World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 3: The Spirit Of 1914 :: The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “If only we belonged to the German Empire!”
  • “Religion’s all the same, it’s race that is to blame”
  • “‘Germandom’, ‘Slavdom’, ‘Anglo-Saxondom’ or ‘Jewdom’”
  • “Other races were outbreeding the Germans and threatening to ‘flood’ them; or, like the French, they were declining and therefore exerting a corrupting influence through their decadence.”
  • “Baptism, of course, made no difference to the fact that someone was a Jew in Gebsattel’s eyes; anyone with more than a quarter of ‘Jewish blood’ in his or her veins was to be treated as a Jew and not a German.”
  • “In the eyes of the right, Communism and Social Democracy amounted to two sides of the same coin, and the one seemed no less a threat than the other.”
  • “Sacrifice, privation, death, on a huge scale, left Germans of all political hues bitterly searching for the reason why.”

Thought Questions

  • How did the Habsburg monarchy had restructured itself in the mid 19th century?
  • Compare and Contrast: The approaches to German expansion taken by different German nationalists
  • What was the Linz Programme of 1879?
  • Explain and Expand: “Its constant harping upon the supposedly evil influence of the Jews made it easier for a cynical communal politician”
  • Explain and Expand: “Schönerer never enjoyed this kind of popular support. But where Lueger’s antisemitism, though influential, was essentially opportunistic—‘ I decide who’s a Yid’, he once famously said, when criticized for dining with influential Jews in Vienna – Schönerer’s was visceral and unyielding. He proclaimed antisemitism, indeed, ‘the greatest achievement of the century’.”
  • Compare and Contrast: Antisemitism and anti-Catholicism in German nationalism
  • Explain and Expand: “Antisemitism in Austria was far from being a separate phenomenon from its German counterpart.”
  • In what ways did the lapsing of the Anti-Socialist Law impact German domestic politics
  • Explain and Expand: “Carl Peters was a classic colonial adventurer of the late nineteenth century, whose exploits quickly became the stuff of legend. … Peters’s fertile imagination and restless spirit led him to found a variety of organizations, including a Society for German Colonization in 1884, which merged with a like-minded group in 1887 to form the German Colonial Society.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The most significant, perhaps, was the Navy League, founded in 1898 with money from the arms manufacturer Krupp”
  • In what ways did gender impact the German nationalists
  • Explain and Expand: “Many of these agitators had achieved their status by working hard to get a university degree then moving up slowly through the ranks of the less fashionable parts of the civil service. Here, too, a degree of social anxiety was an important driving force. Identification, perhaps over-identification, with the German nation gave all the leading figures in the nationalist associations, whatever their background, a sense of pride and belonging, and an object for commitment and mobilization.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Alongside the specific aims that each organization followed, and irrespective of the frequent internal rows which plagued them, the nationalist associations generally agreed that Bismarck’s work of building the German nation was woefully incomplete and urgently needed to be pushed to its conclusion.”
  • Explain and Expand: “However, at the same time as they harboured these almost limitless ambitions for German world domination, the Pan-German League and the other nationalist associations also sounded a strong note of alarm, even despondency, about Germany’s current state and future prospects.”
  • What was the significance of the relationship between German nationalists and German monarchists
  • Explain and Expand: “Like other European nations, Germany went into the First World War in an optimistic mood, fully expecting to win, most probably in a relatively short space of time.”
  • Explain and Expand: “In all the major combatant nations, there was a change of leadership in the middle years of the war, reflecting a perceived need for greater energy and ruthlessness in mobilizing the nation and its resources.”
  • What was the significance of: “Ludendorff ordered a systematic economic exploitation of the areas of France, Belgium and East- Central Europe occupied by German troops. The occupied countries’ memory of this was to cost the Germans dearly at the end of the war.”
  • Explain and Expand: “So the Bolsheviks formed a Communist International (‘Comintern’) to propagate their version of revolution in the rest of the world.”
  • In what ways was 1916 a pivotal year for Germany and Russia?
  • Explain and Expand: “It would be difficult to exaggerate the fear and terror that these events spread amongst many parts of the population in Western and Central Europe.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The legacy of the German past was a burdensome one in many respects.”
  • In what ways were “The problems bequeathed to the German political system by Bismarck and his successors were made infinitely worse by the effects of the war”
  • Affirm or Refute: “Without the war, Nazism would not have emerged as a serious political force, nor would so many Germans have sought so desperately for an authoritarian alternative to the civilian politics that seemed so signally to have failed Germany in its hour of need.”

Articles and Resources


Primary Source Documents

A Letter to American Workingmen from the Socialist Soviet Republic of Russia – V.I. Lenin – Moscow, August 20, 1918

A Letter to American Workingmen from the Socialist Soviet Republic of Russia

By V.I. [M] Lenin

Moscow, August 20, 1918

LeninComrades: A Russian Bolshevik who participated in the Revolution of 1905 and for many years afterwards lived in your country has offered to transmit this letter to you. I have grasped this opportunity joyfully for the revolutionary proletariat of America—insofar as it is the enemy of American imperialism—is destined to perform an important task at this time.

The history of modern civilized America opens with one of those really revolutionary wars of liberation of which there have been so few compared with the enormous number of wars of conquest that were caused, like the present imperialistic war, by squabbles among kings, landholders and capitalists over the division of ill-gotten lands and profits. It was a war of the American people against the English who despoiled America of its resources and held in colonial subjection, just as their “civilized” descendants are draining the life-blood of hundreds of millions of human beings in India, Egypt and all corners and ends of the world to keep them in subjection.

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