Eric Hoffer's True Believer outlines a model that mass movements follow or need to follow in order to succeed. The Nazi Political Movement in Germany is explained well through the use of this framework. The Nazi party rose to power because of the setting of Germany at the time and the people involved in the movement. It is especially interesting to look at how the methods and tactics the leaders used changed throughout the course of the Nazi rule. The difference is especially apparent in how the treatment of homosexuals by Nazis changed over time. These behaviors and laws can be sorted into four main phases of the Nazi rule: coming to power, cracking down, mass killings, and fall of the empire.
The first phase of the Nazi movement was the coming to power. The setting in Germany in 1933 was very important to the success of the Nazi movement. This was right after Germany had lost World War 1 and had been punished heavily by the Treaty of Versailles. The country was in shambles. The economy was facing major inflation and extremely high unemployment rates. Suicide rates were high, and because of the financial distress, many people were suffering from malnutrition. The German people needed things to get better. In Hoffman's words, they had a "desire for change" (Hoffman).
Equally important as a desire for change was a desire for substitutes. Not only did the German people have to know that they wanted things to change, they had to know how they wanted things to be. They had to want a specific substitute. The Nazi party suggested a very enticing substitute. This is where Hoffer's "men of words" come into play. Hitler and Goebbels were the two main men of words important to this stage of the movement. Hitler was the voice of the movement, quite literally using his words to paint the substitute for the German people. Hitler was able to make use of the radio as a tool for men of words and talk to the German people in their homes every morning. Goebbels was the head of propaganda. They spoke of a master race of Aryan people and of a new Germany, not held back by anyone. While offering substitutes about Germany's place in the global order and fixing everything the Treaty of Versailles had taken away, Hitler also managed to find jobs for 7 million of the previously unemployed. At this point in time, the German people were looking for change, and the Nazi party offered a solution.
In this first phase, the Nazis collect a lot of followers. Hoffer describes the true believer to be a "man of fanatical faith who is ready to sacrifice his life for a holy cause" (Hoffer). These are the people that the Nazis were able to recruit most easily. They were the newly poor, affected heavily by the failing economy. They remembered being on top and because of this, they were even more dissatisfied with their position. Because they watched everything they had slip away, they were even more motivated to get it back.
During this phase, the Nazis were easing into their...