On May 5th the United States and Great Britain celebrated V-E Day, Victory in Europe Day. On this day in 1945 the Allied forces defeated the Nazis in Western Europe.
Adolph Hitler and his Nazi war machine represented the most heinous type of evil that I can think of. How did this man acquire the power to commit these demonic acts and almost get away with it? If we look at history we see how Hitler manipulated Germany’s predicament after WWI to distribute his propaganda and work his way into the Chancellor position.
In 1919 the German Worker’s Party was founded. Hitler became a member in that year and because of his magnetism and oratory skills rose to lead the party. He soon renamed the party the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi).
The party organized for a number of reasons. They opposed the concessions that Germany made in the Treaty of Versailles after WWI, they called for the expansion of German territory and they established their anti-Semitic rhetoric.
The Treaty forced Germany to pay reparations for the destruction of WWI. This put Germany into a depression, and by 1923 Hitler thought the time was right to stage a coup on the Bavarian state government. The Beer Hall Putsch was unsuccessful and Hitler was sent to prison, but it brought attention to his cause.
When in prison he wrote his famous treatise, Mein Kampf, meaning “My Struggle.” This book became the bible of the Nazi party. Hitler outlined his belief in a superior Aryan race.
Hitler didn’t just target Jews.
Hitler’s primary target in creating a pure German race was to discriminate against the Jews. He blamed the Jews for losing WWI, and he saw them as capitalists controlling the German economy or communists seeking to enslave Germans. His discrimination crossed over to intellectuals, artists, gypsies, mentally and physically handicapped and homosexuals.
After getting out of prison Hitler decided to re-build the party legally by winning elections. By 1929, the party’s membership had grown to 180,000 using gauleiters (“district leaders”) to contest local, state and federal elections.
Hitler’s Nazi Party used the Great Depression to its advantage, exploiting the joblessness of the German people. With increased membership comes increased voting strength. In 1933, Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolph Hitler chancellor.
A dictator was born.
Elections continued to be further “influenced” by Nazi-Party tactics and in March, 1933 the Enabling Act was passed, allowing Hitler to issue decrees independent of the Reichstag and the presidency. A dictator was born, and before long the only party allowed to exist was the Nazis.
In 1935, Hitler enacted the Nuremberg laws, stripping Jews of their citizenship. Germans could no longer work for Jews, Jewish doctors could not treat Germans, and marriage between Germans and Jews was forbidden. “Jews Not Welcome” signs were put up making it difficult for Jews to buy food and medicine.
Once Hitler invaded Poland, his anti-Jewish policies escalated. Troops shot thousands of Polish Jews, confined them to ghettos and forced many into slave labor. Finally, the last phase was to exterminate the Jews by hauling them off to death camps. Over 6 million Jews had died by the time WWII was over.
The characteristics of Fascism.
Today, we hear the term Nazi being thrown around whenever some group doesn’t like what the other group is doing or saying. I hear it from both the Left and Right. I have a problem with this. Nothing that is happening today compares with what happened 70 years ago.
There is a popular grammar website called “Grammar Nazi” that I will not visit because of the name, and they use the swastika. Why would you want to associate your brand with such an evil and heinous time of history?
Before you decide to flippantly use this term, I would caution you to think again.
Remember what the Nazi Party represented and what it accomplished. Is what you’re comparing to the Nazis really that bad? I highly doubt it.
- Nazi Party. Encyclopaedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/topic/Nazi-Party
- Nazi Party. History Channel. http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/nazi-party