Nazi Ideology

On this page we will be dissecting the complex web of beliefs, symbols, and policies that underpinned the Nazi regime. From its roots in nationalism and racial purity to the aggressive expansionism and totalitarian control that defined its approach to governance, we will unpack the ideological pillars that supported one of the most notorious regimes of the 20th century. Join us as we delve into the origins, evolution, and impact of Nazi ideology, seeking to understand not only its historical significance but also its lingering shadows in contemporary society.

Key Elements of Nazi Ideology

  • National Socialist Program: The political platform of the Nazi Party, emphasizing nationalism, racial purity, and the subordination of individual interests to the collective good of the Aryan race.

  • Racism: A core tenet, particularly anti-Semitism, which led to the Holocaust. The Nazis also promoted the idea of a “Master Race” and held deeply prejudiced views against Slavs, among others.

  • Euthanasia and Eugenics: Policies aimed at improving the genetic quality of the German population through selective breeding and the elimination of those deemed “unfit.”

  • Anti-Marxism and Anti-Democracy: The Nazis opposed Marxism, Communism, and democracy, instead advocating for a totalitarian state under the Führerprinzip, where authority flowed downwards from the leader.

  • Cultural and Social Policies: They emphasized traditional values, local culture, and Social Darwinism, linking their ideology to the land (Blood and Soil) and advocating for Lebensraum, or living space, for Germans.

  • Relationship to Fascism: While sharing similarities with Italian and Spanish fascism, Nazism was distinct in its extreme racism, particularly anti-Semitism.

Nazism and Romanticism

The ideology drew on the irrationalist and romantic traditions of the 19th century, valorizing strength, passion, and community devotion while rejecting modern liberalism. It found expression in German romanticism, notably in the works of Richard Wagner, and sought to revive traditional Germanic and Norse folklore values.

Ideological and Political Context

  • Opposition to Communism: Nazism arose as a counter to the Communist movements in post-World War I Germany, exploiting fears of a Bolshevik revolution.
  • Appeal to Nationalists and Capitalists: The movement attracted support from those fearing communism and disillusioned by the Weimar Republic’s failures, positioning itself as a bulwark against Bolshevism while co-opting socialist rhetoric to appeal to the working class.

International Support and Criticism

  • Support from Anti-Communists: Right-wing politicians and parties across Europe viewed Nazism as a defense against communism, with some conservative circles in Britain and France initially appeasing Hitler’s regime.

  • Admiration and Critique of Anglo-Saxons: Hitler admired the British Empire and early 20th-century America for their racial policies but later criticized the United States as he perceived it to deviate from these ideals.

This ideology, marked by its extreme nationalism, racism, and totalitarian ambitions, led to catastrophic consequences, including World War II and the Holocaust. The detailed components of Nazi ideology as listed highlight the dangerous intersection of romantic nationalism, racial purity doctrines, and authoritarian governance.