Key Concepts

Herrenvolk – The Nazi concept of the master race.

According to the Nazis the Aryan people were descended from pre-historical tribes who lived on the North German Plain. The Aryans were racially pure and not mixed with Indo-European peoples. The Nazis did not view the Slavic people of Eastern Europe of the Romance peoples of France and Southern Europe as Aryan. Their view that the Slavic people were not Aryans led the Nazis to pursue a policy of expulsion of the Slavic people from their homelands.

The Nazis also pursued a policy of racial superiority and the dominance of the White racist supremacy. Their views were based on 19th century racial theories and placed the Aryans at the top of the racial pyramid followed by the non-Aryan white races, the ‘olive-skinned’ Southern Europeans, then the Euro- Aisans with the black Aboriginal Australians and African ‘savages’ at the bottom of the racial hierarchy.

The Nazis promoted the policy of eugenics – the removal of the weak in society – to create a super race. This led the Nazis to attempt to eliminate those who suffered from physical and mental disabilities and learning difficulties.

Lebensraum – The Nazis policy of territorial expansionism to gain Lebensraum (“living space”)

Lebensraum was an important component of Nazi ideology in Germany. The Nazis supported territorial expansionism to gain Lebensraum (“living space”) as being a law of nature for all healthy and vigorous peoples of superior races to displace people of inferior races; especially if the people of a superior race were facing overpopulation in their given territories. The Nazi Party claimed that Germany inevitably needed to territorially expand because it was facing an overpopulation crisis within its Treaty of Versailles-designed boundaries that Adolf Hitler described: “We are overpopulated and cannot feed ourselves from our own resources”

The policy of Lebensraum implicitly assumed the superiority of Germans as members of an Aryan master race who by virtue of their superiority had the right to displace people deemed to be part of inferior races.The Nazis insisted that Lebensraum needed to be developed as racially homogeneous to avoid intermixing with peoples deemed to be part of inferior races. As such peoples deemed to be part of inferior races living within territory selected to be Lebensraum, were subject to expulsion or destruction.

Reichskirche – The Protestant Reich Church, officially The German Evangelical Church

The Reichskirche was a unified state church that espoused a single doctrine compatible with Nazism. In 1933 Hitler to create unified single Reichskirche from the 28 regional Protestant churches: He installed pro-Nazi chaplain Ludwig Müller as Reich Bishop resulting in splits among German Protestants. From 1934 the Nazi regime tried to bring the Protestant churches under its control by taking charge of church finances and governance structures.The failure of Müller to unite Protestants in Nazified Church led Hitler to appoint Hans Kerrl as Minister for Church Affairs. By 1937 the Nazis were imprisoning cleargy who oppsed the state church. The persecution of the Christian churches intensified during WW2 with the Nazis banning church publications and restricting church services.

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