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Why did Nazism thrive in Germany?

by JerryClower
Tags: germany, nazism, thrive
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Nov23-12, 10:59 PM
P: 570
Quote Quote by JerryClower View Post
Why did Nazism rise to power so quickly before and during World War 2 in Germany? Did Germany as a whole know that Hitler was killing Jews? Do you think something like Nazism will ever be able to thrive in Germany again?
No simple answer.

Germany was in terrible shape. I can't imagine living that way. There was widespread poverty and a great many handicapped young men from the war. War War I was an unbelievably horrible experience. The Allies had imposed heavy economic penalties. The most capable leader, Walther Rathenau, was assassinated by anarchists whose goal was to screw up the country. They succeeded.

Europe had had a big war every generation for hundreds of years. It was tradition, and the winner got wealthy. The loser wanted another war to get revenge, the winner wanted another war in order to get rich. Hitler's plan was to get out of poverty by overthrowing the Versailles treaty by force, then get rich by conquering Europe. Many Germans thought that was a very good idea.

Europe was very anti-Semitic, going back for over a thousand of years. Not just Germany, but the entire place. Less so in England. In my view, the success of Jews was envied and resented. Nobody loves his landlord. People at that time took religion much more seriously than now. Even today, it is popular to blame all of your problems on some other group. Looking at one's own mistakes somehow never seems to catch on.

Now the details. The upper and upper middle class was worried as there was a very strong chance of a communist takeover as had just happened in Russia. That's why the army surrendered in 1918: the Navy had mutinied and taken over government buildings in Berlin, the army was starting to disobey, and a communist revolution was immanent, so they had to end the war and get rid of the Kaiser.

Germany had never been a democracy. They weren't very good at it, and many Germans were against it. Democracy was imposed from without and not popular. The largest party in Germany was pro-democracy but also anti-authoritarian and not willing to use its power to impose order. There was terrible inflation and everyone lost all of his/her savings. If you look at Nazi rallies, it is largely upper-middle class people from 40 to 60, and usually mostly women. They had lost all of their retirement money and were angry about it.

Hitler got a lot of support from upper and middle class people who were rightly afraid of a communist takeover. He also appeared to be a strong, firm leader who did not hesitate to use force, and this was traditional in Germany. A strange advantage he had is that most people thought that once he got into power he would moderate his views. They thought that his views were so extreme that he could not possibly really believe them. They were wrong about that.

Hitler tried to lead a revolution but no luck. He got thrown in jail, but was lucky in that the publicity made him a national figure. The police and judges supported him, so his sentence was short. Later he decided to go legit and got about 35% of the vote, which made his party the largest in the legislature. He was appointed Chancellor. Then the Reichstag burned down, he got emergency powers, arrested all of his political opponents and tortured and/or killed them. That was the end of democracy.

The original plan was to export the Jews, which they did. The mass murder didn't start until during the war.

Could it happen again? Sure, why not. Even in today's prosperous US people believe all sorts of crazy stuff. Rational people are a definite minority. Most people will believe just about anything if their friends believe it.
Nov23-12, 11:14 PM
P: 570
Quote Quote by brainstorm View Post

I'm not claiming to have evidence either way. It's just that the propaganda that elevates Hitler to monster status is too effective for me not to think it's a quality of the propaganda-art less than the model. Hitler was unquestionably an effective model/actor. The question is how to ascertain what can be known about him outside of propaganda about him. Obviously some people wanted to build him up - so how do you know how much is really him and how much is propaganda imagery for the purpose of instilling terror?
If you are really interested, try Charles Bracelyn Flood's Hitler: The Path to Power. Seemed objective to me, and very well researched.
Nov24-12, 08:39 AM
P: 570
Quote Quote by CloudChamber View Post
many felt he was bringing the country back to its former glory (he was Time magazine's man of the year in 1938!).
I read that article. Time called him a "monster" and a "dire threat to world peace."

The Man of the Year was whomever made the most news. It had nothing to do with approval. It was no secret what he was up to.
Dec20-12, 05:06 PM
Evo's Avatar
P: 26,552
German Nazi history in a nutshell.

And why it became *popular*.

For some reason, this old thead keeps getting ressurected.

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