The Nazi Symbol (Swastika)

Nazism (Nationalsozialismus, National Socialism), was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany.[1][2][3] It was a unique variety of fascism that involved biological racism and antisemitism.[4]

Relation with fascism

Nazism is a politically syncretic variety of fascism, which incorporates policies, tactics and philosophic tenets from left and right-wing politics. Italian fascism and German Nazism reject liberalism, democracy and Marxism.[5] Usually supported by the far right, fascism is historically anti-communist, anti-liberal, anti-conservative and anti-parliamentary.[6] The Nazis' rise to power was assisted by the Fascist government of Italy that began to financially subsidize the Nazi party in 1928.[7]


Nazis used the term "national socialism" to refer to a type of socialism that did not support internationalism, but instead nationalism and even xenophobia[8]. Thus, national socialism (unlike socialism itself, which promotes international equality), includes racism, nationalist territorial expansion (Lebensraum) and state control of the (war) economy[9].

In 1927, Hitler said: "We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions."[10] Yet two years later, in 1929, Hitler backtracked, saying that socialism was "an unfortunate word altogether" and that "if people have something to eat, and their pleasures, then they have their socialism." Historian Henry A. Turner reports Hitler’s regret at having including the word socialism in the Nazi Party name.[11] Inclusion of the term socialism was probably in order to attract worker's and sindicate's votes.

The Nazi Party’s early self-description as "socialist" caused conservative opponents, such as the Industrial Employers Association, to describe it as "totalitarian, terrorist, conspiratorial, and socialist".[12]

Racial ideology

Nazism developed several theories concerning races. The Nazis claimed to scientifically measure a strict hierarchy among "human race"; at the top was the master race, the "Aryan race", narrowly defined by the Nazis as being identical with the Nordic race, followed by lesser races.

Slavs were a Nordic race like the Germans. However, because of the military interests of the Nazi government, the following propaganda was created: At the bottom of this hierarchy were "parasitic" races (of non-Aryan/European origin) or "Untermenschen" ("sub-humans"), which were perceived to be dangerous to society. In Nazi literature, the term "under man" ('Untermensch') was applied to the Slavs, especially including Russians, Serbs (from South Slavic group), and ethnic Poles.[13] Nazi ideology viewed Slavs as a racially inferior group, who were fit for enslavement, or even extermination.[14] Lowest of all in the Nazi racial policy were Gypsies and Jews, who were both eventually deemed to be "Lebensunwertes Leben" ("Life unworthy of life") and to be exterminated during the Holocaust.

Holocaust victims

A gas chamber at Auschwitz concentration camp, where thousands of people were killed every year.

While the term Holocaust victims generally refers to Jews, the German Nazis also persecuted and often killed millions of members of other groups they considered inferior (Untermenschen), undesirable, or dangerous. The targeted groups included Poles (of whom 2 million gentile Poles were killed) and some other Slavic peoples; Soviets (particularly prisoners of war); Romanies (also known as Gypsies); some Africans; Asians; and others who did not belong to the "Aryan race"; the mentally ill, physically disabled, and mentally retarded; homosexual and transsexual people; political opponents; and religious dissidents.[15][16] Taking into account all of the victims of Nazi persecution, the Nazis systematically killed an estimated 6 million Jews and were responsible for an estimated 11 million additional deaths during the war. Donald Niewyk suggests that the broadest definition, including Soviet civilian death would produce a death toll of 17 million people killed.[17]

Despite often widely varying treatment (some groups were actively targeted for genocide, while others were mostly not), these victims all perished alongside one another, some in the Nazi concentration camps and some as victims of other forms of Nazi brutality, according to the extensive documentation left behind by the Nazis themselves (written and photographed), eyewitness testimony (by survivors, perpetrators, and bystanders), and the statistical records of the various countries under occupation.


  1. National Socialism Encyclopædia Britannica.
  2. National Socialism Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2007. Archived 2009-11-01.
  3. Walter John Raymond. Dictionary of Politics. (1992). ISBN 1-55618-008-X p. 327.
  4. Neocleous, Mark. Fascism. Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA: University of Minnesota Press, 1997 p. 23.
  5. Ernst Nolte, Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche (Fascism in its Epoch), München 1963, ISBN 3-492-02448-3.
  6. Laqueuer, 1996 p. 223; Eatwell, 1996, p. 39; Griffin, 1991, 2000, p. 185-201; Weber, [1964] 1982, p. 8; Payne (1995), Fritzsche (1990), Laclau (1977), and Reich (1970).
  7. Payne, Stanley G. A history of fascism, 1914-1945. Abingdon, England, UK: Routledge, 1995, 2005 (Digital Printing edition). p. 463.
  8. Goebbels, Joseph. The Nazi-Sozi: Questions & Answers for National Socialists. Landpost Press, 1999. Pp. 19.
  9. Wiktionary
  10. Hitler’s speech on May 1, 1927. Cited in: Toland, John (1992). Adolf Hitler. Anchor Books. pp. 224–225. ISBN 0385037244.
  11. Henry A. Turner, German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler, Oxford University Press, 1985. p. 77.
  12. Goebbels, Joseph. The Nazi-Sozi: Questions & Answers for National Socialists. Landpost Press, 1999. Pp. 19.
  13. {Rosenberg, Alfred (1933) (in German). Der Mythos des 20. Jahrhunderts. Hoheneichen Verlag. p. 234.
  14. Operation Barbarossa: Ideology and Ethics against Human Dignity, by André Mineau, (Rodopi, 2004) page 180
  15. Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, pp.125ff.
  16. "Non-Jewish victims of Nazism," Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  17. A figure of 26 million is given in Service d'Information des Crimes de Guerre: Crimes contre la Personne Humain, Camps de Concentration. Paris, 1946, p. 197. Other references: Christopher Hodapp, Freemasons for Dummies, 2005; Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, 2003; Martin Gilbert, Atlas of the Holocaust, 1993; Israel Gutman, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, 1995.
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