Germany 1918-1939

Germany 1918-1939

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  • Created by: Kayleigh
  • Created on: 19-05-11 19:56

The end of the Great War

After four years of fighting the Germans were exhausted and were forced to ask for an armistice(a cease fire). The British blockade had caused starvation and hardship. The winter between 1917-18 was called the turnip winter because that is all many Germans had to eat. Also the outbreak of the Spanish flu which because many Germans were already weakened, devastated Germany.

The German revolution began on 29th October 1918, when some naval officers refused to obey orders to fight the British at a naval base. Many began to fight against the Kaiser and he eventually had to abdicate on the 9th of November 1918. The chancellor, Max von Baden, handed the power over to Ebert who was the leader of the Social Democratic Party. Ebert announced that Germany was no longer an empire but a republic

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The Spartacist Revolt

Germany was in chaos in 1919. Some Germans wanted the Kaiser back, some wanted the army to rule and some wanted a revolution. People who wanted a revolution were called Communists. Ebert was scared of the Communists so enlisted the help of the army. General Wilhelm Groener the army's cheif of staff agreed to help but in return the government would fight Communism.

On 6th January 1919 the communists led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht led a revolution to overthrow Ebert's government. They were called Spartacists. They called a general strike and took over many important buildings and put up barriers in the main streets. The army didn't have enough men to deal with the revolt so a group of ex-soldiers were formed called the Freikorps. These Freikorps were given weapons and uniforms and told to crush the revolt.

The leaders were hunted down, arrested and shot. Although the revolt was over many didn't forgive the government for the treatment of the Spartacists.

Very little punishment was given to the mean who were responsible for Luxemburg and Liebknecht's deaths.

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The Treaty of Versailles

Terms to punish Germany: Land was taken away and given to France, Belgium, Denmark, Czechoslovakia and Poland, Germany's army was reduced to 100,000 men and wasn't allowed tanks, no air-force, only allowed 6 important naval ships and no submarines, the Rhineland was demilitarised, they had to pay reparations, they were forbidden from uniting with Austria and they had to accept full blame for the war.

Terms to make Germany weak: army reduced to 100,000 men, no air-force, small navy, coal was taken and given to other countries and they had to pay reparations.

Terms to protect France: army reduced to 100,000 men, no air-force, demilitaristaion of the Rhineland, forbidden to unite with Austria

Terms to protect the world: a League of Nations was set up.

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The Weimar Republic

On the 19th January 1919, 30 million Germans voted for the new members of the National Assembly. The assembly's job was to decide how the country was governed. The Weimar Republics new constituion was adopted in August 1919. The constituion introduced a bi-cameral assembly made up of The Reichstag(representing the whole nation) and the Reichsrat(representing regions).

The Reichstag was made up of politicians who were chosen by the public. The Reichstag used a system of proportional representation, this was a fair system but it made it very difficult for one party to win the majority of seats. It was called a Coalition governement.

The Nazi's had a plan to overthrow the government. They got enough votes to get a few seats in the Reichstag and then tried to make Ebert seem incompetent.

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The Nazi's

In August 1919, Hitler was given the job of lecturing returning POW's on the dangers of Communism as his superiors in the Amry had discovered that he had a gift at public speaking. He used this opportunities to bad mouth the Jews and the returning soldiers who were tired responded well to this as they were looking for someone to blame.

In September 1919 he was ordered to investigate a group in Munich called the German worker's party. September 12th, dressed in civilain clothes Hitler went to a meeting at a Munich beer hall, he listened to a speech on economics. Then a man spoke out in favour of Bavaria breaking away from Germany and forming a new South German nation with Austria. This enraged Hitler and he forcefully spoke out about the man. The leaders of the meeting liked Hitler's style and invited him back.

Hitler became a member of the party and became their main speaker and in charge of the propaganda. Captain Róhm helped Hitler with his recruiting.

In February 1920 The DAP(German Worker's Party) held their first mass meeting. At this meeting Hitler outlined all his outrageous views. 

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The nazi's cont.

Hitler decided to change the name of the DAP to the Nazi's and chose the swastika as the symbol of their party. By the end of 1920 it had almost 3000 members.

Like most political parties in the 1920's, the Nazi's formed their own private army. They called them the Stormtroopers(SA)

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Problems in Germany

In 1922 Germany was scheduled to pay another reparations payment. They could not afford to pay but the Allies didn't believe them. The French and Belgian troops then invaded the Ruhr, Germany's most valuable industrial area. German's living there who were considered to not be co-operating were imprisoned. The Weimar Government ordered all workers to go on strike and all citizens were to passively resist. This led to violence and in 8 months 132 people were killed and over 150,000 Germans were expelled from their homes.

Although ordering the workers to go on strike was the only thing Germany could do it had disastrous consequences. Germany's delicate economy was starting to suffer again. The government then did the worst thing and started printing money to cover the cost. This caused hyperinflation which then resulted in the old mark being of no use.

In September 1923, the new chancellor Stresemann, he called off the passive resistance order and told the Ruhr workers to go back to work. In 1924 the Dawes plan was announced to replace the old mark with american gold marks. The economy quickly got back it's strength and things appeared to be going well.

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The Munich Putsch

By 1923 the Nazi party had 35,000 members

On the 8th November 1923 the Bavarian Prime Minister Kahr was addressing a meeting at a beer hall in Munich. This meeting had many important people attending it. Hitler and 600 SA infiltrated the meeting lining the walls in an attempt to intimidate the people. Hitler then took Kahr, Bavaria's police cheif and the local armed force commander into the back room where he threatened them with guns. Hitler promised Kahr he would get an important position in the new government.

Hitler then re-entered the the hall and addressed the crowd. After his speech a war-hero General Ludendorff backed him up . This gained him the support from the Bavarian senior politicians. Hitler started to plan his take-over of Munich but he had let Kahr and his colleagues go . They reported what he was up to and the police foiled his attempt at a take-over however 16 Nazi's and 3 policemen were killed. Hitler dislocated his shoulder and was captured by the police. Hitler was charged with treason and put on trial. He was allowed to speak at his trial and mesmerised the Judge and Jury but he had admitted to trying to overthrow so was given the lightest sentence possible with 5 years so he could be out on parole in 6 months

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Hitler in jail/ 1924-1929

Hitler turned his trial into a publicity stunt with his speeches and the German public fell in love with him. He only spent 8 months at Landsberg prison and most of this time was spent receiving visitors and writing his autobiography Mein Kampf(My Struggle).

He also changed his strategy by realising that an armed revolution would not gain him power and instead turned his hopes to winning votes the old fashioned way.

The Nazi's went downhill in this time period and almost went to bankrupt but they were saved by the Wall Street Crash of October 1929. The American's had to call back all the money they had loaned out to Europe. This took all of Germany's money. Germany went bankrupt- again. Unemployment rates rocketed to an all time high.

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Weimar's Golden Years 1924-29

The minority political parties such as extremist parties were very quiet at this time and got very little to none seats.

The Nazi's had a hard time during this period as Germany was being run smoothly and not many people were turning to extremist parties as a way out.

The Nazi's almost went bankrupt in 1928 after winning only 12 seats.

Germany even got to join the League of Nations in 1926 after gaining support from France.

All this was going to change after the Wall Street Crash in 1929.

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The Nazi's come to power

As a result of the huge figures of unemployment many people turned to extremist parties such as the Nazi's and the Communist's. After almost going bankrupt in 1928 the Nazi party was bailed out by a buisnessman called Hugenburg. In the 1930 election the Nazi's gained 143 seats in the Reichstag, in the July 1932 election the Nazi's had 230 seats which made them the largest party in the Reichstag. Hitler also challenged Hindenburg for presidency that year. In the November 1932 election the Nazi's lost a few seats going down to 196 but they were still the largest party in the Reichstag.

Hitler now set his sights on becoming chancellor and after Von Papen's rule being null the army was backing a new chancellor. Hindenburg wasn't prepared for Hitler to be chancellor but when the army informed him that if Von Papen's rule was extended it would leave to a civil war. Hindenburg then appointed von Schleicher who only had militray experience and no politics experience. He only lasted 57 days as chancellor. Hitler was now the only option for chancellor who had a shred of credibility left and so was appointed on January 30th 1933.

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Hitler becomes dictator

Hitler promised a general election in March 1933 as 50% of the Reichstag were against him and he would not be able to pass any laws so after peaking figures of followers he made this promise.

However a week(27th February 1933) before the election was due to take place the Reichstag building was burnt down, Hitler blamed this on the Communists. He knew that if he was going to get hindenburg to hand him the emergency powers he would have to play on the elderly presidents fear of a Communist revolt.

Van der Lubbe was arrested for the fire as he was a known communist and found near the reichstag building and the nazi's claimed that he had confessed to lighting the fire. In light of this arrest Hindenburg agreed to pass the Law for the Protection of the people and the state.

This law gave Hitler what he wanted a ban of the Communists and the Socialists. The parties were shut down and the SA went around the streets beating up those who openly opposed to Hitler.

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Hitler becomes dictator cont.

The election took place and Hitler managed to get over 50% of the seats in the Reichstag. On March 23rd elected officials were due to meet to discuss and vote on Hitler's enabling law. As politicians neared the builiding they found it surrounded by the SS and SA who tried to ensure only Nazi and Nationalist politicians entered the building and voted. This law was crucial as it stated that any bill only needed Hitler's signature and within 24 hours the bill would become a law in Germany.

7th April 1933 Nazi officials were put in charge of all local governments

2nd May 1933 rade unions were abolished, their funds taken and their leaders imprisoned.

July 14th 1933 all other political parties were illegal so the Nazi party was the only legal party in the whole of Germany.

After this the whole nation were spying on each other in a sense of loyalty to the Nazi party.

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The night of the long knives

Hitler was worried that his party weren't loyal. The SA was under the control of Rohm who was a loyal follower of Hitler from the very beggining. However Rohm had enemies within the Nazi party, Himmler, Goering, Goebbels were angered by the power he had. The SA outnumbered the army and Rohm had openly talked about taking over the army which was alarming. By the summer of 1934 Hitler decided Rohm was a threat and he made a pact with the army, Hitler would remove Rohm and the other SA leaders and allow the SA to be initigrated with the army as long as the army swore an oath of loyalty to Hitler. It was agreed.

29th and 30th of June 1934 units of the SS arrested the leaders of the SA. Seven men were executed on charges of treason. The SA were now under control of the army. Hitler had received an oath of allegiance from everyone who served in the army. Rohm was shot and others were beat to death.

The public didn't know about this until July 13th 1934 when Hitler announced that for the duration of the arrests he alone was the judge in Germany and the SS carried out his orders. The SS were now a feared force in Nazi Germany led by Himmler. Hindenburg died on the 2nd of August and so Hitler became the President too.

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Nazi Propaganda

Goebbels was the head of propaganda. He was to ensure nobody in Germany could read or see anything that was hostile or damaging to the Nazi party and to ensure the views of the Nazi party were put across to the public in the most persuasive manner possible. As a result Germany worked on a system of censorship: you could only read, see and hear what the Nazi's wanted you too.

The Nazi's controlled all books and films. These were all in corallation to the Nazi's ideals but comedys were put in to keep Germany "light".

To make sure that everyone could hear Hitler speak Goebbels ordered the sale of cheap radios. Loudspeakers were placed in all streets and cafés were ordered to broadcast Hitler's speeches so at all times the people of Germany would never miss a broadcast

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The Nazi's use of force

In Nazi Germany there was a rule of you do and say nothing no harm will come to you.

The police were allowed to arrest people on suspicion that they were about to do harm. There were lists of people suspected of being enemies to the state. This list was then passed onto the Gestapo who had the authority to do whatever they wanted.The gestpo was led by Heydrich who's immediate succesor was Himmler. Those in custody had to sign a D-11 which was an agreement to go to prison. If you didn't sign you were beaten until you did or your signature was forged. After this was signed you were sent to a concentration camps. These were barbaric but deaths before 1939 were uncommon. After being realised Hitler hoped that you would go back and tell people that it wasn't a place you wanted to go to in the hope that people would keep their opinions to themselves.

Those who made jokes about the nazi party, the "work-shy", highly religous people, homosexuals and habitual criminals would all see the inside of these camps.

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The Nazi's and the young

Hitler made a youth group called the Hitler Youth. When he came to power he banned all other youth groups and in 1936 he made it compulsory to join. The Hitler Youth was for 10 to 18 year olds and there were separate organisations for boys and girls. The boys section prepared them for military service and the girls for motherhood. The Hitler Youth movement was overseen by Balder von Shirach.

The Nazi's also controlled education. All teachers were vetted by Nazi officials and 97% of the teachers in Germany were a part of the Nazi Teachers Association. History became based on the Glory of Germany and Biology became a study of different races. Geography was about the land taken away from Germany in 1919 and the need for Lebensraum and Science had a military slant to it. Girls also had a different curriculum to teach them to be better wives and to look for the right "mate". At every opportunity teachers were expected to rag on the Jews. PE became highly important as all Arians were athletic by nature. Boxing was compulsory for boys.

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The Jews in Nazi Germany

By 1934 all Jewish shops were marked with the Star of David or the word Juden on the window. Jews could only go on buses, trains and park benches where seats were marked for them. In 1935 the Nuremberg laws were passed: Jews were no longer German citizens and marriage between Jews and non-Jews was forbidden. This was when the violence started. Only those who could afford to pay a fine were allowed to leave the country. Jews found it hard to get food, clothes and medicine.

In 1938 it reached a pre-war peak with Kristallnacht. In November 1938 the Nazi's expelled all Jews who had a Polish background and in response a 17 year old boy shot and killed a Nazi diplomat. Hitler ordered a 7 day terror campaign against the Jews to be organised by Himmler and the SS. 10,000 shops were destroyed, homes and synagogues were set on fire and left to burn.

A huge amount of damage was done but it was the Jewish community who were told to pay for the clear-up and forced to scrub the streets clean.

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Opposition to Hitler

The main opposition to Hitler was the Socialists and Communists though many of these had been imprisoned.

Some young people who didn't like the Hitler Youth began to meet in groups nicknamed the Edelweiss Pirates. They weren't a threat just a nuisance to the local police.

Some hoped the church would intervene. In 1933 Hitler and the Catholic church signed an agreement ( a Concordat) that he wouldn't interfere with the church as long as they didn't make any comments about the politics. This only lasted until 1937 when Hitler started to arrest priests. In 1937 the Pope issued a statement about what was going on but there was never a full clampdown on the Catholic church in Germany.

The protestant church was a mixture of churches bunched together so were easier for Hitler to convince and were supporting Hitler.

The Congressional church was the only church that really opposed and their leader was sent to a concentration camp for 7 years in solitary confinement.

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Important dates

1918- end of WW1

1919- Treaty of Versailled, Spartacist rising

1922- France and Belguim occupy the Ruhr

1923- Hyperinflation, Munich Putsch

1929- Wall Street Crash, German Mass unemployment

1933- Hitler becomes chancellor, Reichstag fire, Communists outlawed, Hitler wins March election, enabling law is passed

1934- Night of the Long Knives

1935- Nurmemberg Laws

1939- Kristellnacht

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