Racial Policies and Politics
In addition to his virulent hatred of the Versailles settlement, Hitler emphasized two main tenets: lebensraum, or living space, and racial purity. His fixation on racial purity derived from his early introduction to social Darwinism and anti-Semitism in Vienna before World War I. Hitler believed that the racially superior Germanic race was being polluted by intermarriage with non-Germans, by definition inferior, especially Jews. This was the genesis of his determination not only to annihilate the Jews but also to increase the size of the racially pure German population. The Jews were particularly targeted by Hitler and the Nazis with if not positive support at least passive acceptance by a substantial portion of the German population. The Nuremberg Laws, which defined who a Jew was, were a major step on the path to the Final Solution, as Hitler’s plan to eradicate European Jewry was known.