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The scene when the First Order fires their weapon the first time in Star Wars: The Force Awakens uses an image language which clearly references the national socialism in Germany during World War 2, with a general making gestures and shouting like Hitler. This even depicts the stormtroopers raising their arm and shouting in a way untypical from the original trilogy.

Has the reason why the director of the film chose this style ever been explained?

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While the symbolism may be a continuation, in my opinion it is much stronger (too much for my taste) and clearer in the new movie. – TheEspinosa Jan 18 at 13:01
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I also think that the Nazi symbolism in TFA is much stronger than in the original trilogy (in TFA it sprang out to me as over-the-top right at first viewing; in ROTJ I first accepted it as the usual military posturing). Maybe one reason for the increased symbolism is that the memory of Nazi parades was much more fresh in the seventies, and didn't need much hinting? In contrast, maybe nowadays the symbols have become flanderized (is that the correct trope?). – oliver Jan 18 at 14:25
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@oliver another in universe possibility could be that when in power the empire didn't need to do so much rallying. ROTJ is just soldiers meeting the emperor. Where's in TFA the empire is splintered the emperor dead, the believers in the ideology need pep talks. This can also be seen in Nazi Germany where the rallies stopped after 1938 when the Nazis had cemented their power, and had bigger things to focus on. – Cearon O'Flynn Jan 18 at 14:57
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Related question on Sci Fi stack exchange: Was The Empire in Star Wars inspired by Nazi Germany? – Andrew Grimm Jan 18 at 21:58
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The rally scene was deliberately modeled after Leni Reifenstahl's Triumph of the Will. – R.J. MacReady Jan 19 at 6:21
up vote 55 down vote accepted

It isn't just in The Force Awakens that this is the case. The original trilogy drips with it:

George Lucas has also stated that he sees the rise of the Empire as an allegory to the rise of Nazi Germany and that the uniforms are based on German officer uniforms.

The Force Awakens is just carrying on the theme previously set in the original trilogy that the Empire is a Fascist regime and as such borrows from the most famous fascists of them all, the Nazis.

The Force Awakens may lean more heavily on this as they are the remnants of the empire made up of the ultras, the true believers, and as such want to push the ideology to the forefront of what they do. Also as with Nazi Germany, the Empire probably did not see the need for mass rallies having cemented their power (the Nazis stopped the Nuremburg rallies in 1938), but with the Empire crumbling, the Emperor dead and their ideology threatened the First Order can use it to keep everyone believing.

In a Time article JJ Abrams specifically mentions the parallels to Nazism in The Force Awakens which follows the same ideas as my speculation above.

His line

"...what would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again?"

Shows us the First Order is how he thinks the remnants of Nazi Germany would have gone had they tried to rebuild out of the ashes.

(Looking at the two pictures below only the scale has changed and flags have been added, probably to make up for the red missing due to the absence of the Imperial guard).

Return of the Jedi - Palpatine arrives ROTJ - Palpatine arrives

The Force Awakens - speech on Starkiller base Starkiller base speech

Both images bring Nazi "spectacles" such as the Nuremberg Rallies to mind.

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I can't be bothered to find it now, but I saw an interview with J.J. Abrams where he said he modeled the rally scene after Leni Reifenstahl's Triumph of the Will. And George Lucas has also acknowledged that he used Triumph as an inspiration for his Imperial imagery. – R.J. MacReady Jan 19 at 6:32
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@WadCheber yes I can't find this either, only various people saying it is. Nothing from JJ himself, only the idea of ODESSA with Nazis starting over in Argentina – Cearon O'Flynn Jan 19 at 7:34
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Without dimishing your analysis, Stormtroopers in the German Army ("Reichswehr") predate Nazi-time as of WW I. – Ghanima Jan 19 at 14:47
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@Ghanima I know. This is why I tried to identify these specifically as The Brownshirts or Sturmabteilung from Hitler's Nazi regime that will always be linked to the name stormtrooper – Cearon O'Flynn Jan 19 at 15:16
    
Who is saying the Imperial symbol looks like a swastika? – user151841 Jan 20 at 17:34

I think the point is "we're supposed to be uncomfortable". The very fact that the origins of the word stormtrooper come from German (Sturmabteilung) but came into common use in WWII as some of the most brutal of the Nazi regime soldiers ought to be a clue, plus the cut of the uniforms all the way from the beginning were very similar to the SS cut.

The Nazi's were genocidal -- the Empire/New Order think nothing of blowing up planets as an intimidation tactic. The look in the general's eyes when the planets go up in the Force Awakens is somewhat terrifying, yes?

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Actually, by WWII the SA (the stormtroopers) were out of favour and marginalized inside the Third Reich; after the war, while having been a member of the SS was a crime by itself, having been a member of the SA was not a criminal offense. Of course I am not saying that they were nice guys; during the years of the rise of the Nazi party they were the guys in charge of attacking political opponents and Jews and shared the same ideology at core. – SJuan76 Jan 19 at 16:13

Thirty years later (another generation has passed) and your references to hokey, ancient religions or political schemes must be more anvilicious to be recognizable to princesses, scoundrels, and farmboys.

(I was born a little too late to directly experience the fear that "the Russkies" were going to "nuke us all". I certainly received a large dose of it as received wisdom and everyone I knew was certain "the Reds" would start a nuclear war. But, it was a little abstract even by the mid-'70s, when my reliable memory starts. The college students I teach now have literally no idea what it is like to be that afraid of nuclear war. It's a total abstraction for them. If you want to raise this referent in their minds, you have to do so much more extravagantly ... and they're still not convinced that the threat was credible.)

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We must also remember that a lot of star wars was inspired by the ancient religion hinduism - george lucas himself seemed to have been inspired by many ancient hindu texts. Starting from names such as Yoda (Yoga) Darth Vader (sound like Veda - which is the ancient hindu text) and the Swastika symbol which hitlor adopted but has long existed as the symbol of hinduism.

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This answer doesn't have any relation to the question about Nazism and the heavy visual references to it in The Force Awakens, other than the fact that Nazism corrupted the swatstika for their own use, this does not actually appear in any of the star wars films. Also Darth Vader is Dutch for Dark Father – Cearon O'Flynn Jan 18 at 15:14
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@CearonO'Flynn except Darth Vader is not dutch for dark father... inafarawaygalaxy.com/2014/03/… – Immortal Blue Jan 20 at 16:18
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@ImmortalBlue stand corrected Darth just seems to be made up Vader is dutch for father though and still makes far more sense than it being from Veda – Cearon O'Flynn Jan 20 at 16:21
    
@CearonO'Flynn I had the exact same thing happen to me when I cited that to a dutch friend :) – Immortal Blue Jan 20 at 16:25
    
@ImmortalBlue oh i bet that was more embarrassing than I feel now – Cearon O'Flynn Jan 20 at 16:29

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