Also the state had the power to pervade every area of its citizenís life. This was made clear when Hitler laid down in the first decree of his government that there was only one party in Germany, namely, the National Socialist Workers Party.


Other parties were dissolved. The government of the country was now in the hands of a dictator. He possessed supreme legislative, executive and judicial powers. He appointed all officers and controlled home and foreign affairs. All organizations and activities of the state and all aspects of human life were now íNazifiedí and brought into close relationship with the new regime.

The Nazi rule relates to the relentless persecution of the Jews. Their philosophy exalted the purity of the Aryan race as the sole criterion of nationality. They held that only Germans belonging to the Aryan stock alone could form the German nation. As a corollary to this idea of racial exclusiveness, Jews and non-Aryan Christians were denied citizenship rights. This persecution of the Jews came to be regarded everywhere else as an outrage upon civilized humanity.

The Nazis applied the same methods in their foreign affairs. The reliance on force and the rejection of any sort of compromise was dear to the Nazis. Hitler wanted to recapture all the territories which were given to the allies according to the Treaty of Versailles. He completely disregarded the Treaty of Versailles. He also made pacts with the other European powers.

Nothing major was done to check the high ambitions of Hitler in the early days of his success. Most of his actions were allowed to pass without much protest by the world powers. Moreover, Britain considered Germany to be 'Right' on moral grounds. The western powers started coming closer only after the Nazi advances gained momentum and clashed with the interests of the other states. According to Winston Churchill these powers came closer "at the last possible moment on the worst possible ground."

Exhibit 5.4
Winston Churchill

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Index

5.0 Introduction
5.1 The Russian Revolution
5.2 NAZI Germany
5.3 Fascism in Italy
5.4 The Second Great War
5.5 Impact of the Second Great War
5.6 The Establishment of the U.N.O.
5.7 Points to Remember

Chapter 6





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