A German political party which dominated Germany from 1933 to 1945. It originated as the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Worker’s Party), founded in Munich in 1919 to protest against the German surrender of 1918 and the Treaty of Versailles, and renamed the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Worker’s Party, or Nazi Party) in 1920. Adolf Hitler became the party’s leader the following year. Its ideology was extremely nationalist, imperialist, and racist, maintaining that the world was divided into a hierarchy of races: Aryans, of whom Germans were the purest example, were the supreme culture-bearing race, while the Jews were the lowest. It was also contended that the Jews were intent on world conquest through infesting the Aryan race. These ideas were set out by Hitler in Mein Kampf (1925). It was not until the 1930s that the Nazi Party gained a position of significant support: in 1932 with 37·3% of the vote they became the largest party in the Reichstag. Support came from people of all backgrounds, but was most prominent among Protestants, the middle class, and the young. In 1933 Hitler was appointed chancellor in a coalition government, a position from which he, aided by the party, was able to build up a personal dictatorship, through legal measures, terror, and propaganda. Once in power, the Nazis ruthlessly crushed opposition, indoctrinated the public with their ideas, engaged in extensive rearmament, and in the late 1930s invaded Austria, the Sudetenland, and the rest of Czechoslovakia, which according to the ideology was necessary for obtaining land for the ‘master race’. In 1939 Germany invaded the Polish Corridor and divided Poland between itself and the Soviet Union, whereupon Britain declared war on Germany. During World War 2, their actions included slave labour, plunder, and mass extermination. Nazism as a political ideology is now viewed very much as the expression of extreme inhumanity, fanatical nationalism, and the logic of nihilism. Resentment against immigrants to Germany precipitated a renewal of neo-Nazi demonstrations in the 1990s.
Nazi Party from The Crystal Reference Encyclopedia