Walter Gross : Nazi Germany

Walter Gross : Nazi Germany

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Walter Gross was born in Kassel, Germany, on 21st October, 1904. He trained as a doctor and while a student joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP).

In 1932 Gross became leader of the National Socialist German Doctors' Alliance. The following year he was appointed by Adolf Hitler as head of the Reich Bureau for Enlightenment on Population Policy and Racial Welfare. In 1936 he was elected to the Reichstag where he expressed fanaticalanti-semitic views.

Considered to be an expert on the subject of racial purity, Gross became head of NSDAP Racial Policy Department in 1942. A supporter of the Final Solution Gross told one meeting that: "As far as the historical appearance of the Jew in Europe is concerned, we believe that the hour of his death has irrevocably arrived." Walter Gross died in 1945.

Walter Gross : Nazi Germany - History

Background: Dr. Walter Groß was head of the Nazi Party&rsquos Racial Policy Office, which produced a great deal of material. This is a translation of a radio speech aimed at the youth that he gave on 10 October 1934, which the pamphlet claims &ldquowas of great general interest.&rdquo It outlines the fundamentals of Nazi racial theory.

The source: Rasse. Eine Rundfunkrede von Dr. Groß (Berlin: Rassenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP, 1934). My copy is from the 6th printing, bringing the print total to 410,000 copies. The picture is from the German Bundesarchiv, via Wikipedia.

Since National Socialism took the leadership in Germany, one often hears people talking in all sorts of places about race. It was not always that way. Even two years ago, our opponents avoided the word or mocked it. The Marxist laughed if he even heard it, and those in the middle class just shook their heads. They all thought racial ideas to be unproven and worthless, or even dangerous. It therefore does not surprise us that in past years people waged war against the word &ldquorace.&rdquo

Today everything is different, and some during the last eighteen months even seem to think that race is talked about too much.

Maybe even some of you have shaken your heads in annoyance and said: &ldquoWe&rsquove heard enough about race. We don&rsquot want to be forced to become doctors or biologists or some other sort of learned creature.&rdquo

Where that has happened, it is because people talked primarily about the scientific facts of inheritance or racial science or things like that. When talking about race these things are certainly important, but they focus on specialized facts while forgetting the real significance of racial thinking. The important points are not in the worlds of science and scholarship, but rather in the area of worldview and politics, the area that deeply moves us young people who are part of a spiritual revolution. It is also why yesterday&rsquos world is resisting the concept of race.

The old world was not distressed by a new science, but rather by the fact that a new worldview grew out of this science that destroyed the foundations of proletarian and bourgeois thinking, one that had to lead to a genuine revolution of soul and spirit.

Before we speak of the significance of worldview, we must quickly review a few facts about scientific racial research and racial science. First, we must consider what is meant by the word &ldquorace.&rdquo As everyone has noticed in the last eighteen months, people often mean different things when using the word and therefore talk past each other.

The word &ldquorace&rdquo still has two primary meanings today. In one sense, it means all the inherited physical and intellectual characteristics and abilities that a person has, in contrast to the abilities that he gains during his life. In this sense, &ldquorace&rdquo means something like inheritance or genetics. However, the word in its deepest and most important sense applies to whole groups of people who are separated from other groups of people by their common genetic inheritance.

Let us make clear what we mean by inheritance. That is important because the facts that science teaches us about inheritance are of great significance to our politics and our worldview. In the past people knew little about it, and as a result imagined that their value, or lack of value, was determined by the outside influences on their life. If someone was strong and tall, people thought that he must have been well nourished, or worked outdoors in agriculture, or played sports. If one was smarter than others, or had better character, it was the result of particularly good upbringing, whether in school, at home, or because of his friends.

That naturally led to placing too much importance on outside influences. Marxism believed that it could make people healthier and better and harder-working by giving them better economic conditions. The bourgeois believed that individuals and peoples could be raised ever higher through education and schooling.

In truth, that is not so. In recent decades, we have learned from science what any thinking and insightful person had always known:

The inherited characteristics than an individual or a whole people have are more important than environmental influences.

He who lacks the inherited traits that result in strength or height will never become strong or tall however good his diet or however much he is active in sports. Education and spiritual training can only benefit someone who has inherited clear understanding and a clear mind.

The physical and spiritual nature of each individual, you as well as me, is determined by his inheritance, that which we have received from our parents, grandparents, and ancestors. Our own efforts, or the education others give us, can only develop what we have inherited, or make it less effective. Such efforts can never change one person into another one, making him either better or worse than he was when born.

Science provides many examples of this, and you know that a lot is written and spoken about it today. The details are important only to experts. We are much more concerned about the implications it has for our outlook on life, individuals, and peoples. The first thing of importance to us is the close relationship between children, parents, and ancestors.

What we are, both body and soul, we have inherited from the generations before us.

And when, after 60 or 80 years we are no longer alive, our inheritance will live on in our children and our children&rsquos children. When we realize this, we suddenly see clearly that great river of blood that flows to us through the centuries and millennia, and that is in truth the German people.

Each individual generation is a wave that rises and falls, replaced by the next one. As individuals, we are as a droplet in this stream, but we no longer see ourselves as the center of the world, which is what the liberal era believed and taught.

Such an understanding makes us modest, because we see how small we are in comparison to the eternal people. It also shows us that everything we do and accomplish is not because of our own abilities, but rather the result of the inheritance that we have received.

The man of the liberal era was proud of himself, his value, and what he had achieved. He acted as if he had done it all himself. We are more modest today, seeing what we do as new results of our people&rsquos ancient inheritance. That inheritance worked in countless former generations, and if we do not destroy it, will continue in the future through coming generations.

We ourselves, you and I, are today merely the carriers and guardians of German blood inheritance, both proud of this task but also humble before it.

Obviously, such an outlook could find no place in the old world of liberal and Marxist thinking. It results in a whole range of conclusions that throw out old views. If we cannot fundamentally change people into something their inheritance does not allow, the exaggerated Marxist welfare system loses its justification, as does bourgeois overemphasis on education and training.

We no longer see economic or spiritual improvement of individuals or peoples as the goal, but rather only the National Socialist principle of the selection of the most capable.

This does not mean we see things one-sidedly. True, we cannot change people and make them better than their inherited characteristics allow though intellectual improvement, education, economics, or social policy. But it would be wrong to entirely ignore these factors. Anyone who believes that, as a consequence of racial thinking, it is useless to try to improve the economic conditions of the poor through training and education is making a serious mistake. It is not enough for inherited characteristics to remain hidden within a person. Instead, they must come to expression. It therefore makes a big difference if in individual cases a physical or mental ability is encouraged, promoted, and developed, or whether it is hampered, suppressed, and held back. The best inherited traits are useless if we let a person starve or perish, for he will never be able to accomplish anything significant. The best mind with the strongest intellectual gifts can go unused for an entire human life if poor education hinders or misdirects them.

I say this only because the enemies of National Socialism have often said recently that: &ldquoYour doctrine of the overwhelming importance of inheritance necessarily leads to ignoring social issues and concerns, as well the need to properly educate and train people. Both charges are simply untrue. We simply reject Marxist and bourgeois exaggerations, since we have realized that the fundamental nature of a person is determined by what he has inherited. It is an obvious National Socialist principle that good traits in each individual, be they physical or intellectual, must be encouraged by every means, and that the undesired ones must be suppressed.

We were forced to reach these conclusions once we understood the word &ldquorace,&rdquo which essentially means inherited characteristics. Yet as I already said, this use of the word includes only part of its meaning. Beyond that, the word &ldquorace&rdquo in its true sense means something like the Nordic race or the Mongolian race or some other racial group of people. You know that people in this world are not equal. They differ outwardly one is black, another red, the third yellow or white, and within these large groups science has determined that there are many other particular races.

However, the differences between races are not limited to the physical and external. They extend to the character, to intellectual and spiritual traits.

That is clear to us if we compare a person from here in our German homeland with a Negro, or if we compare an Eskimo with a Mongol their intellectual and spiritual differences are immediately obvious.

People knew all this before. However, in the past they not realize that these physical and intellectual racial differences are inherited and can never be changed by outside influences. In fact, in the past people taught and believed that the differences between peoples and races in this world were really only accidental, caused by the climate or history or level of culture. The Negro was black because the hot sun in Africa crinkled his hair and darkened his skin. Had he been born somewhere along the North Sea coast with its grayness and lack of sun, he perhaps would have had light skin and blond hair, just like our fishermen in Friesland.

You can understand that these former views had very important political and worldview consequences. If the differences between the world&rsquos peoples and races are only the result of external conditions, one can overcome them. Advancing civilization would gradually eliminate social, cultural, and geographic differences. Formerly, people imagined that the differences between Europeans and Negroes could be eliminated by establishing schools, by civilizing Africa, by educating Negroes at European universities, thereby eventually ending the differences that still seem to exist today. People attempted to do this from every angle. They came to the logical conclusion that humanity could be brought to the same intellectual level, which would open the way for a single world state, united in governmental, political, and economic matters. The efforts of the Internationale were no more than the result of this fundamental idea.

I believe that that makes clear to us all why all the forces of former times fought a bitter battle against the concept of race. Racial science teaches us that all the essential differences between peoples and races in this world are inherited. They cannot be changed by educational or training systems. Humanity cannot change them.

The races are different because their blood is different, as the proverb says, not because civilization is further advanced in one place than it is in another. We have to accept that, just as we have to accept any natural law on this earth. That means that any attempt to establish international culture, government, or religion is fundamentally wrong and hopeless to attempt, since it ignores the great racial laws that the Creator himself set as finding laws for humanity. This knowledge provides the ultimate and deepest justification for our ethnic striving toward our own nature and uniqueness in politics, economics, culture, and perhaps also religion.

Since peoples differ racially, each must follow its own nature, keeping it pure from physical or intellectual corruption.

That is the great and essential conclusion that the National Socialist draws from an understanding of the racial teaching of science. Our common task will be to build a new age on this knowledge, and we believe and know that our future will then be happier because it will be based on foundations that are true.

[Page copyright © 2011 by Randall Bytwerk. No unauthorized reproduction. My e-mail address is available on the FAQ page.]

The Nazi Conscience

The Nazi conscience is not an oxymoron. In fact, the perpetrators of genocide had a powerful sense of right and wrong, based on civic values that exalted the moral righteousness of the ethnic community and denounced outsiders.

Claudia Koonz's latest work reveals how racial popularizers developed the infrastructure and rationale for genocide during the so-called normal years before World War II. Her careful reading of the voluminous Nazi writings on race traces the transformation of longtime Nazis' vulgar anti-Semitism into a racial ideology that seemed credible to the vast majority of ordinary Germans who never joined the Nazi Party. Challenging conventional assumptions about Hitler, Koonz locates the source of his charisma not in his summons to hate, but in his appeal to the collective virtue of his people, the Volk.

From 1933 to 1939, Nazi public culture was saturated with a blend of racial fear and ethnic pride that Koonz calls ethnic fundamentalism. Ordinary Germans were prepared for wartime atrocities by racial concepts widely disseminated in media not perceived as political: academic research, documentary films, mass-market magazines, racial hygiene and art exhibits, slide lectures, textbooks, and humor. By showing how Germans learned to countenance the everyday persecution of fellow citizens labeled as alien, Koonz makes a major contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust.

The Nazi Conscience chronicles the chilling saga of a modern state so powerful that it extinguished neighborliness, respect, and, ultimately, compassion for all those banished from the ethnic majority.

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The holocaust when considered seems to invariably lead one to question how such terrible things could have been done to the Jews in Germany and Europe. Many people who have studied the age or perhaps . Читать весь отзыв

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An examination of how, in the process of downplaying their most raucous displays of racism, Hitler and the Nazi Party managed to achieve a wider spread of their implicit principles of racial combat . Читать весь отзыв

Dr. Walter Gross (Head of The Office of Racial Policy for The NSDAP from 1933 to his suicide at the end of WorldWarJew) Explains The Racial Policies of National Socialism - Allow The NSDAP Themselves To Explain From Their Point of View! Dr. Gross Will Now Educate Us on National Socialist Racialism!

The Allies pushed lies about German racism throughout the Arab world, but the Arabs laughed at such claims. German actions spoke much louder than Allied lies. Here is an important quote from a letter written by the Prime Minister of Iraq, Rashid Ali Al-Gaylani, to Germany's Dr. Walter Gross' Office of Racial Policy in October 1942:

'The Axis enemies in their propaganda state that the Germans consider the Arabs among the lower castes. In my capacity as the Premier of Iraq, I can give an assurance that the Arabs do not give this claim any importance after what they have seen and felt Germany's treatment and help to them. But as the enemy propaganda goes on repeating these lies, I should like to receive an answer from an official source regarding the German consideration of the Arab race. I should be very grateful to get from you a reply on the opinion of Germany on the subject.'

Signed, Rashid Ali Al-Gaylani

Dr. Gross, a German physician who was head of the Office of Racial Policy for the NSDAP from 1933 until his suicide at the end of WWII, officially replied to Al-Gaylani as follows:

'In answer to your Excellency's letter of 17th October, 1942, I have the honor to give you the racial theory regarding the Arab caste. The racial policy has been adopted by Germany to safeguard the German people against the Jews who, biologically, are different from the Middle East races. Accordingly, Europe has been opposing Jews for decades. The Germans do not fight the Jews because they are Semitic or because they come from the East, but for their character, egoism and their hostility to society. while Germany forbids the entrance of the Jews into her territory, she welcomes all Arabs of Semitic origin and cares for them. The attitude of the Germans for the Arabs is that of respect. Not a single official German source ever stated that the Arabs originated from a lower caste. On the contrary, the racial theory of National Socialism considers the Arabs of a very high caste. The oppression of the Arabs of Palestine is being followed in Germany with great interest and Germany confirms the demands of the Arabs.' - Dr. Walter Gross (Forced into Suicide to not have this happen to him -

Also highly illuminating is an article written by Dr. Walter Gross, who, I remind you again because of its importance, was head of the Office of Racial Policy for the NSDAP: National Socialist Racial Thought

'Most open to misinterpretation are National Socialist views on the relations between the various races of the world. It has been questioned whether the fundamental racial principles of the new world theory must not breed condescension, even contempt of people of different race. Quite the contrary these very principles offer the very best guarantee for mutual tolerance and for the peaceful co-operation of all.

We appreciate the fact that those of another race are different from us. This scientific truth is the basis, the justification and, at the same time, the obligation of every racial policy without which a restoration of Europe in our day is no longer practicable. Whether that other race is "better" or "worse" is not possible for us to judge. For this would demand that we transcend our own racial limitations for the duration of the verdict and take on a superhuman, even divine, attitude from which alone an "impersonal" verdict could be formed on the value or lack of such of the many living forms of inexhaustible Nature. But we of all people are too conscious of the inseparable ties of the blood and our own race to attempt to aspire to such an ultra-racial standpoint, even in the abstract.

History, science and life itself tell us in a thousand ways that the human beings inhabiting the earth are anything but alike that, moreover, the greater races are not only physically but especially spiritually and intellectually different from each other. Yesterday one passed this fact by, and in attempting to unify political, economic, cultural and religious standards for all nations of the earth, one was sinning against Nature, violating the natural attributes of various racial and national groups for the sake of a false principle. Today we bow to the racial differences existing in the world. We want every type of being to find that form of self-expression most fitted to its own particular requirements.

The racial principles of National Socialism are, therefore, the surest guarantee for respecting the integrity of other nations. It is incompatible with our ideas to think of incorporating other nationalities in a Germany built up as a result of conquests, as they would always remain, because of their alien blood and spirit, a foreign body within the German State. Such foolhardy thoughts may be indulged in by a world which has as its goal economic power or purely territorial expansion of its frontiers, but never by a statesman thinking along organic, racial lines whose main care is the preservation of the greatness and along with it the essential unity of his people held together by the ties of blood relationship.

For this reason, we have nothing in common with chauvinism and imperialism because we would extend to other races peopling the earth the same privileges we claim for ourselves: the right to fashion our lives and our own particular world according to the requirements of our own nature.

And if National Socialism would wish to see the unrestricted mixing of blood avoided for the individual, there is nothing in this to suggest contempt. After all, we Germans ourselves, viewed ethnologically, are a mixture. The National Socialist demand is only that the claims of the blood and the laws of biology should be more closely observed in future.

Here again our standpoint is not so very far removed from that of other people with a sound mental outlook. The American Immigration Laws, for instance, are based on definite racial discrimination. The Europeans and the inhabitants of India, the Pacific Islands, and so on, have instinctively held aloof from a mingling of the blood, and both sides genuinely regard any transgression as very bad form. Nevertheless, this natural attitude in no way detracts from the possibility of close co-operation and friendly interaction. And, speaking on behalf of the new Germany, let me once more emphasize:

We do not wish our people to intermarry with those of alien race since through such mingling of the blood the best and characteristic qualities of both races are lost. But we will always have a ready welcome for any guests who wish to visit us whether of kindred or foreign civilization, and our racial views only lead us to a fuller appreciation of their essential peculiarities in the same way as we would want our own peculiarities respected.' - Dr. Walter Gross (Forced into Suicide to not have this happen to him -

They've invested untold riches in hiding the facts presented on these pages from us. They've hidden the fact that Europe was fighting for its very existence. Far from what they've shoved into our heads, Germany was not alone in this fight. Europe and the world knew what was at stake. Adolf Hitler defined it best, in a speech on January 30, 1942:

Owens became the first American to win four gold medals in track and field

The gold, silver and bronze medal winners in the long jump competition salute from the victory stand at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. From left, Japan&aposs Naoto Tajima (bronze), American Jesse Owens (gold) who set an Olympic record in the event and Germany&aposs Luz Long (silver) giving a Nazi salute, August 8, 1936.

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

From almost the get-go, Owens seized the reins as the star of the 1936 Summer Olympics. He coasted to a gold medal in his first event, the 100-meter dash, and followed with a highly publicized victory over German champion Luz Long in the long jump (an event embellished by the tall tale of Long offering advice to help his opponent win).

After setting an Olympic record in the 200-meter dash en route to a third gold medal, Owens put the exclamation point on his showing by running the opening leg of a record-shattering U.S. 4x100 relay performance. He became the first American of any race to win four gold medals in track and field in a single Olympics, an achievement that stood unaccompanied until Carl Lewis matched him in 1984.

Although it was largely reported that Hitler "snubbed" Owens for upstaging his prized Aryan athletes, in reality, he responded to a request to treat the winners equally and declined to publicly congratulate anyone after the first day of competition. Other reports indicated that the Fuhrer did salute Owens from afar, possibly influenced by the adoring reception the athlete received from fans.

Walter Schnell

Walter was born to a Jewish family in the German town of Strehlen, 25 miles south of Breslau. His family's crystal business was prominent in the town for more than 100 years. Walter's parents sent him to Berlin in the mid-1920s to learn the porcelain trade. He returned to Strehlen in 1926 to help his family run the business.

1933-39: In 1937 Walter's family moved to Breslau. After the German pogroms of 1938 [Kristallnacht, Night of Broken Glass], he was deported to Buchenwald. When he arrived he was forced through a tunnel while Nazis beat them with clubs. Chaos broke out in the camp. Some prisoners ran around the compound while guards shot at them others ran headlong into the electric fence. In December Walter's parents got documents for him to go to Panama. The Nazis, assured that he would leave the country, released him.

1940-44: Walter couldn't get a visa to Panama, so his only option was to go to Shanghai, the only place that didn't require a visa. Most of the Jews lived in a suburb called Hongkew, until Pearl Harbor, when the Japanese confined them in a ghetto. Walter was in Shanghai for four years, and was the manager from 1941 to 1945 of the General Kosher Kitchen, which supplied food for thousands of Orthodox Jews. There were several synagogues in Shanghai and the Jewish community was active. In 1944 the Americans began bombing Shanghai.

After the war, Walter remained in China working at the kitchen. In April 1947 he immigrated to the United States.

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Walter Meyer describes his 1943 trial for looting, and the impact of his role in the Edelweiss Pirates on the sentence he received

Walter was born in Kassel, north central Germany, but grew up in the Rhineland. As a youth, Walter questioned the German superiority and antisemitism he was taught. His father, an anti-Nazi, refused to allow Walter to enter one of the Adolf Hitler Schools, but did permit him to join the Hitler Youth. However, Walter's rebellious streak led him to hide a Jewish friend in his basement. He also formed a gang that played pranks on young Nazis and helped French prisoners of war. They called themselves Edelweiss Pirates (as did other groups of opposition youth in Germany). In 1943 Walter was caught taking shoes from a bombed-out store, arrested, and imprisoned. He was eventually deported to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp, where he was forced to work in the stone quarry. In 1945, Walter contracted tuberculosis and decided to escape before he was killed. Under cover of heavy fog, he reached a farmhouse. The farmer gave him his son's army uniform and helped him board a train home to Duesseldorf. Walter recovered after hospitalization, and later moved to the United States.


On April the 12th, April the 12th, 1943, I was taken to court. By trial, the state attorney--I think they call it here, district attorney--state attorney, asked for the death penalty. My father--this was first time I saw my father and my mother--uh, my mother couldn't, couldn't control herself, so she was crying. My, my father didn't quite know what to do. They had two attorneys. When he recommended the death penalty, I know they kind of jumped over and held my arm and said, "That's not the last word." Then kind of the judge and the state attorney and somebody else, some functionary, they kind of argued about whether it was looting, or whether it was theft. The idea was that the two, uh, had different consequences. And, uh, so they retired then and when he came back, the judge decided, or had decided that it was--well, before that they had an argument and the state attorney said, uh,"I would call it theft, but this man, having had intimate contact with our enemy, and being the leader of, uh, the Edelweisspiraten [Edelweiss Pirates], having destroyed, uh, state goods, state property, does not deserve any kind of consideration." Well, when the judge came back and said, on the grounds of his outstanding, uh, involvement in, in athletism, and considering, uh, the age and the circumstances, I condemn you to one to four years in prison.

Personal accounts [ edit | edit source ]

The unit became known in the West through the book The Forgotten Soldier, by the Alsatian veteran, Guy Sajer (a pseudonym), who served as a volunteer. The book was first published in 1967 in France as Le Soldat Oublié. While the historical accuracy of Sajer's autobiographical work has been questioned, it nevertheless offers a vivid and moving account of the horrors of war on the Eastern Front.

An account was written by Alfred Nowotny, entitled The Good Soldier, which focuses on both his experiences in Panzerfüsilier Regiment Grossdeutschland from 1944, but also his captivity in the Soviet Union after the German surrender. Jurgen Herbst, emeritus professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, recounts his experience as a young volunteer who joined the Division in 1945 in his book Requiem for a German Past.

Additionally, Dr Hans Rehfeldt's own memoirs, entitled Mortar Gunner on the Eastern Front, detail his extensive service with the Division from its days as a Regiment in 1941, through the formation of the full Division and service to the end of war. His memoirs are issued in two volumes, Volume I: From the Moscow Winter Offensive to Operation Zitadelle and Volume II: Russia, Hungary, Lithuania and the Battle for East Prussia.

Nazi ideology

Adolf Hitler and his followers in the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) expressed a strong commitment to values and ideas. Under Hitler’s leadership, the NSDAP developed its own ideology that informed its methods and objectives. They called this ideology National Socialism. This page discusses the evolution of Nazi ideology

Shifting ideas

To outsiders, Nazism may have seemed rigidly ideological – but this was only partly true. While National Socialism held common ideas and prejudices, Nazi ideology itself was relatively fluid. It changed over time as conditions and situations required. It could also be broad, general or quite vague.

The Nazi Party published very few clear and definitive expressions of its ideology. Two of the best-known articulations of Nazi ideology were the NSDAP’s 25 Points (drafted in 1920) and Hitler’s rambling memoir Mein Kampf (1924).

In many respects, Nazi ideology was defined by Hitler himself. It was contained in his speeches, policy statements and orders. It changed frequently over time, as Hitler’s objectives changed, and was often confusing or contradictory.

Historical context

Nazism was one of three radical ideologies to appear in Europe after World War I. Fascism, often dubbed the ‘older brother’ of Nazism, took shape in Italy during the war. Devised largely by Benito Mussolini, fascism rejected socialism and democracy in favour of an authoritarian political and economic system, dominated by a single leader.

Soviet socialism, a left-wing ideology with elements of totalitarianism, emerged in Russia after the 1917 revolution. It began as a movement to overthrow capitalism and replace it with a ‘workers’ dictatorship’. In the end, Russia ended up in the hands of Hitler’s rival dictator, Joseph Stalin, who cared little about the lives or well-being of workers.

Nazism had some similarities to both – but it was also a distinctly national phenomenon, drawing on ideas, events and traditions peculiar to Germany.

National Socialism was developed by hardline nationalists whose only interest was the future of Germany and German-speaking Aryan people. As a consequence, they had little interest in creating an international movement, exporting their ideas to other countries or changing the world outside Europe. The restoration of German economic and military supremacy was their chief concern.

Cornerstone documents

The two cornerstone documents of Nazi ideology were the NSDAP’s 25 Points (1920) and Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf (1924). Nazi ideas were also outlined or discussed in many of Hitler’s speeches. None of these sources was constitutional in nature, however. They offered little detail about how Nazi ideas should work in practice.

Hitler seemed to prefer that expressions of Nazi ideology were short, simple and broadly framed. At several times in the 1920s, Hitler resisted proposals to expand or re-draft the party’s 25 Points, declaring them “inviolable”.

This was probably a deliberate strategy. If Nazi ideology was outlined vaguely or in general terms, Hitler was free to interpret or re-invent it as he saw fit.

10 principles of Nazi ideology

While Nazi ideology was open to interpretation and changed over time, it held firm to a number of core values and beliefs. The following 10 principles were a consistent feature of Nazi ideology:

1. Authoritarianism

The Nazis desired strong government and extensive state power. They believed the Nazi state could not function effectively if it lacked the means to impose its will and enforce its policies. Decisions were to be made by a leader with almost absolute power (a Fuhrer). All political authority and sovereignty rested with this leader, who should be trusted by the people to make important decisions on their behalf (Fuhrerprinzip). No political parties or organisations other than the NSDAP could be tolerated. Other groups with political influence, such as unions or churches, would be either restricted or abolished.

2. Totalitarianism

To the Nazis, state power had few limits and extended into all aspects of German political, social and cultural life. They believed it was the government’s duty not just to devise policy but to shape, coordinate and regulate society for the betterment of the nation. A totalitarian government must have the power to control the press and unions, restrict civil liberties, manage education and employ propaganda. Liberal freedoms from government power – such as civil liberties, individual rights and freedoms – were considered irrelevant and subordinate to the interests of the state.

3. Nationalism

Nazism was chiefly a nationalist ideology. It was concerned only with Germany and its interests: restoring the German economy, achieving economic self-sufficiency, rebuilding its military, acquiring territory and providing for the German people. The Nazis had little interest in forming or improving international relationships, other than to advance German interests. They detested diplomacy and despised multilateral groups like the League of Nations. Hitler and his followers had no intention of honouring or abiding by existing foreign treaties or negotiating new ones, except where it might help fulfil their own objectives.

4. Militarism

Hitler and his followers believed that re-arming and expanding Germany’s armed forces was essential for the defence of the nation. Rearmament was carried out in defiance of the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler considered military strength essential for expanding the German state. The organisation and culture of the NSDAP were fundamentally militaristic. This was evidenced by the size and popularity of the party’s paramilitary groups: the Sturmabteilung (SA) and Schutzstaffel (SS).

5. Expansionism

Hitler and the Nazis dreamed of unifying the German-speaking Aryan peoples of Europe into a greater German state. To achieve this, Hitler believed his regime would need to acquire lebensraum, or ‘living space’, to accommodate the needs of the new Germany. This living space would be seized from the non-Aryan people of eastern Europe, from countries like Czechoslovakia, Poland and Russia. The first step to creating a greater Germany would be to achieve Anschluss: the union of Germany and Austria.

6. A ‘third way’

The horrors of World War I and the Great Depression saw many people reject existing political and economic systems, such as parliamentary democracy and capitalism. Socialism emerged as one alternative – but both Nazism and fascism considered themselves ‘third-way’ ideologies, or alternatives to both democracy and socialism. Hitler was famously hostile to democracy, which he considered a weak and indecisive form of government, too prone to interference and infiltration by destructive forces. He also despised communism, regarding it as a Jewish invention to enslave non-Jewish races.

7. Economic sovereignty

Economic power, prosperity and self-sufficiency were priorities for the NSDAP. The Nazis sought the creation of jobs for unemployed Germans, the restoration of national prosperity, the recovery of industrial production and the rearming of the military. They believed the role of the state was to manage the economy, dictating what should be produced, allocating resources and managing labour. Unemployment would be dealt with by putting the unemployed to work for the benefit of the state. The Nazis had no objection to the private ownership of capital, provided these capitalists were willing to meet government priorities (and provided they were not Jewish).

8. Traditional values

Conservative traditions were a strong feature of Nazi ideology. The Nazis often painted themselves as a new movement but they also promoted traditional values. Hitler frequently spoke of protecting long-standing German values, including Christian beliefs and volkisch connections to the land. He often harked back to the 19th century, when Germany was ruled by men of steel like Otto von Bismarck and German society was relatively untroubled by disruptive influences like socialism, liberalism, democracy and women’s rights.

9. Racial theories

Their dark obsession with race separated Hitler and the Nazis from many other fascist and nationalist groups. The Nazis considered Aryans – those of Nordic heritage, with blonde hair and blue eyes – Europe’s ‘master race’. According to Nazi racial theories, Aryans were physically stronger, intellectually advanced and more culturally gifted than other European races. The Nazis considered races like Jews, Slavs and Romany to be untermensch (‘inferior men’). The Nazis embraced the pseudo-science of eugenics, that claimed society could be improved by adopting policies of ‘genetic hygiene’, such as the compulsory sterilisation or euthanasia of the mentally ill or disabled.

10. Volksgemeinschaft

Translating as ‘people’s community’, Volksgemeinschaft did not originate with the Nazis. Instead, it came from the difficult years of World War I. The principle of volksgemeinschaft was that all Germans should unite and work together to reduce differences in class, wealth and standards of living. In reality, the Nazis had no interest in this kind of levelling or social unity – yet volksgemeinschaft figured heavily in NSDAP propaganda. This gave the impression that Nazism was a cohesive and unifying movement.

Right wing or left wing?

Was Nazism a right-wing or left-wing ideology? Conventional understanding suggests Nazism and fascism occupied the far right-wing of the political spectrum, with socialism on the far left. This assessment is based on the idea that the political spectrum is linear or a straight line – but many suggest this is a simplistic representation of political views.

Some historians and political commenters argue that Nazism had more common with Stalinist socialism than true conservatism. Hitler and Stalin were both totalitarian leaders who disposed of political rivals and dissenters. Both regimes placed the needs of the state over those of the individual. Both harnessed and controlled the economy to meet national priorities. Both sought to expand their nations, Hitler to the east, Stalin to the south and the west.

There were some critical differences between Nazism and Stalinism, however, particularly in their economic policy. Private ownership of capital was permitted in Nazi Germany but outlawed in Soviet Russia. Under Hitler, Germany’s industrial moguls became even wealthier while small business owners were frequently praised and encouraged. Privately-owned capital was only seized if it belonged to Jews.

Both dictators sought to revive industrial production but used different approaches. Both had different views and policies with regard to class, race and gender.

French philosopher Jean-Pierre Faye suggests Nazism and Stalinist socialism occupied different ends of a horseshoe (see diagram above). They were opposed to each other ideologically but shared some goals and methods.

A historian’s view:
“Before total war, Nazism was a potpourri. Racialism and nationalism jostled shoulders with the socialistic revolutionary conservatism of many members of the Mittelstand (middle class). Romantic ideas came from right-wing youth groups. Hitler could utter the gospel of anti-capitalism to workers and the gospel of profits to businessmen. It was a rag-bag of inconsistent and incoherent ideas.”
Walter Phillips

1. The Nazis called their ideology National Socialism while today it is generally referred to as Nazism. Unlike other political ideologies, it was not articulated in much detail but was broadly defined in Mein Kampf and the NSDAP’s 25 Points.

2. At its core, Nazism revolved around an all-powerful leader, a strong state, intense nationalism, a focus on militarism and military strength, the subordination of the individual to national interests and purity of race.

3. Nazism sought to repair German supremacy by restoring the economy, putting the unemployed to work, reviving industrial production, rearming the military and ignoring foreign treaties.

4. The Nazis also harked back to traditional 19th-century values of authoritarian government, social conservatism and Christian beliefs, reinforcing these in rhetoric and propaganda.

5. Though not identical, the Nazis utilised similar methods and approaches to those employed by Stalinist socialism in Russia. This has raised the question whether the two ideologies are as far removed as has previously been claimed.

Deportations from Vienna

An SS officer stands in front of Jews assembled for deportation. - YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York

During the war, German policy regarding the Jewish population shifted from one of expropriation and Jewish emigration to forced deportation. Systematic mass deportations of the Viennese Jewish population began in the autumn of 1939 when, on Eichmann's orders, SS and police officials deported some 1,500 Jews from Vienna to a detention camp in Nisko, Poland. In late winter 1941, the Germans deported approximately 4,500 additional Viennese Jews to occupied Poland (primarily to Izbica and other ghettos in the Lublin region), where most were later murdered. In the autumn of 1941 and the spring of 1942, the Germans deported thousands more Jews from Vienna to cities in the occupied Soviet Union (Riga, Kovno, Vilna, and Minsk). Locally stationed SS and police officials then murdered these Jews, mostly in mass shootings. Thousands of Viennese Jews were also deported to the Lodz and Theresienstadt ghettos.

By October 1942 only about 8,000 Jews remained on Austrian soil. German officials deported approximately 1,900 of these Jews in 1943 and 1944. Some Jews remained in hiding. Many of the others still in Vienna were persons married to non-Jews. All in all, SS and police deported some 47,555 Austrian Jews to the east. The vast majority of these Jews, along with approximately 18,000 refugees to Austria, were murdered during the Holocaust.

Watch the video: Walter Gross - Fade To Facts Official Video (December 2022).

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