Hitler's Rise to Power
Inside Germany, conditions were unsettled throughout the early 1920's. Many Germans felt betrayed by their leaders for surrendering to the Allies in 1918 and resented the current German government because it had agreed to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and because it seemed weak and inept. The country was beset by runaway inflation and high unemployment, and political turmoil was made worse by a fear of Communism and a mistrust of democracy. Extremist groups and political parties on the right and the left competed for control, often using violence to achieve their goals. One of these groups was Adolf Hitler's National Socialist German Workers', or Nazi, party. The Nazi party was founded in 1918 and quickly attracted a following among embittered veterans of World War I and others who wished to unite the German people and erase the "shame" and "betrayal" of the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler joined the party in 1919 and soon gained prominence by virtue of his electrifying oratory. In 1923 he led the Nazis in an attempted putsch (seizure of the government) in Munich. The putsch failed and Hitler and other conspirators were arrested. While in jail, Hitler began Mein Kampf (My Struggle), which outlined his program for the Nazi party and for Germany. The Nazi program, like that of Benito Mussolini's Fascists in Italy, was one of extreme nationalism. The Nazis were contemptuous of democratic forms of government and believed that people owed total obedience to their country. In addition, the Nazis held that the only true Germans were "Aryans," or people with northern European physical characteristics. Aryans, they claimed, formed a "master race" which had a right to conquer additional territory for exploitation and colonization and to exterminate all "inferior" races who stood in the way. The Nazis were also violently anti-Semitic and accused Jews of being the main cause of Germany's problems. The Nazi party's racial theories...
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