The World War I was one of the greatest challenges for humanity. The war brought to the fore various issues which had been in the air in the end of the nineteenth century and in the beginning of the twentieth century. Of course, the World War I was not the only reason for the development of nationalism in Germany.
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However, it is considered to be one of the major reasons for the rise of nationalism in Germany which resulted in the World War II, which was the most devastating war in the history of humanity. German nationalism, Nazism, is also often regarded as “one of the key ingredients in the totalitarian ideologies and systems that emerged in post-World War I Germany” (Conversi 166). The ideas developed in the first part of the twentieth century shaped the world considerably.
In the first place, it is necessary to consider the development of nationalism in Europe in the end of the nineteenth century. Darwinism played a very important role in the development of nationalism at that period. The ideas of superiority and combat prevailed in Europe at that time (Sondhaus 28). Notably, such countries as Germany and Italy had rather specific vision. Those were distorted nations which only sought for unification.
As far as Germany is concerned, Otto von Bismarck made a great thing and created a strong empire (Spohn 60). Nonetheless, this unification had some negative effects. Thus, German people started believing in their superiority. The legend of the great nation was created in the end of the twentieth century (Chirot 42). Thus, it is possible to state that unification of the nation, the development of sciences made many people believe in ideas of nationalism.
Importantly, the development of industries and technology can be regarded as one of the potent factors that contributed to the rise of nationalism in Germany. The nation’s advances were regarded as evidence of the nation’s power and superiority. Therefore, the World War I was a logical continuation of Germany’s policies.
The World War I was initiated by such nations as Germany and Austria- Hungary. Historians note that German people were in fear of other nations and such forces as Catholicism or socialism (Chirot 42). German nationalism of that period was a distorted ideology which made people start a war to defend themselves from the non-existing enemies.
During the World War I Germany had to fight against the greatest powers of that period. Thus, Great Britain, Russian Empire, France, the United States, Italy and other countries defeated Germany. It is not surprising that German people were angry with the entire world.
At that period the world was divided into two camps for German people: Germans and others. German people became hostile to others. Nationalism started acquiring quite new forms. The ideas of nationalism were intermingled with Darwinism, strive for unification, hostility to others and strong dissatisfaction with the new world where the winning countries deprived German people of many resources (many German people shared this idea).
However, the rise of the nationalism can be explained by the end of the war, not its beginning. The World War I ended and the winning countries reshaped the entire world. It goes without saying that such policy was rather dangerous. The Germans were afraid of aliens who could intervene in their affairs, and after the World War I those fears became true. After the war Germany was in the camp of the “have-not” nations which
under the rule of repressive dictatorships sought to redress what they saw as the inequities of the peace settlements after the World War I. (Eder & Roberts 308)
The nation was dissatisfied with the unfair, as Germans saw it, policies implemented by “have” nations (Eder & Roberts 308). Ideas concerning aliens and superiority of the Germans became grains of mustard seeds.
The period between the two World Wars can be regarded as a period of development of ultra-nationalism in Germany. Nazism can be regarded as a product of the post-World War I treaties. The Germans strived for unification and safety. People felt humiliated and disappointed.
However, the majority of German people did not see the guilt of Germany, they focused on the policies which winning countries, France, Great Britain, Russia, implemented. This can be seen as one of the reasons why nationalist ideas were turned into Nazism ideology.
Interestingly, after the World War I Weimar Republic appeared. It had one of the most democratic constitutions at that time (Eder & Roberts 290). Nonetheless, the Republic soon ceased to exist as people were not ready to forget their offences and move on. Many people focused on the ‘injustice’. They blamed other nations which were ‘responsible’ for the disgrace.
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Adolf Hitler was one of those who shared the ideas of the Germans’ unjust alienation (Eder & Roberts 290). He took part in many military operations and he felt a kind of personal offence when Germany was defeated. Hitler was influenced by those ideas. Notably, he made an attempt to cease the power in 1923. However, the so-called Munich Beer Hall Putsch was a failure and Hitler was sentenced to five years imprisonment (Eder & Roberts 290).
Though the Putsch proved to be a complete failure it became the necessary background for the future Hitler’s triumph. Hitler acquired reputation of the victim of the wrongful rule. He became a kind of fighter for the rights of the entire nation. Basically, Hitler articulated ideas which were in the air at that time (Eder & Roberts 291). The ideas of nationalism were reconsidered and acquired new vectors.
Some may be shocked that Nazism was accepted by the entire nation as the rightful ideology. However, it is important to remember that Hitler promised to give people what they wanted, and he provided simple answers to difficult questions. Thus, he explained the failure of the nation in the World War I by the fact that there was a conspiracy of other nations which were inferior to their nation. Hitler gave the Germans goals to achieve and people who did not have any aims or objectives eagerly accepted the new rule and the new order.
Scholars also note that the development of nationalism in Germany can be regarded as “Unification nationalism” (Conversi 172). Thus, Germany managed to unite people divided politically. Therefore, many German people thought they were powerful enough to unite the entire world under the rule of the great German empire. Notably, “unification nationalism” can be regarded as an initial form of ultra-nationalism and Nazism.
It goes without saying that the development of Nazism affected the development of the world. First of all, nationalism government was an example for others, at the same time; it was a warning for other nations. Thus, such countries as Germany, Italy and Japan had much in common. These countries saw Germany as a country which had found the best way to develop.
The Germans who made specific steps to reach their goals were regarded as a model for Italians and Japanese people. However, other countries saw the danger as nationalism government focused on a particular group of people. More so, the central ideas of nationalism were not quite enough to make the country develop properly. The nation was inspired by rather delusive ideas and this inspiration could not be lasting.
It is also necessary to note that countries failed to see the danger in time as many saw Nazis Germany as a better option than the Socialistic Germany. Nazis opposed the spread of Communism and it was quite enough for many Western countries. Thus, Western countries made a mistake as they thought that one totalitarian country (Germany) could become a good ally against another totalitarian state (the USSR).
The world between the two World Wars was highly polarized. Though Western countries recognized the USSR as a sovereign country, they opposed the spread of Communism. Many countries in the Eastern as well as Western Europe (Especially Germany) were shaken by many riots.
Germany had rather strong communist party and the USSR used to assist Communist movements in various countries (Eder & Roberts 290). Therefore, the rise of the Nazis party was seen as the necessary strong and perspective opposition to communist party. However, soon it was clear that Nazis should have been regarded as the greater of the two evils.
However, the rule of the nationalism government also had long-term effects. Thus, the example of Germany has been a warning to many nations in the post-World War II world. Thus, the rise of similar ideas is now regarded as a dangerous trend which should be diminished. Many people share the idea that
Nationalism is neither a spent force nor any less dangerous than it ever was. The antiquity of the feelings that lie behind it belie any notion that it is somehow a fairly recent creation, and therefore, one that is likely at any time soon to become obsolete. (Chirot 45)
Admittedly, the ideas promulgated by German people after the World War I were partially positive and rightful. However, they soon became dangerous and delusive. The idea of unification turned into the idea of hostility to any other nation. The idea of national identity soon turned into the idea of the nation’s superiority. The lesson that the entire world learned made people hostile to any manifestation of ultra-nationalism (Chirot 45).
On balance, it is necessary to note that the rise of nationalism in Germany was due to several factors: the development of sciences and industries, popularity of Darwin’s ideas, unification of the nation, and the World War I. At that, the World War One was one of the most potent factors that influenced the development of nationalism in Germany.
The war turned ideas of nationalism into the ideas of Unification nationalism and Nazism. German people were deluded by such leaders as Hitler who promised easy and ‘rightful’ ways to achieve justice. The development of Nazism led to another world war which became the lesson that nations learned better than the previous one (World War I).
Chirot, Daniel. “The Retribalization of the Modern World: How the Revival of Ancient Sentiments Leads to Persisting Nationalist and Ethnic Conflicts.” Ab Imperio 3 (2008): 23-46. Print.
Conversi, Daniele. “Democracy, Nationalism and Culture: A Social Critique of Liberal Monoculturalism.” Sociology Compass 2.1 (2007): 156-182. Print.
Eder, James M., and Seth A. Roberts. Barron’s AP European History, New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2010. Print.
Sondhaus, Lawrence. World War One: The Global Revolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.
Spohn, Willfried. “Austria: From Habsburg Empire to a Small Nation in Europe.” Entangled Identities: Nations and Europe. Ed. Atsuko Ichijo and Willfried Spohn. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2006. 55-72. Print.