The National Socialist German Workers' Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (help·info), abbreviated NSDAP), commonly referred to in English as the Nazi Party (English: /, /), was a far-right political party in Germany that was active between 1920 and 1945 and practised the ideology of Nazism. Its precursor, the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; DAP), existed from 1919 to 1920.
The Nazi Party emerged from the German nationalist, racist and populist Freikorps paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post-World War I Germany. The party was created as a means to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch nationalism. Initially, Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois and anti-capitalist rhetoric, although such aspects were later downplayed in order to gain the support of industrial entities and in the 1930s the party's focus shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes.
Pseudo-scientific racism theories were central to Nazism. The Nazis propagated the idea of a "people's community" (Volksgemeinschaft). Their aim was to unite "racially desirable" Germans as national comrades, while excluding those deemed either to be political dissidents, physically or intellectually inferior, or of a foreign race (Fremdvölkische). The Nazis sought to improve the stock of the Germanic people through racial purity and eugenics, broad social welfare programs and a collective subordination of individual rights, which could be sacrificed for the good of the state and the "Aryan master race". To maintain the supposed purity and strength of the Aryan race, the Nazis sought to exterminate Jews, Romani and Poles along with the vast majority of other Slavs and the physically and mentally handicapped. They imposed exclusionary segregation on homosexuals, Africans, Jehovah's Witnesses and political opponents. The persecution reached its climax when the party-controlled German state organized the systematic genocidal killing of an estimated 5.5 to 6 million Jews and millions of other targeted victims, in what has become known as the Holocaust.
The party's leader since 1921, Adolf Hitler, was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg on 30 January 1933. Hitler rapidly established a totalitarian regime known as the Third Reich. Following the defeat of the Third Reich at the conclusion of World War II in Europe, the party was "declared to be illegal" by the Allied powers, who carried out denazification in the years after the war.
The term "Nazi" derives from the name given in German to a party member Nationalsozialist (German pronunciation: ) and was coined in response to the German term Sozi (pronounced ), an abbreviation of Sozialdemokrat (member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany). Members of the party referred to themselves as Nationalsozialisten (National Socialists), rarely as Nazis. The term Parteigenosse (party member) was commonly used among Nazis, with the feminine form Parteigenossin used when it was appropriate.