The Nazi Party was one of a number of right-wing extremist political groups that emerged in Germany following World War I. Beginning with the onset of the Great Depression it rose rapidly from obscurity to political prominence, becoming the largest party in the German parliament in 1932.
When Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, he was determined to overturn the military and territorial provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. By overturning the treaty, the German government sought to incorporate ethnically German territories into the Reich. It was the first step toward the creation of a German empire in Europe.
In 1933, Nazi students at more than 30 German universities pillaged libraries in search of books they considered to be "un-German." Among the literary and political writings they threw into the flames were the works of Erich Maria Remarque.
The Sturmabteilung, or SA, was a paramilitary organization associated with the Nazi Party. The SA was integral to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, violently enforcing party norms and attempting to influence elections. After Hitler purged the SA during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, the SA lost most of its power to the Schutzstaffel, or SS, although the SA did not disband until the war ended in 1945.
Persecution of Jews and other groups was not solely the result of measures originating with Hitler and other Nazi zealots. Nazi leaders required the active help or cooperation of professionals working in diverse fields who in many instances were not convinced Nazis. Church leaders and other members of the conservative elite who were in a position to influence public opinion were all but silent regarding the persecution of Jews.
Before the Nazi takeover of power in 1933, Germany had a thriving Jewish population with strong community organizations. Jews had lived in Germany since Roman times. They were well integrated into German society—they spoke the language, identified with the nationality, and worked alongside non-Jews.
As Allied troops moved across Europe in a series of offensives against Nazi Germany, they found tens of thousands of concentration camp prisoners in deplorable conditions.e Malnutrition and disease were rampant, and corpses lay unburied. The soldiers reacted in shock and disbelief to the evidence of Nazi atrocities. In addition to burying the dead, the Allied forces attempted to help and comfort the survivors with food, clothing and medical assistance.
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