Nazism just as it is fascism is a political ideology based on “political behavior that is obsessed with the idea of community decline, humiliation, or victimhood by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity.” In this ideology, there is a mass based party of committed nationalists, militants that work with traditional elites to abandon democratic ideals and employ the use of violence to cleanse the society
According to Herf, Nazism is a political ideology that took root in Europe in the early twentieth century to mid twentieth century in Europe. In general terms, Nazism is often classified as a right wing political ideology. In a fascist regime, the central theme is the state. The state plays a central role in the allocation of resources, the determination of culture, the role of the media and the place of given ethnicities in a republic. The state plays a central role in the advancement of a genuine race that is called the “master race.”
The rest of the non-exclusive races are eliminated if they question the master race. The purpose of other races is to serve the master race. In addition to existence of a single race, nationalism is key aspect of a fascist state. However, nationalism is used to advance the interest of the master race. It also serves the purpose of spreading the superiority of the culture and the nation compared to the rest of the nations. For the rest of other cultures to be accepted in a fascist regime, they must reject their cultures and subscribe to the master culture, language, and religion so as to ascertain superior nationalism. The primary role of a fascist regime is to eliminate the culture and not the people. Fascism as practiced in Germany and Italy is spelled with a capital F” It must be understood that not all fascist regimes are Nazi, and there is clear distinction between Nazi Fascism and regular fascism. One major distinction is the abhorred racism in fascist Germany that is contrary to the rest of fascist regimes.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the success of Nazism under Hitler was the lack of democratic culture in Italy While documenting his opinion on fascism; Paxton uses fascist examples of Hitler’s Germany and Italian Mussolini as examples of fascist regimes. The fascism embarks on a journey to explore the three stages of the development of fascism, the acquisition of power in a fascist state and the use of power in a fascist regime. Paxton is quick to add that in the long term, fascist regimes fall due an increasing role of the individual and the slow cancerous death of group thinking. This is what is called a period of “entropy”. During this time, the county goes through a political and cultural normalization shaped by the political elites. Hitler’s Germany is an exception of a country that did not go through political normalization and that the regime fell out of a collective effort of the rest of the world and its greed and hunger for conquest.
According to Herf, fascism in Germany is a function of middle class sentiments against socialism. At the beginning of the revolution from 1919 to 1922, Hitler’s movement was made up of lower middle class people that were bearing the burdening of the ailing economy. The movement also made allies with peasants and far-left sympathizers. As the movement steered towards power, the movement made friendship with the traditional power barons such as the church, land owners, and the industrialists that were sometimes anti the demands of the original members of the movement.
Instead of corporativism, championed by the landless and working class urban middle class, Hitler argued for a middle pathway that incorporated ideas of capitalism and socialism. Corporativism had argued for the organization of workers and owners of resources into horizontal units that would be controlled by the state. During the days of the great depression, the fascist’s state of Italy established what became known as an ad hoc committee that legally engineered the state take-over of major institutions such as the banks and industries.
In the words of Jefrey Herf, German Nazism was a function of a coalition of people with the same interests and included aspects such as the church, the conservatives, and the liberals among other members of the society. Perhaps the biggest reason for the success of fascism under Mussolini was the lack of democratic culture in Italy. Italians had not developed a strong adherence to democratic culture. It was only in 1912 that Italy granted universal suffrage to the males of the society. The lack of democratic culture in Italy made it easy for Hitler to capitalize on the anger of many Germans at the leadership especially during the First World War and the economic woes facing the country. Hitler was particularly skillful at harnessing the anger of the returning soldiers, the church, and the disgruntled members of the middle class to champion for nationalist regime that would repair the broken motherland and return the country back to glory. The fascist party under Hitler was perhaps the only hope for many Germans that felt vanquished by the forces of regress.
Hitler’s great love for the country and commitment to the ideas of the common Germany also played a key role in the success of his revolution. According to Susannah Heschel, Hitler was born in a lower middle class family with a socialist father who was a mayor of a small town. At the age of ten, Hitler was expelled from school for his strange behaviors. He had stabbed a student with a penknife at his back. His love for violence was replayed at his political campaigns where he marshaled the youths from his town to frustrate opponents by beating them up. As the fascist leader of Germany, Germany instituted a nation that was based on the idea of violence as a tool of quelling dissents. Authoritarianism and lack of democracy would be instrumental in streamlining the German society that had gone out of line.
Perhaps the success of Nazi Germany was the capstone of the European fascist experiment. Nazi Germany did not capture the history of the world through its excessive violence, but through its passion and the manner in which took central place in people’s lives. The problematic nature of studying human nature gets complicated when the subjects of study are numerous. Still, exploring human actions is matter of interest particularly when it concerns the transformation of ordinary men to efficient and skillful killers as demonstrated in the Jewish holocaust in Nazi Germany. Many scholars have pondered for explanations on how ordinary men would be transformed. Is this the epitome of political ideology of fascism?
Ian Kershaw is quick to add that in the long term, fascist regimes fall due an increasing role of the individual and the slow cancerous death of group thinking. This is what is called a period of “entropy”. During this time, the county goes through a political and cultural normalization shaped by the political elites. Hitler’s Germany is an exception of a country that did not go through political normalization and that the regime fell out of a collective effort of the rest of the world and its greed and hunger for conquest.
Nazism developed in Germany especially in the most part of the nineteenth century when European politics was dominated by the elites. Most of the elites in European society were educated members of the society, royalties, clergy and successful merchants. The common folks in European society were mostly disenfranchised and lacked a voice in the affairs of the state. The masses involvement in politics after the European revolutions of arising from the French revolutions from 1790s until 1860s, that it was possible for fascism to take root. Fascism in the argument of Robert Paxton accrued out of the public anger for self-determination and the increasing influence of populism.
Nazism also owes its development to many ideological stances that came of the ages of enlightenment and the development of the press in European society. Ideas that challenged the status quo of rapid industrialization and increasing influence of the super rich in the society suddenly became suspect in the eyes of the populace. Ideas of capitalism, free enterprise and decreasing role of government on people’s livelihood were fertilizers of hate. In addition, anti socialism, and escapism in the form of anti Semitism provided a breeding ground for fascists to thrive in wet grounds of political space. In the argument of Kershaw, fascist regimes were conglomerations of all the then fashionable ideas. He cites that fascist embraced bourgeois capitalism because they could only gain power by aligning themselves for political reasons. Kershaw goes ahead to argue that fascist sometimes self-identified as apolitical to escape the ideas of parliamentary liberalism. With time, fascists oiled their engines and acquired an insatiable taste for nationalism that meant that foreign ideas and people were undying threats to nationhood. A combined force of alliance building, increasing political intolerance for income inequality, and cooperation for existing elites, the fascist were able to engineer one of the most gothic, grotesque and dehumanizing hate campaigns.
According to Adam Tooze, most of the fascist regimes have common characteristics across the board. Some of the characteristics include “a sense of overwhelming crisis”, the primacy of the group and the role of the individual towards the success of the master race. Nazis are also afraid of the decline of the group arising from the eroding effects of individual liberalism. Most fascists have an element of strong leadership and the superiority of the leader over the institution as well as the beauty of violence as a tool of quelling dissent. The German nation under Adolf Hitler and Italy under Benito Mussolini had characteristics that matched these descriptions according to Adam ToozeGerhard Weinberg, in his book Germany, Hitler and World War II argue that the rise of Nazism in Germany was conglomeration of many factors. Still, the Nazi’s progress was a function of Adolf Hitler. Born in a poor Austrian village, Adolf Hitler dreamed of being an artist when he grew up. However, Hitler failed to realize his artistic dreams because of insufficient skills at the arts academy. According to Hitler, Jews and socialists had surrendered the country to defeat.
Hitler became politically active seizing control of the German Workers Party in 1920. He then changed the name of the Socialist to National Socialist German Workers Party called the Nazi Party. After a futile attempt of a revolution in the famous Beer Hall Pustch with General Ludenhorf, Hitler was arrested where he spent his time in prison writing his Mein Kampf. The book translated as my struggle, outlined Hitler’s policies and was based on the belief that the Aryan race was superior in the whole world and the Jewish race was inferior. This according to Speievogak and Redless, was the premise of German fascism (cite) Compared to Italian fascism, the strong attachment to race was something uniquely German. This is perhaps accrues from the Italian racial mixture that meant there was the absence of one particular Italian race (CITE)
After being released from jail in 1925, Hitler used his oratory skills campaigning for the Nazi party. After the depression of 1929, Hitler used the fate of German economy to the failure of the government to stick to original values. He promised jobs and return to the past glory for the German nation. In 1932 elections, the Nazi party won elections occupying 230 seats in the German Reichstag. In January 1933, Hitler was appointed the chancellor of the German republic. As a powerful chancellor, Hitler dissolved the Reichstag and issued decrees that abolished political meetings, political parties, and publication of dissenting opinions. The German state would be a police state and the role of the citizens is to honor and glorify the state.
Nazi Germany was mostly driven by a police system called the Gestapo. The Gestapo is an acronym for Geheime Staatspolizei, commonly called the German Secret Police. It was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. From April 1934, the Gestapo was led by Heinrich Himmler as the Chief of German Police. Beginning from September 1939 onwards it was under the jurisdiction of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) and was considered a sister organization of the Security Service also a sub office of the Security Police. The Gestapo was created by the NAZI’s within weeks of seizing power. Herman Goring created the Secret State Police that later formed the Gestapo when Hitler was made chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Although the Gestapo played a key role in NAZI rule in Germany, its name should be confused with that of the sister agencies such as the Security Police and the Security Service.
The Gestapo functions were not checked by any other authority. They also had the power of “preventive arrest”, an arrest that was initiated if they suspected that an individual was about to commit a crime. Gestapo’s actions were not debatable neither were they subject to any appeal at a higher court. During the course of their operation, thousands of homosexuals, Jews, political activists and the so called undesirables were killed in the concentrations camps in and outside Germany. The political wing of the Gestapo could order political prisoners to be tortured and murdered or sent to the concentration camps. Gypsies, Roma, and Blacks were not spared either. During the Second World War, the Gestapo established an authoritarian regime in areas conquered by the Germans. In Poland, the Gestapo carried out reprisals against civilians and built a death camp where millions of the Jewish and the undesirables were exterminated (Friedlander, P. 45)
According to Saul Friedlander, the Gestapo’s role included the power to investigate accusations of treason, sabotage, spying, and criminal attacks on the ruling party and the nation. In 1936, a law was passed that gave Gestapo the power to rule without checks and balances from the judiciary. In Germany, it was common for citizens to sue the state in a law court to conform to the state laws, in the case of the Gestapo, this law was not applicable. The Gestapo’s power was based on the assumption that as long as they acted on the interests of the state and the party, they were legal. The Gestapo was also given the right to establish concentration camps and prisons upon which convicted criminals were taken. The Gestapo’s bureaucratic expertise enabled it to carry out its functions almost without mistakes and remain relevant in German politics throughout the NAZI rule. (Friedlander, P. 33)
In his book, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution, Christopher Browning states that the average German was forced into killing a combination of factors that include, following orders blindly, influence of peers, and the lack of awareness of the gravity of the genocide. Similarly, Browning points to the anti- Semitic propaganda that was initiated in 1933 by the Nazi authorities changed the German mindset to a common view that Jewish people had to be exterminated. Michael Wildt, in his book An Uncompromising Generation: The Nazi Leadership of the Reich Security Main Office refutes assertion that inducement, indoctrination, and fear of authority. In his view, the transformation of ordinary German’s into killers was a result of the conviction that the Jewish people had to die. Goldheg writes that “The perpetrators beliefs. Though not obviously the sole source was (the) most significant and indispensable source of the perpetrators actions and must be at the center of any explanation” (Wildt, p.102). Roderick Stackelberg in the book, Hitler’s Germany: Origins, Interpretations, and Legacies. He argues that the Nazi ideology played a key role in enabling doctors to perform their task of “ numbing” Jews with a clear conscience knowing that they performing a noble role of rescuing the Aryan race
The paper dwelt on the analysis of the various writers work. It is clear from their work that the Nazis political ideology was well compared with the Nazism. The common principles are the use of police force, the presence of a strong leader or personality, lack of democracy, and the insistence on nationalism as the driving factor. Still, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany was centrally focused on the role of the police and Gestapo forcers that was premised on the idea of racial superiority. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi had a racist agenda targeting Jewish people that led to the Jewish Holocaust. In addition, while Benito Mussolini was removed from office thanks to a revolution, Adolf Hitler voluntarily left power thanks to the capture of Germany by western allies.
Roderick Stackelberg, "Hitler’s Germany: Origins, Interpretations, and Legacies."Saul Friedlander, "Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1933-1945." Jeffrey Herf, "Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich."Herf, "Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys."Herf, "The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust."Susannah Heschel, "Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany."Ian Kershaw, "Hitler: A Biography." Adam Tooze, "Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy."Gerhard Weinberg, "Germany, Hitler and World War II"Michael Wildt, "An Uncompromising Generation: The Nazi Leadership of the Reich Security Main Office."