Hitler - OverSimplified (Part 2)

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Apr 18, 2017


Hitler -  OverSimplified (Part 2)
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  • Since Germany's military had to be reduced, Hitler could no longer remain a soldier after the war,
  • but he kept working for the army as an informant.
  • After the war, communists in Germany had attempted a revolution,
  • and the government was worried about communism in general,
  • so Hitler was tasked with infiltrating and reporting on any new political parties that could pose a communist threat.
  • A new party called the German Workers' Party threw up a whole bunch of red flags, so Hitler went along to one of their meetings
  • but found that they weren't communists at all - they were extreme right,
  • and shared many of his extreme beliefs, so he left the army, and signed up to join the party.
  • His fantastic speaking abilities impressed the party's leadership and supporters,
  • and he very quickly rose to the top.
  • He decided that the party needs a makeover, so he renamed it to the
  • National Socialist German Workers' Party, or Nazi for short,
  • and he gave it a new color scheme.
  • The Nazis weren't very specific on policy, but Hitler made extravagant promises to return Germany to it's former glory,
  • by undoing the Treaty of Versailles, and reuniting all ethic Germans into one nation.
  • He also said that only pure Aryan people should be allowed to be citizens
  • And that all Jews would lose their citizenship. These ideas were already common in extreme right politics,
  • but what set the Nazis apart was Hitler himself, and they quickly became the leading party on the extreme right.
  • Many of the political parties in Germany at the time had paramilitary wings,
  • and the Nazis were no different. Hitler set up the very descriptive "Hall Protection Detachment," later changed to the very delightful
  • "Gymnastic and Sports Division," and finally settling on the ominous "Storm Detachment", or SA for short. Their job was to defend Nazi party meetings
  • and intimidate political opponents,
  • and they were frequently engaged in battles with
  • communists on the streets. Since the allies had demanded a reduction in Germany's military size, many trained soldiers were left unemployed.
  • They liked the Nazi ideology, and it was only natural for them to join the SA, which grew larger and larger over time.
  • The new democratic government that formed after World War I was pretty weak and ineffective. In order to pay reparations
  • to the Allies, it started printing more money. The problem
  • is that printing money doesn't actually give a country more money - it just makes money less valuable.
  • So as the country printed more and more money, it became worth less and less and the currency crashed. In 1919, one U.S.
  • dollar was worth about for German marks, but by December 1923, one U.S.
  • dollar was equal to 4.2 trillion marks. The price of bread rose to 200 billion marks. Banknotes became worthless.
  • Unsurprisingly, in such an economic crisis, Germany struggled to pay the allies. The French were pissed about this.
  • So they occupied the Ruhr, an area full of factories, and took the economic output from the area as payment.
  • They treated the German civilians badly and in total approximately a hundred and thirty Germans were killed during the occupation.
  • Germans were furious and Hitler and the Nazis thought that now would be a great time to lead a revolution. In November 1923,
  • inspired by something a certain bold Italian man did a year earlier,
  • Hitler stormed a meeting at a beer hall, and called for an uprising against the government. With his supporters,
  • he marched on the streets of Munich, hoping the police would join his side.
  • They did not. *Gun Shots*
  • Hitler was put on trial for treason. He could have been sentenced to life, but the right-wing judges thought
  • he was a pretty cool guy.
  • Hitler knew the judges and knew that they would be lenient.
  • So he took the opportunity to make impassioned speeches during the trial and in the end
  • he was sentenced to just five years in prison, of which he only served nine months,
  • and when I said prison, it was more like a pleasant hotel stay where he had plenty of time to write a book.
  • The whole affair was covered by the media nationwide, and it made Hitler famous. Hitler and his extreme message were now known throughout Germany.
  • But the everyday German still didn't care much for him. In the 1928 election, the Nazis only one about
  • 2% of the vote. Many were still intimidated by all the violence and the shouting and how
  • un-politician-like he was, but a new economic crisis would change all of that.
  • To help Germany pay its reparations, America agreed to give it loans. In October 1929,
  • the Wall Street crash happened and America wanted its money back. The economic strain that stood on an already struggling Germany was severe.
  • Unemployment skyrocketed.
  • Poverty was widespread and Germans were sick of it.
  • It was clear that the newly formed democracy wasn't working. In the face of crisis, Germans began moving to the political
  • extremes. If you were German and want to change, your choices now were either the communists or the Nazis.
  • Hitler claimed that he was the only one who could return Germany to its former glory.
  • The Nazi party used propaganda to make Hitler seem like a great and powerful man
  • and they gave the German people a scapegoat to blame for all their suffering.
  • The promise of a single strong dictator was a breath of fresh air for Germans after years of failing democracy.
  • Some bought into his extreme ideology. Some didn't agree with the racism,
  • but were willing to vote for him anyway. Many didn't know much about politics at all,
  • but just got caught up in the hype. Election after election, the Nazis became more and more popular until in
  • 1932, they became the biggest party in the German parliament.
  • Hitler came to truly believe that he was some sort of great destined savior of Germany. He turned
  • megalomaniac. He decided to run for president and did surprisingly well, but still lost to the extremely popular World War I general, Paul von Hindenburg.
  • Since he was now the leader of the biggest party, though,
  • he demanded President Hindenburg make him chancellor.
  • But Hindenburg was reluctant, seeing that Hitler was clearly such a big racist.
  • Industry leaders urged
  • Hindenburg to give Hitler the chancellorship, fearing the rising support for communism, and leader of the center party von Papen, who had been secretly
  • negotiating with Hitler, said to Hindenburg,
  • "How about we make Hitler chancellor on the condition that I get to be vice chancellor and most government jobs go to us, moderate
  • conservatives. That way I'll get to keep my power,
  • I mean, we'll get to keep our power and we'll control Hitler like he's our angry little puppet.
  • What could possibly go wrong?" As it turned out,
  • Hitler became chancellor of Germany in January 1933,
  • but he was not yet a dictator. In February, the German Parliament building was set on fire.
  • Historians still aren't sure who did it and many suspect the Nazis did it themselves, but Hitler blamed the communists,
  • and he convinced president Hindenburg to sign an emergency decree allowing him to imprison all communists and other political opponents.
  • Communists and others were sent off to the first concentration camp in Dachau. At this time, the elderly president Hindenburg passed away,
  • giving Hitler the perfect opportunity. He introduced a law to parliament that would allow him to make all future laws and decisions
  • entirely on his own. With his political opponents in prison and the SA intimidating others, Hitler's law passed.
  • Just two months after becoming chancellor, Hitler was now a dictator.
  • He still had one problem. The leader of the SA wanted the SA to take over the job of the regular German Army and the
  • German Army didn't like that idea.
  • Hitler needed to maintain the support of his professionally trained German army, more so than his rough and rowdy SA.
  • So one night in June
  • 1934, he had Rohm and many other of his own SA officers rounded up and murdered. While he was at it,
  • he took the opportunity to brutally settle some personal scores as well. Politicians who had disagreed with him in the past,
  • reporters who had printed negative articles about him, one guy who did absolutely nothing,
  • but they thought he was someone else. In some cases, even their families were murdered. In total, up to
  • 200 people were killed in what became known as the Night of the Long Knives.
  • The army, now satisfied that they wouldn't be replaced, pledged total allegiance to their new fuhrer and Hitler's control was now absolute.
  • Life in Germany changed violently. Freedom of the press,
  • expression, and public assembly were suspended. Jews were initially branded and their businesses
  • boycotted, and eventually, Hitler would go on to have six million Jewish men, women, and children killed in concentration camps.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people were forced into sterilization for physical and mental imperfections.
  • The Hitler Youth became a way to brainwash the young. Boys were trained to fight and returned home from camp violent.
  • Girls were told their purpose was to have many pure Aryan children
  • and they would sometimes return from camp pregnant.
  • When their parents were understandably horrified, their children would threaten to turn them over to the Gestapo for standing in the way of
  • Germany's greatness. The standard greeting changed and you could be sent to a concentration camp for not using it. This way,
  • it seemed like everyone was a Nazi supporter. If you dare to pose Hitler or speak out against him in any way,
  • you also would be sent to a concentration camp.
  • German Nationalism captivated the young Adolf. Extreme ideology and anti-semitism vested in him as a young man living a hard life on the streets.
  • Germany's defeat in the First World War filled him with hatred and a thirst for vengeance.
  • A political movement that treated him like a god and hundreds of thousands looking up to him as their savior made him a megalomaniac, and
  • soon, his aggressive foreign policies would drag the world into a second tragic global conflict, otherwise known as...

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