The Nazi racial beliefs shaped both domestic and foreign policy. The ultimate goal was to create a pure Arian nation (Volksgeninschaft) to restore Germany and its people to greatness. The Nazis believed that with that sense of pride at seeing the father land rise up from the ashes of despair it would do two things; first, bring Germans who were living abroad back to Germany and second, the country would agree to war for more living space (lebensraum). However, in order to create this “perfect Arian utopia” they would have to set policies domestically before extending them to foreign affairs. These policies not only applied to Jews, but also everyone who lived in Germany was to be scrutinized. Later, these ideologies would lead to a decimation not just racially but also of cultures and a generations.
“The Nazi’s practiced racial hygiene, a popular eugenics movement.” Subscribers of this movement believed in the ability to improve good genetic aspects of the nation’s population while removing the bad. As noted previously, these policies affected not only Jews but also Gypsys (Roma), Jehovah’s Witnesses, people with mental illnesses, homosexuals, physical disabilities, or those considered asocial. The first of these policies involved the entirety of the Aryan population, men, women and children but was geared mostly to the male population. The Nazi regime was a male dominated administration. Any Aryan male benefited from being a Nazi as they were able to secure gainful employment, participate in Nazi activities, and join not only the SS and SA but also the military. The Nazis expected women to be the ideal housewife and brood mare. They were expected to create the perfect home for their husband while raising a gaggle of children. Therefore, with these opposite views of genders, came the view that Aryan bodies, especially reproduction, belonged to the greater national community. The Nazis banned birth control, restricted abortions, eased the restrictions for divorce, instituted certain policies such as the Procreation Order which prevented promotion if they were not married or if married had not had children, and instituted the Marriage Health Law where those who were wanting to marry had to obtain a certificate.
The policies the Nazis instituted towards community aliens, or non-Ayrans, were completely opposite to those of Aryans. The Nazis utilized incarceration, sterilization, castration, abortion and murder in order to “remove” the diseases, deformities, and traits that were viewed to be genetic from the German population because the Nazi’s believed that these “aliens” betrayed the national community or Volksgeninschaft. In 1935, the regime instituted a national registry program for all persons who were classified and considered community aliens. During the same time period, many Nazi political opponents were either exiled or incarcerated therefore, Himmler and his police began to search for new enemies of the government. The national registry made it less difficult to persecute groups who were deemed to be inferior which included Jews and others on the fringes of German society. In contrast to the banning of birth control to Ayrans, the Nazis forcibly sterilized those who were deemed to have hereditary diseases even if they were “pure”, because there was a belief that children born to people of these afflictions would have the same disease, under the Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases. The ‘Rhineland bastards’ were required to register then they were abducted and forcibly sterilized. Criminal behavior was seen during this time as a birth defect rather than a behavior with external causations. They were grouped with the asocials. The asocials were prosecuted and often sent to the concentration camps or jails. Doctors in the prison system would then classify them under the Hereditary disease law and sterilize them as well. The Nazis attempted to register homosexuals and incarcerate them, some were sent to jail while others to the concentration camps, in hopes that they would be reeducated and produce children. The Roma were persecuted under the new laws because of prejudice. Many were subjected to the sterilization law and law against habitual criminals as asocials. Approximately 500 were sterilized and 2,000 were sent to the concentration camps, they were also barred from voting, military service, and from marrying Aryans. The Jews were a whole other matter for the Nazis. Their initial intent was to separate Jews from Germans and implemented demoralizing and restrictive measures to coerce the Jews to immigrate to another country. Under the Nuremburg Laws, the Jews were stripped of their German citizenship in 1935 and marriages between Jews and Germans were no longer allowed. A young man, Herschel Grynszpan, who was a Polish Jew shot and killed the German diplomat in Paris. Things began to deteriorate quickly after this. November 9-10, Kristallnacht, the Nazis went on a rampage blaming all Jews for the act of one. Many Jews were beaten, raped, and robbed as well as synagogues were looted and destroyed.
The Nazi government was a totalitarian regime that relied on terror and coercion to control the population. One good example of this is Dachau concentration camp. This camp was completed in 1933 and the first people sent there were guilty of opposing the Nazi party. Himmler publicized the camp as an attempt to intimidate the populace against the opposition of the government and it worked. At the core of the Nazi party, was the belief that the state should control every aspect of life in Germany and value racism, anti-Marxism, and the German national revival. Hitler wanted Germany’s economy to equal and surpass that of the US., but he believed that would only be possible if Germany was to acquire more living space. The only way to gain more land was through war. In order to go to war, he would need support from the working class. In order to secure this support, the Nazi’s implemented a number of economic plans. The first of these was the Reinhardt Plan which ear marked Reichsmarks for work creation. This plan employed people to work on vital infrastructure. The second was the Reich Labor Service which further reduced the unemployment rate for Germany by making service mandatory for young men. The third was the introduction of the Reich Food Estate with its goal to increase food production by controlling not only the prices on goods but also limiting foreign goods. Next, the Law on Hereditary Landholding protected farms from being foreclosed upon but with this law they were no longer able to sell their land and had to pass it on to the eldest son. These programs did benefit the working-class citizen as far as employment was concerned however, it did not benefit the working class as regular consumers as the prices for goods were higher.
With the increase in employment the German worker and consumer should have been able to enjoy the fruits of their labor however, this was not the case in pre-WWII Germany. Many had a low standard of living. They lived in small cramped apartments and necessities such as food were expensive. The Nazis believed that through gaining more living space the German people would enjoy a greater standard of living and pushed the idea that the resources should be utilized for the benefit of the nation rather than the need and want of the individual. This idea brought forth programs that were led by the German Labor Front which was a unified Nazi labor (union) organization, as independent labor unions had been banned by the Nazis. The Beauty of Labor was one of such programs which advocated for improvements within the workplace however, employees paid for these improvements through work time or reductions in pay. Another such program was the was the Strength thru Joy program. This program offered leisure and cultural activities to working class Germans which everyone was required to participate in the program. Religion and the church were another area the Nazis demanded complete control and many Christians were eager to unite the Christian faith with the Nazi regime. They did this by removing and ignoring all the Jewish elements of the Bible such as Jesus’s birth as a Jew and removing un-pure Aryans from positions of power within the church. However, when they were unable to unite under the Reich church, they soon lost favor with the Nazis who launched an attack on the church. Bishop Hans Meiser was arrested, and the Nazis attempted to have him removed. Many Protestants protested, and the Nazis relented. The Ministry for Church Affairs was created because of the protests however, it told the pastors what to preach in their sermons. After 700 pastors were arrested for not complying, the Nazis forced the closure of denominational schools. Other denominations fared for worse than the Christians and Protestants. The Catholic Church owed its allegiance to the Vatican not the Nazis. Prior to Hitler’s rise to power the church had urged its parishioners not to vote for the Nazis, after Hitler became chancellor they relented on their opposition because the followers did not want to be on the fringes of society. They, like the Christians, blamed the Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus and shared many of the values the Nazis held. The church and the Nazis hoped to come to an agreement, the Concordat, in which the Nazis guaranteed religious freedom if the priests did not engage in politics. This agreement was soon nullified by the Nazis. Soon after youth groups, catholic schools, ministry programs were closed, and church officials murdered. When the Vatican complained, Himmler and other officials conspired to charge the church as corrupt. They levied sexual abuse and misconduct charges against 1000 priests, 250 public trials occurred and 200 were found guilty. Soon all religious symbols were ordered to be removed. This brought major protests from those of the Catholic faith and soon the order for the removal of the symbols was rescinded. The only religious group to actively oppose the Nazi regime was the Jehovah Witnesses and were persecuted for their beliefs. “While racism generally heightened the regime’s appeal, coercion cut many ways. Many Germans appreciated the suppression of the leftists yet disliked arbitrary Nazi terror. At the same time, the threat of coercion may have kept some from voicing discontent.”
The Nazi’s racial ideology greatly contributed to the start of World War II as well as their war time policies. Hitler’s goal was not only to annex the areas that were held by Germany prior to WWI but to expand Germany to the Central and Eastern parts of the continent. To do this he needed a staging area and more raw resources. However, he did not want to fight a two front war. Even though the Soviet Union was a Communist regime, it had the raw materials and more importantly the oil reserves to wage war. Therefore, Hitler made an alliance with Stalin in order to obtain the oil, food and raw materials and to share Poland with Stalin. This alliance shocked the world because of the anti-Marxist stance that was so prevalent in his speeches. Days later, Poland was soon a conquest of Germany after lying about an attack on a German radio station conducted by the Pols. To be clear, this was no ordinary war. It was a race war against all non-Aryans. The Nazis viewed themselves as the superior race and all others were to be either exterminated, deported or subjugated. This is exemplified in their treatment of all Polish citizens as well as the people of the occupied areas of the Soviet Union once it had been invaded. In Poland, the citizens the Nazis believed were capable of forming a resistance to their rule were murdered these included priests, doctors, lawyers, nobility, as well as many others. Some Jews were murdered in their places of worship and others deported. In the Soviet Union, the Nazis believed “it was necessary to eradicate Bolshevik ideology and the lower races associated with it.” Soon the SS were given the freedom to murder Soviet citizens in areas occupied and controlled by the Nazis because the people were considered Bolshevik scum and sub human.
World War II was no ordinary war for territory and glory. It was a concerted effort to erase and eradicate ethnic non- Aryan populations and cultures from areas the Nazis invaded. Their racist foreign policy was seen in the Germanification of Poland in which Polish citizens were reduced to second class citizens and lost all of their rights. It was seen when polish towns were renamed with German names. It was visible in the treatment of humans throughout Nazi occupied lands. This World War was an effort to change the face and culture of Europe.