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This is something I've always wondered but couldn't imagine what the answer could be and haven't found much material elsewhere. Nazi Germany, paired with Italy and Japan, was waging war on the world during WWII. Germany, for its part was focusing on Europe, North Africa, and later on Russia.
But what was Nazi Germany's end goal? Let's say the US had never got involved when and how it did and let's say things had gone better for the Germans in Russia. Would they have continued expanding? Were they trying to establish a new world order and dominance?
That plan seems foolhardy to me in the extreme. There's no possible way a small country like Germany could possible keep the entire world under check. As it expands, it decreases its influence and ability to control any one area.
It seems their defeat was inevitable no matter the course of events. At the very least, they would have found attacking and destroying the Americas (especially the United States), even with the help of Japan, a nearly insurmountable goal given its sheer size, population, and technical/military abilities. So, just how was Nazi Germany hoping WWII would end?
So just how was Nazi Germany hoping WWII would end?
You may be looking at this from a wrong perspective. Nazi Germany never had a master plan to conquer the world. It never had a plan to wage war on a world scale.
Nazi Germany certainly had military plans ready on how to conquer their neighbors. Because that's what the military gets paid for. And those plans got executed after the war started.
But Hitler was no great strategist. He was a lousy strategist. He was a gambler. Or Hazardeur. He occupied, annexed or conquered Rhineland, Austria, Sudentenland, the rest of Czechoslovakia and Memel hoping that the major powers would not react. Hoping their fear of another great war would let them stand by twiddling thumbs while Nazi Germany grew in power. And as yet another gamble, Hitler attacked Poland, counting on the Allies to back down just as they had the 5 times before. But he ran out of luck. Britain and France finally stood up. Another great war started.
Hitler had never wanted that great war. He had wanted to conquer Poland and expand eastwards to claim "Lebensraum im Osten" (room to live in the east). Probably by attacking and defeating Russia in a single, one-front war.
So Hitler's goal had been to conquer Poland and large parts of Russia. Maybe the Baltic states, too. Britain and France had declared war on Germany. And while conquering a nation is not exactly a defensive move, Denmark and Norway were more of a defensive move to protect The Reich and it's important resource trade. Yugoslavia and Greece were basically a big mess that was never planned. The low countries, Belgium and Luxembourg weren't exactly a target on their own right, more of an easy way into France. And even defeating France, while certainly a brilliant military planned and executed piece of warfare, had never been a strategic goal in Hitlers plan.
Hitler was no scheming mastermind plotting world domination. He had no vision of how the war against the worlds major powers would successfully be brought to an end, because he had never wanted that total war. He had wanted a series of limited wars to build a thousand year Reich and have "Lebensraum im Osten".
Disclaimer: just because he did not want a global war, does in no way diminish the fact that he was a criminal, aggressive, expansionist, evil dictator. I'm just saying he would have preferred it if he had waged a war he had a chance of winning.
There was no end goal of Nazi Germany but there was a end goal of Hitler for his lifetime. He wanted to conquer Lebensraum from the USSR and settle the area with Germans. He said that it would take 50 to 100 years for Germany to digest these territories, so this would far exceed his own lifetime. The territory after the conquest would resemble the USA settled by the British or Prussia formerly colonized by Teutonic knights. The indigenous peoples would either be totally eradicated, assimilated or locked in reservations like native Americans without the right to leave them, and provide Germans with what the Germans would demand.
In "Mein Kampf," Hitler opined: "If we speak of soil in Europe today, we can primarily have in mind only Russia and her vassal border states."
This idea was supported by the Heartland Theory of Britain's HJ Mackinder and Germany's Karl Haushofer.
Basically, of Germany got control of at least eastern Europe (Poland, the Baltic states, Belarus, and the Ukraine), she would dominate the "heartland" (central Europe, eastern Europe, Russia) of "world island," the Eurasian landmass. The "heartland" itself was key to dominating world island (although an alliance with Japan wouldn't hurt either), and controlling world island could lead to domination of the world.
Hitler wanted to take at least the first step, and possibly all four steps in this sequence.
The concept that large social organisations like an entire modern nation state and its apparatus had singular end goals, and that these were intentionally mapped is refuted in the debates over NSDAP and German racial policy in the "intentionalist / functionalist" debates in the historiography of German racial policy in the East.
In particular works like Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men confound the idea of a central state intention, based on persuasive archival evidence of broad and common functional aims shared amongst ordinary Germans of punishing Jews and Slavs and other minorities in every day life. These aims had no "end," but were rather a process.
As a result of these debates, genocide studies have retreated to a more constrained single incident level of study.
We do know that the functional relationships of the German state in practice tended towards racial annihilation, whether by pogrom and massacre, confinement or execution camp, or death march. What we do not know is the limit of these shared social aims and processes, except as historically limited by the actions of, primarily, the Soviet Union, United States and United Kingdom.
While large documentary archives of NSDAP or Junker-General Staff fantasism exist, these fantasies were demonstrably unrelated to on the ground processes of infighting or murder.
Question: What was Nazi Germany's end goal?
Hitler had a long history of advocating for multiple wars and stated so in both his books. His best selling Mein Kampf and his uncirculated unreleased "The Zweites Buch". In both he discusses step by step plans for escalating wars ultimately becoming global war and genocide. Hitler's endgame changed with respect to the United States between books, and was altered by reality with regards to the UK. Hitler was consistent that Germany would become a larger player on the world stage through war at the expense of eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and France. He was also consistent in both book with regards to Genocide against what he called inferior races.
Detailed Answer: Hitler wrote 2 books ("Mein Kampf" and "The Zweites Buch") and in each he discussed the need for Germany to pursue multiple wars. In both books he outlines what later became known as Stufenplan ("stage by stage plan") for conquest and genocide in Eastern Europe, and then the world.
In the First "Mein Kampf", Hitler expresses his "passionate belief" since youth, that Germany must obtain a larger place in the sun with the help of the sword wielded so efficiently by Prussian kings. Hitler responds to people who claim that a second European great war would mean the end of Europe, saying it was only "eternal peace' which destroyed peoples and that "neither the individual nor society could escape Nature's decree that the fittest alone survive".
Three major themes of "Mein Kampf" or My Struggle all deal with the need for War.
(1) To avenge Germany against France for the harsh treatment after WWI through renewed military conflict.
(2) Germany's need for "living space" and the military expansion into the eastern slavic countries.
(3) The need for a bloody crack down on jews and other groups he considers inferior.
Now alternatively Hitler does famously allude to his plans for the UK and the US. He calls the UK a "stabilizing influence on the world" and basically a net positive so no need to destroy them. He alludes to the UK as a natural ally for Germany against France. He calls the US a "country of Mongrels", no threat to Germany and thus, no need to destroy the "American Union".
Hitler Second Book, "The Zweites Buch",
War was definitely on Hitler's mind…
He downplays the costs of wars and paints them as inevitable, desired and necessary, as long as they aren't "eternal".
The Zweites Buch
"Indeed, the losses which arise directly from a war are in no way proportionate to the losses deriving from a Folk's bad and unhealthy life as such. Silent hunger and evil vices in ten years kill more people than war could finish off in a thousand years."
"Therefore, wise political leaders of a Folk will never see in war the aim of the life of a Folk, but only a means for the preservation of this life."
In this book he doubles down on the UK as a natural ally and writes them in along with Italy as his allies against France and the Soviet Union. Also in this book he changes his position on the United States. In this book he observes that a million Germans immigrated to the United States. That they were among the best Germans, the risk takers. Those who gave up everything and risked leaving the Fatherland. So he reclassifies the U.S. as an existential threat to Germany's future, which will need to be taken out. As in Mein Kampf, The Soviet Union remains Germany's greatest near term threat, here Hitler claims the US is now Germany's greatest long term threat.
Zweites Buch :The "Fourth Stage"
In contrast to Mein Kampf, in Zweites Buch Hitler added a fourth stage to the Stufenplan. He insinuated that in the far future a struggle for world domination might take place between the United States and a European alliance comprising a new association of nations, consisting of individual states with high national value. Zweites Buch also offers a different perspective on the U.S. than that outlined in Mein Kampf. In the latter, Hitler declared that Germany's most dangerous opponent on the international scene was the Soviet Union; in Zweites Buch, Hitler declared that for immediate purposes, the Soviet Union was still the most dangerous opponent, but that in the long-term, the most dangerous potential opponent was the United States.
Hitler's endgame changed, but was consistent that Germany would become a larger player on the world stage through multiple wars escalating to global conflict. His principle targets for expansion would be, but not limited too, eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and France.
Hitler's life goal was to right the wrongs of the hated Versaille Treaty. Historians and history buffs revel in the idea that Hitler's claim for lebensraum was a prefix for world domination. You need only look at a map of Europe in 1917 after the Red Army signed the Treaty of Brest-Litosk to see the extent of what's now greater Germany. Hitler in Mein Kampf refers to the thousands of German soldiers that died securing Germany's lebensraum in the east. Now look at map of Europe in 1919 after the Treaty of Versaille, Greater Germany has disappeared. The answer to the question is the Nazi end game was the return of greater Germany's borders as living room for the German population.
But what was Nazi Germany's end goal?
The military goal in World War II for Germany was the successful completion of Operation Barbarossa (breaking the backbone of Soviet Russia, reaching an easily defensible position like the Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan line). This would remove the Soviet Union as a political and military threat, and win the "Lebensraum" Hitler postulated in "Mein Kampf" as early as 1925.
This in turn would remove the threat of Germany being starved by naval blockade in any upcoming power struggle, and also the threat of another two-front war in the future.
At first, Hitler believed Britain would sit still during this German - Russian power struggle. Because they were a "Germanic" people, because they couldn't want Bolchevism to take over, because they might be happy with their overseas possessions and turn a blind eye on Germany shifting the balance of power on the continent. Then (when Britain and France declared war over the invasion of Poland) he believed Britain could be forced out of the war.
We know how that went, but that's hindsight.
The "end goal", as Hitler quite clearly states in "Mein Kampf", his "political testament", was, and I paraphrase,
"never to endure a second military power at Germany's border, to prohibit its development, or -- if already existing -- destroy it with any means necessary, including force of arms."
Right after that paragraph, he goes on (in his usual, rambling, all-over-the-place style) about how only Italy and England (!) would provide worthwhile alliances, and how an alliance with England would isolate France.
What was Nazi Germany's end goal? - History
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Nazi motives for genocide
Extermination of Polish and Soviet Jews
The Wannsee Conference
W hy did the Nazis end up killing six million Jews? This question is difficult to answer. Some historians believe that the Nazis had planned the extermination of the Jews since their takeover of power in 1933. Other historians believe that the extermination of the Jews was a result of the specific historical context, and thus not originally planned for.
According to the latter group of historians, the &ldquorace war&rdquo against the Soviet Union, which began in 1941, took place in a specific historical context, where it became possible to kill people &ndash Jews, Poles and Russians &ndash in a new and terrible manner.
The Nazi racial policy between 1933 and 1945 consisted of two elements: eugenics and racial segregation (later racial extermination).
The Nazis thus tried to keep their own &ldquorace&rdquo free from abnormalities and illnesses (eugenics) and keep the Aryan race closed to other &rdquoinferior&rdquo races (racial segregation and extermination).
In the name of eugenics the Nazis initiated forced sterilisations of the hereditary ill and carried out euthanasia (emergency killings) on around 200,000 mentally and physically disabled Germans.
The other part of the racial policy, the racial segregation, was initiated in order to suppress and persecute all non-Aryans, first of all Jews. Later on the racial segregation was radicalised and became a policy of racial expulsion: Jews were forced to emigrate. This policy succeeded very well in Austria in 1938, and was then introduced in Germany itself under the slogan: Germany for Germans!
A fter occupying Poland in 1939, the policy of forced emigration became untenable for the Nazi regime. It was simply unrealistic to make more than 3 million Polish Jews emigrate. This led to ambitious Nazi plans for a solution to the &rsquoJewish Question&rsquo.
The racial policy reached its preliminary culmination in the period of 1939-1941. The Nazis began to deport Jews from the German-controlled areas to ghettos in Poland and Russia, beginning with the Polish Jews but soon including German Jews as well. The ghettoisation of the Jews took place while Germans living in the occupied areas (the so-called Volksdeutsche) were brought into the Third Reich. This demographic policy fitted in well with the overall goals of the Nazi racial policy: areas were made &ldquofree of Jews&rdquo while Volksdeutsche were rehoused in areas given up by the Jews.
In 1941 it looked as if the Nazi leadership had decided on the future of the Jews. Starting in 1941, Jews were executed and murdered on a scale utterly unknown up until then. The mass murders began in connection with the war of extermination against the Soviet Union, which began on 22 June 1941. Large-scale executions of Jews, Poles and Russians took place, most frequently carried out by the four so-called Einsatzgruppen.
A total of 1.5 million Jews were murdered in the occupied Soviet territories &ndash with eager help from local anti-Semites. Almost simultaneously, mass executions were initiated in six &ldquokilling centres&rdquo, extermination camps situated in Poland. At least 3 million Jews perished in these camps. To this should be added another 1.5 million Jewish victims, who died in the concentration camps, the ghettos and elsewhere as a result of hunger, slave labour and random executions.
Consequently, the Nazi racial policy can be characterised as a policy of extermination beginning in 1941. It is demonstrably true that the Nazi regime was behind the murder of more than 6 million Jews between 1941 and 1945.
The Events Leading up to His Inevitable Fate
By the start of 1945, Germany’s military forces were falling apart, and the country itself was surrounded by the enemy on all sides. The Soviet Union had gained control over Poland in order to make their way to do the same with Berlin the British and Canadian troops had crossed the Rhine and were making their way into the industrial center of Ruhr, and the American front in the South was invading upwards towards Mannheim and Mainz.
As all of these combined efforts were forcing the German offensive to crumble, by February, meetings between the Allies were being held to discuss putting an end to the war in Europe. By this time, however, Hitler had already been preparing for the end as well.
In January, once the Third Reich had all but disintegrated, Hitler began to retreat to his Fuhrerbunker, his safe haven in Berlin. From his hiding place, he was still making demands on his fellow Nazi officers to carry out operations to hold back the Allies.
Despite his best efforts, there was no stopping the sheer force of the manpower heading their way. By April, instructions to SS General Felix Steiner to bring in a force to rescue Berlin were never carried out, and Hitler fell into an almost nervous breakdown due to what he deemed the incompetency of his officers. At this point, Hitler had come to the realization that his war was actually lost.
Soviet T-34 tanks in Berlin
And on that same day, the Fuhrer had started making arrangements for his suicide. His plan was to remain in Berlin, and ultimately shoot himself when the time was right.
Calling in his physician, Dr. Werner Haase, Hitler asked his advice on the best method for pursuing his plans for an early death. Hasse mentioned the pistol and poison method, whereby Hitler would have to combine a capsule of cyanide with a shot to the head. He took the doctor’s advice, and the plan for his suicide was in place.
Consolidating the forces
Ultimately, in 1936, all police forces, including traditional police, the SS, Gestapo — which became a national secret police force — and the SD, were centralized under Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS and chief of all German police.
“Police and SS began, in effect, to merge, with professional policemen now joining the SS in increasing numbers and SS men taking up an increasing number of posts within the police force,” wrote historian Richard J. Evans in “The Third Reich in Power.”
Police themselves were newly equipped with technology to help gather data, fingerprint suspects and even had more patrol cars to handle more traffic offenses, historian Michael Burleigh wrote in “The Third Reich: A New History.” And their ranks and funding swelled, alongside the security services.
The Gestapo grew from 1,300 personnel in 1933 to approximately 7,000 in 1936, according to Burleigh’s 2001 award-winning book. Their budget grew from 1 million Reichsmarks to 40 million over the same period. The SD grew from 250 members to approximately 5,000 during the same time, according to Burleigh.
“These organizations may have been relatively small, and thinly distributed outside the capital, but it is important to remember that the intelligence agents of the SD could rely on the Gestapo, while the latter could deploy larger numbers of police or paramilitary auxiliaries whenever it needed to cordon off an area searching for weapons or Communist literature,” Burliegh wrote.
ORG XMIT: FOS102 FILE - The Dec. 30 1938 file photo shows German Chancellor Adolf Hitler and his personal representative Rudolf Hess, right, during a parade in Berlin, Germany, on Dec. 30, 1938. Minister of Propaganda Dr. Joseph Goebbels can be seen on the left side next to Hitler. The skeletal remains of Adolf Hitler's deputy Hess, have been removed from their grave in a small Bavarian town that had become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis. The administrator of the cemetery in Wunsiedel told The Associated Press on Thursday, July 21, 2011 that the bones were exhumed early Wednesday morning. (AP Photo) (Photo: AP)
Examples from Gestapo raids in Berlin in 1935 show the missions involved 200 regular policemen, 100 auxiliaries and three mobile units consisting of armed motorcycle police, Burliegh noted.
According to the Holocaust Museum, the “Nazi state fused police” with the SS and SD, “two of the most radical and ideologically committed Nazi organizations.”
“Nazi ideology became part of all police activities,” according to the museum. “The police were central figures not just in maintaining public order, but in combating the so-called racial enemies designated by the Nazi state. It was in this context that ‘preventive police action’ took on such terrible consequences. The SS, SD, and police were among the primary perpetrators of the Holocaust.”
The Nazi regime killed more than 6 million Jews along with other groups, including disabled people, gay people and political and ideological opponents.
“It’s absolutely standard knowledge among German historians. In the memory of the Third Reich among older Germans, they often say, ‘Say what you like about Hitler, but at least the streets were safe. A woman could walk down the street alone, there were no more bicycle thefts,’” Blackbourn said. “And there’s some truth in that. It was a brutally repressive regime, repressive toward ordinary criminality as well as political opponents.”
20 Less-known Facts About Nazi Germany
Since the rise of Nazi Germany in 1933, Hitler and his government had been under intense international speculation. Hitler’s outrageous views and 12-year dictatorship changed the future of the whole world. Under his rule, Germany was a land of extreme-biased judgments. But what most people don’t know is that Hitler was not always a negative person. Before the war, he even tried to offer peace negotiations. But when his efforts were rejected, war became inevitable. In this article, we are bringing some similar less-known facts about Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
1. Nazi Germany ran the first anti-smoking campaign and didn’t allow soldiers to smoke. They were also the first to link smoking to lung cancer.
Image source: www.sott.net
Nazi Germany was the first country in the world to introduce a public smoking ban. This happened after German doctors became the first to identify the link between smoking and lung cancer. Nazis waged a campaign against alcohol and tobacco consumption as well. They urged people of Germany to consume whole-grain bread and other foods, which are high in vitamin and fiber, for better health and a long life.(source)
2. Hitler offered England peace numerous times before the beginning of World War II.
Image Source: www.historicnewspapersandcomics.co.uk
Before World War II, Adolf Hitler and other German leaders made numerous efforts for peace in Europe. They provided many serious proposals for armaments reductions and limits on weapons deployment. One such instance is the speech of Hitler as a Chancellor on May 17, 1933. In that speech, he included a plea for peace, equal rights, and mutual understanding among nations. However, those proposals were rejected by Britain, France, and other powers. This was because they considered it a bluff or insincere pretense.(source)
3. In Auschwitz, there was an area where the belongings of prisoners were taken and sorted. This site was called “Canada” because it was seen as the land of plenty.
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org
“Canada” was a slang name given to a site in Auschwitz concentration camp. This site consisted of a huge, open compound containing a number of sheds and covered areas. It was used to store the clothing and possessions taken from the prisoners entering Auschwitz. The name Canada was used as it was the land of plenty. These goods were sorted out for the Nazis by the prisoners.(source)
4. The Old Jewish Town in Prague is completely untouched by WWII because Hitler wanted it to be the Museum of the Extinct Race.
Image Source: www.praguecityline.com
When Germany was defeated in World War I, Hitler blamed Jews for the loss. In 1942, during World War II, Hitler thought that Germany would emerge victoriously, and by then all the Jews would be obliterated from Europe. At the same time, he planned to leave the Old Jewish Town in Prague untouched. He decided that after emerging victorious in World War II, they can call the Jewish Museum in Prague the “Exotic Museum of an Extinct Race”.(source)
5. During the Third Reich, there was a program called Lebensborn, where ‘racially pure’ women slept with SS officers in the hopes of producing Aryan children. It is estimated that 20,000 children were born during 12 years.
Image Source: www.historyextra.com
Lebensborn was a program started during the Nazi rule with the aim to increase the number of blond haired and blue eyed Aryan children. Only those women who had an Aryan ancestry at least till their great-grandparents could apply for this program. Also, they were required to make a statutory declaration that there had never been any case of hereditary diseases, dipsomania or imbecility in their family. Women who were considered fit in both criteria were taken to a luxurious castle where they met and mingled with OSS officers. After 10 days, each woman was allowed to choose an officer to sleep with.
When a woman got pregnant, she was shifted to maternity home for the next nine months. After being born, the child was considered as the property of states. Then, the child was brought up in special institutions which intended to install the ideal of absolute loyalty to the Nazi in them. It is thought that about 20,000 babies were born under this program during the 12 years of Nazi rule, especially in Germany and Norway.(source)
The Nazi Party: Background & Overview
The National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP), more commonly known as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945.
Origins in the German Worker's Party
The National Socialist German Workers&rsquo Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei &ndash abbreviated NSDAP), commonly referred to as the Nazi Party, was a far-right political party in Germany that was active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of National Socialism
In 1919, Anton Drexler, Gottfried Feder and Dietrich Eckart formed the German Worker&rsquos Party (GPW) in Munich. Drexler, an avid German nationalist, was a locksmith who had been a member of the militarist Fatherland Party during World War I and was bitterly opposed to the armistice of November 1918 and the revolutionary upheavals that followed. Drexler followed the views of militant nationalists of the day, such as opposing the Treaty of Versailles, having anti-Semitic, anti-monarchist and anti-Marxist views, as well as believing in the superiority of Germans whom they claimed to be part of the Aryan &ldquomaster race&ldquo (Herrenvolk). He also believed international capitalism was dominated by the Jews and denounced capitalists for war profiteering in World War I. Drexler saw the political violence and instability in Germany as the result of the Weimar Republic being out-of-touch with the masses, especially the lower classes. Drexler emphasized the need for a synthesis of völkisch nationalism with a form of economic socialism to create a popular nationalist-oriented workers&rsquo movement that could challenge the rise of Communism and internationalist politics
The German Army was worried that it was a left-wing revolutionary group and sent Adolf Hitler, one of its education officers, to spy on the organization. Hitler discovered that the party&rsquos political ideas were similar to his own &ndash he approved of Drexler&rsquos German nationalism and anti-Semitism and was impressed with the way the party was organized. Although there as a spy, Hitler could not restrain himself when a member made a point he disagreed with, and he stood up and made a passionate speech on the subject.
Drexler was impressed with Hitler&lsquos abilities as an orator and invited him to join the party. At first Hitler was reluctant, but urged on by his commanding officer, Captain Karl Mayr, he agreed. He was only the fifty-fourth person to join the German Worker&rsquos Party. Hitler was immediately asked to join the executive committee and was later appointed the party&rsquos propaganda manager.
Hitler's membership card in the DAP (later NSDAP)
In the next few weeks Hitler brought several members of his army into the party, including one of his commanding officers, Captain Ernst Röhm. The arrival of Röhm was an important development as he had access to the army political fund and was able to transfer some of the money into the GWP. Other early members included future Nazi leaders Rudolf Hess, Hans Frank and Alfred Rosenberg.
Adolf Hitler was often the main speaker at party meetings and it was during this period he developed the techniques that made a persuasive orator. His reputation grew and it soon became clear that he was the main reason why people were joining the party. This gave Hitler tremendous power within the organization as they knew they could not afford to lose him.
The Party Gets a New Name
In April 1920, Hitler advocated that the party should change its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). Hitler had always been hostile to socialist ideas, especially those that involved racial or sexual equality. However, socialism was a popular political philosophy in Germany after the First World War. This was reflected in the growth in the German Social Democrat Party (SDP), the largest political party in Germany.
Hitler redefined socialism by placing the word &lsquoNational&rsquo before it. Members of the party referred to themselves as Nationalsozialisten (National Socialists), rarely as Nazis. The word &ldquoNazi&rdquo was in use before the rise of the party as a colloquial and derogatory word for a backward peasant, an awkward and clumsy person. References to &ldquoNazi Germany&rdquo and the &ldquoNazi regime&rdquo were popularized by anti-Nazis and German exiles abroad.
The Nazi Program
In February 1920, the NSDAP published its first program which became known as the &ldquoTwenty-Five Points.&rdquo The party refused to accept the terms of the Versailles Treaty and called for the reunification of all German people. To reinforce their ideas on nationalism, equal rights were only to be given to German citizens. Hitler claimed he was only in favor of equality for those who had &ldquoGerman blood.&rdquo Jews and other &ldquoaliens&rdquo would lose their rights of citizenship, and immigration of non-Germans should be ended. That year, the party announced that only persons of &ldquopure Aryan descent&rdquo could become party members and if the person had a spouse, the spouse also had to be a &ldquoracially pure&rdquo Aryan. Party members could not be related either directly or indirectly to a so-called &ldquonon-Aryan.&rdquo Even before it had become legally forbidden by the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, the Nazis banned sexual relations and marriages between party members and Jews.
To appeal to the working class and socialists, the program included several measures that would redistribute income and war profits, profit-sharing in large industries, nationalization of trusts, increases in old-age pensions and free education.
On February 24, 1920, the NSDAP held a mass rally where it announced its new program. The rally was attended by over 2,000 people, a great improvement on the 25 people who were at Hitler&rsquos first party meeting.
Adolf Hitler knew that the growth in the party was mainly due to his skills as an orator and he challenged Anton Drexler for the leadership of the party. At a special party congress on July 29, 1921, he replaced Drexler as party chairman by a vote of 533 to 1. Hitler was granted nearly absolute powers as the party&rsquos sole leader. He would hold the post for the remainder of his life.
Hitler soon acquired the title Führer (&ldquoleader&rdquo). He saw the party as a revolutionary organization, whose aim was the overthrow of the Weimar Republic, which he saw as controlled by the socialists, Jews and the &ldquoNovember criminals&rdquo who had betrayed the German soldiers in 1918.
His leadership was briefly interrupted in September 1921 when he was sent to prison for three months for being part of a mob that beat up a rival politician.
When Hitler was released, he formed his own private army called Sturm Abteilung (Storm Section). The SA (also known as stormtroopers or brownshirts) were instructed to disrupt the meetings of political opponents and to protect Hitler from revenge attacks. Captain Ernst Röhm of the Bavarian Army played an important role in recruiting these men, and Hermann Goering, a former air-force pilot, became their leader.
Hitler&rsquos stormtroopers were often former members of the Freikorps (right-wing private armies who flourished during the period that followed the First World War) and had considerable experience in using violence against their rivals.
The SA wore grey jackets, brown shirts (khaki shirts originally intended for soldiers in Africa but purchased in bulk from the German Army by the Nazi Party), swastika armbands, ski-caps, knee-breeches, thick woolen socks and combat boots. Accompanied by bands of musicians and carrying swastika flags, they would parade through the streets of Munich. At the end of the march Hitler would make one of his passionate speeches that encouraged his supporters to carry out acts of violence against Jews and his left-wing political opponents.
As this violence was often directed against Socialists and Communists, the local right-wing Bavarian government did not act against the Nazi Party. However, the national government in Berlin were concerned and passed a &ldquoLaw for the Protection of the Republic.&rdquo Hitler&rsquos response was to organize a rally attended by 40,000 people. At the meeting Hitler called for the overthrow of the German government and even suggested that its leaders should be executed.
The Party Grows
The Nazi Party grew significantly during 1921 and 1922, partly through Hitler&rsquos oratorical skills, partly through the SA&rsquos appeal to unemployed young men, and partly because there was a backlash against socialist and liberal politics in Bavaria as Germany&rsquos economic problems deepened and the weakness of the Weimar regime became apparent. The party recruited former World War I soldiers, to whom Hitler as a decorated frontline veteran could particularly appeal, as well as small businessmen and disaffected former members of rival parties. Nazi rallies were often held in beer halls, where downtrodden men could get free beer. The Hitler Youth was formed for the children of party members.
The party also formed groups in other parts of Germany. Julius Streicher in Nuremberg was an early recruit and became editor of the racist magazine Der Stürmer. In December 1920, the Nazi Party had acquired a newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, of which its leading ideologist Alfred Rosenberg became editor. Others to join the party around this time were World War I flying ace Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler.
Hitler was impressed by Himmler&rsquos fanatical nationalism and his deep hatred of the Jews. Himmler believed Hitler was the Messiah that was destined to lead Germany to greatness. Hitler, who was always vulnerable to flattery, decided that Himmler should become the new leader of his personal bodyguard, the Schutzstaffel (SS).
In 1922, the Italian National Fascist Party came to power under Benito Mussolini. The Fascists used a straight-armed Roman salute and wore black-shirted uniforms. Hitler was inspired by Mussolini and the Fascists and adopted both for use by the Nazis.
On November 8, 1923, the Bavarian government held a meeting of about 3,000 officials. While Gustav von Kahr, the leader of the Bavarian government was making a speech, Adolf Hitler and armed stormtroopers entering the building. Hitler jumped onto a table, fired two shots in the air and told the audience that the Munich Putsch was taking place and the National Revolution had begun.
Leaving Hermann Goering and the SA to guard the 3,000 officials, Hitler took Gustav von Kahr, Otto von Lossow, the commander of the Bavarian Army and Hans von Lossow, the commandant of the Bavarian State Police into an adjoining room. Hitler told the men that he was to be the new leader of Germany and offered them posts in his new government. Aware that this would be an act of high treason, the three men were initially reluctant to agree to this offer. Hitler was furious and threatened to shoot them and then commit suicide: &ldquoI have three bullets for you, gentlemen, and one for me!&rdquo After this the three men agreed.
Soon afterwards Eric Ludendorff arrived. Ludendorff had been leader of the German Army at the end of the First World War. He had therefore found Hitler&rsquos claim that the war had not been lost by the army but by Jews, Socialists, Communists and the German government, attractive, and was a strong supporter of the Nazi Party. Ludendorff agreed to become head of the German Army in Hitler&rsquos government.
While Hitler had been appointing government ministers, Ernst Röhm, leading a group of stormtroopers, had seized the War Ministry and Rudolf Hess was arranging the arrest of Jews and left-wing political leaders in Bavaria.
Hitler now planned to march on Berlin and remove the national government. Surprisingly, Hitler had not arranged for the stormtroopers to take control of the radio stations and the telegraph offices. This meant that the national government in Berlin soon heard about Hitler&rsquos putsch and gave orders for it to be crushed.
The next day Adolf Hitler, Eric Ludendorff, Hermann Goering and 3,000 armed supporters of the Nazi Party marched through Munich in an attempt to join up with Röhm&rsquos forces at the War Ministry. At Odensplatz they found the road blocked by the Munich police. As they refused to stop, the police fired into the ground in front of the marchers. The stormtroopers returned the fire and during the next few minutes 21 people were killed and another hundred were wounded, included Goering.
When the firing started Adolf Hitler threw himself to the ground dislocating his shoulder. Hitler lost his nerve and ran to a nearby car. Although the police were outnumbered, the Nazis followed their leader&rsquos example and ran away. Only Eric Ludendorff and his adjutant continued walking towards the police. Later Nazi historians were to claim that the reason Hitler left the scene so quickly was because he had to rush an injured young boy to the local hospital.
After hiding in a friend&rsquos house for several days, Hitler was arrested and put on trial for high treason. If found guilty, Hitler faced the death penalty. While in prison Hitler suffered from depression and talked of committing suicide. However, it soon became clear that the Nazi sympathizers in the Bavarian government were going to make sure that Hitler would not be punished severely.
At his trial Hitler was allowed to turn the proceedings into a political rally, and although he was found guilty he only received the minimum sentence of five years. Other members of the Nazi Party also received light sentences and Eric Ludendorff was acquitted.
The Nazi Party was banned on November 9, 1923.
Hitler was sent to Landsberg Castle in Munich to serve his prison sentence. While there he wrote Four Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice. Hitler&rsquos publisher reduced it to My Struggle (Mein Kampf). The book is a mixture of autobiography, political ideas and an explanation of the techniques of propaganda. The autobiographical details in Mein Kampf are often inaccurate, and the main purpose of this part of the book appears to be to provide a positive image of Hitler. For example, when Hitler was living a life of leisure in Vienna he claims he was working hard as a laborer.
In Mein Kampf Hitler outlined his political philosophy. He argued that the German (he wrongly described them as the Aryan race) was superior to all others. &ldquoEvery manifestation of human culture, every product of art, science and technical skill, which we see before our eyes today, is almost exclusively the product of Aryan creative power.&rdquo
Adolf Hitler warned that the Aryan&rsquos superiority was being threatened by intermarriage. If this happened world civilization would decline: &ldquoOn this planet of ours human culture and civilization are indissolubly bound up with the presence of the Aryan. If he should be exterminated or subjugated, then the dark shroud of a new barbarian era would enfold the earth.&rdquo
Although other races would resist this process, the Aryan race had a duty to control the world. This would be difficult, and force would have to be used, but it could be done. To support this view, he gave the example of how the British Empire had controlled a quarter of the world by being well-organized and having well-timed soldiers and sailors.
Hitler believed that Aryan superiority was being threatened particularly by the Jewish race who, he argued, were lazy and had contributed little to world civilization. (Hitler ignored the fact that some of his favorite composers and musicians were Jewish). He claimed that the &ldquoJewish youth lies in wait for hours on end satanically glaring at and spying on the unconscious girl whom he plans to seduce, adulterating her blood with the ultimate idea of bastardizing the white race which they hate and thus lowering its cultural and political level so that the Jew might dominate.&rdquo
According to Hitler, Jews were responsible for everything he did not like, including modern art, pornography and prostitution. Hitler also alleged that the Jews had been responsible for losing the First World War. Hitler also claimed that Jews, who were only about 1% of the population, were slowly taking over the country. They were doing this by controlling the largest political party in Germany, the German Social Democrat Party, many of the leading companies and several of the country&rsquos newspapers. The fact that Jews had achieved prominent positions in a democratic society was, according to Hitler, an argument against democracy: &ldquoa hundred blockheads do not equal one man in wisdom.&rdquo
Hitler believed that the Jews were involved with Communists in a joint conspiracy to take over the world. Like Henry Ford, Hitler claimed that 75% of all Communists were Jews. Hitler argued that the combination of Jews and Marxists had already been successful in Russia and now threatened the rest of Europe. He argued that the communist revolution was an act of revenge that attempted to disguise the inferiority of the Jews.
In Mein Kampf Hitler declared that: &ldquoThe external security of a people in largely determined by the size of its territory. If he won power Hitler promised to occupy Russian land that would provide protection and lebensraum (living space) for the German people. This action would help to destroy the Jewish/Marxist attempt to control the world: &ldquoThe Russian Empire in the East is ripe for collapse and the end of the Jewish domination of Russia will also be the end of Russia as a state.&rdquo
To achieve this expansion in the East and to win back land lost during the First World War, Hitler claimed that it might be necessary to form an alliance with Britain and Italy. An alliance with Britain was vitally important because it would prevent Germany fighting a war in the East and West at the same time.
Hitler was released from prison on December 20, 1924, after serving just over a year of his sentence. The Germany of 1924 was dramatically different from the Germany of 1923. The economic policies of the German government had proved successful. Inflation had been brought under control and the economy began to improve. The German people gradually gained a new faith in their democratic system and began to find the extremist solutions proposed by people such as Hitler unattractive.
On February 16, 1925, Hitler convinced the Bavarian authorities to lift the ban on the NSDAP and the party was formally refounded on the 26th with Hitler as its undisputed leader. The new Nazi Party was no longer a paramilitary organization and disavowed any intention of taking power by force.
Hitler attempted to play down his extremist image and claimed that he was no longer in favor of revolution but was willing to compete with other parties in democratic elections. This policy was unsuccessful and in the elections of December 1924 the NSDAP could only win 14 seats compared with the 131 obtained by the Socialists (German Social Democrat Party) and the 45 of the German Communist Party (KPD).
In an attempt to obtain financial contributions from industrialists, Hitler wrote a pamphlet in 1927 entitled The Road to Resurgence. Only a small number of these pamphlets were printed, and they were only meant for the eyes of the top industrialists in Germany. The reason that the pamphlet was kept secret was that it contained information that would have upset Hitler&rsquos working-class supporters. In the pamphlet Hitler implied that the anti-capitalist measures included in the original twenty-five points of the NSDAP program would not be implemented if he gained power.
Hitler began to argue that &ldquocapitalists had worked their way to the top through their capacity, and on the basis of this selection they have the right to lead.&rdquo Hitler claimed that national socialism meant all people doing their best for society and posed no threat to the wealth of the rich. Some prosperous industrialists were convinced by these arguments and gave donations to the Nazi Party, however, the vast majority continued to support other parties, especially the right-wing German Nationalist Peoples Party (DNVP).
In the 1928 German elections, less than 3% of the people voted for the Nazi Party. This gave them only twelve seats, twenty fewer than they achieved in the May 1924 election. However, the party was well organized, and membership had grown from 27,000 in 1925 to 108,000 in 1928.
The party&rsquos nominal Deputy Leader was Rudolf Hess, but he had no real power in the party. By the early 1930s, the senior leaders of the party after Hitler were Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Göring. Beneath the Leadership Corps were the party&rsquos regional leaders, the Gauleiters, each of whom commanded the party in his Gau (&ldquoregion&rdquo). Goebbels began his ascent through the party hierarchy as Gauleiter of Berlin-Brandenburg in 1926. Streicher was Gauleiter of Franconia, where he published Der Stürmer. Beneath the Gauleiter were lower-level officials, the Kreisleiter (&ldquocounty leaders&rdquo), Zellenleiter (&ldquocell leaders&rdquo) and Blockleiter (&ldquoblock leaders&rdquo). This was a strictly hierarchical structure in which orders flowed from the top and unquestioning loyalty was given to superiors.
One of the new members was Joseph Goebbels. Hitler first met him in 1925. Both men were impressed with each other. Goebbels described one of their first meetings in his diary: &ldquoShakes my hand. Like an old friend. And those big blue eyes. Like stars. He is glad to see me. I am in heaven. That man has everything to be king.&rdquo
Hitler admired Goebbels&rsquo abilities as a writer and speaker. They shared an interest in propaganda and together they planned how the NSDAP would win the support of the German people.
Propaganda cost money and this was something that the Nazi Party was very short of. Whereas the German Social Democrat Party was funded by the trade unions and the pro-capitalist parties by industrialists, the NSDAP had to rely on contributions from party members. When Hitler approached rich industrialists for help he was told that his economic policies (profit-sharing, nationalization of trusts) were too left-wing.
The Great Depression Fuels Nazism
The fortunes of the NSDAP changed with the Wall Street crash in October 1929. Desperate for capital, the United States began to recall loans from Europe. One of the consequences of this was a rapid increase in unemployment. Germany, whose economy relied heavily on investment from the United States, suffered more than any other country in Europe.
Before the crash, 1.25 million people were unemployed in Germany. By the end of 1930 the figure had reached nearly 4 million. Even those in work suffered as many were only working part-time. With the drop in demand for labor, wages also fell and those with full-time work had to survive on lower incomes. Hitler&rsquos message, blaming the crisis on the Jewish financiers and the Bolsheviks, resonated with wide sections of the electorate.
In the general election that took place in September 1930, the Nazi Party won 18.3% of the vote and increased its number of representatives in parliament from 14 to 107. Hitler was now the leader of the second largest party in Germany.
The German Social Democrat Party was the largest party in the Reichstag, it did not have a majority over all the other parties, and the SPD leader, Hermann Mueller, had to rely on the support of others to rule Germany. After the SPD refused to reduce unemployment benefits, Mueller was replaced as Chancellor by Heinrich Bruening of the Catholic Centre Party (BVP). However, with his party only having 87 representatives out of 577 in the Reichstag, he also found it extremely difficult to gain agreement for his policies. Hitler came to be seen as de facto leader of the opposition and donations poured into the Nazi Party&rsquos coffers.
The inability of the democratic parties to form a united front, the self-imposed isolation of the Communists and the continued decline of the economy, all played into Hitler&rsquos hands and he used this situation to his advantage, claiming that parliamentary democracy did not work. The NSDAP argued that only Hitler could provide the strong government that Germany needed. Hitler and other Nazi leaders travelled round the country giving speeches putting over this point of view.
What said depended very much on the audience. In rural areas he promised tax cuts for farmers and government action to protect food prices. In working class areas, he spoke of redistribution of wealth and attacked the high profits made by the large chain stores. When he spoke to industrialists, Hitler concentrated on his plans to destroy communism and to reduce the power of the trade union movement. Hitler&rsquos main message was that Germany&rsquos economic recession was due to the Treaty of Versailles. Other than refusing to pay reparations, Hitler avoided explaining how he would improve the German economy.
Hitler Runs for President
With a divided Reichstag, the power of the German President became more important. In 1931 Hitler challenged Paul von Hindenburg for the presidency. Hindenburg was now 84 years old and showing signs of senility. However, a large percentage of the German population still feared Hitler and in the election Hindenburg had a comfortable majority.
In August 1931 the Nazi Party decided to have its own intelligence and security body. Heinrich Himmler therefore created the SD (Sicherheitsdienst). Richard Heydrich was appointed head of the organization and it was kept distinct from the uniformed SS (Schutzstaffel).
Heinrich Bruening and other senior politicians were worried that Hitler would use his stormtroopers to take power by force. Led by Ernst Röhm, it now contained over 400,000 men. Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles the official German Army was restricted to 100,000 men and was therefore outnumbered by the SA. In the past, those who feared communism were willing to put up with the SA as they provided a useful barrier against the possibility of revolution. However, with the growth in SA violence and fearing a Nazi coup, Bruening banned the organization.
Hitler now had the support of the upper and middle classes and ran for president against the incumbent Paul von Hindenburg in March 1932, polling 30.1% in the first round and 36.8% in the second against Hindenburg&rsquos 49% and 53%. The NSDAP won 230 seats, making it the largest party in the Reichstag however, the German Social Democrat Party (133) and the German Communist Party (89) still had the support of the urban working class and Hitler was deprived of an overall majority in parliament.
The SA had engaged in running street battles with the SPD and Communist paramilitaries, which reduced some German cities to combat zones. Although the Nazis were among the main instigators of this disorder, Hitler convinced the frightened and demoralized middle class that he would restore law and order. Germans voted for Hitler primarily because of his promises to revive the economy (by unspecified means), to restore German greatness and overturn the Treaty of Versailles and to save Germany from communism.
In May 1932, Paul von Hindenburg sacked Bruening and replaced him with Franz von Papen. The new chancellor was also a member of the Catholic Centre Party and, being more sympathetic to the Nazis, he removed the ban on the SA. The next few weeks saw open warfare on the streets between the Nazis and the Communists during which 86 people were killed.
In an attempt to gain support for his new government, Franz von Papen called another election, which was held on July 20, 1932. This time the NSDAP won 37.4% of the vote and became the largest party in parliament by a wide margin. Combined with the Communists, the Nazis had a blocking majority that made the formation of a majority government impossible.
Hitler demanded that he should be made Chancellor but von Hindenburg refused and instead gave the position to Major-General Kurt von Schleicher. Hitler was furious and began to abandon his strategy of disguising his extremist views. In one speech he called for the end of democracy a system which he described as being the &ldquorule of stupidity, of mediocrity, of half-heartedness, of cowardice, of weakness, and of inadequacy.&rdquo
The behavior of the NSDAP became more violent. On one occasion, 167 Nazis beat up 57 members of the German Communist Party in the Reichstag. They were then physically thrown out of the building.
The stormtroopers also carried out terrible acts of violence against socialists and communists. In one incident in Silesia, a young member of the KPD had his eyes poked out with a billiard cue and was then stabbed to death in front of his mother. Four members of the SA were convicted of the crime. Many people were shocked when Hitler sent a letter of support for the four men and promised to do what he could to get them released.
Chancellor von Papen called another Reichstag election in November, hoping to find a way out of this impasse. The electoral result was the same, with the Nazis and the Communists winning 50% of the vote between them and more than half the seats, rendering this Reichstag no more workable than its predecessor. However, support for the Nazis had fallen to 33.1%, suggesting that the Nazi surge had passed its peak as the worst of the Depression had passed, Nazi-instigated violence increased and some middle-class voters who had supported Hitler in July as a protest now feared putting him into power.
The Nazis interpreted the result as a warning that they must seize power before their moment passed. Had the other parties united, this could have been prevented, but their shortsightedness made a united front impossible.
The German Communist Party made substantial gains in the election winning 100 seats. Hitler used this to create a sense of panic by claiming that German was on the verge of a Bolshevik Revolution and only the NSDAP could prevent this happening.
A group of prominent industrialists who feared such a revolution sent a petition to Paul von Hindenburg asking for Hitler to become Chancellor. Hindenburg reluctantly agreed to their request and at the age of forty-three, Hitler became the new Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. As the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum notes:
Hitler was not appointed chancellor as the result of an electoral victory with a popular mandate, but instead as the result of a constitutionally questionable deal among a small group of conservative German politicians who had given up on parliamentary rule. They hoped to use Hitler&rsquos popularity with the masses to buttress a return to conservative authoritarian rule, perhaps even a monarchy. Within two years, however, Hitler and the Nazis outmaneuvered Germany&rsquos conservative politicians to consolidate a radical Nazi dictatorship completely subordinate to Hitler&rsquos personal will.
The Reichstag fire on February 27, 1933, gave Hitler a pretext for suppressing his political opponents. The following day he persuaded von Hindenburg to issue the Reichstag Fire Decree, which suspended most civil liberties.
The NSDAP won the parliamentary election on March 5, 1933, with 43.9% of the vote but failed to win an absolute majority. After the election, hundreds of thousands of new members joined the party for opportunistic reasons, most of them civil servants and white-collar workers. They were nicknamed the &ldquocasualties of March&rdquo or &ldquoMarch violets.&rdquo To protect the party from too many non-ideological turncoats who were viewed by the so-called &ldquoold fighters&rdquo with some mistrust, the party issued a freeze on admissions that remained in force from May 1933 to 1937.
On March 23, the parliament passed the Enabling Act of 1933, which gave the cabinet the right to enact laws without the consent of parliament. In effect, this gave Hitler dictatorial powers. He subsequently abolished labor unions and other political parties and imprisoned his political opponents. In 1933, the Nazis opened Dachau, which initially housed political prisoners before becoming a concentration camp for Jews.
After the death of President Hindenburg on August 2, 1934, Hitler merged the offices of party leader, head of state and chief of government in one, taking the title of Führer und Reichskanzler. The Chancellery of the Führer, officially an organization of the Nazi Party, took over the functions of the Office of the President, blurring the distinction between structures of party and state even further. The SS increasingly exerted police functions under the leadership of Himmler.
The gradual descent into war began when Hitler withdrew Germany from the League of Nations in 1933. He began to rebuild the German armed forces beyond what was permitted by the Treaty of Versailles and subsequently began the first stages of his plan for the conquest of Europe by reoccupying the German Rhineland in 1936, annexing Austria in 1938 and invading Czechoslovakia in 1939. World War II began when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.
Anticipating the Holocaust
To protect the supposed purity and strength of the Aryan race, the Nazis sought to exterminate Jews, Romani, Poles and most other Slavs, along with the physically and mentally handicapped. They disenfranchised and segregated homosexuals, Africans, Jehovah&rsquos Witnesses and political opponents. The persecution reached its climax when the party-controlled German state set in motion the Final Solution, which resulted in the murder of six million Jews and millions of other targeted victims.
Following the defeat of the Third Reich, the party was declared illegal by the Allied powers on October 10, 1945. The Allied Control Council carried out denazification in the years after the war both in Germany and in territories occupied by Nazi forces. Trials also began for the Germans accused of war crimes.
The use of any symbols associated with the party is now outlawed in many European countries, including Germany and Austria.
How Did Hitler Die? Inside His Decision To Kill Himself
National Archives Hitler and his Axis ally, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, in June 1940.
With Braun by his side, Adolf Hitler learned about Benito Mussolini’s execution — and how his corpse was defiled by angry citizens. Vowing to avoid the same fate, the Nazi dictator was determined to die on his own terms. He would die by suicide, and his remains would be burned.
On April 29, Hitler began preparing for his death. He ordered his bodyguards to destroy his personal papers. He also told a doctor to test a cyanide capsule out on his “beloved” dog Blondi to make sure it worked.
Not only would killing her confirm the pill’s efficacy for Hitler’s suicide, but it would also ensure that Blondi would not fall into the hands of the Soviets after Hitler was gone. Still, after the dog died, Hitler was “inconsolable.”
The next morning, April 30, a staff member overheard Braun crying, “I would rather die here. I do not want to escape.” By that point, escape would’ve been nearly impossible anyway — the Red Army was nearly on top of the Führerbunker. Hitler ate his final meal – pasta with tomato sauce – as Goebbels tried to convince the Führer not to kill himself.
“Doctor, you know my decision,” Hitler said to Goebbels. “There is no change! You can of course leave Berlin with your family.” Goebbels would not — and neither would his family. Not long after Hitler’s suicide, Goebbels and his wife would kill themselves — and their own children — as well.
Hitler assembled his personal staff and shook everyone’s hand. Braun also said her goodbyes. To one of Hitler’s secretaries, Braun said, “Please do try to get out. You may yet make your way through. And give Bavaria my love.”
72 Years Ago, The US Army Blew Up A Giant Swastika In Nazi Germany
On April 22, 1945, a victorious U.S. Army destroyed one of the greatest symbols of Germany’s Nazi regime: a giant marble swastika that overlooked the Zeppelintribüne, Adolf Hitler’s most powerful pulpit, at the heart of the Nazi party rally grounds.
In 1934, Nazi architect Albert Speer constructed Zeppelinfeld stadium as part of the Nazi party rally grounds southeast of Nuremberg, Germany. Located east of the Great Road, it was built to resemble the Pergamon Altar in Ancient Greece. At the front of the stadium was the famous Zeppelintribüne grandstand, atop it sat that massive swastika.
Just three days prior, the Army’s Third Division marched onto the stadium’s field, where five men were given the Medal of Honor for actions of valor in World War II, and the American flag was draped over the swastika.
It’s hard to overstate the symbolic nature of the demolition. “There is no more hideous spot today than Nuremberg, shrine city of the Nazis,” the New York Times’ Richard H.J. Johnson wrote in a first-hand account of the city’s deliberate destruction by the Allies:
There was not a single building in the center of the town that had not suffered heavy damage either from United States artillery and bazooka shells or from Allied bombings before the final battle. All the ancient, historical monuments and buildings, as well as the later structures put up by the Nazis, are in complete ruins.
That swastika wasn’t the only piece of Nazi symbolism American troops destroyed — there’s even a whole supercut of German surrender, for some strange reason.
What was Nazi Germany's end goal? - History
The German Workers’ Party, otherwise called the DAP, was the predecessor of the German “Nazi Party” (NSDAP). It was founded in the Furstenfelder Hof, which was a hotel located in Munich. Anton Drexler, who was a member of the Thule Society, established the DAP. The group developed and branched out from the Free Workers’ Committee, which was another group led and founded by Drexler.
About the DAP and Its Members
Among the first members of the DAP were Drexler’s colleagues that were from the rail depot in Munich. Drexler was motivated to organize the DAP by Dr. Paul Tafel, which was also his mentor. Tafel was the leader of the Pan-Germanist Union, and a Thule Society member. His main goal was to create a group that would be in touch with the nationalist and the masses, which were not carried out by the middle-class parties. Initially, there were only 40 members in the group.
Karl Harrer joined the DAP on March 24, 1919. He was also a Thule Society member, as well as a thriving sports journalist. He wanted to increase the group’s influence over the activities of the DAP. Eventually, the group was renamed “Political Workers’ Circle,” and there were only a few members in this party. Furthermore, the meetings of members were held at local beer houses in Munich.
Progress of the DAP
Adolf Hitler was a former corporal who served in the German army, and he was tasked to spy on one of the meetings of the DAP. The gathering was held at a beer hall on September 12, 1919. When he came to that place, he was caught in a violent discussion with one of the guests. After this incident, Drexler was amazed with the excellent oratory skills shown by Hitler. Eventually, Hitler was invited to become a guest in the party, and he left the army when he joined the DAP.
During that time, anyone can become a member even without being issued a card or number. It was only in 1920 when there was an issuance of numeration, and Hitler was assigned the membership number 555. In reality, there were only 55 members of the party, which included Hitler. He also claimed that he was the 7th member of the group, and that would give him the title as a founding member, yet this concept was refuted. It was only because of his original work called Mein Kampf that he received the group’s membership card that was labeled with the number 7. Moreover, his highly impressive speech delivered at one of the party’s meetings gave him the opportunity to rise to fame and made him a prominent figure in the group.
Growth and Branching Out of the Group
Several party members were enlightened by the political beliefs of Hitler, and more individuals have decided to join the group. In 1920, the German Workers’ Party was founded, and it was a term borrowed from another Austrian party that was rather popular at that time. Hitler, however, wanted the name “Social Revolutionary Party,” yet Rudolf Jung encouraged him to consider NSDAP as a better name for the party.
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In his will, Hitler tapped his successors for the cabinet. He appointed the head of the German navy, Admiral Karl Dönitz, as his heir and president of Germany. He passed over party leaders like Heinrich Himmler and Herman Göring, who were seen as traitors for having tested the possibility of surrender to the Americans and the British. Hence the appointment of Dönitz, who had been unflaggingly loyal.
Dönitz indeed hastened to set up a government, working for four days on the task, though he didn’t necessarily follow Hitler’s instructions meticulously. Dönitz saw two options. One was full victory by the Allies, entailing the eradication of the Nazi regime, the dismantling of the German armed forces and the enslavement of the German people for centuries.
Marshal Montgomery, right, reads the surrender terms. From left, Rear Admiral Gherard von Wagner, war reporter Chester Wilmot (standing), Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, Luneburg, May 4, 1945. Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
The other, the one Dönitz hoped to achieve, was the Nazi government cooperating with the West and possibly with the Soviet Union, with the Wehrmacht perhaps cut back severely but not taken apart. Of course, the option that Dönitz feared is what happened, other than the subjugation of the German people, of course.
Throughout, Dönitz thought he had bargaining chips. As May began, parts of Norway and Denmark were still under Nazi occupation he thought he could use them in negotiations to preserve the Nazi regime. Astonishingly, certain high-ranking Nazis who hadn’t fled or committed suicide, but who weren’t named to Dönitz’s cabinet, tried to nab portfolios.
From the start of May, the new Nazi cabinet met every day, its members slave to the illusion that they still wielded influence. It was dubbed the Flensburg Cabinet after the town in northern Germany where it met.
In the end, the Nazis surrendered to the Western Allies on May 8 and to the Soviet Union on May 9, with zero bargaining power. Even so, the Allies let the Dönitz cabinet remain in place, even tapping certain civilian ministers to be the ministers of food and transportation and help the Americans manage the new situation. But on May 23, 1945, the Allies arrested Dönitz and others, formally bringing Nazi Germany to an end.
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