Germany in the 1930’s is a very weird subject. An unknown friendless Austrian man who hadn’t had a job before the First World War and had pretty much been rejected from every venture he had attempted became the most powerful man in Germany due to his ability to use his oratorical talent to mobilise the German public through newspapers and radio broadcasts, taking advantage of an almost entirely lawless state to position himself as the only person with the ability to renegotiate the Treaty of Versailles and offer the most effective resistance towards the Communists who were also benefitting greatly from the conditions of lawlessness, assassination and unemployment.
Through the First World War, the German people were drawn into an imperial war with the French and the British. The causes of these battles were based on nationalist calculation of the greatness of a nations military, a nations economy, a nations language and a nations people. The myth of German greatness was likely entrenched by the propaganda, militarisation and suffering in the First World War. The hangover from the First World War created networks of men, women, children and families with a very keen and stressed understanding of the fragility of their mortality, their family life and their national life – Hitler himself heard of the German defeat lying ‘blinded from mustard gas in a hospital in Pasewalk’. The war never ended in Germany. They went from the First World War to a Civil War in which the nationalists fought violently against the communists. The mobilisation of paramilitary groups, assassinations and death were both a symptom and cause of the breakdown of liberal democracy within Germany.
Within this context, Adolf Hitler, a man with a gift for public speaking and an understanding of violence started to unite the German people through ideas of race, defining the German identity through othering and promising the genocide of the Jewish peoples of Germany, and mobilise defences against the communists. Remember that millions of Germans spent four years assimilating propaganda on German national superiority and many husbands, brothers, sons and families would’ve been left under the most extreme experience of physical stress because of these beliefs. Similarly, allied nations were full of networks of people experiencing intense levels of emotional loss, physical stress and injury as a result of defending the accepted greatness of the British and French Empires. In this sense Hitler was simply extending the narrative of the First World War.
The influence of the Russian Bolshevik revolution cannot be overestimated, this was an overthrow of an imperial bourgeois state that had been in power for three hundred years. Just as Hitler had provided a story for the German nation after the First World War, Lenin had authored the grand narrative of the Russian nation after the First World War as the centre of International Marxism seeking to overthrow the bourgeoise throughout the planet. Not only had the German people been left traumatised and punished in defeat by the Americans, French and British, they were now facing the attempted destruction of the German nation in the name of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky. Intuitively it seems the most effective response towards the defeat of Germany in World War One would’ve been the strategy implemented by the American’s after World War Two, uniting European nations in opposition to the threat of the USSR. This would’ve provided the German peoples and the German institution’s with effective defence from the violent actions of Communist revolutionaries, remember the burning of the Reichstag was essentially a terrorist attack from a communist sympathiser, and may have served to prevent Germany’s fall into anarchical violence.