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National Socialism

Nazi Rule

After ousting the left wing of the party, represented by Gregor Strasser, Hitler, once in power, secured his position by the "Blood Purge" (June, 1934) of SA leader Ernst Roehm and others who might challenge him. Loyal Nazis were placed in positions of authority within the government and eventually came to control it. A corporative state was established in which labor lost all rights and was even regimented in its recreation by the "Strength through Joy" movement. Youth, schools, and the press came under repressive control. The books of "undesirable" authors were repeatedly burned.

Germany was divided into party districts; the Gauleiter [district leader] in effect superseded the state government. The judicial system was reorganized, and special courts were established to deal with political offenses. Nazi ideology was enthroned as national law, and Nazi methods replaced rational legal procedure. Anti-Semitic legislation (the Nuremberg Laws) forbade intermarriage with Jews, deprived Jews of civil rights, and barred them from professions. Other laws similarly barred Communists.

A German Christian Church was set up to control Protestant churches; its chief opponent, Martin Niemoeller, was arrested. The Gestapo (see secret police) tracked down political opponents, Jews, and other undesirables; their internment in concentration camps was often a prelude to their murder, particularly in the case of the Jews after the start of World War II. Medical "experiments," some of them conducted to prevent the reproduction of Jews and "misfits," maimed thousands more.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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