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Hitler Took Advantage of People's Low Self Esteem
After World War I Germany fell to an all time low, economically and politically. The German people were unemployed, the government was broke and there was a feeling of helplessness all around. Hitler took advantage of the German people's low self esteem and saw it as a way he could use this feeling of hopelessness to better himself.
Inflation played a huge role in Germany's problems. Germany had incurred an enormous debt from World War I. The government was under a great deal of pressure to repay the debt and thought they could solve their dilemma by printing more money. Too much of the international economy rested on the unproductive passing of paper from the United States to Germany as loans, from Germany to the Allies as reparations, and from the Allies to the United States as payment of war debts; and the United States raised tariffs in 1922 and again in 1930 to levels that made it nearly impossible for Europeans to earn dollars by selling to Americans.
People from all classes were hungry, homeless and unemployed. Germany's welfare system could not handle all of the people needing help. The few soup kitchens available had long lines with no hope of feeding everyone in need. People were sleeping on sidewalks, in alleys or anywhere were they could find warmth. A German writer who experienced these conditions himself describes a day in 1932 after he was allowed a nights stay at the Berlin municipal lodging house...Now the men are standing in a long row, dressed in their plain nightshirts that reach to the ground, and the noise of their shuffling feet is like the noise of big wild animals walking up and down the stone floor of their cages before feeding time. The men lean far over the kettle so that the warm steam from the food envelops them and they hold out their bowls as if begging and whisper to the attendant, "Give me a real helping. Give me a little more."
Hitler saw a way to take advantage of the countries depression and the people's feeling of hopelessness. He knew that the people of Germany were looking for any change to escape from their current way of life.
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Fascist parties did not believe in peace, they used paramilitary organizations to remake society through discipline and force. They started first, with marches and loud demonstrations, determined to get their messages out. The fascist party used fear and intimidation to get people to follow them. Some saw the fascist party as a new, powerful group to be a part of, what a great way to feel better about themselves. Others were afraid to oppose them for fear of harm to themselves or their families.
The fascists also encouraged censorship and discouraged personal identities and self-thinking. The fascists began to wear uniforms, which typically consisted of a shirt of one color and uniform pants. It was also common to have children at a very young age begin to practice fascist marches and get them into uniforms. Not only did the children see their parents and other adults behave in this fascist way, but now they were being taught and practicing it themselves. As Dr. Alice Hamilton explains... "To understand Hitler's enormous success with the young we must understand what life has meant to the post-war generation in Germany, not only the children of the poor but of the middle class as well. They were children during the years of the war when the food blockade kept them half starved, when fathers were away at the front and mothers distracted with the effort to keep their families fed. They came to manhood in a country which seemed to have no use for them. Many young Communists were brought under the banner of Hitler by appeals to national pride and race antagonism, but also by the ideal of a united Germany without class hatred." The German people had a high need to feel like they belong and to be a part of a group, with more and more people becoming fascists not many wanted to stand alone and fight for what they believed in. How much easier it must have been to accept any feelings of wrongdoing if they saw that everyone around them was also doing the same thing.
The Nazis also needed to squeeze their own representatives into government positions and persuade existing representatives to nazi beliefs. The Nazis used every possible way to achieve this; they also used fear, intimidation, and humiliation to get the existing government employees to think like they did. If that didn't work they were also known to assassinate people who were in the way. In June of 1934 Hitler ordered the assassination of his leaders of the Nazi left wing that had become potential rivals. Hitler wasn't going to have any potential faults in his system.
Hitler now had followers and government employees; all he had to do now is show how he was different. He had to blame the countries current problems on someone else so he could prove things were going to be better his way. The government was at fault. The Jews were at fault. He would show how other countries were failing while the Soviet Union was advancing.
In the end Hitler had accomplished just what he thought he could. Feeding on the countries poverty, and helplessness he was able to convince the people of Germany he was the answer.