Nazism (or National Socialism; German: Nationalsozialismus) is a set of political beliefs associated with the Nazi Party of Germany. It started in the 1920s. The Party gained power in 1933, starting the Third Reich. They lasted in Germany until 1945, at the end of World War II.
Many scholars think Nazism was a form of far-right politics. Nazism is a form of fascism and uses biological racism and antisemitism. Much of the philosophy of this movement was based on an idea that the "Aryan race", the term they used for what we today call Germanic people, was better than all other races, and had the greatest ability to survive. According to the racist ideas of Nazism, the Germanic peoples were the Herrenvolk (master race). The "inferior" races - the Jews, Roma people, Slavs, and blacks - were classified as Untermenschen (sub-humans). The Nazis sent millions of Jews, Roma and other people to concentration camps and death camps, where they were killed. These killings are now called the Holocaust.
Nazi rise to power
Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, wrote a book called Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"). The book said that all of Germany's problems happened because Jews were making plans to hurt the country. He also said that Jewish and communist politicians planned the Armistice of 1918 that ended World War I, and allowed Germany to agree to pay huge amounts of money and goods (reparations).
On the night of the 27 February 1933 and 28 February 1933, someone set the Reichstag building on fire. This was the building where the German Parliament held their meetings. The Nazis blamed the communists. Opponents of the Nazis said that the Nazis themselves had done it to come to power. On the very same day, an emergency law called Reichstagsbrandverordnung was passed. The government claimed it was to protect the state from people trying to hurt the country. With this law, most of the civil rights of the Weimar Republic did not count any longer. The Nazis used this against the other political parties. Members of the communist and social-democratic parties were put into prison or killed.
The Nazis became the biggest party in the parliament. By 1934, they managed to make all other parties illegal. Democracy was replaced with a dictatorship. Adolf Hitler became leader (Führer) of Germany.
Attacking other countries
As the German leader (Führer) of Nazi Germany, Hitler began moving Nazi armies into neighboring countries. When Germany attacked Poland, World War II started. Western countries like France, Belgium, and the Netherlands were occupied and to be treated by Germany as colonies. However, in Eastern countries, such as Poland and the Soviet Union, the Nazis planned to kill or enslave the Slavic peoples, so that German settlers could take their land.
The Nazis made alliances with other European countries, such as Finland and Italy. Every other European country that allied with Germany did it because they did not want to be taken over by Germany. By alliances and invasions, the Nazis managed to control much of Europe.
In the Holocaust, millions of Jews, as well as Roma people (also called "Gypsies"), people with disabilities, homosexuals, political opponents, and many other people were sent to concentration camps and death camps in Poland and Germany. The Nazis killed millions of these people at the concentration camps with poison gas. The Nazis also killed millions of people in these groups by forcing them to do slave labor without giving them much food or clothing. In total, 11 million people died- 6 million of them Jews.
The Nazis lose the war
In 1945, the Soviet Union took over Berlin after beating the German army in Russia. The Soviet Red Army met the American and British armies, who had fought right across Germany after invading Nazi Europe from Normandy in France on June 6,1944. The Nazis lost because the Allies had many more soldiers and more money than them.
During the invasion of Berlin, Hitler may have shot himself in a bunker with his new wife, Eva Braun. Other Nazis also killed themselves, including Joseph Goebbels just one day after Hitler named him as his successor. The Nazis surrendered after the Red Army captured Berlin.
Trial for the Nazis
After the war, the Allied governments, such as the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union, held trials for the Nazi leaders. These trials were held in Nuremberg, in Germany. For this reason, these trials were called "the Nuremberg Trials." The Allied leaders accused the Nazi leaders of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murdering millions of people (in the Holocaust), of starting wars, of conspiracy, and belonging to illegal organizations like the Schutzstaffel (SS). Most Nazi leaders were found guilty by the court, and they were sent to jail or executed by hanging.
Nazis after the war
There has not been a Nazi state since 1945, but there are still people who believe in those ideas. These people are often called neo-Nazis, (which means new-Nazis). Here are some examples of modern Nazi ideas:
- Germanic peoples are superior to all other races of people.
- Many neo-nazis change "germanic" to "all white people".
- They speak against Jews and sometimes other races. For example, they:
After the war, laws were made in Germany and other countries, especially countries in Europe, that make it illegal to say the Holocaust never happened. Sometimes they also ban questioning the number of people affected by it, which is saying that not so many people were killed as most people think. There has been some controversy over whether this affects people's free speech. Certain countries, such as Germany, Austria, and France also ban the use of Nazi symbols to stop Nazis from using them.
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