History Hwk - How did WW2 impact the German economy and society

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  • How did WW2 impact the German economy and people?
    • Rationing
      • Rationing of food was introduced on 27th August 1939 and a points system for clothing was introduced in October 1939
      • There was a shortage of meat due to lack of imports from the USA.
      • Food entitlements depended upon the importance of individuals to the war effort: 'normal consumers', 'heavy workers' 'very heavy workers' – there were also categories for children, pregnant women.
      • The winter of 1939-40 was exceptionally cold and there were shortages of coal
      • Rationing was deliberately kept to a minimum. Hitler knew cut-backs during World War One had led to political unrest, so he ordered restriction should be kept to a minimum.
    • Area Bombing
      • Up until the middle of 1942 the British had tried to target their bombing raids on industrial and military targets.
      • In 1942 RAF Bomber Command switched to a policy of ‘area bombing’ – targeting large industrial cities with incendiary bombs (bombs designed to cause fires), and not distinguishing between military and civilian targets.
      • On 30 May 1942 the first British ‘thousand bomber raid’ was launched against the German city of Cologne.
      • Over the next 3 years: 61 German cities, with a combined population of 25 million, were attacked; 3.6 million homes were destroyed; 7.5 million people were made homeless; 300,000 – 400,000 Germans were killed in the raids; and 800,000 people were wounded. However, German industrial production continued to increase until mid-1944.
      • The raids had a mixed impact on the morale of the German population as Nazi propaganda tended to downplay their impact and the number of deaths.
    • Refugees
      • At the outbreak of war, many Germans from the western regions bordering France, such as the Saar, fled east further into Germany.
        • However, many returned soon after when immediate fighting with France failed to begin.
        • The intensive British ‘area’ bombing campaign from May 1942 onwards, targeted at the industrial Ruhr region, created thousands of refugees as whole cities were flattened or burnt down.
        • During the advance of the Soviet army through Poland and eastern Germany during 1944 and 45, much of the civilian population fled westwards to avoid the brutality of the Russian soldiers.
    • Employment
      • At the end of the war, eight million slave labourers and other ‘displaced persons’ became refugees inside Germany. In addition, 11 million ethnic Germans were either refugees or had been expelled from the countries surrounding Germany in the East.
      • The Nazis also made extensive use of forced labour, transporting hundreds of thousands of civilians and prisoners of war from Eastern Europe and elsewhere to Germany to keep the war effort going.
        • 13.7 million German men served in the army during the war, and this created a huge labour shortage on the home front.
      • As they did during World War One, women entered the workforce in large numbers, working in armaments factories and as medics.
  • Overall, in Germany 3.6 million homes were destroyed, 7.5 million people were made homeless and 300,000 – 400,000 civilians were killed in the raids. 800,000 people were wounded.
    • Air Raids
      • How did WW2 impact the German economy and people?
        • Rationing
          • Rationing of food was introduced on 27th August 1939 and a points system for clothing was introduced in October 1939
          • There was a shortage of meat due to lack of imports from the USA.
          • Food entitlements depended upon the importance of individuals to the war effort: 'normal consumers', 'heavy workers' 'very heavy workers' – there were also categories for children, pregnant women.
          • The winter of 1939-40 was exceptionally cold and there were shortages of coal
          • Rationing was deliberately kept to a minimum. Hitler knew cut-backs during World War One had led to political unrest, so he ordered restriction should be kept to a minimum.
        • Area Bombing
          • Up until the middle of 1942 the British had tried to target their bombing raids on industrial and military targets.
          • In 1942 RAF Bomber Command switched to a policy of ‘area bombing’ – targeting large industrial cities with incendiary bombs (bombs designed to cause fires), and not distinguishing between military and civilian targets.
          • On 30 May 1942 the first British ‘thousand bomber raid’ was launched against the German city of Cologne.
          • Over the next 3 years: 61 German cities, with a combined population of 25 million, were attacked; 3.6 million homes were destroyed; 7.5 million people were made homeless; 300,000 – 400,000 Germans were killed in the raids; and 800,000 people were wounded. However, German industrial production continued to increase until mid-1944.
          • The raids had a mixed impact on the morale of the German population as Nazi propaganda tended to downplay their impact and the number of deaths.
        • Refugees
          • At the outbreak of war, many Germans from the western regions bordering France, such as the Saar, fled east further into Germany.
            • However, many returned soon after when immediate fighting with France failed to begin.
            • The intensive British ‘area’ bombing campaign from May 1942 onwards, targeted at the industrial Ruhr region, created thousands of refugees as whole cities were flattened or burnt down.
            • During the advance of the Soviet army through Poland and eastern Germany during 1944 and 45, much of the civilian population fled westwards to avoid the brutality of the Russian soldiers.
        • Employment
          • At the end of the war, eight million slave labourers and other ‘displaced persons’ became refugees inside Germany. In addition, 11 million ethnic Germans were either refugees or had been expelled from the countries surrounding Germany in the East.
          • The Nazis also made extensive use of forced labour, transporting hundreds of thousands of civilians and prisoners of war from Eastern Europe and elsewhere to Germany to keep the war effort going.
            • 13.7 million German men served in the army during the war, and this created a huge labour shortage on the home front.
          • As they did during World War One, women entered the workforce in large numbers, working in armaments factories and as medics.
  • The raids had a limited impact on the morale of the German population as Nazi propaganda tended to downplay their destruction and the number of deaths. In addition, the raids strengthened rather than weakened the determination of the Germans.
    • Propaganda
      • Nazi Germany was a totalitarian state, meaning all aspects of Germans’ lives were controlled by the government
      • The infamous Swastika symbol appearing on every government uniform and public building.
      • Pictures of Hitler displayed everywhere.
      • Germans having to greet each other with a ‘Heil Hitler’ raised arm salute.
      • Censorship of the press. All newspapers were controlled by the government and could only print stories favourable to the Nazi regime.
      • Control of radio broadcasts. Radios were sold very cheaply so that most Germans could afford one. All radio output was controlled by Goebbels’ ministry through the Reich Broadcasting Corporation.
      • Mass rallies. These public displays of support for Nazism involved music, speeches and demonstrations of German strength. The biggest one was held each year in August at Nuremberg.
      • Use of sports events. Berlin hosted the Olympics of 1936, which the Nazis used as an opportunity to showcase the success of the regime and to demonstrate the superiority of the Aryan race. The victories of the African-American athlete Jesse Owens for the USA infuriated the Nazi leadership.
      • Loudspeakers in public places also blared out Nazi propaganda. Much of the information Germans received reinforced the message of Aryan racial superiority whilst demonising the Jews and other ‘enemies’ of the regime.

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