After World War I (1914-1918), nationalist, right-wing political movements in Germany and Austria tended to see the nation in collective terms as a Volksgemeinschaft or national community
. Racist nationalists on the extreme right of the political spectrum saw this collective as a voelkische Gemeinschaft, by which they meant a racial group that they considered superior. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, among other radical right-wing groups, adopted this view of the German nation
Unlike Western liberals or nationalists, the Nazis did not find value in individuality. For the Nazis, individualism was an egotistic, culture-corroding, Jewish value that would tear apart the fabric of the communal nation. The Nazis insisted that the individual had value only in his or her membership in the collective racial community.
A key Nazi criticism of Weimar democracy in particular and liberal democracy in general was that its emphasis on the individual misled or duped members of a race into relinquishing their “natural” race consciousness. In their campaign to destroy any political or spiritual loyalty other than to the race-nation, the Nazis hoped to “reeducate” the German people to become “conscious” of something that already existed: their racial heritage and the ensuing obligations to maintain the survival of the race.
The Nazis persecuted non-Jewish German opponents, both real and perceived. Whether they were political (Communists, Social Democrats, Democrats), spiritual (Jehovah's Witnesses), or “social” (Homosexuals) opponents -- Nazi racial theory held that they were valuable members of the race. These non-Jewish German opponents needed to understand their racial value and then follow their restored “natural instinct” to do the right thing: accept and internalize the Nazi vision of the world.