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The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a
far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political right, particularly in terms of being anti-communist, auth ...
political party in Germany active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of
Nazism Nazism ( ), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus, ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about th ...

Nazism
. Its precursor, the
German Workers' Party The German Workers' Party (german: Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP) was a short-lived far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political s ...
(''Deutsche Arbeiterpartei''; DAP), existed from 1919 to 1920. The Nazi Party emerged from the
German nationalist German nationalism is an ideological notion that promotes the unity of Germans The Germans (german: Deutsche) are a Germanic peoples, Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe.. "Germans are a Germanic (or Teutonic) people that are in ...
,
racist Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority Superior may refer to: *Superior (hierarchy), something which is higher in a hi ...

racist
and
populist Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasise the idea of "the people" and often juxtapose this group against "the elite". The term developed in the 19th century and has been applied to various politicians, parties, and moveme ...
''
Freikorps ''Freikorps'' (, "Free Corps") were irregular German and other European military volunteer units, or paramilitary, that existed from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. They effectively fought as mercenary or private army, private armies, ...
'' paramilitary culture, which fought against the
communist Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...

communist
uprisings in post-
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
Germany. The party was created to draw workers away from communism and into '' völkisch'' nationalism. Initially, Nazi political strategy focused on anti-
big business Big business involves large-scale corporate-controlled financial or business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling Product (business), products (such as goods and services). Simpl ...
, anti-
bourgeois Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguist ...

bourgeois
, and
anti-capitalist Anti-capitalism is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use t ...
rhetoric. This was later downplayed to gain the support of business leaders, and in the 1930s the party's main focus shifted to
antisemitic Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an i ...

antisemitic
and
anti-Marxist Anti-communism is a political movement and ideology opposed to communism. Organized anti-communism developed after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and it reached global dimensions during the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet U ...
themes. Pseudoscientific racist theories were central to Nazism, expressed in the idea of a "people's community" (''
Volksgemeinschaft ''Volksgemeinschaft'' () is a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law ...
''). The party aimed to unite "racially desirable" Germans as national comrades, while excluding those deemed either to be political dissidents, physically or intellectually inferior, or of a foreign race (''Fremdvölkische''). The Nazis sought to strengthen the Germanic people, the "
Aryan Aryan or Arya (, Indo-Iranian *''arya'') is a term originally used as an ethnocultural An ethnoreligious group (or ethno-religious group) is an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other ...
master race The master race (german: Herrenrasse, also referred to as ''Herrenvolk'' () "master people") is a concept in Nazi ideology in which the putative Nordic or Aryan race The Aryan race is a historical race concept which emerged in the late ...
", through racial purity and
eugenics Eugenics ( ; from Greek εὐ- 'good' and γενής 'come into being, growing') is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widesp ...
, broad social welfare programs, and a collective subordination of individual rights, which could be sacrificed for the good of the state on behalf of the people. To protect the supposed purity and strength of the Aryan race, the Nazis sought to exterminate
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is ...

Jews
,
Romani Romani may refer to: Ethnicities *Romani people The Romani (), also known as the Roma, are an Indo-Aryan people, traditionally nomadic itinerants living mostly in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several ...

Romani
,
Poles The Poles,, ; singular masculine: ''Polak'', singular feminine: ''Polka'' or Polish people, are a nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination of shared features such as language, history, ethnicity, culture ...

Poles
and most other
Slavs Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) is a group that is unified by both a common ethnicity and language. Most ethnic groups share a first language. However, the term is often used to emphasise ...

Slavs
, along with the physically and
mentally disabled Developmental disability is a diverse group of chronic conditions that are due to mental or physical impairments that arise before adulthood. Developmental disabilities cause individuals living with them many difficulties in certain areas of life, e ...
. They disenfranchised and segregated
homosexuals Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction Sexual attraction is attraction on the basis of sexual desire or the quality of arousing such interest. Sexual attractiveness or sex appeal is an individual's ability to attract t ...
,
black people Black people is a racialized In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses vario ...
,
Jehovah's Witnesses Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian Millenarianism (also millenarism), from Latin ''mīllēnārius'' "containing a thousand", is the belief by a religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious ...
, and political opponents. The persecution reached its climax when the party-controlled German state set in motion the
Final Solution The Final Solution (german: Endlösung, ) or the Final Solution to the Jewish Question (german: Endlösung der Judenfrage, ) was a Nazi Nazism (), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus; ), is the ideology An ideolo ...
—an industrial system of genocide which achieved the murder of around 6 million Jews and millions of other targeted victims, in what has become known as
the Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide Genocide is the attempted destruction of a people, usually defined as an ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify wi ...
.
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...

Adolf Hitler
, the party's leader since 1921, was appointed
Chancellor of Germany The chancellor of Germany, officially the Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (german: Bundeskanzler(in) der Bundesrepublik Deutschland), is the head of the federal government of Germany The Federal Cabinet or Federal Govern ...
by President
Paul von Hindenburg Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg (; abbreviated ; 2 October 1847 – 2 August 1934) was a German general and statesman who led the Imperial German Army The Imperial German Army (1871–1919), officially referred to ...

Paul von Hindenburg
on 30 January 1933. Hitler rapidly established a
totalitarian 259x259px, Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit (2020): perceived authoritarian regimes in red, democracies in green, and color intensity ≈ regime intensity Totalitarianism is a form of government and a political system that prohi ...

totalitarian
regime known as the
Third Reich Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Third Reich
. Following the defeat of the Third Reich at the
end of World War II in Europe The final battles of the European theatre of World War II, European Theatre of World War II, as well as the German Instrument of Surrender, overall surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allies of World War II, Allies, took place in late April and ea ...
, the party was "declared to be illegal" by the Allied powers, who carried out
denazification Denazification (german: link=no, Entnazifizierung) was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social ...
in the years after the war both in
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
and in
territories occupied by Nazi forces
territories occupied by Nazi forces
. The use of any symbols associated with the party is now outlawed in many European countries, including Germany and Austria. __TOC__


Name

''Nazi'', the informal and originally derogatory term for a party member, abbreviates the party's name ( ), and was coined in analogy with '' Sozi'' (pronounced ), an abbreviation of ''Sozialdemokrat'' (member of the rival
Social Democratic Party of Germany The Social Democratic Party of Germany (german: Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, ; SPD, ) is a social democratic Social democracy is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-makin ...
). Members of the party referred to themselves as ''Nationalsozialisten'' (National Socialists), but some did occasionally embrace the colloquial ''Nazi'' (so Leopold von Mildenstein in his article series ''Ein Nazi fährt nach Palästina'' published in ''
Der Angriff ''Der Angriff'' (in English "The Attack") is a discontinued German language The German language (, ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany ...
'' in 1934). The term ''Parteigenosse'' (party member) was commonly used among Nazis, with its corresponding feminine form ''Parteigenossin''. The term was in use before the rise of the party as a colloquial and derogatory word for a backward
peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial Pre-industrial society refers to social attributes and forms of political and cultural organization that were prevalent before the advent of the Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the tra ...
, an awkward and clumsy person. It derived from Ignaz, a shortened version of
Ignatius Ignatius is a male given name of presumed Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Throug ...

Ignatius
, which was a common name in the Nazis' home region of
Bavaria Bavaria (; German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language ...

Bavaria
. Opponents seized on this, and the long-existing ''Sozi'', to attach a dismissive nickname to the National Socialists. In 1933, when
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...

Adolf Hitler
assumed power in the German government, the usage of "Nazi" diminished in Germany, although Austrian anti-Nazis continued to use the term, and the use of "
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
" and "Nazi regime" was popularised by anti-Nazis and German exiles abroad. Thereafter, the term spread into other languages and eventually was brought back to Germany after World War II. In English, the term is not considered slang and has such derivatives as
Nazism Nazism ( ), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus, ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about th ...

Nazism
and
denazification Denazification (german: link=no, Entnazifizierung) was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social ...
.


History


Origins and early years: 1918–1923

The party grew out of smaller political groups with a nationalist orientation that formed in the last years of
World War I World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously known as the Great War, the World War, and "The war t ...
. In 1918, a league called the ''Freier Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden'' (Free Workers' Committee for a good Peace) was created in
Bremen Bremen (, also ; Low German : : : : : , minority = (70,000) (30,000) (8,000) , familycolor = Indo-European , fam2 = Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by t ...
, Germany. On 7 March 1918,
Anton Drexler Anton Drexler (13 June 1884 – 24 February 1942) was a German far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum The lef ...

Anton Drexler
, an avid German nationalist, formed a branch of this league in
Munich Munich ( ; german: München ; bar, Minga ) is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria. With a population of 1,558,395 inhabitants as of 31 July 2020, it is the List of cities in Germany by population, third-largest city in Germany, ...

Munich
. Drexler was a local locksmith who had been a member of the militarist Fatherland Party during World War I and was bitterly opposed to the
armistice An armistice is a formal agreement Agreement or concord (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates. It is an instance of inflection, and usually involves making ...
of November 1918 and the revolutionary upheavals that followed. Drexler followed the views of militant nationalists of the day, such as opposing the
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
, having
antisemitic Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an i ...
, anti-monarchist and anti-Marxist views, as well as believing in the superiority of Germans whom they claimed to be part of the
Aryan Aryan or Arya (, Indo-Iranian *''arya'') is a term originally used as an ethnocultural An ethnoreligious group (or ethno-religious group) is an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other ...
"
master race The master race (german: Herrenrasse, also referred to as ''Herrenvolk'' () "master people") is a concept in Nazi ideology in which the putative Nordic or Aryan race The Aryan race is a historical race concept which emerged in the late ...
" (''Herrenvolk''). However, he also accused international capitalism of being a Jewish-dominated movement and denounced capitalists for war profiteering in World War I. Drexler saw the political violence and instability in Germany as the result of the
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: Weimarer Republik ) was the German state from 1918 to 1933 when it functioned as a federal constitutional republic. The state was officially named the German Reich (german: Deutsches Reich, link=no, label=none), ...
being out-of-touch with the masses, especially the lower classes. Drexler emphasised the need for a synthesis of ''völkisch'' nationalism with a form of economic
socialism Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, ...
, in order to create a popular nationalist-oriented workers' movement that could challenge the rise of Communism and internationalist politics. These were all well-known themes popular with various
Weimar paramilitary groups Paramilitary groups were formed throughout the Weimar Republic in the wake of Germany's defeat in World War I and the ensuing German Revolution. Some were created by political parties to help in recruiting, discipline and in preparation for seizin ...
such as the ''
Freikorps ''Freikorps'' (, "Free Corps") were irregular German and other European military volunteer units, or paramilitary, that existed from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. They effectively fought as mercenary or private army, private armies, ...
''. Drexler's movement received attention and support from some influential figures. Supporter
Dietrich Eckart Dietrich Eckart (; 23 March 1868 – 26 December 1923) was a German anti-Semitic ''völkisch'' poet, playwright, journalist, publicist, and political activist who was one of the founders of the German Workers' Party, the predecessor to the Nazi Pa ...

Dietrich Eckart
, a well-to-do journalist, brought military figure Felix Graf von Bothmer, a prominent supporter of the concept of "national socialism", to address the movement. Later in 1918,
Karl Harrer Karl Harrer (8 October 1890 – 5 September 1926) was a German journalist and politician, one of the founding members of the ''Deutsche Arbeiterpartei'' (German Workers' Party The German Workers' Party (german: Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP) was ...
(a journalist and member of the
Thule Society The Thule Society (; german: Thule-Gesellschaft), originally the ''Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum'' ("Study Group for Germanic Antiquity"), was a German occultist and ''Völkisch movement, Völkisch'' group founded in Munich shortly af ...
) convinced Drexler and several others to form the '' Politischer Arbeiter-Zirkel'' (Political Workers' Circle). The members met periodically for discussions with themes of nationalism and racism directed against Jewish people. In December 1918, Drexler decided that a new political party should be formed, based on the political principles that he endorsed, by combining his branch of the Workers' Committee for a good Peace with the Political Workers' Circle. On 5 January 1919, Drexler created a new political party and proposed it should be named the "German Socialist Workers' Party", but Harrer objected to the term "socialist"; so the term was removed and the party was named the
German Workers' Party The German Workers' Party (german: Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP) was a short-lived far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political s ...
(''Deutsche Arbeiterpartei'', DAP). To ease concerns among potential middle-class supporters, Drexler made clear that unlike Marxists the party supported the middle-class and that its socialist policy was meant to give
social welfare Welfare (or commonly, social welfare) is a type of government support intended to ensure that members of a society can meet basic human needs Maslow's hierarchy of needs is an idea in psychology Psychology is the science of mind and ...
to German citizens deemed part of the Aryan race. They became one of many ''völkisch'' movements that existed in Germany. Like other ''völkisch'' groups, the DAP advocated the belief that through profit-sharing instead of
socialisation In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empirical method, em ...
Germany should become a unified "people's community" (''Volksgemeinschaft'') rather than a society divided along class and party lines. This ideology was explicitly antisemitic. As early as 1920, the party was raising money by selling a tobacco called ''Anti-Semit''. From the outset, the DAP was opposed to non-nationalist political movements, especially on the left, including the
Social Democratic Party of Germany The Social Democratic Party of Germany (german: Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, ; SPD, ) is a social democratic Social democracy is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-makin ...
(SPD) and the
Communist Party of Germany The Communist Party of Germany (german: Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, ; german: KPD, ) was a major political party in the Weimar Republic between 1918 and 1933, an underground resistance movement A resistance movement is an organized eff ...

Communist Party of Germany
(KPD). Members of the DAP saw themselves as fighting against "
Bolshevism Bolshevism (from Bolsheviks, Bolshevik) is a revolutionary Marxism, Marxist current of political thought and political regime associated with the formation of a rigidly centralized, cohesive and disciplined party of social revolution, focused on o ...
" and anyone considered a part of or aiding so-called " international Jewry". The DAP was also deeply opposed to the
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
. The DAP did not attempt to make itself public and meetings were kept in relative secrecy, with public speakers discussing what they thought of Germany's present state of affairs, or writing to like-minded societies in
Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: Norddeutschland) is the region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomen ...
. The DAP was a comparatively small group with fewer than 60 members. Nevertheless, it attracted the attention of the German authorities, who were suspicious of any organisation that appeared to have subversive tendencies. In July 1919, while stationed in
Munich Munich ( ; german: München ; bar, Minga ) is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria. With a population of 1,558,395 inhabitants as of 31 July 2020, it is the List of cities in Germany by population, third-largest city in Germany, ...

Munich
, army ''
Gefreiter Gefreiter (, abbr. Gefr.; plural ''Gefreite'') is a Germany, German, Switzerland, Swiss and Austrian military rank that has existed since the 16th century. It is usually the second rank or grade to which an Enlisted rank, enlisted soldier, airman o ...

Gefreiter
''
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...

Adolf Hitler
was appointed a ''Verbindungsmann'' (intelligence agent) of an ''Aufklärungskommando'' (reconnaissance unit) of the ''
Reichswehr The Reichswehr (‘Reich defense’) was the official name of the German armed forces from 1919 to 1935, during the Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: Weimarer Republik ) was the German state from 1918 to 1933 when it functio ...
'' (army) by Captain Mayr, the head of the ''Education and Propaganda Department'' (Dept Ib/P) in
Bavaria Bavaria (; German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language ...

Bavaria
. Hitler was assigned to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate the DAP. While attending a party meeting on 12 September 1919 at Munich's Sterneckerbräu, Hitler became involved in a heated argument with a visitor, Professor Baumann, who questioned the soundness of
Gottfried Feder Gottfried Feder (27 January 1883 – 24 September 1941) was a German civil engineer, a self-taught economist, and one of the early key members of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german ...
's arguments against capitalism; Baumann proposed that Bavaria should break away from
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
and found a new South German nation with
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine States o ...

Austria
. In vehemently attacking the man's arguments, Hitler made an impression on the other party members with his oratorical skills; according to Hitler, the "professor" left the hall acknowledging unequivocal defeat. Drexler encouraged him to join the DAP. On the orders of his army superiors, Hitler applied to join the party and within a week was accepted as party member 555 (the party began counting membership at 500 to give the impression they were a much larger party). Among the party's earlier members were
Ernst Röhm Ernst Julius Günther Röhm (; 28 November 1887 – 1 July 1934) was a German military officer and an early member of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistisc ...
of the Army's District Command VII; Dietrich Eckart, who has been called the spiritual father of National Socialism; then-
University of Munich Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (also referred to as LMU or the University of Munich; german: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managin ...
student
Rudolf Hess Rudolf Walter Richard Hess (Heß in German; 26 April 1894 – 17 August 1987) was a German politician and a leading member of the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. Appointed Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler in 1933, Hess served in that position ...
; ''Freikorps'' soldier
Hans Frank Hans Michael Frank (23 May 1900 – 16 October 1946) was a German politician and lawyer who served as head of the General Government in German occupation of Poland, Nazi-occupied Poland during the World War II, Second World War. Frank was an e ...

Hans Frank
; and
Alfred Rosenberg Alfred Ernst Rosenberg ( – 16 October 1946) was a Baltic German The Baltic Germans (german: Deutsch-Balten or , later ; and остзейцы ''ostzeitsy'' 'Balters' in Russian) are ethnic German inhabitants of the eastern shores o ...
, often credited as the philosopher of the movement. All were later prominent in the Nazi regime. Hitler later claimed to be the seventh party member (he was in fact the seventh executive member of the party's central committee and he would later wear the
Golden Party Badge __NOTOC__ The Golden Party Badge (german: Goldenes Parteiabzeichen) was authorised by Adolf Hitler in a decree in October 1933. It was a special award given to all Nazi Party members who had, as of 9 November 1933, registered numbers from 1 to 100,0 ...

Golden Party Badge
number one). Anton Drexler drafted a letter to Hitler in 1940—which was never sent—that contradicts Hitler's later claim: Hitler's first DAP speech was held in the Hofbräukeller on 16 October 1919. He was the second speaker of the evening, and spoke to 111 people. Hitler later declared that this was when he realised he could really "make a good speech". At first, Hitler spoke only to relatively small groups, but his considerable oratory and propaganda skills were appreciated by the party leadership. With the support of Anton Drexler, Hitler became chief of propaganda for the party in early 1920. Hitler began to make the party more public, and organised its biggest meeting yet of 2,000 people on 24 February 1920 in the ''
Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in München '' in München, the former Hofbräu brewery site Image:Hofbrauhaus beer.jpg, A Maß of beer at Hofbräuhaus The Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in München (''public Royal Brewery in Munich'', also ''Hofbräu München'') is a brewery in Munich, Germany ...
''. Such was the significance of this particular move in publicity that
Karl Harrer Karl Harrer (8 October 1890 – 5 September 1926) was a German journalist and politician, one of the founding members of the ''Deutsche Arbeiterpartei'' (German Workers' Party The German Workers' Party (german: Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP) was ...
resigned from the party in disagreement. It was in this speech that Hitler enunciated the twenty-five points of the German Workers' Party manifesto that had been drawn up by Drexler, Feder and himself. Through these points he gave the organisation a much bolder stratagem with a clear foreign policy (abrogation of the Treaty of Versailles, a
Greater Germany Pan-Germanism (german: Pangermanismus or '), also occasionally known as Pan-Germanicism, is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify all the German-speaking people – and possibly also Germanic-speaking ...
, Eastern expansion and exclusion of Jews from citizenship) and among his specific points were: confiscation of war profits, abolition of unearned incomes, the State to share profits of land and land for national needs to be taken away without compensation. In general, the manifesto was
antisemitic Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an i ...

antisemitic
,
anti-capitalist Anti-capitalism is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use t ...
, anti-democratic,
anti-Marxist Anti-communism is a political movement and ideology opposed to communism. Organized anti-communism developed after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and it reached global dimensions during the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet U ...
and
anti-liberal
anti-liberal
. To increase its appeal to larger segments of the population, on the same day as Hitler's ''Hofbräuhaus'' speech on 24 February 1920, the DAP changed its name to the ''Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei'' ("National Socialist German Workers' Party", or Nazi Party). The word "Socialist" was added by the party's executive committee, over Hitler's objections, in order to help appeal to left-wing workers. In 1920, the Nazi Party officially announced that only persons of "pure Aryan descent could become party members and if the person had a spouse, the spouse also had to be a "racially pure" Aryan. Party members could not be related either directly or indirectly to a so-called "non-Aryan". Even before it had become legally forbidden by the
Nuremberg Laws The Nuremberg Laws (german: link=no, Nürnberger Gesetze, ) were antisemitic Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is ca ...

Nuremberg Laws
in 1935, the Nazis banned sexual relations and marriages between party members and Jews. Party members found guilty of ''
Rassenschande ''Rassenschande'' (, "race defilement") or ''Blutschande'' ( "blood disgrace") was an anti- miscegenation concept in Nazi German racial policy, pertaining to sexual relations between Aryans and non-Aryans. It was put into practice by policies l ...
'' ("racial defilement") were persecuted heavily. Some members were even sentenced to death. Hitler quickly became the party's most active orator, appearing in public as a speaker 31 times within the first year after his self-discovery. Crowds began to flock to hear his speeches. Hitler always spoke about the same subjects: the Treaty of Versailles and the Jewish question. This deliberate technique and effective publicising of the party contributed significantly to his early success, about which a contemporary poster wrote: "Since Herr Hitler is a brilliant speaker, we can hold out the prospect of an extremely exciting evening". Over the following months, the party continued to attract new members, while remaining too small to have any real significance in German politics. By the end of the year, party membership was recorded at 2,000, many of whom Hitler and Röhm had brought into the party personally, or for whom Hitler's oratory had been their reason for joining. Hitler's talent as an orator and his ability to draw new members, combined with his characteristic ruthlessness, soon made him the dominant figure. However, while Hitler and Eckart were on a fundraising trip to Berlin in June 1921, a mutiny broke out within the party in Munich. Members of its executive committee wanted to merge with the rival
German Socialist Party The German Socialist Party (German: ''Deutschsozialistische Partei'', DSP) was a short-lived German nationalist, far-right party 300px, '' Hip, Hip, Hurrah!'' (1888) by Peder Severin Krøyer, a painting portraying an artists' party in 19th ce ...
(DSP). Upon returning to Munich on 11 July, Hitler angrily tendered his resignation. The committee members realised that his resignation would mean the end of the party. Hitler announced he would rejoin on condition that he would replace Drexler as party chairman, and that the party headquarters would remain in Munich. The committee agreed, and he rejoined the party on 26 July as member 3,680. Hitler continued to face some opposition within the NSDAP, as his opponents had
Hermann Esser Hermann Esser (29 July 1900 – 7 February 1981) was an early member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). A journalist, Esser was the editor of the Nazi paper, '' Völkischer Beobachter'', a Propaganda Leader, and a Vice President of the Reichstag (Nazi G ...

Hermann Esser
expelled from the party and they printed 3,000 copies of a pamphlet attacking Hitler as a traitor to the party. In the following days, Hitler spoke to several packed houses and defended himself and Esser to thunderous applause. His strategy proved successful; at a special party congress on 29 July 1921, he replaced Drexler as party chairman by a vote of 533to1. The committee was dissolved, and Hitler was granted nearly absolute powers as the party's sole leader. He would hold the post for the remainder of his life. Hitler soon acquired the title ''
Führer ( ; , spelled when the umlaut is not available) is a German word meaning "leader Leadership, both as a research area and as a practical skill, encompasses the ability of an individual, group or organization An organization, or ...

Führer
'' ("leader") and after a series of sharp internal conflicts it was accepted that the party would be governed by the ''
Führerprinzip The (; German for 'leader principle') prescribed the fundamental basis of political authority in the Government of Nazi Germany. This principle can be most succinctly understood to mean that "the 's word is above all written law" and that gov ...
'' ("leader principle"). Under this principle, the party was a highly centralised entity that functioned strictly from the top down, with Hitler at the apex as the party's absolute leader. Hitler saw the party as a revolutionary organisation, whose aim was the overthrow of the
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: Weimarer Republik ) was the German state from 1918 to 1933 when it functioned as a federal constitutional republic. The state was officially named the German Reich (german: Deutsches Reich, link=no, label=none), ...
, which he saw as controlled by the socialists, Jews and the " November criminals" who had betrayed the German soldiers in 1918. The SA ("storm troopers", also known as "Brownshirts") were founded as a party militia in 1921 and began violent attacks on other parties. For Hitler, the twin goals of the party were always German nationalist expansionism and
antisemitism Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is generally considered to be a form of racism. A ...
. These two goals were fused in his mind by his belief that Germany's external enemies—Britain, France and the Soviet Union—were controlled by the Jews and that Germany's future wars of national expansion would necessarily entail a war of annihilation against them. For Hitler and his principal lieutenants, national and racial issues were always dominant. This was symbolised by the adoption as the party emblem of the
swastika The swastika symbol, 卐 (''right-facing'' or ''clockwise'') or 卍 (''left-facing'', ''counterclockwise'', or sauwastika), is an ancient religious icon An icon (from the Greek language, Greek 'image, resemblance') is a religious work ...

swastika
. In German nationalist circles, the swastika was considered a symbol of an "
Aryan race The Aryan race is a historical race concept which emerged in the late 19th century to describe people of Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the l ...
" and it symbolised the replacement of the Christian Cross with allegiance to a National Socialist State. The Nazi Party grew significantly during 1921 and 1922, partly through Hitler's oratorical skills, partly through the SA's appeal to unemployed young men, and partly because there was a backlash against socialist and liberal politics in Bavaria as Germany's economic problems deepened and the weakness of the Weimar regime became apparent. The party recruited former World War I soldiers, to whom Hitler as a decorated frontline veteran could particularly appeal, as well as small businessmen and disaffected former members of rival parties. Nazi rallies were often held in beer halls, where downtrodden men could get free beer. The
Hitler Youth The Hitler Youth (german: Hitlerjugend , often abbreviated as HJ, ) was the youth organisation of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter ...
was formed for the children of party members. The party also formed groups in other parts of Germany.
Julius Streicher Julius Streicher (12 February 1885 – 16 October 1946) was a member of the Nazi Party, the ''Gauleiter'' (regional leader) of Gau Franconia, Franconia and a member of the ''Reichstag (Nazi Germany), Reichstag'', the national legislature. He was ...

Julius Streicher
in
Nuremberg Nuremberg ( ; german: link=no, Nürnberg ; in the local East Franconian dialect: ''Nämberch'' ) is the second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants ...

Nuremberg
was an early recruit and became editor of the racist magazine ''
Der Stürmer ''Der Stürmer'' (, literally "The Stormer / Attacker / Striker") was a weekly German tabloid-format newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and i ...
''. In December 1920, the Nazi Party had acquired a newspaper, the ''
Völkischer Beobachter Metal advertising sign for the ''Völkischer Beobachter'' The ''Völkischer Beobachter'' (; "'' Völkisch'' Observer") was the newspaper of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: N ...

Völkischer Beobachter
'', of which its leading ideologist Alfred Rosenberg became editor. Others to join the party around this time were
Heinrich Himmler Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (; 7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was of the (Protection Squadron; SS), and a leading member of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationa ...
and World War I flying ace
Hermann Göring Hermann Wilhelm Göring (or Goering; ; 12 January 1893 – 15 October 1946) was a German politician, military leader and convicted war criminal. He was one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially ...

Hermann Göring
.


Adoption of Italian fascism: The Beer Hall Putsch

On 31 October 1922, a
fascist Fascism () is a form of far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political right, particular ...

fascist
party with similar policies and objectives came into power in Italy, the
National Fascist Party The National Fascist Party ( it, Partito Nazionale Fascista, PNF) was an Italian political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members ...
, under the leadership of the charismatic
Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
. The Fascists, like the Nazis, promoted a national rebirth of their country, as they opposed communism and liberalism; appealed to the working-class; opposed the
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
; and advocated the territorial expansion of their country. Hitler was inspired by Mussolini and the Fascists, beginning to adopt elements of the Fascist's and Mussolini for the Nazi Party and himself. The Italian Fascists also used a straight-armed
Roman salute The Roman salute (Italian language, Italian: ''saluto romano'') is a salute, gesture in which the arm is fully extended, facing forward, with palm down and fingers touching. In some versions, the arm is raised upward at an angle; in others, it is ...

Roman salute
and wore black-shirted uniforms; Hitler would later borrow their use of the straight-armed salute as a
Nazi salute The Nazi salute, Hitler salute (german: link=no, Hitlergruß, , Hitler greeting, , , also called in german: link=no, deutscher Gruß, , German greeting, IPA: , , by the Nazi Party), or ''Sieg Heil'' salute, is a gesture that was used as a greeti ...
. When the Fascists took control of Italy through their
coup d'état A coup d'état (; French for "blow of state"), often shortened to coup in English, (also known as an overthrow) is a seizure and removal of a government and its powers. Typically, it is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a politic ...
called the "
March on Rome The March on Rome ( it, Marcia su Roma) was an organized mass demonstration in October 1922 which resulted in Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party (PNF) ascending to power in the Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Itali ...

March on Rome
", Hitler began planning his own coup less than a month later. In January 1923, France occupied the
Ruhr The Ruhr ( ; german: Ruhrgebiet ), also referred to as Ruhr area, Ruhr district, Ruhr region, or Ruhr valley, is a polycentric Polycentric is an English adjective, meaning "having more than one center," derived from the Greek words ''polús'' ( ...

Ruhr
industrial region as a result of Germany's failure to meet its
reparations Reparation(s) may refer to: *Reparation (legal), the legal philosophy *Reparations (transitional justice), measures taken by the state to redress gross and systematic violations of human rights law or humanitarian law *Reparations for slavery, prop ...
payments. This led to economic chaos, the resignation of
Wilhelm Cuno Wilhelm Carl Josef Cuno (2 July 1876 – 3 January 1933) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of German ...
's government and an attempt by the German Communist Party (KPD) to stage a revolution. The reaction to these events was an upsurge of nationalist sentiment. Nazi Party membership grew sharply to about 20,000. By November 1923, Hitler had decided that the time was right for an attempt to seize power in Munich, in the hope that the ''Reichswehr'' (the post-war German military) would mutiny against the Berlin government and join his revolt. In this, he was influenced by former General
Erich Ludendorff Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a Imperial Germany, German general, politician and military theorist. He achieved fame during World War I for his central role in the German victories at Battle of Lièg ...

Erich Ludendorff
, who had become a supporter—though not a member—of the Nazis. On the night of 8 November, the Nazis used a patriotic rally in a Munich beer hall to launch an attempted ''putsch'' ("coup d'état"). This so-called
Beer Hall Putsch The Beer Hall Putsch, also known as the Munich Putsch,Dan Moorhouse, ed schoolshistory.org.uk, accessed 2008-05-31.Known in German language, German as the or was a failed coup d'état by Nazi Party ( or NSDAP) leader Adolf Hitler, Erich Lu ...
attempt failed almost at once when the local ''Reichswehr'' commanders refused to support it. On the morning of 9 November, the Nazis staged a march of about 2,000 supporters through Munich in an attempt to rally support. Troops opened fire and 16 Nazis were killed. Hitler, Ludendorff and a number of others were arrested and were tried for treason in March 1924. Hitler and his associates were given very lenient prison sentences. While Hitler was in prison, he wrote his semi-autobiographical political manifesto ''
Mein Kampf (; ''My Struggle'') is a 1925 autobiographical manifesto by Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a political pa ...
'' ("My Struggle"). The Nazi Party was banned on 9 November 1923; however, with the support of the nationalist Völkisch-Social Bloc (''Völkisch-Sozialer Block''), it continued to operate under the name "German Party" (''Deutsche Partei'' or DP) from 1924 to 1925. The Nazis failed to remain unified in the DP, as in the north, the right-wing Volkish nationalist supporters of the Nazis moved to the new German Völkisch Freedom Party, leaving the north's left-wing Nazi members, such as
Joseph Goebbels Paul Joseph Goebbels (; 29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German Nazi Nazism (), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus; ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed ...
retaining support for the party.


Rise to power: 1925–1933

Adolf Hitler was released from prison on 20 December 1924. On 16 February 1925, Hitler convinced the Bavarian authorities to lift the ban on the NSDAP and the party was formally refounded on 26 February 1925, with Hitler as its undisputed leader. The new Nazi Party was no longer a paramilitary organisation and disavowed any intention of taking power by force. In any case, the economic and political situation had stabilised and the extremist upsurge of 1923 had faded, so there was no prospect of further revolutionary adventures. The Nazi Party of 1925 was divided into the "Leadership Corps" (''Korps der politischen Leiter'') appointed by Hitler and the general membership (''Parteimitglieder''). The party and the SA were kept separate and the legal aspect of the party's work was emphasised. In a sign of this, the party began to admit women. The SA and the SS members (the latter founded in 1925 as Hitler's bodyguard, and known originally as the ''Schutzkommando'') had to all be regular party members. In the 1920s, the Nazi Party expanded beyond its Bavarian base. Catholic Bavaria maintained its right-wing nostalgia for a Catholic monarch; and
Westphalia Westphalia (; german: Westfalen ; nds, Westfalen ) is a region of northwestern Germany and one of the three historic parts of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It has an area of and 7.9 million inhabitants. The territory of the region ...

Westphalia
, along with working-class "Red Berlin", were always the Nazis' weakest areas electorally, even during the Third Reich itself. The areas of strongest Nazi support were in rural Protestant areas such as
Schleswig-Holstein Schleswig-Holstein () is the northernmost of the 16 states of Germany The Federal Republic of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , la ...

Schleswig-Holstein
,
Mecklenburg Mecklenburg (; nds, label=Low German : : : : : , minority = (70,000) (30,000) (8,000) , familycolor = Indo-European , fam2 = Germanic languages, Germanic , fam3 = West Germanic languages, West Ge ...

Mecklenburg
,
Pomerania Pomerania ( pl, Pomorze; german: Pommern; Kashubian: ''Pòmòrskô'') is a historical region on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the , enclosed by , , , , , , northeast , , and the . The sea stretches fr ...

Pomerania
and
East Prussia East Prussia (german: Ostpreußen, ; pl, Prusy Wschodnie; lt, Rytų Prūsija; la, Borussia orientalis; russian: Восточная Пруссия, Vostóchnaya Prússiya) was a of the from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 (with the Kingdom ...
. Depressed working-class areas such as
Thuringia Thuringia (; german: Thüringen ), officially the Free State of Thuringia ( ), is a states of Germany, state of Germany. Located in central Germany, it covers , being the sixth smallest of the sixteen German States (including City States). It ...
also produced a strong Nazi vote, while the workers of the
Ruhr The Ruhr ( ; german: Ruhrgebiet ), also referred to as Ruhr area, Ruhr district, Ruhr region, or Ruhr valley, is a polycentric Polycentric is an English adjective, meaning "having more than one center," derived from the Greek words ''polús'' ( ...

Ruhr
and
Hamburg en, Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central (CET) , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central (CEST) , utc_offset1_DST = +2 , postal_code_type = Post ...

Hamburg
largely remained loyal to the
Social Democrats Social democracy is a Political philosophy, political, Social philosophy, social, and economic philosophy within socialism that supports Democracy, political and economic democracy. As a policy regime, it is described by academics as advocatin ...
, the
Communist Party of Germany The Communist Party of Germany (german: Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, ; german: KPD, ) was a major political party in the Weimar Republic between 1918 and 1933, an underground resistance movement A resistance movement is an organized eff ...

Communist Party of Germany
or the Catholic Centre Party. Nuremberg remained a Nazi Party stronghold, and the first
Nuremberg Rally The Nuremberg Rally (officially ', meaning ''Reich ''Reich'' (; , English: ''Riche'') is a German word analogous in meaning to the English word "realm A realm is a community or territory over which a Sovereignty, sovereign rules. The te ...
was held there in 1927. These rallies soon became massive displays of Nazi paramilitary power and attracted many recruits. The Nazis' strongest appeal was to the lower middle-classes—farmers, public servants, teachers and small businessmen—who had suffered most from the inflation of the 1920s, so who feared Bolshevism more than anything else. The small business class was receptive to Hitler's antisemitism, since it blamed Jewish big business for its economic problems. University students, disappointed at being too young to have served in the War of 1914–1918 and attracted by the Nazis' radical rhetoric, also became a strong Nazi constituency. By 1929, the party had 130,000 members. The party's nominal Deputy Leader was
Rudolf Hess Rudolf Walter Richard Hess (Heß in German; 26 April 1894 – 17 August 1987) was a German politician and a leading member of the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. Appointed Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler in 1933, Hess served in that position ...
, but he had no real power in the party. By the early 1930s, the senior leaders of the party after Hitler were
Heinrich Himmler Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (; 7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was of the (Protection Squadron; SS), and a leading member of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationa ...
,
Joseph Goebbels Paul Joseph Goebbels (; 29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German Nazi Nazism (), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus; ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed ...
and
Hermann Göring Hermann Wilhelm Göring (or Goering; ; 12 January 1893 – 15 October 1946) was a German politician, military leader and convicted war criminal. He was one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially ...

Hermann Göring
. Beneath the Leadership Corps were the party's regional leaders, the ''
Gauleiter A ''Gauleiter'' () was the party leader of a regional area branch of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-rig ...

Gauleiter
s'', each of whom commanded the party in his '' Gau'' ("region"). Goebbels began his ascent through the party hierarchy as ''Gauleiter'' of Berlin-Brandenburg in 1926. Streicher was ''Gauleiter'' of
Franconia Franconia (german: Franken, ; Franconian dialect: ''Franggn'' ; bar, Frankn) is a region In geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study ...

Franconia
, where he published his antisemitic newspaper ''
Der Stürmer ''Der Stürmer'' (, literally "The Stormer / Attacker / Striker") was a weekly German tabloid-format newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and i ...
''. Beneath the ''Gauleiter'' were lower-level officials, the ''
Kreisleiter ''Kreisleiter'' (; " District Leader") was a Nazi Party political rank and title which existed as a political rank between 1930 and 1945 and as a Nazi Party title from as early as 1928. The position of ''Kreisleiter'' was first formed to provide ...

Kreisleiter
'' ("county leaders"), ''
Zellenleiter ''Zellenleiter'' (Cell Leader) was a Nazi Party political title which existed between the years of 1930 and 1945. A ''Zellenleiter'' was higher in rank than a '' Blockleiter'' and was in charge of a "Nazi Party, Nazi Cell", composed of eight to tw ...
'' ("cell leaders") and ''
Blockleiter ''Blockleiter'' (Block Warden), where ''block'' refers to city block A city block, residential block, urban block or simply block is a central element of urban planning Urban planning, also known as regional planning, town planning, city p ...
'' ("block leaders"). This was a strictly hierarchical structure in which orders flowed from the top and unquestioning loyalty was given to superiors. Only the SA retained some autonomy. Being composed largely of unemployed workers, many SA men took the Nazis' socialist rhetoric seriously. At this time, the
Hitler salute The Nazi salute, Hitler salute (german: link=no, Hitlergruß, , Hitler greeting, , , also called in german: link=no, deutscher Gruß, , German greeting, IPA: , , by the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German W ...
(borrowed from the
Italian fascists Italian Fascism ( it, fascismo italiano), also known as Classical Fascism or simply Fascism, is the original fascist ideology as developed in Italy by Giovanni Gentile and Benito Mussolini. The ideology is associated with a series of two polit ...
) and the greeting "Heil Hitler!" were adopted throughout the party. The Nazis contested elections to the national parliament (the ''
Reichstag is a German word generally meaning parliament, more directly translated as ''Diet (assembly), Diet of the Realm'' or ''National diet'', or more loosely as ''Imperial Diet''. It may refer to: Buildings and places is the god specific German word ...
'') and to the state legislature (the ''
Landtag A Landtag (State Diet Diet may refer to: Food * Diet (nutrition) In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. The word diet often implies the use of specific intake of nutrition for #Health, health or #Weigh ...

Landtag
e'') from 1924, although at first with little success. The "
National Socialist Freedom Movement The National Socialist Freedom Movement (, NSFB) or National Socialist Freedom Party (, NSFP) was a political party in Weimar Republic, Weimar Germany created in April 1924 during the aftermath of the Beer Hall Putsch. Adolf Hitler and many Nazis ...
" polled 3% of the vote in the December 1924 ''Reichstag'' elections and this fell to 2.6% in
1928 Events January * January – British bacteriologist Frederick Griffith reports the results of Griffith's experiment, indirectly proving the existence of DNA. * January 1 ** Estonia changes its currency from the Estonian mark, mark to t ...
. State elections produced similar results. Despite these poor results and despite Germany's relative political stability and prosperity during the later 1920s, the Nazi Party continued to grow. This was partly because Hitler, who had no administrative ability, left the party organisation to the head of the secretariat,
Philipp Bouhler Philipp Bouhler (11 September 1899 – 19 May 1945) was a German senior Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-right p ...
, the party treasurer
Franz Xaver Schwarz Franz Xaver Schwarz (27 November 1875 – 2 December 1947) was a German ''Schutzstaffel'' (SS) functionary and politician in Nazi Germany. He served as ''Reichsschatzmeister'' (National Treasurer) of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) during most of the ...

Franz Xaver Schwarz
and business manager
Max Amann Max Amann (24 November 1891 – 30 March 1957) was a high-ranking member of the Nazi Party, a German politician, businessman and art collector, including of looted art. He was the first business manager of the Nazi Party and later became the hea ...
. The party had a capable propaganda head in
Gregor Strasser Gregor Strasser (also german: Straßer, see ß; 31 May 1892 – 30 June 1934) was an early prominent German Nazi Party, Nazi official and politician who was murdered during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934. Born in 1892 in Bavaria, Strasser ...

Gregor Strasser
, who was promoted to national organizational leader in January 1928. These men gave the party efficient recruitment and organizational structures. The party also owed its growth to the gradual fading away of competitor nationalist groups, such as the
German National People's Party The German National People's Party (german: Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP) was a national-conservative National conservatism is a variant of conservatism Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional socia ...
(DNVP). As Hitler became the recognised head of the German nationalists, other groups declined or were absorbed. Despite these strengths, the Nazi Party might never have come to power had it not been for the
Great Depression The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression An economic depression is a sustained, long-term downturn in economic activity in one or more economies. It is a more severe economic downturn than a economic recession, recess ...
and its effects on Germany. By 1930, the German economy was beset with mass unemployment and widespread business failures. The Social Democrats and Communists were bitterly divided and unable to formulate an effective solution: this gave the Nazis their opportunity and Hitler's message, blaming the crisis on the Jewish financiers and the
Bolshevik The Bolsheviks (Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (росс ...

Bolshevik
s, resonated with wide sections of the electorate. At the September 1930 ''Reichstag'' elections, the Nazis won 18% of the votes and became the second-largest party in the ''Reichstag'' after the Social Democrats. Hitler proved to be a highly effective campaigner, pioneering the use of radio and aircraft for this purpose. His dismissal of Strasser and his appointment of Goebbels as the party's propaganda chief were major factors. While Strasser had used his position to promote his own leftish version of national socialism, Goebbels was totally loyal to Hitler and worked only to improve Hitler's image. The 1930 elections changed the German political landscape by weakening the traditional nationalist parties, the DNVP and the DVP, leaving the Nazis as the chief alternative to the discredited Social Democrats and the Zentrum, whose leader,
Heinrich Brüning Heinrich Aloysius Maria Elisabeth Brüning () (26 November 1885 – 30 March 1970) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ances ...
, headed a weak minority government. The inability of the democratic parties to form a united front, the self-imposed isolation of the Communists and the continued decline of the economy, all played into Hitler's hands. He now came to be seen as ''de facto'' leader of the opposition and donations poured into the Nazi Party's coffers. Some major business figures, such as
Fritz Thyssen Friedrich "Fritz" Thyssen (9 November 1873 – 8 February 1951) was a German businessman, born into one of Germany's Thyssen family, leading industrial families. He was an early supporter of the Nazi Party, but later broke against them. Biography ...

Fritz Thyssen
, were Nazi supporters and gave generously and some Wall Street figures were allegedly involved, but many other businessmen were suspicious of the extreme nationalist tendencies of the Nazis and preferred to support the traditional conservative parties instead. During 1931 and into 1932, Germany's political crisis deepened. Hitler ran for president against the incumbent
Paul von Hindenburg Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg (; abbreviated ; 2 October 1847 – 2 August 1934) was a German general and statesman who led the Imperial German Army The Imperial German Army (1871–1919), officially referred to ...

Paul von Hindenburg
in March 1932, polling 30% in the first round and 37% in the second against Hindenburg's 49% and 53%. By now the SA had 400,000 members and its running street battles with the SPD and Communist paramilitaries (who also fought each other) reduced some German cities to combat zones. Paradoxically, although the Nazis were among the main instigators of this disorder, part of Hitler's appeal to a frightened and demoralised middle class was his promise to restore law and order. Overt antisemitism was played down in official Nazi rhetoric, but was never far from the surface. Germans voted for Hitler primarily because of his promises to revive the economy (by unspecified means), to restore German greatness and overturn the
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
and to save Germany from communism. On 24 April 1932, the Free State of Prussia elections to the Landtag of Prussia, Landtag resulted in 36% of the votes and 162 seats for the NSDAP. On 20 July 1932, the Prussian government was ousted by a coup, the ''Preußenschlag, Preussenschlag''; a few days later at the July 1932 German federal election, July 1932 ''Reichstag'' election the Nazis made another leap forward, polling 37% and becoming the largest party in parliament by a wide margin. Furthermore, the Nazis and the Communists between them won 52% of the vote and a majority of seats. Since both parties opposed the established political system and neither would join or support any ministry, this made the formation of a majority government impossible. The result was weak ministries governing by decree. Under Comintern directives, the Communists maintained their policy of treating the Social Democrats as the main enemy, calling them "social fascism, social fascists", thereby splintering opposition to the Nazis. Later, both the Social Democrats and the Communists accused each other of having facilitated Hitler's rise to power by their unwillingness to compromise. Chancellor Franz von Papen called another ''Reichstag'' election in November, hoping to find a way out of this impasse. The electoral result was the same, with the Nazis and the Communists winning 50% of the vote between them and more than half the seats, rendering this ''Reichstag'' no more workable than its predecessor. However, support for the Nazis had fallen to 33.1%, suggesting that the Nazi surge had passed its peak—possibly because the worst of the Depression had passed, possibly because some middle-class voters had supported Hitler in July as a protest, but had now drawn back from the prospect of actually putting him into power. The Nazis interpreted the result as a warning that they must seize power before their moment passed. Had the other parties united, this could have been prevented, but their shortsightedness made a united front impossible. Papen, his successor Kurt von Schleicher and the nationalist press magnate Alfred Hugenberg spent December and January in political intrigues that eventually persuaded President Hindenburg that it was safe to appoint Hitler as Reich Chancellor, at the head of a cabinet including only a minority of Nazi ministers—which he did on 30 January 1933.


Ascension and consolidation

In ''
Mein Kampf (; ''My Struggle'') is a 1925 autobiographical manifesto by Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a political pa ...
'', Hitler directly attacked both left-wing and right-wing politics in Germany. However, a majority of scholars identify
Nazism Nazism ( ), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus, ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about th ...

Nazism
in practice as being a Far-right politics, far-right form of politics. When asked in an interview in 1934 whether the Nazis were "bourgeois right-wing" as alleged by their opponents, Hitler responded that Nazism was not exclusively for any class and indicated that it favoured neither the left nor the right, but preserved "pure" elements from both "camps" by stating: "From the camp of bourgeois tradition, it takes national resolve, and from the materialism of the Marxist dogma, living, creative Socialism". The votes that the Nazis received in the 1932 elections established the Nazi Party as the largest parliamentary faction of the Weimar Republic government. Hitler was appointed as Chancellor of Germany (German Reich), Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933. The Reichstag fire, ''Reichstag'' fire on 27 February 1933 gave Hitler a pretext for suppressing his political opponents. The following day he persuaded the Reich's President
Paul von Hindenburg Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg (; abbreviated ; 2 October 1847 – 2 August 1934) was a German general and statesman who led the Imperial German Army The Imperial German Army (1871–1919), officially referred to ...

Paul von Hindenburg
to issue the Reichstag Fire Decree, ''Reichstag'' Fire Decree, which suspended most civil liberties. The NSDAP won the March 1933 German federal election, parliamentary election on 5 March 1933 with 44% of votes, but failed to win an absolute majority. After the election, hundreds of thousands of new members joined the party for opportunistic reasons, most of them civil servants and white-collar workers. They were nicknamed the "casualties of March" (german: link=no, Märzgefallenen) or "March violets" (german: link=no, Märzveilchen). To protect the party from too many non-ideological turncoats who were viewed by the so-called "old fighters" ''(alte Kämpfer)'' with some mistrust, the party issued a freeze on admissions that remained in force from May 1933 to 1937. On 23 March, the parliament passed the Enabling Act of 1933, which gave the cabinet the right to enact laws without the consent of parliament. In effect, this gave Hitler dictatorial powers. Now possessing virtually absolute power, the Nazis established Totalitarianism, totalitarian control as they abolished labour unions and other political parties and imprisoned their political opponents, first at ''wilde Lager'', improvised camps, then in concentration camps.
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
had been established, yet the ''Reichswehr'' remained impartial. Nazi power over Germany remained virtual, not absolute.


After taking power: intertwining of party and state

During June and July 1933, all competing parties were either outlawed or dissolved themselves and subsequently the Law against the founding of new parties of 14 July 1933 legally established the Nazi Party's monopoly. On 1 December 1933, the Law to secure the unity of party and state entered into force, which was the base for a progressive intertwining of party structures and state apparatus. By this law, the SA—actually a party division—was given quasi-governmental authority and their leader was co-opted as an ''ex officio'' cabinet member. By virtue of a 30 January 1934 Law concerning the reorganisation of the ''Reich'', the ''Länder'' (states) lost their statehood and were demoted to administrative divisions of the ''Reichs government ''(Gleichschaltung)''. Effectively, they lost most of their power to the ''Administrative divisions of Nazi Germany, Gaue'' that were originally just regional divisions of the party, but took over most competencies of the state administration in their respective sectors. During the Night of the Long Knives (1934), Röhm Purge of 30 June to 2 July 1934 (also known as the "Night of the Long Knives"), Hitler disempowered the SA's leadership—most of whom belonged to the Strasserism, Strasserist (national revolutionary) faction within the NSDAP—and ordered them killed. He accused them of having conspired to stage a ''coup d'état'', but it is believed that this was only a pretence to justify the suppression of any intraparty opposition. The purge was executed by the SS, assisted by the Gestapo and Reichswehr units. Aside from Strasserist Nazis, they also murdered anti-Nazi conservative figures like former chancellor Kurt von Schleicher. After this, the SA continued to exist but lost much of its importance, while the role of the SS grew significantly. Formerly only a sub-organisation of the SA, it was made into a separate organisation of the NSDAP in July 1934. After the death of President Hindenburg on 2 August 1934, Hitler merged the offices of party leader, head of state and chief of government in one, taking the title of ''
Führer ( ; , spelled when the umlaut is not available) is a German word meaning "leader Leadership, both as a research area and as a practical skill, encompasses the ability of an individual, group or organization An organization, or ...

Führer
und Reichskanzler''. The Hitler's Chancellery, Chancellery of the Führer, officially an organisation of the Nazi Party, took over the functions of the Office of the President (a government agency), blurring the distinction between structures of party and state even further. The SS increasingly exerted police functions, a development which was formally documented by the merger of the offices of ''Reichsführer-SS'' and Chief of the German Police on 17 June 1936, as the position was held by
Heinrich Himmler Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (; 7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was of the (Protection Squadron; SS), and a leading member of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationa ...
who derived his authority directly from Hitler. The ''Sicherheitsdienst'' (SD, formally the "Security Service of the Reichsführer-SS") that had been created in 1931 as an intraparty intelligence became the ''de facto'' intelligence agency of Nazi Germany. It was put under the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) in 1939, which then coordinated SD, Gestapo and Kriminalpolizei, criminal police, therefore functioning as a hybrid organisation of state and party structures.


Defeat and abolition

Officially, the Third Reich lasted only 12 years. The German Instrument of Surrender, Instrument of Surrender was signed by representatives of the German High Command at Berlin, on 8 May 1945. The war in Europe had come to an end. The defeat of Germany in World War II marked the end of the
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
era. The party was formally abolished on 10 October 1945 by the Allied Control Council and
denazification Denazification (german: link=no, Entnazifizierung) was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social ...
began, along with Nuremberg trials, trials of major war criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in Nuremberg. Part of the Potsdam Agreement called for the destruction of the Nationalist Socialist Party alongside the requirement for the reconstruction of the German political life. In addition, the Control Council Law no. 2 Providing for the Termination and Liquidation of the Nazi Organization specified the abolition of 52 other Nazi affiliated and supervised organisations and prohibited their activities. The denazification was carried out in Germany and continued until the onset of the Cold War. Between 1939 and 1945, the Nazi Party led regime, assisted by Collaboration with the Axis Powers during World War II, collaborationist governments and recruits from occupied countries, was responsible for the deaths of at least eleven million people, including 5.5 to 6 million Jews (representing two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe), and between 200,000 and 1,500,000 Porajmos, Romani people. The estimated total number includes the killing of nearly two million non-Jewish Nazi crimes against the Polish nation, Poles, over three million Nazi crimes against Soviet POWs, Soviet prisoners of war,
communist Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...

communist
s, and other political opponents, homosexuals, the physically and mentally disabled.


Political programme

The National Socialist Programme was a formulation of the policies of the party. It contained 25 points and is therefore also known as the "25-point plan" or "25-point programme". It was the official party programme, with minor changes, from its proclamation as such by Hitler in 1920, when the party was still the German Workers' Party, until its dissolution.


Party composition


Command structure


Top leadership

At the top of the Nazi Party was the party chairman ("''Der Führer''"), who held absolute power and full command over the party. All other party offices were subordinate to his position and had to depend on his instructions. In 1934, Hitler founded a separate body for the chairman, Hitler's Chancellery (Kanzlei des Führers), Chancellery of the Führer, with its own sub-units. Below the Führer's chancellery was first the "Staff of the Deputy Führer", headed by
Rudolf Hess Rudolf Walter Richard Hess (Heß in German; 26 April 1894 – 17 August 1987) was a German politician and a leading member of the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. Appointed Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler in 1933, Hess served in that position ...
from 21 April 1933 to 10 May 1941; and then the "Party Chancellery" (''Parteikanzlei''), headed by Martin Bormann.


''Reichsleiter''

Directly subjected to the Führer were the ''Reichsleiter'' ("Reich Leader(s)"—the singular and plural forms are identical in German), whose number was gradually increased to eighteen. They held power and influence comparable to the Reich Ministers' in Cabinet Hitler, Hitler's Cabinet. The eighteen ''Reichsleiter'' formed the "Reich Leadership of the Nazi Party" (''Reichsleitung der NSDAP''), which was established at the so-called Brown House, Munich, Germany, Brown House in Munich. Unlike a ''
Gauleiter A ''Gauleiter'' () was the party leader of a regional area branch of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-rig ...

Gauleiter
'', a ''Reichsleiter'' did not have individual geographic areas under their command, but were responsible for specific spheres of interest.


Nazi Party offices

The Nazi Party had a number of party offices dealing with various political and other matters. These included: * ''NSDAP Office of Racial Policy, Rassenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP'' (RPA): "NSDAP Office of Racial Policy" * ''NSDAP Office of Foreign Affairs, Außenpolitische Amt der NSDAP'' (APA): "NSDAP Office of Foreign Affairs" * ''NSDAP Office of Colonial Policy, Kolonialpolitisches Amt der NSDAP'' (KPA): "NSDAP Office of Colonial Policy" * ''NSDAP Office of Military Policy, Wehrpolitisches Amt der NSDAP'' (WPA): "NSDAP Office of Military Policy" * ''Amt Rosenberg'' (ARo): "Alfred Rosenberg, Rosenberg Office"


Paramilitary groups

In addition to the Nazi Party proper, several paramilitary groups existed which "supported" Nazi aims. All members of these paramilitary organisations were required to become regular Nazi Party members first and could then enlist in the group of their choice. An exception was the Waffen-SS, considered the military arm of the SS and Nazi Party, which during the Second World War allowed members to enlist without joining the Nazi Party. Foreign volunteers of the Waffen-SS were also not required to be members of the Nazi Party, although many joined local nationalist groups from their own countries with the same aims. Police officers, including members of the Gestapo, frequently held SS rank for administrative reasons (known as "rank parity") and were likewise not required to be members of the Nazi Party. A vast system of Nazi Party paramilitary ranks developed for each of the various paramilitary groups. This was part of the process of ''Gleichschaltung'' with the paramilitary and auxiliary groups swallowing existing associations and federations after the Party was flooded by millions of membership applications. The major Nazi Party paramilitary groups were as follows: * ''Schutzstaffel'' (SS): "Protection Squadron" (both ''Allgemeine SS'' and Waffen-SS) * ''Sturmabteilung'' (SA): "Storm Division" * ''National Socialist Flyers Corps, Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps'' (NSFK): "National Socialist Flyers Corps" * ''National Socialist Motor Corps, Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrerkorps'' (NSKK): "National Socialist Motor Corps" The
Hitler Youth The Hitler Youth (german: Hitlerjugend , often abbreviated as HJ, ) was the youth organisation of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter ...
was a paramilitary group divided into an adult leadership corps and a general membership open to boys aged fourteen to eighteen. The League of German Girls was the equivalent group for girls.


Affiliated organisations

Certain nominally independent organisations had their own legal representation and own property, but were supported by the Nazi Party. Many of these associated organisations were labour unions of various professions. Some were older organisations that were nazified according to the ''Gleichschaltung'' policy after the 1933 takeover. * Reich League of German Officials (union of civil servants, predecessor to German Civil Service Federation) * German Labour Front (DAF) * National Socialist German Doctors' League * National Socialist League for the Maintenance of the Law (NSRB, 1936–1945, earlier National Socialist German Lawyers' League) * NSKOV, National Socialist War Victim's Care (NSKOV) * National Socialist Teachers League (NSLB) * National Socialist People's Welfare (NSV) * Reich Labour Service (RAD) * German Faith Movement * German Colonial League (RKB) * German Red Cross * Kyffhäuserbund, Kyffhäuser League * TENO, Technical Emergency Relief (TENO) * Reichsbund der Kinderreichen, Reich's Union of Large Families * Reichsluftschutzbund (RLB) * Reichskolonialbund (RKB) * Bund Deutscher Osten (BDO) * German American Bund The employees of large businesses with international operations such as Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, and Commerzbank were mostly party members. All German businesses abroad were also required to have their own Nazi Party ''Ausland-Organization'' liaison men, which enabled the party leadership to obtain updated and excellent intelligence on the actions of the global corporate elites.


Regional administration

For the purpose of centralisation in the ''Gleichschaltung'' process a rigidly hierarchal structure was established in the Nazi Party, which it later carried through in the whole of Germany in order to consolidate total power under the person of Hitler (''Führerstaat''). It was regionally sub-divided into a number of ''Gau (country subdivision), Gaue'' (singular: ''Gau'') headed by a ''
Gauleiter A ''Gauleiter'' () was the party leader of a regional area branch of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-rig ...

Gauleiter
'', who received their orders directly from Hitler. The name (originally a term for sub-regions of the Holy Roman Empire headed by a ''Gaugraf'') for these new provincial structures was deliberately chosen because of its Middle Ages, mediaeval connotations. The term is approximately equivalent to the English ''shire''. While the Nazis maintained the nominal existence of state and regional governments in Germany itself, this policy was not extended to territories acquired after 1937. Even in German-speaking areas such as Austria, state and regional governments were formally disbanded as opposed to just being dis-empowered. After the ''Anschluss'' a new type of administrative unit was introduced called a ''Reichsgau''. In these territories the ''Gauleiters'' also held the position of ''Reichsstatthalter'' (Reich Governor) thereby formally combining the spheres of both party and state offices. The establishment of this type of district was subsequently carried out for any further territorial annexations of Germany both before and during World War II. Even the former territories of
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
were never formally re-integrated into what was then Germany's largest state after being re-taken in the 1939 Polish campaign. The ''Gaue'' and ''Reichsgaue'' (state or province) were further sub-divided into ''Districts of Germany, Kreise'' (counties) headed by a ''
Kreisleiter ''Kreisleiter'' (; " District Leader") was a Nazi Party political rank and title which existed as a political rank between 1930 and 1945 and as a Nazi Party title from as early as 1928. The position of ''Kreisleiter'' was first formed to provide ...

Kreisleiter
'', which were in turn sub-divided into ''Zellen'' (cells) and ''Blocken'' (blocks), headed by a ''
Zellenleiter ''Zellenleiter'' (Cell Leader) was a Nazi Party political title which existed between the years of 1930 and 1945. A ''Zellenleiter'' was higher in rank than a '' Blockleiter'' and was in charge of a "Nazi Party, Nazi Cell", composed of eight to tw ...
'' and ''
Blockleiter ''Blockleiter'' (Block Warden), where ''block'' refers to city block A city block, residential block, urban block or simply block is a central element of urban planning Urban planning, also known as regional planning, town planning, city p ...
'' respectively. A reorganisation of the ''Gaue'' was enacted on 1 October 1928. The given numbers were the official ordering numbers. The statistics are from 1941, for which the ''Gau'' organisation of that moment in time forms the basis. Their size and populations are not exact; for instance, according to the official party statistics the ''Gau'' Kurmark/Mark Brandenburg was the largest in the German Reich. By 1941, there were 42 territorial ''Gaue'' for Greater Germany. Of these, 10 were designated as Reichsgaue: 7 of them for Austria, one for the Sudetenland (annexed from Czechoslovakia) and two for the areas annexed from Poland and the Free City of Danzig after the joint invasion of Poland by
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
and the Soviet Union in 1939 at the onset of World War II. Getting the leadership of the individual ''Gaue'' to co-operate with one another proved difficult at times since there was constant administrative and financial jockeying for control going on between them. The first table below describes the organizational structure for the ''Gaue'' that existed before their dissolution in 1945. Information on former ''Gaue'' (that were either renamed, or dissolved by being divided or merged with other ''Gaue'') is provided in the second table.


Nazi Party ''Gaue''

Later Gaue: :* Reichsgau Flandern, Flanders, existed from 15 December 1944 (''Gauleiter'' in German exile: Jef van de Wiele) :* Reichsgau Wallonien, Wallonia, existed from 8 December 1944 (''Gauleiter'' in German exile: Léon Degrelle)


''Gaue'' dissolved before 1945

The numbering is not based on any official former ranking, but merely listed alphabetically. ''Gaue'' that were simply renamed without territorial changes bear the designation ''RN'' in the column "later became." ''Gaue'' that were divided into more than one ''Gau'' bear the designation ''D'' in the column "later became." ''Gaue'' that were merged with other ''Gaue'' (or occupied territory) bear the designation ''M'' in the column "together with."


Associated organisations abroad


''Gaue'' in Switzerland

The irregular Swiss branch of the Nazi Party also established a number of Party ''Gaue'' in that country, most of them named after their regional capitals. These included ''Gau Canton of Basel, Basel-Canton of Solothurn, Solothurn'', ''Gau Canton of Schaffhausen, Schaffhausen'', ''Gau Canton of Luzern, Luzern'', ''Gau Canton of Bern, Bern'' and ''Gau Canton of Zürich, Zürich''. The ''Gau Ostschweiz'' (East Switzerland) combined the territories of three cantons: Canton of St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Canton of Thurgau, Thurgau and Canton of Appenzell, Appenzell.


Membership


General membership

The general membership of the Nazi Party mainly consisted of the urban and rural lower middle classes. 7% belonged to the upper class, another 7% were
peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial Pre-industrial society refers to social attributes and forms of political and cultural organization that were prevalent before the advent of the Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the tra ...
s, 35% were industrial workers and 51% were what can be described as middle class. In early 1933, just before Hitler's appointment to the chancellorship, the party showed an under-representation of "workers", who made up 30% of the membership but 46% of German society. Conversely, white-collar employees (19% of members and 12% of Germans), the self-employed (20% of members and 10% of Germans) and civil servants (15% of members and 5% of the German population) had joined in proportions greater than their share of the general population. These members were affiliated with local branches of the party, of which there were 1,378 throughout the country in 1928. In 1932, the number had risen to 11,845, reflecting the party's growth in this period. When it came to power in 1933, the Nazi Party had over members. In 1939, the membership total rose to 5.3 million with 81% being male and 19% being female. It continued to attract many more and by 1945 the party reached its peak of 8 million with 63% being male and 37% being female (about 10% of the German population of 80 million).


Military membership

Nazi members with military ambitions were encouraged to join the Waffen-SS, but a great number enlisted in the ''Wehrmacht'' and even more were drafted for service after World War II began. Early regulations required that all ''Wehrmacht'' members be non-political and any Nazi member joining in the 1930s was required to resign from the Nazi Party. However, this regulation was soon waived and full Nazi Party members served in the ''Wehrmacht'' in particular after the outbreak of World War II. The ''Wehrmacht'' Reserves also saw a high number of senior Nazis enlisting, with Reinhard Heydrich and Fritz Todt joining the ''Luftwaffe'', as well as Karl Hanke who served in the army. The British historian Richard J. Evans wrote that junior officers in the army were inclined to be especially zealous National Socialists with a third of them having joined the Nazi Party by 1941. Reinforcing the work of the junior leaders were the National Socialist Leadership Guidance Officers, which were created with the purpose of indoctrinating the troops for the "war of extermination" against Soviet Russia. Among higher-ranking officers, 29% were NSDAP members by 1941.


Student membership

In 1926, the party formed a special division to engage the student population, known as the National Socialist German Students' League (NSDStB). A group for university lecturers, the National Socialist German University Lecturers' League (NSDDB), also existed until July 1944.


Women membership

The NS-Frauenschaft, National Socialist Women's League was the women's wing, women's organisation of the party and by 1938 it had approximately 2 million members.


Membership outside Germany

Party members who lived outside Germany were pooled into the ''Auslands-Organisation'' (NSDAP/AO, "Foreign Organization"). The organisation was limited only to so-called "Imperial Germans" (citizens of the German Empire); and "Ethnic Germans" (''Volksdeutsche''), who did not hold German citizenship were not permitted to join. Under Beneš decrees, Beneš decree Beneš decrees#List of decrees, No. 16/1945 Coll., in case of citizens of Czechoslovakia membership of the Nazi Party was punishable by between five and twenty years of imprisonment.


''Deutsche Gemeinschaft''

''Deutsche Gemeinschaft'' was a branch of the Nazi Party founded in 1919, created for Germans with ''Volksdeutsche'' status. It is not to be confused with the post-war right-wing ', which was founded in 1949. Notable members included: * Oswald Menghin (Vienna) * Herbert Czaja (Province of Silesia inside
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
) * Hermann Neubacher who was responsible for invading Yugoslavia. * Rudolf Much (Vienna) * Arthur Seyß-Inquart (Vienna)


Party symbols

* Flag of Germany, Nazi flags: The Nazi Party used a right-facing
swastika The swastika symbol, 卐 (''right-facing'' or ''clockwise'') or 卍 (''left-facing'', ''counterclockwise'', or sauwastika), is an ancient religious icon An icon (from the Greek language, Greek 'image, resemblance') is a religious work ...

swastika
as their symbol and the red and black colours were said to represent ''Blood and soil, Blut und Boden'' ("blood and soil"). Another definition of the flag describes the colours as representing the ideology of National Socialism, the swastika representing the Aryan race and the Aryan nationalist agenda of the movement; white representing Aryan racial purity; and red representing the socialist agenda of the movement. Black, white and red were in fact the colours of the old North German Confederation flag (invented by Otto von Bismarck, based on the Prussian colours black and white and the red used by northern German states). In 1871, with the foundation of the German Reich the flag of the North German Confederation became the German ''Reichsflagge'' ("Reich flag"). Black, white and red became the colours of the nationalists through the following history (for example
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
and the
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: Weimarer Republik ) was the German state from 1918 to 1933 when it functioned as a federal constitutional republic. The state was officially named the German Reich (german: Deutsches Reich, link=no, label=none), ...
). :The :File:Flag of the NSDAP (1920–1945).svg, ''Parteiflagge'' design, with the centred swastika disc, served as the party flag from 1920. Between 1933 (when the Nazi Party came to power) and 1935, it was used as the National flag (''Nationalflagge'') and Merchant flag (''Handelsflagge''), but interchangeably with the :File:Flag of German Reich (1933–1935).svg, black-white-red horizontal tricolour. In 1935, the black-white-red horizontal tricolour was scrapped (again) and the :File:Flag of German Reich (1935–1945).svg, flag with the off-centre swastika and disc was instituted as the national flag, and remained as such until 1945. The flag with the centred disk continued to be used after 1935, but exclusively as the ''Parteiflagge'', the flag of the party. * Coat of arms of Germany, German eagle: The Nazi Party used the traditional Coat of arms of Germany, German eagle, standing atop of a swastika inside a wreath of oak leaves. It is also known as the "Iron Eagle"''.'' When the eagle is looking to its left shoulder, it symbolises the Nazi Party and was called the ''Parteiadler''. In contrast, when the eagle is looking to its right shoulder, it symbolises the country (''Reich'') and was therefore called the ''Reichsadler''. After the Nazi Party came to national power in Germany, they replaced the traditional version of the German eagle with the modified party symbol throughout the country and all its institutions.


Ranks and rank insignia


Slogans and songs

* Nazi slogans: "Sieg Heil!"; "Hitler salute, Heil Hitler" * Nazi anthem: ''Horst-Wessel-Lied''


Election results


German Reichstag


Presidential election


Volkstag of Danzig


See also

* Glossary of Nazi Germany * List of books about Nazi Germany * List of Nazi Party leaders and officials * Mass suicides in 1945 Nazi Germany * Neo-Nazism * Sino-German cooperation (1926–1941) * Socialist Reich Party * ''Volkssturm''


References

Informational notes Citations Bibliography * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links


Text of ''Mein Kampf''
* s:Program of the NSDAP, Program of the Nazi Party, its "Manifesto" *
Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) 1920–1933
at ''Lebendiges Museum Online''. *

at ''Lebendiges Museum Online''.
''Organisationsbuch NSDAP'' An encyclopedic reference guide to the Nazi Party, organisations, uniforms, flags etc. published by the party itself
{{Authority control Nazi Party, Nazi parties, 1919 establishments in Germany 1945 disestablishments in Germany Nazism, * Adolf Hitler Anti-communist parties Anti-communism in Germany Antisemitism in Germany Banned far-right parties Banned political parties in Germany Defunct political parties in Germany Far-right political parties in Germany Fascist parties in Germany The Holocaust Identity politics Parties of one-party systems Political parties established in 1919 Political parties disestablished in 1945 Political parties in the Weimar Republic Right-wing populism in Germany Anti-black racism in Germany Homophobia