The outbreak of war in Europe was the culmination of six years of diplomatic maneuvering and international defiance by Adolf Hitler, who came to power as Chancellor of Germany in Jan. 1933. Hitler led the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis), which emphasized defying the limits on German arms forced on the government at Versailles; expanding German borders and reincorporating all German territory into a new Third Reich and a racial nationalism which blamed Jews for the problems of Germany in the depression period.
The Nazis hated democracy and Bolshevism in equal measure and Hitler quickly established himself as a dictator with the Enabling Act. The Nazis used democracy to take power, but had no intention of ruling democratically. Nazis burned down the German Reichstag building in Berlin, blaming it on the communists, and cracked down on rival political parties by imprisoning their leaders in concentration camps.
They passed the Nuremberg Laws to define racial status in the new Reich and subjugated any German with Jewish blood to humiliating measures of control, from wearing an armband with the Star of David, to limiting their livelihoods and dwellings. Nazi storm troopers harassed, beat and killed Jews in the late 1930s and reprisals against Jews and dissenters intensified by 1939.
The Nazis rebuilt the German army, developed an air force and sought to construct a powerful Navy which could challenge the British. They also addressed the problem of the depression, engaging in mammoth public works programs, like the construction of the German highway system and in military production, as well. Content with the recovery of the German economy and the glory of the Germany nation after a decade of humiliation, Hitler was an incredibly popular figure and a savior for most Germans.
- How did the treatment of Germany after World War I create conditions that allowed someone like Hitler to come to power?
- The Nuremberg Laws enabled the Nazis to use race as a legal category to persecute Jews. Do you believe race should have a legal definition? What risks does the German experience highlight when race is allowed as a legal category?
- The Nazis used rearmament as a means to ending the Depression. What do you think happens to a country’s willingness to go to war, when it has gone to great expense to create a huge military?
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6, Mar. 2018, Hitler, My Struggle [Digital image]. Retrieved from <google.com>.