Note: The following blog contains graphic material concerning WWII.
The Nazi regime has earned its rightful place in history as one of the most evil, corrupt and terrifying sects of government. Just the whisper of their name conjures up more images of hatred, cruelty, fear and genocide than any other dynasty. Seventy years have passed since its downfall and the wounds it left on the world remain fresh, uncongealed.
Given its notoriety, there is little wonder why Hollywood often calls upon the third reich when it has need for cold, ruthless villains. Toth in Raiders of the Lost Ark was creepy and malicious. The antagonist in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds was the charismatic yet calculating Colonel Hans Landa. Recently Captain America stood up against the Red Skull, the leader of a Nazi subsect called Hydra.
Even the galaxy far, far away is not exempt from the influence of Hitler’s regime. Here is a listing of some of the ways that Nazi culture helped shape the Star Wars saga.
The Sturmtruppen (or Sturmabteilung, SA for short) was formed during World War I. It began as a troop of specialized soldiers for the German nation but as Hitler rose to power in the Nazi party it transformed into his personal enforcers. Through a wave of fear and intimidation tactics, the SA played a large part in the Nazi overthrow of the struggling German nation.
Their success would be their undoing, for Hitler soon began to fear their strength. On June 30, 1934 –henceforth known as “The Night of the Long Knives”– he gave the order and the leaders of the Sturmabteilung were rounded up and killed.
Much like the stormtroopers of the Galactic Empire, the SA troopers existed solely to execute the orders of their leader through fear and terror. They were mindless, obedient soldiers that killed without mercy and remorse.
It may not be an exact copy, but the Empire’s uniforms are designed to elicit the same perceptions of power and control that the Nazi garments portrayed. The goal was to inspire fear and obedience into the masses, and for an average person watching either army march into their hometown, it was probably very effective.
Intentional or not, George Lucas used the Nazi’s most despicable trait to illuminate the evil of Palpatine’s empire.
By the end of World War II, Hitler’s regime had systematically murdered millions of Jews, and anyone else they considered “impure”. Their victims were tortured and experimented on in unimaginable ways .
In A New Hope, the Death Star was created with the purpose of destroying an entire planet and its inhabitants in a matter of moments. For the Empire, genocide was not utilized as a weapon of hatred–though the expanded universe has indicated their was an intense discrimination against non-human species–but as a tool to increase power and control over the revolting citizens. The results were the same; millions of lives were needlessly destroyed.
Emperor Palpatine/Adolf Hitler
Palpatine’s ascent to the role as Galactic Emperor matches Adolph Hitler’s rise to power so closely that it is highly unlikely to be a mere coincidence. Here is a quick rundown of the similarities.
A weakened government
-The aftermath of Germany’s defeat in World War I left the country financially and power crippled. Hitler vowed to return the state to greatness.
-The Republic Senate under Supreme Chaqncellor Valorum was rife with bureaucracy and corrupt politicians. Palpatine vowed to eradicate corruption and form a stronger system of government.
Both were appointed Chancellor
-Hitler claimed the position on January 30, 1933.
-Palpatine took the role after the previous Chancellor fell to a vote of no confidence.
-Hitler convinced the Reichstag (the German Parliament) to pass the Enabling Act, which gave him the power to act without parliament’s consent.
-With imminent war against the Separatists looming, the Galactic Senate voted to give Chancellor Palpatine “temporary” emergency powers.
Both purged the organization that put them in power.
-The Sturmabteilung leaders were rounded up killed on The Night of the Long Knives (see above).
-The Jedi Knights, who had fought for Chancellor Palpatine, were brutally murdered by the very same army they had helped create when Palpatine issued his “Order 66”.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
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