Nazi Germany Sample Essay

AQA GCSE History Nazi Germany 1919-1945

Sample essay: "The Nazis failed to win the hearts and minds of the German people." How far do you agree?

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History Essay:
`The Nazis failed to win the hearts and minds of the German people'
How far do you agree?
It was the first of May 1945 and, in a last desperate attempt to hide himself Adolf Hitler had buried himself deep
underground in a bunker in Berlin. High above him on the surface the Soviet Army moved in for the kill. Finally with
no hope remaining he performed their duty for them and took his own life.
Hitler rose to power during the great depression of Germany as the head of the extreme nationalist group the
German Workers' Party (Nazis). Since the Munich Putsch the Nazis had been launched into the national scene,
Hitler was now a famous political figure and the Nazis had learned their first important lesson ­ To reach their
goal of a totalitarian state they needed to be voted into Parliament, violence alone was not the solution. Thus along
with his five henchmen: Josef Goebbels, Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Heinrich Himmler and Ernst Röhm, Hitler
began his lengthy campaign for power. After being tried for the incident at the beer hall in 1923 Hitler was
imprisoned in Landsberg prison where he composed his book `Mein Kampf' (My Struggle). The book was published in
1925 and outlined and explained each of Hitler's ideas and plans for the future and due to his national fame it
became an instant best seller. Throughout the late 1920s the Nazis worked steadily to gain the support of the
working and middle classes, changing their policies continuously to please the majority. They launched huge
propaganda campaigns: opening soup kitchens to feed the unemployed, causing trouble at meetings (so that they could
be seen as the powerful force `dealing' with the `problem') and holding rallies (where Hitler would stun and entrance
his audience with his strong presence, and promises that he would be the one man that would lead Germany back to
it's former pre-war glory). For the German people, bitter with the disasters of the previous years, he was their
shining light in the darkness, their hope for the future, their saviour ­ their new dictator.
After the death of President Hindenburg in 1934 Hitler became Germany's new President. Already Chancellor of
Germany and the head of the German army, Hitler was now the most powerful man in Germany and he wasted little
time in achieving his goals. The Nazis were well aware of the problems they faced in reaching their aims; they
needed complete power and total obedience from each individual in Germany. They decided that Nazi Germany would
be a Dictatorship, it would be a one-party state, it would be an economic success, a police state and of course a
propaganda state. Propaganda was the Nazis best weapon; they were skilled masters and knew every trick in the
book. They strongly believed that if they could control what people heard, saw and read they would be able to win
their hearts. In effect mass brain-washing. Goebbels had already proven his ability with propaganda during the
election campaigns of the early 1930s and was made head of propaganda and appointed editor of the Nazi newspaper
`Volkische Freiheit' (People's Freedom). Hess served as Hitler's private secretary in the early days and went on to
become party administrator. Himmler became head of the SS (`Schutz-Staffel' ­ Protection Squad) who originally
acted as Hitler's personal bodyguards but soon became a vital force of terror in Nazi Germany. Röhm set up the SA
(`Sturm-Abteilung' - Stormtroopers), who served only to intimidate Nazi opposition, and ran them in 1921 until
Goering was put in charge of the SA in 1923 after Röhm was arrested on the 30th of June (The Night Of The Long
Knives) and later executed.
With Hitler and his henchmen at powerful positions within Nazi Germany the Party began to create their
totalitarian state. They used their propaganda abilities heavily to try and win the favour of the German population.
Under Goebbels' instruction they took over all media. Their own newspaper contained only information they wanted
the people to read and they made sure that all other newspapers did the same by issuing daily orders such as this
order from the Propaganda Ministry on the 6th of April 1935:
`Photo's showing members of the Reich Government at dining tables in front of rows of bottles must not be
published in future. Recently, because of a great number of photos, the utterly absurd impression has been
created among the public that members of the Government are living it up'
If the other newspapers did not comply with Nazi wishes they were closed down. Productions at theatres had to be
checked, anti-Nazi books were burnt and even music was censored allowing only German music to be played. Films at
the Cinema were checked by Nazi Officials before being shown or especially made to spread Nazi ideas, such as the
film `I accuse' made to promote the Nazi policy of Euthanasia and `The Eternal Jew' made to encourage
anti-Semitism. Films of Hitler's rallies were also shown at the cinema, even his 50th birthday celebrations. The
Radio was also taken over by the Nazis and considered one of their most important propaganda tactics. They made
millions of cheap radios called `The People's Receiver', which could only pick up German broadcasts which was exactly
what the Nazis wanted. By 1939 70% of German Households had a radio, for those that did not 6000 loudspeaker
pillars were erected in the town centre for people to hear. By making important announcements over the radio
Hitler was able to reach the vast majority of the population in their homes, or at work and even out on the streets.
Propaganda also spread to children. Young boys were encouraged to join the `Hitler Youth' before it became almost
compulsory in 1936 and young girl's joined `The League of German Maidens'. The Nazis also tried to control lessons
at schools and encouraged all parents to raise their children as loyal Nazis. With these measures of propaganda it
was almost impossible to escape the Nazis and their ideas, and for those that did not comply with their many rules
there always loomed the threat of the SS and SA or under Hitler's `Enabling Act' the Nazis' law and the Gestapo
(secret Police).
But the reality was that many people were quite happy under Nazi rule. The true extent of what the Nazis were
really planning was in large part hidden from the German public, although Hitler had made no secret of his ideas in

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Mein Kampf' or even in his election speeches. Life had undoubtedly improved for the majority of Germans, the
economy was steadily being rebuilt and under Hitler's ideas of `The Volk (People's) Community' many felt a great
sense of belonging and unity that began to resurface old and long forgotten feelings of national pride since the
first world war.…read more

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Ludwig Schroer is
examined on page 90 in source 9 where he can be seen outside his confectionery shop. The caption underneath
Ludwig's photograph tell us,
`...[He] was arrested for telling jokes about Hitler. He was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. He later
hanged himself to escape a second term there.'
The second form of opposition that was fairly common was passive resistance and non-co-operation. This form of
opposition was taken in a number of different ways.…read more

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Nazis could manage. Codewords were created to hide real
instructions for the Nazis plans for example `final solution' for extermination, `transfer' for deportation and even
`special treatment' for killing by gas. Another factor to consider is that people just chose to simply ignore what
was going on around them.…read more


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