The Rise of Nazism in Germany
The killing of millions of Jews and other
"non-Aryans" in the Holocaust is the greatest crime
against humanity recorded in history. It was made possible by
a unique combination of factors: the total control over the machinery
of a modern state by the totalitarian regime of the National Socialists;
the active cooperation or passive consent of a large part of the
German population; the collaboration of like-minded regimes and
people in the occupied territories; and a deeply rooted anti-Semitism
common to all Christian countries in Europe. The catastrophic
loss of humane standards in German society took place after the
prolonged political and economic crisis of the 1920s.
After the defeat in the First World War,
Germany becomes a democracy. Social Democrats and Liberal parties
form the new government. The enormous costs of the war cause rampant
inflation. Unemployment rises to over five million. Large parts
of the population live in fear of falling back into 19th-century
poverty. Nationalist parties and the newly founded National Socialist
German Workers Party (NSDAP) blame the democratic constitution,
the parties supporting the new republic and the unjust provisions
of the peace treaty of Versailles for the chaos. But above all
it is "the Jew" who is being blamed: The German worker
is being ruined by "Jewish Capital" and threatened by
"Jewish Bolshevism" that wants to turn him into a slave.
The Nazi party under the leadership of
Adolf Hitler gains more votes in every election. It promises to
"restore honor" to the Germans, to renew political order
and to bring back "work and bread."
The Nazis pursue their political aims
with aggressive propaganda and violence. In 1930 - twelve years
after its founding - the parties that supported the republic lose
their majority. Right-wing parties take over the government and
begin to dismantle the democratic system.
In the elections of 1932, the NSDAP becomes
the strongest party. The votes of the National Socialists are
now needed to form the next government. On January 30, 1933, Adolf
Hitler is named Reich chancellor. In February, his democratically
elected government passes a law suspending civil rights and political
freedoms. In March, the government is empowered to rule without
parliament, to pass laws and govern by decree. Germany becomes
a dictatorship ruled by Hitler and the Nazi Party.