Hitler portrayed history as a "racial" struggle. He argued that the "Aryan race" was superior to all others, while the "Jewish race" was a parasite that aimed at world domination.

Adolf Hitler salutes his followers at a Nazi party rally soon after his appointment as chancellor, February 1933.

Courtesy USHMM


After World War I, political and economic instability threatened Germany. Its military defeat and the terms of the peace treaty caused resentment. Inflation rendered savings worthless, while the global depression left millions unemployed.

German spectators at the 1937 Reich Party Day celebrations in Nuremberg raise their arms in the Nazi salute.

Photograph Julien Bryan, USHMM, courtesy Julien Bryan


By 1932, the National Socialist German Workers (or Nazi) Party was the largest in the German parliament. Its leader, Adolf Hitler, blamed German suffering on its small Jewish population. He spoke of a world led by Germany.

When Hitler became chancellor in 1933, he dismantled parliamentary democracy and civil liberties. He ended freedom of the press, speech, and assembly and imprisoned "enemies of the state" in concentration camps.

This Nazi propaganda poster showing a Jewish star states, "Whoever wears this symbol is an enemy of our nation," 1942.

USHMM, courtesy Michel Reynders

University students at the burning of "un-German" books, Opernplatz, Berlin, May 10, 1933

Photograph Heinrich Hoffmann, USHMM, courtesy National Archives

Hitler receives an ovation in the Reichstag, Germany's parliament, after annexing Austria, March 1938.

USHMM, courtesy National Archives, photo no. 79471