The countries that were defeated in the World War I, and especially Germany, had additional reasons for the rise of fascism. One of them was a sense of humiliation experienced by the nation due to payment of reparations to victorious countries for the damage caused, which in official propaganda and in everyday life was regarded as the greatest shame of the German nation, which could be cleaned only by a new blood. Fascist leaders successfully used this moment and deliberately fueled the revanchist sentiment. In Germany, which suffered from the crisis stronger than other countries, intensified the revolutionary movement. As a result, there were formed such conditions, under which Adolf Hitler's fascist movement and his party legally came to power. The Nazi created such ideology that was incompatible with democratic traditions, humanism, love of freedom, the pursuit of spiritual values. Economic stabilization after 1923 awakened hope among petty-bourgeois layers and contributed to a temporary decline in the influence of far-right, but the "Great Depression" of 1929-1932 plunged many people into despair again (Shirer 133-167). The paper will argue that rise and consolidation of Nazi regime was possible due to unique concatenation of circumstances, such as massification of society, poor democratic experience, and economic crisis, which enabled Hitler come to power in a legal way and apply the principles of his ideology to the whole nation, stripping it of common sense and ability to judge morally.
PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL PRECONDITIONS OF NAZI SUCCESS IN MOBILIZING MASSES
The first question needed to be answered is why people become members of the Nazi movement. Psychological motives that guided them were formed mainly under the influence of the collapse of established social relations. In the era of dominance of giant corporations and bureaucracies "mass society" with an amorphous social structure evolved from separate individuals. If before the World War I a person was largely dissolved in the system of traditional, group, local, religious and other ties, before the rise of Nazi movement a person found himself one-on-one with the world, and therefore felt the loss of his place in society, the loss of the very meaning of existence. Hannah Arendt, a German political theorist, mentions that massification of society was the first step towards totalitarian movement escalation (Arendt). In Germany “mass society” existed before Hitler came to power and he just had to give impulse to this society to put it under total control. Stalin, on the contrary, needed to kill millions of Soviet citizens to establish totalitarian rule in the USSR.
People react differently to the destruction of the established social relations. A person can find a replacement of disappearing bonds in some external force as nation, movement, leader or ideas with which he could identify himself. This reaction of denial was described by famous psychoanalyst Erich Fromm as "sado-masochistic" because it combines the desire to rule over the weak and slavishly obey the higher and stronger. Another type of aggressive response is destructive, aimed not at the submission, but at the destruction of the object as part of a world in which a person feels lonely and humiliated (Fromm). All these types of reactions played an important role in the emergence of Nazi movement. The Nazi slogans against the domination of big capital found the greatest response in the environment of small businessmen, traders, shopkeepers, artisans and employees. They were rebelling against their powerful monopolistic competitors and banks, and liked the statements of leaders, who called them to fulfill the supreme mission of the nation (Shirer 231).
It would, however, be incorrect to see in Nazism purely petty-bourgeois phenomenon, or to believe that authoritarian traits and corresponding reactions and attitudes were distributed only in this social environment. A lot of workers also took part in the Nazi movements. Enormous pressure exerted on members of the society by monotonous work, uncertainty of the future, and a growing dependence on the powerful state and economic structures increased irritability and aggressiveness that easily translated into racism and xenophobia. Many soldiers who came back to Germany after World War I found themselves detached from society. Erich Maria Remarque, a German author, in his novel “The Road Back” vividly expressed painful re-socialization of the military upon returning back home. Hitler’s political program together with military background was able to give the military hope for revenge and therefore saved them from social frustration. Thus, the mass consciousness was largely prepared to accept totalitarianism by the entire history of the development of capitalism and the state. According to the German philosopher M. Horkheimer, fascism with its anti-Semitism did not bring any good to the masses, but ensured collective approval of their violence and frustration (Horkheimer & Adorno 170). The psychological pre-conditions of the rise of Nazis are extremely important in understanding the means Hitler used when activating them. There is no rational explanation of Hitler’s regime, but under social conditions in Germany this regime turned out to be realistic to people. Hitler’s desire to build the Third Reich which will last 1000 years legitimated the whole regime and associated German citizens with this mission.
RISE OF NAZI REGIME
In January 1919 A.Drexler created the "German Workers’ Party" which was renamed to "National Socialist German Workers' Party”. Later the representatives of the army circles (Reichswehr) including Adolf Hitler and the future leader of the SA (Storm Battalion) E. Rohm joined the party (Shirer 27-49). Highly centralized, with strict party discipline, built on the principle of "Führer", the organization evolved into a powerful, mobile force capable of crushing its opponents. However, the success of the Nazis is explained not only and not so much by features of the organizational structure of the party. Hitler offered the Germans his program of development, which was unique and attractive for a variety of social groups. At the heart of Nazi ideology laid several simple ideas. They argued that world was divided not into classes as claimed the followers of Marx, but on the principles of nation and race. Nation was the basic unit, which forms world community. Nations were not equal: there were higher lower nations. The Germans, according to Hitler, were among the higher nations and had a special historical mission - to become the main driving force behind the creation of the new world order. These general ideas concretized in relation to the needs of each social group of German society, and generally were attractive for the whole population, exhausted by the crisis (Spielvogel & Redles).
When dealing with Hitler’s ideology it is necessary to mention philosophical background of it. In 1920s a group of so-called conservative revolutionaries developed ideas which were perceived by Nazis. The most prominent representatives of Conservative Revolutionary movement were O. Spengler, A. Moeller van den Bruck, E. Junger and others. The main idea developed by this stream of thought was development of the third path for German nation which will deviate from standard liberal and socialist paradigms. Conservative revolutionaries distinguished between nations on the principle of race, however did not teach that one race should dominate over another. While Hitler’s rise to power had plebeian character, Conservative Revolution claimed that only spiritual aristocracy should lead German folk (Venner). And the last main difference between Hitler’s ideology and Conservative Revolution’s representative was in totality of nation. O. Spengler in his work “Prussianism and Socialism” mentioned that Germany was a true nation of socialism. German socialism was in the organic unity of all German folk which performed all necessary functions of the state (Spengler 8-18). This concept of totality was borrowed by Hitler in his totalitarian practice, but Hitler attributed a completely different meaning to it. It can be seen that Conservative Revolution significantly contributed to Hitler’s doctrine, but the truth is that Hitler just borrowed the main concepts from conservative revolutionaries’ ideas in order to create totalitarian ideology (Spielvogel & Redles).
Powerful ideology together with growing public support brought Hitler to power in a legal way. At the beginning of November 1932 parliamentary elections were held. They did not give a decisive advantage to any of the parties. This unstable situation could not last. In this environment plans of the transfer of all the levers of governance to Hitler were intensively discussed. A decisive step in this direction was taken on January 30th, 1933, when President Hindenburg appointed Hitler as chancellor (Shirer 161-167). With the given power Hitler immediately proceeded to a total restructuring of the political system in Germany, and then the other spheres of German society. The first government led by Hitler was not purely a Nazi, but the coalitional. There were only 4 representatives of the National Socialist Party, the other 11 were, though, right-wing activists, but were not included in this lot. Hitler persuaded Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag, as its composition, he claimed, did not reflect the real situation in the country. On the 5th of March 1933 new elections were called. The election campaign took place in the environment of severe pressure against all Nazis’ opponents. Special decree prohibited all anti-government demonstrations and rallies. Both SS and SA were given functions of the police. However, National Socialists did not have full confidence in the final success of the elections. Nazis went to the outright provocation. On February 27th, 1933, they organized arson of the Reichstag building. Nazi propaganda accused Communists in this arson and preparing a coup. About 17 million people voted for the Nazis, but it gave them only 43.9% of the seats. Then Hitler raised the question of depriving the Communist deputies of their mandates. They were transferred to the National Socialists, which thus became dominant political power in the Reichstag (Shirer 168-174).
On March 24th, 1933 the Reichstag gave Hitler emergency powers. The government was derived from the control of Parliament, it could publish any law, including constitutional, and change it. By the summer of 1933 all non-fascist organizations and political parties were dissolved or disbanded. In December 1933 the law, which ensured the unity of the Party and the State, declared the Nazi Party the only bearer of the German state thought ("Law to Safeguard the Unity of Party and State (December 1, 1933)). In accordance with this law Hitler himself formed the Nazi Reichstag, and the posts of ministers and other positions were taken by officials from the Nazi party leadership. Moreover, it was subsequently ordered that any appointment to public office, produced without the consent of the authority of the fascist party will be considered invalid.
ESTABLISHMENT OF NAZI DICTATORSHIP
The program and the charter of the National Socialist Party were declared the main political law of the state. One of the most important points of this program claims that German nation needs land and territory for the maintenance of its people and the colonization of its growing population. This program of imperialist aggression demanded complete submission of all Germans to the National Socialist movement. Shortly after taking power, on April 4th, 1933, a secret Imperial Defense Council was created and chaired by Hitler and his Defense Minister Blomberg. The very fact of the creation of the War Cabinet in peacetime was important for the activation of military preparations in all public institutions of Nazi Germany. In Hitler's first speech in front of the leading generals of the Wehrmacht on February 3rd, 1933 it was stated that the aim of his policy was to win back political power ("Hitler's Speech to Generals").
At the Congress of National Socialist Party in 1935 the main three objectives were put forward: the widespread creation and strengthening of Nazi cells, the upbringing of all the people in the spirit of Nazi ideas, and setting the absolute priority of the party in the state. The Nazi Party was the decisive and autocratic political tool to influence the masses. Particular attention was paid to the training of young Nazis: the "German young people" integrated all children of German origin aged 10 to 15 years, "Hitler Youth" integrated young men between 14 and 18 years, the “Union of German girls" integrated girls and women from 15 to 21 years ("Hitler Youth Movement"). There could be no German citizen, who would not be involved into fascist organization, and this membership was not an empty formality. It is required active participation in ongoing activities and vigilance with respect to direct and potential opponents of the Reich and the Fuhrer. Every step, every action of a German of any age, profession, social status was recorded continuously by several organizations at a time, which could use the data collected to arrest or impose any form of social repression to any citizen. Hannah Arendt claimed that Nazi regime created many organizations which duplicated each other’s responsibilities in order to shield Germans from real world. Under the influence of propaganda Germans couldn’t know about real state of matters abroad.
In the spring of 1933 the country was covered with concentration camps where tens of thousands of anti-fascists were executed without trial. Hitler’s rule was supported by various military and police organizations. The state secret police (Gestapo), SS, SA (storm troopers), and SD (Security Service) became the most important instrument of Hitler's dictatorship (Shirer 239).
With the Nazis’ rise the process of merging the Nazi state and party bureaucracy with German financial oligarchy culminated. According to the Law for the Preparation of the Organic Building of the German Economy of 27th February, 1934, issued by the Nazi government, enterprise unions were granted more rights and turned into a kind of supra-national institutions. A number of articles of the Law provided for punitive measures, including imprisonment in case of defying rules and regulations set by these unions (Michalka 181-182). Basically, these monopolistic unions cooperated with Nazi regime and fulfilled Hitler’s military economic plans.
The final phase of consolidation of the regime was introduction of universal conscription in 1935 which created the most important agencies in charge of direct military training. Thus the regime was fully consolidated after the main institutions responsible for Germany’s entrance into war were established. Institutional structure of Nazi regime together with monopolistic economy and military organizations made it fully totalitarian. Quick exit from economic crisis and military growth of German nation made external aggression the only way for future development of Nazi ideology.
Hitler’s rise to power was determined by the psychological state of German nation as well as poor democratic experience. On the one hand German’s society was highly demoralized after World War I and couldn’t adapt to democratic rule of Weimar Republic. On the other hand, Hitler created ideology which seemed attractive to all classes of German society. Liquidation of political rivals gave Hitler unlimited power that was used to manipulate the whole society. Consolidation of Nazi regime was possible due to the establishment of multiple institutions of social control, active work with youth, propaganda, monopolization of economy, and militarization of the country. Hitler made every member of the society feel belonging to the great mission of German race and used Conservative Revolution’s ideas in a distorted form to create his theory.
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