GCSE Revision Guide to Hitler's Germany 1933-1941

ADOLF HITLER- His life up to 1933

1889 - 1909
Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 in Braunau, a small town in Austria. His parents paid for him to go to a special High School, hoping that he would qualify for a good job. But he failed his examinations and left school at sixteen. For the next two years he did not work, but read books, listened to music and painted pictures. At nineteen he left home and went to Vienna, the capital of Austria, to be an art student. But the Art Academy there did not want him. Without qualifications and without a job, he ended up living in a hostel for tramps.

After being rejected by the Vienna Art Academy, Hitler had to make a living in any way he could. He did odd jobs ­ cleaning carpets or sweeping snow in the winter- and he painted postcards to sell in the streets. During his live years in Vienna he became interested in politics. He supported nationalist parties which wanted to make Austria more powerful, and he grew to hate socialist parties which were demanding better wages, better conditions and the right to vote for working people. He also came to hate people of foreign races, especially Jewish people. He thought that foreigners were ruining the life and culture of his country. Hitler left Austria in 1913 to get out of doing national service in the army. He went to live in Munich in Germany. He was not a coward, however, for he volunteered to join the German army as soon as the First World War began in 1914. For the whole of the war he was on active service, doing the dangerous job of taking messages between the trenches. He was wounded twice, once by rifle lire and once by poison gas. He won six medals for bravery, including the Iron Cross First Class, the highest award a German soldier could win. Corporal Hitler said that the war was ‘the greatest of all experiences’ and was bitter and angry when Germany surrendered in 1918. He blamed the surrender on ­Jews and on socialist politicians.

Hitler stayed in the army after the war was over. He worked as a ‘V man’, spying on political parties to find out if they were dangerous. One party he spied upon, the German Workers Party, was not at all dangerous, for it had only a few members and funds of only 7.5 marks - about £2. But he liked its ideas and joined it in 1919. Before long Hitler was leader of the party which he renamed the National Socialist German Workers Party - Nazi Party for short. He made the swastika, the crooked cross, the symbol of the party. He organised ‘Storm Troopers’ in brown uniforms to beat up people who disagreed with him - especially Socialists and Communists. He held meetings at which he made powerful speeches, saying that Germany needed a strong leader, that Germany must get revenge for her defeat in the war, and that Jews and Communists were ‘germs’ that must be destroyed. In 1923 Hitler and his Storm Troopers tried to overthrow the government by starting a putsch, an attempt to get power by force, in Munich. They failed and Hitler was put in prison for high treason. While in prison he wrote a book about his life and his ideas called Mein Kampf- My Struggle. He was let out of prison after only a year and went back to running the Nazi Party. For four years he had little success, but in 1929 an economic depression hit Germany. Unemployment shot up to six million. People without jobs began to listen to Hitler’s ideas about strong leadership and, like him, many blamed Jews and communists for their unemployment. More and more people voted for the Nazis in elections until they became Germany’s biggest party. After two landslide victories in elections in 1932, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933.

His ideas
Most of Hitler’s ideas can be found in Mein Kampf, the book which he wrote in prison in 1924. It is very long and boring to read, but it does tell us in detail about his ideas, so it is very useful to historians. This is a summary of the ideas in the book:
i) The Führer principle
Germany must be ruled by a single, strong leader who has great power - a ‘Führer’.
ii) Lebensraum (living space)
Germans need more land to live and work in. They will get this extra land by taking over countries east of Germany - Poland and Russia, for example. They will use force to get this land if the eastern countries do not give it up.
iii) Race
Human beings are divided into races. Some races are better than others. The best races are ‘pure’ ones which have not interbred with others. The Germans, who belong to the ‘Aryan’ race must keep themselves pure in order to become the ‘master race’.
iv) Anti-Semitism
Jews, or Semites as Hitler called them, are the biggest threat to the purity of the Germans. They are also involved in a great conspiracy to take control of the world. They helped to bring about Germany’s defeat in the Great War. Jews must therefore be destroyed.
v) Communism
Communism, the political system of Russia, is dangerous, so it too must be destroyed.
vi) The Treaty of Versailles
The peace treaty which Germany signed in 1919 is unfair. It must be cancelled and the land which it took away from Germany must be returned. France must be destroyed.

His appeal
What attracted people to Hitler and the Nazi Party? Albert Speer, a leading Nazi, described what he felt after hearing a speech by Hitler in 1931:
 ‘Here it seemed to me was hope. Here were new ideals, a new understanding, new tasks. The perils of Communism could be checked, Hitler persuaded us, and instead of hopeless unemployment, Germany could move towards economic recovery. . . . It must have been during these months that my mother saw a Storm Trooper parade in the streets of Heidelburg. The Sight of discipline in a time of chaos, the impression of energy in an atmosphere of universal hopelessness, seems to have won her over also.’ 
Many people at the time commented that Hitler could hypnotise audiences when he made speeches. An American journalist described how:
“When, at the climax [of a speech] he sways from one side to the other his listeners sway with him; when he leans forward and when he ends they are either awed or silent or on their feet in a frenzy."


Hitler became Chancellor -Prime Minister- ­ of Germany on 30 January 1933. Eighteen months later he was a dictator with total power.

His first steps on the road to dictatorship were the most difficult. Germany was a democracy, so Hitler could only make laws if parliament ~ the Reichstag - agreed to them. But more than half the seats in the Reichstag belonged to parties which opposed him. Somehow he would have to get rid of these, particularly the Socialists and Communists who were his main opponents. A second difficulty was that Hitler owed his job to Germany’s President, General von Hindenburg. Just as Hindenburg had made Hitler Chancellor, so he could make him resign if he thought Hitler was not governing the country properly. Hitler therefore had to be very careful about the way he got rid of his opponents in the Reichstag.

The elections of March 1933
Hitler arranged for a general election to be heid in March 1933. He hoped that the Nazi Party would win a landslide victory and get a majority of the seats in the Reichstag. A week before voting day, the Reichstag building went up in flames. A Communist, Marianus van der Lubbe, was caught on the scene with matches and fire-lighters in his pockets. Hitler said this was the start of a Communist plot to take over the country. He went to President Hindenburg and asked him to make a special law, the Law for the Protection of the People and State. Hindenburg had the power to make new laws in an emergency, even if the Reichstag did not agree, and he believed Hitler’s claim that Germany was in a state of emergency. He made the law that Hitler wanted, not realising that it would help Hitler become a dictator. The new law banned Communists and Socialists from taking part in the election campaign. Four thousand of them were thrown into prison, their newspapers were shut down, and Nazi Storm Troopers (Starmabteílung - SA) beat up their supporters in the streets. As a result of banning the Communists, Hitler and the Nazis won just under half the vote. lt was not the majority that Hitler wanted, but it was enough to persuade the new Reichstag to agree to an Enabling Law on 23 March 1933. This let Hitler make laws without asking the Reichstag for its consent. Now Hitler could do what he liked to his opponents without having to worry about what Hindenburg thought of him.

Germany becomes a one-party state
Hitler used the power of the Enabling Law to get rid of anything or anyone that limited his authority. On 7 April 1933 he put Nazi officials in charge of the local governments which ran Germany’s provinces. On 2 May he closed down trade unions, took away their funds and put their leaders in prison. Then, on 14 July he made a Law against the Formation of New Parties. This said that the Nazi Party was the only party allowed to exist in Germany: anyone trying to set up or run another party would be punished with three years hard labour. In this way Germany became a one party state.
The Nazi Party had millions of members and many thousands of officials. lt was organised very carefully so that every German citizen could be kept under their control, even if they were not members. This diagram shows how the system worked:
The block leaders, although they were lowest in the party structure, had the most important job to do - snooping on their neighbours. By listening to the local gossip, and even by listening at keyholes, they could find out who were the grumblers, critics, and petty criminals and report them to their superiors in the party. And that meant getting into trouble with the police, for, as we shall see, the Nazi Party controlled the police force of Germany.

The ‘Night of the Long Knives’
Hitler had made Germany into a one party state, but he soon had problems to deal with in the Nazi Party itself. Two million party members were Storm Troopers, the thugs who had smashed the Communists during the 1933 elections. Their leader, Ernst Roehm, wanted to make them part of the German army. This alarmed Hitler, for it would make Roehm the most powerful man in Germany. The army generals did not like the idea either. They were busy building up the strength of the army and, as one of them said later, ‘rearmament was too serious a business and tricky to allow thieves, drunks and sods to be involved’.

At three in the morning of 30 June l934, Roehm and the other SA leaders were arrested on Hitler’s orders, taken to prison, and shot. Over the next few days, some 400 people were executed in this way. The killings were done by Hitler’s own black shirted guards, the SS (Schutzstaffel, or Protection Squads).

Hitler becomes Führer
One month after the SA leaders had been butchered by the SS, President Hindenburg died, aged 87. Hitler immediately took over the Presidency and gave himself the title ‘Führer and Reich Chancellor`. On the same day, 2 August 1934, the officers and men of the army swore the following oath: ‘I will render unconditional obedience to the Führer of the German Reich and people, Adolf Hitler, the supreme commander of the armed forces, and will be ready as a brave soldier to stake my life at any time for this oath.’ The only Germans with the power to oppose Hitler, soldiers with guns, had sworn their lives away to him.


All dictators risk being overthrown by their opponents. Dictators therefore need large police forces to protect them. For this reason a dictatorship is often called a police state. This lesson will show you how Hitler’s police state was organised. The most important job of any police force is to investigate crimes and then to catch the people who have committed them. The police in Nazi Germany were different: their job was to arrest people before they committed crimes. The method was simple. All local police units had to draw up lists of people who might be ‘Enemies of the State’. They gave these lists to the Gestapo, the Secret State Police. This organisation was a branch of the SS, and it had the power to do exactly as it liked.
You are woken at three in the morning by a violent knocking at the door. When you open it, two men in black uniforms tell you that you have three minutes to pack a bag. Then they take you to the nearest police station where you are shut in a cell. Some time later - it may be days, weeks or months ­ you are brought up from the cells and told to sign Form D-ll, an ‘Order for Protective Custody’. By signing it, you are agreeing to go to prison` but you are too scared to refuse to sign it. Without being given a trial you are then taken to a concentration camp where you will stay for as long as the Gestapo pleases. How have you come to be in this terrible situation? A former prisoner of Buchenwald concentration camp described to the British Foreign Office in 1939 the kinds of people who ended up there in ‘protective custody’:
‘How is the population of a concentration camp in present-day Germany brought together? In Buchenwald there were 8000 of us, 2000 ­Jews and 6000 non-Jews. Our 8000 prisoners included first of all the “politicals” (as, for example, the Communist members of the Reichstag), many of whom have been in various concentration camps ever since 1933. . . . In addition to the genuine political prisoners there are many poor devils at Buchenwald accused of having spoken abusively of the sacred person of the Fuehrer. . . . After the “political”, the category of the so- called “work-shy” is the largest. Anyone who imagines that this group has to do with tramps and vagabonds is grossly deceived. An example. A business employee lost his position and applied for unemployment relief. One fine day he was informed by the Labour Exchange that he could obtain employment as a navvy on the new motor roads. This man, who was looking for a commercial post, turned down the offer. The Labour Exchange then reported him to the Gestapo as being “work»shy", and he was then arrested and sent to a concentration camp. The next group were the “Bibelforscher” a religious sect known as the Jehovah's Witnesses taking its doctrine from the bible. . . but proscribed [banned] by the Gestapo since its members refuse military service. The fourth category consisted of the homosexuals. . . . To charge those it dislikes with this offence is a favourite tactic of the secret police. . . . The last class of prisoners were the professional criminals. . .’
The concentration camps were run by another branch of the SS, the Deaths Head Units, who wore skuil and crossbone badges on their uniforms. This account, by ‘Herr X’, of how they treated prisoners was written down for him in l938 by a charity organisation working in Germany:
‘Herr X, a well-to-do Jewish business man, was for six weeks in the concentration camp at Buchenwald. . . . Herr X said that the working hours were sixteen per day, Sundays and week-days alike. During these hours it was forbidden to drink, even in the hottest weather. The food in itself was not bad, but quite insufficient. Weak coffee at dawn and a half litre of soup at midday; bread allowance for the whole day 250 grammes. . . . While he was there the work of the Jewish prisoners was doubled, and their rations halved. The work, of course, consists of moving heavy stones, often far beyond the strength of a normal well-fed man. The men were kept standing to attention for many hours on end. Floggings were very frequent, for such small offences as drinking water during working hours. The usual punishment was twenty-five strokes given alternately' by two guards. This often produced unconsciousness, but the Jews were told that the Führer had himself given orders that the Jews might receive up to sixty strokes. Herr X was in a group of 480 men who had only one tap at which to wash and drink for a quarter of an hour on getting up. Later even this was stopped. During the six weeks he was in the camp` Herr X saw neither soap nor toothbrush. Deaths took place daily in the camp. (Their relatives were often first informed of this by a call from an official who said they could have the ashes on payment of three marks). . .’


1933 - 1939
The people who suffered most under Nazi rule were Jews. As you have found out, Hitler hated Jewish people. He believed that they were to blame for Germany’s defeat in the Great War and that Jewish businessmen were plotting to take control of the world. Hitler also believed that the Jews were an ‘inferior race’ and should not be allowed to mix with the ‘superior’ Aryan Germans. So, once in power, Hitler quickly began to make life difficult for them. The SA, the Storm Troopers, organised a boycott of Jewish shops, whilst Jews were sacked from important jobs in the civil service, the law, universities and schools, broadcasting and newspapers. Next, in 1934, all Jewish shops were marked with a yellow star or with the word faded, German for ‘Jews‘. In parks and on buses and trains, Jews had to sit on separate seats. Children at school were taught to believe in anti~semitic ideas. 1n 1935 two laws known as the Nuremberg Laws were made against Jews. The first took away their German citizenship. The second forbade marriages between Jews and non-Jews.
After this, violence against Jews increased. Thousands fled to other countries but just as many stayed - and life for them became very hard. In many towns they found it difficult to get food, for grocers and butchers often put up signs in their windows saying ‘Jews not admitted’. Sometimes they could not even get milk for their young children. Chemists would not sell them drugs or medicines. Hotels would not give them a night’s lodging and wherever they went, there were mocking signs such as ‘Jews Strictly Forbidden To Enter This Town’ or ‘Jews Enter This Place At Their Own Risk’. In November 1938 a Jew shot a Nazi official dead. Hitler was furious. He ordered Himmler, the SS leader and Police Chief, to begin a week of terror against the Jewish population. This started on 10 November 1938 with the ‘Night of Broken Glass’. Nearly 10,000 Jewish shop keepers had their shop windows smashed and the contents looted. Jewish homes and synagogues went up in flames. Dozens of Jews were killed and thousands arrested. Worse was to follow. The Jews were ordered to pay a fine of one billion marks. Jewish men and women were forced to get down on their hands and knees to clean streets with scrubbing brushes. Most worrying of all, Himmler ordered a massive expansion of the concentration camps at Buchenwald, Dachau, Sachsenhausen and Lichtenburg.
The important question to ask and to answer is: how could such terrible things happen in a civilised country such as Germany? Who was to blame? Study the following pieces of evidence and decide for yourself.
 A German historian, Ernst Nolte, wrote the following about the SA boycott of ­Jewish shops:
‘A committee headed by Julius Streicher appealed to the public for a boycott of Jewish shops and businesses, and on l April 1933, members of the SA spent the day on Sentry duty in every town and village in Germany, holding placards and challenging citizens . . . not to patronise the businesses of this particular group oftheir fellow citizens. It was . . . a feast for the cameras and offensive also to the order-loving German people who . . . must have experienced at that moment their first inkling of things to come. The action was hurriedly called off.’ 
An English writer, Christopher Isherwood, who was living 1n Germany at the time, described the kind of situation which led to acts of brutality against Jews:
‘Every evening, 1 sit in the big half-empty artists’ cafe by the Memorial church, where the Jews and left-wing intellectuals bend their heads together over the marble tables, speaking in low, scared voices. . . . Almost every evening, the SA men come into the cafe. Sometimes they are only collecting money. Sometimes they have come to make an arrest. One evening a Jewish writer who was present ran into the telephone box to ring up the police. The Nazis dragged him out, and he was taken away. Nobody moved a finger. You could have heard a pin drop, till they were gone. . . 
Shortly after the ‘Night of Broken Glass` in 1938, a German citizen wrote this anonymous letter to the British Consul in Cologne:
‘Cologne, 12 November 1938. To the Herr General Konsul, I feel the urge to present to you a true report of the recent riots, plunderings and destruction of Jewish businesses, dwellings and burnings of synagogues. The German people have nothing whatever to do with there riots and burnings. Whilst the “angry and excited folk", as the newspapers so well expressed it, still slept . . . the police supplied all available young and newly-enlisted SA men, strengthened by a mob of riff-raff, with axes., housebreaking tools and ladders at the police headquarters. A list of the names and addresses of all Jewish shops and flats was provided and the mob proceeded to do their work under the leadership of SA men. The police had strict orders to remain neutral. . . (Signed) A Civil Servant.’


Hitler took great trouble to make sure that young people were loyal to him and to the Nazi Party. In schools, textbooks were rewritten to paint a good picture of the Nazis. Teachers had to belong to the German Teachers League and were made to put across Nazi ideas in their lessons. To make sure they knew exactly what to do, teachers had to go on compulsory training courses during school holidays. As a result of such measures, German schoolchildren were not so much educated as indoctrinated. Indoctrination means getting people to believe in a set of ideas. You can judge for yourself how this was done at school in this extract from a school mathematics textbook:
‘A bomber aircraft on take-off carries twelve dozen bombs, each weighing ten kilos. The aircraft takes off for Warsaw., international centre of Jews. It bombs the town. On take-off with all bombs on board and a fuel tank containing 100 kilos of fuel, the aircraft weighed about eight tons. When it returns from the crusade, there are still 230 kilos of fuel left. What is the weight of the aircraft when empty?
Outside school, young people had to belong to youth organisations which taught them loyalty to Hitler and trained them in military skills. There were five organisations for youngsters to join. Together they made up the Hitler Youth Movement:
By 1939 some eight million young Germans belonged to the Hitler Youth Movement. What was the purpose of the youth organisations? Hitler gave one answer to this question when he said:
‘The weak must be chiselled away. l want young men and women who can suffer pain. A young German must be swift as a greyhound, as tough as leather, and as hard as Krupp’s steel.’ 
So when youngsters met in their youth groups they had to do hard physical training. A German mother described the training that her son had to do:
‘A twelve mile march was considered nothing for boys who are trained until they can make a march of fifty miles without any food other than the concentrated rations they carry in their packs. Nupp was recovering from a heavy cold but he was not excused the hike. He had a severe relapse as a result. . . Later the the doctor confided to me that often after one of these lengthy marches he had as many as thirty boys in hospital.’ 
Every year, Hitler Youth Members had to go to training camps where they learned how to read maps, did sports and gymnastics, and were taught Nazi ideas. Camp training was taken very seriously. On one occasion, a fourteen-year-old Sentry standing guard at the entrance to a camp shot a ten year old boy who could not remember the password. Every youngster had a ‘performance book’ in which marks for athletics, camping and fighting skills were recorded. Those with the best marks were sent to special schools where they were trained to be the leaders of the future. The Adolf Hitler Schools took boys from the jungvolk at the age of twelve and gave them six years of tough training before sending them on to university or the army. The very best of these pupils went on to schools called Order Castles where they were stretched to the limits of endurance. At one of them, students were woken in the middle of the night to do open air PT exercises during the winter. They played war games with live ammunition. They washed in an icy stream two kilometres away from their living quarters. Students who were not injured or killed by their training graduated to be the very models of Hitler’s idea of youth ~ swift, tough and very hard.


The place of women
Shortly after coming to power in 1933, Hitler made a Law for the Encouragement of Marriage. It said that the government would give all newly married couples a loan of 1000 marks ­ the equivalent of nine months wages. When their first child was born they could keep a quarter of the money. On the birth of their second child they could keep the second quarter. They could keep the third quarter on the birth of a third child, and the entire amount on the birth of a fourth. Ten years later, in 1943, the Nazi leaders planned another law to encourage people to have children - but this law was very different. ‘All single and married women up to the age of thirty-five who do not already have four children should be obliged to produce four children by racially pure . . . German men. Whether these men are married is without significance. Every family that already has four children must set the husband free for this action.’ The new law never came into effect, but it shows us exactly what the Nazi leaders thought about women: their job was to bear as many children as possible. Hitler summed it up when he said that women should stick to the ‘the three Ks’ - Kinder, Kirche und Kurhe, Children, Church and Cooking. Women in Nazi Germany therefore found themselves being forced to stay at home. Within months of Hitler coming to power, many women doctors and civil servants were sacked from their jobs. Then women lawyers and teachers were dismissed. By 1939 there were few women left in professional jobs. Even at home, women were not free to do as they liked. The Nazi party tried to stop them from following fashions. Make-up and wearing trousers were frowned upon. Hair was to be arranged either in a bun or in plaits, but not dyed or permed. Slimming was discouraged because being slim was not thought to be good for childbearing. The only thing that women were actively encouraged to do was to have children. Every 12 August, the birthday of Hitler’s mother, the Motherhood Cross was awarded to the women who had most children. The government also set up homes for unmarried mothers. These were called Lebensborn - The Spring of Life - and could be recognised by a white flag with a red dot in the middle. The unusual thing about these maternity homes was they were brothels as well. An unmarried woman could go there with the aim of becoming pregnant and would be introduced to ‘racially pure’ SS men.

The Nazi Church
Although Hitler said that the church should be part of every woman’s life, religion did not prosper under Nazi rule. Read, for example, what happened to Cardinal Innitzer, the Archbishop of Vienna, after he preached an anti-Nazi sermon in church in 1938:
‘0n Saturday evening, the 8th [Octoberl, at about 7.30 pm, groups of young men belonging to the SA and H1, but not in party uniform, began to arrive at the Stephansplatz in parties of five, armed with ladders and bludgeons. The ladders were planted against the cardinal’s palace and the lads entered the first floor of the building after smashing in all the windows. Once inside, they destroyed every religious picture to be seen . . . smashed the busts of several Popes, stole valuable chalices [cups] . . . and collected the robes of the Cardinal . . . which they threw into the courtyard with several items of furniture and set tire to them . . . A similar attack was made on the residence and officers of the dean of the cathedral, and a priest there was actually thrown out of the window and both his legs were broken.’ 
Protestant as well as Catholic churchmen were badly treated by the Nazis. One Protestant leader, Martin Niemöller, was arrested by the Gestapo after preaching an anti-Nazi sermon, and kept in solitary confinement in a concentration camp for the next seven years. So what did Hitler mean when he said that the church should be an important part of a woman’s life? He was thinking of a new Nazi church, the National Reich Church, set up in 1936. judge for yourself the kind of religion it offered, by reading this extract from its rules:
‘In the National Reich Church . . . only national ‘Orators of the Reich’ will be allowed to speak. The National Reich Church demands an immediate stop to the printing and sale of the Bible in Germany. The National Reich Church will remove from the altars of all churches the Bible, the cross and religious objects. On the altars there must be nothing but Mein Kampf, and to the left of this a sword.’


When Hitler came to power in 1933, six million Germans were out of work. His most urgent task was to find them jobs, for during the election campaigns he had promised the voters ‘work and bread’ if he ever became leader.

Hitler’s first action was to set up a National Labour Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst or RAD). This organisation gave men jobs in public works schemes - digging drainage ditches on farms, planting new forests, building schools and hospitals. The biggest public works scheme was the building of a network of motorways. Men in the RAD had to wear military uniform and live in camps, and they were given only pocket money as wages. But for many thousands of men, that was better than life with no work at all - and they got free meals. Men of the National Labour Service march past!

The attack on unemployment
The results of Hitler’s attack on unemployment look impressive at first sight:
Unemployment in Germany
January 1933 6,014,000
January 1934 3,773,000
January 1935 2,974,000
January 1936 2,520,000
January 1937 1,853,000
January 1938 1,052,000
January 1939 302,000
 In fact, the drop in unemployment was not all due to the creation of new jobs. As you know, many Jews and women were forced out of their jobs soon after Hitler came to power. Although their jobs were given to unemployed people, the names of the Jews who became unemployed were not then recorded in the unemployment registers. The most important reason for the fall in unemployment during these years was rearmament. As we shall see, Hitler planned to make Germany a strong and independent country, and that meant building up the size and strength of the army. In March 1935 he started compulsory military service for young men, and set up an air force. The army quickly grew from 100,000 men in 1933 to 1,400,000 in 1939. Of course, the men doing their military service did not count as unemployed, so this took 1,300,000 off the registers. And to equip this new army, 46 billion marks were spent on weapons and equipment, so many thousands of people were given work in making the tools of war. Because Hitler wanted a strong, independent Germany, he had to make the country self-sufficient in food and materials. He ordered Germany’s scientists to find artificial substitutes for food and materials imported from other countries. They quickly developed all sorts of substitutes; wool and cotton were made from pulped wood, coffee from acorns, petrol from coal, make-up from flour, and so on. As all these things were made in Germany in place of imported goods. many of the unemployed found work in new industries.

The German Labour Front
What was work like for the people who found jobs? One new feature of work in Nazi Germany was that there were no trade unions. Within months of coming to power, Hitler abolished all trade unions and set up the German Labour Front in their place. It was run by a former chemist, Doctor Robert Ley. He said this in a speech in 1933, the day after the trade unions were abolished:
‘Workers! Your institutions are sacred to us National Socialists. l myself am a poor peasant’s son and understand poverty. . . . Workers! I swear to you we will not only keep everything which exists, we will build up the rights and protection of the workers even further.’ 
Doctor Ley did make some improvements in the life of workers. He made sure, for example, that bosses could not sack workers on the spot. But he also made sure that workers could not leave a job without the government’s permission, and that only government-run labour exchanges could arrange new jobs. Worse, Doctor Ley abolished the right of workers to bargain for higher wages, and he made strikes illegal. He also got rid of the limitations on the number of hours a person could be made to work. By 1939, many Germans found themselves working 60 to 72 hours a week. Not many workers complained, however. This was not just because they were afraid of what might happen if they did complain. By 1936 the average factory worker was earning 35 marks a week -ten times more than the dole money which six million people were receiving in 1932.


  Hitler and the Nazi Party aimed to control every part of people’s lives, and that included their free time. A huge party organisation called Strength through Joy (Kraft Durch Freude * KDF) had the job of organising leisure activities for the people. The KDF was run by Doctor Robert Ley, leader of the German Labour Front. He worked out that there are 8,760 hours in a year, and that the average German spent one third of them sleeping and a quarter of them at work. That left nearly half the time - 3,740 hours - free for leisure. Doctor Ley wanted to be sure that these leisure hours were not wasted: people with nothing to do in their free time would get bored and frustrated, and this would make them into bored and frustrated workers. Happy people with plenty to do in their free time would be more likely to work hard at their jobs. So Doctor Ley and the KDF drew up massive leisure programmes for working people. The biggest programme provided workers with cheap holidays. Doctor Ley had two 25,000 tonne liners built to take workers on ocean cruises at bargain prices. A cruise to the Canary Islands, for example, cost 62 marks, the equivalent of two weeks’ wages. Although most workers could afford this, it was only loyal and hardworking members of the Nazi Party who were given places on the cruise liners. For those who could not get a place on a cruise ship, there were walking holidays in the mountains for 28 marks a week or, in winter, skiing holidays in Bavaria. The price of 28 marks included travel, board and lodging, the hire of skis, and lessons from an instructor. People with a taste for foreign travel could have two weeks in Switzerland for 65 marks, or a tour of Italy for 155 marks. The KDF controlled most forms of entertainment. Each year, around seven million people took part in KDF sports matches. The KDF arranged mass outings to the theatre and the opera. It had its own symphony orchestra which toured the country playing music in areas not usually visited by orchestras. It laid on evening classes for adults. The KDF was also involved in a plan to provide workers with cheap cars. Hitler ordered that a ‘People’s Car’ - a Volkswagen ­ must be built at a price that anyone could afford. It was designed by an Austrian engineer, Ferdinand Porsche, who was told by Hitler that it ‘should look like a beetle’. The price of a ‘beetle` was set at 99D marks ­ the equivalent of thirty-five weeks wages. To help workers buy a car, Doctor Ley started a hire-purchase scheme. Workers paid 5 marks a week until 750 marks were in the bank; then they would be given an order number entitling them to a car as soon as it was made. In fact, the whole scheme was a swindle. Not a single Volkswagen was made for a German customer. Although workers paid millions of marks into the hire-purchase scheme, the Volkswagen factory was turned into a weapons factory as soon as the Second World War started in 1939.


Propaganda is a form of advertising. Its aim is to persuade large numbers of people to think what you want them to think and to believe what you want them to believe. Goebbels’ job was to make the Germans believe in Nazi ideas and to be loyal to Hitler and the Party. And it had to be total belief: as Doctor Joseph Goebbels, Minister of National Enlightenment and Propaganda said in 1937
‘The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never escape from it.’ 
Goebbels used every available method for ‘winning people over’. First, he made sure that newspapers printed only stories favourable to the government. Every morning the editors of Berlin’s newspapers had to go to the Propaganda Ministry where Goebbels told them what news to print and what the headlines should be. Newspapers which printed stories he had not approved were closed down. All Germany’s radio stations were under Goebbels’ control, so he used the radio to hammer the Nazi message home. He encouraged people to listen to the radio by producing cheap radio sets which most people could afford. The VE radio - the ‘People’s Receiver’ - sold for 76 marks, while the DKE - ­ the ‘German Mini Receiver’ - cost only 35 marks, about a week’s wages. To make sure that people heard the radio when they were not at home, Goebbels had loudspeaker pillars built in the streets, and ordered all cafés to have their radios turned on for important programmes. Goebbels’ most spectacular form of propaganda was the mass rally. The most famous of the mass rallies were held in August each year at Nuremberg. A Nuremberg rally lasted a whole week and was held in four specially built arenas outside the town. Just one of these arenas could hold 400,000 people. There they watched army parades and gymnastic displays. They listened to massed choirs, brass bands and to speeches. They looked up at air force fly-pasts and firework displays. Every event at a rally was staged to perfection.  At the 1937 rally, 100 000 men, each exactly 0.75 metres apart, marched past Hitler carrying 32,000 flags and banners. Above them in the night sky, 150 vertical searchlights created a dome of light that could be seen stabbing into the sky from over 100 kilometres away.  Goebbels was a brilliant organiser of propaganda, but he could not trust propaganda alone to win people over. He also had to use censorship to stop other ideas from spreading. Censorship means to ban information or entertainment which the government thinks is harmful. Every kind of information and entertainment was censored. Jazz music was not allowed at dances because it had its origins among the black people of America. Films were censored for all sorts of reasons : a Tarzan film of 1933 was banned because both Tarzan and Jane were scantily dressed, while a war film about the German navy could not be screened because it showed a sailor drunk. Goebbels even encouraged students to censor books written by Jews or communists by burning them; in 1933, students in Berlin destroyed 20,000 books in a bonfire outside the University of Berlin. People could not even say things about the Nazis in private that was hostile. Complaining about the government was against the law. Anti-Hitler jokes were forbidden and the penalty for anti-Hitler jokes was death.

What Hitler Did – 1934 - 1941    

In 1934, only a year after coming to power, Hitler gave top-secret orders for the armed forces to expand. The army was to treble from 100,000 to 300,000, the navy was to build two ‘pocket battleships’ and six submarines. Hermann Goering was to create an airforce and secretly train pilots in civilian flying clubs. These were all forbidden under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.  In 1935, Hitler went public and announced that there would be compulsory military service and that the army would be built up to 550,000 men. The countries around Germany were alarmed and quickly began making alliances with each other in case Germany attacked one of them. Britain, France and Italy signed an agreement condemning Hitler’s announcement but no country took military action to stop this breach of the Treaty of Versailles.  

The Rhineland  
In 1936, Hitler ordered his army to march into the Rhineland – this was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. It was also a wild gamble; Britain and France had agreed ten years earlier that they would use their armies to stop German troops from entering the Rhineland. Worse, Hitler had only 30,000 fully equipped troops to send in. As he admitted later ‘If the French had then marched into the Rhineland we would have had to withdraw with out tails behind our legs.’  But the gamble paid off. The British refused to help the French and the French did not want to fight Germany single-handed. The Germans stayed in the Rhineland and were able to build up a great line of forts on the border with France and Belgium. The building of this ‘West Wall’ meant that France and Britain could not easily take action against Hitler in the future.  

Hitler also made a number of foreign alliances. When a civil war began in Spain, he sent his best air force unit to fight on the side of the nationalist General Franco. If Franco won the war Hitler would have Spain as an ally.  Hitler also made an agreement in 1936 with Mussolini to work closely together in foreign affairs. This agreement was called the Rome-Berlin Axis pace and gave Hitler a powerful ally in Europe. An agreement with Japan, the Anti-Comitern Pact, gave him an ally on the other side of the world.      

Anschluss with Austria  
By 1938, Hitler felt strong enough to plan a union or Anschluss with Austria. This was part of his aim to unite all German-speaking people in one country. It was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles so Hitler had to plan very carefully.  Hitler began by ordering the Austrian Nazi Party to make as much trouble as it could. The Austrian Nazis held parades and marches, set buildings on fire, let off bombs and organised fights. When the Austrian government banned them, Hitler held a meeting with the Austrian leader Kurt Schuschnigg. Hitler threatened to invade Austria unless Schuschnigg gave all important jobs in his government to Nazis. Hitler moved his troops to the Austrian border leaving Schuschnigg with no choice but to agree to this. France, and Britain both refused to help Austria.  Schuschnigg resigned and an Austrian Nazi, Seyss-Inquart, took his place. Inquart immediately asked Hitler to send the German army into Austria to help restore order. Hitler was now able to enter Austria by ‘invitation’. Along with the army came the Gestapo and the SS to deal with opponents of the Nazis.  Schuschnigg found himself cleaning public toilets while Austria’s Jews were made to get down and scrub streets on their hands and knees. Before long they would find themselves in concentration camps while the Austrian people lived under a Nazi regime of terror.  Having succeeded in gaining Austria, Hitler then used similar tactics to gain the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia that contained over three million Germans.  

Hitler’s armies invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. By the end of the month they had occupied the capital, Warsaw, and had divided the country up with Russia. Hitler’s Germany was now complete.     However, this was not the end of his ambitions, Hitler wanted more living space (lebensraum) for Germany. During the spring of 1940, German armies invaded Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. By June they had all been defeated. In 1941 Hitler invaded Greece and Yugoslavia before turning his attention to Russia. By December he had captured all western Russia and the Ukraine. At the end of 1941, Hitler was Führer of nearly all of Europe. 

Germany 1919-1991 Revision Guide
Year 11: Germany
What does Source A show you about...? (2)
Select one piece of information from the source Select two pieces of information from the source
1 2
Describe... (4)
Generalised answer which makes weak points
Detailed and accurate description
Use Sources B and C to explain why... changed OR
Use Sources B and C to explain how much...had changed (6)
Use the sources to explain the change (explicit references to the sources needed)
Explain the change (explicit references to the sources needed) and start to explain why/how
3 4
Explain the change (explicit references to the sources needed) and explain why/how in detail
Generalised answer - weak points
Little attempt at an analysis - weak evaluation
Detailed and accurate analysis – not fully sustained – attempt at an evaluation
Detailed and accurate analysis – reasoned evaluation
Essay Question (10)
Brief and vague answer
Some relevant facts
Outline of the changes across the period with little detail OR detailed explanation of the changes in part of the period
3-4 5
Start each paragraph by stating the change. You must have enough paragraphs to cover the whole period Provide information about each change
Unit 1:
Unit 2:
State the change
Explain the impact of the change
State the change
Explain how it affected different groups differently
State the change
Explain the impact of the change Explain the pace of change
State the change
Explain how it affected different groups differently Explain who the pace of change was greatest for
Unit 1:
What were the main features of Germany’s political and economic development 1919-1991?
How strong was the Weimar Constitution?
The PRESIDENT (Head of State)
Elected every 7 Years by the German People. Appoints the Chancellor. Has control of Army. Can dismiss Parliament
The CHANCELLOR (Head of Government)
Appointed from the Reichstag by the president. Had to be supported by a majority of the Reichstag
Article 48. In an Emergency the President can make laws without consulting the Reichstag
Members voted in by PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION. Parties got the same proportion of seats as their proportion of votes. Makes the laws
All adults over the age of 20 can vote and all have equal rights – freedom of speech, assembly and religious worship
Proportional Representation meant that all political parties got a say in government
Proportional Representation encouraged lots of small parties which meant no one party had a majority. Parties had to group together in coalitions. There were 9 different coalitions in the first four years. Coalitions would frequently fall out and disagree in times of crisis PR also meant extreme parties on the Right and Left could also get seats in the Government
All Germans had equal rights, including the right to vote
In 1919 the Republic had many enemies. It was not sensible to give equal rights to those who wished to destroy it.
Article 48 was necessary because it made the President strong and able to keep control of the country and protect it with the army in a crisis
The President had too much power. He could turn himself into a dictator.
Germany had little experience of Democracy before. Many preferred the strong system of government under the Kaiser and felt the army and upper class were the rightful rulers.
Who were the political parties of the Weimar Republic?
Right Wing
Left Wing
Commu nist Party
Independent Socialist Party
Social Democra ts
Catholic Party
German Democratic Party
How far did the Threats from the RIGHT weaken the Weimar Republic in its early years?
German people’s Party
Nationalist Party
NSDAP Nazi Party
What was the Threat
Reasons why it was a threat
Reasons why it was not a threat
The Kapp Putsch.
Nationalists protesting against the terms of the Treaty of Versailles (in particular the term which said the army could only be 100,000 men) marched on Berlin with Friekorps troops in March 1920.
They were led by Dr Wolfgang Kapp and proclaimed him to be leader of Germany.
He set up a right-wing government in Berlin and the army did not support the government to stop the Kapp Putsch.
The government had to flee to the city of Dresden.
The government only survived because Ebert called on workers to support a General Strike. Workers supported the government so went on strike in the gas, water, electrical and transport industries. The Kapp Putsch therefore collapsed after a few days
The fact that the army had not supported the SPD led government showed how weak the Weimar Republic was.
The Kapp Putsch could have overthrown the government if it had not been for support from the workers in striking.
The Kapp Putsch showed how the signing of the Treaty of Versailles had weakened the SPD government because so many people on the right were against the terms of the Treaty.
In the end the government survived because the workers supported them against the Kapp Putsch. This showed that despite the anger against the Treaty of Versailles many German people supported the new Weimar Republic.
The Munich Putsch
In 1923 Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party staged an attempted Putsch in Munich.
The SA burst in on a meeting of the Bavarian government and Hitler declared himself leader.
Hitler planned to march on Berlin the next day and take over the German government. But Von Seisser and Von Lussow changed their minds and informed the Bavarian police. The Nazis were met with armed resistance and 16 were killed.
Hitler was arrested and put on trial for treason.
The Nazis had shown that they were a serious threat and they had managed to get support from key members of the Right Wing like General Ludendorff
They may have been successful if they had not let Von Seisser and Von Lussow go home on the evening of the Putsch.
Hitler’s trial allowed him to gain publicity for the Nazi Party which encouraged a growth in supporters throughout the 1920’s
The Putsch failed and Hitler was arrested.
The Nazis did not have enough support at this point to stage a successful Putsch – they were still viewed as a fringe party
How far did the threats from the LEFT weaken the Weimar Republic in it’s early years?
In January 1919 the Spartacist League (later the German Communist Party) staged an uprising in Berlin. They captured the headquarters of the Government’s newspaper and telegraph bureau.
They were led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.
They aimed to set up a communist state in Germany and claimed that the Weimar Government was not left-wing enough.
They were defeated because Ebert was able to call on the support of groups of Freikorps (soldiers returning from the war) who hated Communists.
Hundreds were killed and Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were shot
Over the next few months the Freikorps killed thousands of Communist supporters
Was it really a Threat?
The uprising was easily crushed and the whole uprising was poorly organised.
The Spartacists did not get the support of other left-wing groups.
The main way in which the uprising threatened the Republic was because Ebert had paid a high price for survival. To defeat the Spartacists he had to rely on the Freikorps and the army who were clearly against Weimar Democracy. The only reason they had defended the government was because they hated Communism more.
How much did the Treaty of Versailles threaten the Weimar Republic?
• In June 1919 the Republic was dealt another blow when Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles.
• The Germans had hoped for a fair peace because they had signed the Armistice at the end of the war and the Kaiser had abdicated.
• But they German politicians were not allowed to take part in the negotiations at Versaille.
• They were horrified when presented with the terms of the Treaty. The Terms of the Treaty
1, Germany had to accept the Blame for starting the war (Clause 231). This was vital because it provided the justification for...
2. Germany had to pay £6,600 million (called Reparations) for the damage done during the war.
3. Germany was forbidden to have submarines or an air force. She could have a navy of only six battleships, and an Army of just 100,000 men. In addition, Germany was not allowed to place any troops in the Rhineland, the strip of land, 50 miles wide, next to France.
4. Germany lost Territory (land) in Europe (see map, below). Germany’s colonies were given to Britain and France.
(Also, Germany was forbidden to join the League of Nations, or unite with Austria.)
Why did the Treaty Threaten the Weimar Republic?
• The new government were viewed as traitors by the German people for signing the Treaty. They were accused by the right- wing of ‘stabbing Germany in the Back’ by first agreeing peace with allies in November 1918 then signing the humiliating Treaty in 1919.
• There were mass demonstrations against the Treaty in Germany and the newspapers called for revenge
• The signing of the Treaty helped to give support to more extreme right-wing parties like the DNVP and eventually the Nazi Party
• It was the Psychological effects of the Treaty on the minds of the German people rather than the practical terms which were the most dangerous effects.
What happened in the Economic Crisis of 1923?
• The economic terms of the Treaty were crippling for Germany. Germany had lost 10% of coal, 48% of iron, 15% of agriculture and 10% of manufacturing industries. Unemployment worsened. The allies fixed the reparations at £6600 million. The value of German currency was weakening and inflation began.
• Because of this by 1923 Germany could not pay it’s reparation payments to France.
• In response the French (led by the President Raymond Poincare) sent troops into the Ruhr
valley which was a rich industrial area. Belgian Troops agreed to support them.
• They took over mines, factories and railways in the region.
• The Ruhr was the Industrial Heartland of Germany. I produced 80% of it’s coal, iron and steel.
• In response the German government called on workers to carry out ‘passive resistance’ by
• The French reacted with force: 150,000 people were expelled and 132 were shot.
• To pay the workers more money was printed. This increased the problems with the economy
because the government was no longer making money from the coal in the Ruhr.
• The striking workers began to spend their money quickly which meant shop keepers put up
their prices.
• As shops raised prices all over Germany the government responded by printing more money.
• The faster prices went up, the faster people spent their wages. People were being paid twice
a day in wheelbarrows.
• Money became worthless: in November 1923 a loaf of bread was 320,000,000,000 marks.
• The German people lost faith in their government and many turned to the Right Wing Parties. They blamed the Hyperinflation crisis on the government because it resulted from the Treaty of Versailles reparation burden.
Big Businesses could profit from buying up smaller businesses which had collapsed. Often their money was protected because they had foreign bank accounts
Middle Classes (Mittelstand) lost their savings and rejected Weimar Democracy and turn towards the right.
Those in debt found their debts were wiped out.
Workers lost jobs as unemployment grew because businesses collapsed
Farmers survived because inflation had pushed up food prices
Pensioners on fixed incomes found they could not afford to buy what they needed
Businesses collapsed
How successful was the ‘Golden Age’ of Streseman 1924-1928?
In 1923 Gustav Streseman became Germany’s Chancellor. He was later Foreign Minister between 1924-1928. Germany’s recovery was largely down to his policies.
Streseman was a skilled diplomat and he helped to keep coalitions together. During 1924-1928 there were no attempted uprisings (Putsches) and there was greater support for pro-Weimar parties like the SPD. Votes for the Nazis went down in this period (14 seats in Dec 1924 and 12 in Dec 1928)
However there were still problems with coalitions. The SPD refused to join at first, despite being the biggest party, and President Hindenburg worked to set up coalitions without them. This undermined democracy
He called off Passive Resistance in the Ruhr and argued that Reparation payments should resume. This led to the French withdrawal from the Ruhr.
This made him unpopular and he was forced to resign as chancellor because of right-wing opposition in the Reichstag.
He introduced a new currency called the Rentenmark. One Rentenmark replaced 1 billion marks. This stabilised inflation and helped the German people to regain their confidence in the economy. They began to deposit money in banks again.
Industry was boosted by the introduction of US methods of Mass Production.
In 1924 the Dawes Plan was agreed with the US, France and Britain.
It was designed to relax the Reparations system based on Germany’s ability to pay. The US agreed to loan Germany 800 million gold marks.
Streseman faced opposition from the Reichstag because the Dawes Plan was seen as giving in to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
It made Germany dangerously reliant on American loans.
The Young Plan of 1929 further eased reparations payments by extending the deadline to 1988.
By 1929 Germany was outpacing France and Britain in industrial production.
International Relations
Streseman did more than anyone to make Germany acceptable again to the European powers.
In 1925 the Locarno Pact with Britain, France, Italy and Belgium secured borders and Streseman was able to not have to agree on Germany’s eastern border.
In 1926 Germany was allowed to join the League of Nations
In 1928 Germany signed the Kellog Briand Pact with over 60 countries. This was a declaration that countries would not go to war against each other.
In 1926 Streseman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.
Some Germans criticised Streseman for not asking for an improvement on the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
What were the Origins of the Nazi Party?
• Hitler fought in WW1 and was employed afterwards by the German Army as a propaganda agent. His job was to go to political meetings where a chance encounter with the German Workers Party (DAP) changed his life.
• Hitler joined the Party in 1920 and put together the 25 point programme with the leader Anton Drexler.
• The Party was renamed the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi for short).
• By 1921 Hitler’s skills had led him to be made leader.
• The party became more aggressive with an emphasis on discipline and loyalty to
the Leader.
• Hitler founded the Sturmabteilung (SA) – a brown-shirted paramilitary organisation
• The SA attracted ex-soldiers and members of the Friekorps who hated communists
and wanted to intimidate them
• The swastika became the symbol of the Party
Why was the Munich Putsch a turning point for the Nazis?
What happened?
• In 1923 Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party staged an attempted Putsch in Munich. They felt the time was right because of the right-ing atmosphere caused by the French occupation of the Ruhr.
• The SA burst in on a meeting of the Bavarian government and Hitler declared himself leader.
• Hitler planned to march on Berlin the next day and take over the German government.
• But Von Seisser and Von Lussow changed their minds and informed the Bavarian police.
• The Nazis were met with armed resistance and 16 were killed.
• Hitler was arrested and put on trial for treason.
Why was it a turning point for the Nazis?
• Hitler used the trial to put forward his ideas. He portrayed himself as a patriot (loyal to his country) who wanted the best for Germany.
• He was able to use the trial as a publicity opportunity for the Nazis.
• He was given a very lenient sentence – only 5 years. He only served 9 months.
• Whilst in prison he wrote Mein Kampf which outlined his ideas for Germany and
became the bible of the Nazi movement.
• He realised in Prison that he would have to take power legally through the ‘ballot’ not
the ‘bullot’
Why were Hitler and the Nazi Party so popular in Germany by 1932?
Reorganisatio n of the Party
On his release from Prison in 1924 Hitler reorganised the party:
- Chose to achieve power through legal means (ballot not bullet)
- Set up regional branches of the Party under the control of a local Gauleiter.
- Party conference in 1926 at Bamberg Hitler made sure the idea of one
‘Fuhrer’ was accepted by all Nazis
- Brought the SA under control by sacking Rohm to make them look more
respectable and less like thugs.
Nazi Message – crossing class lines
Hitler made sure his message appealed to many Germans. His idea of the Peoples Community (Volksgemeinschaft) appealed to many
His message cut across class lines:
- Germans deserved to live with pride in a new nation free from the burdens of Versailles and safe from those who were inferior (Jews)
- Working class promised jobs
- Businesses offered protection from Communism
- Women sold the idea of the traditional family
The Treaty of Versailles
The rejection of the Treaty was central to Nazi Party promises. Without the Treaty Hitler would not have had such an appealing message. It was despised by so many Germans so Hitler could make promises to get rid of it. He exploited the stab in the back myth to gain support.
The SA
They acted as a propaganda tool. They represented discipline, militarism and power. They wore the eye catching brown shirts and participated at Rallies. They also attacked Communists and other opponents and intimidated people
The Wall Street Crash and Great Depression
In October 1929 the Wall Street Crash plunged USA into chaos and triggered European Depression.
USA called in loans from Germany which created Depression and unemployment in Germany.
Businesses closed, workers were sacked.
6 million unemployed in 1932
Hitler and the Nazis offered answers for the German people: Jobs and Food and elimination of Communism and the Treaty of Versailles.
Election results of 1930: 107 seats in the Reichstag
1932: 230 seats
The Collapse of Weimar Democracy
The Great Depression led to the collapse of Democracy.
The parties in the Reichstag could not work together to create a solution. Chancellor Bruning had to resort to Article 48 to survive. He resigned in 1932
There were fewer meetings.
Germans lost faith in Democracy and turn to extremist parties like the Nazis and the Communists.
Role of Propaganda
Goebbels organised very effective and modern forms of propaganda which appealed to the German people.
Propaganda posters played on the misery of the German people and Jews and Communists became scapegoats.
The ‘Hitler over Germany’ Presidential election campaign was seen as modern and exciting.
Hitler was a powerful speech maker. His strong, style meant Nazi messages were sold to the German people.
His self-belief persuaded people to believe him
Financial Backers
Hitler could not have created such effective propaganda campaigns without financial backing from leading businessmen and industrialists who were terrified of the communist threat.
How and why was Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany in January 1933?
The role of Political Intrigue (Meddling)
March 1932. Hitler challenges Hindenburg for the Presidency. He comes second.
Election results July 1932: Nazis get 230 seats. They are now largest party in the Reichstag.
Hitler demanded the post of Chancellor from Hindenburg but he would not give it to him. Hindenburg viewed Hitler as a thug. He keeps Chancellor Von Papen in place
Von Papen loses the confidence of Hindenburg as he had no support from the Reichstag. Von Schliecher persuades Hindenburg to give him the job as Chancellor
Von Papen is annoyed at being pushed out and is determined to regain power. He meets with Hitler in secret in January 1933. He suggests to Hitler that he could lead te government along with other Nationalist leaders with Von Papen as vice-chancellor.
Scheming and plotting took place. Leading businessmen were persuaded by Von Papen that Hitler would be the right man to lead Germany and save it from Communism
Von Papen convinces President Hindenburg to give Hitler the job as Chancellor. He said he could control Hitler like a ‘puppet on strings’. Hindenburg is persuaded as he is fearful of a civil war if he does not give Hitler the job.
30th January 1933: Hitler is made Chancellor of Germany. He had achieved it by legal and democratic means.
How did Hitler consolidate his Power by August 1934 to become Dictator of Germany?
Limits to Hitler’s Power in January 1933:
- He was only Chancellor in a democratic system
- He was answerable to Hindenburg (President)
- He did not have control of the Army
- He needed to ‘Nazify’ German Society in line with his ideas
27th Feb 1933
Reichstag Fire - the Reichstag building is set on fire. A Dutch Communist, van der Lubbe, is caught red-handed in the burning building.
Hitler blamed the communists and argued the fire was a signal of a Communist uprising.
28th Feb 1933
Emergency Decree:
Hitler persuades Hindenburg to pass an Emergency Decree For the Protection of People and State which suspended basic
civil rights and allowed the Nazis to round up Communists and imprison them without trial. Left-wing newspapers were banned and political meetings were restricted.
This was a key part of the consolidation of
power. Goring set up the Gestapo in 1933 and absorbed 50,000 SA men into the police force. Political opponents were intimidated and pressure was put on ‘true’ Germans to vote for the Nazis in 1933
23rd March 1933
In the March 1933 General Election only 44 per cent of the population vote for the Nazis, who win 288 seats in the Reichstag. Hitler needs to have a majority of seats if he wants to change the constitution. So he thinks up the Enabling Act
Enabling Act - the SA intimidates all the remaining non-Nazi deputies. The Reichstag votes to give Hitler the right to make his own laws without consulting the Reichstag.
The Act is passed because of SA intimidation, banning of Communists from voting, and making a deal with the Centre Party to protect the interests of the Catholic Church. This was called the Concordat (20th June 1933)
26 April 1933
Local government is reorganised - the country is carved up into 42 Gaus, which are run by a Gauleiter. These Gaus are separated into areas, localities and blocks of flats run by a Blockleiter. Hitler sets up the Gestapo.
2 May 1933
Trade unions are abolished and their leaders arrested. Replaced with the DAF and in July 1933 Political parties are
banned - only
the Nazi party is allowed to exist.
30 June 1934
Night of the Long Knives - some SA leaders are demanding that the Nazi party carry out its socialist agenda, and that the SA take over the army. Rohm, leader of the SA is demanding a more socialist, second revolution. Hitler cannot afford to annoy the businessmen or the army, so the SS murders perhaps 400 of the SA memberson 29th-30th June, including its leader Röhm, along with a number of Hitler's other opponents.
19 Aug 1934
Führer - when Hindenburg dies, Hitler declares himself jointly president, chancellor
and head of the army. He was now dictator of Germany
How did the Hitler and the Nazi Party gain Political control?
Propaganda was used to indoctrinate (brainwash) the German people.
The police state was created where the SS were in charge of a complex network of terror. They were given unlimited powers to deal with the opposition. The Gestapo had powers to arrest people merely on suspicion and without charge. ‘Confessions’ extracted by torture. Block Wardens (local nazi informers) spied on communities by visiting each block weekly. They wrote reports on the ‘political reliability’ of their block.
Radio Stations were brought under control of the Nazis and cheap radios flooded the market. By 1939 70% of Germans owned a radio
Peoples courts were set up in 1934 to try opponents who had committed crimes against the state. All judges had to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler
Nazi film industry churned out adventure and comedy films with a Nazi Message. Triumph of the Will emphasised the scale of Nazi achievements
Concentration Camps were set up from 1933. Dachau was first. They housed ‘undesirables’ – communists, Jews, Gypsies, alcoholics – were horribly treated.
Nazi Press agency was set up with controlled all news. Newspapers which criticised Hitler were shut down
Books were censored. Libraries were ransacked and banned books were burned in public
All aspects of cultural life were controlled by the Reich Chamber of Culture
Rallies were a feature of power. Nuremberg held an annual rally to commemorate the Nazi rise to power
- - - -
How successful was Nazi Economic Policy?
Main priority from 1933 was to reduce Unemployment
To undertake rearmament to create jobs and avenge the Treaty of Versailles
To make Germany economically self-sufficient
Schacht (Financial Expert) was put in place as Economics Minister from 1934-1937. His scheme was called ‘Brot und Arbeit’ (Bread and Work)
National Labour Service set up in 1933 (RAD) to provide jobs for men between 18 and 25 on public works schemes (Autobahn)
Rearmament programme brought compulsory military service and employment for many (Conscription was compulsory from 1935)
People (undesirables) sent to forced labour camps so they were removed from the work force.
Women were made to leave their jobs and run their homes
German Labour Front set up (DAF) which took the place of Trade Unions and controlled the workforce
Schacht encouraged the use of MEFO bills which were credit notes issued by the Reichsbank and guaranteed by the government. This helped to get firms investing
In 1936 Hitler got rid of Schacht and replaced him with Goring as he wanted to radicalise the economy to be ready for war. The emphasis was put on the policy of Autarky (self Sufficiency). Billions were spent on artificial substitutes
These figures hid the fact that Jews and women had been removed from the workforce
Autarky was not successful: Agriculture suffered from a lack of machinery and man power and Germany continued to import large amounts of food stuffs. In 1939 Germany still imported 33% of raw materials. German economic policy therefore became tied to an aggressive foreign policy
The German people had their personal freedoms removed in the name of economic recovery
was reduced dramatically. By 1939 the than 350,000 (compared with 6 million in
figure was less
The economy was brought under tight control and policies were implemented efficiently
How and why did Germany become divided after WW2?
Yalta February 1945
Allies meet to decide how Germany should be dealt with after the war. They decide:
-those responsible for war crimes should be punished
- Germany should be rid of Nazism
- Germany should be disarmed and demilitarised
Germany should pay compensation
Germany should be divided into 4 separate zones of occupation But the leaders disagreed on how much of Germany should go to the Poles and Western leaders were horrified at the amount of Money Stalin wanted to take in compensation.
Potsdam Conference May 1945 – relations worsen
May 1945 Germany surrenders. Roosevelt has died and been replaced by President Truman. Truman much more suspicious of Stalin and took an aggressive stance against him.
Allies meet again in Potsdam near Berlin.
Imposed a harsh treaty on Germany which laid the blame on the Nazi government not the German people.
The leaders confirmed Germany would be separated in separate zones of occupation but tensions had worsened.
Truman did not tell Stalin that the US had an atomic bomb.
Tensions worsen: Truman Doctrine and Marshall Aid
The US dropped the A bomb in 1945 which increased tensions. Despite promises from Stalin that he would hold free elections for the countries that the Russians had liberated from Russian control, he simply kept Soviet troops in these countries and made them communist ‘Satellite States’
Winston Churchill summed up the mood when he described Europe as having an ‘Iron Curtain’ dividing it.
The USA and Britain and France now decided to try and strengthen Germany rather than weaken it to make it a buffer against Communist Russia.
In 1947 Truman made a speech in which he said America would
‘contain’ communism and stop it spreading from country to country. This was the Truman Doctrine.
Truman ensure that $13.5 billion was offered to European countries to stop them falling to Communism. (Marshall Aid)
The allies said that Reparations (paid by Germany) would be ended and a new currency would be introduced.
Berlin Blockade
By 1948 Stalin was concerned about the threat from a prosperous Germany. Berlin lay in the Soviet Zone and he saw it as a Capitalist base in Eastern Europe. Stalin viewed the idea of a Separate West German state as a violation of the Potsdam agreement, which could lead to German rearmament.
June 1948 he Soviet troops cut off all road, rail and canal links between East and West Berlin.
He planned to starve West Berliners into submission.
The Allies used 3 air corridors over the Soviet Zone and the airlift began. Aircraft landed every 3 minutes and Stalin could do little as to shoot down planes would be an act of war.
June 1948-May 1949 27,000 trips were made.
Formal Separation of Germany into East and West
After the Blockade there was little hope of a unified Germany.
The allies arranged for ministers to draw up a constitution for a new West Germany which would be a democracy:
1949 (Sept) Creation of West Germany (FDR)
- Military occupation ended. Civilian agency called Allied High Commission replaced military governers (except West Berlin which kept military)
- Federal parliament with an upper house and lower house would meet at the capital Bonn
-President elected every 5 years. Could only stand once. Has no powers to declare state emergency or appoint and dismiss chancellors
- Key political figure was chancellor – elected by Bundestag
Creation of East Germany (GDR)
Communists appointed to local offices and Soviet style system created
Banks, factories and farms seized and reorganised
People who opposed it were arrested and imprisoned
1946 communists forced Social Democrats to join them to form Socialist Unity Party
Ulbricht becomes first General Secretary
First elections the Unity Party were the only party allowed to put forward candidates
Oct 1949: GDR is created with East Berlin as it’s capital
What happened at the Nuremberg Trials?
- It was one important example of cooperation between the four powers
- 21 senior Nazi officials put on trial at Nuremberg
- Accused of: planning and waging an aggressive war, war crimes against peace, war
crimes against humanity (genocide)
- Began November 1945, ended October 1946
- Three key leaders: Schact,Von Papen and Fritsche (Commander-in-chief of Army)
found not guilty
- 7 jailed, rest recieved death sentences
- Goring and Goebbels committed suicide (Goebbels in the bunker and Goring after he
was sentenced to execution)
Describe the economic and political development of West Germany after 1949
Economic Expansion under Adenauer ‘Economic miracle’
Konrad Adenauer becomes Chancellor of West Germany. He was a Cathoic and anti-communist.
He became the embodiment of the Nation
Served longer than any other chancellor (1949-1963)
Aimed to: Repair physical damage done by the war, transform Germany from post-war occupied zone into a respected nation, instil a moral rebirth after the Holocaust
1950’s there was unparalleled economic growth in West Germany.
This was due to:
A tradition of Industry – factories could be rebuilt after the war and were then equipped with latest technology
Adenauer’s first minister Ludwig Erhard was a skilled economic planner West Germany received $1300 million of Marshall Aid from USA.
There was a demand for German industrial equipment because of the Korean war
Trade unions did not support strikes to less strikes meant a more stable economy
West German Economic Success in Europe
Adenauer realises key to economic success is working with the allies.
First step: 1947 Organisation for European Economic Cooperation set up to administer Marshall Aid
May 1949: Council of Europe established at Strasbourg.
1950: formation of the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community. This was a significant step forward for West Germany. Put forward by French Minister Schumann. France, Belgium, West Germany, Netherlands and Luxemburg
Brought together the Saar coal region and France’s iron ore deposits without customs duties.
Very successful: 170% increase in trade in the free trade atmosphere
EEC 1957: European Economic Community – Common Market established.
Economic Problems
1960’s there was a decline in industrial output and rise in unemployment Mid 1970’s unemployment = 1 million
Growth in strikes as inflation rose and consumer demand fell
Political problems
NDP (National Democratic Party) scored more victories in local elections. It was a neo-Nazi party founded in 1964. It was anti-American, Anti-Russia and against foreign ‘guest workers’
Greater threat came from student protest groups against Vietnam War and Nuclear power stations. 1968 student riots in Berlin
Terrorist threat from Baader-Meinhof gang (RAF). They were an extreme left-wing group. Launched bomb attacks and kidnapped and murdered leading politicians and businessmen.
Anti- terrorist measures of Willy Brandt in 1970’s stopped the threat but they had led people to question the government’s ability
Describe the economic and political development of East Germany after 1949
Post-War economic problems
Only possessed 30% of industrial capacity – short of materials
Many thousands of skilled workers wanted to leave to get to the West with the attraction of better pay and lifestyle
Shortage of consumer goods – cut off electricity
USSR demands for reparations
Industrial unrest – low wages: government raises working quotas (work more for same salary)
Protests June 1953
Construction Workers march in protest demanding improved living conditions, free speech and elections
17th June 300,000 workers respond to call for General Strike
Soviet Army puts down trouble killing at least 21
Blame it on Western agitators (radio)
Berlin Wall
Massive state ownership of land and industry (82% production from state- owned industry by 1955)
Unemployment reduced by 1970 – East Germany highest living standards in the Eastern Bloc: CONSUMER SOCIALISM
But life very difficult in comparison with the West. 25% of output going to USSR
Thousands of East Germans leaving through Berlin to go to get to the West– 3 million by 1961!
Government response was to strengthen frontiers with West Germany August 1961 a wall was built starting with barbed wire. Ordered by Erich Honecker (took over from Ulbricht)
Within days, West Berlin was surrounded by a wall four meters high and 111 kilometers long.
The Wall had 300 watch towers manned by selected border guards (the ZOPO) and 50 bunkers. By the end of August, the Wall seemed all but impossible to cross.
The East German authorities tried to explain away the Wall by claiming that the West was using West Berlin as a centre for spying and that the Wall was for keeping out spies.
Really it was for keeping East Germans in!
The East German Economy and Society
By 1972 the state was the sole employer
East Germany did experience economic and social growth after WW2 but the Unity Party kept hold of their grip on Power.
Their grip over all aspects of life was tighter and state security services more powerful than any other Eastern Bloc country.
Describe the reunification of Germany in 1990
- By 1985 the Soviet Economy was in crisis.
- Michael Gorbachev (leader of Soviet Union) argued too much money was being
spent on the Arms race with the West and invasion of Afghanistan
- Tensions began to relax between East and West
- By 1989 the Cold War was at an end and Soviet control of Eastern Europe was
- March 1989 Gorbachev informed leaders of communist Eastern Europe that the Red Army would no longer be able to defend them and crush internal opposition.
- May 1989: Hungary removed it’s barriers to Austria and hundreds of East Germans fled to the West
- September 1989: East Germans demonstrate for more freedom and hardline Honecker forced out.
- Helmut Kohl (West German Chancellor since 1982) pushes for reunification of east and West Germany .
- 9th November 1989 East German Government announces it will open it’s borders and allow free travel
- 10th November East Germans march to Berlin wall and pull it down
- After November 1989 Helmut Kohl pours money into East Germany to help support
the East German economy and in July 1990 their economies are merged.
- October 1990: Germany is officially reunited
- Berlin becomes capital
- Helmut Kohl wins decisive victory in first all-German elections since 1933. He
becomes Chancellor of the unified Germany.
West Germany FREE MARKET
Kohl and re-unification DEMOCRACY and FREE MARKET
In the German Democratic Republic communists were elected to local offices and a Soviet style system was established. Arrest and imprisonment for those that opposed. The Socialist Unity Party was the only party allowed to stand and this gripped all aspects of life.
Adenauer oversaw industrial expansion, partly due to the demand for reconstruction, because of Marshall Aid and the Korean War. This declined and unemployment rose in the 1960s and 1970s.
The European Steel and Coal Community and the European Economic Community increased trade dramatically.
82% of production from state owned industry
Enormous economic problems in the 1950s. Problems of unemployment and living standards solved in the late 1960s and 1970s. Problem of flow of refugees was solved by the building of the Berlin Wall
Kohl pushed hard for re-unification and it was achieved in 1990. Democracy and a free market system was introduced for all
Unit 1 10 Mark Essay Question Preparation Grid
Impact of change:
Weimar Republic DEMOCRACY
Introduction of real democracy. Men over the age of 20 gained the right to vote by PR. Article 48 was used in times of emergency
The problem was that there were a large number of small parties with no one having the majority. This led to weak coalitions. There were also numerous threats from the right and left together and it was undermined by the Treaty of Versailles. Stresemann succeeded in stabilising these problems politically and internationally.
Weimar Republic FREE MARKET
Free market and capitalist conditions. The French invasion of the Ruhr led to hyperinflation. Stresemann re-introduced economic stability via the introduction of a new currency and the continuation to pay reparations. The Dawes plan agreed a USA loan of 800 million gold marks and the 1929 Young plan extended the reparations deadline. Thus government support of the economy. This short term stability was shattered by the Wall Street Crash
The Reichstag fire removed political opposition, the Enabling Act removed the Reichstag and the Night of the Long Knives removed the threat of the SS. Thus following the death of Hindenburg Hitler became Chancellor and Fuhrer. Hitler had total power which was enforced by propaganda and terror
National Labour Service: Public work schemes Rearmament programme and compulsory military service Forced labour camps
Women were made to leave their jobs
German labour Front replaced trade unions
1936 Four Year Plan to achieve self sufficiency
West Germany DEMOCRACY
Western zones combined to form the Federal Republic of Germany with a Federal Parliament (Bundesrat and Bundestag). The president would be symbolic and the chancellor was elected by the Bundestag. Threats from the neo-Nazi party and the terrorist Baader-Meinhof gang in the 1960s and 1970s.
Unit 2:
In What Ways did the Lives of the German People change between 1919 and 1991?
What happened in the Economic Crisis of 1923?
• The economic terms of the Treaty were crippling for Germany. Germany had lost 10% of coal, 48% of iron, 15% of agriculture and 10% of manufacturing industries. Unemployment worsened. The allies fixed the reparations at £6600 million. The value of German currency was weakening and inflation began.
• Because of this by 1923 Germany could not pay it’s reparation payments to France.
• In response the French (led by the President Raymond Poincare) sent troops into the Ruhr
valley which was a rich industrial area. Belgian Troops agreed to support them.
• They took over mines, factories and railways in the region.
• The Ruhr was the Industrial Heartland of Germany. I produced 80% of it’s coal, iron and steel.
• In response the German government called on workers to carry out ‘passive resistance’ by
• The French reacted with force: 150,000 people were expelled and 132 were shot.
• To pay the workers more money was printed. This increased the problems with the economy
because the government was no longer making money from the coal in the Ruhr.
• The striking workers began to spend their money quickly which meant shop keepers put up
their prices.
• As shops raised prices all over Germany the government responded by printing more money.
• The faster prices went up, the faster people spent their wages. People were being paid twice
a day in wheelbarrows.
Effects on the German People
• Money became worthless: in November 1923 a loaf of bread was 320,000,000,000 marks.
• The German people lost faith in their government and many turned to the Right Wing Parties. They blamed the Hyperinflation crisis on the government because it resulted from the Treaty of Versailles reparation burden.
Big Businesses could profit from buying up smaller businesses which had collapsed. Often their money was protected because they had foreign bank accounts and the sold their goods in gold value which was more stable
Middle Classes (Mittelstand) lost their savings and rejected Weimar Democracy and turn towards the right.
Those in debt found their debts were wiped out.
Workers lost jobs as unemployment grew because businesses collapsed
Farmers survived because inflation had pushed up food prices
Pensioners on fixed incomes found they could not afford to buy what they needed
Businesses collapsed
How far had the lives of the German people recovered by 1929?
Not recovered
Streseman brought stability to the economy by calling off passive resistance, introducing a new Rentenmark and securing the Dawes Plan of 1924 and Young Plan of 1929
Much of the success was a result of dependence on US loans. When the Wall Street Crash came along it would have a devastating effect
Living standards improved by the end of the 1920/s German people were buying as many luxury goods as they had done in 1913
During the Winter of 1928-29 unemployment rose sharply to 3 million
Car ownership had risen by 400% by 1927
Small firms still struggled while big business benefited more from the US loans
Unemployment fell and coalmines, steel industries and factories began to prosper
A worldwide slump in agriculture mean Farmers began to sink into debt
How did the Wall Street Crash Affect the German people?
- US investment dried up and loans were recalled
- German exports could no longer be sold abroad
- Businesses closed and unemployment rose sharply
- People were unable to make mortgage payments or
rent – had to live in shanty towns and rely on soup
- Benefit payments cut to save Government spending
- The Middle Classes (Mittelstand) found savings lost as
banks collapsed
- Taxes increased which put pressure on businesses
- 1932 unemployment at 6 million
- Germany gripped by social discontent. Support for
extremist groups like Nazis and Communist grows.
- Nazi party gains huge support as their message
appeals to everyone who feels Weimar Democracy has failed them
Was Weimar Culture a force for Stability or division?
ART and Literature
• Upheaval of WW1 encouraged artists like George Grosz, Otto Dix and Paul Klee to view the world in a different way. They tried to be objective and modern.
• They wanted art to show everyday life
• They would use art (paintings) to pour scorn on the issues and personalities they
despised such as Germany’s government and military past
• Erich Remarque: All Quiet on the Western Front – anti war novel that portrayed the
horrors of war
- The Bauhaus group was founded in 1919.
- It attracted designers who wanted Architecture to reflect real life and make objects
which could be mass produced
- Their approach was very different from the elaborate and pre-war decorative style of
Cabaret and Nightlife
- Berlin became famous for it’s nightlife, transvestite balls and open discussions of sexuality
Why was it a force for division?
- - - • •
- - -
Despite the impression of a vibrant, creative society, there was tension and conflict below the surface
Many right-wing, conservative people in Germany were angry at this culture – it was anti-patriotic. Many areas other than Berlin remained conservative
The Nazis would force many of these artists to flee and they would ban ‘degenerate’
art as they saw it.
The Nazis criticised Weimar Artists like Otto Dix and George Grosz for being ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘immoral’
They viewed their work as part of a decline in decency
What were Nazi Economic policies?
Set up the National Labour Service (RAD).
Jobs for men aged 18-25 – compulsory 6 month placement.
Used to also indoctrinate workers.
Public works schemes digging ditches on farms to assist
irrigation, building the new autobahns, planting new forests etc. The men of the RAD wore a military style uniform, lived in
camps near to where they were working and received only what we would term pocket money.
However, compared to the lack of success of the Weimar
Government and the chronic misery of 1931 to 1932, these men felt
that at least the Nazi government was making the effort to improve
their lot.
2. Rearmament and Conscription Compulsory military
3. Removed Trade Unions and replaced them with the DAF (German Labour Front) headed by Dr Robert Ley. Workers had to join (they
were a group that had not necessarily supported Nazism!) It was sold
as an organisation to ‘protect workers’
4. ‘Beauty of Labour’
Promoted better conditions in the workplace
- Health and safety standards improved - hot meals provided/ ventilation in the workplace
5. ‘ Strength Through Joy’
- Keep workers happy through leisure activities
- Workers offered cheap holidays, entertainment, subsidised sport, theatre, opera
- Famous Volkswagen car scheme ‘People’s car’. Workers could save 5 marks a week and when they had got to
- 750 marks they were promised a car.
Were Germans better off under the Nazis?
Germany’s national income was higher by 1938
The increase in production did not reflect a rise in wages. The average working week increased from 45 to 50 by 1938 and to 60 by 1945. People were working for longer hours and less pay.
Unemployment was reduced dramatically. By 1938 it was 0.5 million compared with 6 million in 1932
People had less money to spend on consumer goods. By 1936 the price of food had risen and taxation had increased.
Many jobs were created and the RAD schemes gave many young men a sense of purpose again compared with the hardship of the Weimar Years. Many had been very poor during the Great Depression and they were now able to feed and clothe their families again
Employment had been achieved partially through removing key people from the workforce like women and Jews.
Conscription also meant Young men were taken off the unemployment list and the RAD placement was compulsory
The Strength Through Joy scheme provided many leisure activities for thousands of workers at reduced costs.
The Beauty of Labour scheme improved conditions in the workplace. Hot meals and air conditioning was provided
The DAF replaced all trade unions so workers had no one else to represent them other than the DAF. If they wanted to negotiate better pay or working conditions they would have to get the permission of the DAF
German industry benefited from the massive rearmaments programme and the destruction of the Trade Unions. The average salary of managers rose by 70% between 1934 and 38.
The Volkswagen scheme never actually got completed. Not one person received a car – instead their money went to the war effort from 1939
Small Business owners largely benefited because the Nazis protected them against competition from large department stores. They banned new large department stores and closed down Jewish ones so that small craftsmen and businesses could do well. The value of their trade doubled between 1933 and 1937
Farmers did benefit from an increased in food prices and the Nazis told them they were one of the most important groups in Germany. However they resented being controlled by the government and suffered a shortage of labour as workers left for better wages in the towns
Why did the Nazis reject Weimar Art and what kind of Art did they support?
 The Nazis would force many of these artists to flee and they would ban ‘degenerate’ art as they saw it.
 The Nazis criticised Weimar Artists like Otto Dix and George Grosz for being ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘immoral’. They closed down the Bauhaus movement in 1933. Gropius and many teachers of the movement emigrated
 They viewed their work as part of a decline in decency
 They disapproved of the Cabaret culture in Berlin because it was ‘sleazy’ and full of
the ‘wrong types’
 1933: Nazi Chamber of Creative Art is set up
 It laid down guidelines for artists, sculptors, writers and musicians
 For Art to be seen or performed it had to be in line with Nazi beliefs
 Many writers were banned and public book burnings took place of ‘unacceptable
 Hitler wanted art which showed German heroic figures, the power of the Master
Race, or traditional, rural family scenes. He wanted art to reject the weak and ugly.
 1937: House of German Art is opened and House of ‘Degenerate Art’ is opened. This housed banned works of art. This exhibition attracted 5 times the
number who went to the Nazi House of German Art.
How successful were Nazi Policies towards Women?
What did the Nazis want from Women?:
• Church - Kirche
• Children - Kinder
• Cooking - Kuche
• Goebbels said: "The mission of women is to be beautiful and to bring children
into the world."
1. Law for the Encouragement of Marriage, 1933
 1000 mark loan (9 months pay) repayment of which reduced by 250 marks with the birth of each child
 Fourth child loan would be cleared
 ‘Family’ could be officially used
 Gold cross for 8, Silver for 6 and Bronze for 4.
 Birth control banned and infertile families forced to divorce
2. Women ordered to leave the workplace and female doctors, civil servants, teachers and lawyers were dismissed
3. 1936 Women barred from being judges as they were seen to be ‘incapable of logical thought’
4. Denied Freedom of expression: hair to be worn in bun/ plaits/ trousers and high-heeled
shoes were banned
5. 1936 Lebensborn programme: maternity homes for unmarried mothers where they would be impregnated by SS men
How successful were these policies?
- Many women welcomed the security offered by the state to themselves and their families
- But some women resented the loss of freedom and they protested. Some joined opposition groups like the Communists
- Women who protested where usually disciplined
- By 1939 the Nazis had to backtrack on their policies as they needed women in the
workplace to help with the war effort as men were called up the armed forces
How successful were Nazi policies towards the Youth/ Children?
- Teachers were forced to join the German Teachers League. Children encouraged to inform on teachers who failed to toe the Nazi line
- Al lessons began and ended with the Nazi salute and ‘Heil Hitler’
- Lessons taught with a Nazi Bias: Geography taught about the wrongs of Versailles/ Biology the need to purify the ‘master race’/ History praised glorious German past
- Curriculum changed to prepare the young for their future roles in life: 15% of time devoted to PE, New subjects like Race Studies, Boys did military focus and girls learnt needlework and cookery.
- Most promising boys sent to elite ‘Adolf Hitler’ schools
Youth Groups
- Membership of Hitler Youth compulsory by 1936
- By 1939 7 million members
- Boys aged 10 in the German Young People
- Boys Aged 14-18 Hitler Youth
- Boys activities focused on hiking, camping, military, 80 kilometre hikes on minimal rations
- Girls joined Young Maidens at 10
- Girls joined BDM (League of German Maidens) 14-18
- Learned domestic skills and preparation for marriage and motherhood
- To use education and Youth groups to indoctrinate the young and make them loyal to Hitler and the Nazi State.
- Hitler viewed the youth as the future of the Third Reich
Youth Opposition
1. The Swing Youth
- Upper-middle class youths in large cities like Hamburg, Berlin and Frankfurt
- Opposed the strictness of the Nazi regime
- Met in bars and nightclubs and listened to Jazz
(Black music) and Jewish music and Swing
- Nazis tried to stop them by arrests and closing bars and clubs
2. Edelweiss Pirates
- More serious national resistance group during the War
- Wore checked shirts and dark trousers
- They would go for hikes at weekends and hope to beat up Hitler youth patrols
- Distinctive local names like ‘Navajos gang’
- Collected propaganda leaflets dropped by the allies during WW2 and put
them through peoples doors
- Some members captured by Gestapo in 1944 and 12 were publicly hanged
The White Rose Group
- Led by Hans and Sophie Scholl
- Hans was a medical student – saw the atrocities
of the war on the Eastern Front
- Wanted to expose the failings of the Nazi regime
- Issued pamphlets to spread their ideas at
Munich University
- 1943: seen handing out leaflets by the university
Janitor who informed Gestapo
- Arrested, tortured and hanged
How far did Hitler succeed in removing the power of the church?
Hitler’s Aims:
- Hitler did not trust the Catholic Church because it conflicted with his Nazi belief.
- His vision for a National Reich Church would Nazify the Church Structure
- He did not immediately persecute Christianity when he came into power as most Germans were Christians
Catholic Church
- It was prepared to support Hitler in his early years because Nazism seemed to support tradition and could protect Germany from the threat of Communism
- 1933: Concordat signed with the Catholic Church. Agrees to stay out of politics if Nazis did not interfere in church matters
- But Hitler soon broke the terms of the Concordat – he saw the catholic church as a threat as they had youth groups and schools and were loyal to the Pope
- Priests arrested and harassed – those who spoke out were put in concentration camps
- Catholic schools abolished, Catholic youth groups closed down
- Crucifixes banned 1935
- 1937: Pope issues encyclical which attacked the Nazi system. 400 Catholic
priests sent to Dachau in response
- Hitler never destroyed Catholicism but he did attack it
- But opposition from the Catholic church was focused on the church’s survival, not
the suffering of the Jews. Opposition was individual, not institutional.
Protestant Church
- Plenty of early support for Nazism
- Agreed to form the National Reich Church in 1933 led by Muller (Reich Bishop)
- Bible was replaced by Mein Kampf and a sword
- But lots of opposition grew to the Reich Church: led by Pastor Niemoller who
formed a breakaway Confessional Church. Niemoller arrested in 1937 and put in
a concentration camp.
- But it was not ideological opposition – just wanted independence
- 700 imprisoned in 1935
- German faith Movement was a disaster – 5% followed it in 1935
- The church was handicapped but not destroyed
How did the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews change between 1933 and 1939?
April 1933
Boycott of Jewish shops carried out by SA. Windows forced to show Jewish Star so became targets for vandalism
May 1933
Laws passed banning Jews from government jobs: Jewish civil servants/ doctors were dismissed and were not allowed to treat Aryan patients
Local councils ban Jews from public spaces such as parks, playing fields and swimming pools
1935 Nuremberg Laws
Series of Laws aimed at discrimination:
Jews denied German Citizenship, lost their right to vote, and were not protected by the Law. Marriages between Jews and non-Jews declared illegal
1936 Olympics
A deliberate lull to satisfy the international community as the Nazis wanted to give the outside world a good impression
Jews have to carry identity cards, Jewish men have to add ‘Israel’ to their name and women have to add ‘Sarah’. Letter ‘J’ stamped on passports
Kristallnacht (9th November 1938)
Sparked by the murder of a German govt official in Paris by a young Jewish student.
Goebbels used it as an opportunity to organise anti-Jewish demonstrations like attacks on Jewish property, shops, homes and synagogues
SS Campaign of terror became known as the ‘Night of the Broken Glass’. 8000 shops and homes looted, 100 Jews killed, 30,000 sent to concentration camps.
Hitler blamed the Jews themselves for provoking the attacks and made them pay 1billion Reichsmarks in ‘compensation’
January 1939
Reich Office for Emigration set up by Heydrich(SS) discussion of scheme to ‘resettle’ Jews in Madagascar
April 1939
Ghettos are sectioned off in Cities and Jews forced to leave their homes to live in these.
September 1939 (War breaks out)
Jews forced to hand over radio sets so that they cannot listen to the Foreign news
The role of Hitler
What Caused the Final Solution?
In Hitler’s speeches and in Mein Kampf, Hitler’s view that the Jews were not and should not be Germans was clear. This language was proto-genocidal and his anti-Semitism was a core part of his world view. Hitler’s ideas were the inspiration behind the ever-escalating anti-Semitism of his regime and it is clear that he agreed to the policy of the Final Solution. Himmler’s diary entry indicates that at a meeting to discuss the ‘final solution to the Jewish question’ in December 1941, Hitler authorised or ordered that Jews should be ‘exterminated as partisans’
However Hitler did not have a clear plan for the ‘Final Solution’ that predated the war
Cumulative radicalisation and the chaotic state
Chaotic decision making in Germany meant that there was not a clear plan on how to deal with the ‘Jewish problem’. The chaos encouraged local initiatives and escalating action. At the start of the war German Jews were subject to restrictions and repression, then Polish Jews were ordered into overcrowded ghettos ran by the SS, then following the invasion of the Soviet Union, Einsatzgruppen, who followed the army, had wide ranging instructions to eliminate opponents, and massacres of Jews followed.
Impact of WWII
The Final Solution developed in the context of war
 The German invasion of Poland created what the Nazis regarded as a problem: the Jewish population was large. Around 3 million were forced into ghettos which were insanitary. The problem intensified when Jews were deported from other parts of Europe
 June 1941: The invasion of the Soviet Union further increased the number of Jews. Furthermore the invasion of the Soviet Union was justified as a racial war because of the need for living space; these attitudes seemed to justify the anti-Semitic methodologies. As Nazi troops swept across the Soviet Union, SS Einsatzgruppen were authorised to exterminate Jews; 700,000 were murdered in eight months.
 The invasion of the Soviet Union put strains on the German war economy and the cost of feeding people in the Ghettos was considered too great
 The Madagascar Plan failed. This plan was really one of annihilation as Madagascar could not sustain the Jewish population of Europe. The weakness of the plan was that it relied on gaining control of the seas. In contrast small-scale experiments with murder by gas were more successful.
 As a result in the summer of 1941 the decision was taken by senior Nazi leaders to find a ‘permanent’ ‘solution’ to the ‘Jewish Question’ which was to exterminate them in death camps using gas (Zyklon B). Goering signed the order but it was largely Himmler’s idea.
 Leading Nazis meet to plan out the details of how the ‘Final Solution’ would operate at the Wannsee Conference in January 1942. Death camps were built in Poland, far away from Germany where Jews were to be worked to death. Work was carried out building crematoriums and gas chambers at Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec. The first camp began operating on 17th March 1942 at Belzec. By the summer of 1943 Jews from all over Europe were being transported to these camps.
What was the impact of WW2 on the Homefront?
When Germany first invaded Poland the German people did not support it. Many still had bad memories of WW1
The success of Blitzkrieg created a wave of optimism and expectancy across the nation. Morale was boosted massively. The successful conquests meant many foodstuffs and luxury goods were brought back from
occupied countries. Nazi Propaganda films celebrated victories over the French.
September 1939 rationing was introduced. Ration cards were distributed. Extra rations were given for workers in heavy industries, expectant mothers, sick people, vegetarians, blood donors. Everyday items like coffee were replaced with Ersatz (substitute) goods. Clothes were
rationed from 1939. Hot water was rationed to two days per week and soap was rationed But despite rationing because the war was going well up to 1941 and there was a flourishing black market for luxury goods like dresses, stockings, furs and perfumes were imported. Support for Hitler stayed generally strong..
By the end of 1942 the invasion of the Soviet Union was not going to plan. Defeats began to see morale turn. New hospital trains were bringing back thousands of wounded soldiers from the war and many got used to seeing women in mourning. The population was told to get ready for total war; hardship and sacrifice was expected.
Between 1942-43 Goebbels launched mass propaganda campaigns to keep up morale and to encourage people to support the war effort. As shortages of food and fuel began
to hit people propaganda played on the intense fear of Bolshevism . Others instructed them to save fuel and essential commodities. Money was poured into propaganda films such as Kolberg which used one hundred trucks filled with salt as fake snow and 6000 horses and 10,000 uniforms. This propaganda had a powerful effect on maintaining dedicated support for Hitler. The German people
donated 1.5 million coats
By the start of 1943 it was clear the war was no longer going in Germany’s favour.
Policy of ‘Total War’ which meant gearing up all sections of the economy and society for the war effort. Workers were forced to work longer hours under compulsory labour laws, and any business which did not contribute to the war effort was closed. Rations were cut, and conditions for civilians worsened.
Total War programme: severe labour shortages forced the Nazis to backtrack on their policies towards women. But their attempts to recruit them were not that successful. In 1943 they tried to mobilise 3 million women aged 17-45 but only 1 million took up jobs because of previous Nazi incentives
Heavy Allied bombing campaigns on Germany which intensified from 1943 onwards began to damage German morale. Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Dresden were all badly bombed by the policy of ‘round the clock’ carpet bombing. There was a big shortage of doctors to help civilians injured in the bombing attacks.
By July 1944 with defeat on the horizon Goebbels planned one more effort on the Home Front to win the war. He ordered compulsory labour for all workers to go into armaments factories, railway and postal services were reduced to save fuel and all letter boxes closed, all theatres, opera houses except cinemas were closed, the Home Guard was formed and they marched through Berlin with borrowed weapons. He also promised hope of a secret weapon which would save Germany.
In early 1945 some of the most extreme air raids on Germany began. In two nights of bombing 150,000 people (women and children too) were killed in the city of Dresden. The Nazis could not cope with destruction on this scale. They tried to provide victims with temporary accommodation but this did not help. Plans were in chaos by early 1945. Ration cards were not followed and people relied on scavenging or the Black market. Amid the ruins in may 1945 Hitler, Goebbels and other Nazis committed suicide.
By the end of the War 3 million civilians had been killed. Many Germans were happy to see the end of the war. Food shortages were also rife.
Describe Adenauer’s ‘Economic Miracle’
 Repair physical and economic damage. The economy was badly damaged, money was worthless and there was a thriving black market
 Transform Germany from post-war occupied zone into a respected nation
 Instill a moral rebirth after the brutality of Nazism
How successful?
1. Erhard – Federal Economics Minister
2. Free market economy - High demand for luxury goods such as Leica cameras and Mercedes-Benz cars - VW Beetle rolled off assembly lines
3. Social responsibility for the unemployed, sick, young and old
4. Marshall Aid modernised old industries – became the second largest producer of steel – 600% increase in industrial production
5. Heavy taxes for firms but rebates for those that ploughed money into research and development
6. 50% tax for wealthier Germans. This was used to build 2 million homes
7. Unemployment down from 9% to 0.4% - Guest workers brought in
8. Moral re-birth – a reparations agreement was set up in 1953 for Jewish families
Describe life in Germany during the Cold War
West Germany
East Germany
After 1945 West Berlin became the ‘shop window’ of the West. Wealthy, prosperous and booming.
At first people could move easily between East and West but with the end of the Berlin Blockade, 3.5 million East Germans left for a new life in the West
Adenaur’s economic miracle had created jobs, reconstruction and prosperity (see above)
Life remained difficult in East Germany: poor pay and increased work quotas led to an uprising in Berlin in June 1953 (see Unit 1)
Berlin Wall erected in 1961 made it more difficukt to escape to the West. Border was heavily fortified. Berliners found themselves cut off from work, friends and family
Borders were guarded by soldiers with dogs and machine guns. 1961-89 86 people shot trying to get over the wall
Peter Fechter: 1962. Tried to cross to join his sister. Shot by border guards as he climbed barbed wire on eastern side and fell back into narrow strip between East and West.
He slowly bled to death. He was only 300 metres from the West Berlin border post. The Americans were begged to rescue him but commanders issues orders not to. One hour later East German guards collected his body
Unit 2: 10 Mark Answer Preparation Grid
Impact of Change:
Pace of change:
The Weimar Republic
Working class:
Became poorer during hyperinflation. Living standards improved in the Stresemann years. Unemployment rose by 6 million as a result of the depression. People could not pay their mortgages and set up shanty towns. Dependence on soup kitchens
Middle class:
Lost savings during hyperinflation. More luxury goods during the Stresemann years. Car ownership rose by 400% by 1927. Savings lost again in the depression as banks collapsed.
Many benefitted from hyperinflation. Businesses closed following depression as exports could not be sold
Survived during hyperinflation as inflation pushed up prices
The Nazi Years
Working class:
Full employment due to the National Labour Service, rearmament and conscription. However not an increase in wages. Working hours rose dramatically. Little consumer goods. Price of food rose and greater taxation from 1936. Demise of trade unions. Beauty of Labour/Strength through Joy
Loans for marriage and written off when had children. Dismissed from jobs. Dictation of appearance
Teachers forced to join the German Teachers League. Nazi bias to subjects. Military training and preparation for motherhood. Hitler youth
Initial Catholic support but opposition grew following the breaking of the Concordat. National Reich Church/German Faith movement
Exclusion/Nuremberg Laws/Kristallnacht/Ghettos/Deportation/Death camps
WWII created the conditions for the Holocaust
Working class:
Initial celebration. Total War. Bombing campaigns
Drafted in to keep up production
East and West Germany
West Germans:
Transformation into a prosperous state. New currency. Free market. Reduction in unemployment. Modernisation of industries. 2 million new homes. Unemployment rise in 1970s
East Germans:
Many left for a better life in West Germany. Berlin wall made it harder to leave. Reunification of Germany removed Berlin Wall