A friend of mine told me how similar the Star Wars Empire and Nazi Germany are. Example: "Stormtrooper" was a type of Nazi soldier. Did George Lucas "steal" that from them?
George Lucas, production staff, and StarWars.com have stated that many themes, plots, designs, and even terms used in *Star Wars* were indeed inspired by Hitler and Nazi Germany.
In the Star Wars saga, creator George Lucas showed us how the democratic Republic was slowly manipulated into giving unlimited power to the Sith Lord, Chancellor Palpatine. In Revenge of the Sith, Lucas explored the question, “How do you turn over democracy to a tyrant with applause? Not with a coup, but with applause?” Lucas recalls, “That is the story of Caesar, Napoleon, and Hitler.”
The events of Revenge of the Sith are eerily similar to the real story of Adolf Hitler.
Costumes and Designs
The fact that fascism inspired the look and feel of the Empire is no secret. In fact, Star Wars creator George Lucas even refers to the Imperial officers in The Empire Strikes Back as “Nazis” while giving his commentary of the film. He specifically mentions their militaristic dress, noting, “The Nazis are basically the same costume as we used in the first film and they are designed to be very authoritarian, very empire-like.”
John Mollo, the costume designer for episodes 4 and 5 said
George wanted the Imperial people to look efficient, totalitarian, fascist; and the rebels, the goodies, to look like something out of a Western or the U.S. Marines.
The guide continues:
Many of the costumes worn by the Imperials and the Rebel Alliance were inspired by American Navy pilots, World War I and World War II - era German troops, and Japanese fighter pilots.
It also specifies that the Imperial Officers were modeled after a specific type of German soldier:
The outfits of the Imperial officers include several direct references to uniforms worn by the German military including their tunics, tall boots, and hats — modeled after the elite Alpine troops of Nazi Germany.
Additionally, some things go far beyond being influenced and inspired by Germany.
For example, the Blastech DLT-19 blaster rifle used by the Stormtroopers (note: the trooper on the left is carrying it):
is nothing more than a repainted German MG34 rifle with some rails added on. The MG34 used by Germans during WW2.
Thanks to newsreels everywhere, the image of jackbooted storm troopers became one of the iconic images of fascism and inspired the iconic stormtroopers of Star Wars.
The idea of volunteer soldiers is especially important in Star Wars. Whereas the clone army of the Republic was made up of soldiers created for the sole purpose of service, Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo explains that, “stormtroopers are men and women like you and me. They volunteer.” As we will see in Star Wars Rebels, the Empire finds, “better uniformity in fervent patriots who volunteer for service.” Convincing millions to volunteer for the Empire requires a powerful propaganda machine
Even though the Empire was inspired by Hitler's regime, it was never exclusive to Hitler, so it's not really stealing. Most movies or books with a "rebellion" plot have some similarities to the Holocaust.
- The Death Eaters' obsession with killing everyone who wasn't "pure" in Harry Potter.
- The intimidation and shipping off of citizens in The Hunger Games as a way to strip said citizens of power.
- Even Toy Story 3, a supposedly innocent movie aimed at children, follows a strikingly similar plot to the events of the Holocaust.
All of these plots are based on the idea of evil as a belief in purity and superiority. A "them" vs. "us" where one side is oppressed while the other holds all the power.
If anything, Hitler stole his ideas from Darwin (even though he completely misinterpreted Darwin's ideas of natural selection).
After thinking about it, I realized out of the three examples I gave above and Star Wars, Palpatine's Empire is the least similar to Hitler's Nazism. Palpatine was simply power hungry. He wasn't anti-jedi (antisemitic in this metaphor), he was pro-Palpatine. He killed everyone that came in his way, sith or jedi, and gave amnesty only to those who were useful to him. Palpatine compares better with Julius Caesar, who murdered his partners to make his way to the top.
The First Order is another nazi borrowing. From Wikipedia:
The Force Awakens writer/director J. J. Abrams said that the First Order is inspired by the theory of ODESSA, which allegedly involved SS officers fleeing to Argentina following World War II.