AS History(Germany)

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The German Revolution 1918- 1919

Autocracy (All power to one person i.e Kaiser)

Constitutional Monarchy (Rules alongside Parliament i.e Monarch - King/ Queen/Kaiser)

Democratic Government (Government elected by the people i.e Chancellor/ Prime minister

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German discontent with the war

  • Food and fuel shortages - The Turnip Winter
  • Civilian deaths from starvation and hypothermia reached 293,000 in 1918
  • Infant mortality increased by 50%
  • The Flu epidemic of 1918 killed between 20-40 million
  • 2 million Germans killed. 6 million wounded
  • Opposition began to grow against the political leaders who urged total war
  • Faced with the likelihood of defeat, General Ludendorff and Hindenburg decided to seek peace with the allies.
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The revolution from above

  • A revolution from above suggests that the changes were brought about by those in power and not forced from below.
    • Germany was an autocracy under the Kaiser. He had absolute rule.
    • Ludendorf proposed to change Germany into a Constitutional monarchy - which would hand political power to a government whilst still providing a role for the Kaiser.
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Why did Ludendorf do this?

He had 3 motives:

  • He hoped a new civilian government would be able to get better peace terms.
  • He hoped the change would prevent the outbreak of political revolutionary disturbances.
  • He hoped this new government would be blamed for Germany's defeat as they would have to end the war - these unpatriotic politicians would sign a peace treaty and then be blamed for stabbing Germany in the back.
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The New Government

  • 3rd October 1918 Prince Max of Baden, a moderate conservative was appointed Chancellor.
  • Wilhelm II gave up his powers over the Army and Navy to the Reichstag (Parliament)
  • The Chancellor and his government were made accountable to the Reichstag.
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Historical opinion

  • Wehler argues that the events of October 1918 highlighted the control of the conservative traditional forces who wanted to prevent the overthrow of their own positions
  • Kolb argues that there was increased pressure from the Reichstag for policial change.
  • However, it seems the events of October were shaped from above and agreed with by the Parliament.
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The revolution from below

  • The new government passed some reforms but these were not enough
  • When it became clear that the war was lost Germany erupted in a wave of unrest described as the revolution from below
  • Trouble began in October at the Naval bases of Kiel and Wilhelmshaven when sailors refused to obey an order to salvage German harbour in a final battle.
  • By November workers councils similar to those set up by the Bolsheviks in Russia were established in the major cities of Berlin, Cologne and Stuttgart.
  • In Bavaria King Louis III was desposed amd Bavaria proclaimed an independant socialist republic.
  • Popular discontent had turned into revolutionary demands for immediate peace and the abdication of the Kaiser.
  • The disturbances were prompted by:
  • Realisation in the armed forces that it was pointless going on
  • Increasing anger over living conditions in Germany.
  • The shock when the news came that Germany had lost the war.
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Germany becomes a Republic

  • On 9 November Prince Max announced taht the Kaiser would renounce the throne and that a coalition left wing government would be formed under Elbert
  • Scheidemann declared Germany a Republic
  • The Kaiser accepted the situation and went into exile in Holland
  • On 11 November an armistice was signed with the allies
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Political Spectrum


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Strengths of the Weimar Republic

  • The Weimar Constitution, compromise as it was, reflected a broad spectrum of political opinion. It even included those on the nationalist right such as the DNVP
  • It reflected successful constitutional practice at the time and had built into it checks and balances which, if used carefully, might have led to political stability
  • The problem with the Weimar Constitution wasn't its design, but its misuse by the new Republic's opponents
  • Article 48 - there had been no tradition in Germany before 1914 of parliamentary sovereignity - that the Reichstag was the most powerful institution in government. The creation of strong executive powers was a further attempt at creating political continuity Ebert used Article 48 as an instrument for the preservation of the republic, in November 1923 he used it to give power to the army to put down the Munich Putsch. Although the constitution allowed Hindenburg and others legally to undermine Weimar democracy later in the decade, it also allowed government sufficient flexibility.
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Weaknesses of the Weimar Republic

  • Many of its main features were not accepted e.g. Proportional Representation, Parliamentary Government or Civil Liberties
  • The constitution was the product of a compromise between the most successful parties in the January 1919 election to the National Assembly, i.e. the SPD, Z and DDP. Yet at no election after 1919 did these 3 parties poll even clsoe to the number of votes they had achieved in 1919. (in 1919 they had 23.1 million votes between them, the next highest was 14.3 million in 1928). Therefore it can be argued that the constitution's base was narrow and unrepresentative
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Spartacist Revolt


On January 1st 1919, the Spartacists formally founded the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, the KPD - German Communist Party. It refused to participate in the parliamentary elections, preferring instead to place it's faith in the workers' councils, as expressed in the Spartacist Manifesto

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Spartacist Revolt


They decided that the time was ripe to launch an armed rising in Berlin with the aim of overthrowing the Provisional Government and creating a Soviet Republic

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Spartacist Revolt


January 5th they occupied Public Buildings, called for a general strike and formed a Revolutionary Committee

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Spartacist Revolt


Three days of savage street fighting and over one hundred were killed. The leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Leibknehct were brutally murdered.

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The Constitution of the Weimar Republic


  • Elected by the people every seven years
  • Had power to dissolve the Reichstag
  • Had right to appoint the Chancellor
  • Had power to rule by Article 48
  • Commander in Chief of Armed forces
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The Constitution of the Weimar Republic


  • Appointed by the President, but required the support of the Reichstag
  • Elected every four years
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The Constitution of the Weimar Republic


  • Main representative assembly and the main law-making body of the parliament
  • Consisted of deputies elected every four years
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The Constitution of the Weimar Republic


  • Less important house in Parliament
  • Chosen from representatives of all the 17 states
  • It could only initite or delay proposals
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The Constitution of the Weimar Republic


  • Men and Women over the age of twenty
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The Treaty of Versailles


Lost thirteen percent of land and all colonies

  • France took Alsace-Lorraine and Saar
  • Weren't allowed to join with Austria
  • Land in the East went to Poland and Czechoslovakia
  • Belgium took Eupen and Malmedy
  • Eastern Upper Silesia voted to become Polish
  • Memel seized by Lithuania
  • Danzig made a free city under League of Nations control
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The Treaty of Versailles

Military terms

  • An area close to France was named the rhineland and was demilitarised and up to 1935 had allied forces
  • Abolition of Conscription
  • Reduction of army to 100,000 men
  • No tanks or military aircraft allowed
  • Navy limited to six battleships, six cruisers, twelve destroyers, twelve torpedo boats and zero submarines
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The Treaty of Versailles

War Guilt

They had to accept that they were responsible for the war.

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The Treaty of Versailles

Economic Terms

Around £6.6 Billion had to be paid back to France and Belgium

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Kapp Putsch

  • In early 1919 the strength of the Reichswehr, the regular army was estimated at 350,000. There were in addition in excess of 250,000 men enlisted in various Friekorps. Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was required to reduce its armed forces to a max of 100,000. Friekorps units therefore had to be disbanded.
  • The Kapp Putsch - or more accurately the Kapp-Luttwitz Putsch - was an extreme right-wing attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic which resulted directly from the imposition of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • In March 1920 orders were issued for the disbandment of the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt. Its leaders were determined to resist dissolution and appealed to General Luttwitz, commander of the Berlin Reichswehr, for support, Luttwitz, an organiser of Freikorps units in 1918-1919 and a fervent monarchist, responded by calling on Ebert and Noske to stop the whole programme of troop reductions. When Ebert refused, Luttwitz ordered the Marinebrigade Erhardt to march on Berlin. It occupied the capital on 13 March. Luttwitz, therefore, was the driving force behind the 1920 putsch. It's normal leader, though, was Wolfgang Kapp, a 62 year old, East Prussian, Civil Servant and rabid nationalist.
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Kapp Putsch Continued

  • Noske, the defence minister, called upon the regular army to suppress the putsch. He encountered a blank refusal. General von Seekt, one of the Reichswehr's senior commanders, told him: 'Reichswehr does not shoot on Reichswehr.'
  • The government forced to abandon Berlin, moved to Stuttgart. As it did so it issued a proclamation calling on Germany's workers to defeat the putsch by means of a general strike. The strike call recieved massive support. With the country paralysed, the putsch collapsed. Kapp and Luttwitz, were unable to govern and fled to Sweden.
  • There were two main reasons why the Weimar Republic survived in 1920. First, the working class rallied to its defence. Second, Kapp and Luttwitz had the support of only a minority of the extreme right. Many potential sympathisers, including most of the leading Freikorps commanders, thought the putsch was ill-timed and refused to join it.
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Munich Putsch

In November 1923, Hitler tried to take advantage of the crisis facing the Weimar Government by instigating a revolution in Munich. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, but poor planning and misjudgement resulted in failure and the subsequent inprisonment of Adolf Hitler

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Munich Putsch Summary

  • At first, the Nazis were just a terrorist group. Hitler assembled a large group of unemployed young men and former soldiers, known as the Storm Troopers (SA), which attacked other poliical groups. Hitler hoped to take power by starting a Revolution.
  • Hitler collected his SA and told them to be ready to rebel.
  • But then, on 4 October 1923, Kahr and Lassow called off the rebellion that they had plotted together to take over Munich in a revolution. This was an impossible situation for Hitler, who had 3,000 troops ready to fight.
  • On the night of 8 November 1923, Hitler and 600 SA burst into a meeting that Kahr and Lossow were holding at the local Beer Hall. Waving a gun at them, Hitler forced them to agree to rebel - and then let them go home. The SA took over the army headquarters and the offices of the local newspaper.
  • The next day, 9 November 1923, Hitler and his Nazis went into Munich on what they thought would be a triumphed march to take power.
  • However, Kahr had called in police and army reinforcement. There was a short scuffle in which the police killed 16 Nazis. Hitler fled but was arrested two days later.
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Why did Hitler attempt the Munich Putsch?

1. By 1923, the Nazi party had 55,000 members and was stronger than ever before.

2. The Weimar Republic was in crisis and about to collapse

3. In Septemebr 1923, the Weimar Government had called off the general strike, and every German Nationalist was furious with the government.

4. Hitler thought he would be helped by important nationalist politicians in Bavaria.

5. Hitler had a huge army of Storm Troopers, but he knew he would lose control of them if he did not give them something to do.

6. Hitler hoped to copy Mossolini - the Italian Fascist leader - who had come to power in Italy in 1922 by marching on rome.

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Results of the Munich Putsch

The Munich Putsch was a failure.

As a result:

  • The Nazi Party was banned, and Hitler was prevented from speaking in public until 1927
  • hitler went to prison, where he wrote ' Mein Kampf'. Millions of Germans read it, and Hitler's ideas became very well known.
  • Hitler decided that the would never come to power by revolution; he realised that he would have to use constitutional means, so he organised:
    • The Hitler Youth
    • Propaganda Campaigns
    • Mergers with other right- wing parties
    • Local branches of the party, which tried to get Nazis elected to the Reichstag
    • The SS as his personal bodyguard, which was set up in 1925.
    •  It was this strategy of gaining power legitimately that eventually brought him to power.
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Between 1919 and 1923 Weimar Politicians lived in fear of assassination. The brutalising effect of war, the revolutionary origins of the Republic, the political struggles of the period and the challenge to traditional values encouraged some right-wing Germans to resort to murder to weaken the democratic regime. The lenient attitude to such actions of conservative judges, who had been kept in their posts in the new Republic, reinforced this trend. The Republic lost hundreds of devoted servants through assassination, including one of its greatest statesmen, Walter Rathenav.

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German October

In Summer 1923 in Saxony, there were a wave of strikes and the creation of an SPD/KPD State Government which was overthrown by the German Army

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What was the greater threat? The Right?

  • The Weimar Republic was beset with serious problems from the outset that led many Germans either to withhold support from the new parliamentary democracy or to seek actively to destroy it.
  • The right posed a greater threat to the Weimar Republic than did the extreme left because it enjoyed the support of most of Germany's establishment: the military, the financial elites, the state bureucracy, the educational system, and much of the press.
  • The extent of the opposition from the extreme right to democracy was not always appreciated
  • The establishments tactic support of unlawful right - wing actions such as the Kapp Putsch and violent repression of the left endured to the end of the Weimar Republic. This support could also be seen in the sentences meted out by the Courts to perpetrators of political violenc. Right-wing terrorists usually received mild or negligible sentences, whilst those on the left were dealth with severely, even though left-wing violence was but a fraction of that committed by the right - of the 376 political murders 354 were carried out by the right.
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What was the greater threat? The Left?

  • By the summer of 1919 the best chance of establishing communism was gone.
  • For the next 3 years unrest continued but never seriously threatened government control.
  • Inadeguate leadership, poor organisation, internal divisions, lack of support and government repression meanth that the left were easily put down.
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The 1920 Elections

Dissatisfaction with the Republic was also evident in the June 1920 elections, in which the Weimar Coalition lost its majority. A combined total vote of 28.9% for the DNVP, a descendant of the Prewar Conservatives, and the DVP, composed mainly of National Liberals, reflected GErman middle-class disillusionment with democracy. Both parties wished to abolish the Weimar Constiution SPD strength fell to 21.7%, as some workers defected to the extreme left.

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Political Instability

In the four years between 1919-1923 Weimar had 6 Governments.

The longest of which lasted 18 Months.

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The Creation and Emergence of the Nazi Party

It was because of his committed right-wing attitudes that Hitler was employed in the politically charged atmosphere of 1919 as a kind of spy by the political department of the Bavarian section of the German Army. One if his investigations brought him into contact with the DAP which was not a movement of the revolutionary left, as Hitler had assumed on hearing its name,but one committed to nationalism, anti-semitism and anti-capitalism. Hitler joined the tiny party and immediatly became a member of its committee. His energy, oratory and propaganda skills soon made an impact on the small group and it was Hitler who, with the party's founder, Anton Drexler, drew up the Party's 25- points programme in February 1920. At the same time, it was gareedto change the Partys name to the NSDAP,  the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NAZI)

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The Creation and Emergence of the Nazi Party

By mid-1921 it was clear Hitler was the driving - force behind the party. Although he still held only the post of propaganda chief, it was his powerful speeches that had impressed local audiences and had helped to increase party membership to 3300. He had encouraged the creation of the armed squads to protect Party meetings and to intimidate the opposition, especially the communists. It was his development of early propaganda techniques - the Nazi salute, the swastika, the uniform - that had done so much to give the Party a clear and easily recognisable identity.

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The Creation and Emergence of the Nazi Party

Alarmed by Hitler's increasing domination of the Party, Drexler and some other members of the committee tried to limit his influence. However, it was here, for the first time, that Hitler showed his political ability to manoeuvre and to gamble. He was by far the most influential speaker and the Party knew it, so, shrewdly, he offered to resign. In the ensuing power struggle he was quickly able to mobilise support at two meetings in July 1921. He was invited back in glory. Embarassed, Drexler resigned and Hitler became chairman and Fuhrer (leader) of the party.

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The Creation and Emergence of the Nazi Party

Having gained supreme control over the Party in Munich, Hitler aimedto subordinate all the other right-wing roups under his party's leadership and certainly, in the years 1921-1923, the party was strengthened by a number of significant developments:

  • The armed quads were rgansied and set up as the SA in 1921 as a paramilitary unit led by Ernst Rohm. It was now used to organise planned thuggery and violence. Most notoriously, the conflict in the town of Coburg degenerated into a pitched battle between the Communists and the SA, but it showed how politically vital it was to win to control of the streets
  • The party established its first newspaper in 1921, the Volkischer Beobachter (The People's Observer)
  • In 1922 Hitler won the backing of Julius Streicher, who previously had run  rival right-wing party in Northern Bavaria. Streicher also published his own newspaper, Der Sturmer, which was overtly anti-semitic with a range of seedy articles devoted to sex and violence.
  • Hitlerwas also fortunate to win the support of the influential Hermann Goring, who joined the party in 1922. He was born into a Bavarian landowning family, while his wife was a leading Swedish aristocratic. They made many very hepful social contacts in Munich, which gave Hitler and Nazism respectability.
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The Creation and Emergence of the Nazi Party

By 1923, the Party had a membership of about 20,000. Hitler certainly enjoyed an impressive personal reputation and, as a result, Nazism successfully established aninfluentia role on the extreme right in Bavaria. However, despite Nazi efforts, it still proved difficult to control all the radical right-wing political groups, which remained independent organisations across Germnay. The Nazi Party was still very much a fringe party, limited to the region of Bavaria

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The consequences of the Munich Putsch

In many respects the putsch was a farce. Hitler and the putschists were arrested and charged with treason and the NSDAP itself was banned. However, Hitler gained significant political advantages from the episode:

  • He turned his trial into a great propaganda success both for himself and for the Nazi cause.He played on all his rhetorical skills and evoked admiration for his patriotism.For the first time he had made himself a national figure.
  • He won the respect of mny other right-wing nationalists for having had the courage to act.
  • The leniency of his sentence - five years, the minimum stipulated by the Weimar Constitution and actually reduced to 10 months - seemed like an act of encouragement on the part of the judiciary act of encuragement on the part of the judiciary.
  • He used his months in prison to write and reassess his political strategy, including dictating Mein Kamp.
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1926 Bamberg Nazi Party Conference

In February 1926, the differences within the party came to a head at a special party conference in Bamberg. On the one hand it was a significant support to re-establsh his supremacy. The Nazi Party was to be run according to the Fuhrerprinzip and there was to be no place for disagreements. On the otherhand, the party declared that the original 25 points of the programme with its socialist elements remained unchangeable. So, although Hitler had re-established a degree of unity within the Party, there were still significant rivalries nd differences. 

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The Creation of the Party structure

The most significant developmet in the years before the Great Depression lay in the reorgnisation of the party structure. The whole of Germany was divided into regions, which reflected the electoral geography of Weimar's system of proportional representation. The cntrol of each region was placed in the hands of a Gauleiter, who then had the responsibiity of creating district and branch groups. In this way a verticle Party structure was created throughout Germany, which didnt detract from Hitler's own position of authority as leader.

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The Creation of the Party structure

Perhaps the most renowned of the Gauleiters was the holder of the Berlin post, Joseph Goebbes. Goebbles had originally been a sympathiser of Gregr Strasser's socialist ideas, but from 1926 he gave his support to Hitler. He was then rewarded bu being given the responsibility for winning over the capital, a traditionally left-wing stronghold of the SPD. He showed a real interest in propaganda and created the newspaper, Der Angriff (The Attack), but was not appointed chief of party propaganda until 1930.

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The Creation of the Party structure

The Nazis also founded a number of new associated Nazi organisations that were geared to appeal to the specific interests of particular groups of Germans.

Among these were:

  • The Hitler Youth
  • The Nazi Teacher's Association
  • Union of Naxi Lawyers
  • The Order of German Women
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The Creation of the Party structure

Gregor Strasser was mainly responsible for building up an efficient Party Structure and this was reflected in its increasing membership during these years

          Year                                                Membership Numbers

1925                                                              27,000

1926                                                              49,000

1927                                                              72,000

1928                                                            108,000

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The Creation of the Party structure

One other significant initiative in these years was the creation of the SS. It was set up in 1925 as an elite body of black-shirted guards, sworn to absolute obedience to the Fuhrer. In 1929 it had only 200 members. At first, it was just Hitler's personal bodyguard though, when it was placed under the control of Himmler later that year, it soon developed its own identity.

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The Weimar Economy - Impact of TOV

By the end of the War national income was 2/3rds its pre war level and both industrial and agricultural production had fallen considerably. Germany had financed the war both by borrowing and printing more money. The national debt in 1919 was 144,000,000,000 marks, by 1922 this had reached 469,000,000,000.

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The Weimar Economy - Impact of TOV

After 1919 the entire Reich budget was needed to pay interest on the wartime loans

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The Weimar Economy - Impact of TOV

The government policy of continuing to print money simply led to inflation - The German Mark was worth 1% ofits value and the bad harvests had forced food prices up.

The allies then imposed the financial restrictions of the peace settlement. The TOV deprived Germany of:

  • 75% of iron are resources
  • 25% of coal
  • 15% of arable land
  • 132,000,000 gold marks had to be paid in reparations over 42 years
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The Weimar Economy - 1923 Hyperinflation crisis

At the end of 1921, Germany proclaimed itself unable to meet reparation payments; the payments were temporarily halted, however, the French were looking for an excuse to take action. Part of the timber promised to the allies as well as the delivery of coal were delayed. The French PM sent 100,000 French and Belgian troops into the Ruhr in January 1923 to collect the coal for them. The Germans were in no position to fight back.

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The Weimar Economy - 1923 Hyperinflation crisis

The Weimar Government supported a policy of passive resistance by the German workers - the German workers refused to work for the French - however this had disastrous consequences for the economy.

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The Weimar Economy - 1923 Hyperinflation crisis

  • The Government continued to pay millions of marks to the workers and industrialists who were out of pocket
  • With no income coming in from the Ruhr region and no coal they had to import - this cost them twice what the annual reparations would have
  • The government had 2 choices
    • a) Raise taxation
    • b) Print more money
  • They continued to print more money which led to hyper inflation
  • In December 1922 - 1US Dollar = 8000 marks
  • In April 1923 - 1US Dollar = 20,000 marks
  • In August 1923 - 1US Dollar = 1 million marks
  • A loaf of bread in 1918 cost 0.63 marks and by November 1923 201,000 million marks
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The Weimar Economy - 1923 Hyperinflation crisis

Many people lost everything.

  • In particular those who lived off a fixed incomeandwhite-collar workers such as teachers and civil servants. This group began to turn away from supporting the Weimar Republic.
  • Savings became wothless and many people were malnourished.
  • The only people who benefitted were those in debt as all their debt could quickly be paid off
  • The crisis was blamed on Jewish finance, TOV, Weimar democracy and socialists
  • It provoked increased unrest in 1923 with the German October and Munich Putsch.
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The Weimar Economy - The end of Hyperinflation

  • In September 1923 payments of reparations were resumed and the French set up a commission to study the problem of the German economy
  • Passive resistance was called off
  • In November 1923 the Rentenmark replaced the old mark and printing was strictly limited
  • The Rentenmark was set up
  • Schacht was appointed special currency commissioner
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1924-29 Golden Years - Dawes Plan

  • After the hyperinflation crisis an international committee was set up to consider German finances.
  • The key points of it were:
  • The National bank should be reorganised under allied control
  • Germany should recieve a loan of 800 million gold marks mainly financed by the USA
  • Reparations were reviewed - a lower annual amount was introduced with a longer repayment time
  • Germany would pay 1000 million marks for the next 5 years and then 2500 million marks
  • Sanctions against Germany had to be agreed if they defaulted on payments.
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1924-29 Golden Years - The Young Plan

  • Reduced reparations to 37 million marks
  • Lower annual payments to be paid over 58 years
  • Allies no longer controlled the banks
  • Allied troops were withdrawn in June 1930
  • There was major internal opposition in the Young Plan

It is often argued that after 1924 the Weimar economy entered into a golden age of economic growth and affluence

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Strengths of the economy

Heavy industry returned to pre war production levels by 1928 due to the use of more efficient methods of production in coal mining and steel manufacture 

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Strengths of the economy

  • German industry could lower costs due to the introduction of a number of cartels. IG Farben became the largest chemical manufacturing plant in Europe.
  • Exports rose by 40%
  • Wages rose
  • Low inflation
  • Low unemployment
  • The social welfare system brought improved conditions
  • Pensions, sickness benefit, unemployment, insurance, public facilities such as parks and council housing.
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The weaknesses in the economy

The recovery after 1923 was based too heavily on international loans. American investments were an easy way out, however, they were used in a dangerous way - shorttermloans were used to finance long-term capital projects, the assumption being that it would not be difficult to renew loans. This meant Germany was very vulnerable to any fluctuations in the American Stock Market. Following the Wall Street Crash most short term loans were recalled

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The weaknesses in the economy

In the 1920s conditions were not favourable to an export economy which Germany had traditionally led, caused by new markets and a decline in Europe's population - Germany's exports fell from 17.5% to 14.9%

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The weaknesses in the economy

Agriculture had consistently proved to be one of the weaker points of the German economy. German farmers needed to modernise, however, lack of profit put them further into debt. Agricultural production was patchy and did not keep apace with industry. In 1929 agriculture was only at 74% of its pre war level. Farmers were the first group to begin to vote for extremist parties

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The weaknesses in the economy

The lower middle classes or the mittelstand never fully recovered in the second half of the decade, and the gap between rich and poor increased

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The weaknesses in the economy

Wages did not go much above the cost of living for industrial workers and they were disappointed that their lives did not improve under the republic. Despite fewer strikes relations between workers and employers were uneasy, the government stepped in to arbitrate in numerous disputes whih lowered the number of recorded strikes and employers were unhappy at being forced to pay out higher wages and often tried to force their workers to work longer hours in return.

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The weaknesses in the economy

Higher wages meant higher prices for goods, as did the formation of cartels which led to a shortage of foreign trade. Industrialists looking for a steady market were later supportive of rearming policies which allowed them to sell their good to the government.

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The weaknesses in the economy

The Welfare State - in 1927 the law on unemployment changed to pay a fixed benefit to all those out of work who were insured. As unemployment rose the Reich Institution had to borrow money to pay out benefits.

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The weaknesses in the economy

Unemployment had crept up to 1.9 million in 1929 from 1.4 million in 1928

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Historical Debate - Peukert

Described the Weimar economy as 'the sick economy of Weimar'

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Historical Debate - James

Argues that Weimar economy was marked by 'a high degree of instability and low growth rates' 

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Impact of the Depression - Economic

The world economic crisis, known as the Great Depression, was an event of major significance. Its effects were felt throughout the World Germany undoubtedly felt it in a particular savage way.

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Impact of the Depression - Economic

Germany suffered the consequences of the Wall Street crash more than any other country. Almost immediately the American loans and investments dried up and this was quickly followed by demands for the repayment of those short-term loans. At the same time, the crisis caused a further decline in the price of food and raw materials as the industrialised nations reduced their imports. As demand for experts collapsed, world trade slumped. Without overseas loans and with its export trade falling, prices and wages fell and the number of bankruptcies increased. Within trade, exports value fell by 55% in 1929, £630m, then in 1932, £280m. Many workers were laid off, leading to mass unemployment.. The number of registered unemployed went from 1.8m in 1929 to 5.6m in 1932. Industrial production declied sharply and 50,000 businesses collapsed.

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Impact of the Depression - Economic

The agricultural sector of Germany was also hit. Wages and income fell sharply and many forms were sold off. The agricultural prices dropped from 138 in 1927 to 77 in 1932.

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Impact of the Depression - Economic

Five major banks collapsed in1931 as well as 50,000 businesses being bankrupted. However, there were weaknesses already before the Wall Street Crash. Many farmers were already in debt and had already been facing falling incomes since 1927. Finances for the German Government were continually run in deficit. 

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Impact of the Depression - Human

Many manual industrial workers, both skilled and unskilled faced the prospect of long-term unemployment. For their wives, there was the impossible task of trying to feed families and keep homes warm on the money provided by limited social security benefits. 

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Impact of the Depression - Human

Middle-class-shopkeepers to well-qualified professionals in Law and Medicine, people struggled to survive in a world where there was little demand for their goods and services. Loss of pride and respectability.  

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Impact of the Depression - Human

Countryside- widespread rural poverty. Farmers evicted from homes which had been in families for generations.

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Impact of the Depression - Political

1 in 3 workers unemployed in 1933

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Impact of the Depression - Political

Industrial production down 42% in 1932

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Impact of the Depression - Political

Economic became political due to lack of confidence that weakened the Republic's position in it's hour of need 

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Impact of the Depression - Impact on Nazi vote

Bruning had hoped that in the developing crisis the people would be encouraged to support the parties of the cenre-right from which a coalition could be formed. However, the election results proved him wrong and the real benefits was the Nazi Party, which increased its vote from 810,000 to a staggering 6,409,600

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Political Leaders - Muller

Mullers SPD-led coalition government was divided over measures to deal with the impact of the depression, particularly over whether to increase unemplyment contributions to fund the increasing numbers needing relief.

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Political Leaders - Muller

In March 1930 Muller resigned when President Hindenburg refused to use Article 48 to support his government. Muller's government was to be the last coalition government with a working majority in the Reichstag, and it marks the effective end of prliamentary govrnment.

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Political Leaders - Bruning

Hindenburg then appointed Bruning as Chancellor. He formed a centre-right government but one without a majority. When the Reichstag rejected the governments finance bill, Bruning had the bill issued by Article 48. Faced with opposition within the Reichstag, Bruning persuaded Hindenburg to dissolve it

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Political Leaders - Bruning

As a result of the September 1930 elections, when extremist parties made substantial gains, any government would have found it hard to get a majority in the Reichstag.

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Political Leaders - Bruning

The Bruning government survived by relying on Presidential decree and the SPD did not want anymre elections. The Chancellor took little action to reduce the impact of the depression that was causing a massive increase in unemployment. 

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Political Leaders - Bruning

Bruning was also known as the Hunger Chancellor. Partially due to his unimaginative policies, Nazi support increased as was illustrated by Hitler's support in the Presidential election in early 1932 which Hindenburg won. In May 1932, Bruning was dismissed as Hindenburg turned against him due to his proposal to bankrupt Prussian estates and Schleicher felt that some co-operation with the Nazis was needed. (Bruning had banned the SA/SS)

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Political Leaders - Von Papen

Hindenburg asked Von Papen to form a non-party Presidential government with nomembers of the Reichstag. It was nicknamed the Cabinet of Barons. With deadlock in the Reichstag, Hindenburg dissolved it and held an election in July 1932

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Political Leaders - Von Papen

Extremists made further gains - Nazis won 230 seats. Papen tried to struggle on, but after a vote of no confidence in his government was passed by the Reichstag and allowed new elections.

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Political Leaders - Von Papen

After the November 1932 election the new Reichstag was as unworkable as the old one.

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Political Leaders - Von Schleicher

In December 1932, General Schleicher, who had been advising Hindenburg throughout the crisis, persuaded Hindenburg to dismiss von Papen and appoint himself as Chancellor.

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Political Leaders - Political Intrigue

Papen then took the initiative and intrigued against Schleicher to get revenge for his own dismissal. This resulted in Hindenburg appointing Hitler as Chancelor, and Papen as his deputy.

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Political Leaders - The end of Weimar Democracy

After Hindenburg had dismissed Muller, he was succeeded by a series of Chancellors - Bruning, Papen and Schleicher - who had little support in the Reichstag and depended upon Presidential support to issue decrees.

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Political Leaders - The end of Weimar Democracy

There was a growing move by the right-wing elite to change the Weimar system by reducing the power of parliament and establishing a more authoritarian government.

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Political Leaders - The end of Weimar Democracy

Eventually this elite was prepared to co-operate with Hitler to bring about the collapse of the parliamentary system. They realised they would have to use the mass support behind Hitler to establish a more authoritarian system.

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Political Leaders - The end of Weimar Democracy

Ultimately, Hitler was brought to power due to the political intrigue of Papen and Hindenburg.

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Who Voted Nazi - Geography and denomination

Political trends are reflected in the geographical base of Nazi support - higher in North and East, lower in South and West.

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Who Voted Nazi - Geography and denomination

Right across the North German Plain, from East Prussia to Schleswig - Holstein, the Nazis gained their best results

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Who Voted Nazi - Geography and denomination

Catholic predominated area had marked less of a Nazi breakthrough.

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Who Voted Nazi - Geography and denomination

Catholic predominated area had marked less of a Nazi breakthrough.

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Who Voted Nazi - Geography and denomination

Protestant regions were more likely to vote Nazi.

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Who Voted Nazi - Geography and denomination

Fared less well in large industrial cities, but gained greater support in the more rural communities and in residential suburbs.

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Who Voted Nazi - Geography and denomination

Vote was at its lowest in the Catholic cities of the West, such as Cologne and Dusseldorf.

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Who Voted Nazi - Geography and denomination

It was at its highest in the Protestant countryside of the North and North-East, such as Schleswig-Holstein and Pomerania.

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Who Voted Nazi - Geography and denomination

Bavaria, a strongly Catholic region, and the birthplace of Nazism, had one of the lwest Nazi votes in Germany.

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Who Voted Nazi - Class

Tended to win a higher proportion of support from; the peasants and farmers, the 'Mittlestand' (the lower middle classes, e.g. artisans, craftsmen, and shopkeepers) and the established middle classes, e.g. teachers, white-collar workers, public employees.

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Who Voted Nazi - Class

Tended to win a higher proportion of support from; the peasants and farmers, the 'Mittlestand' (the lower middle classes, e.g. artisans, craftsmen, and shopkeepers) and the established middle classes, e.g. teachers, white-collar workers, public employees.

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Who Voted Nazi - The 'Politics of Anxiety'

Nazi voters had a lack of faith in, and identity with, the Weimar System.

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Who Voted Nazi - The 'Politics of Anxiety'

Believed their traditional role and status in society was under threat.

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Who Voted Nazi - The 'Politics of Anxiety'

For many of the middle classes the crisis of 1929-1933 was merely the climax of a series of disasters since 1918

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Who Voted Nazi - The 'Politics of Anxiety'

Hitler was therefore able to exploit what is termed 'the politics of anxiety', as expressed by the historian T. Childers in his book 'The Nazi Voter': [By 1930] the NSDAP had become a unique phenomenon in German electoral politics, a catch-all party of protest, whose constituents, while drawn primarily from the middle-class electorate were united above all by a profound contempt for the existing political and economic system.

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Who Voted Nazi - The 'Politics of Anxiety'

In this way Hitler seemed able to offer to many Germans an escape from overwhelming crisis and a return to former days.

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Who Voted Nazi - The Young

The depression hit at the moment when youngsters from the pre-war baby-boom came of age and, however good their qualifications were, many had little chance of finding work.

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Who Voted Nazi - The Young

41.3% of those who joined the Nazi party before 1933 had been born between 1904 and 1913 - despite the age group only represented 25.3% of the total population.

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Who Voted Nazi - The Young

Youngsters aged 20-30 became members of political parties, 61% joined the Nazis

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Who Voted Nazi - The Young

It was the young who filled the ranks of the SA

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Who Voted Nazi - The Young

All ages were prepared to vote for the Nazis, but the younger members of society were more likely to become involved in joining the party

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Nazi Ideology

Nazism always emphasised the importance of action over thought. However, whilst in Landsberg prison, Hitler dictated the first part of Mein Kampf which in the following years, became the bible of National Socialism. Together with the 25-point programme of 1920, it provides the basic framework of Hitler's ideology and of Nazism itself.

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Nazi Ideology - Racism

Hitler's ideas were built upon his concept of race. He believed that humanity consisted of a hierarchy of races and that life was no more than 'the survival of the fittest.' He argued that social Darwinism necessitated a struggle between races, just as animals fought for food and territory in the wild. Furthermore, he considered it vital to maintain racial purity, so that the blood of the weak would not undermine the strong.

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Nazi Ideology - Racism

It was a crude philosophy, which appears even more simplistic when Hitler's analysis of the races is considered. The Herrenvolk (Master-race) was the Aryan race and was exemplified by the Germans. It was the task of the Aryan to remain pure and to dominate the inferior races.

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Nazi Ideology - Anti-Democracy

In Hitler's opinion there was no realistic alternative to strong dictorial government. Ever since his years in Vienna he had viewed parliamentary democracy as weak and ineffective. It went against the German historical traditions of militarism and the power of the state. Furthermore, it encouraged the development of an even greater evil, communism.

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Nazi Ideology - Anti-Democracy

More specifically, Hitler saw Weimar Democracy as a betrayal. In his eyes, it was the democratic and socialist politicians of 1918, 'The November Criminals', who had stabbed the German Army in the back,by accepting the armistice and establishing the Republic. Since then Germany had lurched from crisis to crisis.

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Nazi Ideology - Anti-Democracy

In place of democracy Hitler wanted an all-embracing one-party state that would be run on te Fuhrerprinzip, which rejected representative government and liberal values. Thus, the masses in society were to be controlled for the common god, but an individual leader was to be chosen in order to rouse the nationinto action, and to take the necessary decisions.

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Nazi Ideology - Nationalism

A crucial element in Nazi thinking was an aggressive nationalism which developed out of the particular circumstances of Germany's recent history. The armistice of 1918 and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles had to be overturned, and the lost territories had to be restored to Germany. But, Hitler's nationalism called for more than a mere restoration of the 1914 frontiers. It meant the creation of an empire (Reich) to include all those members of the German Volk who lived beyond the frontiers of the Kaiser's Germany: The Austnan Germans; the Germans in the Sudetenland; the German communities along the Baltic Coast; all were to be included within the borderlands of Germany.

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Nazi Ideology - Nationalism

Yet, Hitler's nationalist aims did not end there. He dreamed of a Greater Germany, a superpower, capable of competing with the British Empire an the United States. Such an objective could be achieved only by territorial expansion on a grand scale. This was the basis of Hitler's demans for Lebensraum for Germany. Only by the conquest of Poland, the Ukraine and Russia could Germany obtain the raw materials, cheao labour and food supplies so necessary for continental supremacy. The creation of his 'New Order' in Eastern Europe also held one other great attraction: namely, the destruction of the USSR, the centre of world communism. 

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Nazi Ideology - The Socialist aspect of Nazism

A number of points in the 1920 programme demanded socialist reforms and, for a long time, there existed a faction within the Party that emphasised the Anti-Capitalist aspect of Nazism, for example:

  • Profit-sharing in large industrial enterprises
  • The extensive development of insurance for old age
  • The nationalisation of all businesses.
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Nazi Ideology - The Socialist aspect of Nazism

Hitler accepted these points in the early years because he recognised their popular appeal but he himself never showed any real commitment to such ideas. As a result they were the cause of important differences within the Party and were not really dropped until Hitler had fully established his dominant position by 1934.

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Nazi Ideology - The Socialist aspect of Nazism

What Hitler and Goebbels ater began to promote was the concept of the Volksgemeinshaft (people's community). This removed the vaguest element of the Nazi ideology, and is therefore difficult to define precisely. First, it was intended to overcome to old differences, of class, religion and politics. But secondly, it aimed to bring about a new collective national identity encouraging people to work together for the benefit of the Nation and by promoting 'German Values'. Such a system could of course only benefit those who racially belonged t othe German Volk and who willingly accepted the loss of individual freedoms in an authoritarian system.

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Hitler's consolidation - Hitler appointed Chancell

30 January

  • There were only 3 Nazis (Hitler, Goering, Frick) in the Cabinet with Papen as Vice-Chancellor
  • President Hindenburg agrees to dissolve the Reichstag on 1 February and hold new elections
  • Hitler hopes to gain a 2/3 majority
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Hitler's consolidation - Reichstag Fire

27 February

  • Reichstag building destroyed by fire
  • Probably arson by the Dutch Communist Marinas van der Lubbe acting alone
  • Exploited by Nazis to show danger of communist threat
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Hitler's consolidation - Emergency Decrees

28 February

  • Decree for the Protection of People and State
  • Issued by Hindenburgusing Article 48
  • Suspended consistutional civil rights
  • Gave Secret Police power to hold people indefinitely in protective custody
  • Used to repress the KPD
  • Remained in force throughout the Third Reich: in effect the basic Law of the Third Reich
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Hitler's consolidation - March Elections

5 March

  • Government uses control of radio, police, along with unofficial pressure, to intimidate opponents in election
  • Highest-ever voter turn out at 88.8%
  • Nazi election slogan: 'The battle against Marxism'
  • Nazis surprisingly only get 44% of the vote; their Nationalist allies get 8%
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Hitler's consolidation - Ministry for Public Enlig

13 March

  • Goebbels appointed as its head
  • Exercised control of all media
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Hitler's consolidation - Enabling Act

24 March

  • Law for Terminating the suffering of the People and the Nation
  • Passed by new Reichstag as SA and SS surround building and intimidate deputies
  • Gave emergency powers to government for four years
  • Cabinet (in effect, Hitler) could pass decrees without the President's involvement
  • Needed a 2/3s majority since it was a constitutional amendment
  • Passed by 441 votes to 94
  • Renewed in 1938
  • Became the virtual consititution of the Third Reich
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Hitler's consolidation - One Day boycott of Jewish

1 April

  • Boycotted all Jewish ran businesses
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Hitler's consolidation - Law for Restoration of Pr

7 April

  • Administration, courts, schools, and universities purged of 'alien elements'
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Hitler's consolidation - May Day Holiday

1 May

  • International labour day turned into 'Day of National Labour'

2 May

  • Trade Union ffices seized; all unions incorporated into new German Labour Front (DAF)
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Hitler's consolidation - Employment Law


  • Major Public work schemes
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Hitler's consolidation - Law against the formation

14 July

  • KPD and SPD already banned
  • Other parties dissolved themselves
  • No new parties allowed, so Germany becomes a one party state
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Hitler's consolidation - Concordat agreement

20 July

  • Church banned from political activity
  • Government to protect religious freedom
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Hitler's consolidation - Reichstag dissolved

14 October

  • Dissolved Reichstag
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Hitler's consolidation - Reichstag candidates

12 November

  • Nazi list of candidates for Reichstag win 92% of votes
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Hitler's consolidation - Law for the Reconstructio

30 January

  • From March 1933 many state governments were overthrown by SA violence allowing the Reich government to appoint Commissioners. New laws formalise the situation
  • Elected state assemblies dissolved
  • Reich Governers created to run states
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Hitler's consolidation - Night of the Long Knives

30 June

  • Estimated 200 deaths including SA Leaders and other political people who were seen as a threat
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Hitler's consolidation - Hindenburg dies. Hitler b

1 August

  • Law concerning the Head of State of the German Reich merges the offices of the President and the Chancellor in the new position of 'Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor' confirmed by a plebiscite.

2 August

  • Hindenburg dies
  • Army takes oath of personal loyalty to Hitler; 'I swear by God this sacred oath: I will render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, the Fuhrer of the German Nation and people. Supreme commander of the armed forces, and will be ready as a true soldier to risk my life at any time for this oath.
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Reichstag Fire

On February 27th the Reichstag building was set on fire, and a young Dutch Communist van der Lubbe, was arrested in incriminating circumstances. At the time, it was believed by many that the incident was a Nazi plot to support the claims of a communist coup, and thereby to justify Nazi repression. However, to this day the episode was defied satisfactory explanation. A major investigation in 1962 concluded that van der Lubbe had acted alone; a further 18 years later the West Berlin authorities posthumously acquitted him, whereas the recent biography of Hitler by Ian Kershaw remains convicted that van der Lubbe acted on his own in a series of three attempted arsons within a few weeks. So, it is probable that the true explanation will never be known. The real significance of the Reichstag Fire is the cynical way it was exploited by the Nazis to their advantage.

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Reichstag Fire

On the next day, 28th February, Frick frew up, and Hindenburg signed, the "Decree for the Protection of the People and the State." In a few short clauses most civil and political liberties were suspended and the power of central government was strengthened. The justification for the decree was the threat posed by the communists following this, in the last week of the election campaign, hundreds of anti-Naziwere arrested, and the violence reached new heights.

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Election Result

"Foundation stone of the 3rd Reich" - Layton

In this atmosphere of fear, Germany went to the polls on 5th March. The election had a very high turnout of 88% - a figure so high suggests the influence and intimidation of the SA, corruption by officious and intimidation of the SA, corruption by officious and an increased government control of the radios.

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Election Result

Somewhat surprisingly, the Nazis increased their vote from 33.1% to only 43.9%, thereby securing 288 seats Hitler could claim a majority in the new Reichstag only with the help of the 52 seats won by the Nationalists. It was not only disappointing; it was also a political blow, since any change in the existing Weimar Constitution required a 2/3rds majority in the Reichstag. 

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The Enabling Act, March 1933

Despite this constitutional hurdle, Hitler decided to propose to the new Reichstag an Enabling Bill which would effectively do away with parliamentary procedure and legislation which would instead transfer full powers to the Chancellor and his government for four years. In this way the dictatorship would be grounded in legality. However, the successful passage of the Enabling Act depended on gaining the support or abstention of some of the other major political parties.In order to get a 2/3rds majority.

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The Enabling Act, March 1933

A further problem was that the momentum built up within the lower ranks of the Nazi party was providing increasingly difficult for Hitler to contain in the regional areas. Members were impatiently taking the law into their own hands and this gave the impression of a 'revolution from below'. It threatened to destroy Hitler's image of legality, and antagonise the conservative vested interests and his DNVP coalition partners. Such was his concern that a grandiose act of reassurance was arranged. On 21st March, at Potsdam Gamison Church, Goebbels orchastrated the ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Reichstag. In the presence of Hindenburg, the Crown Prince and many of the army's leading generals, Hitler symbolically aligned National Socialism with the forces of the old Germany.

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The Enabling Act, March 1933

Two days later the new Reichstag met in the Knoll Opera House to consider the Enabling Bill, and on this occassion the Nazis revealed a very different image. The Communists (those not already in prison) were refused admittance, whilst the deputies in attendance faced a barrage of intimidation from the ranks of the SA who surrounded the building.

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The Enabling Act, March 1933

However, the Nazis still required a 2/3rds majority to pass the bill and, on the assumption that the Social Democrats would vote against, they needed the backing of the Centre Party. Hitler thus promised in his speech on the 23rd March to respect the rights of the Catholic Church and to uphold religious and moral values. These were false promises, which the Centre Party deputies deceived themselves into believing. In the end only the Social Democrats voted against, and the Enabling Bill was passed by 444 votes to 94 votes.

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The Enabling Act, March 1933

Germany had succumbed to what Karl Bracher, a leading German Scholar, had called, "legal revolution!" Within the space of a few weeks Hitler had legally dismanted the Weimar Constitution. The way was now open for him to create a one-party totalarian dictatorship.

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Gleichschaltung (Co-Ordination)

Hitler attempted to co-ordinate all aspects of German political and social life under Nazi control.

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Local Government

Every German Region, such as Bavaria had its own State Government. On 31 March 1933 these were all dissolved by the Minister of the Interior, Willhelm Friek, with the exception of the diet of Prussia. They were ordered to reconvene but with a membership which reflected the recent elections from which communists had been barred. New state governors, Reichsstadthalter, were appointed with full powers to introduce Nazi policies. The centralisation of the state was completed in January 1934 by the abolition of the upper house of the Reichstag; the provincal governments and the local governments were made completely subordinate to the central government.

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Civil Service

By the Law for the Restoration of the Provissional Civil Service of 7 April 1933, Jews and political opponents of the Nazis were thrown out of the civil service. To bring the running of Party and State closer together, the Nazis passed the Law to ensure the Unity of Party and State

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The German Labour Front

On 1 May 1933, the trade unions enjoyed their traditional May Day celebrations. The following day the offices of all unions were taken over and trade unions banned. A committee under Dr. Robert Ley was set up "For the Protection of German Labour". On 10 May the German Labour Front (DAF) were established under Ley's leadership. The Nazis aimed to set up an organisation which would control labour and end disputes by promoting harmony. Not only workers, but also Professionals and management groups were encouraged to join the Labour Front. On 16 January 1934 a new labour Charter was announced. This charter summed up the ideas of the Nazis on economic co-operation between labour and management. In reality, the Labour Front curbed the influence of the workers. It did have real significance as by 1935 it represented around 20 million workers, the whole of the German Workforce.

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Abolition of political parties

The process of creating a dictatorship also included the disbanding of all other political parties.

  • After the Reichstag Fire the Communist KPD had been outlawed
  • In June 1933 the SPD was banned and the DNP, DVP and DNVP dispanded themselves
  • To avoid confrontation with the Nazi Party, the Centre Party followed suit July 5th.
  • The actions of the parties made it easier for Hitler to abolish organised political opposition with the Law against the Formation of Parties on July 14th 1933
  • Similarly, professional groups lost their independant organisations and were forced to join Nazi bodies.
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Night of the Long Knives- Tension between establis

By the spring of 1934 Hitler's dictatorship seemed secure. Germany was a one-party state in which the rule of Law had been abolished in a permanent state of emergency. Left-wing opposition had been ruthlessly repressed. However, conservative forces threatened Hitler in business, the civil service and, above all, in the army. It was clear to many that the plan to trap Hitler in a conservative coalition had failed Conservatives were alarmed at the lawlessness of the Nazi Government and the actions of the SA in particular. But Hitler also felt threatened by the personal ambitions of Ernst Rohm who was leader of the two million strong SA. Rohm disliked the cautious compromises Hitler had made with the establishment. He believed that Germany needed a revolution. He also wanted the SA to amalgamate with the army to form a People's Army under his leadership. Such a viewpoint was treated with suspicion amongst the generals of the Reichswehr.

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Night of the Long Knives- Pressure mounts on Hitle

In April 1934, a group of leading generals demanded that Hitler discipline the brownshirts of the SA. A call for a return to normal decencies and an end to the violence of the SA was made by Vice Chancellor von Papen in June 1934. Hitler was acutely aware that such conservative groups were still politically important because they had President Hindenburg's ear. Rohm had important enemies in the Nazi movement, most noticeably Hermann Goring and Heinrich Himmler. In April 1934, Goring made Himmler acting head of the Gestapo in Prussia. The two of them pressurised Hitler to take decisive action against Rohm and the SA to prevent a second revolution which might undermine the Nazi position. They argued that Hitler must move to limit the power of the SA.

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Night of the Long Knives- The Blood Purge

Hitler acted against the SA on 30 June 1934, the so-called 'Night of the long knives.' With the excuse that the SA was on the verge of uprisings in Berlin and Munich. Hitler ordered a purge of the leadership of the SA. He travelled to Bavaria in person where he ordered the arrest of Rohm who was shot two days later. In all around 180 leading Nazis were executed. These included SA Leaders such as Karl Ernst and Edmund Hennes. Others were also murdered, including ex-chancellor von Schleicher and an old rival of Hitler's, Gregor Strasser. Together about 400 political opponents were killed.

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Hitler becomes Fuhrer

The Night of the Long Knives was a vital step for the Nazis on the road to the consolidation of power. On 13 July 1934, Hitler formally explained to the Reichstag his reasons for purging the SA. He made no mention of those that had not been members of the SA but had been murdered. A law was put together by Wilhelm frick, the Minister of the Interior, which declared Hitler's actions legal. The Reichstag quickly passed this Law. Despite the murder of General von Schleicher, the Night of the long knives resulted in a closer alliance between Nazi state and army. The SS under Himmler saw its dominance within the Nazi state established.

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Hitler becomes Fuhrer

Upon the peaceful death of President Hindenburg on 2 August, Hitler was able to abolish the position of President, assuming all powers for himself as Fuhrer of the German State. On the initiative of the Minister of Defence, Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg, all officers for the army were called on to take a personal oath of loyalty to the Fuhrer. This was of critical importance in securing the dictatorship. On 19 August 1934 a plebiscite (vote) was held. The German people were asked to show whether they approved of Hitler becoming Fuhrer. The result was a great victory for Nazi propaganda: 43.06m Germans voted and of this figure 89.93% voted 'Yes' in favour of Hitler. This was a crucial moment for the regime which was now more secure.

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Nazi Policy on Women - Viewpoint

Nazism fundamentally opposed social and economic female emancipation and had the following aims for women, to have more children and to take responsibility for bringing them up, to care for the house and their husbands and to stop paid employment except for very specialist vocations such as midwifery.

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Nazi Policy on Women - Viewpoint

Nazi women were to be devoted to the three German K's (Kinder, Kuche, Kirche' (Children, Kitchen, Church)

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Nazi Policy on Women - Viewpoint

There wasn't to be a single female Nazi deputy in the Reichstag, and a Party regulation of 1921 excluded women from all senior positions within its structure.

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Nazi Policy on Women - Employment


  • Reduce female employment
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Nazi Policy on Women - Employment


  • 1933 women in top civil service and medical jobs dismissed 1936 women banned from being lawyers and judges. Number of female teachers and university students was reduced considerably - only 10% of university students could be female. 1939 compulsory agricultural labour service for unmarried women under 25. Women exhorted to help war effort, but only in 1942 were women of 17-45 told to register to work. Number of women in employment rose - further increase during the war
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Nazi Policy on Women - Employment


Nazi policies had marginal effect on overall female employment. Main impact was on the professions. During the war, women were less mobilised than in the UK or USA. 1943 Speer's proposal to conscript women fully was opposed by Hitler due to the effect he thought it would have on morale.

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Nazi Policy on Women - Births


  • Increase pure German births
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Nazi Policy on Women - Births


Financial incentives e.g. marriage loans, birth grants. Improved maternity services. Propaganda to raise status and self-esteem of mothers and housewives; awards e.g. Mothers Cross. Penalties - higher taxes on childless couples, tighter penalties on abortion, restrictions on contraceptive information, measures introduced for compulsory sterilisation of 'undesirables.' Lebenborn programme extended. Encouragement of births outside marriage.

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Nazi Policy on Women - Births


1933-39 Birth rate rose, then slowly declined. Increase may have been due to economic recovery than to Nazi policies. Birth rate rose compared to during the Depression; but didnt get back to the levels of Weimar Germany. Nazi Eugenic policies reduced population potential.

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Nazi Policy on Women - Nazi Women organisations


From 1934 Gertrud Scholtz - Klink was its leader. It was an elite Woman's organisation within the Party which controlled Women's commitment to Nazi ideology


This is an umbrella organisation which tried to absorb all previous women's organisations and ran courses and activities for women.

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Nazi Policy on Women - Nazi Women organisations

  • Both tried to win over the uncommitted female population therefore their main function was propaganda
  • The historian Jill Stephenson has been quite critical "The totalarian pretensions of the Nazis were realised neither in the elimination of every other alternative to Nazi sponsored activity nor in the attempt to persuade or cajole the mass of German Women into their organisations, nor yet in winning for Nazism as a creed and as a way of life the hearts and minds of the majority of women who did join them." Her evidence:
  • a) Many women were apathetic and never joined DFW
  • b) others retained links with Churches and their female societies
  • c) DFW was too middle class and didn't appeal to working class women. Some middle class women only joined to appear to conform so as to retain their jobs. DFW often only preaching to a minority who were converted anyway
  • d) Rural women were too busy to join
  • e) Therefore it was never a mass organisation
  • f) In the war NSF failed to persuade enough women to work in the war effort - therefore the Regime was short of labour and was dependant on foreigners and prisoners. In 1943 Hitler had to introduce female conscription.
  • g) War was not popular with women eg. bombing, ratioing and anxiety about defeats
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Nazi Policy on Women - Marriage


Increase suitable marriages

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Nazi Policy on Women - Marriage


Increase suitable marriages

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Nazi Policy on Women - Marriage


  • 1933 600 RM marriage loan if unemployed
  • 1937 loan extended to women in work
  • 1935 Marriage Law required certificate of 'fitness to marry' before marriage license issued
  • October 1935 Blood Protection Law: marriage to Jews, Black people and gypsies forbidden
  • 1938 Marriage Law extended the grounds for divorce
  • 1941 Couples found cohabiting after their marriage had been banned were sent to concentration camps
  • 1932: 516,000 marriages, 1934: 740,000 marriages
  • Divorces increased after 1938
  • 1933 9.7% - 1937 11.1%
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Nazi Policy on Women - Marriage


  • Increase in marriages may have been due more to economic optomism than to government policies e.g. average size of family fell
  • Divorce was extended to help national objectives
  • Marriage and Divorce rates rose
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Nazi Policy on Women - Education


  • Prepare women for their proper role
  • Restrict opportunities
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Nazi Policy on Women - Education


Limited university enrolment of women to 10% although restrictions dropped as great demand for well-educated workers. There was a drop in numbers of women at University until WWII

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Nazi Policy on Women - Education


Restrictions on opportunities for women were inreasingly relaxed as women were needed since demand for workers and soldiers grew

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Nazi Policy on Women - Image of Women

The ideal Nazi woman was blonde, blue eyed, had broad hips for childbearing (yet athletic)

Clothes were to be made from home-produced substitutes, a full skirt and flat shoes

Hair was to be in a bun or peasant like plaits

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Nazi Policy on Youth - View on Youth

Hitler expressed his views chillingly in 1933:

When an opponent declares, 'I will not come over to your side; I calmly say, 'Your child belongs to us already...What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.'

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Education

Education was intended to indoctrinate its youth so completely in the principles and ethos of National Socialism that the long-term survival of the 'New Order' would never be brought into question. "My teaching is hard. Weakness has to be knocked out of them...I will have no intellectual training. Knowledge is ruin to my young men..." (Hitler 1933)

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Education

The Education Minister of Science, Education and Popular Culture Bernard Rust forced schools to downgrade intellectual skills. The number of sports and fitness lessons increased from two to five one hour periods a week. Religious education was downgraded and eventually replaced. A History course on the rise of the Nazi Party was added to the curriculum and Biology lessons concentrated on genetics, race and heredity.

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Education

All teachers were subject to politicl vetting and were also enrolled in the Nazi Teacher's Association which by 1936, over 30% of teachers had voluntary joined the Nazi Party and by 1937 97% had done so.

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Education

All teachers were subject to politicl vetting and were also enrolled in the Nazi Teacher's Association which by 1936, over 30% of teachers had voluntary joined the Nazi Party and by 1937 97% had done so.

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Education

There was a move from co-educational schools to ensure that different sexes recieved their appropriate education. Girls were to take classes on needlework, music, language and homecrafts with the aim of becoming good home makers and mothers. Boys were to focus on PE, Fitness, History and Biology. 

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Education

By 1939, all the denominational schools had been abolished and new schools were created to train the future Nazi elite such as the Adolf Hitler school, Order Castles and Napolas

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Education

Hitler had utter contempt for professors and the academic life of Universities was severely restricted. Between 1933 and 1939, a total of 2,800 Lecturers and over 300 full professors were dismissed for political and racial reasons.

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Education

The downgrading of the value of a university education by the Nazi regime led to a dramatic fall in the number of university students, in 1933 there were 127,920 students decrease to 58,325. In 1938 along with the policy on women where only 10% of university students could be women.

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Education

All University students were obliged to take 4 months of labour service in an SA camp and to engage in 3 hours of sport per week as part of their degree studies.

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Education

Unfortunately, the Nazi's teachings were ineffective and it soon had dverse effects. The Nazi leaders wanted to reverse its anti-intellectual stress, arguing that they needed to train more scientists to compete with other countries in research.

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Education

Unfortunately, the Nazi's teachings were ineffective and it soon had dverse effects. The Nazi leaders wanted to reverse its anti-intellectual stress, arguing that they needed to train more scientists to compete with other countries in research.

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Youth movements

League of Young Girls 10-14

League of German Girls 14-18

Germn Young People, Boys 10-14

Hitler Youth, Boys 14-18

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Youth movements

In all four groups there was a great stress on political indoctrination, emphasising the life and achievents of the Fuhrer, German patriotism, athletics and camping. In addition, the sexes were moulded for their future roles in Nazi society. Boys engaged in endless physical and military-type activities such as camping, hiking and target-shooting and girls were prepared for their domestic and maternal tasks such as cooking, cleaning and homemaking. 

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Nazi Policy on Youth - Youth movements

A number of Youth groups opposed by the Nazis such as Swing Youth, Edelweiss Pirates and the White Rose. The Nazis couldn't tolerate these people and their actions so they savagely put them down in the 1940s. Edelweiss Pirates were working class 14-17 year olds. They were mostly boys and a few girls. They held counter marches and hikes. During the war they became more political and by 1944 12 members were hung and some were sent to concentration camps. The swing movement were upper-middleclass and they went against Nazis by listening to Jazz and Blues music and they also wore American-Style clothing. The White Rose were a Munich University movement started by a brother and sister. They focused on producing Anti-Nazi Literature. After 1940 they were eventually caught and killed.

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The Twisted Road to Auschwitz - 1933


  • Post-election SA anti-Jewish violence


  • To try to prevent unruly anti-semitic attacks by radicals, an official boycott of Jewish shops and businesses is declared. It meets with a limited response, and is called off after one day
  • Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service bans Jews from employment in the Civil Service


  • Law for Compulsory Sterilisation (for Mentally Ill)


  • Farm Law: bans Jews from owning Farms
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The Twisted Road to Auschwitz - 1935

Resumption of unofficial attacks on Jews again leads the government to take Formal action.


  • Law for  Protection of German Blood and German Honour (forbids mixed marriages, sex between Aryan and Jews)
  • Reich Citizenship Law ( deprives Jews of German Citizenship)
  • Law for the Protection of the Genetic Health of the German people. (medical examinations before marriage; 'Certificates of fitness to marry; a series of centres to be set up by the League for the Propagation of Racial knowledge where people can have their cranial measurements taken to reassure they are fully Ayran)


  • Anschluss (union with Austria) gives Germany 150,000 more Jews. Adolf Eichmann forces 45,000  of the Austrian Jews to emigrate


Decree on the Registering of Jewish property

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The Twisted Road to Auschwitz - 1938


Series of anti-Jewish decrees:

  • Jewish doctors, dentists, lawyers forbidden to have Aryan patients or clients
  • Jews excluded from some commercial activities
  • Jews must add Sarah or Isreal to their names, Identity cards were to be stamped with a J

9-10 November

Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) a series of anti-Jewish attacks, unofficially encouraged by officials and police. Thousands of Jewish businesses attacked, synagogues burnt, 91 Jews murdered, 20000 sent to camps. Jews forced to pay 1 billion RM for the damage.

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The Twisted Road to Auschwitz - 1938


Decree excludes Jews from German economic life

  • Awarding of Public business contracts to Jews banned
  • Jews banned from trades, shops, businesses
  • Jews excluded from schools, universities, cinemas, sports facilities
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The Twisted Road to Auschwitz - 1939


  • Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration set up to promote emigration
  • Hitler refers to annihilation of Jewish race in Reichstag speech
  • Hitler tells Czech Foreign Minister that the is going to destroy the Jews
  • Major emigration wave.


  • War against Poland. Einsatzgruppen murder thousands of civilians
  • German Jews placed under curfew; radios confiscated.


  • Himmler made Reich Commissioner for strengthening Germanism
  • Polish Jews resettled, moved into ghettos
  • Euthanasia programme begins
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The Twisted Road to Auschwitz - 1940


  • Plan drawn up to transport 4 million western Jews to Madagascar
  • 70,000 mentally ill people gassed
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The Twisted Road to Auschwitz - 1941


  • War against the USSR. Political kilings ordered. Half a million Jews shot.

July (Possibly October)

  • Decision taken to embark on 'Final Solution'


  • Emigration banned. Mass deportation of German Jews to the East begins.


  • German Jews ordered to wear Star of David


  • Soviet resistance blocks plans to move Jews to beyond the Urals and Mass gassing of Jews at Chelmno camp begins
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The Twisted Road to Auschwitz - 1942


  • Wannsee Conference plans
  • Final Solution
  • Beginning of systematic round-up of all Jews under German control


  • German gypsies moved to Auschwitz
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Why did the Holocaust happen and who was responsib

For historians of the intentionalist school, such as Fleming and Dawidowicz. Hitler remains the key. He is seen as having committed himself to the extermination of the Jews at an early stage in his political career. This was followed by a consistent gradualist policy that led logically from the persecution of 1933 to the gates of Auschwitz. In the simplist form they suggest that the Holocaust happened because Hitler willed it.

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Why did the Holocaust happen and who was responsib

Even more controversially, the American historian Daniel Goldhagan has recently suggested in his book Hitler's willing executioners that 'the Holocaust was 'intended' because so many ordinary Germans were prepared to participate in the Third Reich's darkest deed. This is explained according to Goldhagan by the fact that witin German culture there had developed a violent variant of anti-semitism that was set on eliminating the Jews. Such a view has resurrected the old argument of 'collective national guilt and shame,' although in academic circles. Goldhagan's ideas have not been generally well recieved. He has been condemned for:

  • Selecting his evidence to prove his thesis
  • Failing to recognise other overtly anti-semitic cultures in pre 1933 Europe
  • Ignoring the role of many non-Germans in the murder of the Jews
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Why did the Holocaust happen and who was responsib

On the other hand, historians of the structuralist school reject the idea of a long-term plan for mass extermination. Most notably, K. Schleunes has suggested that there was no direct path because of the existence of rival policies. As a result, he describes the road to Auschwitz as a 'twisted one' and concludes , 'The Final Solution as it emerged in 1941 and 1942 was not the product of grand design.' Instead, the 'Final Solution', it is suggested, came to be implemented as a result of the chaotic nature of government within the regime. As a result, various institutions and individuals improvised a policy to deal with the military and human situation in Eastern Europe by the end of 1941.

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Why did the Holocaust happen and who was responsib

Therefore, according to the structuralist interpretation, the morale responsibility for the 'Final Resolution' extends beyond Hitler's intentions to the apparatus of the regime. However, nearly all structuralist historians emphasise that this in no way reduces the guilt of Hitler himself, who was in total agreement with such a policy. H Mommsen, for example concluded his analysis as follows: 'It cannot be proved for instance, that Hitler himself gave the order for the Final Solution, though this does not mean that he did not approve the policy. That the solution was put into effect is by no means to be ascribed to Hitler alone, but to the complexity of the decision-making process in the Third Reich, which brough about a progressive and cumulative radicalisation'

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Why did the Holocaust happen and who was responsib

However, structuralists have also distanced themselves from Goldhagan's view because they cannot accept the anti-German gerneralisations. The reality is that for the majority of the young men in the action squads and in the camps, there actions were not motivated by any kind of zealous anti-semitism but by much more mundane factors. In his chilling description One day in Jozefow, Christopher Browning has detailed how one unit carried out its grim task. What ermerges is that the perpretrators were influenced by peer pressure, cowardice, careerism and alcohol- all exaggerated by a brutalising context which was entirely alien to their home environment.

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Why did the Holocaust happen and who was responsib

This particular historical debate has proved to be a lively one and it looks set to run for a good while yet. The controvery has generated a very close scrutiny and anlysis of all the available evidence, particularly in the past 20 years so, although the exact details are not clear, it seems fair to conclude the folowing points about the 'Final Solution'

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Why did the Holocaust happen and who was responsib

It now seems that the initial arrangements for the implementation of the 'Final Solution' were haphazard and makeshift. Hitler and the Nazi leadership did not have any clear programme to deal with the Jewish question until 1941

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Why did the Holocaust happen and who was responsib

No written order for the killing of the Jews from Hitler has been forced, although in January 1944 Himmler publicly stated that Hitler had given him 'a Fuhrer Order' to give priority to 'the total solution of the Jewish question.' It should be remembered that Hitler's authority was such that it encouraged initiatives from below as long as they were seen to be in line withi his overall ideological vision and clearly. Hitler had often spoken in violent and barbaric terms about the Jews from an early stage in his political career.

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Why did the Holocaust happen and who was responsib

Probably around Autumn 1941 it was decided by the top Nazi leadership to launch an extermination policy and this was agreed at the Wannsee Conference in January 1942 by a broad range of representatives of Nazi organisations

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Why did the Holocaust happen and who was responsib

If these points are accepted, then it might be that the 'Final Solution' should be viewed as a pragmatic (practical) response to the confusion and chaos of war in 1941-1942 rather than the culmination of long-term ideological intent

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  • Very broad term that could be applied to anyone who didn't fit into the Volksgemeinschaft.
  • Defined as vagabonds, gypsies, beggars, prostitutes, alcoholics, ecentrics, the work-shy and juvenile delinquents.
  • In 1933 there was a round-up of half a million vagrants. They were divided into the orderly, who were given work, and the disorderly, who were imprisoned in camps where they were forced to wear black triangles.
  • As unemployment disappeared, pressure on those not working increased. 1000s sent to concentration camps, where many died.
  • Increasingly, the unemployed were seen as a matter for the police not welfare agencies.
  • The Nazis increasingly stressed the biologica origins of asocial behaviour. Thus the asocial became, in the Nazi view, unworthy people who needed to be removed, via sterilisation and murder, in the interests of the community.
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  • Not only did their behaviour deeply offend traditionally minded Nazis, it was also believed to be against the laws of nature and to threaten Germany's position in the world by reducing the country's birth rate
  • In 1936 the Reich Central Office for the combating of Homosexuality and Abortion was created and Himmler tried to establish a register of Homosexuals
  • He was particularly concerned at the discovery of about 10 cases a year of homosexuality even in 'the good blood' in the SS
  • In 1937 he ordered that homosexual SS officers should be sent to concentrationcamps 'where they will be shot while attempting to escape'
  • Eventually, between 10,000 and 15,000 homosexuals were arrested and sent to camps where they were forced to wear pink triangles
  • Some were castrated and became the object of medical experiments designed to correct their 'unnatural' feelings
  • Lesbians were not subject to formal persecution in the Third Reich since they were not seen as a threat to the nation
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  • The Gypsies (zigeuner in Germn, but they are properly called Sinti and Roma) came to Germany in the 15th Century, originally from northern India (The Punjab)
  • They were Christians, and because they came from the Punjab they counted as Aryan
  • They had their own distinctive language and customs
  • Sinti and Roma were travellers: their culture prevented them from settling and they moved from place to place in wagons, making a living from trading with settled people
  • They were probably about 30,000 of them in Germany in 1933, with more in Poland and Russia
  • The Nazis were confused, in that Sinti and Roma were Aryan and therefore could be seen as superior. They got round this in two ways:
    • a) they weren't 'pure' Gypsies (a later Nazi investigation claimed that 90% of Germany's Sinti and Roma had mixed ancestry)
    • b) they were habitual criminals
  • The aims of measures taken by the state to defend the homogeneity of the German nation must be the physical separation of Gypsydom from the Germna nation, the preventation of miscegenation (=sexual mixing of different races), and finally the reglation of the way of life of pure and part-Gypsies.
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  • Thus the Gypsies were condemned twice: once as a racial pollution and again as people whose way of life qualified them as asocials
  • Combatting the Gypsy nuisance - Himmler
  • Experience gained in combatting the Gypsy nuisance, and knowledge derived from race-biological research, have shown that the proper method of attacking the Gypsy prblem seems to be to treat it as a matter of race. Experience shows that part-Gypsies play the greatest role in Gypsy criminality. On the other hand, it has been shown that efforts to make the Gypsys settle have been unsuccessful, especially in the case of pure Gypsies, on account of their strng compulsion to wander.
  • I therefore decree that all settled and non-settled Gypsies, and also all vagrants living a Gypsy-like existence, are to be registered with the Reich Criminal Police Office - Reich Central Office for combating the Gypsy nuisance.
  • Treatment of the Gypsy question is part of the National Socialist task of national regeneration. A solution can only be...through a Gypsy Law which prevents further intermingling of blood, and which regulates all the most pressing questions which go together with the existance of Gypsies in the living space of the German nation. 
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  • From July 1933 onwards, Joseph Goebbels the Minister of Propaganda, called for a nationwide swoop n beggars drastically to cleanse urban environments and to focus public charity upon the Party's own charitable agencies.
  • Raids during 'Beggars Week', from September 18th-25th 1933, resulted in the detention of some 100,000 beggars and vagrants in police 'protective custody.' However, the majority of them were released with a few days, as the existing prison system had no room for them.
  • Despite this fiasco, the regime's determination to take a stand against asocials meant that from 1934 onwards, measures against them became increasingly harsh. The provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with beggars and vagrants were made much tougher. For example, homeless people had to carry vagrants 'Registration Books, which recorded their stays in approved overnight shelters. If they didn't have such a book, they were categorised as 'disorderly wanderers' and could be arrested and imprisoned.
  • Beginning in the Autumn of 1933, persons other than 'political prisoners' were also placed in concentration camps. They included tramps and beggars, who, in the Nazi jargon were dubbed "asocial elements" as well as the Berufsverbreder (habitual criminals), persons with sever previous criminal convictions.
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  • At a certain stage, a discussion was held in the Nazi hierarchy on whether the camp system should be continued, in the light of the consolidation of the regime Hitler decided the argument by supporting these who favoured the continuation of the camps
  • The reaction of the Germans to tramps being put into camps was not strong. On the contrary many Germans felt that the Nazis were cleaning up the streets and that the camps were probably for the tramps' benefit
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Religious Sects

  • Although the Nazis were fairly cautious in their dealings with the main Christian Churches, they acted fiercely against minority sects, especially Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Jehovah's Witnesses refused to join the army and to swear alligiance
  • Whole families were arrested
  • About 1/3 of Germany's Jehovah's Witnesses died in concentration camps
  • Other groups, such as Christian scientists and Seventh Day Adventists, suffered a similar fate.
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Nazi Culture

Nazis used the arts and the media as a means of control. The nazis attempted to use culture in the Third Reich as a form of propaganda which meant the organised spreading of information to promote the views of a government with the intention of persuading people to think or behave in a certain way in accordance with the regime's ideological beliefs. As part of its policy of co-ordination - the process by which all institutes were made to conform to the policies of National Socialism - the Nazi State tried to get control over the media and all cultural activities. 1933 Hitler set up the Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda under Goebbels, who supervised a vast machinery for control of all aspects of the media. Alongside this the government established a Reich Chamber of Culture which was used to exercise control over all aspects of culture. It consisted of seven sub-chambers covering Press, Radio, Film, Literature, Theatre, Music and Fine Arts. Membership was compulsory for people involved in cultural activities.

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Nazi Culture - Press

Control of the press was not so easily achieved by Goebbels. Germany had over 4700 daily newspapers in 1933 - a result of the strong regional identities which still existed in a state that had only been unified in 1871. All were papers owned privately, and traditionally owed no loyalty to central government; their loyalty was to their regional publishing company. Various measures were taken to achieve Nazi control:

  • The Nazi publishing house, Eher Verlag, bought up numerous newspapers, so that by 1939 it controlled 2/3rds of the German Press
  • The various news agencies were merged into one, the state-controlled DNB, which vetted news material before it got to journalists
  • Goebbels introduced a daily press conference at the Propaganda Ministry to provide guidance on editorial policy
  • The so-called Editors' Law of October 1933 made newspaper content the sole responsibiity of the editor, who had to satisfy the requirements of the Propaganda Ministry or face the appropriate consequences. Thus, as one historian has explained, 'There was no need for censorship because the editor's most important was that of censor.'
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Nazi Culture - Press

To a large extent, the Nazis succeeded in muzzling the press so that even the internationally renowned Frankfurter Zeitung was forced to close in 1943, whereas the circulation of the party's official newspaper, Volkisher Beobachter, continued to grow after 1933, reaching 1.7 million by 1944. However, the price of that success was the evolution of bland and sterile journalism, which undoubtedly contributed to a 10% decline in newspaper circulation before 1939.

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Nazi Culture - Radio

Goebbels (and Hitler) had always recognised the effectiveness of the spoken word over the written and they had already begun to use new technology during the election campaigns of 1932-1933. Up until this time, German broadcasting had been organised by regional states. Once in power, Goebbels efficiently brought all broadcasting under Nazi control by the creation of the Reich Radio company. Furthermore, he arranged the dismissal of 13% of the staff on political and racial grounds, and replaced them with his own men. He told his broadcasters in March 1933:

I am placing a major responsibility in your hands, for you have in your hands the most modern instrument in existence for influencing the masses. By this instrument you are the creators of public opinion

Yet, control of broadcasting was of little propaganda value unless the people had the means to recieve it. In 1932 less than 25% of German households owned a wireless, although that was quite a high figure compared to the rest of the world.

Consequently, the Nazi government arranged the production of a cheap set, the People's Receiver (Volksempfanger). Radio was a new and dynamic medium and access increased markedly. 

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Nazi Culture - Radio

By 1939, 70% of German homes had a radio - the highest national figure in the world - and it became a medium of mass communication controlled completely by the regime.

Broadcasting was also directed at public places. The installation of loudspeakers in restaurants and cafes, factories and offices made them all into valules for collective listening 'Radio wardens' were even appointed, whose duty it was to co-ordinate the listening process.

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Nazi Culture - Film (cinema)

Only in the field of film can it be said that the Nazi regime made a genuine cultural contribution Germany's cinematic reputation had been established in the 1920s and a degree of continuity was maintained, as many of the majr film studios were in the hands of nationalist sympathisers. However, Jewish film actors and directors such as Fritz Lang were removed and then decided to leave Germany. Perhaps the most famous German emigree was Marlene Dietrich, who swiftly established a new career in Hollywood.

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Nazi Culture - Film (cinema)

Goebbels recognised the importance of expanding the film industry, not only as a means of propaganda, but also as an entertainment form; this explains why, out of 1097 feature films produced between 1933 and 1945, only 96 were specifically at the request of the Propaganda Ministry. The films can be divided into three types:

  • Overt propaganda, e.g. The Eternal Jew (Ewige Jude), a tasteless, racist film that portrayed Jews like rats, and Hitlerjunge Queux, based on the story of a Nazi murdered by communists.
  • Pure escapism, e.g. The Adventures of Baron von Munchhausen, a comedy based on an old German legend which gives the baron the powers of immortality.
  • Emotive nationalism, e.g. Olympia, Leni Riefenstahl's docu-drama of the Berlin Olympics, Triumph of the Will, her film about the 1934 Nuremberg Rally, and Kolberg, an epic produced in the last year of the war, which played on the national opposition to Napoleon. These last two films are still held in high regard by film buffs for their use of subtle cinematic techniques despite the clear underlying political messages.
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Nazi Culture - Literature

Over 2500 of Germany's writers left their homeland during the years 1933-1945. This fact alone is a reflection of how sadly German writers and dramatists viewed the new cultural atmosphere. Among those who left were:

  • Thomas Mann, the author and Nobel Prize winner who was a democrat and an old-fashioned liberal
  • Bertolt Brecht, the prestigious modern playwright, who was a communist
  • Erich Maria Remarque, the author of All Quiet on the Western Front, who was a pacifist

Their place was taken by a lesser literary group, who either sympathised with the regime or accepted the limitations. It is difficult to identify a single book, play or poem written during the Third Reich, and officially blessed by the regime, who has stood the test of time

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Nazi Culture - Theatre

Actors, like the musicians, tended to content themselves with productions of the classics - Schiller, Goethe (and Shakespeare) - in the knowledge that such plays were politically acceptable and in the best traditions of German Theatre

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Nazi Culture - Music

The world of music managed to cope reasonably well in the Nai environment, partly because of its less obvious political overtones. Also, Germany's rich classical tradition from the works of Bach to Beethoven was proudly exploited by the regime. However, Mahler and Mendelssohn, both great Jewish composers, Schoenberg and Hindemith, were disparaged for their atonal music. Also the new 'genres' of jazz and dance-band were respectively labelled 'negroid' and 'decadent'

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Nazi Culture - Visual arts

The Visual arts were also effectively limited by the Nazi constraints. Modern schools of art were held in total contempt and Weimar's rich cultural awakening was rejected as degenerate and symbolic of the moral and political decline of Germany under a system of parliamentary democracy. Thus, the following were severely censored:

  • 'New objectivity' artists, like Georg Grosz and Otto Dix, as their paintings had strong political and social messages
  • The Bauhaus style started by Walter Gropius with it's emphasis on the close relationship between art and technology

The modern styles of art were resented by Nazism so much that in July 1937 two contrasting art exhibitions were launched entitled 'Degenerate Art' and 'Great German Art.' The first one was deliberately held up to be mocked and many of the pieces were destroyed; the second one glorified all the major Nazi themes of Volksgemeinschaft and celebrated classic styles and traditional 19th century romanticism.

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Nazi Culture - Visual arts

Most admired were:

  • The sculptor Arno Breker
  • The architect Albert Speer, who drew up many of the great plans for rebuilding the German cities and oversaw the 1936 Berlin Olympics stadium
  • The artists Adolf Ziegler and Hermann Hoyer.
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Nazi Economy - Recovery 1933-1936

Nazi economic aims

  • Tackle depression
  • Restore Germany to full employment
  • Self sufficient economy
  • Defence economy
  • Faster economic interest of the middle classes
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Nazi Economy - Recovery 1933-1936

Important individuals

  • Schacht
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Nazi Economy - Recovery 1933-1936

Key measures

  • Deficit financing - spending more money than what they have to stimulate the economy
  • Interest rates at a lower level
  • Rescheduled debts over longer period of time to pay
  • Public Work Schemes - reforestation, car industry, RAD, public buildings (19-25 year olds)
  • Law to reduce unemployment
  • Subsidies to farmers - tarrifs on imported goods, tax concessions and lower interests rates
  • New plan - economic priorities, treaties, barter agreements, Reichmark currency, Mefo bills
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Nazi Economy - Recovery 1933-1936

Successes and failures

  • Employment - 4.8 --> 1.6 million - minipulated
  • Industrial production - 60% increase, GNP 40% increase
  • Trade deficit 1934 was cured in short term by the New plan
  • No balance in trade - trade surplus 1935
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Nazi Economy - Rearmament 1936-1939

Nazi economic aims

  • Make Germany self-sufficient in food and raw materials
  • Make Germany ready for war in 4 years time
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Nazi Economy - Rearmament 1936-1939

Important individuals

  • Goering
  • Schacht
  • Walter Funk
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Nazi Economy - Rearmament 1936-1939

Key measures

  • Increase industrial production of key commodities such as Iron and food
  • Develop substitute products e.g. developing Buna (artifical rubber)
  • 6.4 billion marks invested by state authorities and private companies in big industrial ventures
  • 2/3rds of industrial investment in Germany 1936-1939 went directly into preparation for war
  • 1/4 of Germany's industrial workforce was working on orders from the Armed forces
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Nazi Economy - Rearmament 1936-1939

Successes and failures

  • 1938 economy was almost 40% larger than 10 years ago
  • National production rose 102% from 1932-1937 and the National income was doubled
  • Still importing 20% food + 33% raw materials
  • 66% oil, 70% copper, 85% rubber and most alluminium still imported
  • 1938 trade deficit risen to 432 million rentenmarks
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Nazi Economy - War 1939-1945

Nazi economic aims

  • Win the war using Blitzkrieg
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Nazi Economy - War 1939-1945

Important individuals

  • Hitler
  • Albert Speer
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Nazi Economy - War 1939-1945

Key measures

  • Series of war decrees issued to outline vast programme for every possible aspect of war production
  • Expenditure doubled
  • Food rationing introduced
  • Consumption of civilian products declined by more than 20%
  • Rationalisation on decree
  • Albert Speer was appointed as Minister of Armaments
  • Central planning board April 1942
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Nazi Economy - War 1939-1945

Successes and failures

  • Airforce only increased from 8290 --> 10,780. By 1941 they only had 800 more tanks than the allies. Arms production increased by 59% --> peaked, could produce more
  • The Nazi economy proved incpable of rising to the demands of total war + the cost of that failure was all to clearly to be seen in the runs and economic collapse of 1945.
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