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Hitler’s Germany and the Holocaust

Much has been written about Hitler, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust yet we are no closer to understanding this event than we are when it first happened. Part of the reason for this is the fact that it is very difficult for many to even comprehend the sheer magnitude of the death and misery that occurred at the hands of the Nazis. Part of the reason that there is a lack of understanding is that most attempt to answer the question “why? ” from a logical perspective. Obviously, there is very little logic found in the political ideologies formulated by Hitler.

Hitler’s National Socialism was a movement that was based upon a bizarre mix of militarism, eugenics, emotions and quasi-Marxism. The end result of this was probably the most destructive regime to ever unleash itself on the world. However, if one wishes to understand the Nazi reasoning one needs to examine the situation that existed in Germany prior to Hitler’s rise to power. After the end of World War One, Germany was a defeated nation that had signed the very lopsided Treaty of Versailles. This was a humiliating defeat for German nationalism that imposed a heavy debt on the German populace.

In addition to the ramifications of the loss of World War One, the (then) current political climate was a disastrous one for Germany as the evolution of the government into the Weimar Republic devolved Germany into an economic disaster. This created the opening for Hitler’s National Socialist movement to come to power. Part of the reason for this was the German public felt that a little new blood in the political system couldn’t hurt; After all, how could the Nazi Party be worse that what they currently had to contend with?

The public would later discover the disastrous consequences of this belief. Hitler’s National Socialism was a spin on traditional fascism in the sense that it completely disavowed the Marxist notion of class struggle and replaced it with racial identity instead. One of the main goals of Nazi Germany was to promote the superiority of the German race. This was a dramatic departure from Bolshevism and Marxism in the sense that National Socialism was not looking to create an international community of workers. It was looking to promote the notion of German superiority.

This is often misinterpreted as nationalism, but such an assessment is inaccurate. In Mussolini’s fascist Italy nationalism ruled supreme and it meant that you had to be loyal to the nation. Your race did not matter; what mattered was your loyalty to the state. Under Hitler’s vision, nationalism was replaced with racial identity politics. This was a critical notion because this factor was the primary factor that set the wheels in motion for the eventual Holocaust that would occur during the Second World War. As such, we must examine these various factors in order to come to a greater understanding.

For there to be a “master race” there must be an “inferior race. ” Such a zero-sum game was critical to the pseudo-logical goals of Nazi Germany because they often stirred up emotional sentiment in the downtrodden population. For the poor people of Germany the promises of reclaiming lost territory and restoring Germany to its prior glory such appeals struck a nerve. However, in order to make the emotional impact of such ideologies more powerful there needs to be a scapegoat. In particular, Hitler placed the blame of much of Germany’s ills on the Jewish population.

This helped fuel the public’s sentiment in favor of Hitler’s eugenics plan and greatly aided in the rise to power of the Nazis. Throughout his entire life, Hitler was a rabid anti-Semite. His early writings prove as much so it becomes obvious that hatred of Jews was ingrained in Hitler’s very nature from very early days in his life. The reasons for this hatred are not completely known. It is known that Hitler possessed many bizarre, conspiratorial notions regarding the Jewish population. He blamed virtually all of Germany’s ills on the Jewish population.

But, his hatred of Jews was not limited to those who lived in Germany. One of the main reasons that Hitler was obsessed with a war in Russia was because Russia contained a large Jewish population. Collateral damage in Russia would have served Hitler’s purpose of killing as many of Jewish people as possible. Mercifully, Hitler’s incursion in Russia did not achieve this goal. This insanity would later lead to one of the worst atrocities in history: The Final Solution. Hitler’s Final Solution was Hitler’s plan to eradicate the Jewish population of of Germany and, in time, all of Europe.

Millions of Jews would be rounded up and slaughtered in camps created for the purpose of the Final Solution. Eventually, the Holocaust would expand to include any group that Hitler felt was a threat to his nation. “Undesirables” such as intellectuals, Slavs, Poles, Gypsies, gays and Catholics were targeted by the Nazis and executed in the gas chambers at the concentration camps. Ultimately, several millions of people from all classes and ethnic backgrounds were killed under Hitler’s reign. There is very little written material on the subject of the Holocaust that survives in German archives.

(This has fueled a number of nonsensical conspiracy theories that the Holocaust never happened) We do know that the primary architects of the Holocaust were Hitler, Hitler’s underling Heinrich Himmler and, most notably, Adolph Eichmann. To a great extent, Eichmann was the individual who planned and devised the mechanism for making the Holocaust possible. The ability to organize and move several millions of people to a small number of concentration camps is not easy. Transporting such a high volume of people (mostly under deceptive means) required coordinating trains for delivery of those marked for extermination.

Building efficient “killing factories” and aligning the personnel to carry out such order also requires deliberate planning. To a great extent, Eichmann was the man who devised much of the logistics of the Holocaust. This is not to say without Eichmann the Holocaust would have been impossible. It would have occurred with ot without Eichmann. But, through Eichmann’s logistical planning efficiency was magnified and this obviously created a landscape where such huge numbers of deaths were made possible. With the fall of Berlin and Germany’s loss in World War Two, National Socialism was wiped out from the political landscape.

However, the legacies of World War Two still resonate with many to this very day. One of the greatest rallying cries has been “Never again” which is a call of remembrance to never forget the Holocaust or to ever remember the political landscape which created it. Since we are still discussing the events this very day, it is obvious that the Holocaust has not been forgotten nor will it ever be forgotten.

Bibliography

Davis, Martha. “Hitler’s Movement Signature. ” TDR (1988-), Vol. 36, No. 2 (Summer, 1992), pp. 152-172 Dunning, Eric.”Elias on Germany, Nazism and the Holocaust: On the Balance between ‘Civilizing’ and ‘Decivilizing’ Trends in the Social Development of Western Europe. ” The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 49, No. 3 (Sep. , 1998), pp. 339-357 Needler, Martin. “Hitler’s Anti-Semitism: A Political Appraisal ” The Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Winter, 1960), pp. 665-669 O’Loughlin, John. “Geography of the Nazi Vote: Context, Confession, and Class in the Reichstag Election of 1930” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 84, No. 3 (Sep. , 1994), pp. 351-380

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