German Nation and Holocaust: Analytical Essay
The Holocaust is a one of the worst mass murders known in history. From the years 1939 -1943, 6 million Jews were killed, not sparing women, children or babies. This was orchestrated by the leader of the Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler, who personally blamed the Jews and Communists for the loss of World War 1 and the Great Depression. Hitler believed he was the only one who could get Germany back to its former glory. At first, German citizens didn’t support Hitler at all, but as the unemployment rates skyrocketed in 1933, his ideals became more attractive. Hitler’s speeches promised jobs for those struggling families, then, as he gained more support and more power, others were forced to comply. Hilter’s constant use of propaganda on subjects such as antisemitic ideologies, comparing Hitler to God, and portraying Hitler as a gentle, kind, powerful and brave leader, slowly, unconciously brainwashed German citizens. Hitler also knew his audience well, most of them were lower to middle class working men, so to gain more votes he targeted them. After losing World War 1 and having to sign the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, which humiliated Germany greatly, German citizens were suffering. Hitler’s carefully staged speeches related to them and the struggling citizens thought they finally had someone who understood them and could bring Germany out of poverty. Desperation leads to people being more willing to do things they normally wouldn’t want to do such as ignoring Hitler’s racist ideologies towards Jews, Gypsies and the Communist party. Most people chose not to question Hitler because they feared that they would be punished.
The use of propaganda greatly assisted Hitler in encouraging the German people to lead him into the Holocaust. Propaganda can be applied to media that is designed to change the way people feel or influence their actions. Hitler used propaganda to increase appeal to his Nazi authoritarianism regime, further anti-Semitic ideologies and ultimately cause the systematic dehumanization of an entire group of people, the Jewish. Through the propaganda film “Triumph of the Will”, a narrative film published in 1935, it has been said that the entire German population was influenced and brainwashed. In the recent documentary titled “Triumph of the Will of Propaganda” it was noted that Hitler was well aware of the power of propaganda as he writes in his famous book Mein Kampf ‘Propaganda should not depict truth’. Hitler cunningly manipulated the German people with a plan to indoctrinate all citizens to his anti-Semitic ways. Hitler used the propaganda principle of repetition of information of a biased or misleading nature, to promote the Nazi political cause, assert his power and ultimately lead the German people into the Holocaust.
Hitler targeted the Germans affected the most by the loss of World War 1, these were mainly the unemployed living in poverty. He fixated on their fears in a relatable way to manipulate them into his power. Germany’s main source of income and food was through their imports and exports to other countries, which Britain limited to almost nothing during the war, impacting Germany severely. Throughout the war, German citizens were forced to ration what little food they had and eventually had to mass slaughter pigs and eat animal feed. In December 1918, The German Board of Public Health stated that nearly 800,000 German civilians had died from starvation and disease caused by Britain’s blockage. When the Treaty of Versailles was signed, the Weimar Government amend the unfair treaty, but the allies threatened Germany with a continued blockage if they didn’t agree to the terms. The Treaty claimed approximately 13.5% of German land, placing almost 7 million Germans under jurisdiction of surrounding countries. The military was stripped to a point of being almost defenceless and the full blame of the war was directed at Germany. The French invaded the Ruhr in 1923, which was a region of Germany that contained many valuable resources such as factories. This caused a period of hyperinflation and decreased the value of the German mark to almost nothing. This caused many Germans to lose jobs and struggle for basic human needs. When Hitler started giving powerful speeches about abolishing the Treaty of Versaillies and Germany being powerful again, Germany listened. The desperation that they were suffering caused them to look towards more extremist parties, as the Weimar Government, in the opinion of German citizens, could not lead Germany anymore. Hitler’s racist ideologies such as “Germans are the superior race” and “Jews and Communists are leaching off the struggling society and have to be eliminated”, were ignored as Germans held onto the simple promise of an income for the family. Hitler’s ideas are further explained in his book, “Mein Kampf (My Struggle)” which was orginally published in 1925 which became the bible of the Nazi Party. In the election period, the Nazi’s would hang many posters, such as one from a 1932 election that pictured women, children, rich men, working men, lower class men, the whole German community united as one with the caption reading “Hitler, our last hope”. This was the main focus of the Nazi election campaign, promising jobs, food and improved lives in exchange for unquestioned support and loyalty. Many people choose to ignore what Hitler was doing to the Jews in order to fulfill his promise. Hitler manipulated the German citizens into voting for him through his emotional, relatable speeches. An exert from a book titled “Darkness Over Germany” written by Amy Buller, who was an anti-Nazi teacher, published in 1943, demonstrates how much Hitlers speeches effected Germans. “He speaks for me…he knows how I feel…God be thanked, he understands”. Hilters well rehearsed speeches which included exaggerated hand gestures evoked the crowd deeply and eventually won them over.
Ignorance played a major part in how Hitler came into power. People simply chose to ignore the horrible things happening in order to protect themselves and their families. Many people, such as children, men and women agreed to being told what to think rather than to do it themselves, this was because anyone who showed sympathy or compassion towards the Jews were punished or killed. The most innocent group in Germany at this time were the children, Hitler indoctrinated his ideology at this young, influential age. Nazism was included in the school curriculum and Jewish teachers were fired. The burning of any books was ordered that opposed Hitler’s ideology. The children thought this was a fun, rebellious activity, but never questioned why they were only burning specific books. A photo from the 1933 book burning at Opernplatz in Berlin, where almost 70,000 people burned over 20,000 books in the public square, shows the ashes of the books that were burned and the crowd lifting one arm up to hail Hitler. The crowd are mainly children, teenagers and teachers. When Hitler came to power, he immediately started setting up a youth program designed to train and recruit children who would eventually join the Nazi party. In 1936, all other youth groups in Germany were banned and it was compulsory to join the Hitler youth program. Any who refused were first cast aside and then later punished. Jewish children were banned from participation. Nazi’s removed children from the influence of their parents, at the most impressionable stage of life, taught them Hitler’s ideologys in the camps. Throughout the war, it became more and more clear that the real reason of the Nazi youth camps was to create young, athletic soliders brainwashed with Nazi ideology. In a photograph taken at a 1935 visitation to a youth camp, Hitler is shown as a supportive and kind leader and this photo was used to encourage other children to join the camps when it was still optional. Parents and children chose did not question why these youth camps were created and were manipulated by Hitler’s speeches and constant propaganda.
Hitler persuaded the German nation that he was the only one who could bring Germany out of the Great Depression. As his popularity grew, it became harder to ignore his plan of action. Hitler used many different methods to achieve one goal, manipulate Germany. His exceptional use of propaganda, relating to the desperate after the loss of World War 1, and raising a generation that learned nothing but Nazi ideology ensured his succession to power. Hitler may have been a monster and a manipulative leader, but he did bring Germany out of poverty, no matter the cost!