Nazism was founded out of elements of the far-right racist völkisch German nationalist movement and the violent anti-communist Freikorps paramilitary culture that fought against the uprisings of communist revolutionaries in post-World War I Germany.
Beginning in the 1870s, German völkisch nationalism began to adopt anti-Semitic and racist themes and was adopted by a number of radical right political movements. Völkisch nationalism denounced soulless materialism, individualism, and secularized urban industrial society, while advocating a “superior” society based on ethnic German “folk” culture and way of life, based upon German “blood”. It also denounced foreigners, foreign ideas and declared that Jews, national minorities, Catholics, and Freemasons were “traitors to the nation” and unworthy of inclusion in the German Volk. Völkisch nationalism saw the world in terms of natural law and romanticism, viewed societies as organic, it extolled the virtues of rural life, condemned the neglect of tradition and decay of morals, denounced the destruction of the natural environment, and condemned “cosmopolitan” cultures such as Jews and Romani.
Prominent historical figures of such völkisch nationalism include Eugen Diederichs, Paul de Lagarde, and Julius Langbehn. Radical anti-Semitism was promoted by these figures. De Lagarde called the Jews a “bacillus, the carrier of decay…who pollute every national culture…and destroy all faith with their materialistic liberalism” and he called for the extermination of the Jews. Langbehn called for a war of annihilation of the Jews and Langbehn’s genocidal policies were published by the Nazis and given to soldiers on the front during World War II.
The Nazi ideology was developed first by Anton Drexler and then Adolf Hitler as a means to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch nationalism. Initially Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist rhetoric, though such aspects were later downplayed in the 1930s to gain the support from industrial owners for the Nazis, focus was shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes.
A majority of scholars identify Nazism in practice as being a far right form of politics.