10 Bizarre Facts You Didn’t Know About the Nazis

It has been several decades since the downfall of Nazi Germany. Yet, the Nazis remain a fascination for many who study history. As deeply disturbing as Adolph Hitler’s regime was, it continues to captivate our attention and compels us to learn more about it.

So, here are 10 bizarre facts you didn’t know about the Nazis:

1.The Nazis were opposed to animal cruelty.

When Adolf Hitler assumed power in 1933, the Nazis enacted a number of animal protection laws. In fact, they passed a law regulating the slaughter of animals and also banned hunting. Hitler announced,

“In the new Reich, no more animal cruelty will be allowed.”

2. The Nazis loved movies.

Hitler was a film buff and particularly enjoyed Hollywood movies, which he watched in a private cinema room. While his favorite film was the animated Disney feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937), he also liked King Kong and Charlie Chaplin films.

Hitler also loved Mickey Mouse so much that he watched five of the Disney icon’s cartoons in July 1937. That year, Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, gave Hitler 12 Mickey Mouse films for a Christmas present.

The Nazisalso favored the 1934 Century Fox production, “The House of Rothschild”–about the rise of the Jewish family of European bankers–because they believed that it supported their stereotype of Jews. In fact, they liked it so much that theyended up pirating a clip from the movie for a 1940 propaganda film.

3. The Nazis tried to take Christ out of Christmas.

The Nazis wanted to still celebrate Christmas, but without Christ. So they used propaganda to de-emphasize the role of Jesus, who was born a Jew. Instead, they tried to turn the holiday into a winter solstice celebration. They produced their own range of Christmas decorations and wrapping paper, featuring swastikas. The Nazis even attempted to persuade housewives to bake cookies in the shape of swastikas, and remove the Christian figure of Saint Nicholas from their homes.

However, the German people mostly ignored the propaganda efforts and continued with their same Christmas traditions.

4.The Nazis led the earliest ban on smoking.

German doctors were the first to identify the link between smoking and lung cancer. As a result, Germany initiated a strong anti-smoking campaign and became the first anti-tobacco movement in modern history. The Nazi leadership strongly condemned smoking and research on its detrimental effects on health thrived under Nazi rule.

The Nazi anti-tobacco campaign included a ban on smoking on trains, buses, and trams, limiting cigarette rations, organizing health education lectures for soldiers, and raising the tobacco tax.

While the movement didn’t have much success in the early years of the Nazis regime, and tobacco use increased from 1933 to 1939, smoking by military personnel declined after 1939.

The campaign was targeted primarily to Aryan Germans as a way to protect the preferred race.

5.The Nazis punished homosexuals (even though there were homosexuals among their ranks).

Upon the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany, gay men and lesbians were two of the many various groups that were among the Holocaust victims.

The targeting initially began in 1933 when gay organizations were banned and books on homosexuality were burned. Even homosexuals within the Nazi Party were murdered at that time.

Between 1933 and 1945, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals and 50,000 of them were sentenced in regular prisons or Nazi concentration camps. Homosexuals in the camps were treated with cruelty. Many were even directed to compulsory visits to the camp brothel as a means of “curing” them of their sexual orientation.

6. The Nazis had a government-operated breeding program.

The infamous Nazi chief Heinrich Himmler, set up a government-breeding agency called “Lebensborne”- (“Spring of Life”) with the purpose of increasing the birth rate of Aryan children classified as “racially pure and healthy” based on Nazi racial hygiene. Lebensborne provided financial assistance to unmarried mothers, encouraged births by unmarried mothers at their maternity homes, and mediated adoption of these children by “racially pure and healthy” parents, mostly Nazi members and their families. Abortion was illegal at the time.

SS officers were also encouraged to impregnate these single women before joining Germany’s war effort.

7. The Nazis kidnapped hundred of thousands of foreign children.

Kidnapping of foreign children by Nazi Germany was part of the GeneralplanOst (GPO), which involved taking children regarded as “Aryan-looking” from the rest of Europe and moving them to Nazi Germany for the purpose of Germanization, or indoctrination into becoming culturally German. An estimated 400, 000 children were abducted throughout Europe.

The purpose of the project was to “Germanize”children that met Aryan-Nordic criteria, who were considered to be German descendents of German settlers. While younger children were sent to German families and SS Home Schools, older children (if they were racially “un-German) were often used as forced labor or were sent to extermination camps and concentration camps where they were murdered or forced to serve as living test subjects for medical experiments.

8.The Nazis didn’t call themselves “Nazis”.

The German Nazi Party called itself as “National Socialist”. The term “Nazi” was an abbreviation for National Socialist that was created by the German press. Hitler strongly disliked it and it was rarely used with the party itself.

9. Hitler had a unique role in the launch of the Volkswagen “Beetle”.

The Volkswagen was created based on the advice that Hitler gave to its designer, recommending that it resemble a beetle. The car literally means “people’s car” and was presented as a vehicle that every German citizen could afford to purchase at that time.

In the 1930’s, the German auto industry was still largely made up of luxury models, and the average citizen could rarely afford to buy anything more than a motorcycle. The Volkswagen became a huge success as result, and it is still known for its reliability.

10.The Nazis developed a very powerful performance enhancer.

During World War II, the Nazis developed an experimental drug cocktail (D-IX, a methamphetamine-based) performance enhancer that was to “redefine the limits of human endurance”. In fact, subjects who had taken the drug were able to march 55 miles without any fatigue.

German doctors were enthusiastic about the results and planned to supply all the German troops with the pills, but the war ended before the drug could be put into mass production.

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