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Nazism, ideological

or not? This is a very important question when looking into the rise of Hitler

and how he used his so-called ?ideologies? to win over the support of the

German people. The dictionary definition of the word ?Ideology? is ?Ideas that

form the basis of a political or economic theory?, from this we should be able

to weigh the evidence to see if the Nazis ideas about political and economic

system form an ideology. The Nazis did not fit the criteria for being ideological;

they were contradictory and hypocritical. The Nazis coagulated the ideas and

theories of philosophers, musicians and scientists and produced them in a way

that appealed to the masses this is what made the Nazi party believable and supportable.

Hitler presented to the masses a bombardment of political and ideological ideas,

which seemed to take into account every individual and personal opinion of the

average and indeed middle class German. The nationalistic component to Nazism

appealed to every German, the fact that they were superior and stronger than

other nations appealed to the masses and the apparent coherent way in which

Hitler presented these ideas made it more believable than ridiculous. Firstly it is necessary to

look at what Hitler and indeed the NSDAP wanted for Germany. In a programme,

which the German Workers? Party published on 24th February 1920 it

states the beliefs and ideas of the party, it was co-written by Hitler along

with Anton Drexler, the leader of the party at that time. Reading through this

document it is clear that the 25 point ?demands? of the party were very

contradictory. For example point 2 states that ?We demand equality of right for

the German People in its dealings with other nations, and the abolition of the

Peace Treaties of Versailles and St Germain.? This would indirectly appeal to

German Generals as the down sizing of the army caused the dwindling power and

server job losses in Germany. The Generals would be able to reassert themselves

into the military positions that they once held and take advantage of the independent

states that once belonged to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. In point 22 however

it says ?We demand the abolition of the professional army and its replacement

by a peoples army.? Obviously this is alienating the Generals, as the original

autocratic and militant regime of the army would be abolished for a new ?peoples?

army, which is very socialistic and partly communistic. From this we can see

that Hitler was very contradictory, it is evident that Hitler wanted to whip up

the support of the people but not just certain people he wanted the whole

support of the nation, to do this he had to be hypocritical and contradictory. In

Hitler?s book Mein Kampf (My Struggle), 1925 he states that ?Politics is the

art of using men?s weaknesses for one?s ends.? This clearly shows Hitler?s

intentions on how to get the support of the German people, by appealing to

every single German regardless of social standing. From the 25-point programme

I have picked out the four predominant beliefs of the party they are racism,

socialism, nationalism and anti-democracy I will go onto see how these became

the ?ideologies? of the Nazi party. Hitler?s National Socialists

believed heavily in the ?November Criminals? and ?Stab in the Back? theories.

Hitler used this against the government as propaganda to whip up support for

his own party. He believed that the weimar republic had humiliated Germany and

had put shame on the German people. Hitler?s ideas were built on

his concept of race. He believed that humanity consisted of a graduated

hierarchy of races and that life was no more than ?the survival of the fittest?.

He argued that Social Darwinism necessitated a struggle between races, just as

animals fought for food and territory in the wild. Furthermore, he considered

it vital to maintain racial purity, so that the blood of the weak would not

undermine the strong. It was a crude philosophy, which appears even more

simplistic when Hitler?s analysis of the races is considered. The Herrenvolk

(master race) was the Aryan race, made up of peoples of Northern Europe and

epitomised by the Germans. It was the task of the Aryan to remain pure and to

subjugate the inferior races.? At the

lower end of his racial pyramid Hitler placed the Negroes, the Slavs, the

Gypsies and, the particular focus of his hatred, the Jews.? Hitler?s anti-Semitism was violent and irrational.

?The Jew became the universal scapegoat

for the nazis, responsible for all the problems of Germany past and

present.? Hitler saw the Jewish

community as a kind of cancer within the German body politic ? a disease that

had to be treated, as the following extract from Mein Kampf illustrates:? ?The adulteration of the

blood and racial deterioration conditioned thereby are the only causes that

account for the decline of ancient civilisations: for it is never by war that

nations are ruined, but by the loss of their powers of resistance, which are

exclusively a characteristic of pure racial blood. ? A number of points in the

1920 programme demanded socialist reforms, and for a long time there existed a

faction within the party which emphasised the anti-capitalist aspect of

Nazism.? Hitler accepted these points in

the early years because he recognised their popular appeal, but he himself

never showed any real commitment to such ideas, and they were to be dropped

after he came to power.? What Hitler did

promote was the concept of the Volksgemeinschaft (people?s community).? This remained the vaguest element of the

Nazi ideology, and is therefore difficult to define precisely.?? It meant working together for the benefit

of the nation; the provision of jobs and social benefits; and the encouragement

of ? German values?.? Such a system could

of course only benefit those who belonged to the German Volk and who willingly

accepted the loss of individual freedoms in an authoritarian system. In Hitler?s opinion there

was no realistic alternative to strong dictatorial government.? Ever since his years in Vienna he had viewed

parliamentary democracy as weak and ineffective.? It went against the German Historical traditions of militarism

and absolutism, and further more, it encouraged the development of an even

greater evil, communism.? More

specifically, Hitler saw Weimar democracy as a betrayal. In his eyes, it was

the democratic and socialist politicians of 1918 ?the November Criminals? who had

stabbed the German army in the back, by accepting the armistice and

establishing the Republic.? Since then

Germany had lurched from crisis to crisis.?

In place of democracy Hitler envisaged the creation of an all-embracing

one party state that would be run on the leadership principle. (Fuhrerprinzip).? Thus, the mass of individuals in society

were t be subjugated for the common good, but the individual leader was to? be elevated in order to rouse the nations

into action, and to take the necessary decisions. The final element in Nazi

ideology was an aggressive nationalism, which developed out of the particular circumstances

of Germany?s recent history.? The

armistice of 1918 and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles had to be overturned

and the lost territories had to be restored to Germany.? But Hitler ?s nationalism called for more

than a mere restoration of the 1914 frontiers.?

It meant the creation of an empire (Reich) to include all those members

of the German Volk who lived beyond the frontiers of the Kaiser?s Germany. The Austrian

Germans, the Sudeten Germans, the German communities along the Baltic coast,

all were to be included within the borders of Germany.. Yet Hitler?s

nationalist aims did not end there.? He dreamed

of a Greater Germany, a superpower capable of competing with the British Empire

and the United States.? Such an

objective could be achieved only by territorial expansion on a grand

scale.? This was the basis of Hitler?s

demand for Lerberndtaum (living space) for Germany.? Only by the conquest of Poland, the Ukraine and Russia could Germany

obtain the raw materials, cheap labour and food supplies so necessary for

continental supremacy.? The creation of

the ?New Order? in eastern Europe also held one other great attraction;; namely

it would involve the destruction of Russia, the centre of world communism.? As he argued in Mein Kampf: ?the German people must be

assured the territorial area which is necessary for it to exist on earth?People

of the same blood should be in the same Reich.?

The German people will have no right to engage in a colonial policy

until they shall have brought all their children together in one state.? To descirbe Hitler?s

thinking as an ideology is flattery. It lacked coherence and was intellectually

superficial and simplistic. It wasn?t even a rational system of thought. It was

merely a collection of ideas not cleaverly pieced together. Although the

combination was unique, it was not in any positive sense origional. Every

aspect of Hitler?s thinking was to be found in the nationalist and racist

writings of the 19th century. His nationalism was generated in

Germany in the years between Prussia?s struggle against Napolian and the unification

of 1871. His idea of an all German Reich was a simple repition of the demands

for the ?Greater Germany? made by those German nationalists who criticised Bismarck?s

limited unification. Even the imperialism of Lebensraum had already found

expression in the programme of ?Germanisation? supported by those writers who

saw the German racer as some how superior. This growing support for the Volk

had also gone hand in hand with the development of racist ideas, and in

particular of anti-Semitism. Thus, even before Hitler and other leading Nazis

were born, the core of what would become Nazism was already current in

political circles.

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