Lecture 16 – Nazi Germany
This lecture focuses on the basis of Nazism as an ideology, which included racist war
• War translated into peace time – militarized the economy and society in preparation for
the next war.
• Culmination of a perceived struggle to impose a new hierarchy based on “human worth.”
• Not from long term social and economic structures peculiar to Germany (All Germans
were not pre-programmed Nazis).
• Racist ideology was used to wage war on a large scale – it put everything into the context
of a new racial order
How do we know this is true?
• Racism goes hand in hand with all of their other policies
• They created a racial national community by abolishing class differences and eliminating
undesirables (racial impurities).
• Racism in rearmament, military, policy, propaganda, and the attempt by the state to
create a totalitarian system.
Racist war = condition + consequence of Nazism
War, racism, expansion = fascism
 Why did the Nazi party develop (or find fertile ground) in Germany?
o The Nazi Party is born September 1919
o Adolph Hitler joins German Workers Party (DVP) – which was one of the few right wing
parties trying to radicalize vets and workers. Their main competitors were the Freikorps.
− They were anti-socialist, anti-republican, and anti-commnist
The Freikorps: aimed to demobilize soldiers brutalized by war, who were ill equipped to civilian
life. They were not strong enough to topple the Weimar. This was demonstrated by the Kapp
Putsch (1920), which failed to topple the government. This created an opening though for other
groups such as the DVP.
o April 1920 the DVP becomes the NSDAP, or the Nazi Party
− Hitler takes over and leads party
− His greatest power was his oratory skill and ability to bring in other people from
the right wing parties
− He buys The Observer, his own newspaper − He also creates the SA, or the Brownshirts to act like the fascist blackshirts. Their
job was to fight socialists in the streets. (COPIED FROM MUSSOLINI)
Why was the Nazi Party different?
• They were able to recruit from a very broad social cross section – the party cut across
• They were the first to employ mass mobilization (borrowed from Mussolini)
− Created flags/banners
• In the Beer Hall Putsch, they try to overthrow the Weimar. Hitler is sent to jail. The act
was a failure, but it turned Hitler into a sympathetic national figure exactly when the
Weimar was doing the worst.
o In 1924 the republic re-stabilizes due to the Dawes plan and renegotiation of Versailles
o At this point the party goes into decline until 1930
− The problem with Weimar stability is that they were not that stable. There was
political fragmentation in the coalition and economic problems with them being a
welfare state that could not provide constitutional guarentees.
− The people wanted a presidential figure and so Hindenburg was elected by
popular vote, but he retreats from welfare democracy.
Traditional elites at this point are becoming anti-republican.
− Bureaucrats/civil servants/professionals – job loss
− Military – restriction of army
− Industrialists – despised the legalized trade unionism and welfare
− Middle class – hated social reformism and were anxious about public unrest. There was a
threat to their savings and investment and fear that the Weimar threatened traditional
− Small/medium farmers – scared of debt and foreclosures
− Unemployed – liked the extreme right and left
 Why did Nazism capitalize on the Weimar Republic’s failures?
Essentially capitalized because Nazis were very disciplined after 1925
• Cast themselves as the outside party and became a party of protest
• Mostly gained in towns and areas with Protestants
• By May 1928 they has 2.6% of the national vote − Beyond Bavaria they had support
− Small national party
− They had support in the North and East and with young people
− Absorbed competitors for the racist vote
− By 1924 they had 100,000 members
The Great Depression gave them power:
May 1928-September 1930 they went from 2.6 – 18% of the vote and 12 out of 107 seats
Their successes came from organization and mobilization. They stood out as an activist, violent
party and a way to express grievances. After the 1930 election they were spreading out to all
parts of the country beyon