Nothing conjures up the image of evil more than the period in German history known as the "Third Reich." Adolph Hitler and the National Socialist Party, Nazi, embodied the very image of evil and have become he standard by which evil is currently measured. Television, literature, art, and movies have all-based evil characters on the Nazi's, for instance, in the "Star Wars" movies, the evil empire is defended by the legions of "storm troopers." (Lucas) Of course, "storm trooper" was a German term developed in the First World War to defined the assault troops used in battle. Nazi Germany used the term "storm trooper" to define the troops used in the many invasions of European countries by the Germans. Therefore, Nazi Germany is by far the greatest current example of evil and intolerance in the modern world.
While the Nazi regime was evil, it is easy to point at something and call it evil without identifying specific examples of evil actions or philosophy. The Nazis began as a small, rightwing political group dedicated to the restoration of German power in Europe through a politically ruthless and anti-Semitic government system which would then expand territorially to the east. From the earliest beginnings, the Nazis were dedicated to the restoration of German power lost as a result of their defeat in World War I. They were also politically ruthless towards their political enemies, as demonstrated in the early days when the Nazis were little more than a street gang battling with other political organizations on the streets of German cities. Later when the Nazis gained power, they immediately outlawed other political parties and persecuted those who refused to accept Nazi political power.
The Nazis were a political movement which wanted to restore German power, but they were also anti-Semitic. Persecution of the Jews is something that Germans have been doing for centuries. In general, Germans had believed the Jews to be separate from German culture, and the Nazis capitalized on the anti-Semitic traditions in Germany to use the Jews as a scapegoat for German problems. This anti-Semitism would ultimately lead to deaths of millions of Jews and the near destruction of the Jewish race in Europe. Finally the Nazi regime was expansionist is nature, meaning they always intended to expand the borders of Germany at the expense of their neighbors, particularly those in the east. This expansionist view, which obsessed Adolph Hitler, was the ultimate goal of the Nazis and eventually led to a devastatingly destructive war against the Soviet Union. Nazi expansionism would lead the Third Reich to destruction. So if there are three aspects of the Nazi regime which best exemplifies it as a whole, it would have to be that the Nazi were politically ruthless, anti-Semitic, and outwardly expansionist in nature.
Germany emerged from the First World War a defeated and chaotic nation. With the abdication of the Kaiser, Germany was faced with forming a democratically elected government. The problem for Germans was that there were as many different political parties as there were stars in the sky. Everyone from Roman Catholics, to Social Democrats, to right wing extremists, the DNVD, had their own political movement. (Nicholls 29-32) The Weimar Republic, which arose after the war, was a weak government made up of a variety of different political groups with shifting allegiances and uncertain power and influence. One of the smaller political parties, called the "German Worker's Party," or DAP, organized its "first really large meeting in the Munich Hoffbrauhaus… The party's new programme was a mixture of pan-Germanic nationalism, racial exclusiveness and resentful hostility to big business" (Nicholls 91) This party's main orator, a little known, but powerful speaker named Adolph Hitler, demanded a Greater German Reich and more land to expand. He also wanted to restrict citizenship to only those of German racial origin, restricting aliens and Jews. The press was to be cleansed, education was to be organized by the state, and religion was to be tolerated as long as it did not interfere with the party's goals. (Nicholls 91) Hitler had long held certain ideals which he introduced to the newly renamed NSDAP (National Socialist German Worker's Party, or Nazis), among which was his "view of history as a struggle between individual races with victory going to the strongest, fittest, and most ruthless…" (Kershaw 21)
And ruthless was what the Nazis became, when they eventually took power in 1933. But long before that, Hitler demonstrated the ruthlessness of his ideals when he led a putsch, or Coup de Etat in 1924. While the attempt ended in failure, Hitler demonstrated his real objective: the seizure of power. After a time in prison, Hitler emerged as the head of the Nazi movement and quickly took steps to become the party's absolute leader. It was his inflexibility and absolute refusal to compromise which "were turned into an advantage which greatly strengthened his own position within the party." (Kershaw, p 41) And once in power Hitler was "hypersensitive towards any attempt to impose the slightest institutional or legal restriction upon his authority." (Niewyk 73) As leader of the Nazi Party, Hitler infused his ruthless ideals into the party's ideology, as he took the party to ever greater political power.
In 1933, "Hitler ordered the near-complete elimination of the political opposition, & #8230;he used this power to persecute Communists, Social Democrats, and other political opponents." ("Volume 7") Shortly thereafter, a fire broke out in the Reichstag building which the Nazis blamed on Communist and other political opponents. Hitler himself stated at a meeting held just hours after the fire, "There will be no mercy now. Anyone who stands in our way will be cut down. The German people will not tolerate mercy…" ("Volume 7") The Nazis demonstrated their ruthlessness by taking advantage of a fire, which they may have had a hand in starting, blaming it on their political opponents, and then arresting and murdering many of those opponents without mercy.
Anti-Semitism has long been an attribute of German culture, but during the 19th century, and the rise of a concept called "Social Darwinism," anti-Semitism became a scientific fact in German culture. (Mosse 92) The Germans developed the idea that they were genetically superior to other races, most particularly the Jewish race. In fact, the Jews became the standard by which sub-humans were based. Throughout the 1800, Volkish researchers, those who specialized in the German race, developed a series of scientific studies and measurements which supported their idea that the Aryan race was superior. This idea of Aryan superiority eventually merged with Hitler's ideology, which entailed a struggle between the races; and in Germany the object of this struggle turned out to be the Jew. As Hitler himself stated in Mein Kampf, "The mightiest counterpart to the Aryan is represented by the Jew." (Hitler 300) This view of anti-Semitism pervaded all levels of German culture, but it is most exemplified in the musical works of Wagner, one of Hitler's favorite composers. (Mosse 93)
One of the Nazis basic tenets was that the Jewish race was an inferior race, and to demonstrate this inferiority, Hitler asserted that they had no real culture of their own, but "what sham culture the Jew today possesses is the property of other peoples, and for the most part it is ruined in his hands." (Hitler 303) The Nazi ideology also believed that Jews were parasites in the bodies of other countries, called them the "great master of lying," and concluded that Jews were using deceitful tactics to enslave those of pure Aryan blood. (Hitler 305) Marxism, particularly in Soviet Russia, was the example the Nazis continuously pointed to in order to demonstrate the tactics of the Jew in taking over and dominating a society.
In order to battle the Jewish race, Hitler called for a war of annihilation against the Jews. Some historians claim that his plan of extermination could be traced back to his time in the army during WWI, but literary evidence only occurs in 1925 when Hitler wrote his second volume of Mein Kampf; where he clearly stated his goal of the extermination of the Jewish race. (Niewyk 85) When Hitler took power in 1933, he orchestrated waves of anti-Semitic violence which resulted in the "Nuremberg Laws," passed in 1935 and placed restrictions on the nation's Jewish population. While Hitler, at first remained aloof of the anti-Jewish violence sweeping the country, he had instigated this cultural clash, and then stood by and watched the Jews be destroyed. That was until 1937, when he made several anti-Jewish speeches and instigated another wave of violence which culminated in the infamous "Krystalnacht" in November of 1939.
With the invasion of Poland in September of 1939, individuals in the Nazi government had already planned a sweeping number of restrictions and persecutions to be aimed at the Polish Jews. However, the overall plan for dealing with what the Nazis called the "Jewish question" had yet to be decided. In 1940, Nazi policy…