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The practices of Nazism created a very distinct "us" and "them" mentality. The Nazism ideology made clear that there was a "threat" to the German people by those who were "different." As the ideology advanced, it became clear that "these people" were primarily Jewish, the targets of Nazism. The construction that Nazism offered and the reason for so much of its appeal was that it promulgated the idea of Germanic superiority and simultaneously its threat if "the other" were allowed to exist. The specific targeting of a group as an expression of another's supposed greatness became the basis of how the ideology was able to move into political policy. There was a steady progression from the origins of this idea to the Nazis creation of concentration camps. The advent of laws that denied Jewish individuals basic political, social, and economic rights as well as the forced wearing of "the yellow star" both fed into the relocation into the Jewish ghettos as well as the deportation into work camps. Finally, the development of concentration camps became seen as the homes to where "the final solution" would be posed by those who were able to use their position of Nazi power in eliminating millions. The ideological basis of Nazism made this possible in its assertion that Germanic greatness was threatened by Jewish existence.
Nazism did not explicitly prescribe the system of camps that has become emblematic of Nazi terror, but the way the camps functioned reflected some key points in Nazi thinking. Central to Hitler's view of the world were the twin goals of expanding Germany's territory and purifying the so-called Aryan race. Camps of various kinds evolved over the twelve years of Nazi rule to further these goals. The development of the camps also reflected pragmatic considerations that changed over time. From surveying the camps, we can see how much power Hitler had to implement his plans, and when he and the rest of the Nazi leadership needed to pay attention to public opinion, both inside Germany and abroad.
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