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NAZISM (2384 words)

NAZISMThe National Socialist German Workers’ Party almost
died one morning in 1919. It numbered only a few dozen
grumblers’ it had no organization and no political ideas.
But many among the middle class admired the Nazis’ muscular
opposition to the Social Democrats. And the Nazis themes of
patriotism and militarism drew highly emotional responses
from people who could not forget Germany’s prewar imperial
In the national elections of September 1930, the Nazis
garnered nearly 6.5 million votes and became second only to
the Social Democrats as the most popular party in Germany.
In Northeim, where in 1928 Nazi candidates had received 123
votes, they now polled 1,742, a respectable 28 percent of
the total. The nationwide success drew even faster… in
just three years, party membership would rise from about
100,000 to almost a million, and the number of local
branches would increase tenfold. The new members included
working-class people, farmers, and middle-class
professionals. They were both better educated and younger
then the Old Fighters, who had been the backbone of the
party during its first decade. The Nazis now presented
themselves as the party of the young, the strong, and the
pure, in opposition to an establishment populated by the
elderly, the weak, and the dissolute.
Hitler was born in a small town in Austria in 1889. As
a young boy, he showed little ambition. After dropping out
of high school, he moved to Vienna to study art, but he was
denied the chance to join Vienna academy of fine arts.
When WWI broke out, Hitler joined Kaiser Wilhelmer’s
army as a Corporal. He was not a person of great importance.
He was a creature of a Germany created by WWI, and his
behavior was shaped by that war and its consequences. He had
emerged from Austria with many prejudices, including a
powerful prejudice against Jews. Again, he was a product of
his times… for many Austrians and Germans were prejudiced
against the Jews.
In Hitler’s case the prejudice had become maniacal it
was a dominant force in his private and political
personalities. Anti-Semitism was not a policy for Adolf
Hitler–it was religion. And in the Germany of the 1920s,
stunned by defeat, and the ravages of the Versailles treaty,
it was not hard for a leader to convince millions that one
element of the nation’s society was responsible for most of
the evils heaped upon it.
The fact is that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was self-
inflicted obstacle to his political success. The Jews, like
other Germans, were shocked by the discovery that the war
had not been fought to a standstill, as they were led to
believe in November 1918, but that Germany had , in fact,
been defeated and was to be treated as a vanquished country.
Had Hitler not embarked on his policy of disestablishing the
Jews as Germans, and later of exterminating them in Europe,
he could have counted on their loyalty. There is no reason
to believe anything else.
On the evening of November 8, 1923, Wyuke Vavaruab
State Cinnussuiber Gustav Rutter von Kahr was making a
political speech in Munich’s sprawling B?rgerbr?ukeller,
some 600 Nazis and right-wing sympathizers surrounded the
beer hall. Hitler burst into the building and leaped onto a
table, brandishing a revolver and firing a shot into the
ceiling. “The National Revolution,” he cried, “has begun!”
At that point, informed that fighting had broken out in
another part of the city, Hitler rushed to that scene. His
prisoners were allowed to leave, and they talked about
organizing defenses against the Nazi coup. Hitler was of
course furious. And he was far from finished. At about
11 o’clock on the morning of November 9–the anniversary of
the founding of the German Republic in 1919–3,000 Hitler
partisans again gathered outside the B?rgerbr?ukeller.
To this day, no one knows who fired the first shot. But
a shot rang out, and it was followed by fusillades from both
sides. Hermann G?ring fell wounded in the thigh and both
legs. Hitler flattened himself against the pavement; he was
unhurt. General Ludenorff continued to march stolidly toward
the police line, which parted to let him pass through (he
was later arrested, tried and acquitted). Behind him, 16
Nazis and three policemen lay sprawled dead among the many
The next year, R?hm and his band joined forces with the
fledgling National Socialist Party in Adolf Hitler’s Munich
Beer Hall Putsch. Himmler took part in that uprising, but he
played such a minor role that he escaped arrest. The R?hm-
Hitler alliance survived the Putsch, and ?hm’s 1,500-man
band grew into the Sturmabteilung, the SA, Hitler’s brown-
shirted private army, that bullied the Communists and
Democrats. Hitler recruited a handful of men to act as his
bodyguards and protect him from Communist toughs, other
rivals, and even the S.A. if it got out of hand. This tiny
group was the embryonic SS.
In 1933, after the Nazi Party had taken power in
Germany, increasing trouble with the SA made a showdown
inevitable. As German Chancellor, the F?hrer could no longer
afford to tolerate the disruptive Brownshirts; under the
ambitious R?hm, the SA had grown to be an organization of
three million men, and its unpredictable activities
prevented Hitler from consolidating his shaky control of the
Reich. He had to dispose of the SA to hold the support of
his industrial backers, to satisfy party leaders jealous of
the SA’s power, and most important, to win the allegiance of
the conservative Army generals. Under pressure from all
sides, and enraged by an SA plot against him that Heydrich
had conveniently uncovered, Hitler turned the SS loose to
purge its parent organization. They were too uncontrollable
even for Hitler. They went about their business of
terrorizing Jews with no mercy. But that is not what
bothered Hitler, since the SA was so big, (3 million in
1933) and so out of control, Hitler sent his trusty comrade
Josef Dietrich, commander of a SS bodyguard regiment to
murder the leaders of the SA.
The killings went on for two days and nights and took a
tool of perhaps 200 “enemies o the state.” It was quite
enough to reduce the SA to impotence, and it brought the
?hrer immediate returns. The dying President of the Reich,
Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, congratulated Hitler on
crushing the troublesome SA, and the Army generals including
that Hitler was now their pawn–swore personal loyalty to
In April 1933, scarcely three months after Adolf Hitler
took power in Germany, the Nazis issued a degree, ordering
the compulsory retirement of “non-Aryans” from the civil
service. This edict, petty in itself, was the first spark in
what was to become the Holocaust, one of the most ghastly
episodes in the modern history of mankind. Before he
campaign against the Jews was halted by the defeat of
Germany, something like 11 million people had been
slaughtered in the name of Nazi racial purity.
The Jews were not the only victims of the Holocaust.
Millions of Russians, Poles, gypsies and other “subhumans”
were also murdered. But Jews were the favored targets–first
and foremost. It took the Nazis some time to work up to the
full fury of their endeavor. In the years following 1933,
the Jews were systematically deprived by law of their civil
rights, of their jobs and property.
Violence and brutality became a part of their everyday
lives. Their places of worship were defiled, their windows
smashed, their stores ransacked. Old men and young were
pummeled and clubbed and stomped to death by Nazi jack
boots. Jewish women were accosted and ravaged, in broad
daylight, on main thoroughfares. Some Jews fled Germany. But
most, with a kind of stubborn belief in God and Fatherland,
sought to weather the Nazi terror. It was forlorn hope. In
1939, after Hitler’s conquest of Poland, the Nazis cast
aside all restraint. Jews in their millions were now herded
into concentration camps, there to starve and perish as
slave laborers. Other millions were driven into dismal
ghettos, which served as holding pens until the Nazis got
around to disposing of them. The mass killings began in
1941, with the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Nazi
murder squads followed behind the Wehrmacht enthusiastically
slaying Jews and other conquered peoples. Month by month the
horrors escalated. First tens of thousands, then hundreds of
thousands of people were led off to remote fields and forest
to be slaughtered by SS guns. Assembly-line death camps were
established in Poland and train loads of Jews were collected
from all over occupied Europe and sent to their doom.
At some of the camps, the Nazis took pains to disguise
their intentions until the last moment. At others, the
arriving Jews saw scenes beyond comprehension. “Corpses were
strewn all over the road,” recalled one survivor. “Starving
human skeletons stumbled toward us. They fell right down in
front of our eyes and lay there gasping out their last
breath.” What had begun as a mean little edict against
Jewish civil servants was now ending the death six million
Jews, Poles, gypsies, Russians, and other “sub-humans”
Uncounted thousands of Jews and other hapless
concentration-camp inmates were used as guinea pigs in a
wide range of medical and scientific experiments, most of
them of little value. Victims were infected with typhus to
see how different geographical groups reacted; to no one’s
surprise, all groups perished swiftly. Fluids from diseased
animals were injected into humans to observe the effect.
Prisoners were forced to exist on sea water to see how long
castaways might survive. Gynecology was an area of interest.
Various methods of sterilization were practiced–by massive
X-ray, by irritants and drugs, by surgery without benefit of
anesthetic. As techniques were perfected, it was determined
that a doctor with 10 assistants could sterilize 1,000 women
per day.
The “experimental people” were also used by Nazi
doctors who needed practice performing various operations.
One doctor at Auschwitz perfected his amputation technique
on live prisoners. After he had finished, his maimed
patients were sent off to the gas chamber.
A few Jews who had studied medicine were allowed to
live if they assisted the SS doctors. “I cut the flesh of
healthy young girls,” recalled a Jewish physician who
survived at terrible cost. “I immersed the bodies of dwarfs
and cripples in calcium chloride (to preserve them), or had
them boiled so the carefully prepared skeletons might
safely reach the Third Reich’s museums to justify, for
futuregenerations, the destruction of an entire race. I
could never erase these memories from my mind.”
But the best killing machine were the “shower baths” of
death. After their arrival at a death camp, the Jews who had
been chosen to die at once were told that they were to have
a shower. Filthy by their long, miserable journey, they
sometimes applauded the announcement. Countless Jews and
other victims went peacefully to the shower rooms–which
were gas chambers in disguise. In the anterooms to the gas
chambers, many of the doomed people found nothing amiss. At
Auschwitz, signs in several languages said, “Bath and
Disinfectant,” and inside the chambers other signs
admonished, “Don’t forget your soap and towel.” Unsuspecting
victims cooperated willingly. “They got out of their clothes
so routinely,” Said a Sobibor survivor. “What could be more
In time, rumors about the death camps spread, and
underground newspapers in the Warsaw ghetto even ran reports
that told of the gas chambers and the crematoriums. But many
people did not believe the storied, and those who did were
helpless in any case. Facing the guns of the SS guards, they
could only hope and pray to survive. As one Jewish leader
put it, “We must be patient and a miracle will occur.”
There were no miracles. The victims, naked and
bewildered, were shoved into a line. Their guards ordered
them forward, and flogged those who hung back. The doors to
the gas chambers were locked behind them. It was all over
The war came home to Germany. Scarcely had Hitler
recovered from the shock of the July 20 bombing when he was
faced with the loss of France and Belgium and of great
conquests in the East. Enemy troops in overwhelming numbers
were converging on the Reich. By the middle of August 1944,
the Russian summer offensives, beginning June 10 and
unrolling one after another, had brought the Red Army to the
border of East Prussia, bottled up fifty German divisions in
the Baltic region, penetrated to Vyborg in Finland,
destroyed Army Group Center and brought an advance on this
front of four hundred miles in six weeks to the Vistula
opposite Warsaw, while in the south a new attack which began
on August 20 resulted in the conquest of Rumania by the end
of the month and with it the Ploesti oil fields, the only
major source of natural oil for the German armies.
On August 26 Bulgaria formally withdrew from the war
and the Germans began to hastily clear out of that country.
In September Finland gave up and turned on the German troops
which refused to evacuate its territory.

In the West, France was liberated quickly. In General
Patton, the commander of the newly formed U.S. Third Army,
the Americans had found a tank general with the dash and
flair of Rommel in Africa. After the capture of Avranches on
July 30, he had left Brittany to wither on the vine and
begun a great sweep around the German armies in Normandy,
moving southeast to Orleans on the Loire and then due east
toward the Seine south of Paris. By August 23 the Seine was
reached southeast and northwest of the capital, and two days
later the great city, the glory of France, was liberated
after four years of German occupation when General Jacques
Leclerc’s French 2nd Armored Division and the U.S. 4th
Infantry Division broke into it and found that French
resistance units were largely in control.

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