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"Nazism" or "National Socialism" refers to the politics of the dictatorship which ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945, "the Third Reich". Nazism is commonly associated with Fascism; although, the Nazis claimed to espouse a nationalist totalitarian form of socialism (as opposed to Marxist international socialism).

The German National Socialist Party advocated "Nationalsozialismus" ("National Socialism"). However, some disagree "By majority consent of both socialists and non-socialists, National Socialism (Nazism) and kindred movements are not considered to be socialist." (Salvadori) Despite Salvadori's statement, some right-wing groups (which wish to discredit socialism) refer to Nazism as being socialist; in addition, various leftists see the Nazi movement as a form of nationalist socialism. Also, many ordinary moderates simply take the name at face value, as being National Socialism.

The dictator Adolf Hitler rose to power as leader of a political party, the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP for short). Germany during this period is also referred to as Nazi Germany. Nazism was also called National Socialism (German Nationalsozialismus). Adherents of Nazism were called Nazis. Nazism has been outlawed in modern Germany, although tiny remnants, known as Neo-Nazis, continue to operate in Germany and abroad. Some historical revisionists disseminate propaganda which denies or minimizes the Holocaust and other Nazi acts, and attempts to put a positive spin on the policies of the Nazi regime and the events which occurred under it.

The Nazi party used the swastika as their symbol

Table of contents
1 Ideological Theory
2 Nazism and Romanticism
3 Nazism and the British Empire
4 Economic Theory
5 Effects
6 Backlash Effects
7 People and History
8 Nazism and Religion
9 Nazism and Fascism
10 Which factors promoted the success of National socialism?
11 Were the Nazis Socialist?
12 The term Nazi in popular culture
13 See also:
14 External links

Ideological Theory

According to "Mein Kampf" (My Struggle), Hitler developed his political theories by carefully observing the policies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was born as a citizen of the Empire, and believed that ethnic and linguistic diversity had weakened it. Further, he saw democracy as a destabilizing force, because it placed power in the hands of ethnic minorities, who had incentives to further weaken and destabilize the Empire.

The center of the national socialist ideology is the term race. The Nazi theory says that the Aryan race is a "master race" superior to other races. This belief is justified by the following logic.

National Socialism classically says that a nation is the highest creation of a race. Therefore, great nations (literally large nations) are said to be the creation of great races. The theory says that great nations grow from military power. In turn, military power naturally grows from rational, civilized cultures. In turn, these cultures naturally grow from races with natural good health, and aggressive, intelligent, courageous traits.

The weakest nations are said to be those of impure or "mongrel" races, because they have divided, quarrelling, and therefore weak cultures.

According to the Nazis, an obvious mistake of this type is to permit or encourage multiple languages within a nation. This belief is why the German Nazis were so concerned with the unification of German-speaking peoples' territories.

Nations that cannot defend their borders were therefore said to be the creation of weak or slave races. Slave races were thought to be less worthy of existence than master races. In particular, if a "master race" should require room to live (Lebensraum), it was thought to have the right to take it and kill or enslave the indigenous "slave races."

Races without homelands were therefore said to be "parasitic races." The richer the members of a "parasitic race" are, the more virulent the parasitism was thought to be. A "master race" could therefore, according to the Nazi doctrine, easily strengthen itself by eliminating "parasitic races" from its homeland.

This was the theoretic justification for the oppression and elimination of Jews and Gypsies, a duty which most Nazis (oddly enough) found personally repugnant.

Religions that recognize and teach these "truths" were said to be "true" or "master" religions because they create mastery by avoiding comforting lies. Those that preach love and toleration, "in contravention to the facts," were said to be "slave" or "false" religions.

The man who recognizes these "truths" was said to be a "natural leader," those who deny it were said to be "natural slaves." Slaves, especially intelligent ones, were said to always attempt to hinder masters by promoting false religious and political doctrines.

However, it is a misconception that Nazism was all about race - this is probably because of the bad reputation Nazism has gained after the war, and especially because of the holocaust. The ideological roots of Nazism are deeper, and can be found in the romantic tradition of the 19th Century, and especially Friedrich Nietzsche's thoughts on "breeding upwards" toward the goal of an Übermensch.

Nazism and Romanticism

According to Bertrand Russell, Nazism comes from a different tradition than that of either liberal capitalism or communism. Thus, to understand values of Nazism, it is necessary to explore this connection, without trivializing the movement as it was in its peak years in the 1930s and dismissing it as a little more than racism.

Many historiographers say that the antisemitic element, which does not exist in the sister fascism movement in Italy and Spain, was adopted by Hitler to gain popularity for the movement. Antisemitic prejudice was very common among the masses in German Empire. It is claimed that mass acceptance required anti-Semitism, as well as flattery of the wounded pride of German people after the defeat of WWI.

But the origin of Nazism and its values come from the irrationalist tradition of the romantic movement of the early 19th century. Strength, passion, lack of hypocrisy, utilitarianism, traditional family values and devotion to community were valued by the Nazis.

Nazism and the British Empire

Hitler admired the British Empire. Racist theories were developed by British intellectuals in the 19th century to control the Indian people and other "savages." These methods were often copied by the Nazis.

Similarly, in his early years Hitler also greatly admired the United States of America. In Mein Kampf, he praised the United States for its anti-immigration laws. According to Hitler, America was a successful nation because it kept itself "pure" of "lesser races." However as war approached, his view of the United States became more negative and he believed that Germany would have an easy victory over the United States precisely because the United States in his later estimation had become a mongrel nation.

Nazi domestic economic
propaganda flyer

Economic Theory

Nazi economic theory concerned itself with immediate domestic issues and separately with ideological conceptions of international economics.

Domestic economic policy was narrowly concerned with three major goals:

All of these policy goals were intended to address the perceived shortcomings of the Weimar Republic and to solidify domestic support for the party. In this, the party was very successful. Between 1933 and 1936 the German GNP increased by an average annual rate of 9.5 percent, and the rate for industry alone rose by 17.2 percent. However, many economists argue that the expansion of the Germany economy between 1933 and 1936 was not the result of the Nazi party, but rather the consequence of economic policies of the late Weimar Republic which had begin to have an effect.

In addition, it has been pointed out that while it is often popularly believed that the Nazis ended hyperinflation, that the end of hyperinflation preceded the Nazis by several years.

This expansion propelled the German economy out of a deep depression and into full employment in less than four years. Public consumption during the same period increased by 18.7%, while private consumption increased by 3.6% annually. However, as this production was primarily consumptive rather than productive (make work projects, expansion of the war-fighting machine, initiation of the draft to remove working age males from the labor force), inflationary pressures began to rear their head again, although not to the highs of the Weimar Republic. These economic pressures, combined with the war-fighting machine created in the expansion (and concomitant pressures for its use), has led some commentators to the conclusion that a European war was inevitable for these reasons alone. Stated another way, without another general European war to support this consumptive and inflationary economic policy, the Nazi domestic economic program was unsupportable. This is not to say that other more important political considerations were not to blame. It is only meant to state that economics have been, and are a primary motivating factor for any society to go to war.

Internationally, the Nazi party believed that a international banking cabal was behind the global depression of the 1930s. The control of this cabal was identified with the ethnic group known as Jews, providing another link in their ideological motivation for the destruction of that group in the holocaust. However, broadly speaking, the existence of large international banking or merchant banking organizations was well known at this time. Many of these banking organizations were able to exert influence upon nation states by extension or withholding of credit. This influence is not limited to the small states that preceded the creation of German Empire as a nation state in the 1870s, but is noted in most major histories of all European powers from the 1500s onward. In fact, some transnational corporations in the 1500 to 1800 period (the Dutch East India Company for one good example) were formed specifically to engage in warfare as a proxy for governmental involvement, as opposed to the other way around.

Using more modern nomenclature, it is possible to say that the Nazi Party was against transnational corporations power vis-a-vis that of the nation state. This basic anti-corporate stance is shared with many mainstream center-left political parties, as well as otherwise totally opposed anarchist political groups.

It is important to note that the Nazi Party's conception of international economics was very limited. As the National Socialist in the name NSDAP suggests, the party's primary motivation was to incorporate previously international resources into the Reich by force, rather than by trade (compare to the international socialism as practiced by the Soviet Union and the COMECON trade organization). This made international economic theory a supporting factor in the political ideology rather than a core plank of the platform as it is in most modern political parties.

In a economic sense, Nazism and Fascism are related. Nazism may be considered a subset of Fascism, with all Nazis being Fascists, but not all Fascists being Nazis. Nazism shares many economic features with Fascism, featuring complete government control of finance and investment (allocation of credit), industry, and agriculture. Yet in both of these systems, corporate power and market based systems for providing price information still existed. Quoting Benito Mussolini: "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power."

Rather than the state requiring goods from industrial enterprises and allocating raw materials required for their production (as in socialist / communist systems), the state paid for these goods. This allows price to play an essential role in providing information as to relative scarcity of materials, or the capital requirements in technology or labor (including education, as in skilled labor) inputs to produce a manufactured good. Additionally, the unionist (strictly speaking, syndicalist) veneer placed on corporate labor relations was another major point of agreement. Both the German and Italian fascist political parties began as unionist labor movements, and grew into totalitarian dictatorships. This idea was maintained throughout their time in power, with state control used as a means to eliminate the assumed conflict between management labor relations.


These theories were used to justify a totalitarian political agenda of racial hatred and suppression using all the means of the state, and suppressing dissent.

Like other fascist regimes, the Nazi regime emphasized anti-communism and the leader principle (Führerprinzip), a key element of fascist ideology in which the ruler is deemed to embody the political movement and the nation. Unlike other fascist ideologies, Nazism was virulently racist. Some of the manifestations of Nazi racism were:

Anti-clericalism was also part of Nazi ideology.

Backlash Effects

Perhaps the primary intellectual effect has been that Nazi doctrines discredited the attempt to use biology to explain or influence social issues, for at least two generations after Nazi Germany's brief existence.

People and History

The most prominent Nazi was Adolf Hitler, who ruled Nazi Germany from 30 January 1933 until his suicide on 30 April 1945, led the German Reich into World War II, and oversaw the murder of over 40 million people. Under Hitler, ethnic nationalism and racism were joined together through an ideology of militarism to serve his goals.

After the war, many prominent Nazis were convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg Trials.

The Nazi symbol is the clockwise swastika.

Nazi sacred symbol
"gamma cross"

Nazism and Religion

The relationship between Nazism and Christianity can only be described as complex -- and controversial, since most modern writers wish to dissociate their own views from Nazism as much as possible.

Hitler and other Nazi leaders clearly made use of Christian symbolism and emotion in propagandizing the overwhelmingly Christian German public, but it remains a matter of controversy whether Hitler believed himself a Christian. Some Christian writers have sought to typify Hitler as an atheist or occultist -- even a Satanist -- whereas non-Christian writers have emphasized Nazism's outward use of Christian doctrine, regardless of what its inner-party mythology may have been. The existence of a Ministry of Church Affairs, instituted in 1935 and headed by Hanns Kerrl, was hardly recognized by ideologists such as Rosenberg and by other political decision-makers.

The Nazi Party's relations with the Catholic Church are yet more fraught. Many Catholic priests and leaders vociferously opposed Nazism on the grounds of its incompatibility with Christian morals. As with many political opponents, many of these priests were sentenced in the concentration camps for their opposition. Nevertheless, the Church hierarchy represented by Pope Pius XII remained largely silent on the issue, and allegations of the Pope's complicity are today commonplace. There were also pro-Nazi Catholic leaders like Bishop Alois Hudal.

Nazism is considered as a kind of fascism

Nazism and Fascism

Nazism is often (but incorrectly) used interchangeably with Fascism. While Nazism employed stylistic elements of Fascism, the only serious similarities between the two were dictatorship, territorial irredentism, and basic economic theory. For example, Benito Mussolini, the founder of fascism, did not embrace anti-Semitism until seduced by his alliance with Hitler, whereas Nazism had been explicitly racialist from its inception. Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, often termed a fascist by his largely Communist opposition, could perhaps be described as a reactionary Catholic monarchist who adopted little of fascism but its style.

Toward the end of the 20th century, Neo-Nazi movements have arisen in a number of countries, including the United States of America and several European nations. Neo-Nazism can include any group or organization that exhibits an ideological link to Nazism. It is frequently associated with the skinhead youth subculture. Some fringe political parties, such as the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party, have also adopted Nazi ideas.

Which factors promoted the success of National socialism?

An important question about national socialism is the question for the factors that promoted its success not only in Germany, but also in other European countries (National socialistic movements could be found in Sweden, Great Britain, Italy, Spain and even in the US) in the twenties and thirties of the last century?

These factors might have included:

Were the Nazis Socialist?

Some have claimed that Nazism was a form of socialism, although this view is rejected by most historians and by modern socialists. For more see Socialism and Nazism

The term Nazi in popular culture

The multiple atrocities and extremist ideology that the Nazis followed have made them notorious in popular grammar as well as history. The term Nazi is used in various ways. It's often used to describe groups of people who try to force an unpopular or extreme agenda on the general population, and also commit crimes and other violations on others without remorse. Israel is a common and extremely controvercial target of the term "nazi" in describing its treatment of Palistinians, and it's theoretically racialist policies.

Some of the usages seen in popular culture are seen as highly offensive. Phrases like "Open Source Nazi" and "Feminazi" are examples of those considered objectionable. Even those who are strongly opposed to e.g. the Open Source movement generally dislike perceived trivialization of the Nazis, who killed millions.

The term is used so frequently as to inspire "godwin's law" which states "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one". Perhaps as with other offensive words such as nigger and faggot, the word is being "reclaimed" by the community.

See also:

External links