The Rise of Nationalism
Profound political change swept the world at the end of World War I. [ Of the many factors that contributed to this turbulence, some of the most notable are the end of many monarchies and the weakening of others; in Europe, the end of the Hapsburg Empire (which was the last remnant of the Holy Roman Empire); the beginning of the end of Colonialism; and perhaps most importantly the rise of two bitterly opposed socialist ideologies. The first is International Communism (Marxism) and the second is National Socialism; National Socialism appears in different guises in Germany, Italy, and Japan.
In Germany, Adolf Hitler's rise to power was abetted by the army's General Staff, which, although restricted by the Treaty of Versailles to a very limited military force, began at war's end to look for a political alliance that would allow a clandestine buildup of armaments. The former corporal and his Nazi (National Socialist German Workers) party seemed to be their man.
Hitler's appeal to Germany's disaffected was very strong. He blamed internationalists, bankers, and Jews for the loss of World War I and now focused on the "demeaning" terms of the Treaty of Versailles. He appealed to nationalistic pride and "true Aryan spirit." Still, the Nazi's appeal left the large German middle mostly unconvinced until the Great Depression.
By 1933 unemployment in Germany reached 30 percent. The currency was almost worthless, and the government of 78-year-old President Hindenberg seemed unable to cope. Hitler's rhetoric and vision of a "thousand-year Reich" began to have broader appeal. However, Hitler comes to power with less than a majority of the seats in the Reichstag by means of clever politicking, threats, and plain bluster.
Once in power Hitler moves quickly to consolidate his control by widespread arrests and by outlawing most opposition political parties. Through it all the ex-corporal has the tacit support of the generals of the Reichwehr, ... (More)