Nationalism at the Forefront
Hitler sought to push his political agenda to strengthen Germany as a nation- at the cost of other cultures and races in the state.
- 1How can prejudice or racist ideology be construed as nationalism?
Begin by asking students, What is the difference between patriotism and nationalism?
After giving them a few minutes to come up with their definitions, you can share the official definitions provided by Dictionary.com.
Patriotism: Devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.
Nationalism: The policy of doctrine asserting the interests of one’s own nation viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations. In short, nationalism is a kind of excessive, aggressive patriotism.
Explain to students that political parties and candidates create platforms that help translate their ideas and goals into actions. Tell the class that during this lesson they will read through the National Socialist German Workers’ Party Platform to read through provisions that Hitler proposed to the party.
Direct students to the Facing History and Ourselves source titled, National Socialist German Workers’ Party Platform and read through it together as a class. After you go through the platform, ask the class what their initial thoughts are. Does any one provision stick out to them?
Ask students to get together in small groups of two or three. Give 10-15 minutes for groups to go over the following questions:
- Do you notice a general theme in the party platform?
- The party puts the needs of German’s above all else, belittling other cultures and languages in German society. Do you see this sort of rhetoric happening in today’s environment?
Read the quote below by a German Nationalist in 1810 to help you answer the remaining questions:
“A state without a Volk (a people who share a language and culture) is nothing, a soulless artifice; a Volk without a state is nothing, a bodiless airy phantom, like the Gypsies* and the Jews. Only state and Volk together could forma Reich (great empire), and such a Reich cannot be preserved without Volkdom.” -Taken from Facing History and Ourselves.
- Does this quote represent patriotism or nationalism? How can you tell?
- Is nationalism a dangerous concept? Does it always foster an “us versus them” narrative?
Go over the questions as a class, collect answers to the main themes to use in future discussions about nationalism and propaganda.
Wisconsin Academic Standards
This lessons meets the following Academic Standards required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.