Key Question 2 - To what extent did the Nazis transform German Society?

Detailed Notes on Key Question 2 of the course Dictatorship and Democracy in Germany 1933-63

Shorter version here:

Specifically for AS OCR History A Unit F964 Option B

Study Topic 4: Dictatorship and Democracy in Germany 1933–63

[Sepcification for my course on pg 63 of:]

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To what extent did the Nazis transform
German Society?
The Nazi Volksgemeinschaft
Nazi ideology based on three elements:
1. Racism
2. Nationalism
3. Authoritarianism
Hitler always claimed that Nazism was more than just a political ideology ­ movement that aimed to transform
German society ­ rejected the values of communism, liberalism and Christianity to uphold the concept of
Volksgemeinshchaft ­ vaguest element of Nazi ideology ­ difficult to define precisely ­ it was a movement to
overcome the old divisions of class, religion and politics to bring about a new collective national identity by
encouraging people to work together ­ new social mentality to bring together German society built on the Nazi
ideas of race and struggle.
Aim to get people to work together for the nation by promoting traditional values ­ ideal was of the classic
peasant working on the soil in the rural community ­ idea of `Blood and Soil' and the traditional roles of men and
Social Groups
Industrial Workers:
Working class ­ largest social group ­ workers had belonged to Trade Unions and politically they had voted for
leftwing parties ­ the Social Democrats and Communists.
NSDAP wanted to establish its authority ­ closed down established trade unions ­ workers lost the right of
industrial bargaining ­ management and the government controlled pay increases and were able to limit workers'
freedom of movement.
Alternative to unions set up in May 1933 ­ the German Labour Front (DAF ­ Deutsche Arbeitsfront) ­ led by
Robert Ley, it became the largest Nazi Organisation in the Third Reich with a membership that reached 22
million in 1939.
Responsible for areas of work such as:
Setting working hours and wages.
Dealing harshly with disobedience, strikes and absenteeism.
Running training schemes for apprenticeships.
Setting stable rents for housing.
Supervising working conditions through a subsection called the Beauty of Labour (SdA) ­ SdA aimed to
provide cleaning, meals, exercise etc.
Organising recreational facilities through the Strength Through Joy (KdF) ­ provided real opportunities to
millions of workers ­ cultural visits, sports facilities and holiday travel ­ only available to loyal workers.

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Material effects on workers ­ so many variables such as age, occupation and geographical location ­ not
consistent for all workers.
Benefit for industrial workers ­ employment ­ millions had suffered from the mass unemployment of the
Depression ­ creation of jobs welcomed.
Late 1930s ­ Germany achieved full employment and there was a shortage of workers.
Average workers' real wages only rose above 1929 levels in 1938 ­ forced to pay contributions to the
DAF and insurance/tax.…read more

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Landed classes ­ suspicious of radical social change ­ resented the political interference of the NSDAP ­ feared
the Nazis would redistribute large landed estates. Learned to live with Nazism ­ before 1939 their economic
interests weren't compromised.
War ­ offered the chance of acquiring more cheap land after German victories.
1945 occupation was bad for the landowners ­ occupation by USSR led to nationalisation of land ­ traditional
supremacy of landowners broken.…read more

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Training courses arranged for unconvinced teachers.
NSLB (National Socialist Teachers' League) set up ­ interfered in the system ­ by 1937 97% teachers
had been on special monthlong courses on Nazi ideology and the changes to the curriculum.
Syllabuses altered ­ greater emphasis on physical education (Aryan ideal) ­ 15% school time ­ PE
teachers had increased status and importance.
Academically ­ RS was scrapped ­ downgrade the importance of religion.…read more

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Youth groups developed ­ Swing Kids (Jazz music of the USA), Edelweiss Piraten (workingclass
youths who formed gangs such as the `Roving Dudes' and `Navajos').
These youths ­ alienated by the military emphasis and discipline of the HJ ­ met up and organised their
own hikes and camps ­ conflicted with official ones.
Cologne 1944 ­ 12 pirates were publicly hanged because of their attacks on military targets and
assassination of a Gestapo officer.…read more

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­ claimed to represent the true Protestant
Churches of Germany.
Nazi leadership had achieved limited success in its control over the churches ­ torn between a policy of
suppression and a policy of limited persecution.
To destabilise churches, the Ministry of Church Affairs (led by Hans Kerrl) was established ­ policy of
undermining the Protestant and Catholic Churches with a series of antireligious measures:
Closure of Church schools.
Undermining of Catholic youth groups.
Personal campaigns to discredit and harass the clergy e.g.…read more

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer ­ opposition started as dissent ­ from 1940 it developed into political
resistance ­ direct contact with elements of conservative resistance.
Individual resistance not exceptional ­ hundreds of priests and pastors died in concentration camps for
their refusal to cooperate with the regime ­ sacrifice is therefore testimony to the limits to which people
would go to defy conformity ­ shows that courageous resistance wasn't enough to restrain the regime.…read more

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Nazi Women's Organisations:
Women excluded from the Nazi machinery of government.
Only employment opportunities were within the Nazi women's organisations ­ NSF (National Socialist
Womanhood), DFW (German Women's Enterprise).
NSF and DFW regarded by the party as mere tools for the propagation of the antifeminist ideology
through programmes.
Campaign in the NSF for enhanced opportunities for women within the Party led to its organisers being
discredited.…read more

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Promoted doctrines of racial purity.
Provided homes for unmarried mothers of illegitimate children who were seen as racially correct.
Arranged for the girls to be `impregnated' by SS members in organised brothels.
Around 11,000 children were born in this way.
Nazis claimed to regard women as different, not inferior.
Some positive features for women ­ improved welfare made life easier, especially in rural areas.
Husbands away during the war ­ women protected from having to combine paid work with running the
household.…read more

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New functionalism' artists censored ­ art which aimed to comment on the state of society by depicting
ordinary people in everyday life.
Bauhaus style censored ­ emphasised the relationship between art and technology.
Modern style of art resented ­ two exhibitions in 1937 (`Degenerate Art' and `Great German Art') ­ first
mocked the art within it and the second glorified all the major Nazi themes of Volksgemeinschaft and
celebrated classic styles and traditional nineteenth century Romanticism.…read more


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