summary of the chapter -Nazism and the rise of Hitler
Rise of Hitler and the Nazi ideology
The treaty of Versailles which saw the end of World War I heaped humiliation on Germany which had to concede its colonies, territories and resources to the Allies. Germany was also demilitarized and also had to pay £ 6 billion as war indemnity. Many Germans held the newly established Weimer Republic responsible for this humiliating peace treaty and defeat in the first world war. The supporters of the Weimer Republic were mockingly called ‘November Criminals’ by the nationalist groups. Germany saw a period of economic bankruptcy post World War I. There was widespread unemployment, poverty and political turmoil. Adolf Hitler, having participated in World War I as a messenger and seen glory through bravery medals was left disillusioned after the treaty of Versailles. He joined the nationalist German Workers Party in 1919. He rose within the Party and eventually headed it. He renamed the party as Nationalist Socialist German Worker’s Party which later came to be known as the Nazi party.
Although the initial efforts of Hitler to capture power in 1923 were futile, the Nazi party gained popularity during the Great Depression and later as Germans’ hope for better future. In 1937, it became the single largest party in the German Parliament Reichstag. Hitler, a powerful orator, stirred hopes among the youth with promises of employment, better future and glory. He also utilized the medium of mass mobilization and held huge demonstrations where the red flags, Nazi salute and the Nazi symbol were displayed prominently. In 1933, Hitler became the Chancellor and he very effectively overthrew his political rivals the Communists and Democrats. He clamped National Emergency soon after and gained absolute power. He formed secret police Gestapo, protection squads and criminal police to spy and curb any dissent. He had torture chambers and concentration camps where dissenters were sent to. Hitler also had very aggressive foreign policy and he withdrew from the League of Nations in 1933. Germany under Hitler reoccupied the mineral rich Rhineland in 1936 Hitler unified Austria and Germany and occupied Czechoslovakia in 1938. Germany’s occupation of Poland in 1939 started the Second World War.
Nazism ideology is strongly associated with Hitler’s world view. It fundamentally believed in the inequality of races and placed the Nordic German Aryan at the top and the Jews at the bottommost rung of the social ladder. This racist philosophy advocated by Hitler and practised by the Nazis led to genocide and condemnable war crimes as torture and killing of Jews in Europe in concentration camps. Other communities like the Poles, Gypsies and Russians were also persecuted by the Nazis. Even the physically and mentally unfit Germans were persecuted. The Nazi ideology also believed in expanding German borders by occupying new territories and bringing greater territorial and material wealth to Germany.