NAZI Government: Hitler's Revolution

NAZI revolution
Figure 1.--What conservastives, the middle-class, and the military did not anticipate was that while Hitler was indeed an anti-Communist, he was no conservastive. Hitler had very defenite ideas about a revolution of his own to remake Germany and they include an assault on traditional German values, just what many of the people who supported him wanted to prevent. Hitler told the Reichstag, "He alone, who owns the youth, gains the Future!" And as part of his NAZI revolution, Hitler set out replacing the family as the major formitive force in a German child's life. An entire day at the annual Nuremberg NAZI Party rally was devoyed to the Hitler Youth. Here Hitler speaks to the boys. Put your cursor on the image to see the rest of the panorama.

What conservastives, the middle-class, and the military did not anticipate was that while Hitler was indeed an anti-Communist, he was no conservastive. Hitler had very defenite ideas about a revolution of his own to remake Germany and they include an assault on traditional German values, just what many of the people who supported him wanted to prevent. And many of those ideas were very similar to what the Communists wanted to do. There were several elements to Hitler's NAZI revolution. First, Hitler wanted control over young people which meant replacing the family as the major formitive force in a child's life. Second, Hitler looked down on Christian values such as humility and compassion for the meek and weak. Hitler like the Bolsheviks wanted to replace Christianity with akind of state religion. The NAZIs proceeded to undercut religion in many ways and were developing their own religion. Hitler delayed a complete break with established churches until after the War was won. Christiasn values were to be replaced with new ethic in which racial purity became the primary value. Third, Hitler did not want to take over German inmdustry, but he waanted to control it. He was quite willing to have the Krupps and other industrialists operate the factories, but he wanted to control the companies to further his rearmanent campaign. Fourth, Hitler liked the Bolsheviks in Russia wanted control over the labor movement. This would help ensure that workers would support the regime and not impede rearmanent. This was part of a lsrger effort to control professional groups as well. Fifth, he wanted to break down class barriers as part of his effort to create Ein Volk. He pursued this effort in many ways, including the Hitler Youth, schools, Reich Labor Service (RAD), and the conscriotion needed for an expanded military.

Race

Race as Hitler made very clear in Mein Kamp had a central place in Hitler's thinking n planned revolution/ He of course did not use the term 'revolution' The NAZI platform was to prevent Communist Revolution and preserve German values. But revolution was precisely what he was planning and race was at the core of it. Eugenics became state policy and racial doctrine was at the heart of it. Of course the initial focus of Hitler's race domentia was the Jews and from the beginning they were the princial NAZI target. The full force of the NAZI campaign came down after the Nuremberg Laws were proclaimed (1935) nd Jews had their citzenship revoked. NAZI eacial plans were much borader. Hitler not only not only implement stringent racial laws in Germany, but etablished hereditary hygene courts. This of course was only the beginning. His plans soon exapanded to redrawing the ethnic map of Europe beginning with Eastern Euope. We have details in Generalplan Ost. World war II is the subject of exhaustive academic study. NAZI racism is commonly included, butoften it is considered a tragic, but side story tonthe War. In fact it was asolutely central to Hitler's war effort and a primary objective.

Popularity

One of the questions that often comes up with the NAZIs is the popularity of Hitler and the regime. We know aood deal about the popularity of the Party before Hitler seized power because there were several parlimentary elections in the Weimar democracy and there are detailed election results. And there is considerble information concerning voter support among diffeeent voter groups. After Hitler seized power, democratic elections ceased. There were more votes, four referenda. Referenda were preferred by Hitler because the results could be controlled by how the issue was phrased. The firt rerendum was on the League of Nations (November 1933). This was used by the NAZIs to demonstrate popular support for the regime. The issue determuned the outcome. The League was sociated with the Versailles Peace Treaty and thus very unpopular. Thus many people who did not support the NAZIs joined the NAZI partisns to vote Ja over exiting the League. Here the announced result may have beem close to the actual count. This was jot the cae for the subsequnt referenda. Once theNAZI police state was implemented, there ws no way of accurately measuring popularity. although the security services did monitor public opinion and reported on it. We think that there is no doubt that the NAZIs teadily increased in popularity after Hitler seized power. NAZI programs reduced unemployment and the economy seemed to improve. Unbenohnst to the public and the financial community was the level of defecit spending to support th economic program and the massiv rermamrnt program. Public events graphically demonstrate enthusism for th regime. Of course events can vve staged, but looking at experesions in the crowds suggest to us a very high level od support. This does not mean that there was support for the terible attrocities wenow know that the NAZIs committed, but there was definite upport for the regime. One author describes theuse of salutes and greetings was an indicator. In the early phase of NAZI rule, once could get into touble for not using the NAZI salute or the 'German greeting' (Heil Hitler). He writes, "People very soon stopped using the Hitler salute, once the initial period of violence and intimdationwas over. Visitors to Berlinwere already noting in th mid-1930s that the salute had become less commonthan before .... After the Grman defaet in the Nattle of Stalingrad, the SS security service reported that pople were no longer using the 'German greeting' and, indeed, it had virtually disappeared , except among Nazi Party fanactics, by the end of the war." [Evams]

Control over Youth

Hitler wanted control over young people which meant replacing the family as the major formitive force in a German child's life. The most obvious mechanism for this was the German school system. For the NAZIs, however, this was not an ideal mechsnism. Many teachers disliked the NAZIs or were not ethusiastic with National sdocialism. Teachers of course could be replaced, but many reliavle NAZIs did not have teaching qualificatiions. Thus it woukd take some time to NAZIify the schools and educatuinal establishment. And molding German youth was not something that Hitler wanted to postpone. And he had a much better mechanism for this--the Hitler Youth Organization (HJ). This was an organization that the NAZI Party already controlled and HJ leaders did not need academic credentials. Thus very quickly the NAZIs moved to enlarge the HJ and quickly turned a relstively small part of the Germasn Youth Movement into a mass youth organization. Many young peopke began joining the HJ after the NAZIs seized power (1933). But age youth movement was not what Hitler wanted. The NAZIs proceeded to either include other groups in the HJ or ban other groups. Only Jewish and Catholic groups were ctemporarily exempted. Hitler moved to require all Aryan boys and girls to join the HJ at age 10 years (1936). This put virtually all German children in NAZI hands.

Religion

Hitler looked down on Christian values such as humility and compassion for the meek and weak. Hitler like the Bolsheviks wanted to replace Christianity with a kind of state religion. The NAZIs proceeded to undercut religion in many ways and were developing their own religion. Hitler delayed a complete break with established churches until after the War was won. Christian values were to be replasced with new ethic in which racial purity became the primary value. The Germany that Hitler seized control of was a Christian nation, split between the Catholic and Protestant (mostly Lutheran) faiths. Religion was still a strong element of national life, although as in other European countries declining. Here World War I had been a major factor in undermining religion. The NAZIs in their propaganda drew on Christian symbolism as well as pagan symbols. This disturbed many Christian, mostly Protestant, theologians. NAZI leaders were drawn from both Catholic and Protestant families, but generally rejected traditional Christian teaching. The most prominant outlook among NAZI leads was a variety scientific or quasi-scientific theories. Especially prominant was Social Darwinism). This was Hitler's outlook. For political reasons, however, he did not openly attack Christianity. Other NAZI leaders dabeled in mysticism and occultism. This was especially notable in the SS that steadily grew in importance. The interest in mysticism and occultism was primarily the result of Himmler's interest. There was a common thread in both approaches (science and mysticism), that was a belief in Aryan racial superiority. Hitler authorized a Ministry of Church Affairs (1935). It was heded by Hanns Kerrl, but had no great impact in the NAZI state. The principal NAZI ideologue was Alfred Rosenberg. He gave little notice of the Ministry or Chrisinity in general. Hitler'a attitude toward religion was that an open campaign of atheism was unecessary and would be harmful politically. He bleieved that religious beliefs would gradually weaken. And in fact large numbers of Germans left their churches during the NAZI era, although the numbers declined sharply as the War began to go against the Germans. While there was no open atheism campaign, there were discrete steps taken. There was no religious component to the Hitler Youth. The church role in education was curtailed. Some mosly lower level NAZIs who wanted to retain their religious connections promoted what becane known as Positive Christianity. This wa essentially to associate NAZI beliefs within in Christian teachings. Many German Christians throughout the NAZI era saw no incompatability between their Christian faith and the NAZI state. Thus there was no loud rejection of attempts to integrate Natinal Socialism and Christinity. This was not just the layity. Many Protestant and Catholic clergy did not reject National Socialism even during the later years of the War. This is not to say that the clergy was NAZIfied, but the clergy did accept the NAZIs as the legitimate government nd out of patriotism supported it. There were disenters, but this was dangerous and substantial numbers of clergy were arested.

Economy

Hitler did not want to take over German inmdustry, but he waanted to control it. He was quite willing to have the Krupps and other industrialists operate the factories, but he wanted to control the companies to further his rearmanent campaign. It was very common before World War II to read about an earlier Gernman economic miracle. Many in the 1930s lauded the NAZI achievement in ending the Deopression. Other of course envied the Soviet Union. This is perhaps understandable in the 1930s when it was not entirely clear what was going on in those countries. Wha is surprising is that we still see some authors blinkered by ideology and often adding outriht falsehoods still talking about the NAZI achievement. Here is a typical example, "The Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, at a time when its economy was in total collapse, with ruinous war-reparation obligations and zero prospects for foreign investment or credit. Yet through an independent monetary policy of sovereign credit and a full-employment public-works program, the Third Reich was able to turn a bankrupt Germany, stripped of overseas colonies it could exploit, into the strongest economy in Europe within four years, even before armament spending began. In fact, German economic recovery preceded and later enabled German rearmament, in contrast to the US economy, where constitutional roadblocks placed by the US Supreme Court on the New Deal delayed economic recovery until US entry to World War Two put the US market economy on a war footing." [Liu] IThe author is wrong thst the NAZIs did not begin to re-militarize at an early point. He is also wrong that reparations were a major problem. In fact te Germans payed very little in the way of repsarations. Most of the payments they msadewere funds borrowed from America and at the orhnial reparations required in the Versailles Treaty were postponed. It is true thst Hitler put erman workers to work. It is also true that the real wages (purchasing power) of German weorkers declined. And by the time that Hitler launched the War that the NAZI state was near bankruptsy. The German people had after the War lived under NAZI price controls and subsequently rationing when the War began. The NAZIs first imposed price controls (1936). This allowed the Goivernent to re-militarize with materials purchased at prices below market levels. Hitler placed Reichmarshal Hermann Goering incharge of the war ecnomy (1939). He imposed rationing. NAZI rationing was at first linited because the food of production of the occupied countries could be looted. Draconian punishments faced Germans violating the porice control regulations

Labor

Hitler liked the Bolsheviks in Russia wanted control over the labor movement. This would help ensure that workers would support the regime and not impede rearmanent. This was part of a lsrger effort to control professional groups as well.

Social Class

Hitler wanted to break down class barriers as part of his effort to create Ein Volk. He pursued this effort in many ways, including the Hitler Youth, schools, Reich Labor Service (RAD), and the conscriotion needed for an expanded military.

Law and Order

The German people longed for a more settled society. Many were disturbed by the demonstrations and street violence. The Communists (KPD) were responsible for some of this. But much of it was the work of the NAZI Storm Troopers (SA), Hitler's brown-shirted street brawlers. After the seizure of power, the KPD was quickly supressed (1933). The SA for a time still engaged in street violence until Hitler suppresed them in the Röem Putch/Nightbof the Long Knives (1934). This brought quiet to German streets. But it was the less obvious NAZI attack on law that represented an important part of Hitler's revolution. Europe throughout the 19th century made great strides in developing law as a bulwark to oprotect individual rights. English Common Law was well established in Britain. And although Napoleon was defeated, the Code Napoleon had a huge impact not only on French law, but law codes throughout Europe. The German states even before unification and Austria-Hungary had well established legal codes. The German Empire when it was established was not a democracy, but it was not a dictatorship either. Emense authority was vested in the Kaiser. Even so, he had an elected Reichstag to deal with and there were limits to srate power. Extra-judicial executions, for example, were a thing of the past. The same was the case in Austria-Hungary. (For example, Gavrilo Princip, who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo launching World War I received a fair tril and was sentenced to a prison term because of his youth. Hitler in a matter of months reversed this long history of legal evolution. As part of his revolution, all limits on state power were removed. A few German justices stood up to the NAZIs. There are instances that defendents were judged not guilty and immediately rearrested by the Gestapo when they emerged from the court. The NAZIs quickly replaced uncooperative jurists. And with an expanding systems of concentration camps, few people arrested for political offences received actual trials.

Culture

Hitler's National Socialist Revolution like the Communist Revolution in the Soviet Union was far more than just a political revolution. Both the NAZIs and Communists were determined to fundamentally change socierty from the ground up. For political reasons, Hitler in the effort to win elections stressed issues that a wide swath of the German electorate agreed on, issues like the Versailles Treaty, loss of German territoiry, and reparations. These wre all issues with wide appeal beyond the NAZI core. One of his goals whivh he did not dweal on was major changes in Germany's impressive cultural landscape. This began after Hitler and the NAZis seized power. The NAZIs began a campaign to return the new Reich to what the called traditional German and Nordic values. By Nordic the NAZIs were introducing a racial lens on culture. Along with emphazing traditional and Nordic values. They were determined to eliminate foreign and 'degenerate' influences, and here they were frimarily focused on Jews. German Jews had made an important contribution to art, literature and music and the NAZIs wanted that historic contribution expunged and the comtemporary cultural figures prevented from working. The NAZI cultural effort was part of the overall effort to forge the Volksgemeinschaft (Germanic racial community) fully compliant with NAZI ideology. Interestingly, while lauding traditional culture NAZI cultural proclivities were in many ways similar to the tastes of the hated Bolshviks, including a rejection of modern (non-realistic) art and discordant (jazz Music.). This is just another if countless ways that the NAZIs and Cimmunists (with a few glaring differences--primarily race) were mirror image of each other. And both attempted to use culture to promote their ideoloy. The Bolsheviks began this at a very early stage of the Revolution and this continued into the Cold War. The rejection of many moderm cultural movements by both the NAZIs and Sviets is intereting because both the NAZIs and Communists presented themselves as the cutting edge of modernity. Noth the NAZIs and Communists predictably agreed that the primary purpose of culture was to promote their world view--the Communist proletarian revolution and the NAZI racial revolution. After seizing power. the NAZIs launched a comprehensive effort which the called Gleichschaltung (synchronization ) of professional and social organizations to ensure that they were in compliance with the new Nazi ideology and policies. Artistic and cultural organizations inevitably were included in this process. This effort became the resonsibilit of Minister of Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's most loyal acolyte. Goebbels with all the powers of his his new Ministry enthusiastically launched the effort to bring Germany's artistic and cultural life fully in compliance with the NAZI goals and values. The first step was to purge Jews from cultural organizations and prevent participation in the Reich's cultural life. It was not just the Jews, others found to be politically suspect or adherents of artistically 'degenrate' movements were also purged. Jews by definition produced culturally degenerate works no matter what the aesthetic content. This process included all the major cultural spheres: arhitecture, art, literature. movies, and music. We assume it also included dance, but here we have little information. Hopefully CIH readers will know more.

Language

NAZI officials were determined not only to purge Germany of non-German people, especially the Jews, but of other non-German influences. Here language was one of the cultural areas addressed by the NAZIs. Scholars now call the languafe policy of the NAZI regime as 'Nazi Deutsch'. [Lane and Rupp, xxvii.] The style of NAZI Deutsch is difficult to describe stlistically because it range from formal, highly academic papers to the crudist coloquial German used in vicious abnti-Semetic tracts. NAZI Deutch changed the meanings of some words and added a range of implications that were not always entirely clear. This often makes it difficult to translate NAZI prose. The lack of clarity arises from the fact that there was no single arbiter for the language changes promoted. although Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels was highly influential. NAZI language policy had two primary goals: language 1) purity and 2) poliitization. First, the German effort at language purity can be seem a one of many efforts to purge non-German influences from national life. This is not a unique policy. We see the French and French Canadians doing the sane today, primarily an effort to precent the enroaxchment of English. Academic and publishing authorities launched an effort to delete words, phrases and concepts from the German language if theywere classified as either unGerman or unAryan. This went a far as changing the names of popular French foods. The hertz, a measure of radio waves, was renamed because noted pyicist Heunrich Hertz was of Jewish ancestry. One group violating NAZI language policies were Esperantists seeking to promote an international language. Some of those promoting Esperato were arrested and a few even executed. The more extreme sanctions were probanly related to the anti-NAZI orientation of some Esparantists. The German Esperanto Association itself like most Germans attempted to accommodate itself to the regime. Theyveventually accepted National Socialist racial theories, ejected Jewish members, and minimized NAZI abuses. [Forster, pp. 216-229.] With the outbreak of the War, NAZI officials relaxed their persuit of langauage purity, in part because more important issues arose. One author suggests that it proved restricting to the NAZI leadership. [Henningsen, p. 47.] The NAZIs also began shaping the German language to promote National Socialist ideology. [Klemperer] This seems a effort which was characteristic of totalitarian societies because the political elites controlled the instututions which influenced language. German language policy with the invasion of Czechozlovakia (March 1939) and then with the subsequent stunning military successes during the early phase of World War II beame an element of German occupation policy, imposed upon subject peoples. Here the policies varied with the countries occupied and the people caught up in the NAZI malestorm.

Sources

Evans, Richard J. The Third Reich in History and Menory (2015), 496p.

Forster, Peter Glover. The Esperanto Movement (Walter de Gruyter: 1982).

Henningson, Manfred. "The Politics of Purity and Exclusion: Literary and Linguistic Movements of Political Empowerment in America, Africa, the South Pacific and Europe" in Bjorn H. Jernudd and Michael Shapiro (eds). The Politics of Language Purism . Contributions to the Sociology of Language. No. 54 (Mouton de Gruyter: New York, 1989).

Klemperer, Victor. Lingua Tertii Imperii: Notizbuch eines Philologen (1947). Victor Klemperercwas a Professor of Literature at the University of Dresden. The titleuses both Latin and German and means, "The Language of the Third Reich: A Philologist's Notebook". The book is perhaps the most insightful assessmentbof NAZI language policy written by aerson severely affected by it. Klemperer explains how the NAZIs shaped the German language to promote National Socialist ideology. With the issuance of the Nuremberg Laws was stripped of his academic title and had to work in a factory (1935). Here he was in a sence fortunate because many Jews lost factory jobs. He began a personal journal before the NAZIs seized power and used the journal to record what was happening around him.

Lane, Barbara Miller and Leila J. Rupp. Nazi Ideology before 1933: A Documentation (1978).







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Created: 6:56 AM 7/10/2010
Last updated: 4:10 PM 8/2/2015