The end of World War I and the post- war economic turmoil in Europe especially the collapse of the economy of war losing countries importantly Germany due to its enormous spending on warfare during the war in addition to post-war reparation imposed by victor allies via the essence of Versailles Treaty and in combination with the failure of democracy and capitalism in response to the needs of people in this industrialized country had marked the emergence of Nazi ideology in Europe particularly after the involvement of Adolf Hitler in German political arena and his rise to power in 1933 when he was popularly elected to be German chancellor.
In order to make this paper easy to be comprehensible and avoid confusing by readers I first would like to make it clear that Fascism and Nazism are not the same or synonymous. They are created by different persons Mussolini of Italy and Adolf Hitler, respectively. However, these two ideologies are not completely different. They also share some similar ideas. Be that as it may, this paper is objectively designed to study Hitler’s Nazism and its impacts. This paper is composed of two main sections: Hitler’s political beliefs and Nazi theory in general. These sections will be described in detail in the following paragraphs, respectively. But first and foremost, it is significantly important to know what Nazism is before we can clearly understand its root concepts.
1. Nazism in Brief
Nazism is also known as National Socialism which refers to the totalitarian ideology and practices of the Nazi party under the control of Adolf Hitler. It also refers to the policy adopted by German government from 1933 to 1945, the time when Adolf Hitler came to power until his death that marked the end of World War II. The year 1933-1945 is also known in German history as Nazi Germany or the Third Reich. Adolf Hitler’s Nazism can be found in his work Mein Kampf (My Struggle), a book written when he was in jail for one year after his attempt to overthrow the precedent government by coup. Some of his political ideologies from Mein Kampf will also be described in the following sections.
2. Hitler’s Political Beliefs
Different from Mussolini, leader of Italy and author of the book called Doctrine of Fascism, who focuses mainly on the importance of state in political arena, Adolf Hitler places the significance on strong and powerful race. For him Aryan is the only most intelligent, potential and pure race whom he refers to German race. Hitler’s view in his book, Mein Kampf, composed of three important points.
First is the concept of race struggle which is strongly influenced by Social Darwinism’s natural selection which Hitler thinks that only strong men (race) can survive in this controversial and struggling world. He thinks, on the one hand, that man history was shaped by struggle between nations and races and that a nation needed to be united under and controlled by a powerful state led by a potential leader in order to succeed in this struggle. On the other hand, Hitler also believes that individuals within a nation fight against each other for survival, and this perpetual competition is good for the health of the nation, because it makes the nation getting stronger and promotes “superior individuals or races to higher positions in society”.
Second is the conception of anti- Semitism. Hitler believes that in order to keep German blood pure and avoid mixing with other races which he thinks would make his Aryan race inferior, other races especially the Jews who he thinks are sucking German blood economically and politically must be completely eliminated so that they can’t anymore go on blood sucking in German society. To him Jews are the stumbling blocks of German growth and development. That’s why a lot of Jews were forced to work, starved to death and executed during the war.
Third is the idea that German must control the “Lebensraum”
(Living Space) from Russia where land areas are fertile and abound with natural resources and it is a potential area for world domination. By controlling this part of the world German can easily support its population and control the world.
Besides strongly believes in three conceptions mentioned above, Hitler also opposed to communist concept and democracy. Democracy, he said, is the force that makes the country becomes unstable because it places power in the hands of weak, unintelligent and impure people to control the country. Hitler’s view is very similar to that of Plato who also thinks that in any society there are weak, disqualified people than the qualified, thus if democracy is practiced the weak will become the majority and in the end it will create the tyranny of majority in that society. This is a brief introduction of Hitler’s view on politics. Next, I will describe in detail about Nazi theory and its influences.
3. Nazi Theory
3.1. Nationalism and Racism
The first central idea of Nazism is the concept of nationalism and racism which focuses mainly on Germanic Aryan. The idea is to promote and protect the purest Aryan race in the world. Hitler, who was strongly influenced by others, thinks that Germany is the only country that has more pure Aryan than others such as Ireland, England, Northern France, the Benelux countries, and Scandinavia
where Aryan used to travel across and reside there. Thus, protecting the pure Germanic Aryan race is the prioritized thing he would do in order to assure that German blood will not be mixed and interbreed especially with the Jews. By so doing, Germany will become the purest and the most intelligent, potential race in the world and as a result of this will lead Germany to control the whole world.
However, as mentioned above, Hitler is not the only and the first person who promotes the Aryan race. Actually, he was strongly influenced by the English and French men. For example, an Englishman Houston Stewart Chamberlain had strongly admired the Aryan and also strongly criticized the Jews. This would create the misunderstanding and conflict between the two races. It is true or not but as a scholar it is significantly important for him to be careful when speaking out such argument because it can lead to the death of people’s lives especially between the two counter races. Chamberlain argued that Aryan race had created the entire world’s civilization. He also believed that all races were impure and mixed except the Germans, who were Aryan and good, and the Jews, who were completely evil.
Thus, the struggles will perpetually take place between the two races. This argument is so extreme. Naturally and rationally speaking, both races especially the Germans if they strongly believe in this argument, they will do whatever they can to defeat and eliminate the Jews and vice versa. According to this argument the Jews are most likely the victims in this racial competition because they are seen by the Germans as the phantom and vampire who come to harm them.
In addition to Chamberlain, argument of a Frenchman Arthur de Gobineau also strongly influenced Adolf Hitler. Similar to Chamberlain he argued that Aryan was the only most superior race. He continued by saying that the purest race (Aryan race) of all was the German people.
Similar to these two scholars, Hitler said that everything people have in this era (his period of life) including art, science and technology are the exclusively creative products of the Aryan.
Hitler finally took these ideas and put them in place when he involved in German politics especially when he came to power. He strongly blamed the Jews when he spoke to the public and as he is good at making speech and also charismatic, he can easily lure his people to follow up his ideas because even though his speech blaming everything on the Jews is not rational but the concept of Aryan superiority had almost become German culture.
He also regarded the Jews as parasites, vampires, spongers and blood suckers of German people. He once proclaimed by referring to the Jews that “races without homelands” were “parasite races”
, and when the parasite races become richer and stronger, they will in the end control and exploit the local races and form their own state on the master races. To him the Jews are the invaders in the world and if the local races are not strong enough to protect their own races then the Jews will dominate and finally they will eliminate all the local races and then will protect their men not to marry or interbreed with the master races because they want to keep their blood pure as Hitler claimed that the Jews are trying to impure the Aryan races but they try keep their races pure. He also said the Jews urged and encouraged their women to get married with other races but they prevent men from getting married with other races because they want other races impure and keep their races pure. As a result of these, he said the “master race”, who he refers to the Germans, must eliminate all parasite races from its homelands as many as possible in order to strengthen itself.
Hitler’s blaming the Jews, on the one hand, makes him became famous in German politics. People supported his ideas and they became realizing that the Jews made their country weak or even lost the war (WWI). On the other hand, The Jews’ lives will be at risk. They lived with fear and worry because they are the first target of the regime. Hitler’s policy is to eliminate all the Jews living in Germany by forcing them to overwork, starving them to death or executing them. As result of his ideas, about 6 millions Jews’ lives were systematically destroyed. Most of them were killed in the extermination camps and some were fired to death. Nationalism is not a bad idea. It is naturally for a citizen to protect his/her nation. However, nationalism combines with rationalism is much better than rationalism plus extremism.
As mentioned above, Hitler’s racism and nationalism were very extreme. The idea of eliminating other races especially the Jews cannot be put in place if the leader is not absolute enough. Thus, Nazism requires the conception of totalitarianism or dictatorship in order to achieve its objective. In totalitarianism the dictator not only dominates the government but also political parties and other state affairs socially, politically and economically. Even though Mussolini’s Fascism and Hitler’s Nazism both consist of the concepts of totalitarianism but their views on it are different. Unlike Fascism which focuses its importance on the state, Hitler’s Nazism states that the state is only the political arena. The first significance prior to the state is race as Hitler’s claimed that race uses the state to build its strength and leadership and race is the main actor that play significant role in making the state strong. That’s why his first totalitarian policy is to make his race pure.
Nazism’s totalitarianism created centralization in Germany. All powers were handed to a dictator, head of government in Berlin. The legislature also gave up its power to government cabinet, which was headed by Hitler. The Judiciary had no independent power. It was only used as a tool for Hitler’s politics. All powers were centralized in one man’s hand. Besides taking power of the legislature and politicizing the court, Hitler also used military, civil police, media, newspapers and other printing materials as his tools to spread and influence his idea. Further than this, he also destroyed all books and films that opposed his views. This Nazism’s totalitarianism as a result had destroyed the tradition of power sharing in Germany. People have no say because it is a belief of Nazism that they were already under the lead of a heroic leader, thus their involvement in politics is unnecessary.
Like Plato and James Madison, Hitler also gave much value on qualified people. He said that people are unequal: some are better, some are more intelligent, some are stronger, some are more talented etc… Therefore, their contributions to society are also unequal. However, Hitler did not discourage the weak Germans from fulfilling their obligation to the state. They are all welcomed to help the state but the difference lies in this: those who give the greatest service deserve the greatest benefit. Interestingly, people’s obligation is open for all people but their participation is not at all allowed. That’s why he rejected democracy and supported the idea of eugenics, which is the improvement of the qualities of a race by control of inherited characteristics.
Through Eugenics German race will be protected and purified.
Hitler rejected democracy because as mentioned above people are obviously unequal and normally there are more disqualified people than the qualified, so rooms will be given to the disqualified to dominate. On the other hand, Hitler also alleged the Jews of trying to use democracy as their tool to strengthen and develop their races in Germany. Democracy, he argued, is a political force of the weak and it reduces the government to the lowest domination. Democracy gives many voices to the masses and as a result of this the Jews will take this opportunity to get involved in politics and when they can control all factors in German then they will gradually eliminate the German races. That’s why he believed that powers must be given to the elite especially the heroic leader to enjoy his excellent government and leadership. He, furthermore, also said that the role of citizens is to provide services and fulfill their obligations which were handed down by the state. They may not ask but to follow the leader’s guidelines like the US army. Their question is not why but what.
3.4. Anti-Capitalism and Marxian Socialism
Politically, Hitler opposed the ideas of democracy and communism. Economically, he rejected the ideas of capitalistic economic system and socialism of the Marxist by creating his own socialism which he called a true socialism. However, it has no specific theory at all.
Nazi thinking of anti- capitalist can be easily found in the Nazi Party “twenty-five point program” which listed some important economic demands. Included in these demands were, “the State shall make it its primary duty to provide a livelihood for its citizens," "the abolition of all incomes unearned by work," the ruthless confiscation of all war profits," "the nationalization of all businesses which have been formed into corporations," "profit-sharing in large enterprises," "extensive development of insurance for old-age," "land reform suitable to national requirements," and to achieve this and other aims, "the creation of a strong central state power for the Reich.”
What makes the Nazi Party formulated such economic programs? One thing to remember is that Nazi Party formerly was a worker’s party which can be interpreted as party for workers not for the capitalists. Because of strong will of the party leader capitalism must not be allowed to be implemented in Nazi Germany as it was, on the one hand, a tool used by the Jews to exploit the Germans and through capitalism the Jews will be easily reside in German territory and finally the may control Germany because they have strong involvement in business and economic factors. Hitler, on the other hand, also said that “We are socialists; we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance”.
For socialism Hitler clearly pointed out that Nazi socialism has nothing to do with Marxian socialism. Although they both were called socialism but they have different notions. He even admired his Nazi socialism as genuine while Marxian socialism just an artificial one. He said that “Marxism is anti-property (private property); true socialism is not.”
He also continued by stating that “I absolutely insist on protecting private property” and that “… [w]e must encourage private initiative.”
Although Hitler strongly supported private property and private initiative, interestingly, he also strongly believed that government should be given power to regulate private property to make sure that benefit to the community and nation precede to benefit of the individuals and individuals must sacrifice for the good of the nation. Thus, the state must get rich prior to its people.
Nazi economic theory looks strange. On the one hand, it strongly opposed capitalist economic system but it supports private property which is one the main criteria of capitalism. Not only Nazi socialism, capitalism also strongly encourages private property. On the other hand, it opposed Marxian socialism but it supported the idea that government should regulate private property for the benefit of the nation. By looking at this brief analysis I can conclude that while Nazi economic theory is rejecting capitalism, it is also at the same time supporting socialism and vice-versa. Nazi economic theory is not only logical, but its founder, interestingly, cannot even specify explicitly what his theory is about as Hitler later said that “The basic feature of our economic theory is that we have no theory at all”.
Another interesting thing is that, even though Nazi party had set some of its economic programs, Hitler himself did not think that economy is the first priority the state has to pay much attention on since the year 1922 when he became leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party. He proclaimed that “world history teaches us that no people have become great through its economy but that a people can very well perish thereby”
, and later he concluded that “the economy is something of secondary importance”.
He said the most important thing that the state or leader should think about is the war of expansion. He even blamed some of his precedent leaders since Bismarck for their concerning only the internal peaceful development of economy but never thought of territorial expansion through war.
However, Hitler might forget that how can a country conduct a successful war if its economy is weak. He also forgets that he can win the wars at the first stage against other countries was a result of good internal economic performances in Germany. Of course, although economic theory of Nazism is strange, illogical and not theoretical, it produced good and fast results for German economy before the war i.e. within three years when Hitler was in power from 1933-1936 the German GNP increased by an average annual rate of 9.5 per cent and the rate for industry alone rose by 17.2 per cent.
Furthermore, they had strengthened building infrastructures and a lot of money was also spent to produce warfare equipments.
Imperialism is the policy dominating of other nations by acquiring dependencies. As stated above, Hitler first importance is expansion through war not internal peaceful economic development. Thus, imperialism must be inevitably put in place by the Nazi Party. Actually, Hitler was clever in the fact that he invaded other states then put these states as his country satellites which in return these states have to sell raw materials to Germany in low price and they have also to buy final products from Germany. Hitler used this strategy to continue his war by saving his raw materials and resources but using other countries resources as his expense for war. Further more, he also forced people of satellite states to work for German factories by giving them low price. We can say that this is Hitler’s an arrow-with-two-bird strategy.
Hitler who was strongly influenced by Social Darwinism believed that the strong must dominate the weak in this on going struggling world and war and military play importantly active roles in this process. He extremely thought that the world was still a state of nature which to survive is to fight. He also wrote in his Mein Kampf that “Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.”
Thus, you are not worth to live in this world if you don’t fight. You should be better killed than to live. Hitler thought that conflicts in the world are endless and conflicts ended only when there are no people on earth. To him war is inevitable. He said first war take place between nations against nations, then between individuals against individuals. For him none would be blamed for fighting. This is the world nature. Want or don’t want they are forced to protect their rights. As result of this extreme thought Hitler had used all his pretexts to invade other countries around Germany and his final aim is to control the whole world.
Militarism was used by Nazi Germany in order to achieve its imperialistic and expansionistic objectives. As mentioned above Hitler’s first importance is war expansion, so in order to successfully conduct this expansionism the military must be potentially strong. Different from its counterparts, war is the prime goal of the Nazi rather than use it as a last resort. Since the time when Hitler became a German chancellor, he never used diplomacy as the prime goal to resolve the conflicts because he thinks that it requires long time and complicated Because of this he continuously invaded from one country to another by using his strong military force until his death.
Similar to what mentioned above, furthermore, war is something inevitable. It is the main process for national domination to be achieved and great nations grow only from military power. As a result of this conception, Hitler had influentially convinced the Germans to strongly committed and sacrificed to their nation by using force because their final goal is to create the Greater Germany and they think only military force can make them achieve it.
Not all conceptions in Nazi theory are bad. Some of them are very rational. For example, like Thomas Hobbes, Hitler said that conflicts between nations against nations and individuals against individuals are not naturally unavoidable. It is naturally true but to what extent the conflict is another question. I also believe that men are naturally selfish and greedy and because of this natural characteristics men cannot avoid conflict with the other even they don’t want to do so but they are forced to protect their own interests and rights. However, I do not support the idea that men should all the time use war to solve conflicts. War I think creates more conflicts than it is peacefully solved. Even though it takes time but cost no life. I also do not support the notion blaming the Jews that they were the destroyers and blood suckers of all aspects in Germany. For example, Hitler blamed the Jews that Germans lost the war (WWI) because of them. It is not necessarily true. During the war the Jews living in Germany did not join hand or ally with German counterparts or support them financially. Actually, German lost the war because of its weakness both militarily and especially the fall down of its economy and strong attack from the victor allies.
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