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INTRODUCTION

 

NATIONAL SOCIALISM

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National Socialism has been defined under the different
subcategories. Some scholars have seen it
as a form of fascism, some has placed it among the totalitarian regimes and
there was also some scholars who have interpreted it as a unique regime which derived from the historical path of the
German nation and the characteristics of the German nation. For them, its unique experience cannot be deduced
to totalitarianism or fascism but can be called as “Germanism”. (Sauer: 1967,
404-405) The reason for calling him as
Germanism and giving it unique title, ‘Germanism’, could be mainly because of
the Holocaust. Any regime did not direct
its wrath to the specific ethnicity by using modern technology and become
responsible for millions of the lives of that ethnicity.
For the scholar who holds the idea of
Germanism, genocide as an annihilation tactic in modern times could be
understood by looking the historical trajectory of the German nation and its effects
on the German subjects. However, he did
not explicitly refers the National Socialism as Germanism, Norbert Elias (1996)
can be seen as one of the scholars who
emphasis on the difference of the National Socialism from different type
fascist regimes and totalitarian regimes and explains the regime and the
Holocaust by looking the history of Germany.

Norbert Elias examines the National
socialism with the German habitus. For him,
habitus means that shared character of the people in the same nation which developed in the process of the state
formation. Rather than the biological ties, people gain a specific habitus which is shared among same citizens because
of the particular historical developments in the state formation process. This
process created a habitus that makes people think and feel with same or similar
way when they encounter with any development or any threat. Furthermore habitus
is not static and unchangeable but it is continuously shaped with the new
developments which the nation, the state or the tribe experiences (Elias 1996: 2)In the creation of German habitus,
there are four important peculiarities in state formation process that made
German habitus unique and gave way to National socialism only in Germany.(Elias
1996: 2) 

   Firstly, in the state formation process
Germans had lived geographically between the 
Latinized and Slavic peoples. Their position as middle bloc made them
always vulnerable to threats coming from
both the west and the east. Throughout the centuries, wars among these three
groups made the Germans the most vulnerable because of their position (Elias 1996:3).Secondly, from medieval times to
until its unification in 1871, Germany
could not gather under the absolute monarchy
while other Europeans gradually become more powerful with central absolute
monarchies(Elias 1996: 5). While the
victories of the England, and France shaped the habitus of these nations with
pride, their defeats against in many wars made Germans anxious about their
past. For example, Thirty Years War was
remembered in England and France as important and beneficial developments, Germans remembered it as a
catastrophe(Elias 1996: 5-6).Therefore
all these developments made Germans try to escape their past and become
obsessive about the unification among Germans(Elias 1996: 8)Thirdly, contrary to other European states, German state
formation disrupted with many discontinuities. German cultural and political centers were not same during the process of
state formation as in England and in France(Elias 1996: 8-9).Lastly, in
modernization period, the German nobility did not take over its power to the bourgeoisie and to the middle class as it happened in
England and in France. Instead of the idealistic liberal values,
modernization in Germany strengthened conservative nationalistic values. The
middle class and bourgeoisie tried to adopt the values of military nobility.
The upper culture in society glorified militaristic values rather than liberal values .(Elias 1996 :14-15)As a result of these four particularities, German habitus was
shaped by fear, anxiety and great longing for a powerful
nation. Therefore, National Socialism gained enormous power and
perceived by the people as an answer to their problems.

Briefly, Norbert Elias by explaining the root of National Socialism with the German
Habitus say that Germans are Germans. However this historical explanation seems
as convincing, it does not care so much the many similarities between the Nazi
regime and fascist regimes in Europe or the Stalinist
Soviet Republic. While Nazi regime was shaped with the historical past of
Germany, it also shared many characteristics with other regimes of Europe in
the 20th century in terms of
organization and ideology. Totalitarianism was
another alternative explanation
which mostly gives emphasis on the Nazi
regime’s similar points with the Stalinist
Soviet Republic in terms of ideology and terror.    

 Hannah Arendt(1953) defines National Socialism
as an example of the totalitarian system. She mainly focuses on her work on the
mechanism of the National Socialism that gives
itself the enormous power to shape its
subject rather than the historical path of Germans.    She finds the same
mechanism that creates National Socialism
and the Stalinist Soviet Republic and
calls two of them as totalitarian systems. Totalitarian system is a new
phenomenon that “destroyed all social, legal, and political traditions of the
country”(Arendt 1953: 303) and it creates its value system on the people by terror
and ideology. Different from the tyranny which is perceived as lawlessness,
totalitarianism impose its new value system on
its subjects.(Arendt 1953:306-307)
Rather than the accepted law conception before the totalitarian system, it brings a new interpretation of the law.
In this system ” ‘law’ itself changed its meaning: from expressing the
framework of stability within which human actions and motions can take place,
it becomes the expression of the motion
itself”(Arendt 1953: 310) Law in the
totalitarian system become a tool to accelerate the expected end that is
heralded by the Law of Nature or Law of History(Arendt 1953: 315).So law loses
its regulating and stabilizing force and changes its focus from people to the ultimate aim of the movement. “Nazis developed a dualistic system of
justice-the state system courts and judges and the SS system, which acted ultimately on the basis of
arbitrary Führer authority”(Spielvogel 1996:
110).Therefore Nazis bypassed the positive laws of the Weimar Republic by adding
SS as a new authority of justice and this chaos served to the new concept of
law that aims to serve Law of Nature.

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