Essay On World War I Aftermath: The Rise Of Nazi Germany
When the topic on the history of racism in Europe is suggested, most go back to one of the darkest periods of humanity: the Holocaust. The overt racism of Nazi Germany towards the Jews and everyone not of Aryan race was so deeply rooted, solidified by a rich history of propaganda, sent even the sanest man to believe that extermination of the lesser race was key to a better world. Such horrific acts - crimes against humanity – makes it one of the worst manifestation of racism in history. The concept, though, did not happen overnight. It took years and intricate planning by Adolf Hitler. Here, we revisit how it all started.
The results of the World War I left many Germans deeply unsatisfied, convinced that they have been defeated not in combat but by betrayal. Fingers point to the republicans, and the right-wing of the German government insinuated that their betrayal stems from the overthrowing of the Hohenzollem monarchy during the German Revolution of ’18-’19. According to the allegation, Germany lost because of disloyal politicians, mainly Jews and communists, that orchestrated Germany’s defeat. The anti-Jewish concept was inflamed, especially with the ostensible over-representation of Jews as leaders of communist revolutionary governments in Europe.
With the economic strain brought by the Great Depression, some German medical establishments proposed murder or “euthanasia”, in an attempt to clear society of all the “incurable” disabled, both physical and mental. Such measures were believed to be justified, which will later support humanity’s darkest time in history – the ultimate plan to exterminate the Jews and everyone deemed lesser than the Aryan race. Such manifestation of racism may very well have been Europe’s most sinister time.
Contrary to popular belief, the propaganda against Jews did not unfold drastically. The Nazi party included Dietrich Eckart and Alfred Rosenberg, both of whom wrote articles that framed the Jews as conspiring against the world, which later influenced Adolf Hitler’s views. According to them, Jews were the driving force of communism. However, historians still debate on the true origins of Hitler’s antisemitism, but he freely expressed the idea of Germanic expansion and his hatred of Jews. They were merely germs to him, deeply convinced that they should be dealt with as such. Moreover, Hitler postulated that Marxism is a Jewish doctrine – the Jews created communism to destroy Germany.
Following the defeat of Paul von Hindenburg, the conservative incumbent, Adolf Hitler rose to power, and this meant complete seizure by the Nazi party. The population was divided into two groups by Nazi policies: the Volksgenossen and Gemeinschaftsfremde, which means “national comrades” and “community aliens”, respectively. The community aliens, resulting from racism, were further divided into groups, by race and blood, political opponents, and moral opponents. The latter, which is composed of habitual criminals, the shy, and the gays, were sent to the first generation concentration camps for re-education. Racial enemies were to be removed immediately from society. The massacre of Jews did not occur until much later – throughout the 1930s, the Jews were mainly persecuted by restricting legal, social, and economic rights. Here, a boycott of Jewish establishments ensued, as well as the exclusion from civil service. As a result, Jews were prevented from practicing law, journalism, and owning property.
As the threat of World War II loomed near, Hitler signed a decree on euthanasia, which authorized physicians to carry out an involuntary euthanasia program, which was later claimed as the Aktion T4. Also known as the Sterilization Law, the decree mainly targeted adults, but children also fell victims. Mentally ill adults in institutions were killed, along with Jews thrown into the same establishments. Also established during this time were specialized killing centers – an estimated 150,000 were murdered between 1939 and 1941.
The concept of racism in Europe wasn’t new to many of the Europeans, much less the Germans. History reveals occurrences of the infamous slave trade, but shifting public opinion into believing in such racism and violence against Jews, along with a single supreme race, remains to be a mystery. One thing is clear, however – the idea of racism is not innate but learned. Much of the racist propaganda against the Jews and other gemeinschaftsfremde were so slyly implanted in the consciousness of the people –all other plans that followed were deemed justified.