National Socialist German Workers' Party

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search

<templatestyles src="Module:Hatnote/styles.css"></templatestyles>

National Socialist German Workers' Party
Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei
Führer <templatestyles src="Plainlist/styles.css"/>
Founder Anton Drexler
Slogan "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer" (English: "One People, One Nation, One Leader") (unofficial)
Founded 24 February 1920 (1920-02-24)
Dissolved 10 October 1945 (1945-10-10)
Preceded by German Workers' Party
Headquarters Brown House, Munich, Germany[1]
Newspaper Völkischer Beobachter
Student wing National Socialist German Students' League
Youth wing Hitler Youth
Paramilitary wings <templatestyles src="Plainlist/styles.css"/>
Sports body National Socialist League of the Reich for Physical Exercise
Women's wing National Socialist Women's League
Membership <templatestyles src="Plainlist/styles.css"/>
  • Fewer than 60 (1920)
  • 8.5 million (1945)[2]
Ideology National Socialism
Political position Far-left[3][4][5][6]
Colors <templatestyles src="Plainlist/styles.css"/>
"Horst Wessel Song"
Party flag
Politics of Germany
Political parties

The National Socialist German Workers' Party (German: <phonos file="De-Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.ogg">Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei</phonos>, abbreviated NSDAP), commonly referred to in English as the Nazi Party (English /ˈnɒtsi, ˈnætsi/),[7] was a political party in Germany that was active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of National Socialism. Its precursor, the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; DAP), existed from 1919 to 1920.

Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. The NSDAP emerged from the German nationalist Freikorps paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post-World War I Germany.[8] The party was created to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch nationalism.[9] National Socialist political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist rhetoric, although this was later downplayed in favor of anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes.[10]

Racial theories were central to National Socialism, expressed in the idea of a "people's community" (Volksgemeinschaft).[11] The party aimed to unite "racially desirable" Germans as national comrades, while excluding those deemed either to be political dissidents, physically or intellectually inferior, or of a foreign race (Fremdvölkische).[12] The National Socialists sought to strengthen the Germanic people, the "Aryan master race", through racial purity and eugenics, broad social welfare programs, and a collective subordination of individual rights, which could be sacrificed for the good of the state on behalf of the people.

To protect the supposed purity and strength of the Aryan race, the National Socialists sought to exterminate Jews, Romani, Poles and most other Slavs, along with the physically and mentally disabled. They disenfranchised and segregated Africans, Jehovah's Witnesses and political opponents.[13] The persecution reached its climax when the party-controlled German state set in motion the Final Solution–an industrial system of genocide which achieved the murder of an estimated 5.5 to 6 million Jews and millions of other targeted victims, in what has become known as the Holocaust.[14]

Adolf Hitler, the party's leader since 1921, was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg on 30 January 1933. Hitler rapidly established a totalitarian regime[15][16][17][18] known as the Third Reich. Following the defeat of the Third Reich at the conclusion of World War II in Europe, the party was "declared to be illegal" by the Allied powers,[19] who carried out denazification in the years after the war.


Nazi, the informal and often derogatory term for a party member, abbreviates the party's name (Nationalsozialist German pronunciation: [natsi̯oˈnaːlzotsi̯aˌlɪst]), and was coined in analogy with Sozi (pronounced [ˈzoːtsiː]), an abbreviation of Sozialdemokrat (member of the rival Social Democratic Party of Germany).[20][21]:{{{3}}} Members of the party referred to themselves as Nationalsozialisten (National Socialists), rarely as Nazis. The term Parteigenosse (party member) was commonly used among Nazis, with its corresponding feminine form Parteigenossin.[22]

The term was in use before the rise of the party as a colloquial and derogatory word for a backward peasant, an awkward and clumsy person. It derived from Ignaz, a shortened version of Ignatius,[23][24] which was a common name in the National Socialists' home region of Bavaria. Opponents seized on this, and the long-existing Sozi, to attach a dismissive nickname to the National Socialists.[24][25]

In 1933, when Adolf Hitler assumed power in the German government, the usage of "Nazi" diminished in Germany, although Austrian anti-Nazis continued to use the term,[21]:{{{3}}} and the use of "Nazi Germany" and "Nazi regime" was popularised by anti-Nazis and German exiles abroad. Thereafter, the term spread into other languages and eventually was brought back to Germany after its defeat in World War II.[25] In English, the term is not considered slang, and has such derivatives as Nazism and denazification.


Origins and early years: 1918–1923

The party grew out of smaller political groups with a nationalist orientation that formed in the last years of World War I. In 1918, a league called the Freier Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden (Free Workers' Committee for a good Peace)[26] was created in Bremen, Germany. On 7 March 1918, Anton Drexler, an avid German nationalist, formed a branch of this league in Munich.[26] Drexler was a local locksmith who had been a member of the militarist Fatherland Party[27] during World War I and was bitterly opposed to the armistice of November 1918 and the revolutionary upheavals that followed. Drexler followed the views of militant nationalists of the day, such as opposing the Treaty of Versailles, having antisemitic, anti-monarchist and anti-Marxist views, as well as believing in the superiority of Germans whom they claimed to be part of the Aryan "master race" (Herrenvolk). However, he also accused international capitalism of being a Jewish-dominated movement and denounced capitalists for war profiteering in World War I.[28] Drexler saw the political violence and instability in Germany as the result of the Weimar Republic being out-of-touch with the masses, especially the lower classes.[28] Drexler emphasized the need for a synthesis of völkisch nationalism with a form of economic socialism, in order to create a popular nationalist-oriented workers' movement that could challenge the rise of Communism and internationalist politics.[29] These were all well-known themes popular with various Weimar paramilitary groups such as the Freikorps.

National Socialist German Workers' Party badge emblem

Drexler's movement received attention and support from some influential figures. Supporter Dietrich Eckart, a well-to-do journalist, brought military figure Felix Graf von Bothmer, a prominent supporter of the concept of "national socialism", to address the movement.[30] Later in 1918, Karl Harrer (a journalist and member of the Thule Society) convinced Drexler and several others to form the Politischer Arbeiterzirkel (Political Workers' Circle).[26] The members met periodically for discussions with themes of nationalism and racism directed against the Jews.[26] In December 1918, Drexler decided that a new political party should be formed, based on the political principles that he endorsed, by combining his branch of the Workers' Committee for a good Peace with the Political Workers' Circle.[26][31]

On 5 January 1919, Drexler created a new political party and proposed it should be named the "German Socialist Workers' Party", but Harrer objected to the term "socialist"; so the term was removed and the party was named the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP).[32] To ease concerns among potential middle-class supporters, Drexler made clear that unlike Marxists the party supported the middle-class and that its socialist policy was meant to give social welfare to German citizens deemed part of the Aryan race through the managerial state.[33][28] They became one of many völkisch movements that existed in Germany. Unlike the Marxists, the National Socialists advocated "socialism of the German pattern," or Zwangswirtschaft, where the economy completely is planned and controlled by the government while retaining many of the labels and nominal forms of capitalism[34], whereby it was claimed Germany would become a unified "people's community" (Volksgemeinschaft) rather than a society divided along class and party lines.[35] This ideology was explicitly antisemitic. As early as 1920, the party was raising money by selling a tobacco called Anti-Semit.[36]

From the outset, the DAP was opposed to non-nationalist political movements, including the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). Members of the DAP saw themselves as fighting against "Bolshevism" and anyone considered a part of or aiding so-called "international Jewry". The DAP was also deeply opposed to the Versailles Treaty.[37] The DAP did not attempt to make itself public and meetings were kept in relative secrecy, with public speakers discussing what they thought of Germany's present state of affairs, or writing to like-minded societies in Northern Germany.[35]

The DAP was a comparatively small group with fewer than 60 members.[35] Nevertheless, it attracted the attention of the German authorities, who were suspicious of any organization that appeared to have subversive tendencies. In July 1919, while stationed in Munich army Gefreiter Adolf Hitler was appointed a Verbindungsmann (intelligence agent) of an Aufklärungskommando (reconnaissance unit) of the Reichswehr (army) by Captain Mayr the head of the Education and Propaganda Department (Dept Ib/P) in Bavaria. Hitler was assigned to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate the DAP.[38] While attending a party meeting on 12 September 1919, Hitler became involved in a heated argument with a visitor, Professor Baumann, who questioned the soundness of Gottfried Feder's arguments against capitalism; Baumann proposed that Bavaria should break away from Prussia and found a new South German nation with Austria. In vehemently attacking the man's arguments, Hitler made an impression on the other party members with his oratorical skills; according to Hitler, the "professor" left the hall acknowledging unequivocal defeat.[39] Drexler encouraged him to join the DAP.[39] On the orders of his army superiors, Hitler applied to join the party[40] and within a week was accepted as party member 555 (the party began counting membership at 500 to give the impression they were a much larger party).[41][42] Among the party's earlier members were Ernst Röhm of the Army's District Command VII; Dietrich Eckart, who has been called the spiritual father of National Socialism;[43] then-University of Munich student Rudolf Hess;[44] Freikorps soldier Hans Frank; and Alfred Rosenberg, often credited as the philosopher of the movement. All were later prominent in the National Socialist regime.[45]

Hitler's membership card in the DAP (later NSDAP)

Hitler later claimed to be the seventh party member (he was in fact the seventh executive member of the party's central committee[46] and he would later wear the Golden Party Badge number one). Anton Drexler drafted a letter to Hitler in 1940—which was never sent—that contradicts Hitler's later claim:

<templatestyles src="Template:Blockquote/styles.css" />

No one knows better than you yourself, my Führer, that you were never the seventh member of the party, but at best the seventh member of the committee... And a few years ago I had to complain to a party office that your first proper membership card of the DAP, bearing the signatures of Schüssler and myself, was falsified, with the number 555 being erased and number 7 entered.[47]

Hitler's first DAP speech was held in the Hofbräukeller on 16 October 1919. He was the second speaker of the evening, and spoke to 111 people.[48] Hitler later declared that this was when he realized he could really "make a good speech".[35] At first, Hitler spoke only to relatively small groups, but his considerable oratory and propaganda skills were appreciated by the party leadership. With the support of Anton Drexler, Hitler became chief of propaganda for the party in early 1920.[49] Hitler began to make the party more public, and organized its biggest meeting yet of 2,000 people on 24 February 1920 in the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in München. Such was the significance of this particular move in publicity that Karl Harrer resigned from the party in disagreement.[50] It was in this speech that Hitler enunciated the twenty-five points of the German Workers' Party manifesto that had been drawn up by Drexler, Feder and himself.[51] Through these points he gave the organization a much bolder stratagem[49] with a clear foreign policy (abrogation of the Treaty of Versailles, a Greater Germany, Eastern expansion and exclusion of Jews from citizenship) and among his specific points were: confiscation of war profits, abolition of unearned incomes, the State to share profits of land and land for national needs to be taken away without compensation.[52] In general, the manifesto was antisemitic, anti-capitalist, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, and anti-liberal.[53] To increase its appeal to larger segments of the population, on the same day as Hitler's Hofbräuhaus speech on 24 February 1920, the DAP changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei ("National Socialist German Workers' Party", or Nazi Party).[54][55]

In 1920, the NSDAP officially announced that only persons of "pure Aryan descent [rein arischer Abkunft]" could become party members and if the person had a spouse, the spouse also had to be a "racially pure" Aryan. Party members could not be related either directly or indirectly to a so-called "non-Aryan".[56] Even before it had become legally forbidden by the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, the National Socialists banned sexual relations and marriages between party members and Jews.[57] Party members found guilty of Rassenschande ("racial defilement") were persecuted heavily, some members were even sentenced to death.[58]

Hitler quickly became the party's most active orator, appearing in public as a speaker 31 times within the first year after his self-discovery.[59] Crowds began to flock to hear his speeches.[60] Hitler always spoke about the same subjects: the Treaty of Versailles and the Jewish question.[53] This deliberate technique and effective publicizing of the party contributed significantly to his early success,[53] about which a contemporary poster wrote: "Since Herr Hitler is a brilliant speaker, we can hold out the prospect of an extremely exciting evening".[61] Over the following months, the party continued to attract new members,[46] while remaining too small to have any real significance in German politics.[62] By the end of the year, party membership was recorded at 2,000,[60] many of whom Hitler and Röhm had brought into the party personally, or for whom Hitler's oratory had been their reason for joining.[63]

Hitler's talent as an orator and his ability to draw new members, combined with his characteristic ruthlessness, soon made him the dominant figure. However, while Hitler and Eckart were on a fundraising trip to Berlin in June 1921, a mutiny broke out within the party in Munich. Members of its executive committee wanted to merge with the rival German Socialist Party (DSP).[64] Upon returning to Munich on 11 July, Hitler angrily tendered his resignation. The committee members realized that his resignation would mean the end of the party.[65] Hitler announced he would rejoin on condition that he would replace Drexler as party chairman, and that the party headquarters would remain in Munich.[66] The committee agreed, and he rejoined the party on 26 July as member 3,680. Hitler continued to face some opposition within the NSDAP, as his opponents had Hermann Esser expelled from the party and they printed 3,000 copies of a pamphlet attacking Hitler as a traitor to the party.[66] In the following days, Hitler spoke to several packed houses and defended himself and Esser to thunderous applause.[67]

His strategy proved successful; at a special party congress on 29 July 1921, he replaced Drexler as party chairman by a vote of 533 to 1.[67] The committee was dissolved, and Hitler was granted nearly absolute powers as the party's sole leader.[67] He would hold the post for the remainder of his life. Hitler soon acquired the title Führer ("leader") and after a series of sharp internal conflicts it was accepted that the party would be governed by the Führerprinzip ("leader principle"). Under this principle, the party was a highly centralized entity that functioned strictly from the top down, with Hitler at the apex as the party's absolute leader. Hitler saw the party as a revolutionary organization, whose aim was the overthrow of the Weimar Republic, which he saw as controlled by the communists, Jews and the "November criminals" who had betrayed the German soldiers in 1918. The SA ("storm troopers", also known as "Brownshirts") were founded as a party militia in 1921 and began violent attacks on other parties.

For Hitler, the twin goals of the party were always German nationalist expansionism and antisemitism. These two goals were fused in his mind by his belief that Germany's external enemies – Britain, France and the Soviet Union – were controlled by the Jews and that Germany's future wars of national expansion would necessarily entail a war against the Jews.[68] For Hitler and his principal lieutenants, national and racial issues were always dominant. This was symbolized by the adoption as the party emblem of the swastika or Hakenkreuz. In German nationalist circles, the swastika was considered a symbol of an "Aryan race" and it symbolized the replacement of the Christian Cross with allegiance to a National Socialist State.

The NSDAP grew significantly during 1921 and 1922, partly through Hitler's oratorical skills, partly through the SA's appeal to unemployed young men, and partly because of revolutionary sentiment as Germany's economic problems deepened and the weakness of the Weimar regime became apparent. The party recruited former World War I soldiers, to whom Hitler as a decorated frontline veteran could particularly appeal, as well as disaffected former members of rival parties. National Socialist rallies were often held in beer halls, where downtrodden men could get free beer. The Hitler Youth was formed for the children of party members. The party also formed groups in other parts of Germany. Julius Streicher in Nuremberg was an early recruit and became editor of the racist magazine Der Stürmer. In December 1920, the NSDAP had acquired a newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, of which its leading ideologist Alfred Rosenberg became editor. Others to join the party around this time were Heinrich Himmler and World War I flying ace Hermann Göring.

On 31 October 1922, a party with similar policies and objectives came into power in Italy, the National Fascist Party, under the leadership of the charismatic Benito Mussolini. The Fascists, like the National Socialists, promoted a national rebirth of their country, as they opposed communism and [Classical liberalism|liberalism]]; appealed to the working-class; opposed the Treaty of Versailles; and advocated the territorial expansion of their country. The Italian Fascists used a straight-armed Roman salute and wore black-shirted uniforms. Hitler was inspired by Mussolini and the Fascists, borrowing their use of the straight-armed salute as a National Socialist salute. When the Fascists came to power in 1922 in Italy through their coup attempt called the "March on Rome", Hitler began planning his own coup.

In January 1923, France occupied the Ruhr industrial region as a result of Germany's failure to meet its reparations payments. This led to economic chaos, the resignation of Wilhelm Cuno's government and an attempt by the German Communist Party (KPD) to stage a revolution. The reaction to these events was an upsurge of nationalist sentiment. NSDAP membership grew sharply to about 20,000.[69] By November, Hitler had decided that the time was right for an attempt to seize power in Munich, in the hope that the Reichswehr (the postwar German military) would mutiny against the Berlin government and join his revolt. In this, he was influenced by former General Erich Ludendorff, who had become a supporter—though not a member—of the National Socialists.

On the night of 8 November, the National Socialists used a patriotic rally in a Munich beer hall to launch an attempted putsch ("coup d'état"). This so-called Beer Hall Putsch attempt failed almost at once when the local Reichswehr commanders refused to support it. On the morning of 9 November, the National Socialists staged a march of about 2,000 supporters through Munich in an attempt to rally support. Troops opened fire and 16 National Socialists were killed. Hitler, Ludendorff and a number of others were arrested and were tried for treason in March 1924. Hitler and his associates were given very lenient prison sentences. While Hitler was in prison, he wrote his semi-autobiographical political manifesto Mein Kampf ("My Struggle").

The NSDAP was banned on 9 November 1923; however, with the support of the nationalist Völkisch-Social Bloc (Völkisch-Sozialer Block), it continued to operate under the name "German Party" (Deutsche Partei or DP) from 1924 to 1925.[70] The National Socialists failed to remain unified in the DP, as in the north, the Volkish nationalists moved to the new German Völkisch Freedom Party, leaving the north's National Socialist members, such as Joseph Goebbels retaining support for the party.[71]

Rise to power: 1925–1933

<templatestyles src="Module:Hatnote/styles.css"></templatestyles>

<templatestyles src="Module:Hatnote/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Hitler with NSDAP members in 1930

Adolf Hitler was released from prison on 20 December 1924. On 16 February 1925, Hitler convinced the Bavarian authorities to lift the ban on the NSDAP and the party was formally refounded on 26 February 1925, with Hitler as its undisputed leader. The new National Socialist German Workers' Party was no longer a paramilitary organization and disavowed any intention of taking power by force. In any case, the economic and political situation had stabilized and the extremist upsurge of 1923 had faded, so there was no prospect of further revolutionary adventures. The NSDAP of 1925 was divided into the "Leadership Corps" (Korps der politischen Leiter) appointed by Hitler and the general membership (Parteimitglieder). The party and the SA were kept separate and the legal aspect of the party's work was emphasized. In a sign of this, the party began to admit women. The SA and the SS members (the latter founded in 1925 as Hitler's bodyguard, and known originally as the Schutzkommando) had to all be regular party members.[72][73]

In the 1920s, the NSDAP expanded beyond its Bavarian base. The areas of strongest National Socialist support were in rural Protestant areas such as Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg, Pomerania and East Prussia. Depressed working-class areas such as Thuringia also produced a strong National Socialist vote, while the workers of the Ruhr and Hamburg largely remained loyal to the Social Democrats, the Communist Party of Germany or the Catholic Center Party. Nuremberg remained an NSDAP stronghold, and the first Nuremberg Rally was held there in 1927. These rallies soon became massive displays of National Socialist paramilitary power and attracted many recruits. The National Socialists' strongest appeal was to the lower middle-classes – farmers, public servants, and teachers – who had suffered most from the inflation of the 1920s, so who feared Bolshevism more than anything else. University students, disappointed at being too young to have served in the War of 1914–1918 and attracted by the National Socialists' radical rhetoric, also became a strong NSDAP constituency. By 1929, the party had 130,000 members.[74]

The party's nominal Deputy Leader was Rudolf Hess, but he had no real power in the party. By the early 1930s, the senior leaders of the party after Hitler were Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Göring. Beneath the Leadership Corps were the party's regional leaders, the Gauleiters, each of whom commanded the party in his Gau ("region"). Goebbels began his ascent through the party hierarchy as Gauleiter of Berlin-Brandenburg in 1926. Streicher was Gauleiter of Franconia, where he published his antisemitic newspaper Der Stürmer. Beneath the Gauleiter were lower-level officials, the Kreisleiter ("county leaders"), Zellenleiter ("cell leaders") and Blockleiter ("block leaders"). This was a strictly hierarchical structure in which orders flowed from the top and unquestioning loyalty was given to superiors. Only the SA retained some autonomy, but SA men took the National Socialists' rhetoric very seriously. At this time, the Hitler salute (borrowed from the Italian fascists) and the greeting "Heil Hitler!" were adopted throughout the party.

The National Socialists contested elections to the national parliament (the Reichstag) and to the state legislature (the Landtage) from 1924, although at first with little success. The "National-Socialist Freedom Movement" polled 3% of the vote in the December 1924 Reichstag elections and this fell to 2.6% in 1928. State elections produced similar results. Despite these poor results and despite Germany's relative political stability and prosperity during the later 1920s, the NSDAP continued to grow. This was partly because Hitler, who had no administrative ability, left the party organization to the head of the secretariat, Philipp Bouhler, the party treasurer Franz Xaver Schwarz and business manager Max Amann. The party had a capable propaganda head in Gregor Strasser, who was promoted to national organizational leader in January 1928. These men gave the party efficient recruitment and organizational structures. The party also owed its growth to the gradual fading away of competitor nationalist groups, such as the German National People's Party (DNVP). As Hitler became the recognized head of the German nationalists, other groups declined or were absorbed.

Despite these strengths, the NSDAP might never have come to power had it not been for the Great Depression and its effects on Germany. By 1930, the German economy was beset with mass unemployment and widespread business failures. The Social Democrats and Communists were bitterly divided and unable to formulate an effective solution: this gave the National Socialists their opportunity and Hitler's message, blaming the crisis on the Jewish financiers and the Bolsheviks, resonated with wide sections of the electorate. At the September 1930 Reichstag elections, the National Socialists won 18.3% of the votes and became the second-largest party in the Reichstag after the Social Democrats. Hitler proved to be a highly effective campaigner, pioneering the use of radio and aircraft for this purpose. His dismissal of Strasser and his appointment of Goebbels as the party's propaganda chief were major factors. While Strasser had used his position to promote his own version of national socialism, Goebbels was totally loyal to Hitler and worked only to improve Hitler's image.

The 1930 elections changed the German political landscape by weakening the traditional nationalist parties, the DNVP and the DVP, leaving the National Socialists as the chief alternative to the discredited Social Democrats and the Zentrum, whose leader, Heinrich Brüning, headed a weak minority government. The inability of the democratic parties to form a united front, the self-imposed isolation of the Communists and the continued decline of the economy, all played into Hitler's hands. He now came to be seen as de facto leader of the opposition and donations poured into the NSDAP's coffers. Some major business figures, such as Fritz Thyssen, were National Socialist supporters and gave generously[75] and some Wall Street figures were allegedly involved,[76] but many other businessmen were suspicious of the extreme nationalist tendencies of the National Socialists.[77]

During 1931 and into 1932, Germany's political crisis deepened. Hitler ran for President against the incumbent Paul von Hindenburg in March 1932, polling 30.1% in the first round and 36.8% in the second against Hindenburg's 49% and 53%. By now the SA had 400,000 members and its running street battles with the SPD and Communist paramilitaries (who also fought each other) reduced some German cities to combat zones. Paradoxically, although the National Socialists were among the main instigators of this disorder, part of Hitler's appeal to a frightened and demoralized middle class was his promise to restore law and order. Overt antisemitism was played down in official National Socialist rhetoric, but was never far from the surface. Germans voted for Hitler primarily because of his promises to revive the economy (by unspecified means), to restore German greatness and overturn the Treaty of Versailles and to save Germany from communism. On 24 April 1932, the Free State of Prussia elections to the Landtag resulted in 36.3% of the votes and 162 seats for the NSDAP.

On 20 July 1932, the Prussian government was ousted by a coup, the Preussenschlag; a few days later at the July 1932 Reichstag election, the National Socialists made another leap forward, polling 37.4% and becoming the largest party in parliament by a wide margin. Furthermore, the National Socialists and the Communists between them won 52% of the vote and a majority of seats. Since both parties opposed the established political system and neither would join or support any ministry, this made the formation of a majority government impossible. The result was weak ministries governing by decree. Under Comintern directives, the Communists maintained their policy of treating the Social Democrats as the main enemy, calling them "social fascists", thereby splintering opposition to the National Socialists.[78] Later, both the Social Democrats and the Communists accused each other of having facilitated Hitler's rise to power by their unwillingness to compromise.

Chancellor Franz von Papen called another Reichstag election in November, hoping to find a way out of this impasse. The electoral result was the same, with the National Socialists and the Communists winning 50% of the vote between them and more than half the seats, rendering this Reichstag no more workable than its predecessor. However, support for the National Socialists had fallen to 33.1%, suggesting that the National Socialist surge had passed its peak—possibly because the worst of the Depression had passed, possibly because some middle-class voters had supported Hitler in July as a protest, but had now drawn back from the prospect of actually putting him into power. The National Socialists interpreted the result as a warning that they must seize power before their moment passed. Had the other parties united, this could have been prevented, but their shortsightedness made a united front impossible. Papen, his successor Kurt von Schleicher and the nationalist press magnate Alfred Hugenberg spent December and January in political intrigues that eventually persuaded President Hindenburg that it was safe to appoint Hitler as Reich Chancellor, at the head of a cabinet including only a minority of National Socialists ministers—which he did on 30 January 1933.

Ascension and consolidation

Reichsparteitag (Nuremberg Rally): NSDAP leader Adolf Hitler and SA-leader Ernst Röhm, August 1933

In Mein Kampf, Hitler directly attacked both left-wing and right-wing politics in Germany.[79] As such, the classification for the party and its ideology on the political spectrum, much like that of the National Fascist Party and Italian Fascism, has been controversial and a subject of much debate. While most mainstream scholars identify National Socialism in practice as being a far-right form of politics,[80] this classification has been the subject of criticism from many conservatives and libertarians, who see the "far right" classification as an association fallacy and state many differences with other right-wing or far-right ideologies, or even "soft conservatism". Many right-wing critics of National Socialism, such as Jonah Goldberg, have identified it as being a far-left ideology,[81] while supporters have typically argued for a Third Position classification. When asked in an interview in 1934, Hitler responded that National Socialism was not exclusively for any class and indicated that it favored neither the left nor the right, but preserved "pure" elements from both "camps" by stating: "From the camp of bourgeois tradition, it takes national resolve, and from the materialism of the Marxist dogma, living, creative Socialism".[82]

The votes that the National Socialists received in the 1932 elections established the NSDAP as the largest parliamentary faction of the Weimar Republic government. Hitler was appointed as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933.

The Reichstag fire on 27 February 1933 gave Hitler a pretext for suppressing his political opponents. The following day he persuaded the Reich's President Paul von Hindenburg to issue the Reichstag Fire Decree, which suspended most civil liberties. The NSDAP won the parliamentary election on 5 March 1933 with 43.9 percent of votes, but failed to win an absolute majority. After the election, hundreds of thousands of new members joined the party for opportunistic reasons, most of them civil servants and white-collar workers. They were nicknamed the "casualties of March" (German: Märzgefallenen) or "March violets" (German: Märzveilchen). To protect the party from too many non-ideological turncoats who were viewed by the so-called "old fighters" (alte Kämpfer) with some mistrust, the party issued a freeze on admissions that remained in force from May 1933 to 1937.[83]

On 23 March, the parliament passed the Enabling Act of 1933, which gave the cabinet the right to enact laws without the consent of parliament. In effect, this gave Hitler dictatorial powers. Now possessing virtually absolute power, the National Socialists established totalitarian control as they abolished labor unions and other political parties and imprisoned their political opponents, first at wilde Lager, improvised camps, then in concentration camps. National Socialist Germany had been established, yet the Reichswehr remained impartial. National Socialist power over Germany remained virtual, not absolute.

NSDAP federal election results (1924–1933)[84]
Election Votes Seats Notes
No. % +/– No. +/–
May 1924
(as National Socialist Freedom Movement)
1,918,300 6.5 (No. 6)
32 / 472
Hitler in prison
December 1924
(as National Socialist Freedom Movement)
907,300 3.0 (No. 8) Decrease 3.5
14 / 493
Decrease 18 Hitler released from prison
May 1928 810,100 2.6 (No. 9) Decrease 0.4
12 / 491
Decrease 2
September 1930 6,409,600 18.3 (No. 2) Increase 15.7
107 / 577
Increase 95 After the financial crisis
July 1932 13,745,000 37.3 (No. 1) Increase 19.0
230 / 608
Increase 123 After Hitler was candidate for presidency
November 1932 11,737,000 33.1 (No. 1) Decrease 4.2
196 / 584
Decrease 34
March 1933 17,277,180 43.9 (No. 1) Increase 10.8
288 / 647
Increase 92 During Hitler's term as Chancellor of Germany

After taking power: intertwining of party and state

During June and July 1933, all competing parties were either outlawed or dissolved themselves and subsequently the Law against the founding of new parties of 14 July 1933 legally established the NSDAP's monopoly. On 1 December 1933, the Law to secure the unity of party and state entered into force, which was the base for a progressive intertwining of party structures and state apparatus.[85] By this law, the SA—actually a party division—was given quasi-governmental authority and their leader was co-opted as an ex officio cabinet member. By virtue of a 30 January 1934 Law concerning the reorganization of the Reich, the Länder (states) lost their statehood and were demoted to administrative divisions of the Reich's government (Gleichschaltung). Effectively, they lost most of their power to the Gaue that were originally just regional divisions of the party, but took over most competencies of the state administration in their respective sectors.[86]

During the Röhm Purge of 30 June to 2 July 1934 (also known as the "Night of the Long Knives"), Hitler disempowered the SA's leadership—most of whom belonged to the Strasserist faction within the NSDAP—and ordered them killed. He accused them of having conspired to stage a coup d'état, but it is believed that this was only a pretense to justify the suppression of any intraparty opposition. The purge was executed by the SS, assisted by the Gestapo and Reichswehr units. Aside from Strasserist National Socialists, they also murdered anti-Nazi figures like former chancellor Kurt von Schleicher.[87] After this, the SA continued to exist but lost much of its importance, while the role of the SS grew significantly. Formerly only a sub-organization of the SA, it was made into a separate organization of the NSDAP in July 1934.[88]

After the death of President Hindenburg on 2 August 1934, Hitler merged the offices of party leader, head of state and chief of government in one, taking the title of Führer und Reichskanzler. The Chancellery of the Führer, officially an organization of the NSDAP, took over the functions of the Office of the President (a government agency), blurring the distinction between structures of party and state even further. The SS increasingly exerted police functions, a development which was formally documented by the merger of the offices of Reichsführer-SS and Chief of the German Police on 17 June 1936, as the position was held by Heinrich Himmler who derived his authority directly from Hitler.[89] The Sicherheitsdienst (SD, formally the "Security Service of the Reichsführer-SS") that had been created in 1931 as an intraparty intelligence became the de facto intelligence agency of National Socialist Germany. It was put under the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) in 1939, which then coordinated SD, Gestapo and criminal police, therefore functioning as a hybrid organization of state and party structures.[90]

In 1938, the National Socialist government extended the "German Weapons Act," which had greatly restricted gun owenership in Germany. The extension particularly affected Jews, who were prohibited entirely from owning firearms.[91][92][93][94]

NSDAP election and referendum results in the Reichstag under National Socialist Germany (1933–1938)
Election Votes % Seats
November 1933 39,655,224 92.11
661 / 661
1936 44,462,458 98.80
741 / 741
1938 44,451,092 99.01
813 / 813

Defeat and abolition

Officially, the Third Reich lasted only 12 years. The first Instrument of Surrender was signed by representatives of National Socialist Germany at Reims, France on 7 May 1945. The war in Europe had come to an end. The defeat of Germany in World War II marked the end of the National Socialist era.[95] The party was formally abolished on 10 October 1945 by the Allied Control Council and denazification began, along with trials of major war criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in Nuremberg.[96] Part of the Potsdam Agreement called for the destruction of the Nationalist Socialist Party alongside the requirement for the reconstruction of the German political life.[97] In addition, the Control Council Law no. 2 Providing for the Termination and Liquidation of the Nazi Organization specified the abolition of 52 other National Socialist-affiliated and supervised organizations and prohibited their activities.[98] The denazification was carried out in Germany and continued until the onset of the Cold War.[99][100]

Between 1939 and 1945, the NSDAP-led regime, assisted by collaborationist governments and recruits from occupied countries, was responsible for the deaths of at least eleven million people,[101][102] including 5 to 6 million Jews (representing two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe),[14][103][104] and between 200,000 and 1,500,000 Romani people.[105][106] The estimated total number includes the killing of nearly two million non-Jewish Poles,[107] over three million Soviet prisoners of war,[108] communists, and other political opponents, the physically and mentally disabled.[109][110]

Political program

<templatestyles src="Module:Hatnote/styles.css"></templatestyles>

The National Socialist Program was a formulation of the policies of the party. It contained 25 points and is therefore also known as the "25-point plan" or "25-point program". It was the official party program, with minor changes, from its proclamation as such by Hitler in 1920, when the party was still the German Workers' Party, until its dissolution. It had many parallels with other contemporary socialist parties.

Party composition

Command structure

Top leadership

Adolf Hitler and Rudolf Hess in Weimar in 1930

At the top of the NSDAP was the party chairman ("Der Führer"), who held absolute power and full command over the party. All other party offices were subordinate to his position and had to depend on his instructions. In 1934, Hitler founded a separate body for the chairman, Chancellery of the Führer, with its own sub-units.

Below the Führer's chancellery was first the "Staff of the Deputy Führer", headed by Rudolf Hess from 21 April 1933 to 10 May 1941; and then the "Party Chancellery" (Parteikanzlei), headed by Martin Bormann.


Directly subjected to the Führer were the Reichsleiter ("Reich Leader(s)"—the singular and plural forms are identical in German), whose number was gradually increased to eighteen. They held power and influence comparable to the Reich Ministers' in Hitler's Cabinet. The eighteen Reichsleiter formed the "Reich Leadership of the Nazi Party" (Reichsleitung der NSDAP), which was established at the so-called Brown House in Munich. Unlike a Gauleiter, a Reichsleiter did not have individual geographic areas under their command, but were responsible for specific spheres of interest.

NSDAP offices

The NSDAP had a number of party offices dealing with various political and other matters. These included:

Paramilitary groups

The SA in Berlin in 1932. The group had nearly two million members at the end of 1932.

In addition to the NSDAP proper, several paramilitary groups existed which "supported" National Socialist aims. All members of these paramilitary organizations were required to become regular NSDAP members first and could then enlist in the group of their choice. An exception was the Waffen-SS, considered the military arm of the SS and NSDAP, which during the Second World War allowed members to enlist without joining the NSDAP. Foreign volunteers of the Waffen-SS were also not required to be members of the NSDAP, although many joined local nationalist groups from their own countries with the same aims. Police officers, including members of the Gestapo, frequently held SS rank for administrative reasons (known as "rank parity") and were likewise not required to be members of the NSDAP.

A vast system of NSDAP paramilitary ranks developed for each of the various paramilitary groups. This was part of the process of Gleichschaltung with the paramilitary and auxiliary groups swallowing existing associations and federations after the Party was flooded by millions of membership applications.[111]

The major NSDAP paramilitary groups were as follows:

The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary group divided into an adult leadership corps and a general membership open to boys aged fourteen to eighteen. The League of German Girls was the equivalent group for girls.

Affiliated organizations

Certain nominally independent organizations had their own legal representation and own property, but were supported by the NSDAP. Many of these associated organizations were labor unions of various professions. Some were older organizations that were nazified according to the Gleichschaltung policy after the 1933 takeover.

The employees of large businesses with international operations such as Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, and Commerzbank were mostly party members.[112] All German businesses abroad were also required to have their own NSDAP Ausland-Organization liaison men, which enabled the party leadership updated and excellent intelligence on the actions of the global corporate elites.[113]

Regional administration

<templatestyles src="Module:Hatnote/styles.css"></templatestyles>

For the purpose of centralization in the Gleichschaltung process a rigidly hierarchal structure was established in the NSDAP, which it later carried through in the whole of Germany in order to consolidate total power under the person of Hitler (Führerstaat). It was regionally sub-divided into a number of Gaue (singular: Gau) headed by a Gauleiter, who received their orders directly from Hitler. The name (originally a term for sub-regions of the Holy Roman Empire headed by a Gaugraf) for these new provincial structures was deliberately chosen because of its medieval connotations. The term is approximately equivalent to the English shire.

While the National Socialists maintained the nominal existence of state and regional governments in Germany itself, this policy was not extended to territories acquired after 1937. Even in German-speaking areas such as Austria, state and regional governments were formally disbanded as opposed to just being dis-empowered. After the Anschluss a new type of administrative unit was introduced called a Reichsgau. In these territories the Gauleiters also held the position of Reichsstatthalter, thereby formally combining the spheres of both party and state offices. The establishment of this type of district was subsequently carried out for any further territorial annexations of Germany both before and during World War II. Even the former territories of Prussia were never formally re-integrated into what was then Germany's largest state after being re-taken in the 1939 Polish campaign.

The Gaue and Reichsgaue (state or province) were further sub-divided into Kreise (counties) headed by a Kreisleiter, which were in turn sub-divided into Zellen (cells) and Blocken (blocks), headed by a Zellenleiter and Blockleiter respectively.

A reorganization of the Gaue was enacted on 1 October 1928. The given numbers were the official ordering numbers. The statistics are from 1941, for which the Gau organization of that moment in time forms the basis. Their size and populations are not exact; for instance, according to the official party statistics the Gau Kurmark/Mark Brandenburg was the largest in the German Reich.[114] By 1941, there were 42 territorial Gaue for Germany,[115] 7 of them for Austria, the Sudetenland (in Czechoslovakia), Danzig and the Territory of the Saar Basin, along with the unincorporated regions under German control known as the Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia and the General Government, established after the joint invasion of Poland by National Socialist Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 at the onset of World War II.[116]:{{{3}}} Getting the leadership of the individual Gaue to co-operate with one another proved difficult at times since there was constant administrative and financial jockeying for control going on between them.[117]

The table below uses the organizational structure that existed before its dissolution in 1945. More information on the older Gaue is in the second table.


Nr. Gau Headquarters Area (km²) Inhabitants (1941) Gauleiter (exl. deputies)
01 Baden-Elsaß Karlsruhe, after 1940 Strasbourg 23,350 2,502,023 Robert Heinrich Wagner from 1925 (later also Reichsstatthalter)
02 Bayreuth, renaming of Gau Bayerische Ostmark (Bavarian Eastern March) Bayreuth 29,600 2,370,658 Fritz Wächtler (2 June 1942 – 19 April 1945)
Ludwig Ruckdeschel from 19 April 1945.
03 Groß-Berlin Berlin 884 4,338,756 Ernst Schlange (1925–1926)
Joseph Goebbels (1 November 1926 – 30 April 1945)
04 Danzig-Westpreußen Danzig 26,057 2,287,394 Hans Albert Hohnfeldt (1926–1928)
Walter Maass (1928–1930)
Albert Forster from 15 October 1930
05 Düsseldorf Düsseldorf 2,672 2,261,909 Friedrich Karl Florian from 1 January 1930
06 Essen Essen 2,825 1,921,326 Josef Terboven (Oberpräsident) from 1928
07 Franken Nuremberg 7,618 1,077,216 Julius Streicher (1929 to 1940)
Hans Zimmermann (16 February 1940 – 1942)
Karl Holz from 19 March 1942
08 Halle-Merseburg Halle an der Saale 10,202 1,578,292 Walter Ernst (1 August 1926 – 1927)
Paul Hinkler (1927–1930)
Rudolf Jordan (1930 – 20 April 1937)
Joachim Albrecht Eggeling from 20 April 1937
09 Hamburg Hamburg 747 1,711,877 Joseph Klant (1925–1926)
Albert Krebs (1927–1928)
Hinrich Lohse (1928 – 15 April 1929)
Karl Kaufmann from 15 April 1929
10 Hessen-Nassau Frankfurt 15,030 3,117,266 Jakob Sprenger from 1933
11 Kärnten Klagenfurt 11,554 449,713 Hans vom Kothen (February 1933 to July 1934)
Peter Feistritzer (October 1936 – 20 February 1938)
Hubert Klausner (1938–1939)
Franz Kutschera (1940–1941)
Friedrich Rainer (1942–1944)
12 Köln-Aachen Köln 8,162 2,432,095 Joseph Grohé from 1931
13 Kurhessen Kassel 9,200 971,887 Walter Schultz (1926–1927)
Karl Weinrich (1928–1943)
Karl Gerland from 1943
14 Magdeburg-Anhalt Dessau 13,910 1,820,416 Wilhelm Friedrich Loeper from 1927 to 23 October 1935 with a short replacement by Paul Hofmann in 1933
Joachim Albrecht Leo Eggeling (1935–1937)
Rudolf Jordan from 1937
15 Mainfranken, renaming of Gau Unterfranken Würzburg 8,432 840,663 Otto Hellmuth from 3 September 1928
16 Mark Brandenburg Berlin 38,278 3,007,933 Wilhelm Kube (6 March 1933 – 7 August 1936)
Emil Stürtz
17 Mecklenburg Schwerin 15,722 900,427 Friedrich Hildebrandt from 1925 onwards with a short replacement by Herbert Albrecht (July 1930 – 1931)
18 Moselland, renaming of Gau Koblenz-Trier in 1942 Koblenz 11,876 1,367,354 Gustav Simon from 1 June 1931
19 München-Oberbayern, Munich 16,411 1,938,447 Adolf Wagner (1933–1944)
Paul Giesler from April 1944
20 Niederdonau Nominal capital: Krems, District Headquarters: Vienna 23,502 1,697,676 Roman Jäger (12 March 1938 – 24 May 1938)
Hugo Jury (24 May 1938 – 8 May 1945)
21 Niederschlesien Breslau 26,985 3,286,539 Karl Hanke from 1940
22 Oberdonau Linz 14,216 1,034,871 Andreas Bolek (June 1927 – 1 August 1934)
August Eigruber from March 1935
23 Oberschlesien Kattowitz 20,636 4,341,084 Fritz Bracht from 27 January 1941
24 Ost-Hannover (also known as Hannover-Ost) Harburg, then Buchholz, after 1 April 1937 Lüneburg 18,006 1,060,509 from 1 October 1928 Otto Telschow
25 Ostpreußen Königsberg 52,731 3,336,777 Bruno Gustav Scherwitz (1925–1927)
Erich Koch from 1928
26 Pommern Stettin 38,409 2,393,844 Theodor Vahlen (1925–1927)
Walter von Corswant (1928–1931)
Wilhelm Karpenstein (1931–1934)
Franz Schwede-Coburg from 1935
27 Sachsen Dresden 14,995 5,231,739 Albert Wierheim around 1925/1926
Martin Mutschmann from 1925
28 Salzburg Salzburg 7,153 257,226 Leopold Malina from 1926 to ??
Karl Scharizer (1932–1934)
Friedrich Rainer (1939–1941)
Gustav Adolf Scheel from 1941
29 Schleswig-Holstein Kiel 15,687 1,589,267 Hinrich Lohse from 1925
30 Schwaben Augsburg 10,231 946,212 Karl Wahl from 1928
31 Steiermark Graz 17,384 1,116,407 Walther Oberhaidacher (25 November 1928 – 1934)
Sepp Helfrich (1934–1938)
Siegfried Uiberreither from 22 May 1938
32 Sudetenland, until 1939 known as Gau Sudetengau Reichenberg 22,608 2,943,187 Konrad Henlein from 1939
33 Südhannover-Braunschweig Hannover 14,553 2,136,961 Bernhard Rust (1 October 1928 – November 1940)
Hartmann Lauterbacher from November 1940
34 Thüringen Weimar 15,763 2,446,182 Artur Dinter (1925–1927)
Fritz Sauckel from 1927
35 Tirol-Vorarlberg Innsbruck 13,126 486,400 Franz Hofer from 1932
36 Wartheland, (until 29 January 1940 known as Gau Warthegau) Posen 43,905 4,693,722 Arthur Karl Greiser from 21 October 1939
37 Weser-Ems Oldenburg 15,044 1,839,302 Carl Röver (1929–1942)
Paul Wegener from 1942
38 Westfalen-Nord Münster 14,559 2,822,603 Alfred Meyer from 1932
39 Westfalen-Süd Bochum 7,656 2,678,026 Josef Wagner (1932–1941)
Paul Giesler (1941 – 1943/1944)
Albert Hoffmann from 1943/1944
40 Westmark, renaming of Gau Saar-Pfalz (also known as Saarpfalz) Neustadt an der Weinstraße, after 1940 Saarbrücken 14,713 1,892,240 Josef Bürckel (1935 – 28 September 1944)
Willi Stöhr from 28 September 1944
41 Wien Vienna 1,216 1,929,976 Alfred Eduard Frauenfeld (1932–1938)
Odilo Globocnik (May 1938 – January 1939)
Josef Bürckel (1939–1940)
Baldur von Schirach from 1940
42 Württemberg-Hohenzollern Stuttgart 20,657 2,974,373 Eugen Mander (1925–1928)
Wilhelm Murr from 1928
43 Auslandsorganization (also known as NSDAP/AO) Berlin Hans Nieland (1930–1933)
Ernst Wilhelm Bohle from 8 May 1933

Later Gaue:

Gaue dissolved before 1945

Simple re-namings of existing Gaue without territorial changes is marked with the initials RN in the column "later became". The numbering is not based on any official former ranking, but merely listed alphabetically.

Nr. Gau consisted of later became … together with Gauleiter
01 Anhalt Magdeburg-Anhalt (1927) Elbe-Havel Gustav Hermann Schmischke
02 Baden Baden-Elsaß (22 March 1941) RN see above
03 Bayerische Ostmark Oberfranken & Niederbayern-Oberpfalz (II) (19 January 1933) Bayreuth (2 June 1942) RN Hans Schemm from 19 January 1933 to 5 March 1935, then from 5 March 1935 Fritz Wächtler
04 Berlin Berlin-Brandenburg (1 October 1928) Groß-Berlin RN Dr. Joseph Goebbels
05 Berlin-Brandenburg Berlin & Brandenburg (1 October 1928) Ernst Schlange from 1925 to 1926, then from 1 November 1926 Joseph Goebbels
06 Brandenburg Berlin-Brandenburg (1 October 1928) Kurmark (6 March 1933) Ostmark from 1 October 1928 to 1932 Emil Holtz and from 18 October 1932 to 16 March 1933 Dr. Ernst Schlange
07 Braunschweig Süd-Hannover-Braunschweig (1 October 1928) Hannover-Süd from 1925 to 30 September 1928 Ludolf Haase (perhaps also only for Hannover-Süd)
08 Danzig Danzig-Westpreußen (1939) RN see above
09 Elbe-Havel Magdeburg-Anhalt (1927) Anhalt from 25 November 1925 to 1926 [?] Alois Bachschmidt
10 Groß-München ("Traditionsgau") München-Oberbayern (1933) Oberbayern [?]
11 Hannover-Süd Süd-Hannover-Braunschweig (1 October 1928) Braunschweig from 1925 to 30 September 1928 Ludolf Haase (perhaps also only Braunschweig)
12 Hessen-Darmstadt Hessen-Nassau (1933) Hessen-Nassau-Süd from 1 March 1927 to 9 January 1931 Friedrich Ringshausen, then only in 1931 Peter Gemeinder, then from 1932 to 1933 Karl Lenz
13 Hessen-Nassau-Nord Kurhessen (1934) [?]
14 Hessen-Nassau-Süd Hessen-Nassau (1933) Hessen-Darmstadt from 1925 to 1926 Anton Haselmayer, then from 1926 to 1927 Dr. Walter Schultz, then from 1927 to 1933 Jakob Sprenger
15 Koblenz-Trier Rheinland-Süd (1931) Moselland (1942) merger [?]
16 Kurmark Ostmark & Brandenburg ([?]) Mark Brandenburg (1938) RN see above
17 Lüneburg-Stade Ost-Hannover (1928) RN from 22 March 1925 to 30 September 1928 Bernhard Rust
18 Mittelfranken Franken (1929) Nuremberg-Forth-Erlangen Julius Streicher ("Frankenführer")
19 Niederbayern Niederbayern-Oberpfalz (I) (1 October 1928) Niederbayern-Oberpfalz (II) (1 April 1932) Oberpfalz from 1 October 1928 to 1929 Gregor Strasser, then from 1929 to 1 April 1932 Otto Erbersdobler
20 Niederbayern-Oberpfalz (I) Oberpfalz & Niederbayern (1 October 1928) from 1925 to 30 September 1928 Gregor Strasser
21 Niederbayern-Oberpfalz (II) Oberpfalz & Niederbayern (1 April 1932) Bayerische Ostmark (19 January 1933) Oberfranken from 1 April 1932 to 19 January 1933 Franz Mayerhofer
22 Niederösterreich Niederdonau ([?]) RN [??] from 1927 to 1937 Josef Leopold [possibly Lücke from 1937 to 1939, since he is the first Gauleiter for Niederdonau who is actually known]
23 Nuremberg-Forth-Erlangen Franken (1929) Mittelfranken from 3 September 1928 Wilhelm Grimm
24 Oberbayern München-Oberbayern (1933) Groß-München [?]
25 Oberfranken Bayerische Ostmark (19 January 1933) Niederbayern-Oberpfalz (II) from 1928 Hans Schemm
26 Oberösterreich Oberdonau ([?]) RN [precise moment of leader designation unknown, see also "Oberdonau"]
27 Oberpfalz Niederbayern-Oberpfalz (I) (1 October 1928) Niederbayern-Oberpfalz (II) (1 April 1932) Niederbayern from 1 October 1928 to 1 April 1932 Franz Mayerhofer
28 Ostmark Kurmark (6 March 1933) Brandenburg from 2 January 1928 to 1933 Wilhelm Kube
29 Rheinland Saar-Pfalz (1935) Saar(land) from 1926 Josef Bürckel (from 1 March 1933 also administrator of Saarland)
30 Rheinland-Nord Ruhr (1926) Westfalen from 1925 to 1926 Karl Kaufmann
31 Rheinland-Süd [?Koblenz-Trier also autonomous before 1931?] Köln-Aachen & Koblenz-Trier (1931) 1925 Heinrich Haake (also known as "Heinz Haake"), then from 1925 to 1931 Robert Ley
32 Ruhr Rheinland-Nord & Westfalen (1926) Westfalen-Nord & Westfalen-Süd (1932) Düsseldorf (1930) partially; creation of Düsseldorf nicht gesichert from 1926 to 1929 Karl Kaufmann, then from 1929 to 1931 [?not 1932?] Josef Wagner
33 Saarland, also merely Saar Saar-Pfalz (1935) Rheinland from August 1929 to 28 February 1933 Karl Brück, from 1 March 1933 Josef Bürckel (also administrator of Rheinland)
34 Saar-Pfalz, also Saarpfalz Rheinland & Saar(land) (1935) Westmark (1937) RN see above
35 Schlesien Niederschlesien & Oberschlesien (1940) from 15 March 1925 to 25 December 1935 (possibly until only 12 December 1934) Helmuth Brückner, then to 1940 Josef Wagner
36 Sudetengau Sudetenland (1939) RN [?]
37 Unterfranken Mainfranken (1935) RN see above
38 Warthegau Wartheland (29 January 1940) RN see above
39 Westfalen Ruhr (1926) Rheinland-Nord from 1925 to 1926 Franz Pfeffer von Salomon

Associated organizations abroad

<templatestyles src="Module:Hatnote/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Gaue in Switzerland

The irregular Swiss branch of the NSDAP also established a number of Party Gaue in that country, most of them named after their regional capitals. These included Gau Basel-Solothurn, Gau Schaffhausen, Gau Luzern, Gau Bern and Gau Zürich.[118][119][120] The Gau Ostschweiz (East Switzerland) combined the territories of three cantons: St. Gallen, Thurgau and Appenzell.[121]


General membership

<templatestyles src="Module:Hatnote/styles.css"></templatestyles>

The general membership of the NSDAP mainly consisted of the urban and rural lower middle classes. 7% belonged to the upper class, another 7% were peasants, 35% were industrial workers and 51% were what can be described as middle class. In early 1933, just before Hitler's appointment to the chancellorship, the party showed an under-representation of "workers", who made up 29.7% of the membership but 46.3% of German society. Conversely, white-collar employees (18.6% of members and 12% of Germans), the self-employed (19.8% of members and 9.6% of Germans) and civil servants (15.2% of members and 4.8% of the German population) had joined in proportions greater than their share of the general population.[122] These members were affiliated with local branches of the party, of which there were 1,378 throughout the country in 1928. In 1932, the number had risen to 11,845, reflecting the party's growth in this period.[122]

When it came to power in 1933, the NSDAP had over 2 million members. In 1939, the membership total rose to 5.3 million with 81% being male and 19% being female. It continued to attract many more and, by 1945, the party reached its peak of 8 million with 63% being male and 37% being female (about 10% of the German population of 80 million).[2][123]

Military membership

<templatestyles src="Module:Hatnote/styles.css"></templatestyles>

NSDAP members with military ambitions were encouraged to join the Waffen-SS, but a great number enlisted in the Wehrmacht and even more were drafted for service after World War II began. Early regulations required that all Wehrmacht members be nonpolitical and any National Socialist member joining in the 1930s was required to resign from the NSDAP.

However, this regulation was soon waived and there is ample evidence that full NSDAP members served in the Wehrmacht in particular after the outbreak of World War II. The Wehrmacht Reserves also saw a high number of senior National Socialists enlisting, with Reinhard Heydrich and Fritz Todt joining the Luftwaffe, as well as Karl Hanke who served in the army.

The British historian Richard J. Evans wrote that junior officers in the army were inclined to be especially zealous National Socialists with a third of them having joined the NSDAP by 1941. Reinforcing the work of the junior leaders were the National Socialist Leadership Guidance Officers, which were created with the purpose of indoctrinating the troops for the "war of extermination" against Soviet Russia.[124] Among higher-ranking officers, 29.2% were NSDAP members by 1941.[125]

Student membership

In 1926, the party formed a special division to engage the student population, known as the National Socialist German Students' League (NSDStB). A group for university lecturers, the National Socialist German University Lecturers' League (NSDDB), also existed until July 1944.

Women membership

The National Socialist Women's League was the women's organization of the party and by 1938 it had approximately 2 million members.

Membership outside Germany

Party members who lived outside Germany were pooled into the Auslands-Organization (NSDAP/AO, "Foreign Organization"). The organization was limited only to so-called "Imperial Germans"; and "Ethnic Germans" (Volksdeutsche), who did not hold German citizenship were not permitted to join.

Under Beneš decree No. 16/1945 Coll., in case of citizens of Czechoslovakia membership of the NSDAP was punishable by between five and twenty years of imprisonment.

Deutsche Gemeinschaft

Deutsche Gemeinschaft was a branch of the NSDAP founded in 1919, created for Germans with Volksdeutsche status.[126] It is not to be confused with the postwarDeutsche Gemeinschaft (de), which was founded in 1949.

Notable members included:[127]

Party symbols

  • National Socialist flags: The NSDAP used a right-facing swastika as their symbol and the red and white colors representing the ideology of National Socialism, the swastika representing the Aryan race and the Aryan nationalist agenda of the movement; white representing Aryan racial purity; and red representing the socialist agenda of the movement.
The Parteiflagge design, with the centered swastika disc, served as the party flag from 1920. Between 1933 (when the NSDAP came to power) and 1935, it was instituted as the national flag (Nationalflagge) and Merchant flag (Handelsflagge), and remained as such until 1945. The flag with the centerd disk continued to be used after 1935, but exclusively as the Parteiflagge, the flag of the party.
  • German eagle: The NSDAP used the traditional German eagle, standing atop of a swastika inside a wreath of oak leaves. It is also known as the "Iron Eagle". When the eagle is looking to its left shoulder, it symbolizes the NSDAP and was called the Parteiadler. In contrast, when the eagle is looking to its right shoulder, it symbolizes the country (Reich) and was therefore called the Reichsadler. After the National Socialists came to national power in Germany, they replaced the traditional version of the German eagle with the modified party symbol throughout the country and all its institutions.

Slogans and songs

Election results

German Reichstag

<templatestyles src="Module:Hatnote/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Election year Votes  % Seats won +/– Notes
1928 810,127 2.6
12 / 491
Increase 12
1930 6,379,672 18.25
107 / 577
Increase 95
July 1932 13,745,680 37.27
230 / 608
Increase 123
November 1932 11,737,021 33.09
196 / 584
Decrease 34
March 1933 17,277,180 43.91
288 / 647
Increase 92
November 1933 39,655,224 92.11
661 / 661
Increase 373 Sole legal party.
1936 44,462,458 98.80
741 / 741
Increase 80 Sole legal party.
1938 44,451,092 99.01
813 / 813
Increase 72 Sole legal party.

Presidential election

<templatestyles src="Module:Hatnote/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Election year Candidate First round Second round
Votes % Place Votes % Place
1925 endorsed Ludendorff (1.1%) endorsed Hindenburg (48.3%)
1932 Adolf Hitler 11,339,446 30.1 2nd 13,418,547 36.8 2nd

Volkstag of Danzig

<templatestyles src="Module:Hatnote/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Election year Votes  % Seats won +/–
1927 1,483 0.81
1 / 72
Increase 1
1930 32,457 16.40
12 / 72
Increase 11
1933 107,331 50.12
38 / 72
Increase 26
1935 139,423 59.31
43 / 72
Increase 5

See also


  1. Rick Steves. Rick Steves' Snapshot Munich, Bavaria & Salzburg. Berkeley, California, USA; New York City, USA: Avalon Travel, 2010. p. 28. "Though the Nazis eventually gained power in Berlin, they remembered their roots, dubbing Munich "Capital of the Movement". The Nazi headquarters stood near today's obelisk on Brienner Strasse…"
  2. 2.0 2.1 McNab 2011, pp. 22, 23.
  3. Hitler was a Leftist
  4. Congdon, Lee. “Kuehnelt-Leddihn and American Conservatism,” Crisis Magazine, March 26, 2012.
  5. Hitler was a Leftist
  6. "Who is 'Fascist'"
  7. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  8. Thomas D. Grant. Stormtroopers and Crisis in the Nazi Movement: Activism, Ideology and Dissolution. London, England; New York City, US: Routledge, 2004. pp. 30–34, 44.
  9. Otis C. Mitchell. Hitler's Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933. Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2008. p. 47.
  10. Frank McDonough. Hitler and the Rise of the Nazi Party. Pearson/Longman, 2003. p. 64.
  11. Majer 2013, p. 39.
  12. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  13. Simone Gigliotti, Berel Lang. The Holocaust: a reader. Malden, Massachusetts, USA; Oxford, England, UK; Carlton, Victoria, Australia: Blackwell Publishing, 2005. p. 14.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Evans 2008, p. 318.
  15. Arendt, Hannah. The Origins of Totalitarianism. London; New York; San Diego: Harvest Book. p. 306.
  16. Curtis, Michael. Totalitarianism. New Brunswick (US); London: Transactions Publishers, 1979. p. 36.
  17. Burch, Betty Brand. Dictatorship and Totalitarianism: Selected Readings. 1964. p. 58.
  18. Bruhn, Jodi; Hans Maier. Totalitarianism and Political Religions: Concepts for the Comparison of Dictatorships. Routledge: Oxon (UK); New York, 2004. p. 32.
  19. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  20. or Sozialdemokrat (pronounced /zo'tsjaːldemoˌkraːt/) (social democrat).
  21. 21.0 21.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  22. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  23. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 Kershaw 2008, p. 82.
  27. Shirer 1991, p. 34.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Spector, Robert, World Without Civilization: Mass Murder and the Holocaust, History, and Analysis (University of America Press, 2004), p. 137.
  29. Griffen, Roger (ed). 1995. Fascism. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 105.
  30. Theodore Fred Abel. The Nazi Movement. Aldine Transaction, 2012 (original edition in 1938). p. 55.
  31. Carlsten, F. L. The Rise of Fascism. University of California Press. p. 91.
  32. Carlsten, p. 91.
  33. Burnham, James (1966). The Managerial Revolution, Indiana University Press, Bloomingham, pp. 222-226, 232.
  34. Von Mises, Ludwig. Omnipotent Government. Yale University Press, 1944.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 Fest, Joachim, The Face of the Third Reich (Penguin books, 1979), pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-0201407143.
  36. Dan van der Vat: The Good Nazi: The Life and Lies of Albert Speer, p. 30. George Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997 ISBN 0-297-81721-3
  37. Shirer 1991, p. 33.
  38. Kershaw 2008, pp. 71–82.
  39. 39.0 39.1 Kershaw 2008, p. 75.
  40. Evans 2003, p. 170.
  41. Kershaw 2008, pp. 75, 76.
  42. Mitcham 1996, p. 67.
  43. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  44. Shirer 1991, p. 43.
  45. T. L. Jaman, The Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany (New York University Press, 1956), p. 88.
  46. 46.0 46.1 Rees, Laurence, The Nazis – A Warning from History (BBC Books, 2 March 2006), p. 23.
  47. Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889–1936 Hubris, p. 127.
  48. Ian Kershaw Hitler:1889–1936 Hubris. Penguin, 1998. p. 140.
  49. 49.0 49.1 T. L. Jaman, The Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany (New York University Press, 1956), p. 89.
  50. Shirer 1991, p. 36.
  51. Shirer 1991, p. 37.
  52. Johnson, Paul, A History of the Modern World: From 1917 to the 1980s (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 13 September 1984), p. 133.
  53. 53.0 53.1 53.2 Fest, Joachim, The Face of the Third Reich (Penguin books, 1979), p. 42. ISBN 978-0201407143.
  54. Kershaw 2008, p. 87.
  55. Zentner & Bedürftig 1997, p. 629.
  56. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  57. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  58. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  59. Fest, Joachim, The Face of the Third Reich (Penguin books, 1979), p. 39. ISBN 978-0201407143.
  60. 60.0 60.1 Kershaw 2008, p. 89.
  61. Franz-Willing, Die Hilterbewegung
  62. Shirer 1991, p. 38.
  63. Fest, Joachim, The Face of the Third Reich (Penguin books, 1979), p. 40. ISBN 978-0201407143.
  64. Kershaw 2008, pp. 100, 101.
  65. Kershaw 2008, p. 102.
  66. 66.0 66.1 Kershaw 2008, p. 103.
  67. 67.0 67.1 67.2 Kershaw 2008, pp. 83, 103.
  68. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  69. Kershaw 2008, p. 110.
  70. Jablonsky, David. 1989. The Nazi Party in Dissolution: Hitler and the Verbotzeit, 1923–1925. Routledge. p. 57.
  71. Jablonsky, p. 57
  72. Weale 2010, pp. 26–29.
  73. Koehl 2004, p. 34.
  74. Kershaw 2008, p. 194.
  75. Evans 2005, p. 372.
  76. Sutton, Antony C.: Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler Archived 3 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine (1976, 1999)
  77. Kershaw 2008, pp. 224.
  78. "Social democracy is objectively the moderate wing of fascism. … These organizations (ie Fascism and social democracy) are not antipodes, they are twins." (J.V. Stalin: Concerning the International Situation (September 1924), in Works, Volume 6, 1953; p. 294.) This later led Otto Wille Kuusinen to conclude that "The aims of the fascists and the social-fascists are the same." (Report To the 10th Plenum of ECCI, in International Press Correspondence, Volume 9, no.40, (20 August 1929), p. 848.)
  79. Hitler stated: "Today our left-wing politicians in particular are constantly insisting that their craven-hearted and obsequious foreign policy necessarily results from the disarmament of Germany, whereas the truth is that this is the policy of traitors […] But the politicians of the Right deserve exactly the same reproach. It was through their miserable cowardice that those ruffians of Jews who came into power in 1918 were able to rob the nation of its arms." Adolf Hitler. Mein Kampf. Bottom of the Hill Publishing, 2010. p. 287.
  80. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Fritzsche.2C_Peter_1998
  81. Goldberg, Jonah. Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change. Doubleday, 2008.
  82. Adolf Hitler, Max Domarus. The Essential Hitler: Speeches and Commentary. pp. 171, 172–173.
  83. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  84. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  85. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  86. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  87. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  88. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  89. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  90. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  91. Wolverton, II, J.D., Joe (January 30, 2017). Nazi Gun Control Laws: a Familiar Road to Citizen Disarmament? The New American. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  92. Stupp, Herbert W. (July 13, 2015). Hitler and Gun Control. The American Spectator. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  93. Halbrook, Stephen (December 2, 2013). How the Nazis Used Gun Control. National Review. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  94. Kline, Audrey D. (May 9, 2014). Gun Control in Nazi Germany. Mises Institute. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  95. McNab 2009, p. 25.
  96. McNab 2009, pp. 25, 26.
  97. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  98. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  99. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  100. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  101. Rummel 1994, p. 112.
  102. Snyder 2010, p. 416.
  103. Fischel 1998, p. 87.
  104. Bauer & Rozett 1990, p. 1799.
  105. Hancock 2004, pp. 383–396.
  106. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  107. US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  108. Snyder 2010, p. 184.
  109. Niewyk & Nicosia 2000, p. 45.
  110. Goldhagen 1996, p. 290.
  111. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  112. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  113. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  114. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  115. The 43rd Gau known as the Auslandsorganization is non-territorial.
  116. German Historical Institute (2008). "Administrative Structure under National Socialism (1941)" Washington DC. Online map Archived 10 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 9 January 2014).
  117. Martin Broszat, The Hitler State: The Foundation and Development of the Internal Structure of the Third Reich (London and New York: Longman, 1985), pp. 44–47.
  118. Walter Wolf (1969). Faschismus in der Schweiz. Flamberg, pp. 121, 253, 283. (in German) [1] Archived 18 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  119. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  120. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  121. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  122. 122.0 122.1 Panayi, P. Life and Death in a German Town: Osnabrück from the Weimar Republic to World War II and Beyond. New York: Tauris Academic Studies, 2007. p. 40.
  123. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  124. Evans 1989, p. 59.
  125. Bartov 1986, p. 49.
  126. Fakty wypaczone przez Erikę Steinbach Archived 3 March 2012 at the Wayback MachineBogdan Musiał 24 June 2009 Rzeczpospolita
  127. Wolfgang Rosar: Deutsche Gemeinschaft. Seyss-Inquart und der Anschluß. Europa-Verlag, Wien 1971. ISBN 3-203-50384-0.


  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.


  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.

External links