Right Wing Nazis Essay Sample
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Right Wing Nazis Essay Sample
National Socialism or NAZISM is a German totalitarian m0vement that arose after World War I. It was spawned in the aftermath of a lost war, a time of disillusionment with old social institutions, dissatisfaction with democratic processes, and pervasive fear of communism. Like Italian Fascism, it was dictatorial, nationalistic, and terroristic. What National Socialism added to fascism was a fanatical racism and a policy of incessant international aggression. It is doubtful that one can speak of a philosophy or theory of National Socialism. When the Nazis rejected the political traditions of the 19th century, they abandoned not only liberal democracy but the whole humanist belief in rational politics. They saw conflict and violence as the basic laws of life, and they appealed to passion and emotions as instruments in the struggle. Such putative “philosophy” of National Socialism as those expressed in Hitler’s Mein Kampf or Alfred Rosenberg’s Myth of the Twentieth Century makes it abundantly clear that theory served the Nazis simply as a rationalization of their fundamentally irrational faith.
This paper intent to: (1) know the origin of National Socialism and after World War I; (2) be aware of the movement’s strategies for seizing power and; (3) find out how the movement collapsed.
- Brief Background
National Socialism is the name of a movement started as the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDP) by Adolf Hitler in Germany in 1919. Its name revealed its emphasis upon nationalism, socialism, Germanism and the working class. Like Benito Mussolini’s fascism, it combined an appeal to extreme and exclusive nationalism and chauvinist expansionism with a revolutionary call to the masses. Many traits were from the beginning common to fascism and National Socialism, which may be regarded as the German form of fascism.
Both proclaimed themselves the implacable enemies of liberalism and democracy, of individual rights and all movements of international co-operation and peace; both stressed the subordination of the individual to the state, the inequality of men and races, the right of the strong to rule the weak, and the necessity of the principle of blind and unswerving obedience to leaders appointed from above. Both praised the military virtues, despised and rejected pacifism, humanitarianism and charity, glorified hatred and conquest, and aimed at the transformation of the whole nation into an armed camp and an instrument of perpetual readiness for warfare.
National Socialism, however, had its peculiarly German roots. Some can be traced to the Prussian tradition as it developed under the inspiration of great soldier king such as Frederick William I and Frederick II and men of blood and iron such as Bismarck. This tradition had always regarded the militant spirit and the discipline of the Prussian army as the model for all individual and civic life. To it was added the tradition of political romanticism with its sharp hostility to rationalism, to the principles underlying the French Revolution, to the “superficiality” of the west, and with its emphasis on instinct, on the past, even on the remote past, and its proclamation of the rights of the exceptional over all universal law and rules. Thus, the exceptional becomes a law unto himself.
These two traditions were later enforced by the 19th– century adoration of science and of the laws of nature which with their “iron logic” worked out beyond all concepts of good and evil, and by a biological theory of life which led to the acceptance of that racialism first proclaimed by the Frenchman Joseph Arthur, count de Gobineau, in his Essai gar l’inegalite des races humaines (1854 and 1884), and then propounded by Richard Wagner (1813-83), who combined it with a heroic ideal of the Nordic superman, and by his son-in-law, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, whose Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (1899) profoundly influenced early Hitlerism. To romanticism, National Socialism owed the vague and fluid conceptions of folk as the basis of cultural and political organization, and of Weltanschauung or “total world outlook” as opposed in the same of Kultur to the more rational civilization of the west. 
In addition to these currents in the German tradition, it ought to be pointed out that Hitler’s formation was influenced during his youth by specific Austrian movements. National Socialism owed much to Karl Lueger (1844-1910), who organized the Catholic lower middle classes of Vienna in an anticapitalistic and anti-Semitic movement called the Christian Society party, but who remained loyal to Habsburg conservatism, and to Georg von Schonerer (1842-1921), who combined racial anti-Semitism with a violent anti-Catholicism and pan-Germanic expansionism and a bitter hostility to the Habsburgs. Schonerer’s disciple Karl Hermann Wolf founded among the Sudeten Germans in Bohemia, a German Worker’s party which was later to assume the name of Deutsche National-Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei, a few years before Hitler founded his almost identically named NSDAP in Munich.
Much in Hitler’s ferocious nationalism and his contempt of the Slavs can be explained by the experience of his youth amid the bitter nationality struggles of the multiracial Habsburg Empire.
When Hitler started his agitation in Munich immediately after World War I, he found the intellectual soil well prepared by the writings of the German romanticists, and of the German publicists of the War of Liberation such as Ernst Moritz Arndt (1769-1868) and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778-1852). The last years before World War I were characterized by a renewed interest in romanticism and in the War of Liberation of 1813. In those years, a German youth movement with its longing for a true community, a Gemeinschaft, the rebirth of the nation, and with its vague mystical enthusiasm for leadership and comradeship, expressed the opposition to rationalism and “bourgeois” liberalism. It had come largely under the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche and the German poet Stefan George. Oswald Spengler, the author of the Decline of the West, Preussentum und Sozialismus (1920) and Hour of Decision and Moeller van den Bruck, the author of Der preussische Stil and Das Dritte Reich, can be regarded as the immediate forerunners of National Socialism in the intellectual field.
But the intellectual preparation would in no way have been sufficient for the growth of National Socialism in Germany if the defeat in World War I with its ensuing disillusionment and pauperization, especially in the lower middle classes, had not paved the way to Hitler’s propaganda. The peace treaty of Versailles gave to Hitler a starting point, but the violent opposition which he evoked was not directed in reality against the peace treaty but against the fact that Germany had been defeated and that its plans had been frustrated. From the beginning, Hitler’s propaganda appealed to the military circles, who regarded the peace only as a temporary setback in Germany’s expansionist program. Hitler added to the pan-Germanic aspirations for world hegemony the almost mystical fanaticism of a faith in the mission of the German race and the fervour of a social revolutionary gospel. In the years of political and economic depression which followed Germany’s defeat, Hitler’s appeal to the German masses as the bearers of the most exalted racial ideals in the world was eagerly accepted to counteract their inferiority complex.
Though Hitler accepted many elements of the technique of the bolshevist revolution, he found a powerful ally in the widespread fear of bolshevism which he exploited, first in Germany and then on a world-wide scale, posing as the bulwark against bolshevism. Thus, he secured the financial and moral support of many conservative circles who misunderstood the revolutionary and nihilistic character of his movement and its many points of similarity with the appeal and the antiliberalism of bolshevism. On the other hand, he gained the adherence of the masses by vague promises of an anticapitalisitc order. The banner of the NSDAI was the red flag of the revolution, but altered to the German imperial colors by the addition of a white circle and a black swastika in the center.
Thus, Hitler combined the appeal of social revolution and that of a militant and mystical nationalism; the extraordinary flexibility of his dynamic doctrine enabled him to stress different elements at different times and to adapt his attitude momentarily to changing circumstances, even with complete disregard for previous statements. His most important individual contribution to the theory and practice National Socialism was his deep understanding of mass psychology and mass propaganda in the contemporary world and his perfection of the methods learned from bolshevist technique. His chapter on propaganda in Mein Kampf can be regarded as of the most fundamental importance. He stressed the fact that all propaganda must keep its intellectual level to the capacity of the least intelligent of those at whom it is directed, and that its content of truth does not count compared with the only valid criterion, that of success. “The slighter its scientific ballast, and the more exclusively it considers the emotions of the masses, the more complete the success.”
Propaganda should say very little, but repeat this very little forever. Hitler understood that, especially with as wide and far reaching a goal as world domination, it was of the utmost importance to be able to present under one common denominator all potential adversaries who might themselves change according to circumstances.
- Origin of National Socialism
The intersection and mutual reinforcement of two social crises in Europe in the early 20th century contributed to the rise of both fascism and National Socialism. On the other hand, there was a crisis in industrial capitalism as it advanced from an earlier, liberal phase to one marked by technocracy and regulation. The transition involved an often painful restructuring of social groups, especially of the bourgeoisie. On the other hand, countries like Germany and Italy, in which modernization had been delayed, were still struggling with problems created by the conversion from premodern to modern societies. The interplay of these two crises accounted for both the ambivalence and the peculiar appeal of fascism in general and Nazism in particular.
Germany’s defeat in World War I and the subsequent outbreak of revolutionary activity in various parts of the country greatly intensified the effects of these crises. The nation’s anxieties and confusion were exacerbated by the vindictive terms of the Treaty Versailles and by the fear that the Bolshevik revolution in Russia would spread to Germany. The establishment of the democratic Weimar Republic did not succeed in restoring national self-confidence. When a nationalistic, militaristic opposition to the government emerged, it was able to attract a considerable following. However, lacking organization and a compelling ideology, it spent its energies in random violence.
- After World War I
Inside Germany, conditions were unsettled throughout the early 1920’s. Many Germans felt betrayed by their leaders for surrendering to the Allies in 1918 and resented the current German government because it had agreed to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and because it seemed weak and inept. The country was beset by runway inflation and high unemployment, and political turmoil was made worse by a fear of Communism and mistrust of democracy. Extremist groups and political parties on the right and the left competed for control, often using violence to achieve their goals. One of these groups was Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers’, or Nazi, party.
The Nazi party was founded in 1918 and quickly attracted a following among embittered veterans of World War I and others who wished to unite the German people and erase the “shame” and “betrayal” of the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler joined the party in 1919 and soon gained prominence by virtue of his electrifying oratory. IN 1923, he led the Nazis in an attempted putsch (seizure of the government) in Munich. The putsch failed and Hitler and other conspirators were arrested. While in jail, Hitler began Mein Kampf (My Struggle), which outlined his program for the Nazi party and for Germany.
The Nazi program, like that of Benito Mussolini’s Fascist in Italy, was one of the extreme nationalism. The Nazis were contemptuous of democratic forms of government and believed that people owed total obedience to their country. In addition, the Nazis held that the only true Germans were “Aryans,” or people with northern European physical characteristics. Aryans, they claimed, formed a “master race” which had a right to conquer additional and to exterminate all “inferior” races who stood in the way. The Nazis were also violently anti-Semitic and accused Jews of bei9ng the main cause of Germany’s problems.
The Nazi party’s racial theories appealed to Germans looking for something on which to blame their economic and political troubles. The Nazi’s program of authoritarian government also found favor with many army officers and some industrialists, who saw in it a chance to regain the power they had held before German’s defeat, to restore stability and order to the country, and to block the growth of leftist parties and ideas.
Moreover, the Nazi party lost prestige and support after the failed putsch in 1923, but Hitler continued to work diligently to gain power. In 1930, the Nazis won 107 seats in the Reichstag (legislature); in 1932, 230 seats. In 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor (prime minister) and soon demanded and received absolute power from the legislature. He then crushed all opposition.
- The Early History of National Socialism
One of the numerous small groups and sects making up the numerous small groups and sects making up this opposition was the Nationasozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP; National Socialist German Workers party; the word Nazi was derived from the first two syllables of the party’s name). Founded in Munich, Bavaria, in February 1920, it grew out of the German Workers’ party. Adolf Hitler, its supreme leader from 1921, soon emerged as the greatest demagogic talent in German politics. His first success was converting his tiny band of armchair politicians and desperadoes into a serious political force in Bavaria. However, the Nazis Beer hall Putsch of November 8-9, 1923, was a failure. Although it won national notoriety for Hitler, it put him and his party out of action. Germany’s economic recovery and political stability after 1924 forced the Nazis back into obscurity. But the Great Depression offered Hitler another chance. From 1930 on, the party grew in numbers and eventually was able to take over the government in 1933.
- Ideology and Propaganda
National Socialism was not grounded in a well-formulated ideology. Its underlying ideas included such abstruse and contradictory doctrines as the following: the Nordic master race was created to rule over inferior races, especially the Jews; there should be pan-German unification—that is, the gathering of all persons of German blood into a greater German Reich; the Fuhrer (leader) is the mystical embodiment of the Third Reich; National Socialism supersedes Marxist international socialism; the medieval corporatist society and a Germanic tribal society of peasants should serve as paradigms for the Third Reich. National Socialism was an amalgam of such disparate doctrines as these rather than a well-articulated, coherent political philosophy.
Hitler did not even attempt to formulate a political philosophy in Mein kampf (1925-1927; My Struggle), and Alfred Rosenberg’s attempt to do so in The Myth of the Twentieth Century (1930) did not succeed. In fact, the ideas of National Socialism were not even original with the Nazis. They were developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by conservative and volkisch ideologues, who idealized the German Volk (“people”). Among these were the French racial theorist count de Gobineau, Richard Wagner’s English son-in-law Houston Stewart Chamberlain, the Nietzschean and racial fanatic Julius Langbehn, the conservative nationalist Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, the historian and political philosopher Oswald Spengler, and the writer Ernst Junger. These and other writers of similar persuasion adapted, and often corrupted, the earlier romantic and conservative philosophies by mixing them with Darwinist, imperialist, and populist notions.
Hitler believed that these ideas could become politically effective only if their negative and hostile qualities were emphasized. In Hitler’s hands, the ideas of these writers became ant-ideas: anti-Marxist, antiliberal, antihumanist, antidemocratic, and, above all, anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism was to serve as a vehicle for reducing the many enemies to one Training in Nazi doctrine was training in hostility.
Hitler also developed propaganda techniques for instilling his doctrines. Instead of trying to convert the Germans by reason, he exhorted them in emotional harangues and provided them with visual symbols of National Socialism— uniforms, flags, the swastika emblem. Ideas were transformed into myths and were used to trigger activity and violence. Thus in National Socialism, ideology, propaganda, and action tended to merge.
- The Party and the Movement
The National Socialist party differed in an important respect from the National Socialist movement. As a party, Nazism was formally organized and highly bureaucratic. Its organization became increasingly diversified and specialized, so that by 1932, just before it gained exclusive control of the state, the party might have appeared as a mirror image of the state, except that Hitler’s dictatorial leadership of the party differed from the chancellor’s role in the state.
As a movement, by contrast, Nazism was an emotional community, mobilized for revolutionary action. Within the movement, formal office and organization counted for nothing and personal leadership for everything. In actual operation this dualism generated rivalries among subordinate party leaders, which Hitler used to maintain control over his followers. But it also made the party prone to disintegration and anarchy.
- National Socialism’s Constituencies
Nazism shared its original constituency with the volkisch ideologies. Its three components were the “old,” premodern, middle class employed in crafts and trades and the lower strata of the teaching profession; a minority of the “new” middle class of white-collar workers, which included people who considered their clerical jobs socially demeaning; and those war veterans whom society had not succeeded in reintegrating and who had become brutalized from many years of fighting. Originally competing with the volkisch groups for this constituency, by the end of the 1920’s the Nazis were in sole control of it.
In 1929 and 1930, during the Great Depression, Nazism attracted four more groups: the bulk of the bourgeois moderate right, which included Protestant agrarians, white-collar workers, and the upper bourgeoisie; former nonvoters, who under the impact of the crisis voted in unusually high numbers; the young; and a growing number of the unemployed. Hitler continued to be unsuccessful, however, in attracting the Catholic population and the socialist working class. Nor was he more than moderately successful with big business. The Nazi party largely financed itself. Big business contributions were limited prior to 1933.
- Nazi’s strategies for seizing power
After his abortive putsch in 1923, Hitler returned to his original plan of gaining control of the government through an alliance with the conservative, monarchist elites. They still occupied important positions in the bureaucracy and the Army of the Weimar Republic, but they lacked popular support. Hitler offered his political backing up in return for what the conservatives understood would be no more than a role in the government for him, should the alliance, was not partial but total power for himself.
Thus Nazi strategy had a dual purpose—to develop successful mass mobilization techniques and to manipulate the conservatives, by means of blackmail and bribery when that was considered efficacious. Hitler proved to be master on both counts, no more so than in January 1933 when he made a deal with the conservatives that brought him the chancellorship at the very moment when his party was losing momentum and votes. Prior to this, the army had salvaged Hitler’s paramilitary SA (Sturmabteilung, or “Storm Troopers”) after Chancellor Heinrich Bruning had dissolved it in April 1932. The army was convinced that the SA had military potential for German rearmament.
Moreover, by the early summer of 1932 the Nazis, although not a majority party, were the largest group in the German Reichstag. In the presidential elections of March-April 1932, and again in the Reichstag election of July, the Nazi secured about 37% of the popular vote, drawing away the bulk of protestant middle-class supporters from the liberal and traditionalist parties. By November 1932, the Nazi crest seemed to have passed; for in the Reichstag elections of that month, a revulsion against Nazi violence and an economic upturn reduced the National Socialist proportion pf the popular vote to 33% and its deputies from 230 to 196. But at this point the relations that Hitler had cultivated with the reactionary circles in German politics bore fruit.
In December, Chancellor Franz von Papen, unable to secure anything close to the popular or parliamentary support he needed to carry on the government, resigned in favor of the political general Kurt von Schleicher. When the latter, despite a more advanced social program, also failed to obtain any mass adherence to traditional conservatism, Von Papen negotiated an alliance with Hitler. In January 1933, President Paul von Hindenburg was persuaded to appoint Hitler to the chancellorship was persuaded to appoint Hitler to the chancellorship of a coalition Cabinet with Von Papen as Vice-Chancellor. From this point, the Nazis took over. By utilizing the Reichstag fire (February 27, 1933), which they blamed on the Communists, they secured 44% of the popular vote in the Reichstag elections of March 1933. They then pushed through the Enabling Act, which transferred to the cabinet legislative authority and the right to suspend the constitution. This action became the “legal” basis of the National Socialist regime.
The Nazi government can best be considered in terms of the changing relations between the conservative and the revolutionary elements that combined to make up National Socialism. On the other hand, the Nazis shared with the conservatives the belief in authority, hierarchy, and an aggressive foreign policy. On the other hand, they departed from the conservatives in refusing to set any limits on either means or ends in the realization of their beliefs. For the Nazis, authority was unbounded, even by religion. Hierarchy was grounded in the unending natural struggle for survival and brooked no traditional forms. Foreign policy was to serve not calculated national interest but an infinite drive for the expansion of power.
- The Nazis in Power: First Phase
In the first period of their regime, which was lasted until the death of Hindenburg in August 1934, the Nazis excluded the conservatives from political partnership and established their own exclusive control. But the main direction of their policy was the construction of a totalitarian state consistent with the antidemocratic views of their conservative allies. They preserved, furthermore, the conservatives’ economic, social, and administrative privileges. All political parties save the national Socialist were outlawed. Independent mass associations, such as labor unions, were smashed. All obstructions to the exercise of concentrated national authority, such as the self-administrative powers of German states and municipalities characteristics of the traditional German federalism, were wiped away in favor of the leadership principle in a unitary nation-state. Organizations of the old German economic and social elite, such as business and agrarian associations, the army, and the bureaucracy, were retained after some remodeling to secure a closer integration into the administration of the Nazi state.
In foreign affairs the Nazis implemented the long agitation of nationalists against the Treaty of Versailles by withdrawing Germany from the disarmament conference and the League of Nations in 1933. The blood purge of June 30, 1934, in which the more conservative wing of the party under Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler smashed the “radicals” led by Ernst Roehm through mass assassinations, solidified the co-operation of the Nazis and the traditional German elite in the execution of a common policy.
- The Nazis in Power: Second Phase
During the second period of the regime, which lasted from August 1934, to the enactment of the Four Year Plan in September 1936, the Nazis secured exclusive political authority? Domestically, this meant direct party control over the masses of the German people. Such party organs as the Germans Labor Front and the Hitler Youth were developed into compulsory institutions, and the party police (SS) was amalgamated with the German police administration. A fanatical policy of radical anti-Semitism was embodied in the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which divested German Jews of their political and civil rights. These measures implemented the Nazi program for a totalitarian state and tended to merge state and party in the authoritarian control of German society. In the field of foreign affairs, to which the Nazis devoted increasing attention, the distinctive revolutionary component of National Socialism began to make itself felt. The official resumption of military conscription and of naval construction in 1935 was in line with traditional nationalism. However, the remilitarization of the Rhineland in March 1936, in defiance of the 1925 Locarno treaties and against the counsel of the army, initiated an adventurous policy that increasingly separated the party drive for expansion from traditional ideas of the national interest. Party interference with the customary role of the Foreign Office also became more obvious.
- The Nazis in Power: Third Phase
In the third period of Nazi rule, which covered the spectacular diplomatic and military successes from late 1936 to late 1942, the National Socialist developed their revolutionary policies in both foreign and domestic affairs. The Rome-Berlin Axis and the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan in 1936 provided its theoretical justification. Thus armed, the Nazis embarked Germany on a career of territorial expansion that brought the annexation of Austria, Czechoslovakia, western Poland, and Alsace-Lorraine and the occupation of all Continental Europe (except Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland) from the Atlantic to the Volga.
Internally, the party assumed direct leadership pf all organs needed to execute these policies. Hitler abolished the Ministry of War and made himself commander in chief of the armed forces. Joachim von Ribbentrop replaced Konstantin von Neurath as Foreign Minister. Hermann Goering, as head of the Four Year Plan Office and later chairman of the national Defense Council, directed economic mobilization for war, pushing the conservative Hjalmar Schacht out of the Economics Ministry and the Reichsbank.
- Nazi Collapsed
In the final phase of the regime, which covered two years of successive defeats until its disintegration in May, 1945, the Nazis sought to identify the nation entirely with the party. To the die0hards who now ruled—Hitler, martin Bormann, Joseph Goebbels, and Himmler—the end of national socialism meant the end of ditch resistance, with all the destruction it involved, and they took over the civil and military administration of the country, substituting wherever possible new organs dependent on the party. This was particularly true after the attempted army coup d etat of July 20, 1944, which signalized the increasing awareness by conservatives of a national interest contrary to party interest. The armed SS became a rival to the regular army; the party district (Gau) became the standard administrative unit; Hitler’s personal favorite, the technocrat Albert Speer, developed a whole new series of agencies for economic control.
But the facts of war dictated an ironical situation: as the regime approached its pure Nazi form it was deprived of a country to govern until it was finally limited to the area around the Berlin air-raid shelter in which Hitler sought to transfer power to a milder Nazi government, with Adm. Karl Doenitz as President and Goebbels as Chancellor. A Doenitz government, occupying a small area in northwest Germany and composed in the main of conservative Nazis, did claim authority in early may, 1945, but it was not recognized and was quickly overrun by British troops. The Allied military government which assumed sovereign power over Germany on June 5 formally ended the Nazi regime and outlawed the party and all its organizations.
The actual as opposed to the legal status of National Socialism in Germany since the war has been the subject of dispute among observers. There has bee little sign of an underground movement and the political party most sympathetic to it—the Reich party—has been unable to secure even the 5% of the popular vote needed for a seat in the federal parliament of West Germany. Yet the denazification program initiated by the Allied military government and turned over the German authorities in 1946 left many former Nazis in important administrative and economic posts, and sporadic anti-Semitic outbreaks indicate the possible persistence of Nazi sentiment in the new Germany. It is generally agreed that only a crisis, economic or military, will reveal whether Nazism is still a living movement.
- Summary and Conclusion
National Socialism is a political party led by Adolf Hitler that ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945. Its members were called Nazis. It was founded as the German Workers’ party in 1918, and “National Socialist” was added to the name in 1920. The swastika, an ancient art motif, was adopted as the official party symbol.
The Nazi movement paralleled the Fascist wave in Italy. Both parties were intensely nationalistic and contemptuous of democracy. The Nazis, however, put greater stress on racial theories. They called the Germans “the master race” and considered other peoples inferior. The Jews were their special object of hatred.
An unsuccessful revolt by Hitler in 1923 damaged the Nazi movement for years. By 1932, however, it had become the largest party in Germany. After Hitler became chancellor in 1933, other parties dissolved themselves or were suppressed. When President Paul von Hindenburg died in 1934, a totalitarian state (the Third Reich) was established with Hitler as Der Fuhrer (The Leader). A plebiscite overwhelmingly confirmed him in power. From that time the Nazis were virtually without opposition until the end of World War II. After the war, the Nazi party was outlawed by the Allied occupation authorities, and later by the east and West German governments.
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