The novel, 1984 by George Orwell, was written in 1945. During this time, Orwell witnessed totalitarian governments in action all around him. The government of Nazi Germany resembles the Oceania Party, the government in 1984. They both maintained similar ideologies, which included educating children in their beliefs, having secret police forces, and having forced labor camps. The Oceania Party was a controlling force in the life of the citizens. They placed telescreens everywhere to watch the citizens and to enforce good behavior. “On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.” (Orwell 3). A secret police unit, known as the Thought Police, was a force put in place to enforce the laws of society. They were hired by the government to monitor all of the screens and to track down anyone who committed crimes against the government.
The citizens were not allowed to have personal or political thoughts that were unapproved by the Party. They would be committing a thoughtcrime, an illegal thought in the eyes of the government. The protagonist in this story, Winston Smith, committed a thoughtcrime, “The thing that he was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least by twentyfive years in a forced-labour camp.” (Orwell 9). If citizens were caught they were sent to a forced labor camp. The Thought Police and threat of being sent to a forced-labor camp, worked coherently in instilling fear in the people to ensure that everyone obeyed the laws of society. The children were taught government propaganda through the telescreens. Similarly, the children were taught to follow the views of the party.
Children were conditioned by society to accept and embrace violence aimed at a particular group.“Nearly all children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages,”(Orwell 31). They accepted violence against anyone who was opposed to the government. “‘You’re a traitor!’ yelled the boy. ‘You’re a thought-criminal! You’re a Eurasian spy! I’ll shoot you, I’ll vaporize you, I’ll send you to the salt mines!’” (Orwell 29). The Party controlled the citizens by placing propaganda everywhere, having a secret police that was always watching, and by educating the young minds of their beliefs. The Nazi Party had the Geheime Staatspolizei which means secret state police, also known as the Gestapo. The Gestapo was designed to instill fear in the people of Germany.
The Gestapo’s intent was to pursue those who were considered a “threat” to Nazi Germany. This included anyone who told jokes about Hitler, went against the Nazi ideology, or celebrated the birthday of a previous head of state. They were responsible for rounding up the Jews throughout Europe for deportation. There were thousands of leftists, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, trade unionists, homosexuals, and anyone who did not that disappeared into concentration camps The concentration camps were used to hold and torture “racially undesirable elements.” In the novel, Education in the Third Reich, explains how German schools were transformed into demolition agencies charged with eradicating the influence of the West. The children were taught the philosophical interests of their movement’s leader, Adolf Hitler. The Nazi government attempted to control the minds of the young by forcing Nazi ideology into the school curriculum. They wanted all Aryans to be perfect, physically and mentally.
“The Nazi schools fostered a purposefully one-sided political orientation in order to prepare individuals to act in mass to secure the future of the Aryan race.” (Blackburn Preface). Nobody was allowed to think for themselves. The curriculum was introduced as a way for the Nazi’s to monitor what was being taught in schools at all times. Similar to Big Brother, Hitler enacted numerous rules, policies, and units to ensure his control over the population. The Nazis and the Party had very similar ideologies. While, the Nazis were committing genocide with the Jewish people, the Party was making people disappear because of their anti-party feelings. Hitler used extensive propaganda to brainwash the citizens of Germany into believing his beliefs. His vision was a Germany with people of Aryan race since it was the “superior race.” In “1984” they used brainwashing everyday through telescreens.
They had propaganda signs everywhere saying, “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” (Orwell 4). There are telescreens everywhere watching their every move and listening to their conversations. While The Nazis and the Party took different steps to ensure their control, both groups lured their citizens to succumb to their party’s beliefs. Throughout the novel, there is a world in which the government controls and monitors everything they do. If they speak out or act out, they are thrown into labor camps. This world parallels a time when Nazi Germany was controlling Germany and monitoring what they did. These governments took control of their citizens through education, secret police forces, and labor camps. Both of these worlds had totalitarian governments ruling their lives.
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