The origins and symbolism of Nazi ideology
In the following pages, Nazi ideology, its origins and symbolism, and its relationship to the thought of the Enlightenment will be studied. In this study, the main themes and elements of Nazi ideology, and the extent of their coherence, will first be considered. Then the symbolism, and the way in which this symbolism was used in the mobilisation of the German population, will be examined. In conjunction with this, Nazi propaganda techniques will be studied, to illustrate how closely propaganda, symbolism and ideology were bound together. Following this, an analysis of the historical context of Nazi ideology will be undertaken. In examining this context, the applicability of Sternhell's thesis to the growth of Nazism will be considered, and it will be argued that the crisis of liberal democracy that contributed to the birth of fascism also contributed to the development of Nazi ideology. To give some background to the intellectual climate of which Nazi ideology was a product, the work of Arthur de Gobineau, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Heinrich von Treitschke and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck will be examined, and the similarity between much of their thought and elements of Nazi ideology noted. In order to achieve a thorough understanding of Nazi ideology's historical background, the extent of Enlightenment influence on Nazi ideology will be examined, by focusing on the thought and intellectual trends of this period. Then, by comparing aspects of Enlightenment thought with the ideology of Nazism, it will be concluded that Nazi ideology was not a direct rejection of the thought of the Enlightenment, but rather was strongly influenced by many aspects of Enlightenment thought.