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.

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