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Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsThe redemptive antisemitism of the Nazis saw the Jews as a fundamental threat to the Aryan race and to the world. The Jews, by their mere existence, were perceived by the Nazis as a disruptive element which poisons humanity and is a hazard to the existence of the natural order. This would, of course, lead to a disastrous outcome for the Jews once Hitler and the Nazi Party ascended to power. Before delving into this lethal stage in the history of antisemitism, let's first examine the backdrop leading to the Nazi ascension to power and the place antisemitism held in it.

Skip to 0 minutes and 32 secondsFollowing the great crisis of the early 1920s, a new government was established in the Weimar Republic in 1924, which decided to implement new policies. Within a few weeks, inflation was restrained, a new currency was in place, and a new agreement for reparation payments had been adopted. These were accompanied by a surge in the creative arts such as film, theater and music. At the same time, however, the social and economic instability of the earlier years persisted. The economy was dependent on foreign markets and unemployment was still high. The extremist parties, though losing impetus for their earlier momentum, continued to maintain relative popularity.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 secondsThe comparative stability of the so-called “golden era” of the Weimar Republic ended in 1929 with the stock market collapse on Wall Street. The collapse sent financial markets worldwide into a tailspin. The German economy was especially vulnerable since it was built upon foreign capital, mostly loans from America. A new crisis arose, in which both economic and psychological factors, played a part Memories of the economic depression that marked the early 1920s were still fresh. Consequently, the German public panicked. Crowds descended on banks to withdraw their savings, and banks, which were unprepared for such large withdrawals, collapsed. As a result, factories closed and the number of unemployed increased astronomically.

Skip to 2 minutes and 6 secondsIt is against the backdrop of this extreme crisis and the instability of the ninth in 20s that anti-democratic parties and factions, including the Nazi Party under Hitler, gained popularity. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to power on January 30th, 1933, following elections in November of 1932, in which the Nazis had emerged for the second time as the largest party in the German parliament - the Reichstag. However, in this rise to power through more or less democratic elections, the Nazis in fact had lost those elections. In the elections that had taken place a few months earlier, the Nazis actually had a larger portion of the vote.

Skip to 2 minutes and 52 secondsThey had gone down four percent between July, 1932 and November, 32, and in a sense they had lost that election. But they came to power then at the head of a coalition from what some, in other conservative parties, believed was a position of Nazi weakness and they proceeded from there to consolidate their power and to develop the Nazi regime as we know it. In the elections that brought the Nazis to power, a clear significant majority of the German electorate had voted for political parties that advocated that, if elected, they would dismantle democracy.

Skip to 3 minutes and 27 secondsIn other words, some fifty six percent or more of the German electorate had voted of their own free will against democracy, both for political parties on the right and political parties on the left. Indeed democracy following World War I in Germany was very unpopular. It was viewed as some kind of a foreign implant from other countries that had forced this upon Germany. The people who advocated democracy were by and large by many Germans viewed as people advocating things that were not innately German. And various economic problems and problems of German national pride, following World War one and the Versailles Treaty of 1919, had led Germans to look for some kind of other leadership.

Skip to 4 minutes and 14 secondsAnd the beginning of the Great Depression in Germany in 1930 also created a desire in many Germans to look for a strong leader who would solve economic problems, would counter the growth and what many Germans saw as the threat of communism and socialism in Germany, which they saw as a foreign threat, coming particularly from the Soviet Union and tried to take over Germany and good traditional European and German beliefs and they needed someone to pull all this together and get rid of democracy, which was viewed as weak.

Skip to 4 minutes and 49 secondsAnd Hitler and the Nazi Party promised all this to the German people and they garnered that popularity, which resulted in one third of the vote by saying certain things that people wanted to hear about strength of leadership and so on. They never hid their antisemitism, their ideological antisemitism. They didn't always emphasize it to every audience but it was clear in those elections, Nazi antisemitism by and large did not interfere with people who were willing to vote for the Nazi Party.

Skip to 5 minutes and 15 secondsNot only that - once the Nazis came to power and began to implement their policies and, particularly, their policies against the Jews in the first years in power before World War II their, antisemitism and the policies against Jews did not cause any kind of backlash among the German people, either because some were indifferent to what was happening to the Jews or because others were pleased to see the Jews being put quote/unquote into their place.

The rise of Nazism to power

Dr. David Silberklang

The “Redemptive Antisemitism” of the Nazis saw the Jews as a fundamental threat to the Aryan race and to the world. The Jews, by their mere existence, were perceived by the Nazis as a disruptive element which poisons humanity and is a hazard to the existence of the natural order. This would lead to a disastrous outcome for the Jews once Hitler and the Nazi party ascended to power.

What factors brought about the Nazis rise to power? What place did antisemitism hold in it?


References

  • Benz, Wolfgang, A Concise History of the Third Reich (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).

  • Burleigh, Michael,and Wolfgang Wippermann, The Racial State: Germany, 1933-1945 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

  • Evans, Richard J., The Third Reich in Power, 1933-1939: How the Nazis Won Over the Hearts and Minds of a Nation (New York: Penguin Press, 2005).

  • Kershaw, Ian, Hitler, 2 vols. (New York: W.W. Norton, 1999-2000).

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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

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