With the recent rise in popularity of dystopian works since the debut of George Orwell’s 1984 which paved the way for modern works such as Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series (to name a few), it is no surprise that many people associate dystopian worlds with fiction. However, these same dystopian ideas can be seen in full swing when examining our history. An example of a real-world dystopia of the past would be Germany under Hitler’s Nazi regime. Much of Hitler’s political ideology bears a striking resemblance to the ideals seen within Orwell’s fictional country of Oceania, one of the first defined dystopias in the literary genre.
Hitler’s goal once he reached a place of political power in Germany was essentially to create a utopian, racially pure ethno-state from the remnants of the war-stricken Germany, left in ruins from the results of the first World War. He provided the citizens with a common enemy to place blame upon, the Jews. According to the germanculture.com.ua article “Germany Under Hitler and the Nazi,” Hitler led his followers to believe that “the Jew [was] a source of danger to Germany and humanity…” and “a central factor in the dynamic development of hostile ideological trends such as democracy, liberalism, and socialism.” This was the driving force behind the acts committed in the Holocaust, and later, it included anyone who did not fit into the “superior” characteristics of the elite Aryan race. In accordance with our class discourse about the defining elements of a dystopia, a key factor is the belief that the authoritative structure being adhered to is both beneficial and morally correct. Whether this be true or not is not important; it only matters that it appears to be the truth. Another component is the oppression or suppression of a group of citizens as a result of the construction of an elite group. Hitler’s regime supports an environment that can sustain both of these components. Not only does he provide specific subsets of individuals that are to be oppressed (Jews, African Americans, elderly, disabled, etc.), but he also provides a class specifically designed for the elite (the Aryans) and characteristics by which they could be identified (blue eyes, tall, blond hair, and strict supporters of the Nazi party). Children were not excluded from this system as Heinrich Himmler created a breeding system called Lubensborn wherein women with desired Aryan traits would sign up to become impregnated and hand over their children as property of the government who were then raised as loyal members of the Nazi party (“The Nazi Party: The ‘Lebensborn’ Program,” n.d.). The second World War was for the glory of Germany, and their victory in the war was expected. In fact, it was inevitable to them, even though they did not win in the end.
The parallels between Orwell’s 1984 and Hitler’s Germany are undeniable, and their shared dystopian elements are unsettling. Adolf Hitler is similar to the infallible figure of Big Brother, garnering the admiration of the citizens of Germany and serving as a role model. Hitler’s belief in Germany’s dominance and certain victory in the war is reminiscent of Oceania’s countless victories in their never-ending war against Eurasia and Eastasia. Even the indoctrination of children and their classification as tools of the government is present in the forms of the Lubensborn in Germany and The Youth League and The Junior Spies in 1984. It is easy to associate such frightful and seemingly implausible ideas with fiction, but history proves that fiction is closer to fact than any of us is willing to admit. The solution to this problem is remaining self-aware, for without that, we are no different than those whom we write about.
“Germany Under Hitler and The Nazi.” German Culture, German Culture, 2020. https://germanculture.com.ua/famous-germans/germany-under-hitler/
“The Nazi Party: The ‘Lebensborn’ Program.” Jewish Virtual Library, American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-quot-lebensborn-quot-program