Nazism believed in the existence of a totalitarian state. Nazism opposes democracy and communism. There are many reasons that led to the rise of Nazism in Germany.
Causes Leading to the Rise of Nazism
Humiliating Treaty of Versailles
- Germany was defeated in the First World War and was forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Versailles.
- Several harsh terms were imposed on Germany by the victorious nations. Its overseas colonies were seized by the Allied powers, he had to pay a huge war indemnity of 33 billion dollars, the Rhine area was demilitarised and many of his mineral territories were captured.
- Hitler openly defied the treaty and asked the Germans to support him into building a new powerful Germany.
Growing Fear of Communism
- The communists had organized themselves in Germany, and they had succeeded in capturing many seats in the Reichstag.
- Hitler criticized the growing influence of communism and asked the Germans to vote for him as Nazis could alone check the rising tide of communism.
- The economic conditions of Germany deteriorated after her defeat in the First World War. Her industrial and agricultural production declined.
- Many countries raised tariffs on German manufactured goods and the number of unemployed youth increased.
- Hitler promised the people of economic restructuring and reorganization of German finances after forming the government.
Rise of Militant Nationalism
Hitler assured the people that he would work to regain the lost glory of Germany and make Germany an all-powerful nation. People thus began to support him.
- Hitler carried on anti-Semitic propaganda. He said that the Jews had conspired with the Allies during the First World War and were responsible for the defeat of Germany.
- Because of his anti-Semitic propaganda, many Germans began to support him.
Charismatic Personality of Hitler
- Hitler had a charismatic personality. He was an excellent orator; through his speeches, he made people believe that only he can work for the upliftment of Germany.
- He was a shrewd politician. He assured the people that their economic woes would come to an end after the formation of the government by the Nazis.
- He devised a new style of politics. Massive rallies and public meetings were held by the Nazis to display the strength of the party. Nazi propaganda also skilfully projected Hitler as a messiah who could deliver people from their distress. He captured the imagination of the Germans.
Absence of Strong Opposition
There was an absence of a strong opposition party in Germany that could challenge the ideologies and plans of the Nazis. As the Nazis did not encounter any effective resistance, Hitler became extremely popular with the people.
Aims of Nazism
- To acclaim nationalism
- To advocate rule by a great leader from a single party
- Denounce internationalism, peace and democracy
- To use force and brutality
- Wars are necessary to increase the might of the country
- To uphold the racial supremacy of the Germans and ignite hatred for the Jews
Impact of Nazism
Establishment of a Dictatorial State
- Hitler assumed dictatorial powers in Germany. He centered all powers in his hands and suppressed the opposition.
- He made Germany a unitary power from federal power. All political parties except the Nazi and affiliated parties were declared illegal.
- Secret police known as ‘Gestapo’ was established which kept a check on the citizens of Germany. A right to freedom of speech was denied to the people.
Several reforms were introduced by Hitler to reconstruct the economy of the nation. Some economic reforms which were undertaken by him were
- Industrial and agricultural production was encouraged and factories were set up to provide work to the people.
- Food cooperation was set up to control food production, its pricing, and distribution.
- Capitalists were encouraged to increase production and strikes were banned.
- The production of heavy armaments, airplanes, and naval ships was increased.
- Trade unions were dissolved. All workers were expected to work under the leadership of Hitler.
Militarism and Compulsory Military Training
The size of the German army, air force, and navy were increased. Military training was made compulsory for the citizens.
Renounced Peace Treaties
One of the major objectives of the foreign policy of Hitler was to reject the Treaty of Versailles. He considered the treaty unjust and openly condemned it. He refused to pay war reparation. He also increased the military might of Germany in complete violation of the terms of the treaty.
Acquisition of Territories
- Hitler’s main aim was to acquire overseas colonies for Germany. He believed that colonies were necessary to settle expanding population of Germany and to get raw materials for industries.
- Hitler was keen on expanding in Southern and Eastern Europe as the region was rich in minerals and agricultural products.
- Hitler entered into a non-aggression treaty with Poland for a period of ten years in 1934 for safeguarding its eastern frontiers.
- He also recaptured Saar and Rhineland from France.
- He signed a non-aggression pact with Russia.
- Hitler believed in the racial supremacy of the Aryans. According to the theory of racial supremacy, only the Nordic German Aryans were supreme in society. The Jews were placed in the lowest strata of society. The Jews were regarded as the fiercest enemies of the German Aryans.
- After assuming power, the Nazis sought to eliminate the Jews and the physically disabled Germans. Along with them, gypsies and black Germans were also detained in concentration camps.
- The worst sufferers were the Jews. They were forced to live in miserable circumstances in the ghettoes. In the early years of Nazi rule, the Jews were forced to leave Germany. In the later years of Hitler’s rule, the Jews were rounded up in concentration camps and gas chambers.
- The Polish were forced to leave their properties and home behind for the Germans who came to settle in Poland. Most of the Polish were put into concentration camps. Many of them were murdered in large numbers.
Also, Read Rise of Dictatorship