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Section: Antisemitism

Nazi antisemitism

 A poster of Adolf Hitler as leader of the Nazi party. The text at the bottom of the poster reads ‘One People, One Nation, One Leader’. This poster was used to reiterate three of the key Nazi party messages of racial superiority, nationalism, and ultimate obedience to the Führer.
The front page of the Nazi newspaper ‘Der Stuermer’ in May 1934. The headline reads 'Jewish plan to murder all of non-Jewish mankind exposed’.

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.

What were Hitler's ideas?

Hitler had a racist world view. He believed that people could be separated into a hierarchy of different races, where some races were superior and others were inferior. Hitler believed the German race to be the superior race, and called the German race ‘Aryan’.

Hitler considered Jews to be an inferior race of people, who set out to weaken other races and take over the world. Hitler believed that Jews were particularly destructive to the German ‘Aryan’ race, and did not have any place in Nazi Germany.

Hitler also wanted to rid Germany of the disabled, homosexuals, Roma and Sinti, and other minorities that did not fit in to his idea of an Aryan race. The Nazis labelled these groups ‘a-social’.

Hitler was an extreme nationalist, believing the German ‘Aryan’ race should dominate. His expansionist policies sought ‘Lebensraum‘ for the German people. Hitler wanted to create a generation of young Aryans who were physically fit and totally obedient through programmes such as Hitler Youth. He believed these policies would unite Germany and ensure it was the strongest nation on earth.

Hitler developed and publicised all of these ideas in his books, Mein Kampf (1925) and Zweites Buch (1928), and speeches throughout his time in power.

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How did the Nazis gain power?

How did the Nazis gain power?

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