Germany 1890-1945

Germany before WW1

Germany unified in 1871

Prussia was the most powerful state so their king became Kaiser of Germany 

Militarism - the belief a country should have strong armed forces

Each state sent representatives to the Kaiser and these made up the Bundesrat

The Kaiser also had a chancellor and a Reichstag which was elected by men over 25

The Kaiser could choose to ignore advice and make his own decisions

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Germany before WW1

In 1888 Kaiser Wilhelm II succeeded 

He was jealous of the British empire and industry

He began to build up German industry this is industrialisation

By 1913 Germany was producing as much coal and steel as Britain


From industry people became rich but many workers were unhappy with low pay, working conditions and rising cost of food

More people joined trade unions and organised strikes

Also, many people voted for the SPD who believed in socialism

This was a major problem as the Kaiser could not control with the threat and some socialist were more radical - they wanted to revolt

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Germany before WW1

The Kaiser wanted to turn Germany into a global power and this was known as 'weltpolitik'

They took over many small nations, most in Africa

The Kaiser massively expanded the navy and the army

To fund this he raised taxes and borrowed money hence Germany would remain in debt for a long time

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Germany and WW1

First, because of blockades stopping supplies, there were large food shortages and in 1915 women demanded the soldiers back from the trenches outside the Reichstag

By 1918 people were surviving on bread and turnips and deadly flu had swept the nation

Ludendorff advised that the war must end as Germany would never win, and suggested that the Kaiser should become more democratic and give away some power - he did this but he was still disliked

on the 28th of October 1918, a German ship refused orders - mutiny

On the 9th of October 1918, the Kaiser abdicated and fled

Ebert took his place temporarily

11th of November Germany surrendered

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Impact of WW1


They had borrowed money to pay for the war, Germany had lent money to allies, war pensions would need to be paid, factories had not produced sellable goods to make money

Divided society:

Some factory owners made lots of money, workers had pay restrictions, women worked in factories- some saw this as against traditional values

Politically Unstable:

Mutiny and revolution, many felt betrayed by the November Criminals

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Weimar Republic

Ebert declared Germany would be a democratic republic

He ordered improvements for conditions and food supplies

He then guaranteed free speech and freedom of religion

Jan 1919 - Ebert held an election and his own party won

They met in Weimar(as Berlin was too dangerous) to start the republic

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Structure of the Weimar republic

All Germans had equal rights(women over 20 could vote)

President- elected every seven years, controlled armed forces, could issue article 48

Chancellor - chosen by the president, responsible for day-to-day running, must have the support of the majority of Reichstag

Reichstag - discussed and introduced new laws, elected every 4 years, proportional representation

Proportional representation meant that there were lots of different parties and so no majority could be reached,law-making could be very slow

Some people preferred the past of the Kaiser  because the new system was linked to surrender of the war

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Why did Germans not like the ToV?

After the war Germany was forced to sign the treaty with no representation at the talks - many called the diktat or dictated peace

Germans hated it because:

1. It was too harsh as large areas of land were taken and lots of money had to be repaid, they felt angry and humiliated

2. They felt it had been forced - diktat

3. Many believed they had not lost the war and the November Criminals stabbed Germany in the back

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Hyperinflation 1923

In 1922 Germany could not afford to pay the reparations

French and Belgian troops invaded the Ruhr

The German government ordered workers to go on strike, passive resistance

They had to pay the workers so they printed more money to pay wages

Shopkeepers pt prices up due to the money available to workers

More money was printed and prices rose

Savings became worthless and the government was blamed

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Hyperinflation 1923

German money was worthless and people hated the government

People who had savings lost a lot of money

Pensioners could no afford food

Small businesses collapsed

People with loans found it easy to pay off debt

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Political Unrest

Kapp Putsch - Led by Dr Wolfgang Kapp, in 1920 he led the free corps to take over Berlin however the workers did not support him so he fled abroad and Ebert could return

Red Rising - When Kapp fled left-wing workers in the Ruhr stayed on strike, the government sent the free corps to deal with it 

Assassinations - In 1921 Erzberger who signed the armistice was shot dead and Walter Ratheneau was killed n 1923 - he was foreign minister

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Hitler discovered the German worker's party in 1919 and soon joined

He was a great speaker and persuaded the party to buy a newspaper

Soon he became the leader of the party

He designed the swastika to gain appeal and set up stormtroopers to beat up opposition

He also changed the name to the National Socialist German Workers Party

Under Hitler the party grew, however, they were still a minor party

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Munich Putsch

8th of November 1923 Hitler interrupted a meeting in a beer hall and announced he was taking over Bavaria

He locked Kahr inside a room and General Ludendorff said he supported Hitler

The SA gained control of some government buildings

Hitler and supporters marched through the streets where they were met by armed police

16 Nazis died and Hitler and Ludendorff were arrested 

Hitler's trial was a media sensation and he used it to his advantage by criticising the government and spreading his views

In prison, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf and was released after serving nine months

From this Hitler realised that his part would need to gain control democratically

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Gustav Stresseman

1. Hyperinflation- created a new currency of the Rentenmark that could be swapped and in 1924 this was replaced by the Reichsmark which would remain as a stable currency

2. Ruhr - Dawes plan so Germany could pay back reparations in an affordable schedule, The Ruhr was then free

3. German Status - 1925 he signed the Locarno pact which promised never to invade again and in 1926 Germany joined the LoN, 1928 he signed the Kellogg-Briand pact which agreed never to go to war

4. Industry - borrowed US money to build factories, houses, schools and roads, some American factories built in Germany

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The Depression

October 1929 - Wall Street Crash

America was no longer buying as many foreign products so other countries were affected

American banks demanded their money back so the German economy was affected

People lost their jobs and they were desperate

Many people blamed the government and chose to listen to radical parties

Extremist parties like the Nazis and communists gained supporters

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Growth of the Nazis

1. Depression - people started listening to what they had to offer and desperate Germans wanted to believe in them

2. Government - people were unhappy with the Weimar government and so they wanted a new system to run the country

3. Appeal - Hitler has a charismatic personality so filled his audience with hope

4. Fear - many middle and upper-class Germans were worried of communism as they would lose wealth, Hitler sent SA to fight communists and some people supported this

5. Structure - Nazi offices set up nationwide, made use of propaganda, many rallies, Hitler youth

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Who Voted for the Nazis

Farmers - hit hard by depression, low prices, Nazis promised higher prices and a higher status in society, fear of communism

Women - traditional family values, promised to remove muck and filth

Middle-class - unemployed, fear of communism, wanted a strong and disciplined government

Soldiers - tear up the treaty of Versailles, wanted a strong country, belief in Hitler

Upper-class - fear of communism, strong leadership, freedom of running factories, plans to make weapons - rich factory owners

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Hitler as Chancellor

1930 election - Bruning as chancellor, unpopular due to reduced pay and increased taxes

Nazi party now very large

1932 election - Bruning resigned and von Papen appointed - another election called

Nazis now the largest party

1932 election - von Schleicher appointed and he resigned

1933 Hitler appointed chancellor - von Papen appointed as vice chancellor and amount of Nazis in the cabinet was limited

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Eliminating Opposition

February 1933 - Hitler arranged an election and had a greater influence over media and propaganda and police for intimidation

27th February 1933 - Reichstag fire, Van der Lubbe found guilty and Hitler blamed the fire on Communists

28th February 1933 - Hindenburg gives Hitler a protection law to deal with German problems

March 1933 - Banned communists from election, Nazis got the biggest vote yet but no majority

2 March 1933 - Hitler forced Reichstag to pass the enabling act so he could make laws by himself

April 1933 - Gestapo formed and the first concentration camp for political prisoners

May 1933 - Trade unions banned  and their leaders imprisoned

July 1933 - Hiler banned all opposition parties 

August 1943 - Hitler takes over as President and declares himself the Fuhrer

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Night of the Long Knives

Hitler felt threatened by the army and the SA

The leader of the SA (Rohm) was reported to want to join the two together- this would make Rohm very powerful so Hitler dealt with the problem

In June 1934 the ** killed many important members of the SA and arrested and shot Ernst Rohm


Threats to Hitler were now dead so Hitler has less opposition

The ** grew in importance and led the 'police state' 

Hitler established murder as part of the Nazi government

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'Work and Bread'

National Labour Service(RAD):

All men between 18 and 25 spent six months in the RAD, they were given free meals and paid a small amount of money but unemployment figures dropped

Public Work Schemes:

June 1933 they ordered the creation of new autobahns to link German cities

Many people were employed to build this and also hospitals, and schools


Hitler started to rebuild the armed forces and many jobs were created, in 1935 conscription was introduced and the army grew

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Self-Sufficient Germany?

Hitler appointed Hjalmar Schacht as minister of economics who signed deals with other countries so more weapons could be built, Hitler wanted a more self-sufficient Germany so Schacht was fired

Goering was appointed and introduced the four-year plan in 1936, this increased military production and high targets were set

Raw materials, however, were still needed from other countries

German scientists worked on ways to produce alternatives or develop artificial substitutes

Hitler tried to reward farmers by cutting taxes and guaranteed they would not lose land in debt

Some farmers did not like that they could no longer divide the land into parts to give to children

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Work in Germany

German Labour Front(DAF) - replaced trade unions and promised that workers had rights and tried to improve conditions 

It also ran schemes:

The beauty of labour: tried to improve working environment by installing better lighting, safety equipment, canteens

Strength Through Joy: organised leisure activities to encourage hard work, it rewarded hard workers

They also introduced the Volkswagen that people could afford by saving money up, the money was used to rearm and no one received a car

Under the Nazis workers could still not quit jobs freely and were banned from striking

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Impact of War


Supplies were needed for the soldiers and so Germans at home were limited to essentials

Labour Shortages: 

In 1942 the minister of weapons(Albert Speer) was told to get ready for total war so anything that didn't contribute to was was stopped

Factories stayed open longer and foreign workers were forced to work as slaves


Many people became refugees and electricity and water was scarce, support turned from the Nazis

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Young People In Germany


Subjects were taught through ways that indoctrinated kids into thinking Nazi values

Eugenics taught children Nazi views on race and how to change it - they grew up believing they were the better race

Teachers had to join the German teachers league so they taught the Nazi way

Great students were sent to special academies and 'Adolf Hitler schools' that make children into ideal Nazis

Many university lecturers were sacked or left due to their race, lecturers were picked by the Nazis

All students have to train as a soldier for one month a year

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Young People In Germany

Youth Clubs:

Hitler Youth - 

Set up in 1922

In 1933 all other youth groups were banned

In 1936 Hitler Youth was given equal status to school

In 1939 it was compulsory

They learnt to fight, fire a gun, keep fit, and there was a big emphasis on competition

The Nazis prepared the boys for their future role as soldiers

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Young People In Germany

League of German Maidens - 

Learnt how to keep fit, cook, and look after children

the idea was to prepare them for motherhood

The youth were encouraged to report their parents if they criticised the Nazis

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Women in Nazi Germany

Hitler emphasises the 3 k's - church, cooking, children

Women were no longer seen as equal to men and women were discouraged from work

Women were even banned from jury service

Loans were given out to married couples and for every child, they could keep a quarter of the money

They also banned women smoking and contraception and abortion

The motherhood cross was awarded to women who had the most children, women with eight were awarded the gold medal

Nazis also set up lebensborn movement to increase the birth rate

In the war, women were needed back to work as the men were fighting in the war

Wome who were deemed unfit by mental illness or behaviour could be forcibly sterilised

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Christianity and the Nazis

Christians believed in traditional family values like Nazis and had a fear of communism, Hitler promised to respect the church

In 1933 Hitler signed a concordant to not interfere with the Catholics, however, he felt they listened more to the pope so he forcibly closed down churches

Archbishop Galen was arrested in 1941 for criticism of the use of terror and euthanasia

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Hitler's Hate list

He felt Germans were the master race and he had a hatred or Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and many more

He planned to get rid of the undesirables by:

Sending them to concentration camps

Sterilising mentally disabled people so they did not pass on deformities

Killing undesirables 

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Final Solution

1942 - Wannsee conference to discuss the way to kill Jews

September 1935 - Nuremberg Laws, they could not vote or get married

November 1938 - Kristallnacht, ** troops carry out a nationwide campaign against Jews

Many Jews left Germany and went to nearby countries, however, were back in Nazi rule when they invaded

In some countries Jews were sent to ghettos or to labour camps

Execution shots even went into the countryside to kill Jews

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The Police State

Concentration Camps:

Enemies of the state were kept here and were forced to work or be tortured or worked to death


Set up in 1925 they were originally Hitler's bodyguards, however, became more feared


The ordinary police ignored crimes by the Nazis and judges were under Nazi control and laws


Secret police spied on people and could arrest and imprison without trial

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Joseph Goebbels was minister for propaganda, he focused on spreading Nazi views such as the views on Jews and censored opposition

Newspapers - only stories that showed the good things of Nazis were shown

Rallies - they were often held to celebrate Hitler's greatness and were organised and impressive

Films - All films had to be checked to shows Nazis as good and enemies as bad

Radio - only cheap radios produced that allowed only Nazi-controlled stations

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Arts and Culture

The chamber of culture was set up so all producers of any type of art had to join - this restricted what they could produce

Cinema - supporters like Hugenberg owned studios so there was a direct influence

Music - should be German or Austrian, Jewish composers and jazz banned

Theatre - focus on German history and politics, shut down cabaret clubs

Literature - list of banned books, mein kampf biggest seller

Art - burnt paintings they disliked, exhibition of unacceptable art

Design - Bahaus movement closed, big public buildings

Sport - success in sport, 1936 olympics - technology and fitness

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Resistance and Opposition

Some people would privately moan about the Nazis or complain

Passive resistance - refused to show support so not doing the salute

Open - White rose group handed out leaflets, Edelweiss pirates beat up Nazi officials

Assassination - July bomb plot 1944

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very basic info but just enough to be put on revision cards overall 4/5

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