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Nazism, or National Socialism, the creed of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi Party) led by Adolf Hitler from 1921 to 1945. The Nazi movement began (1918–19) when Germany was humiliated and impoverished by defeat in World War I and by the severe terms of the Treaty of Versailles. From a membership of around 100,000 in 1928, the party increased in strength to 920,000 in 1932. The ideas behind the program were rooted in nationalism, racism (especially anti-Semitism), authoritarianism, and militarism, expressed by Hitler in Mein Kampf (My Struggle, 1923). Recovery of the German nation was to be accomplished by rearmament, territorial expansion to acquire lebensraum (“living space”) for the Teutonic master race, and the restoration of self-respect under a unified military regime. With the aid of the secret police (Gestapo), Hitler's Nazi dictatorship exterminated millions of Jews, gypsies, slavs, and other minorities, in concentration camps in the 1940s. Hitler's Nazi program of expansionism temporarily improved the German economic position, but led to World War II, resulting in the defeat of Germany and its allies and the end of the Nazi Party.

See also: Hitler, Adolf; World War II.

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