Attraction to Violence
Throughout Katherine Burdekin’s novel, Swastika Night, violence is depicted as something as an everyday occurrence, such as kicking the women going into church or Hermann beating the young boy. This draw to punish people by using violence is not a new way of thinking, and if you had to put a date to where it was most prominent, I would point to the Roman Empire. Most people may think of the Colosseum (or Flavian Amphitheatre) as the center for violent practices like feeding Christians to lions, but there is a plethora of other events that occurred there.
Most of the gladiators that fought there were prisoners of war that were previously marched though Rome’s streets and under the Arch of Titus(one of the rulers during the Flavian dynasty) and usually locked up underneath the ampitheatre along with the animals. At the start, some of these prisoners were able to use their own weapons in war, but later on, they were trained by others to use weapons. Some of these included the Murmillones who were heavily armored and known for the fish on their crest, usually fought with a long shield and a sword.
This was just a entertaining way of having a public execution where the citizen would decide if the loser would die or not. We also get another form of execution outside of gladitorial skills, such as decimation,which was punishment for soldiers where every tenth member of a legion was killed for disobeying orders. Another popular execution method was crucifixion, which people died from asphyxiation, and quartered, which was removing limbs by having a horse pull them off. So, even though the Nazis were known for veering towards violence, there were certainly not the first.
image source: http://www.art.com/products/p12261818-sa-i1633933/fedor-andreevich-bronnikov-the-damned-field-execution-place-in-the-roman-empire-1878.htm