Gleichschaltung (Coordination)

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The Nazi regime can be divided into different phases from 1933 to 1945. The first phase encompasses 1933 and 1934. Following their experiences with the disintegrating Weimar Republic, which many perceived as ominous, large segments of the populace sensed a mood of national awakening when the National Socialists assumed power in January of 1933.

The National Socialists built on national homogeneity and promised a return to former national grandeur and strength. This inspired many people, had an integrative effect and masked this policy’s aggressive potentials. Nazi strategists were adept at further fostering this mood by exerting propagandistic influence. The thusly invoked “Volksgemeinschaft” or racial national community was extremely attractive to large segments of the populace.

The ideological system propagated by the Nazis was buttressed by a claim to totalitarian absolute power, which was enforced against resistance with vehemence and ruthless force. Every individual and every segment of society was subjected to the Nazi state’s strong “desire for Gleichschaltung” or coordination. Anyone who did not yield was sanctioned by the seemingly all-powerful “prerogative state”.

This early phase of Nazi rule entailed the systematic and violently elimination of political opposition, especially Social Democrats and Communists, in so-called “night and fog operations”. These brutal measures combined with the political trend toward totalitarian dictatorship since the spring of 1933 rarely entered the public eye. The incipient racial persecution also met with little resistance from the public.

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