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Nationalism is the devotion; love and holding ones nation in higher regard than other nations. "In principle the individuated being of a nation—its life, its reality—is defined by boundedness, continuity, and homogeneity encompassing diversity. In principle a nation is bounded—that is, precisely delimited—in space and time: in space, by the inviolability of its borders and the exclusive allegiance of its members; in time, by its birth or beginning in history. In principle the national entity is continuous: in time, by virtue of the uninterruptedness of its history; in space, by the integrity of the national territory. In principle national being is defined by a homogeneity which encompasses diversity: however individual members of the nation may differ, they share essential attributes that constitute their national identity; sameness overrides difference.”(Handler, R 2007)
Nationalism played a large role during the interwar period, including, but not limited to WWII itself. After WWI many nations ceased to exist, yet there were still those populations. Where did that national pride go to? Germany, after the defeat of WWI and the treaty of Versailles was left in financial ruin and was humiliated. There was no sense of pride in the German people. This left a huge gap, and led to the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime. They restored pride in the German people, gave then hope and pride in their country again, and gave rise to Nationalism in Germany, pride in their country again.
The characteristics of Nationalism come in many forms, extreme love for ones country, belief that no other country is greater and great pride. Both of these existed on the sides of the Axis and Allies.
Hitler used Nationalism, the pride of the German people, to annex Austria. He once again instilled a pride in the German people and portrayed there God given right to the land of German speaking people.
On the allied side, using the invasion of Poland as an example, the national pride of the British and French were too great, greater than that of Germany, to allow naked aggression, and National pride dictated something be done to stop Hitler, thus the beginning of WWII.
Nationalism, pride in ones nation can be used to easily mobilize citizens. We can see throughout our history. The Civil War, The Spanish American War (Remember the Maine) WWII after the attack on Pearl Harbor. All of these used American pride, Nationalism, to rally the citizens to support the war. Who can forget the outpouring of National pride that followed the first Gulf War and the Invasion of Iraq?