History Of Nazi Germany
National Socialism between 1920 and 1945 can best be described as an era of constant change. Hitler’s enrollment in the German Worker’s Party provided him the foundation needed to propel his idealistic views of anti-Semitism and Aryan superiority. Soon after Hitler’s enrollment the party’s name was changed to the National Socialist German Worker’s Party and in the summer of 1921 his talents as an orator and propagandist enabled him to take over the leadership of the Nazi Party. Hitler’s initial following – stemmed from German hyper-inflation and devaluation of the mark – included unemployed workers and the lower class, his keen ability to organize rallies to hear his speeches were instrumental in raising monies for the Nazi Party. Although the majority of his followers shared his dislike of the Weimar Republic’s liberal democracy and anti-Semitic agenda, his party support, due to it’s small size, was limited to the Bavarian region of German, this would prove to be a limiting factor when Hitler attempted to seize control of the provincial Bavarian government during his Beer Hall Putsch in November 1923. Hitler’s ill-fated attempt of treason proved to work to his advantage; thus, giving him national status as a patriot and a hero in the eyes of many. As a result, Hitler served 9 months in prison for the Beer Hall Putsch and wrote a book titled Mein Kampf (My Struggle) outlining his vision for the future Germany.
By late 1924 Hitler was release on parole, after serving a portion his five year sentence, and quickly regained control of the Nazi Party, noting that any future seizure must come by legal measures through Parliamentary elections.
Faced with a temporary improvement of the German economy by the Weimar Republic’s ability to secure loans and investments (mostly from America), Hitler was forced to wait until economic conditions worsened to propel his Nazi agenda. In 1929 Hitler finally got his chance, the American stock market crash of 1929 affected nearly every nation in the world and German prosperity soon came to an end as a result of the Great Depression, vast unemployment and hunger that followed. President Hindenburg’s Weimar Republic soon found itself obligated to repay debts owed to countries that once provided assistance during times of prosperity. Discontented German people wanted change and Bruening (Chancellor) believed that a stable parliament majority for his party could deliver the change required, so new elections were held. Hitler acted immediately promising change for a better Germany during his political speeches posthumously propelling the Nazi Party to second in the Reichstag in the elections that followed. The Nazi Leader’s prominence grew even further amongst the middle class, big businesses and the Army until Hitler finally secured a shared government between the Nazis and the Nationalists’ and on January 1933, President Hindenburg entrusted the chancellorship to Adolf Hitler. Hitler’s immediate actions following his appointment to Chancellor were deceptive in nature; however, legal according to the laws of Parliament which enabled him to hold various elections without the presence of certain parties until ultimately he obtained full powers from the Reichstag. After the death of Hindenburg, August 1934, Hitler enacted a law the preceding day that combined the offices of the President and Chancellor allowing him to take over as head of state and eventually abolishing the title of President making him Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor.
During the early period of 1933 – 1939, the Fuehrer conducted purging campaigns of the S.A., political party members, and any persons defiant against the Reich. Additionally, Hitler was appeased by the governments of Great Britain and France as the Fuehrer threaten war with countries whose provinces possessed areas of people being oppressed by the respective governments because of their German decent. As a result of these threats Hitler was able to seize control of Austria and Czechoslovakia, literally annexing these countries into the Reich without firing a single shot. All the while, the Fuehrer built up the German military (challenging the Versailles Treaty without resistance), provided jobs for the unemployed, and restored German Nationalism to all of Germany gaining support Nationwide at the expense of the Jews in many cases. However, Hitler’s further expansion of the Reich without force came to an end when Great Britain declared war on Germany for the invasion of Poland, September 1939. But, Hitler could afford to do this uncontested because of his Non-aggression Pact with the Soviet Union.
World War II officially began after Hitler’s march on Poland and the succession of rapid defeats and occupation of France, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, and Belgium became known as the Lightning War due to the German Wehrmacht’s ability to strike quickly with little to no resistance. France and Great Britain were literally run-off the continent of Europe, leaving no formidable military might to the west of Germany, thereby allowing Hitler to renege on his Non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union and strike the USSR in the summer of 1941. However, Hitler’s surprising rapid victories would soon come to an end as the fall rains began over Russia, slowing the Wehrmacht’s advancement. Additionally, Hitler had not yet defeated Great Britain to the west and Germany soon found itself fighting two fronts. As winter approached, the advancement of the Wehrmacht continued to slow, ill prepared for the cold Siberian winters Germany eventually became over extended in the battle for Moscow and unable to replace soldiers as fast as the Red Army that the Fuehrer had to retreat.
Once the US entered the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor by Germany’s ally Japan; Hitler declared war on the United States. With Germany’s continual retreat from Russia and the Western democracies of America, Great Britain, and France delivering defeats in Northern Africa, Italy, and the beaches of Normandy, Germany’s existence would finally come to an end. As the Red Army marched on to Berlin, and the Allies approached from the west, Hitler realized the end was near, so he took his own life and committed suicide in April 1945. His Reich would only last seven days after his suicide and surrender to the Allies in May 1945.
Nazism over the course of its era was not well accepted by most Germans until after the Great Depression. Hitler’s risks of standing up to the democracies of the West by denouncing the Versailles Treaty and not paying War reparations worked in favor of the Nazi regime; hence, restoring German Nationalism in a sense. Although Jews were being persecuted, many German’s did not think it mattered much considering the Nazis were providing jobs for the German people at the expense of the Jews, so proclaimed by Hitler. But not until the war turned in favor of the Allies and the unraveling of the Nazi genocide of Jews came to light, did Germans protested that they were forced into the Nazi way of life for fear of being persecuted themselves and suffer the same fate of the Jews. There’s a lot of truth to this but, the Jews would suggest otherwise. How an individual like Hitler could shock the world by starting another world war two decades after the first is a prime example of history repeating itself. Thus, by reflecting on the change National Socialism undertook from 1920 to 1945 enables nations to prevent another Hitler in the future.