Nazism: Definition, Facts & Ideology

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  • 0:00 Definition and Ideology
  • 0:45 German Strength…
  • 1:30 Racial Purity
  • 2:36 Power & Militarism
  • 4:15 Facts About Nazism
  • 5:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Kannan

Ashley has taught history, literature, and political science and has a Master's Degree in Education

The rise of Nazism was a dark chapter in twentieth century history. Because of it, millions of people suffered and died. Read on to find out about the ideology, definition, and some facts behind Nazism.

Definition & Ideology

Nazi stands for 'Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei', or National Socialist German Workers Party. Nazism took the Socialist idea of the community and applied it on a nationalist scale. The Nazi party wanted to unify Germany under a collective purpose. The leader of the Nazi Party was Adolf Hitler, and he established the ideology of Nazism.

Nazi ideology can be defined in four parts: expansion, racial purity, power, and militarism. Each one explains a specific part to the philosophy of Nazism.

German Strength Through Expansion

Hitler sought to create a National Socialist policy that put Germany first. This ideological perspective enabled Hitler and the Nazis to pursue a policy of lebensraum. Literally meaning, 'living space,' it justified Germany taking over territory in the name of 'the mother land.'

The Nazis believed that Germany needed to expand into more European nations. Hitler himself believed expansion was essential when he said, 'We are overpopulated and cannot feed ourselves from our own resources.' This desire to increase German living space was at the center of Nazism, and it was the reason that Germany invaded nations like Austria and Czechoslovakia to the west and sought to expand into Russia to the east.

Racial Purity

The Nazis ideology was also rooted in extreme racism. Hitler and the Nazis argued that the German strength existed in its Aryan race, which they saw as 'the perfect race' and superior to all others. The Nazis established a racial ideology that viewed racial impurity as threatening to this Germanic perfection. For the Nazis, Jewish people were the embodiment of racial imperfection, and people of the Judaic faith were categorized as having 'alien blood.' Nazism was based on the idea that the Aryan race had a responsibility to expand its 'perfection' and should not be threatened by the 'impurity' of Jewish people, an obstacle that would have to be eliminated.

The Nazis used racial purity as the ideological basis for policies and practices. When Hitler assumed power in 1933, one of the first laws passed was the 'Nuremburg Laws.' These edicts prevented Germans from marrying or having relations not only with Jewish people but also with black people and Gypsies.

Power & Militarism

Power and control were critical elements within the Nazi ideology, and Nazism was predicated on total obedience. For example, while Jewish people were the intended targets of Nazism, the same denigration extended to many others, including people who were homosexual and those who were physically and mentally disabled. The Nazis did not have opponents as much as they had 'enemies' who had to be eliminated. Nazism functioned because of a strict demarcation between those who were 'inside' and those who were 'outside.'

The Nazis sought to have total control, even amongst their own 'pure' citizens. Hitler and the Nazis believed that 'there are no longer any free realms in which the individual belongs to himself.' There was an ideological need to establish intrusion into the personal as a way to claim power over millions of people.

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