Problems faced by Weimar Republic pt. 1
Problem 1: 'Stab in the Back' myth
- The new government had to sign an armistice that ended the fighting in WWI. The leaders of the Republic had no choice - the German army were retreating and people at home were facing starvation.
- However, not all Germans saw it this way. During the war the Kaiser had not announced any problems, so it came as a shock to the German people.
- People were bitter at the new government and believed they had been 'stabbed in the back'.
Problem 2: The Treaty of Versailles
- Germany had no choice to sign the Treaty of Versailles.
- The treaty ensured that: Germany lost 13% of its land; the Germany army could not exceed 100,000 men and the navy 15,000. They were only allowed six battle ships. // Germany had to accept blame for the war. This was very humiliating for them. // Germany had to pay reparations. In 1921 the Allies fixed the amount at £6600 million.
Problems faced by Weimar Republic pt. 2
Problem 3: Political Violence
- Some groups did not believe that a democratic party ran the country efficiently. Some extremist parties wanted to tear the Weimar Republic apart.
- An example of extremist parties:
Extreme left wing: Communist party. They believed that they should run the country on the behalf of the workers.
Extreme right wing: Nazi party & German National Party. They believed that Germany should have one strong leader, whom everyone should obey.
Problem 4: Invasion of the Ruhr
- Germany struggled to keep up with reparatio payments and in 1922 they announced they could not afford to pay reparations for 3 years. France did not believe this.
- In 1923, 60,000 French and Belian troops marched into the Ruhr. They seized control of all mines, factories and railways.
The problem of Hyperinflation.
Problem 5: Hyper-inflation.
- The government prints more money to pay workers and to pay its debts.
- The more money printed, the less it is worth.
- People lose confidence in the German mark.
- Prices rise at an incredible rate.
In January 1919 one US dollar was worth nearly 9 marks. By November 1923 one dollar is worth 200 billion marks. (At one stage an egg costs 80 million marks and a glass of beer 150 million marks).
- By November 1923 the German mark is worthless.
Positives: People in debt found it easier to pay off their loans. / Businessmen found it easier to pay back money they had borrowed to build up their businesses.
Negatives: People with savings did not benefit from this. The value of what they had saved fell drastically. / Workers found that wage increases did not keep up with rising prices.
Stresemann's solutions 1
Policy 1: Introduce a new currency
- Stresemann replaced the old money with a new currency - the Rentenmark. 1 Rentenmark replaced 1000 billion marks. Old notes were recalled and destroyed.
- Result: New currency was quickly accepted. Inflation was under control.
- However... The German people never forgot hyper-infation. People who had lost their savings were never compensated. They felt cheated and still blamed the Weimar Republic.
Policy 2: Persuade the French to leave the Ruhr
- Stresemann called off passive resistance. He also promised to keep up reparation payments to France.
- Result: The French left the Ruhr.
- However... This was a very unpopular policy. People claimed it was a sign of weak government.
Stresemann's solutions 2
Policy 3: Improve Germany's relationship with other countries
- He decided to co-operate with other countries in Europe
- Result: 1925 Stresemann signed the Locarno Pact with Britain, France, Belgium & Italy. They promised not to invade one another. 1926 Germany joined the League of Nations - this gave Germany 'great power' status. 1926 Streseman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- However...: Some Germans thought that Streseman was weak. They believed Stresemann should have built up an army instead and tried to regain by force the land lost in Treaty of Versailles.
Policy 4: Continue to pay reparations
- Stresemann promised to pay reparations, hoping allies would lower the payments in the future.
- Result: The Dawes Plan (1924) - This gave Germany longer to pay the allies. The Young Plan (1929) lowered reparations from 132,000 million marks to 37,000 million.
- However...: Dawes and Young Plan were hated by many Germans who thought that Germany should not pay reparations at all.
Steersman's solutions 3
Policy 5: Get help to rebuild the economy
- Stresemann organised big loans from the USA as part of the Dawes Plan 1924.
- Result: German government improved housing, hospitals, schools and roads. Loans were given to private German firms. Many US firms set up factories in Germany. Pensions and wages rose.
- However...: The German economy depended on the USA. Problems in the USA would cause massive problems in Germany. Wages did not rise for everybody. Farmers got poorer because food prices stayed low. Unemployment never fell below 1 million. Rich people in Germany had to pay more tax.
A peaceful period?
After 1923 Germany became more peaceful. There was less political violence. Between 1924 and 1928 there were no attempts to overthrow the Weimar Republic.
Why had the Nazis failed to get into power by 1928
Explanation 1: Nazis lacked the support of the working class
- Most workers voted for the Social Democratic Party.
- Workers who wanted to see change tended to vote for the Communist Party.
Explanation 2: 1924-1929 was a time of peace and prosperity
- Stresemann managed to solve many of the economic problems of the early 1920s. Loans from foreign countries helped rebuild German economy.
- Stresemann built better relationships with other countries.
Explanation 3:Nazi Ideas were too extreme
- People were put off by the Nazis' anti-semitic (anti-Jewish) ideas and their aim of invading other countries.
- The SA were very violent. They were seen by many poeple as little more than hired thugs.
Hitlers rise to Chancellor 1933: Part 1
The Wall Street Crash (Other events):
- The Wall Street Crash happened in October 1929 in the USA. This meant that the US banks started to recall loans. This hits Germany really hard. German businesses are very dependent on US loans. Consequently German firms go bankrupt, unemployment rises, millions of people lose their jobs and many Germans have to live in poverty.
- The depression made life a great struggle for people.
- By 1932 unemployment reached 6 million.
- The depression made the Weimar government look weak
- The depression increased support for extreme parties as it made them feel angry. As unemployment rates increase, so do votes for extreme parties.
Hitler's Leadership Skills (Own actions):
- Hitler was a strong leader who was able to make people believe he could save them from the problems facing Germany.
- He was a powerful and inspiring public speaker. He seemed to fill the audience with a sense of help.
Hitlers rise to Chancellor 1933: Part 2
Nazi Promises (Own actions): The Nazis promised to: Solve Germanys economic problems. // Provide strong leadership. // Ignore the Treaty of Versailles. // Build up the army. // Make Germany great again.
Organisation (Own actions):
- Nazis were good at raising money for their election campaigns. They attracted huge donations from rich businessmen like Fritz Thyssen.
- Nazi party members worked hard to spread Nazi message through door-to-door leafleting and public meetings.
- Nazis organised soup kitchens for the unemployed.
- The SA, with their uniforms and marches, looked capable of bringing law and order to Germany
Nazi Propaganda (Own actions): Propaganda was organised by Josef Goebbels. Nazis used latest technology to spread their ideas. They used speakers and slide shows alongside posters, rallies and marches.
Hitlers rise to Chancellor 1933: Part 3
Fear of Communism (other events): From 1930-1932 support for the Communists increased. Many people in Germany began to fear the Communists would take over the country.
Weak Opposition (other events): Opposition to the Nazis was weak and divided. The Nazis' two main rivals (the Communist Party and the Social Democratic party) were bitter enemies and were not prepared to work together to stop the Nazis.
A Political Deal (other events):
In July 1932 the Nazis won 37% of the vote, but they still did not have enough seats to control the Reichstag. Hitler demanded to be made Chancellor, but Hindenburg (the President) refused. He appointed Von Papen instead. Hindenburg was later persuaded to remove Papen. Papen wanted revenge, so he used the Nazis to get power for himself. He agreed with Hitler to form a new government - Hitler will be Chancellor and Papen was Vice-Chancellor. Papen persuaded Hindenburg to agree. In 1933 January, Hitler became Chancellor. Hindenburg and Papen thought they could control Hitler...
Hitler's rise to dictator (1933-34) Pt. 1
- 27 February 1933 - Reichstag fire. The Reichstag building was destroyed by fire. A dutch communist was found at the scene. Nazis claimed this was start of a Communist plot to take over Germany. Hitler arrested 4000 Comunist police. Hitler also asked Hindenburg to grant him Emergency powers. This gave the Nazis the power to arrest people and hold them as long as they wanted. They also banned meetings held by thie political powers and close their newspapers.
- 5 March 1933 - New elections. The Nazis used the police and SA to put pressure on their opponents. More than 50 opponents of Nazis were killed. This helped Nazis achieve their best ever election result, 44% of the vote.
- 24 March 1933 - The Enabling Law. Hitler needed 2/3 of the Reichstag to pass an Enabling Law. He banned the Communist Party were banned from voting, and other were forced to vote in favour of the law. The Enabling law was passed by 444 votes to 94. This meant that Hitler could now pass laws without going through the Reichstag.
- 2 May 1933 - Trade unions taken over. Trade union offices were taken over and leaders arrested. All trade unions were merged into one organisation - the new German Labour Front (DAF) - controlled by the Nazis.
- July 1933 - All political parties banned. A law was introduced to ban people from forming a new poltical party. There was now only one party in Germany - the Nazis.
Hitler's rise to dictator (1933-34) Pt. 2
- 29-30 June 1934 - Night of the Long Knives. Hitler became concerned at the increasing power of the SA. It had over 3 million members and wanted to control the army. The leader, Ernst Rohm was a potential rival. On the Night of the Long Knives, SA leaders were dragged from their beds, taken to Nazi headquarters and shot dead. Rohm was arrested. When he refused to commit suicide, he was shot in prison.
- 2nd August 1934 - Death of Hindenburg. When Hindenburg died, Hitler made himself President as well as Chancellor.
- Later August 1934 - Army Oath. The army took an oath of personal loyalty to Hitler. Hitler was now Supreme Commander of the armed forces. All German soldiers swore to obey Hitler and to risk their life for him at any time.
Control by Terror (Heinrich Himmler)
The **: The ** stands for 'Schutz Staffel'. They were Hitler's personal bodyguard. Heinrich Himmler built it up and by 1939 it had 240,000 members. They could arrest people without trial and search houses.
Concentration Camps: Nazi opponents were arrested and put in concentration camps. They were run by a section of the ** caled Death's Head units and they were used as forced labour camps. The camps held Jews, Communists, Socialists, trade unionists, church leaders and anyone who criticised the Nazis.
The Gestapo: State secret police. They could tap telephones, open mail and colelct information fro a huge network of informers. They could arrest people without trial, torture and imprison them in concentration camps.
The police and courts: The police and courts were under Nazi control. All judges were nazis. Number of offences carrying the death penalty went up from three in 1933 to forty-six by 1943.
Informers: Every town was divided into small units, called blocks. The Block Warden visited every home in the block each week, collecting donations to the Nazi party and checking up on everyone.
Control by Propaganda (Josef Goebbels)
Newspapers: Anti-Nazi papers were shut down. Jews were banned from owning or working for newspapers. Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda sent out daily instructions telling newspapers what to print.
Rallies: The Nazis organised rallies in uniforms. This made the Nazis look like they could establish order and control.
Books: Nazis organised official book burnings. The Nazis burned books by Communists, Socialists, Jews, anyone they disapproved of. All new books were censored by Goebbels' Ministry.
Radio: Goebbels took over control of all radio broadcasting. Regular programmes included Hitler's speeches, German music and German history. By 1939 70% of Germans owned a radio. Nazis used loudspeakers in public squares.
Films: The cinema was very popular. Goebbels controlled all of the films made in Germany. The films were typically pro-Nazi. An example of a popular film was 'The Eternal Jew' - an anti-semitic film made by the Nazis in 1940.
Children in Nazi Germany
The Hitler Youth
- 80% of the youth were members by 1939.
- Hitler Youth members spent their time doing physical activities, such as hiking, running and jumping, and listening to Nazi ideas.
- The whole curriculum was changed. Lessons always promoted the Nazis and slandered 'undesirables.'
- An example from a maths textbook: "To keep a mentally ill person costs 4 marks a day. There are 300,000 mentally ill people in care. How much do these people cost the state?"
- Some young people hated the Hitler Youth. 1 in 5 young Germans never joined.
- Many students resented having to give up their studies (school was often cancelled to go on weekend camps). Universities complained about falling academic standards.
Women in Nazi Germany
Employment: All women employed by the state (doctors, civil servants, teachers) were sacked.
Loans: Loans were offered to couples to encourage them to get married. Each newly-wed would receive 1000 marks (the Marriage loan). For each child the couple had, they got to keep 250 marks of this loan. To access this loan the woman had to leave her job.
Medals: Medals were awarded for having children: a gold medal for eight; a silver medal for six; a bronze medal for four.
Sterilisation: Women with inherited diseases, or weaknesses such as colour-blindness had to be sterilised.
Propaganda: Nazis wanted women to wear simple clothes. Wearing trousers, high heels, make up and smoking were frowned upon. It was also frowned upon for a woman to be slim - as they believed women should be 'strong and solid' to have lots of children. These ideas were promoted in leaflets and posters. Women were urged to follow the 'Three K's': Kinder, Kirche, Kuche (Children, Church, Cooking).
Workers in Nazi Germany
How did the Nazis reduce unemployment?:
- Huge building programme: new motorways, schools, hospitals and houses were built.
- Increasing armed forces from 100,000 to 1,400,000: All males 18-25 had to do 2 years military service.
- Re-arming Germany: New tanks, areoplanes, guns and battleships were ordered. This created new industries to make these resources.
- Young men were put to work: All males 18-25 did six months in National Labour Service. They were given food and lodging but paid only pocket money.
- Removing women from the employment register.
Removing Jews from the employment register.
Strength through Joy: Robert Ley introduced this to supervise after-work activities, holidays and leisure time. By 1936 it had 30 million German members.
Beauty of Labour: This sought to provide healthy working conditions for workers in factories, mines, chemical workers etc. It also provided work training schemes and training courses. By 1936 there was 2.5 million training courses for workers. There was also a Volkswagen scheme where workers could save money to receive a car.
'Undesirables' in Nazi Germany
Those who wouldn't work: Criminals, beggrs and alcoholics were regarded as useless. They were rounded up in 1933 and 500,000 of them were sent to Concentration camps.
Those who couldn't work: The physically disabled and mentally ill were regarded as a burden. From 1938 onwards the Nazis put them to death in gas chambers.
Those who did not fit into 'normal' families: Homosexuals were savagely persecuted. About 15,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Many were castrated and used in medical experiments.
Those who did not obey: Socialists and Communists would not make Hitler their first loyalty. Neither did Jehovah's Witnesses for religious reasons. They were all put in concentration camps.
Those who were not 'Aryan': 385 black Germans were sterilised. Gypsies were put in concentration camps and around 500,000 were later killed in death camps.
Jews were blamed for the problems in Germany. The following happened to Jewish people.
- Jews were banned from all state jobs such as civil servants, teachers, journalists, lawyers and radio announcers.
- Jewish and non-jewish children could not play together.
- Jewish writers could not publish their worker.
- The Nuremburg Laws: Jews could not marry or have sex with non-Jews. All Jews lost German Citizenship.
- Jews could not own radios, typewriters, bicycles or pets.
- Jews were not allowed to own their own business.
- Jews were not allowed to buy newspapers of magazines.
- Jews could not attend state schools or universities.
- All Jews had to wear the Star of David.
- Male Jews were forced to add the name 'Israel', and female Jews the name 'Sarah' to their first names.
Kristallnacht (November 1938) - The Night of Broke
- A young Jewish Student shot a German diplomat in Paris
- In retaliation, Nazi leaders encouraged their supporters to attack German Jews and smash up their homes, shops and synagogues.
- The police were instructed not to intervene.
- After two nights of Violence (9-10 November) 91 Jews lay dead.
- Many streets in German were strewn with broken glass - this inspired the event's name.
- In the following months, 30,000 German Jews were arrested and taken to concentration camps.
- It was a turning point in the Nazi treatment of Jews; soon life for them was going to get very much worse.
Opposition in Nazi Germany
Former political opponents: The Socialist Party, the Communist Party and trade Unions. They wanted to restore democracy, free speech and workers' democratic rights. They organised secret meetings, performed strikes, handed out leaflets and and encouraged anti-Nazi graffiti. The majority were placed in concentration camps.
The Church: 22 million people belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. 40 million belonged to the Protestant Church. Hitler hated the Christian faith and the Church tried to oppose this. They would carry out their own baptisms, marriages and burials. 50 pastors and one bishops was put in prison.
Army Officers: A group of army officers wanted to replace Hitler and seize power. They tried to assassinate him. The nearest plot planted a bomb in Hitler's military headquarters in July 1944. It went off but Hitler was not killed. As a result 5000 people were arrested and executed.
Edelweiss Pirates: Working class young people who avoided Hitler youth meetings and focused on 'having fun'. Some groups beat up Nazi officials. One leader in Cologne was killed so some Edwelweiss Pirates were hanged in revenge.
White Rose Group: Small group of students who spread anti-Nazi messages through handing out leaflets, putting up posters and graffiti on walls. Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested and tortured before being executed.