In the interwar period, when the Nazis rose to power, Germany was politically unstable. The trauma caused by the First World War and the loss of the war left people disheartened and susceptible to new ideas.
The Nazi Party seemingly offered hope and solutions. The Party condemned the unpopular Treaty of Versailles and offered an explanation for Germany’s problems – the Jews. Although this was not a new idea in Germany, where antisemitism had been growing since the start of the century, the political situation allowed it to flourish.
The Nazi Party was antisemitic from the start. Anton Drexler, who founded the party, and Adolf Hitler, who would become its leader, were both highly antisemitic. Key party speeches and documents, such as the early party policy, were also antisemitic. This spread their views to their followers and beyond.
When combined with political instability in Germany at the time, and the other factors causing modern antisemitism such as nationalism and social Darwinism, the Nazis ideology appealed to German citizens and slowly gained a following.
After the Nazis gained power, antisemitism was at the forefront of their policies. Exactly how the Nazis gained power, and the antisemitic actions they then implemented, is explored in more depth in the next sections.