Hitler and Nazism

Hitler was an Austrian born, German politician (Wikipedia). He was alive from 1889-1945. He was the leader of the Nazi party in Germany from 1934-1945. Hitler despised the idea of Capitalism or any other form of leadership besides Nationalism. He was a dictator in World War II and the cause of the Holocaust.

Throughout the 25 Points 1920: An Early Nazi Program and Adolf Hitler’s speech of April 12, 1921 hatred toward the Jews drastically increases. Number four of the 25 points states that “ no Jew can be a member of the race”. In Hitler’s speech he blames the Jews for the debt in which all of Germany has recently come into. He states that the Jews have money while everyone else is suffering. He says that the Jews do not work for what they earn and hold positions that others deserve. This convinces the poor in the society as well as the working class to unite against the Jews. This was the start to Nazism. Hitler was not only against democracy but he was also against socialism and capitalism. He claimed that Capitalism was formed and run by the Jews in Russia, he said that this would be their downfall.

Hitler creates 25 points in 1920 for what he wishes people to follow. In Hitler’s first two points, he asks for equality with other nations, yet he does not know what equality is himself. In the next point, he asks for the other nations to rid the treaty of Versailles and to relive Germany from its many debts. He demands for more territory for their “ surplus population”. He also states the definition of the German race, excluding any Jews. Hitler states that only citizens may hold jobs or positions in society. Further immigration of any sort is to be prevented and all immigrants residing in Germany are to leave. He says that all citizens must have equal rights and obligations. All wages must be earned by labor or work. While there are many other points listed in Hitler’s wishes of the German Reich, all of them either demoralize Jews or exclude them from society.

The best/worst of two evils

After reading Churchill’s speech and Stalin’s response on it, I wonder what a smart orator Soviet leader was. They both were trying to convince their audience in the idea that another one is a possible threat for the world, but do it in a very different way, and, from my point of view, Stalin is more effective in that.

Churchill introduced some facts, like growing influence of communists parties on the other side of the Iron Curtain, and then just added the claims that it was bad, dangerous for the world piece, destroying, etc. He did’t provide these claims with evidence, he didn’t present clearly why he thought that it was the possible threat for the world, etc.
At the same time, Stalin did his job great almost just by paralleling Churchill’s speech with nazi Germany’s ideology. He even didn’t have to explain it further to reach his audience, probably, not only in Soviet Union, but all other the world by that. This parallel, I think, should be very effective in a post-war world, as everybody remembers nazi’s rhetorics, ideas on which that ideology was built, etc. So, even if Churchill’s speech was about to inspire nations to think about the communists as a potential thread to the world, this passage made Britain look as the country which wants to expand its’ influence to the entire world, supported by english-speaking countries and persuading them to aggressive policy because they have a “traditions” or “values” which have to be spread and destroy other ideologies. Pointing on that, Stalin did a clever hook in maybe not making soviet ideology more popular, but at least in showing his opponent being the worst of two evils.

The Racial Paradigm: Hitler and the Holocaust

Both Stargardt and Kershaw discuss Hitler’s leadership style. Each specifically discusses Hitler’s leadership as it relates to the extermination of the Jewish population in Germany, or the Final Solution. Kershaw discusses Hitler’s leadership style as a bottom-up approach. Stargardt similarly argues that Hitler relied on local leaders to implement his policies.

It is commonly known that Hitler had his inner-circle of advisors whom he relied on for advice and implementation. However, both articles brought up the racial issue that was central to Hitler’s regime. To orchestrate something as large as the Holocaust, mass organization was necessary.

Stargardt has a section of his article titled “The Racial Paradigm” in which he addressed the complexity of race during the Holocaust. He argued that although political decisions were made within the inner-circle, the majority of participation came from middle class lobbyists. Stargardt’s claim is logical, as mass participation had to occur in order for society’s perception to change.

This brings up the subject of societal consciousness. Although there was mass participation, was society aware of the bottom-up format of government, or were they still under the impression that this was solely Hitler’s doing?


Motherhood and Reproduction in the Fascist, Soviet, and Nazi Regimes

In Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union, and Mussolini’s Italy, all three regimes emphasized the national importance of genetics and increased birth rates as a state resource. In Hoffman and Timm’s chapter on Utopian Biopolitics, Nazi eugenics that promoted selective racial hygiene and purity is contrasted with Soviet non-selective pronatalism. ((Hoffmann, David L., and Annette F. Timm. “Utopian Biopolitics: Reproductive Policies, Gender Roles, and Sexuality in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.” In Beyond Totalitarianism – Stalinism and Nazism Compared, edited by Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick, 87-129. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2009. )) Wilson analyzes the woman’s role in Fascism in his article separately. ((Wilson, Perry R. “Women in Fascist Italy.” In Facist Italy and Nazi Germany – Comparisons and Contrasts, edited by Richard Bessel, 78-93. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996.))

Each regime attempted to characterize the woman’s role as a prolific mother in different ways. The common thread running between each dictatorship was the notion that women should actively participate in the creation of the future Utopian state by literally producing as many offspring as possible. As the Nazi state was repressive in many ways, ironically, it was not repressive of heterosexual sexual freedoms. Himmler himself sanctioned premarital and even extramarital sex, considering intercourse productive if between two Aryan individuals. ((Hoffmann and Timm, Utopian Biopolitics, p. 106)) In this way, sexual relationships, a highly, personal interaction, were characterized by practical, statist goals. In contrast, in both Nazi and Soviet policy, homosexuality was viewed as a waste of “genetic stock” and was therefore prosecuted as a crime against the state. In these illiberal nations that denounced capitalism, children were seen as a valuable and priceless commodity that should be produced and protected at all costs. Through incentivization and coercion, each regime found a way to influence reproductive decisions but ultimately did not increase birth rates as desired. In this way, fertility and virility took on new meanings in totalitarian states; no longer was having an individual family decision, each family was a “germ cell” with a collectivist responsibility.

As motherhood was glorified in all three countries, maternalist welfare was developed through government intervention and propaganda was produced that provided support and motivation for women to raise more children. The major standout difference was how the Soviet Union approached the role of women as mothers and labors, encouraging dual earning households. In Germany and Italy, the mother’s ideal domain was to forever remain the domestic home while the father’s world was either the workforce or battlefield. However, regardless of the portrayed ideal norm, women worked outside the home in both Germany and Italy.

It is notable that trying to raise birth rates during a period of world war seems counterproductive, when many men are away from home fighting and some may never return. Wilson concludes that “despite the enormous amount of attention paid to gender roles in Fascist rhetoric, it seems that the particular patterns of industrialization, commercialization, and urbanization had more power to shape female experiences in this period than the crude tools of Fascist ideology and policy.” ((Wilson, Women in Fascist Italy, p. 93)) I agree with Wilson and argue that not just Fascist policy failed to control gender and family roles, so too did Nazi and Soviet policy. Is it ever advisable for a state to define and encourage gender roles and family structure? In addition, is it possible for reproductive policies to be used in a democratic, non-dictatorial way to influence a country’s population?

Genes vs. Ideas: The quest for the modern population


What is more important in a child’s value to the state, their genes or their ideas?  During the interwar period Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union would have answered that question in contradictory ways even though both countries were attempting a massive increase in reproduction.  Hoffman and Timmin in “Utopian Biopolitics” from Beyond Totalitarianism  argued that the summation of a child’s value to the state depended on the ideology propounded by the governing party. ((David L. Hoffmann and Annette F. Timm, “Utopian Biopolitics: Reproductive Policies, Gender Roles, and Sexuality in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union” in Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared, ed. Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 87))  In Germany under the National Socialst party racial hygiene was the most important aspect of the population increase.  The Soviet Union desired a larger population built upon the ideology of the socialist party.  Both states desired an increased population tailored to their idea of the ideal modern state.

Nazi Germany officially and unofficially influenced the German population to reproduce in order to create “Aryan” children.  The repurposing of health centers into eugenics centers counts as only one example of many state sponsored attempts to ensure racial purity among newborns. ((99))  The logical rhetoric that emerged from such gene centric ideas eliminated other social values.  The regime, and Himmler specifically, linked masculinity and prowess in battle to virility.  Therefore, men were encouraged to engage in intra- and extra-marital intercourse; the only caveat being the child produced must be Aryan. ((Hoffmann and Timm, “Utopian Biopolitics” in Beyond Totalitarianism,106))  Thus the genetic “health” of the child overpowered the traditional, middle class nuclear family structure in Nazi politics.  The Soviet Union did the exact opposite in its attempt to raise the next generation of socialists.

The Soviet Union reinforced the nuclear family structure in an attempt to increase the quantity and quality of children produced by socialist couples.  Throughout the 1930s the government passed several laws outlawing abortion, establishing strict child support protocol, and, making birth registration necessary with both parents listed. ((Hoffmann and Timm, “Utopian Biopolitics” in Beyond Totalitarianism, 110))   Moreover, the government sponsored studies analyzing the best ways to ensure women’s reproductive health.  In the 1920s one soviet doctor concluded that “women would optimize their productivity by having three children, all four years apart.” ((Hoffmann and Timm, “Utopian Biopolitics” in Beyond Totalitarianism, 111))  These factors, combined with the increase of pro-paternity propaganda in theory ought to have increased family size and perpetuated solid, stalinist ideas.

The manner in which modern states attempted to increase population during the interwar period in “Utopian Biopolitics” brings up several interesting questions.  Why did neither Nazi Germany nor the Soviet Union experience a drastic increase in birth rates?  How much of an effect does state policy truly have on the reproductive choices of its citizens?

Energizing the Everyday

Chapter 7 of Beyond Totalitarianism ,“Energizing the Everyday”, by Sheila Fitzpatrick and Alf Lüdtke explores bonds between people and bonds to Nazism and Stalinism. The authors attempt to explore the range of possibilities within society in each regime’s sphere. An area of this essay I found particularly interesting was Sociability Outside the Workplace.

 This section focuses on the difference between sociability in Russia and Germany, as they are strikingly dissimilar. In Russia during the Stalin period, there was great control over activities outside of Soviet productivity. When the New Economic Policy ended in the late 1920s, private industry closed down and the state created substitutes for this private sector. Contrastingly, in Germany, there was much reorganization of recreational activities. Sporting clubs and singing groups just to name a few were allowed in Nazi Germany. However, the incorporation of the swastika and Nazi ideals ensued. Although there was this reorganization, the fundamentals and inner-workings of each club did not change. Although there was a change in social structure in society both in Russia and Germany, there were underground scenes for things such as drinking and religion. I think one of the main reasons, at least in Russia, that this social elimination and/or reorganization occurred all leads to the productivity of each citizen. By eliminating areas in which citizens could become brainwashed or not in their best state of mind, the State gained more power for ideology infiltration.

Breaking and Mending of Social Bonds

In Chapter 7 of Beyond Totalitarianism ((Shelia Fitzpatrick and Alf Lüdtke, “Energizing the Everyday: On the Breaking and Making of Social Bonds in Nazism and Stalinism,” in Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared, ed. Michael Geyer and Shelia Fitzpatrick (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).)) Shelia Fiztpatrick and Alf Lüdtke discuss the breaking and mending of social bonds present in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Soviet Russia.  There a several types of bonds including inclusion, exclusion, and creation and renewal bonds.  Within exclusion bonds, Fitzpatrick and Lüdtke examine family bonds.  On page 286 it states:

It should be noted that implicit in this whole inquiry is the assumption that family bonds are the sources of support and that any weakening of them makes individuals mentally vulnerable and prone to loneliness.  Yet, families are not necessarily harmonious but often the source of pain, distress, and hardship; they may be rent with anger to the point that the family is incapable of offering support to its members and escape may seem highly desirable.  Such stifling family situations have often been discussed in societies facing both commodification and individualization of social and cultural relationships.

One bond that is constantly broken and then mended is that of family.  While family bonds are supposed to be strong, they typically dissolved within Germany and Soviet Russia at the time due to stronger ties and bonds to the state.  Often times children would rat out parents and other family members to state officials for offenses being done.  This intrigued me because it simply shows the great power of manipulation the state had over the individuals.  If family members were able to go against their own family to protect the state, how could individuals trust anyone?

Knowing Your Surroundings

Although the two texts this evening certainly convey their historical narratives in different manners, they both strike a remarkably similar theme. Throughout Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen’s rather exhaustive comparison of Nazism and Communism’s unique implementations and Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s analysis of Hitler and FDR’s ability to garner public adoration and support, you can see how each leader deliberately and continuously tailored their actions to their environment.

In the second chapter of Three New Deals, Schivelbusch identifies more than just FDR and Hitler’s common interaction with the people. While such exchanges proved vital to each leader’s success, the mediums they employed dictated their success. Both men operated within the boundaries of their peoples’ comforts. The widespread American ownership and familiarity with radios allowed FDR to capitalize on such technology. Conversely, radio’s limited presence, and thus familiarity, among German households rendered such technology ineffective ((Shivelbusch, Wolfgang. Three New Deals. New York: Picador, 2006, p. 66-68)).

In their essay “The Political (Dis)Orders of Stalinism and National Socialism,” Gorlizki and Mommsen build off of a concept that Shivelbusch stresses later in the chapter. He notes that Hitler and FDR connected with the people only as much as the prevailing political situation demanded. The frequency of Hitler’s public appearances diminished once he completed his ascension to total power. His speeches, which were originally delivered to develop a supreme national confidence in him, assumed the role of a bookmark: an occasional reminder of his place ((Ibid., p. 65)). Meanwhile, FDR’s fireside chats continued due to the necessity to constantly maintain support in a democratic government ((Ibid., p. 65)). It is this political awareness that Gorlizki and Mommsen also acknowledge in Hitler but also extend to Stalin. Gorlizki and Mommsen identify the manner in which Hitler’s public speeches and creation of his deific status suited the very functions of the Nazi government. The decentralized structure of the Nazi party paid tribute to Hitler’s demeanor. His charisma and connection to subordinates empowered them to act with authority ((Gorlizki, Yoram and Hans Mommsen. “The Political (Dis)Orders of Stalinism and National Socialism.” In Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared, edited by Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick, 41-86. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. p. 55)) Similarly, the centralized structure and goals of Russia’s Communist government pushed Stalin to influence public mentality through extensive administrative juggling and realignment instead of public broadcasting ((Ibid., p. 64)). In Stalinist Russia, the party came before the leader and the entire government needed to reflect the party’s standards.

Each leader consciously situated himself exactly where his political system required. From FDR’s intimate, reassuring fireside to Hitler’s empowering speeches, each leaders’ actions were meticulously rehearsed and precisely tailored ((Shivelbusch, Wolfgang. Three New Deals. New York: Picador, 2006, p. 70-72)). Their individual success came from their ability to successfully control their country in whatever manner the political and social atmosphere required.



The Race or the State

Many often link Fascism and Nazism together and even believe that Nazism is a form of Fascism. However, that is completely not the case. Both ideologies although developed during the same time period with similar motives have their very own definition. Nazism derived as the ideology of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Worker’s Party), most commonly known as the Nazi Party. Meanwhile, Fascism came about Benito Mussolini’s new political movement to bring Italy back on its feet through authoritarian rule. As stated in the beginning of “Benito Mussolini: What is Fascism, 1932,” the word fascism came from the word fasces, which is the symbol of bound sticks that were used as a totem of power in ancient Rome. The image of the fasces conveys power and jurisdiction, living up to the authoritarian and strict regime that dominated Italy with the influence of Fascist ideals.

Although Fascism and Nazism are two different ideologies, they share the same origins, and as a result, share similar positions. Both Italy and Germany came out as losers of the Great War. Germany suffered with the many restrictions and reparations that were placed on them as a result of Article 231 in the Treaty of Versailles. Italy, on the other hand, was on the winning side, but suffered significant a loss since they did not receive the land that they were promised when they joined the war. As a result, both nations suffered economically, politically and socially, as well with public humiliation. Nazism and Fascism in an effort to bring Germany and Italy back on its feet respectively as powerful nations once again after suffering such great losses after the First World War. Therefore, it makes sense why there are so many similarities between both ideologies. In Benito Mussolini’s “What is Fascism, 1932,” he states that “the nineteenth century was the century of Socialism, of Liberalism, and of Democracy, it does not necessarily follow that the twentieth century must also be a century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy: political doctrines pass, but humanity remains, and it may rather be expected that this will be a century of authority…a century of Fascism. For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism and hence the century of the State….” This excerpt shows the shift that was made in the twentieth century as a result of the perceived failure of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy following the Great War and the Great Depression. Therefore, Fascism and Nazism were similar in the sense that both ideologies sought to replace individualism with collectivism. Another one of the striking similarities between Fascism and Nazism is the need for expansion. In both ideologies, expansion was the key to a prosperous nation. Lastly, extreme nationalism was another similarity between both ideologies. However, although both Fascism and Nazism shared these similarities, both are approached differently with different motives.

One of the key components of Nazism was the idea of Lebensraum. Lebensraum is directly translated as “living space.” It was the idea that territorial expansion was needed in order to gain living space for all people of the superior races. In the process of doing so, in Nazism it was believed to be a law of nature for the people of superior races to displace people of inferior races, especially if the people of the superior race were facing overpopulation in their given territories. Generally, the expansionist position of the Nazis was completely motivated by race. “The 25 Points 1920: An Early Nazi Program” repeatedly reiterated the importance for living space for all “members of the race” and place a special emphasis on clarifying who makes up the Aryan race and who does not, blatantly singling out the Jewish population. With this came the sense of extreme nationalism; Nazis believed in a greater Germany for all Germans (members of the race) and the need to collectively lead the nation to its supposed greatness. In Mussolini’s “What is Fascism, 1932” he states in regards to expansionism and nationalism that, “…For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence. Peoples which are rising, or rising again after a period of decadence, are always imperialist; and renunciation is a sign of decay and of death. Fascism is the doctrine best adapted to represent the tendencies and the aspirations of a people, like the people of Italy, who are rising again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude.” In this excerpt, Mussolini refers to the great defeats that Italy has suffered from in the past and makes the point that that can no longer happen again. Mussolini’s main concern is the state, and in order for Italy to rise as the most powerful power in the world, it must act with aggression and authority. With that being said, he goes on describing the need to mobilize the Italian masses in order to bring the state back on its feet. He even goes as far as personifying the state by stating, “the Fascist state is wide awake and has a will of its own.” Clearly, Mussolini creates a national character in order to help convince the Italian masses to help the state get to its supposed greatness.

Fascism v. Nazism

Fascism and Nazism have often been grouped together with little, if any differentiation. In reality, there are significant differences between the two ideologies, which are clearly seen by examining Benito Mussolini’s What is Fascism, and Hitler’s The 25 Points 1920: An Early Nazi Program. Reading these two sources in conversation with each other reveals that the reasoning was different for both ideologies.

Mussolini’s What is Fascism was written in 1932 with the help of Giovanni Gentile. With this definition, Mussolini stove to define what Fascism was, and how it would bring Italy back into it’s former glory. The essence of Fascism was defined as the state, which was absolute.  Additionally, Mussolini believed that individuals were only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. ((“Modern History Sourcebook: Benito Mussolini: What is Fascism,” Fordham University, accessed September 19, 2014, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.asp)) Furthermore, Mussolini noted why Fascism was different than other ideologies, (and therefore better in his mind). He stated that Fascism now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. ((Ibid)) In addition, he discussed how Fascism was an ideology that would be able to organize the state, and allow it to expand. He continues with the idea of expansion as essential for the growth and subsequent success of the nation.

While Mussolini remained focused on expansionism and creating a national fervor for a better Italy, Hitler demonstrated through The 25 Points 1920: An Early Nazi Program that purification of the nation was his ideological goal to better the nation. A significant number of points deal in some way with race and purifying the German population down to the ideal citizen. Hitler discusses how citizenship should be defined by one’s race, and that only those of German blood could reap the benefits of citizenship. Foreigners and Jews specifically are not included as citizens. Hitler believed that through purification of the population, Germany would cleanse itself of any impurities, and return again to it’s former glory.

Both Hitler and Mussolini arguably had a common goal in asserting their ideologies. They both wanted to restore their respective nations to their former glory. However, the methodology for each leader was significantly different. Mussolini believed that fascism was defined by an absolute state, while Hitler believed that success could be achieved through purification of the German race.

What I found intriguing about reading these sources was specifically looking at the language and word choice in Mussolini’s definition. He writes fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and heroism. ((Ibid)) I find it interesting that he used the word “holy” in his definition. I believe in class we discussed that Mussolini was not religious. However, perhaps the choice in wording here was deliberate. Creating a mission to make a “holy and heroic” population would arguably attract both the Church and the population in general, most of whom were Roman Catholic. Thoughts? What other instances do you see where language and word choice was significant in either the Mussolini or Hitler document?