After the bombings and imprisonment of World War I, a new world of hate was experienced by the German race toward not only the French but also the Jews. After electing a new leader named Adolf Hitler, the Germans were introduced to a new political party, which some have looked upon as a religion, called Nazism. Hitler and the Nazis used “props, banners, preachings, prayer responses, and memorial marches…to create a vision of a New Jerusalem” (Wikipedia). The Germans all wondered the same questions: What exactlly was this Nazism? How did it come to power? Why were they all following it? What happens when it finally takes over in Germany or takes over in the world? Is there any way to get out of this movement called Nazism? Questions like these have continued to create interest in the role of Nazism in post-war Germany.
The Nazi Party was founded in 1920 by a young fanatic named Adolf Hitler at a time when Germany was suffering from the terrible social, political, and economic upheavals unleashed by her defeat by the Allies in the First World War. Plagued by hyperinflation, hunger, fear, disillusionment, and despair, Germany was a seething cauldron of human misery. Adolf Hitler was unwilling and unable to accept the humiliation of his beloved Germany on the battlefields of France and was obsessed by the idea that the invincible German military had been stabbed in the back by traitorous and cowardly elements at home. This set of beliefs spread to create a following for Adolf HItler. In Adolf’s mind, as quoted from his book Mein Kampf, he believed that the art of leadership “consists in consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up that attention. . . . The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category” (Hitler 111).
Hitler saw Germany and the German race as supreme beings, after surviving in the miltary in World War I and getting thrown in prison for misconduct in trying to get his way just as the Russians had done to Petrograd. Hitler started to run for the leader of Germany. It wasn’t long till he had that power. Once he had that power, it wasn’t long till he started to corrupt the German society. Hitler had it all; the German people supported him and his ideas. Hitler was not only a brilliant speaker and a good organiser but a great politician. He was a driven, unstable man, who believed that he had been called by God to become dictator of Germany and to later rule the world (Hitler 114-123). This kept him going when other people might have given up.
The growth in pro-Nazi votes after 1929 was due to many factors. According to an article on Answers.Com, one of those factors was due to the economic state of Germany. There was a bad case of inflation in the German econmy. Their money had no value. “A man used his German marks to paper his wall because it costs less than buying wallpaper. At the height of the inflation, it would have taken 84,000 fifty-million mark notes to equal a sing American dollar” (Ellis and Esler 449). Due to their 33 billiom dollar debt after World War I, the Germans started to produce mass amounts of the money to ty and repay the other countries. But this caused a rise in producs prices and a decrease on the value of their own money (Ellis and Esler 371). Another factor for the spread of Nazism was political confusion. Their former leader had fled the country for the Netherlands. Germany also had many political parties which wanted their own agendas and which made forming coalitions difficult (Ellis and Esler 449). The Germans recognized the chaos of their world and because even more open to the organization and ideas of HItler and Nazism.
Once Nazism came to power, they sought every commodity and source of power they could. They set up private militia called Storm Troopers or the SS. Reinhard Heydrich was a member of such an organization. He joined the Nazi party at the age of 27. Himmler challenged Heydrich to write down everything he wanted to accomplish.
Later Heydrich accomplished the founding of an intelligence gathering organization known as the SD (Sicherheistdeinst). Other nicknames for Heydrich were “The Blond Beast” and “The Hangman.” His greed for power was evident in his life (The History Place).
In Mein Kampf, which Hitler wrote while in prison for treason, he “reflected upon obsessions–extreme nationalism, racism, and anti-Semitism…Germans, he said, belonged to a superior ‘master race’ of Aryans, or light-skinned Europeans, whose greatest enemies were the Jews” (Ellis and Esler 450). This philosophy led to the founding of the now famous death camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau, where over one million individuals lost their lives, and Treblinka, where 870,000 died (Wikipedia). Auschwitz-Birkenau stretched for miles holding nearly 150,000 prisoners at a time. It contained five crematories, used for burning bodies or people, and five or more gas chambers. Hitler made it possible for just this camp to annihilate nine thousand Jewish people within a day’s time. A total of 15,000 children under the age of fifteen passed through the Terezin Concentration Camp between the years of 1942 and 1944 (I never saw another butterfly). One young poet named Pavel Friedmann wrote the following poem which reflects the loss caused by the camps:
These camps appalled the world and demonstrated to the world the great destruction caused by an “Aryan” race.
Though World War I and II have been relagated to history books, the effects of Nazism have left some people like victims of the concentration camps with deep scares while others have been left to contemplate the effects of such dictators as Adolf Hitler and governmental philosophies such as Nazism. All must remember that the effects of one individual and one philosophy can cause a nation to move to the extreme; Germans wonders what this philosophy of Nazism was, how it came to such deadly power, how they came to adopt and follow this government, and how to avoid following such extremes in the future.
I never saw another butterfly. New York: McGraw Book Company.
Ellis, Elisabeth Gaynor and Anthony Esler. World HIstory: The Modern World. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Education, Inc., 2007.
Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. London, UK: Elite Minds, Inc., April 14. 2009.
“SS Leader Reinhard Heydrich.” The HIstory Place Biographies of Nazi Leaders. 1997. Reinhard Heydrich. 23 February 2011