The Rise of Nazi Germany and the European Political Landscape in the 1930s
The article provides an insight into the political landscape of Europe in the 1930s, with a particular focus on the rise of Nazi Germany and the dynamics of the Nazi regime. It also explores the commonalities and distinctions between the three major totalitarian regimes in Europe: fascist Italy, Soviet Union under Stalin, and Nazi Germany. It concludes with a discussion of the defeat of the Left in Europe in the mid-1930s.
Table of Contents:
- Nazi Germany and its uneasy dualism with the state
- The SS and the pursuit of racial cleansing
- Expansion of concentration camps and the drive for powerful armed forces
- Popular support for the Nazi regime and terroristic repression
- Europe on the brink of war
- The impact of the defeat of the Left in Europe
- The triumph of anti-fascism in France
Nazi Germany and its uneasy dualism with the state
The Nazi Party existed alongside and intersected with the state in an uneasy dualism. The party put pressure on the exclusion of “inferiors” from the “people’s community” and anti-Jewish sentiment. This strained the relationship with the state, but the Nazi regime managed to maintain popular support in the mid-1930s.
The SS and the pursuit of racial cleansing
The SS was the elite sector of the Nazi movement, committed to the pursuit of racial cleansing both to improve the political health of the nation and to provide the basis for future German domination of Europe.
Expansion of concentration camps and the drive for powerful armed forces
Plans for the expansion of concentration camps were being laid at the time, indicating the Nazi regime’s commitment to racial cleansing. Alongside race policy, the drive to build powerful armed forces, militarize the “people’s community,” and direct the economy towards rapid rearmament ensured a relentless tempo that was never allowed to subside. The expansion for “living space,” like the “removal” of the Jews, was also a major goal of the Nazi regime.
Popular support for the Nazi regime and terroristic repression
By every indication, the Nazi regime could reckon with wide popular support in the mid-1930s. The economic recovery, elimination of unemployment, restoration of political order, and patriotic triumphs were widely popular, and Hitler’s own popularity was immense, even among many who disliked the party and its local representatives. Younger Germans of both sexes were disproportionately won over to the regime, soaking up nazified values in the Hitler Youth movement, and many found excitement, adventure, and an impression of a community that transcended all class divisions.
For the rest, terroristic repression had done its job, and most Germans inevitably had to find ways of accommodating to dictatorship, complying with varying degrees of enthusiasm to the demands of the regime.
Europe on the brink of war
Europe was on the brink of another war in the late 1930s, with Nazi Germany displaying aggressive expansionist behavior. The three dynamic dictatorships of Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany had common structural features, but their forms of rule were distinct. While the leaders of the western democracies were mistrusting of and antagonistic toward the Soviet Union, they saw Germany as the overwhelming menace.
The impact of the defeat of the Left in Europe
The defeat of the Left in Europe in the mid-1930s was the result of divisions within the Left and the fear and detestation of socialist ideology and communism in the upper and middle classes and parts of the working class. Most of Europe was under some type of repressive nationalist regime or outright fascism, leaving the Left impotent. Social democracy held a stake in government in the Scandinavian countries, but it carried little weight in shaping the international constellation of power.
The triumph of anti-fascism in France
France offered a flicker of light amid all the deepening gloom for the Left in Europe when the French general election of 1936 produced a result that seemed like an outright triumph for anti-fascism. Pressure for a ‘popular front’ against fascism had come from below and had been adopted by the French Communist Party. The Popular Front of Socialists, Communists and Radicals won an astonishing victory with 376 seats.
The article sheds light on the political landscape of Europe in the 1930s, with a focus on the rise of Nazi Germany and the dynamics of the Nazi regime. It concludes with a discussion of the defeat of the Left in Europe in the mid-1930s and the triumph of anti-fascism in France. Despite the widespread repression and terror, the article highlights the wide popular support enjoyed by the Nazi regime in mid-1930s Germany.