Germany's Nazi Party was remarkably implacable in the hostility it showed to the outside world, staunchly opposing both Communism and liberal democracy from the moment of its inception to that of its violent dissolution. The Nazis likewise showed steely, unwavering resolve in their lethal hatred of the Jews, the Slavs, and many others whom they labeled as "untermenschen," subhumans unworthy of rights, cultural standing, or life itself. They pursued their dark vision of "Aryan" superiority with a terrifying clarity and zeal, and they were willing to incur the enmity of the entire world in the process.At the same time, despite this fanatic dedication to their overall vision, the Nazis had their own share of factional strife, and perhaps not surprisingly, the internecine struggle often led to violence, executions, and assassinations, byproducts of a totalitarian environment in which power appeared in its most undisguised and aggressive form. The firing squad, the bomb, the torture chamber, the extermination camp, the crematorium, and the noose of piano wire took the place of debate and persuasion in Hitler's Germany.Like other totalitarian regimes, the leader of the Nazis kept an iron grip on power in part by making sure nobody else could attain too much of it, leading to purges of high-ranking officials in the Nazi party. Of these purges, the most notorious was the Night of the Long Knives, a purge in the summer of 1934 that came about when Hitler ordered the surprise executions of several dozen leaders of the SA. This fanatically National Socialist paramilitary organization had been a key instrument in overthrowing democratic government in Germany.
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