Posts Tagged ‘europe’

Title: The Nazis: A Warning From History
Type: Documentary
Category: News, Politics & World War II

How could a political party as fundamentally evil & overtly racist as the Nazis come to power? This remains one of the most enigmatic questions of the last century. Acclaimed historian Laurence Rees examines what led a cultured nation at the heart of Europe to commit the atrocities it did. In so doing, he exposes popular myths & encourages understanding of the real forces that led to one of the darkest chapters in modern history. Was it simply the hypnotic power of Hitler’s rhetoric? Did the Gestapo really impose themselves by terror on an unwilling population? Through interviews with witnesses & perpetrators, along with archive film & records, this six-part series unveils a more chilling reality.

As written on Amazon.


At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense, I tell you that the Nazi movement will go on for 1,000 years. Don’t forget how people laughed at me, 15 years ago, when I declared that one day I would govern Germany. They laugh now, just as foolishly, when I declare that I shall remain in power.”

Adolf Hitler, June 1934

Less than twelve years after Hitler made that statement, National Socialism as a governing power ceased to exist. On May 8, 1945, the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany & the end of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

At the risk of “speaking nonsense” it is important to remember that many in the early 1920′s, did in fact laugh at Hitler. Detractors of National Socialism considered the Nazi’s a fringe party, & in many circles they were a running joke – yet just five years later Adolf Hitler was the new Chancellor of Germany.

Many of the leading socialist newspapers of the time, especially the Munich Post, specifically aimed its attention to Hitler. Their open opposition against Him lasted a dozen years, & “produced some of the sharpest, most penetrating insights into his character, his mind & method, then or since.”

These journalists were the first to focus sustained critical attention on Hitler, from the very first moment he emerged from the beer-hall backrooms to take to the streets of Munich in the early 1920s.

The Post continued to attack Hitler until March 9, 1933, when the Nazis banned the last opposition papers still publishing. In all parts of Germany, including Chemnitz, Muenster, Magdeburg, & Munich, all Socialist newspapers’ buildings were taken over. The Munich Post offices were turned over to an SA squad to pillage. They gutted it completely, dumping trays of broken type onto the streets. Furniture was thrown out the windows, & copies of the newspaper were again burned in the middle of the street. [Read More]

48 Hours of Kristallnacht
Night Of Destruction / Dawn of the Holocaust


Germany was one of Europe’s most cultured, sophisticated societies, & all German Jews considered themselves integral to that society. Though a tiny minority of the country – about 525,000 people, or less than 1 percent of the population – were among the elite of German society: prominent doctors, lawyers, professors, & industrialists. Many were assimilated & were not practicing Jews; some had even converted. In the racial ideology of Adolf Hitler, however, German Jews’ self-identification was irrelevant. For Hitler, Jews were parasites whose diseased nature made no difference; it was the impurity of Jewish blood that threatened the racial purity & superiority of the Aryan race.

The official prosecution of the Jew began in April 1933, when the Nazis initiated a boycott of Jewish businesses throughout Germany. Signs & graffiti warned Germans not to buy from the Jews. This boycott was followed by the enactment of a law barring Jews from civil service jobs, including positions as teachers in schools & universities. Two years later, German Jews were stripped of their citizenship & barred from marrying Aryans. Because some of the new laws were announced at a Nazi rally at Nuremberg, they became known as the Nuremberg Laws. These were just some of the 400 separate pieces of legislation that were adopted between the time Hitler came to power & World War II began that prevented the Jews from working, going to school, or otherwise taking part in German society. These decrees robbed them of their possessions & demonized their religion. Many Jews believed the discriminatory measures would cease after the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, & they would have to accept life as a second-class citizens, & most were prepared to do so.

The situation actually improved briefly as Hitler focused on putting Germany’s best foot forward in advance of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Before, during, & for a short time afterward, the Nazis displayed their nationalistic spirit in a way that reinforced the positive image of Germans. Shortly thereafter, however, the situation for Jews began to deteriorate further. They were prevented from staying in hotels; going to restaurants, theaters, or shops; or even sitting on park benches designated for Aryans. By the middle of 1938, most Jewish businesses had been taken over by the Germans.

In March 1938, Germany annexed Austria, & 183,000 more Jews became subject to the Nazis’ discriminatory policies. Still, many Jews simply could not conceive of anything permanently altering their status, let alone conceive of the dimensions of Hitler’s ultimate plan. It was this disbelief, even as the persecution against them went from bad to worse, that lead so many to stay in their homes rather than flee. By the time those who remained realized what Hitler intended – & the willingness of their fellow Germans to go along – it was too late to escape.

The world also had a different image of Germany than the Jews who lived inside the country. On September 29th, 1938, France & Britain had negotiated an agreement recognizing Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced after the Munich Agreement that it would lead to “peace for our time.”

From 48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction / Dawn of the Holocaust, by Mitchell G. Brad, Ph.D.

In the course of the 1930s Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy became increasingly belligerent in their foreign policies – Germany within Europe and Italy in Africa. As it had over Japan and Manchuria, the League of Nations showed itself incapable of preventing their acts of aggression.

The aim of the Geneva disarmament conference of 1932-34 was to persuade all European nations to reduce their armed forces to the size of Germany. France; however, viewed the move as weakening its security. Germany, on the other hand, sought to increase its military strength to that of its neighbors. When was this was refused, in October 1933, Hitler withdrew not only from the talks but also from the League of Nations.

The following year Hitler turned his attention to Austria, where Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, under threat from both Left and Right, had ruled without a parliament for two years. Hitler encouraged a Nazi coup and in July 1934 Dollfuss was murdered; but government troops regained control and Mussolini made clear his opposition to a Nazi takeover by massing troops on the border with Austria. Hitler was forced to back off.

Hitler was to enjoy better fortune in 1935. A referendum in the state of Saarland resulted in an overwhelming vote for a return to Germany, and this duly occurred in March. In the same month, Hitler announced to the world the creation of a German air force, the Luftwaffe, and that he was dramatically increasing the size of his army. This was in flagrant breach of the Versailles treaty, but there were only muted protests from Britain and France.

Conquest of Abyssinia

Mussolini, meanwhile, was also flexing his muscles. He had initially hoped to use peaceful means to expand Italy’s African empire by securing Abyssinia. He had signed a treaty of friendship with Emperor Haile Selassie in 1928, but the latter wanted to open his country to all nations and not just to Italy. Mussolini became increasingly irritated over this. In December 1934 Italian and Abyssinian forces clashed inside Abyssinia. Abyssinia appealed to the League of Nations, but it was more concerned about German rearmament. Indeed, in April 1935 Britain and France, whose main objective was to ensure that Mussolini did not ally himself to Hitler, met the Italians to discuss this problem, but did not raise the subject of Abyssinia.

Sensing the weakness of the Western European democracies, Mussolini’s forces invaded Abyssinia in October 1935. By may 1936 the country had been overrun and Mussolini declared it to be Italian territory, the emperor having gone into exile in Britain. The League’s response had been to impose limited economic sanctions, but these did not include coal and oil. Not being League members, neither Germany nor the United States were bound by these sanctions.

Proclaiming the Axis

This 1938 German postage stamp celebrates the ever closer relationship between Hitler & Mussolini that developed after 1936. The slogan reads: “Two peoples and one struggle.”

A Rome-Axis around which all European states that desire peace can revolve.

The Rhineland

In March 1936 Hitler took advantage of the fact that much of the world was wringing its hands over Abyssinia to send his troops into the Rhineland. It was a calculated gamble, since Hitler’s army was by no means ready for war and a firm response by Britain and France would probably have forced a climb-down. But they were in no position to fight another European war.

A New Partnership

Another consequence of the Abyssinian crisis was the Mussolini turned his back on Britain and France because of their part in imposing sanctions on his country. In October 1936 Germany and Italy signed a treaty of friendship, agreeing to recognize each others interests: Germany’s north of the Alps and Italy’s to the south. It was at the singing of the treaty that Mussolini first spoke of a Rome-Berlin axis.

From World War II: The Definitive Visual History, by Richard Holmes