Rise of the Nazis and the Final Solution
● Economic development = per capita wealth. What do people consider important?
○ Modernization = urbanization, education, industrialization enhances organization
of population (create clubs, when you’re wealthy you have free time)
■ These clubs organized in favour of democratic change. Places for people
to socialize. Provided a mechanism for people to demand greater
○ “School of Democracy” Practice in voicing opinions and organizing others etc.
■ Non-governmental non-commercial organization
○ More effective demands for democracy
■ When you are organized in groups, you are organized to defend your
rights. Not isolated etc.
● Was Weimar Germany underdeveloped or highly developed?
○ It was urban, educated population (Einstein!), science, arts, film (M is for
Murder--tremendous pressure from police to capture murder.)
○ It had incredibly strong civil society → everyone was a member of a club! But this
is bad for democracy as where national political institutions weak, civil society
enhances societal fragmentation!
■ e.g. Bad civil society = extremist groups, radicals, terrorists? These are
clearly not good of democracy.
○ This enhances the power of the Nazis. The people who joins the Nazis in the late
1920s have wide ranging cross association with other groups. (Rural clubs and
■ Nazis use existing institutions to broaden support and adapt their
messages. They know what messages work, and what messages don’t
● Roots of Nazi Success
○ Institutional rules*** What aspects of the Weimar Constitution helped the Nazis?
■ 1) If you have a president and a parliament, the parliament is responsible
for selecting a prime minister (chancellor). If they cannot reach a majority
then the president can just rule by decree.
■ 2) At the same time the rules were an extreme form of proportional
representation. If you got any percentage of the vote, then you were in
parliament. There were 8 parties in government who have gotten under
5% of the vote. This obviously promotes fragmentation!
■ If it wasn’t for these two conditions, Hitler would have never come into
power. The parliament didn’t get majority. Hindenburg was able to appoint
○ Polarization between Communists and Nationalists
○ Great Depression (radical increase to unemployment and rapid inflation)
■ Over half the parliament consisted of people who were opposed to
● Voluntarist vs. Structural ○ Structural causes: Democracy was obviously in trouble.
○ But was Nazi victory the only plausible outcome?
○ Voluntarist Causes:
■ Von Papen and Rise of Hitler
○ Structuralism explains failure of democracy but not necessarily the rise of Nazis
■ ***Have to distinguish between these two outcomes
■ You might have European War, a military coup? Not Nazis.
● Nazis vs. Traditional Nationalists
○ Both were undemocratic and similar traditions/history.
○ But the Nazis were opposed to the existing hierarchy. The believe in a radical
new vision of Nazi controlled Europe. There was a cult of violence, creating
chaos instead of just maintaining order. The Stormtroopers were more thugs than
● The Final Solution
○ Refers to the holocaust and extermination of 6 million Jews
○ Regime was highly ideological, based on notions of an extreme Racial hierarchy
■ People at this time believed that nations like France, Germany and
British, were “born” from this nation. Nations were natural and emerged
from primordial ooze--the idea that this cannot be changed. If you were
Russian, you were Russian.
■ Your nation is your genetic make up.
■ Social Darwinism pseudoscience where the weak species die out and the
strong species survive. Nature was a battle, and if you survive you were
meant to survive.
■ Nazis had a notion that Germans were part of an Aryan nation and that
history showed that Aryans were the superior race, and that in turn gave
them the “right” to dominate Europe.
● White races (such as northern Europe, France, England). Non-
Aryan nations slaves to Aryan nations.
● Raw pillaging of non-Aryans (Jews, Slavs, Russians, Poles).
○ Evolution of Policy towards Jews and Non-Aryans
■ Early policies of discrimination
● Didn’t plan to do this originally, it slowly happened over time
● Originally just implemented anti-Semitic laws. Deprived them of
educated professions. Then citizenship in 1938.
● This is different from Jewish extermination
● Eugenics → If the Aryans were going to survive, then they have to
get rid of the “bad genes” in the gene pool. They killed the weak
members of the Aryan race.
■ Kristallnacht (November 9-10 1938)
● Shooting of German diplomat in Paris. This diplomat happened to
be opposed to the Nazis. When Nazis came into power, there
were still many people in the parliament who didn’t support them.
● Hitler hears about this and uses this as an excuse to commit a massive terror (This is like 1934 with Russia).
● Decision by the Nazi government to “permit” response by local
groups and stormtroopers.
● Coordinated “spontaneous” attacks on Jewish homes, businesses
and synagogues. Public and brutal. 91 killed. 30,000 shipped to
● This event was covered all over the world. The authorities do not
intervene. A wake up call to other countries in the world and
showed them how awful the Nazi regime was. There were Nazis
who also opposed this.
■ Initial policies were about isolation and separation and not elimination
● Concentration camp empire started in 1934.
● Poland initially thought of as “reservation for Jews”
● Final solution = expulsion of Jews to the furthest extremity
● Putting Jewish people in ghettos and even sending them to
Madagascar (scratched this because GB controlled the seas and
it would be too hard to execute)
■ Development of policy and extermination
● “Final Solution”
● Under 1% of German population were Jews before the war.
● The invasion of the Soviet Union caused them to acquire 4 million
Jews under their control. This was the opposite of what they
wanted to do. So what were they going to do with all these Jews?
ಠ_ಠSomehow this led to them deciding to annihilate the Jews.
○ The Wannsee Conference--January 1942: Figure out the
logistics of the final solution
● Death Camps!
○ Development of gas to kill in 1941. It was considered