What is Nazism ? World War II Definition, Ideology, & History

What is Nazism

Nazism, also known as National Socialism, was the political and social movement that ruled Germany between 1933 and 1945.

It was characterized as a fascist-type ideology that exalted the supremacy of the Aryan race, fostered German imperial expansion, and promoted feelings of anti-Semitism.
Its main symbol was the swastika.Nazism

The word, as such, comes from the German Nazismus, which is a shortening of Nationalsozialismus or, in Spanish, `Nationalsocialism‘.

Nazism was a totalitarian ideology that placed central importance on the role of the State, which controlled all orders of life, and was represented by the leadership of a supreme leader whose mission was to lead the people to economic prosperity and social happiness.

Nazism is characterized as the working class party founded by Adolf Hitler after World War I ended.

It was an ultra-nationalist political movement that did not place its faith in the liberal-democratic ideals of the time.

Nazism was characterized by seeking revenge for the humiliation that Germany had to endure during the Treaty of Versailles.

The German National Socialist Workers’ Party

Nazism was institutionalized by the German National Socialist Workers Party. As such, he came to power in 1933, under the leadership of its main political leader, Adolf Hitler.

The period during which he ruled was known as the Third Reich, in allusion to the third great German empire (Reich means empire in German). Its main ideological text was Mein Kampf (My Battle), authored by Hitler himself.

The lack of satisfaction with the parliamentary institutions led to the creation of the Nazi Party with Adolf Hitler as its leader from 1933 onwards.

One of the most important features of the Nazi Party was its ability to transform the structure of the German state in a relatively short time.

The Lower House

Thus, the New Reichstag (the lower house of parliament) passed an”Enabling Law” in 1933 to end the stress on the state and the nation.

Through this act, all power in the country was transferred to Hitler, who initiated the Nazi era throughout Germany.

The consequences of Nazism were the Second World War, which resulted in millions of innocent victims worldwide, the genocide of the Jewish people in concentration camps (also known as the Holocaust), and the destruction of Germany by the Allied forces, and its division for more than four decades.

Nazism and fascism

Nazism is an expression of the fascism that ruled Germany between 1933 and 1945. In this sense, both fascism and Nazism were regimes of a strongly dictatorial nature, which annulled all kinds of political opposition and were characterized by concentrating all power in the hands of a supreme leader of great charisma.

They were seen as a third alternative to liberal democracies, which had led the world into a severe economic crisis, and to communist regimes. They possessed an effective propaganda apparatus and a strong racist component.

In the German case, Nazism was characterized by the exaltation of the Aryan race to the detriment of the other races and by marked anti-Semitism.

However, it came to an end with the end of the Second World War in 1945, while fascist political systems continued to rule in countries such as Portugal and Spain until the 1970s, and in Latin America well into the 1980s.


As a Nazi, it is called what belongs to or is related to Nazism, as well as anyone who is a supporter of Nazi ideology.

In this sense, a Nazi is a person who identifies with or is active in Nazi ideas, such as fascism, anti-Semitism, the supremacy of the Aryan race, and German imperial expansion.

In the light of the crimes committed in the name of this ideology, the term has acquired a pejorative nuance to refer to anyone who expresses ideas of racism or anti-Semitism.

Also, today, neo-Nazis are those who support this ideology and want to revive it in the current scenario.

Main characteristics of the Nazi Party

1 – Totalitarian

The entire German state was included by the Nazi Party. The subordination of the individual to the omnipotent state was expressed in multiple ways.

Freedom of expression and grouping were abolished, and all media that could shape public opinion – press, theatre, cinema, radio, schools, and universities – were under complete state control. Also, all political parties and unions were dissolved.

Cultural and social life was controlled and supervised by the state. In October 1933, a Reich Chamber of Culture was established under the supervision and control of Dr. Goebbels, who was to oversee all cultural aspects of life.

With regard to economic life, the Minister of the Economy was appointed as the person in charge of overseeing the well-being of the German economy, and could take any action he considered necessary to maintain this well-being.

2 – A Single Party State

Nazi Germany was a one-party state. Only the National Socialist Party was legally recognized.

The Nazi party was endorsed by law as the one charged with protecting the ideals of the German state. Its emblem (the swastika) was the emblem of the state and its leader was the head of state.

Numerous powers were transferred to party organizations, such as the right of municipal councillors to assemble, the selection of jurors and board members of educational institutions, the investigation of people’s backgrounds, and access to any state affairs.

3 – Breed Purity

The Nazi state was a popular state claiming to be a descendant of the Nordic race. Thus he claimed that the family of the Germans belonged to the family of the Nordics, who had been responsible for the greatest achievements in the annals of history.

For this reason, the state believed that the nation should keep its racial record impeccable and glorious, with a single race that was pure and preserved without being defiled by inferior races, such as the Jewish race.

Thus, Nazi Germany not only snatched the belongings of the Jews living within its territory but also subjected them to brutal persecution.

4 – A Single Responsible Leader

The Nazi state was based on the principle that there was only one leader responsible – directly or indirectly – for the lives and behavior of all individuals in the state. This supreme leader was Adolf Hitler.

The leader’s actions and decisions were not subject to any kind of scrutiny or criticism, as they were assumed to be correct.

Democracy and any talk of a state in which the people had power was self-delusion, as all the power of the state belonged to one leader.

Therefore, his will was considered as law. Those who opposed the leader’s will were forced to obey it, otherwise, they would be thrown into concentration camps.

5 – The Nazi Economy

With the aim of improving the Nazi economy, the finance minister had the goal of making Germany a self-sufficient country.

The Autobahn (German motorway system) created jobs for those who were unemployed, with the aim of creating new roads. Also, new weapons and vehicle factories were opened.

Some jobs in the military were created for those without jobs. Jews were arrested and many jobs were opened for those who were unemployed, mainly as teachers or doctors.

6 – State of Terror

Hitler’s initial goal was to establish a totalitarian dictatorship in Germany, with himself as its supreme leader. In order to achieve this, the opposition had to be eliminated, and people had to listen freely to their indications.

This was achieved through a policy of a state of terror, an element that became an icon of Nazi Germany.

Under the orders of Heinrich Himmler, the Schutzstaffel paramilitary group or the SS was formed, with a commitment to controlling internal state security, carrying out tasks such as policing concentration camps or destroying the Sturmabteilung or SA (a Nazi paramilitary organization that went against Hitler’s ideals).

7 – Concentration Camps and Jewish Extermination

The Nazi Party created concentration camps, controlled by the SS to contain and exterminate”enemy” prisoners (national minorities, Jews, communists and traitors).

Some prisoners would be employed as slave labor or executed. In 1935 the Nuremberg laws were introduced to segregate and persecute Jews, making them unsafe even in their own homes.

The Wannsee conference, for its part, introduced the idea of a Final Solution to eliminate all Jews at once.

This event was the pinnacle of Nazi terror against Jews, as the worst and most terrifying case of persecution and xenophobia ever recorded. This is probably one of the most remarkable features of Nazi Germany.

8 – Propaganda

Propaganda is a form of psychological manipulation. It is the promotion of specific ideas through the use of repetition.

In Germany, from 1933 to 1945, Goebbels was the minister of propaganda. He had a deep hatred for the Jews and was enthusiastic about their persecution.

The newspaper Der Stümer was quite popular at the time and promoted hatred for Jews, which is why it was Hitler’s favorite newspaper.

On the other hand, the swastika was used on the Nazi flag and by 1935 it became the German flag.

At the Nuremberg meetings, thousands of people had to shout”Sieg Heil” in unison and people were forced to say”Heil Hitler” as they passed by with others on the street.

Radio, books, and films promoted hatred for Jews and the greatness of Hitler and Nazism. In this way, propaganda contributed to changing people’s beliefs about Nazism and the Jews.

9 – Anti-Semitism

One of the most well-known characteristics of the Nazi state in Germany is anti-Semitism.

At first, not much attention was paid to this issue, as Hitler needed the majority of the inhabitants of Germany to vote for him. However, over time, brutality against Jews increased considerably.

Anti-Semitism became an extreme form of racism and hatred towards one race of people.

In 1933 there was a boycott of Jewish shops. Hitler blamed the Jews for the Treaty of Versailles and the country’s economic problems, such as the economic depression.

All Jews were dismissed from government positions and professional duties. In 1934, Jews were excluded from public places, including parks and swimming pools. All this was due to Hitler’s will to preserve the purity of the Aryan Race.

10 – Foreign Policy

Hitler’s main goal was to destroy the Treaty of Versailles. He also wanted more living space and the union of all German-speaking countries. In this way, Hitler disarmed the treaty by invading the Rhineland.

On the other hand, Hitler and Mussolini (both sanctioned by the League of Nations) formed the Axis of Rome and Berlin in 1936.

This was later strengthened by the Steel Pact in 1939, during the Munich conference, where other leaders tried to calm Hitler’s nonsense, but Hitler finally won the Sudetenland and the rest of Czechoslovakia.

At this time, Hitler was unstoppable and the invasions continued, involving other republics such as France, Poland, and the British Isles.

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