Bronze-level articleNazism

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Nazism refers to the political beliefs held by the Nazi Party (officially the "National Socialist German Workers' Party" - Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, commonly shortened to NSDAP). Nazism resembled the contemporary doctrine of fascism in many particulars, such as its authoritarianism and ethnic nationalism, although Nazism had a much stronger emphasis on race. It destroyed ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945, a period known as the "Third Reich."

Communists of that time lumped all their authoritarian enemies together under the label "fascist." Today, continuing this usage, many people use the terms Nazi and fascist interchangeably. Since very few true Nazis are still living (although there are a few neo-Nazi groups), the term is often used more generally in reference to various authoritarians, especially those who focus on hate, racism, or grammar; though brandishing the term Nazi around to anyone who disagrees with you in a haphazard fashion rather diminishes the atrocities committed in the name of the Nazi Party.


[edit] Origin

The myriad of influences leading up to the rise to power of the Nazis are well documented, but there are also many topics which are hotly debated. Oswald Spengler's historical determinist book The Decline of the West is cited as an "intellectual" influence although his work was later banned by the Nazis because he dared to criticize them, and because he rejected anti-Semitism. Spengler also rejected racism and found the idea of racial superiority laughable, since the work that the Nazis loved had eight dominant cultures (called 'high cultures'), only two of which were actually European.[1] Germanic romanticism and national mysticism, as expressed in Wagner's operas, the Wandervögel youth movement (which was outlawed by the Nazis, too), and German occultist movements like Ariosophy, are also cited as precursors. More hotly disputed is the extent to which Nietzsche may have been an influence, but his sister Elisabeth was an early and enthusiastic supporter of Hitler's and helped the Nazis to claim him as one at least in name; some allege that certain potentially racist turns of phrase found in contemporary editions of his works (most famously, the "splendid blond beast of noble race") were added by her after his death.

A more immediate precursor was the state of Germany after World War I, when the country experienced hyperinflation and economic collapse during the Weimar Republic period, and suffered under the international sanctions imposed after the war. The predecessor to the Nazi Party, a tiny group of a few dozen individuals calling themselves the "German Workers' Party", was founded in 1919 by an unimaginative nobody called Anton Drexler. Hitler, at that time a military man, was given the task of spying on this group, but decided to take it over instead. Years later, he came to power promising to restore Germany's "might" after this period of national pessimism, and effectively manipulated the recent popularity of Germanic romanticism to his advantage. This proved to be irresistable to some segments of society who were quick to fall for demagoguery blaming "the Jews" and other sinister forces for Germany's plight. The NSDAP's brand of "national socialism" was seen by conservatives and business elites as a favorable alternative to Bolshevik communism, which had a strong following among the German working class, while many businessmen feared it might overtake Germany. The influence of socialism within the NSDAP is also hotly debated; there was a faction within the party, the Strasserites, that took the "socialism" part of National Socialism seriously, but they were violently purged from the party soon after Hitler consolidated his power.

On the other hand, the claim of certain Religious Right nutjobs like Scott Lively that Nazism emerged out of a homosexual subculture is almost universally discredited, except among homophobes.

[edit] Legacy

The legacies of Nazism are many and complex. The flagrant way in which this complex legacy is often reduced and simplified in order to score a cheap point has led to the necessity of Godwin's Law:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.[2]

[edit] Nazis and occult craziness

The Nazis were also proponents of Horbiger's Cosmic Ice theory which held that the stars were made of ice. They also imagined they had superior intelligence, which seems a bit at odds with the previous sentence.

They contended that the novel "Spring in Atlantis" ("Frühling in Atlantis"[3]) by Edmund Kiß (or Edmund Kiss[wp]) was based on truth - that the Aryan race was descended from Atlanteans (or if they did not originate in Atlantis then it had to be something similar and northern called Thule), which was later overrun by inferior races.[4] The Waffen-SS (the paramilitary wing of the NSDAP) employed a team of archaeologists searching for proof of these theories, similar to that featured in the Indiana Jones films.

[edit] On a political spectrum

Nazism is more complicated than fascism when trying to place it on a political spectrum. The majority of scholars identify Nazism, in practice, as a bizarre form of right-wing extremism.[5] Many Nazis were advocates of third positionism when it came to economics. This meant that they were opposed to both socialism (especially communism) and capitalism, despite many being advocates of the right to own private property. Where they differ from capitalists and conservatives (when it comes to economics) is that they openly advocated a kind of symbiosis between the state and big business, where the state would favor certain companies (German-owned, of course) in return for them doing favours to the state. Basically, the Nazis openly endorsed crony corporatism, whereas most modern-day conservatives and right-wingers oppose it, at least in theory.

Notable Americans try to push Nazism to the other side of the political spectrum, or deny that Nazism was truly right-wing. While it's obvious that Nazism is completely different from the politics of their own party (in that Nazism is much further to the right with its advocacy of anti-Semitism, genocide, misogyny, etc.) that does not mean it wasn't right-wing. Its form of right-wing politics, however, is removed from the vast majority of today's mainstream conservatism (neoconservatism should tell you that quite blatantly).

In any case, Nazism was primarily concerned with racial purity and territorial conquests. Racism and imperialism were its defining features. In terms of economic policy, the Nazis were unremarkable and very much inside the mainstream. It was only their aggressive pursuit of war and genocide that made them special. Therefore, if someone does not aggressively support war and genocide, then no matter what side of the political spectrum they're on, they shouldn't be compared to the Nazis.

[edit] Religion in Nazism

The role of religion in the ideology of the NSDAP has been a much discussed and controversial question. Hitler made a distinction between "master religions" and "slave religions." According to Hitler, Master religions would help the Aryan master race to dominate other races. Religions which preached love and tolerance would hinder the master race in dominating others:

Hitler extended his rationalizations into religious doctrine, claiming that those who agreed with and taught his 'truths,' were 'true' or 'master' religions, because they would 'create mastery' by avoiding comforting lies. Those that preach love and tolerance, 'in contravention to the facts,' were said to be 'slave" or 'false' religions. The man who recognizes these 'truths,' Hitler continued, was said to be a 'natural leader,' and those who deny it were said to be 'natural slaves.' 'Slaves,' especially intelligent ones, he claimed were always attempting to hinder masters by promoting false religious and political doctrines.[6]

Basically people either had to agree with Nazi-type religion or had to be treated as slaves, and so-called slave religions were persecuted.[7]

The claim by some that Nazism is an atheist ideology can be rejected out of hand. Nazism includes many near-mystical elements drawn from several different types of religion, and the early Nazi party was also involved in several direct conflicts with freethinker groups in Germany as early as the 1920s. This hostility continued after Hitler took power in 1933 when atheist movements were banned in Germany.

On the other hand. the opposing view that Nazism is essentially based on Christianity is not very credible either, although this is a much more complex issue. Elements and themes drawn from Christianity often figured prominently in Nazi propaganda, but these were invariably twisted to fit with the National Socialist context.[8] Overall, it is probably better to see Christianity as carrying out a legitimizing function for Nazism, rather than as a part of its ideological foundations. Eventually, however, a specifically National Socialist brand of Christianity evolved, known as Positive Christianity.

On a more practical level, the Nazi ascension to power in 1933 resulted in the unification of the Protestant regional churches in each of the 28 federal states into one church known as the Deutsche Evangelische Kirche[wp] (German Evangelical Church). This new church was from the beginning dominated by the strongly pro-Nazi Deutsche Christen[wp] ("German Christian") movement, whose leader, the theologian Ludwig Müller, was also appointed as the first Reichsbishof. However, strong political and theological conflicts inside the Church and waning interest from the Nazi leadership prevented the DEK from ever assuming any prominent role in the Third Reich, and it had faded from significance by 1935. Many smaller Protestant churches remained outside the Deutsche Evangelische Kirche, and in 1934, many of these joined together in the movement known as the Bekennende Kirche[wp] (Confessing Church), which aimed especially at opposing the influence of the Deutsche Christen. Although many of its members were against the unification of the churches for theological or confessional reasons rather than anti-Nazi as such, the Bekennende Kirche were seen as an opposition group by the Nazi government and were eventually persecuted, especially after 1937.


Some Roman Catholic Church clergy attempted, ineffectively, to oppose the Nazi regime.[9] Other clergy, the "Brown Priests" or braune Pfarrer were party members.[10] Members of parliament from the Catholic Center Party voted for the crucial 1933 Enabling Act that gave Hitler dictatorial powers, after Hitler gave a speech praising the role of religion in the German state. Despite all this, some people seem dead-set on convincing themselves that the Catholic Church in general or Pope Pius XII were somehow complicit in the Nazi crimes.[11][12]

Hitler seems to have used a mixture of beliefs to justify Nazi ideology, depending on what suited him at the time. This mixture included more or less conventional Christianity, borrowings from Nordic mythology, pseudoscience, and a belief in Germany's and his own personal spiritual predestination for greatness. While he was disdainful of religion in his private life, he did make substantial efforts to accommodate Christian belief as a way of reconciling the German establishment to Nazism. Indeed, he referred to himself publicly as a Christian, yet on a personal level he didn't really care about theology - he was mainly interested in fulfilling his ordained role in history as Führer.

Interestingly, Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer of the SS, thought that Islam was compatible with Nazi ideology. He stated that "It's a religion that promotes the warrior and the war - and it promises sex in the afterlife."[13] Many Bosnian Muslims, Arabs, Africans, and Indians joined the SS and fought for the Germans throughout the war.[13] On the other hand, many Bosnian Muslims helped Jews during the war, and the Albanian Muslims were so good at hiding Jews that not a single Albanian Jew was killed in the Holocaust. Only one other country was capable of keeping all of its Jews from the Nazis, and that was Bulgaria.

[edit] Allegations of US and church cooperation

It has been suggested that the Catholic Church helped members of the Nazis escape after World War II with assistance of intelligence agencies.[14]

[edit] Nazism in the United States

Bund parade in New York City in 1939

In 1936, the German American Bund[15] (also known as Deutsche amerikanische Bund or as it called itself, Amerikadeutscher Volksbund) was founded after the dissolution of a smaller pro-Nazi group, Friends of New Germany (which itself was founded by the merger of two even smaller groups, "Gau-Nord Amerika" and the "Free Society of Teutonia"). Led by German-born Fritz Julius Kuhn,[16] a naturalized US citizen, it attracted attention to itself by holding marches with members in Nazi uniforms displaying Nazi banners, organizing boycotts of Jewish businesses, and running resort camps in New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania[17] used for both pro-Nazi rallies and training the children of members in an Americanized version of the Hitler Youth.[18][19]

While the organization is not known to have received any funds from Nazi Germany, it did reportedly receive propaganda literature through the German Railroads Information Office, which had offices in the USA. Despite the fact that Kuhn liked to promote himself as an "American Führer," Hitler himself didn't like the publicity the Bund was attracting to itself, perferring that the USA remain isolationist.[20] The height of the group's organization was a 1939 rally in Madison Square Garden, billed as a "Mass Demonstration for True Americanism," where an estimated 20,000 people attended. An estimated 100,000 protesters[21], many being Jewish war veterans and German-Americans who opposed the Nazi regime, held a demonstration outside. (One protester[22] was beaten by Bund goons when he rushed the stage during Kuhn's speech.) Despite the arrest and imprisonment of Fritz Kuhn for embezzlement of the Bund's funds shortly after the rally, he was still held in high regard by his followers. It wasn't until the US entry into WWII that the group finally disbanded. Kuhn was arrested as an enemy agent after serving his sentence for embezzlement, and held in an internment camp in Crystal City, Texas for the duration of the war. His U.S. citizenship was later revoked and he was deported to West Germany, later dying in Munich in 1951 at age 55, both unrepentant and nearly forgotten.[23][24][25][26]

George Lincoln Rockwell in 1951. Oy vey, another frustrated artist!

The first serious pro-Nazi group in post-WWII USA was the American Nazi Party (originally "World Union of Free Enterprise National Socialists"), later known as the National Socialist White People's Party,[27] founded in 1959 by George Lincoln Rockwell, a U.S. Navy veteran of both WWII and the Korean War, who had worked as a commercial artist, sign painter, cartoonist, photographer, advertising agent, and magazine publisher. Rockwell's group, which never had more than an estimated 100 dues-paying members,[28] made a splash in the media with rallies and marches of men in Nazi uniforms, as well as professionally designed propaganda (often the work of Rockwell himself) that promoted the party's philosophy, which included one the earliest accounts of Holocaust denial. His popularity included an interview for Playboy magazine in 1966,[29] and an extensive speaking tour at American colleges, where he was invited to speak about his extremist views. Rockwell's two attempts of running for public office (as a write-in candidate for President in 1964 and an Independent candidate for Governor of Virginia in 1965[30]) ended in embarrassing defeats.[31][32] He was fatally shot in 1967 at age 49 by a purged ex-member of his party in an Arlington, Virginia laundromat parking lot.[33][34] Without Rockwell's leadership, the party eventually fractured into a number of smaller groups,[35] but his writings still influence Neo-Nazis of today.

While there a number of miscellaneous Neo-Nazi groups scattered about the USA, the National Socialist Movement (NSM) is one of the few that can be rightly called a political party, since it has run candidates for office.[36] In January 2009, as part of the Adopt-A-Highway trash cleanup program, they sponsored a ½-mile section of US 160 outside of Springfield, Missouri. The state legislature later renamed it the "Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel Memorial Highway", after the Jewish theologian who marched alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights campaign.[37][38]

[edit] Nazism in Europe today

The Nazi party, the swastika and essentially everything associated with Nazism, such as the Celtic cross, are currently illegal and banned in Germany as well as in several surrounding countries such as Austria and the Netherlands. Buildings in Germany and Austria that once displayed swastikas or other Nazi symbols that survived the war have been extensively cleansed of such imagery, if not torn down completely.[39] The exhibition and distribution of Nazi propaganda films, such as Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) and Der ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew), is prohibited in Germany, with the exception for use in academic situations, and exhibitors must have formal education in "media science and the history of the Holocaust." The sale of such films is prohibited in Germany, Austria, Italy, and France.

Germany has even changed the part of its National Anthem "Deutschlandlied" ("Song of Germany") officially sung. Instead of the lyrics proclaiming "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles/Über alles in der Welt" ("Germany, Germany above everything/Above everything in the world"), only the third stanza is used, beginning with "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit/Für das deutsche Vaterland" ("Unity and justice and freedom/For the German fatherland"). However, it should be noted that already in Weimar times all three stanzas were the official German anthem and only the Nazis commonly shortened it to only the first stanza being played. Contrary to popular belief, the first stanza is in no way illegal and the legal ground for anything being the national anthem is shaky at best, as it is not based on the constitution or any act of parliament but two exchanges of open letters between the (figurehead) president and the chancellor; first between Adenauer and Heuss (the first holders of these offices) and than between Kohl and von Weizsäcker (the holder of said offices upon reunification)[40].

The Nazi party anthem, "Horst-Wessel-Lied" ("The Horst Wessel Song"), also known as "Die Fahne hoch" ("The Flag on High"), once performed throughout Nazi Germany on par with the national anthem[41], is now banned in both Germany and Austria, except for educational purposes.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Those high cultures were specifically the Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican (Mayan/Aztec), Classical (Greek/Roman), Arabian, Western or "European-American" societies.
  2. See the Wikipedia article on Godwin's Law.
  3. Or to give it its full, and rather clunky, Germanic title: Frühling in Atlantis: Roman aus der Blütezeit des Reiches Atlantis, which roughly translates as Spring in Atlantis: A Novel about the Flowering of the Atlantean Empire (1933).
  4. See for instance: Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity (2002); Vanessa Ward, Nationalist Uses of the Atlantis Myth in a Nordic Framework, Pseudoarchaeology Research Archive (PARA) Research Paper A-10, January 26, 2008; Alicja Bemben, Rafał Borysławski, Justyna Jajszczok and Jakub Gajda (eds.) Cryptohistories (2015), particularly "Chapter Ten, The Riddle of Thule: The Search of the Crypto-History of a Racially Pure White Utopia"; Manfred Nagl, SF, Occult Sciences, and Nazi Myths, Science Fiction Studies, Volume 1, No. 3, Spring 1974.
  5. Fritzsche, Peter. Germans into Nazis, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998; Eatwell, Roger. Fascism, A History. Viking-Penguin, 1996. pp. xvii-xxiv, 21, 26–31, 114–140, 352; Griffin, Roger, "Revolution from the Right: Fascism," in David Parker, ed., Revolutions and the Revolutionary Tradition in the West 1560-1991, London: Routledge, 2000
  7. See the Wikipedia article on Nazism#Religion.
  8. "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter." - Adolf Hitler, April 12, 1922 Munich speech
  9. Besier, Gerhard and Francesca Piombo: The Holy See and Hitler's Germany (2007)
  10. Kevin P. Spicer: Hitler's Priests: Catholic Clergy and National Socialism (2008)
  11. See, for example, this biased and selective website
  12. John Cornwell's disaster hack job book Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII is probably the most prominent example.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Hitler's Renegades, by Christer Jorgensen
  15. "Bund" (pronounced "booned") is German for "federation."
  16. No relation to the Green Party politician with a similar name.
  17. A camp was planned for the Kettletown section of Southbury, Connecticut, but construction was prevented after local residents who opposed the Bund had the zoning laws changed.
  18. Click Magazine: "The Nazis In America", August 1938
  19. A fictionalized version of the Bund was depicted in the 1939 film Confessions of a Nazi Spy.
  20. Coronet Magazine: "Hitler Despises German-Americans", April 1941
  21. Number taken from Arnie Bernstien's book Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund
  22. Sources identify this man as Isadore Greenbaum, a 26 year old unemployed plumber's assistant and former Merchant Marine from Brooklyn
  23. Footage of German American Bund activity
  24. US Holocaust Memorial Museum: German American Bund
  25. FBI Records: German American Federation/Bund
  26. Fritz Kuhn and the German-American Bund
  27. Virginia apparently refused to allow the terms "Nazi" or "National Socialist" in names of incorporation, so the group's official business name was "George Lincoln Rockwell Party, Inc."
  28. Number taken from a declassified 1965 declassified FBI monograph on the American Nazi Party
  29. 1966 Playboy interview of George Lincoln Rockwell
  30. Promotional poster for Rockwell's 1965 run for Virginia Governor
  31. George Lincoln Rockwell 1965 Virginia Gubernatorial Promotional film (WARNING: Racist language)
  32. His 1964 write-in campaign for the Presidency netted 212 votes, and he finished fourth out of four candidates in his 1965 Virginia run with only 5,730 votes, or 1.02% of the popular vote. He ran as an Independent because the Virginia electoral officers refused to allow the terms "Nazi" or "National Socialist" to be used on the ballot. He did, however, use "Vote White" as his campaign slogan.
  33. Murderpedia article on John Palter
  34. Death of an Arlington Nazi, Northern Virginia Magazine
  35. The quasi-religious organization New Order, led by former Rockwell follower Matthias "Matt" Koehl (1935-2014), is considered to be the "official" successor to Rockwell's group. Another Rockwell follower, William Luther Pierce (1933-2002), would later found the National Alliance.
  36. Their best showing at the polls was in 2010, when Jeff Hall openly ran as an NSM candidate for a seat on the Western Municipal Water Board in Riverside County, California[1], finishing 2nd of 2 candidates with 27.66% of the votes[2]. The following year, Hall was murdered by his own son[3].
  37. Jewish Times; "Highway To Heschel", May 30, 2013
  38. His daughter, Prof. Susannah Heschel, objected to this.
  39. Geoff Walden's website "Third Reich In Ruins"
  40. see this section of the wikipedia article on the details
  41. The common way was to play the Nazi party anthem after or before the first stanza of the Lied der Deutschen
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