The National Socialist German Workers’ Party (German: About this sound Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, abbreviated NSDAP), commonly referred to in English as the Nazi Party (/ˈnɑːtsi/), was a political party in Germany active between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers’ Party (DAP), existed from 1919 to 1920.
The party emerged from the German nationalist, racist and populist Freikorps paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post-World War I Germany. Advocacy of a form of socialism by right-wing figures and movements in Germany became common during and after World War I, influencing Nazism. Arthur Moeller van den Bruck of the Conservative Revolutionary movement coined the term “Third Reich”, and advocated an ideology combining the nationalism of the right and the socialism of the left. Prominent Conservative Revolutionary member Oswald Spengler’s conception of a “Prussian Socialism” influenced the Nazis. The party was created as a means to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch nationalism. Initially, Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist rhetoric, although such aspects were later downplayed in order to gain the support of industrial entities, and in 1930s the party’s focus shifted to antisemitic and anti-Marxist themes.
To maintain the supposed purity and strength of a postulated “Aryan master race”, the Nazis sought to exterminate or impose exclusionary segregation upon “degenerate” and “asocial” groups that included: Jews, homosexuals, Romani, blacks, the physically and mentally handicapped, Jehovah’s Witnesses and political opponents. The persecution reached its climax when the party-controlled German state organized the systematic murder of approximately six million Jews and five million people from the other targeted groups, in what has become known as the Holocaust.
The party’s leader since 1921, Adolf Hitler, was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg in 1933. Hitler rapidly established a totalitarian regime known as the Third Reich. Following the defeat of the Third Reich at the conclusion of World War II in Europe, the party was “completely and finally abolished and declared to be illegal” by the Allied occupying powers.