How Did The Nazi Party Come To Power?(81 Posts)
Am I naive in thinking most people in Germany, even in the 1930s must have been good kind people, no different to us? How did they persuade people to vote for them?
Well, like all other abusers through history, the Nazis didn't show their true colours at first. Hitler & co got into power by winning a general election in 1932, and then used their new position to become a dictatorship, swiftly following this by murdering anyone who objected
As for the anti-semitism... it's a lie to say anyone abroad or the Germans themselves knew what was on the cards before Hitler really kicked off. When it did, not a lot of people outside Germany believed the reports coming out of the cities in the mid 1930s as the stories were so awful.
Thing is, mild anti-semitism had been around for ages in lots of countries, and no one in Europe thought it was any more than a bit more of that rather distasteful talk from a politician. A bit like Donald Trump and Mexicans - he doesn't like them, we disapprove, some people don't disapprove. But you think it's just talk - well, with Hitler it wasn't. And the Nazis took bloody good care not to show people the camps.
The left-wing in Europe had a nasty idea of what was happening re the worst abuses - but no one took them seriously. The Nazis covered everything up, and it was only by WW2, which followed fairly swiftly, that Europe could get in and free the people in the camps.
Once in power, they got more and more dictatorial. More propaganda about Jews etc was rolled out. Cultural changes were made such as reinforcing women's roles. Changed religion to reinforce state goals. Initiatives like Hitler Youth indoctrinated the young people.
The other key thing is that Fascism had political parties in lots of European countries, and those parties were as respectable as, say, the Labour party is now. Most fascist policies had nothing to do with genocide.
Anyone with money - the middle classes up - was terrified of Communism, so they automatically tolerated everyone else with the common enemy - the various Fascist govts in Europe.
Finally, when it became clear what the Fascists were really up to, other Europeans were rather busy avoiding being killed themselves by Hitler or Franco to spend much time on other countries' civil rights movements.
Things like Hitler youth have people a sense of belonging as well, security etc that some may not have had at home. The less academic children might have excelled in the Hitler youth and so felt good about themselves there. And so I guess there more likely to go along with things because of that.
The propaganda played into people's insecurities and the unrest at the time that was already there
The country was skint, food shortages and Hitler promised them the world. Bit more complicated than that but it was a drip, drip over a relatively short time.
Oh - the camps weren't just for Jews, not by a long shot. Anyone gay, anyone with mental probs, anyone disabled, anyone non-German enough, anyone with a criminal record, anyone left-wing or immigrant, got a one-way train ticket.
At the time, labour camps had been around for decades, and were quite respectable, if not desirable. The English ran them in south Africa after the Boer War - people run them today all over the middle East as refugee bases.
Same thing was happening in USSR with Stalin - who killed a lot more people in the camps than Hitler did - but, again, the idea of a camp was not what we know it meant in hindsight, and information was hard to find.
Well it was done insidiously wasn’t it? They infiltrated the system from within slowly and then began to gain momentum as they “turned” their followers gradually. You will believe all sorts if you’ve suffered not so long ago from a world war and are wanting to rebuild your country to be the best again. Terrible. And it’s happening again.
I have a very rough idea of the timeline and conditions but it's the psychology that really interests me.
bit by bit
piece by piece
they certainly didn't show their true colours when they first ran for election.
Drip-drip, covered up by some cracking PR and some very attractive policies eg supporting the working man, rebuilding national pride, becoming a player again on the world stage, etc. And hating communists.
Unlike any other German or European leader, Hitler provided lots and lots of well-paid jobs for the low-skilled, which meant the average German blue-collar family was miles better off under his leadership.
Germany was on its knees after the First World War, reparations causing austerity and hardship. The people had had enough of feeling like shit. Hitler offered hope, pride in themselves, and someone to blame. It was easy to fall for.
I remember doing this for History 'O' Level, it was fascinating.
People were very poor and vulnerable after financial instability of post war years and the thirties, so were looking to be saved
Very simplisticly, the govt of the day convinced a third of the population to blame another third of the population for everything that was wrong in their lives while the remaining third did nothing.
Hitler's Willing Executioners tells you about the psychology of the Jewish bit of the Holocaust - how come decent people get to be concentration camp guards? Starts with the casual remark, the dismissive mildly anti-semitic 'joke', etc.
In the 1950s after WWII the US ran a lot of rather depressing experiments in univ labs to show how humans respond to authority and how they are happy to cause pain, etc. The US - as everyone else was - was terrified how easily normal humans could turn.
the PR was extraordinary.
super are you thinking of Stanford?
I'm going to Germany and Poland this summer and plan to visit Auschwitz. I think we may have had a distant relative murdered there. Whenever people visit sites like this it seems they identity with the victims. I almost think it's more important to identify with the perpetrators and that they were people just like us and in the same situation we could behave in the same way and so we need to be aware of this and examine our veiws and actions rather than go around thinking we're above such people.
I've seen those much repeated 'following orders' experiments as well.
By the way, HWE, the book I mentioned above, is such unbelievably horrible reading that for the first time ever on MN I'm warning everyone on the thread about it. I found it too traumatising to read except in short bits.
Ah Kenn, I agree.
When I was younger I was fascinated by the victims, all those lost people. And the horror and fear of it.
As I've got older, I much more interested in the perpetrators- and how thin the line is between me as I am now, and the person I could become if the conditions were right.
The rise of the Nazis is particularly relevant at the moment, don't you think?
yes, but there were other ones as well. I don't know much about it. It doesn't make for happy bedtime reading, exactly.
Agree with @Supersimpkin. I realised how powerful it was when I did history O level and told my father we'd started learning about WWII. He grew up in the Hitler Youth - was absolutely not a Nazi sympathiser but there was no choice in the matter. He was furious about some of the facts stated in my history text book and said they were nonsense, proving how powerful the propaganda was. And this was a man who was relieved to be captured in 1944, never returned to Germany and was naturalised British.
The rise of the Nazis is particularly relevant at the moment, don't you think?
I do. Interestingly though, both sides of the Brexit debate seem to see Nazi tendencies in the other.
Have you seen a documentary called the 5 steps to tyranny? I think you can get it on youtube. It's not specifically/only about the Nazis but shows how ordinary people can be led to do awful things.
I don't actually believe all people are universally "good and kind" they/we are "good and kind" to those "like us" and who we think are deserving.
We're seeing that issue in our own country right now. We are seeing it on these very boards.
Just look at the discussions around immigration, brexit, benefits, disability, mental illness... People are more than happy to vilify and discriminate against people who "aren't like me"
Hitler etc understood/understand that and capitalised/capitalise on it.
The oft cited poem by Martin niemöller perfectly encapsulates that.
Also when resources are or appear to be finite/restricted people become afraid that they and theirs will suffer as a result of shortages/lack of access to essential resources. That is pretty much the main cause behind most wars - the gaining of wealth/resources.
I've lived in Germany, for the most part the Germans I met were ashamed of this part of their history - but not all of them by any means.
I met older Germans (old enough they were teens/young adults at the time of WWII or not much younger) who were unremorseful and still arguing (this was in the early 90's) that what was done was necessary to create a better functioning, wealthier Germany, who were still saying things like the Jews were hoarding wealth, were lazy etc I also watched some documentaries while I was there (shown on German television) interviewing people who'd reported Jewish neighbours in hiding etc who again, had no remorse and still firmly believed they did the right thing.
These were not particularly unusual people, these were ordinary people either working ordinary jobs or housewives/mothers.
The closest thing to remorse on he most shocking documentary I saw was a lady saying "that's just how it was. That was the law then who was I to question the law?" That's really stuck with me.
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