The rise of Nazi Germany and the demise of democracy
Isn’t it (tragically) paradoxical that Nazi Germany, one of the most fascist political institutions in human history, rose out of the Weimar Republic, a democratic constitution? The Weimar Republic had numerous and regular political elections, strict regulation of parliamentary seats and very fierce party politics. Weimar politicians also engaged in political debates and employed methods of campaigning, just as anyone would expect in a democratic society. Furthermore, Hitler’s road to political power resembles the political careers of many modern politicians in many modern democratic regimes: political canvassing and campaigning, establishing relations with the people, numerous (failed) attempts at being elected, (suspected) political manipulation and blackmail (e.g. the Reichstag fire) etc. His political success was down to many qualities that characterise politically successful men in the course of modern history, namely an undying determination to succeed and an amazing charismatic and oratorical gift. Yet Nazi Germany, the nation he created, had every characteristic of fascism, the polar opposite of democracy. There was no freedom of speech, as there was strict censorship on every aspect of public life; there was no political freedom, as it was a one-party state in which Hitler et co held absolute power; there was a ridiculous amount of political propaganda which glorified the Nazis and their regime; there was also political violence, as the SS policed the nation and ensured total compliance to the government. It was therefore an amazing transition from Weimar democracy to Nazi fascism. The rise of Nazism in the democratic Weimar Republic is a fantastic case-study of the failure of democracy. Many people equate democracy with free elections (an utterly simplistic and naive view), and they covet democracy so much that they view free elections as a golden asset, a golden medicine that would cure any nation of its malaise. Yet the failure of the Weimar Republic proves that having free elections does not automatically mean that your country is safe from political terror. In fact, if free elections are not conducted carefully, there is no democracy, as Hitler and the Nazis have shown. The term ‘democracy’ should therefore be defined with care, since if people who do not understand this term continue to abuse it, more political crises are bound to occur.