The National Socialist German Workers' Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), better known as the NSDAP or the Nazi Party was a political party that was led to power in Germany by Adolf Hitler in 1933. The term Nazi is a short form of the German word (NA)tionalso(ZI)alist (National Socialist) - the ideology of the NSDAP.The NSDAP set up the Third Reich after being democratically elected to lead the German government in 1933.
This article deals with the Nazi Party. For more information, see the Nazism main article.
The NSDAP was the main political force in Nazi Germany from the fall of the Weimar Republic in 1933 until the end of World War II in 1945, when it was declared illegal and its leaders were arrested and convicted of crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg Trials. More than 40 million people were murdered or killed in battle by the Nazis (including 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust).
Nazi eagle swastika symbol
In the beginning of 1918, a party called the Freier Ausschuss für einen deutschen Arbeiterfrieden (Free Committee for a German Workers' Peace) was created in Bremen, Germany. (6) Anton Drexler, locksmith and self-styled poet, formed a branch of this league on March 7, 1918, in Munich. In 1919, Drexler with Gottfried Feder, Dietrich Eckart and Karl Harrer, changed its name to the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Workers' Party, abbreviated DAP). This party is the formal forerunner of the NSDAP, and became one of many völkisch movements that existed in Germany after its defeat in World War I. In order to investigate the DAP, German army intelligence sent a young corporal, Adolf Hitler, to monitor party activities. However, he was impressed by what he saw, and he joined as Member Number 555 (although Hitler later claimed to be "Party Member number 7" to make it look like he was a founder). He in fact was the 7th member of the DAP's central committee. At this early stage, Hitler brought up the idea of renaming the party, and he proposed the name "Social Revolutionary Party" (4). However, Rudolf Jung insisted that the party should follow the pattern of Austria's Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei. As a consequence, the DAP was shortly renamed the NSDAP. When the NSDAP was refounded after being banned following the abortive Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, Hitler took Party membership number 1. The evolution of the party within the Weimar Republic is exhibited in the Weimar Timeline.
Gottfried Feder served as their economic theoretician and Rudolf Jung supplied the young party with a ready-made ideology that he carried with him from Czechoslovakia. It was a 25-point program. Hitler added his ideas about foreign policy and Julius Streicher added his more virulent anti-semitic views.
After the failure of their coup attempt in Bavaria, the Nazis competed poorly in elections for the remainder of the 1920s. In the election of 1930, however, the Nazis, propelled by Germany's economic problems in the incipient Great Depression, increased their vote dramatically, becoming the second largest party in the Reichstag. The NSDAP improved its position in the years thereafter, despite a brief ban in 1932 of the SA (the party's private army), and in the elections of 1932 the party reached a total of 13.75 million votes and became the largest voting bloc in the Reichstag. The Nazis never won an electoral majority on their own, but Hitler was appointed Chancellor of a coalition government by President Paul von Hindenburg in January 1933. His coalition partners were the right-wing Nationalists led by Alfred Hugenberg, the press baron, and his vice-chancellor was the ex-Catholic Centre Party leader and previous but-one Chancellor and dictator Franz von Papen. On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag building caught fire. This Reichstag fire was promptly blamed on the Communists, and was used as an excuse by the Nazis to close the Communist Party of Germany's offices, ban its press and arrest its leaders. Furthermore, Hitler convinced the ageing President Paul von Hindenburg to sign the Reichstag Fire Decree, abolishing most of the human rights provided for by the 1919 constitution of the Weimar Republic. A further decree enabled for preventative detention of amongst many thousands, all the Communist deputies. Carefully, Hitler did not ban the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), which polled 4.8 million at the subsequent Reichstag election on 5 March. Hitler held this election to find a majority for the passing of a single law that would empower the cabinet to enact laws on its own authority.
The Nazis obtained 43.9% and with their right-wing Nationalist DNVP allies gained a simple parliamentary 51.8% majority coalition. However Hitler required the legitimacy of constitutional change and here von Papen, with the leader of the German Catholic Centre Party or Zentrumspartei Prelate Ludwig Kaas, engineered agreement between the Vatican's Pope Pius XI and Cardinal Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII) and Adolf Hitler. In return for the Concordat the Centre Party provided parliamentary backing for the treacherous Enabling Act to the two-thirds constitutional majority necessary for the act. The Centre Party's thirty-one votes added to the fragmented middle-class parties and the right-wing Nationalists (DNVP and gave Hitler the right to rule by his own decree and to further suspend many civil liberties. Even with the Communists previously detained or exiled under the sweeping Fire Decree, the Enabling Act could not have otherwise been passed as the Nazis still lacked the larger constitutional majority even with the Nationalists. The crucial legal institution of complete dictatorship (as opposed to decree rule hitherto excercised by Bruning, Papen, Schleicher and Hitler in turn) was facilitated by the Papacy in continuing meetings between Hitler, Goering, von Papen, Prelate (or Monsignor ) Ludwig Kaas and the Vatican in order to first swing the March 23 vote and then lead to voluntary dissolution of the Zentrumspartei on July 5, co-eval with the Concordat (see Pope Pius XII). The Nazis original 288 deputies were swelled thus at the final vote to 441 in favour, with 94 against out of a total 647 seats. In five clauses the act gave the government power to change the Constitution, the cabinet to enact law, the drafting of legislation to the chancellor, the cabinet to enact foreign treaties abroad, and a 4 yearly renewal dependent on the contination of the government. The only left-wing party remaining in the Reichstag, the Social Democratic Party of Germany, valiantly protested the Act from being passed as the whole assembly met, after the burning of the Reichstag , in an Opera house patrolled and harangued by brown-shirted SA men. As punishment for their dissent, the Social Democrats became the second party banned by the Nazis( 22 June) following the move of their leadership to Prague. On July 14, 1933, the Nazis also banned the forming of any new parties. Thus, Germany became a one-party state under the NSDAP. This was part of the Gleichschaltung. Hitler kept the Reichstag as a pulpit and the Reichsrat controlled by Lander Nazi placemen voted the Enabling Act that same day before being abolished in 1934. In a declaration on the same 23 March Hitler declared that both the main Churches were 'most important factors' for the maintenance of German well-being. Henceforward that which had hitherto been a critical German episcopate now advocated the Nazi regime openly and,with the Concordat, finally gave it an international recognition of acceptability.
The Nazi party's 1936 Nuremberg Rally was its largest.
The makeup of the Nazi party consisted mainly of the lower middle classes both rural and urban. 7 percent belonged to the upper class, 7 percent were peasants, 35 percent workers and 51 percent were what can be described as middle class. The largest single occupational group was elementary school teachers. For any Nazi members that had military ambitions, they entered the Waffen SS, since they were forbidden in the Wehrmacht. In order to join the Wehrmacht, National Socialist members had to surrender their party card⊃1.
The Nazi anthem was called Horst Wessel Lied.
Nazi Party Structure
The Nazi Party included several paramilitary groups, such as the SA, the SS, and the Gestapo, all of which were integrated into the Nazi government after 1933.
The SA were the main force that were used to disrupt other government movements. For instance, the SA were the main protagonists in the 1933 'Burning of the Books'. The SS were the more secret force, more ruthless and they eventually wiped out the SA in June 1933 in the Night of the Long Knives. The SA wore Brown Shirts, for no other reason than that these were readily available in the days after WW1. The SS wore black shirts, and later became known as the black shirts during the oppression.
For more information see: Organizations of the Third Reich
Nazi Party symbols
- Nazi Flags: The Nazi party used a right-facing swastika as their symbol and the red and black colors were said to represent Blut und Boden (blood and soil). Black, white, and red were in fact the colors of the old North German Confederation flag (invented by Otto von Bismarck, based on the Prussian colors black and white). In 1871, with the foundation of the German Reich, the flag of the North German Confederation became the German Reichsflagge (Reich's flag). Black, white, and red became the colors of the nationalists through the following history (e.g. WWI and Weimarer Republik).
- The Roman Eagle
Other early members
- Buttmann, Rudolf, director general of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library), member no. 5.
- Hermann Esser, editor of the Völkischer Beobachter, Nazi party organ.
Sayings, mottos and slogans
- "Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!"
- "Hail to Victory" (common Nazi chant at rallies)
- "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!"
- "One people, one empire, one leader!".
- "Deutschland, erwache!"
- "Germany, Awake!" (Coined by Dietrich Eckart, this was the title to one of their songs and put on all their banners.) (5)
- "Die Juden sind unser Unglück!"
- "The Jews are Our Misfortune!"
- "Lang lebe unser ruhmvoller Führer!"
- "Long Live Our Glorious leader!"
- "Heute Deutschland, morgen die Welt!"
- "Today Germany, Tomorrow the World!"
- "Die Deutschen immer vor dem Ausländer und den Juden!"
- "The German Always Before the Foreigner and Jew!"
- "Sicher ist der Jude auch ein Mann, aber der Floh ist auch ein Tier"
- "Certainly the Jew is Also a Man, But the Flea is Also an Animal".
- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer (1960). Gramercy. (ISBN 0517102943)
- Reappraisals of Fascism, ed. by Henry A. Turner, New Viewpoints, NY, 1975. pg 99 and Leftism Revisited, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Regenery Gateway, Washington, D.C., 1990, pg 163.
- Hitler and Nazism, Louis Leo Snyder, pg 21. Leftism Revisited, Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, pg 162.
- Hitler and Nazism, Louis L. Snyder, Franklin Watts, Inc., NY, 1961. pp 23, 69, 80-81. (The author was in Germany and witnessed the mass meetings.)
- Liberty or Equality, von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, pg 259. Ref. Konrad Heiden, "Les débuts du national-socialisme", Revue d'Allemagne, VII, No. 71 (Sept. 15, 1933), p 821. Also confirmed by Dr. Hans Fabricius, Geschichte der Nationalsozialistischen Bewegung (2nd ed.; Berlin; Spaeth, 1937), p 15.
- Where Ghosts Walked, Munich's Road to the Third Reich, David C. Large, W.W. Norton & Co., NY, 1997. pg 165.
- Konrad Heiden Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus; die Karriere einer Idee, pg 19 as quoted in Liberty or Equality, pg 258; Nazism and the Third Reich, Henry A. Turner, Quadrangle Books, NY, 1972, pg 8.
- German Resistance Against Hitler, Klemens von klemperer , Clarendon Press , 1992, p.38 ( Prelate Ludwig Kaas' importance) .
- Axis History Factbook - NSDAP (http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=2875)
- NSDAP Party Programme (http://www.third-reich-books.com/x-571-nsdap-programme.htm)
- NSDAP Handbook (http://www.adolfhitler.ws/lib/nsdap/docs/nsdap.html)