germany 1918-39

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  • Created on: 22-02-14 17:11

when was the armistice signed?

11 Nov 1918- two days after the kaiser had abdicated. matthias erzberger representing a new government, signed the armistice (agreement to stop fighting). the allied leaders then drew up the peace treaty.

the Germans were given 15 days to respond to the treaty to respond to the treaty. it said Germany had to accept the blame for starting the war pay reparations to the victorious nations and agree to reductions in Germany armed forces

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what were the articles of the treaty of versailles


Germany lost 13% of its land. almost 50% of its iron and 15% of its coal. Alsace Lorraine, was given back to France Germany also lost the coal rich Saarland to the League of Nations.Germany's economy depended on the money it earned from exporting coal and other natural resources. 


Germany lost its empire. All of its colonies were handed over to the Allies.This resulted in a further loss of international status for Germany.


Germany's army was reduced to a maximum of 100,000 soldiers. It wasn't allowed to have an air force, nor any tanks or submarines. The aim was to limit Germany's ability to wage war again.the Rhineland was demilitarized


germans had to pay reparations to the allies of 136,000 million marks (£6.6 million)

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what was a diktat

the Germans were bitterly opposed and asked for several changes all were refused. the treaty was a diktat- they were not invited to the negotiations and the treaty was imposed upon them. because of their military collapse and economic and political turmoil, they ad to accept. 28 June 1919 the German delegation signed the treaty of Versailles.

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why did the Germans not like the treaty on versail

the treaty was liked by the german people or German political parties. they blamed Germanys new political leaders for signing the treaty. this link with defeat and humiliation weakened the new republic right from the very start

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who were the November criminals

the politicians who signed the T.O.V were blamed for its harsh terms. these politicians became known as the 'November criminals' and resentment followed the new republic all the way to its collapse in 1933

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what was the dolchstoss?

T.O.V was particularly unpopular because the German army had never been defeated in the war. critics of the treaty said that the army had been betrayed by politicians in Berlin- in effect, that they had been 'stabbed in the back' ( the dolchstoss)

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what was the state of Germany after the war

after kaisers departure there was unrest all around Germany. armed groups with extreme political views clashed with the army and even claimed control in some towns.

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who was ebert

Ebert began to take control by introducing slow, careful changes. civil servants stayed in post. six moderate social democrats formed a council of peoples representatives a temporary government. they organised elections for national Assembly. this met in Feb 1919 to create a new constitution.

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why was a constitution formed

with so much unrest in Berlin, the assembly met in Weimar-and the new republic was called the Weimar republic even after the government moved back to Berlin. by Aug 1919 the assembly had drawn up the new Constitution.

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the terms of the constituiton

the constitution was more democratic than government under the kaiser. German people had more control

the president- voted every 7 years by the German electorate. could use article 48 ( a rule which said that in a national emergency the president could make any law he wanted without having to go through the reichstag) 

the chancellor- chosen by the president. has to have the support of the majority of the politicians in the reichstag.

the reichstag- the German parliament. it makes laws. the deputies (MP's) are voted for by the German electorate. proportional representation is used. this means parties get the same % of seats as their % of the national vote

the electorate- men and women over the age of 20 could vote. elections for the reichstag took place every 4 years

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what were the weaknesses of the consitution

proportional representation meant that even parties with a small number of votes gained seats in the reichstag.

second weakness meant that whenever compromise broke down, the chancellor had to ask the president to suspend the Constitution under article 48 and rule by decree. this gave the impression that the new Constitution didn't really work

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the bankruptcy of the new weimar government

Germany's reserves of gold had all been spent in the war. the T.O.V made things worse. it deprived Germany of its wealth earning areas such as coalfields. also reparations Germany asked for reductions, but the victors needed money to pay war debts to the USA. with no gold reserves and failing income, by 1923 Germany could no longer pay.

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the occupation of the ruhr

the french sent troops into the German industrial area of the Ruhr. they confiscated raw materials, manufactured goods and industrial machinery. the German government urged passive resistance. workers went on strike there was even some sabotage. the french replied by arresting those who obstructed them and bringing their own workers.

the Germans resented the failure of the weimar republic to resist even though they had no choice Germany reduced army to 100,00 was no match for the 750,00 in the french army.

the occupation of the Ruhr did France little good, but it crippled Germany. many factories and 80% of German coal and iron was based there. the disruption increased Germany's debts, unemployment and the shortage of goods

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inflation and hyperinflation

shortages of good meant that price of things went up-inflation. people had to pay more money to get what they needed.

government needed money to pa their debts, but unemployment and failing factories meant they received less money from taxes. during 1919-23, government income was only a quarter of what they requires, so the government just printed more money.

this made it easier for the government to pay reparations but it made inflation even worse. it was a vicious circle, the more prices rose, the more money was printed and this made prices rise again. by 1923, prices reached spectacular heights.-hyperinflation

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results of hyperinflation

everyone suffered from shortages-German marks became worthless in comparison with foreign currency. foreign suppliers refused to accept marks for goods, so imports dried up and shortages of food and other goods got worse-for everyone.

everyone found it difficult to buy what they needed- people had to carry bundles of money in baskets and even wheelbarrows. many workers were made twice a day-so they could rush out and buy goods before prices rose even further. some suppliers refused to take money at all asking for payment by swapping goods.

people with savings-hit the hardest. there savings became worthless. those affected were mainly from the middle classes

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opposition to the weimar republic from the politic

those on the right wing of politics:

  • want to keep society very stable
  • want a strong government dominated by powerful leaders
  • support capitalism- the private ownership of and and buisness
  • stress the importance of the family unit,law and order and traditional values
  • are nationalist-placing the intrests of the nation over the individual

facism and nazism are extreme right wing movements

at this time, the right wing in german politcs included many small nationalist parties

  • they resented that the weimar republics social democrat politicians had abandoned the army 1918
  •  they hated the communists who had undermined the kaiser with riots and mutinies in 1918
  • they feared the damage communists would do to their property and german traditions
  • wanted to reverse versailles, reinstate the kaiser, boost the army and return germany to her former strength
  • they gained support from the military, the judiciary and the civil service, who were opposed to giving power to ordinary people in the new democratic weimar republic
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opposition to the weimar republic from the politic

those on the left wing of politics:

  • want to change society rapidly
  • aim to treat all people as equals and give politcial power to workers
  • oppose capitalism, they want to abolish private ownership of land or business and put these in the hands of workers
  • are inernationalists;they stress co-operation of nations

socialists are left wing. communism is an extreme left wing movement

the left wing in germany was dominated by the KPD,  the communist party of germany

  • they wnated a revolution in german like the one in russia in 1917
  • they thought that the weimar republic gave too little power to the workers
  • they wanted government by councils of workers or soilders
  • they wanted to abolish power in germany of land-owning classes and the army
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who were the spartacists?( a left wing movement)

the most influential communist leaders were rosa luxemburg and karl liebknecht, organisers of the spartacist league. on 6 jan 1919, inspired by the spartacists, 100 000 communists demonstrated in berlin and took over key buildings such as newspaper offices.

chancellor ebert, and his defence minister gutav noske, needed to put down the rebels. they realsised that the regular army(the reichswehr) was in no shape to put down the revolt alone, so they turned to the freikorps.

the Freikorps were demoblised soilders. the were anti-communist and worked with the regular army. it was estimated that the Freikorps numbered 250,000 by march 1919.

with the help of the Freikorps, the weimar government was able to put down the spartacistt uprisings in early 1919. both rosa luxemburg and karl liebknecht were arreseted on 15 january and both were murdered by the freikorps

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the kapp putsch (a right wing movement)

in 1920, 5000 right wing supporters of dr Wolfgang kapp marched on berlin to overthrow the weimar republic and bring back the kaiser. for a while, the rebel controlled the city. the government fled to dresden; they urged people, not to co-operate and instead go on strike

many workers obliged-they had socialist learnings and no desire to see the kaiser return. essential services-gas,electricity,water,transport-stopped and the capital ground to a halt. kapp realised he could not govern and fled. he was caught and put in prison, where later died.

in 1923,there was another right wing uprising- the munich putsch-led by hitler

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why unrest subside

it wasnt until the end of 1923 that the political unrest caled down. a new chancellor, gustav stressemann, came to pwer, inflation was brought under control, suffering was reduced and politics became more moderate

however, by this time, the weimar republic was permently weakened by political unrest

  • it had not been able to govern on its ownauthority. it relied upon workers strikes and the violence of the freikorks government forces had killed thousands of germans to keep themslves in power
  • extremists parties had gathered strength during the turbulent years 1918-23. they still had their private armies and events had taught the worrying lesson that those with most military power could eventually win
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stresemann changes

in august 1923, during the ruhr occupation  gustav stresmann was appointed new chancelllor and foreign secretary. during this tome he was supported by miderate parties on both the right and left. this helped him to pass measures which brought recovery to the weimar republic

first stresemann abolished the existing currency and set up a new one- the retenmark. later,in 1924, a new independant national bank, the reichsbank, was given control of this currency. these changes increased confidence in germany at home and abroad

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the Dawes plan, 1924

this addressed the reperations issue. chales g dawes, an american banker, had been asked by the allies to resolve germanys non payment. under his plan:

  • annual payments were reduced to an affordable level
  • it was agreed that american banks woulld invest in german industry

this reassured the allies that they would get their reparations payments. stresemann had already called off passive resistance in the ruhr by german workrs. as a result, the french agreed to leave the ruhr all this improved germanys economy

  • industrial output doubled during the period 1923-8, fuelled by us loans
  • imports and exports increased
  • employment went up
  • government income from taxation improved

most germans were reassured. howevr, there were drawbacks. the extreme political parties hated versailles and were furious that germany had again agreed to pay reparations. furthermore, the fragile economic recovery depended on american loans

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the young plan, 1929

the young plan reduced the total reparations debt from £6.6 billion to £2 billion. moreover, germany was given a further 59 years to pay. this was a sensible measure

  • it reduced the annual amount the government had to pay
  • this made it possible to lower taxes
  • this in turn, released spending power, which boosted german industry and employment

however again there were drawbacks. the annual payments were still £50 million per year. furthermore, they were now strecthed out until 1988. several of the extreme political parties were incensd. the increasnigly well-known leader of the nazi party, hitler said that extending the length of payments was 'passing on the penalty to the unborn'

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the Locarno pact,1925

stresmann also made progress in international affairs. this was a treaty between germany, britain, france,italy and belguim

  • germany agreed to keep its new 1919 border with france and belguim

in return

  • the last allied troops left the rhineland
  • france promised peace with germany
  • the powers agreed to open talks about german membership of the league of nations

stresemann saw this as a triamph, germany was being treated as an qual, not dictated to. however, not all parties agreed;some resented the fact that the hated versailles borders had been confirmed

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what was the wall street crash

oct 1929 share prices began to fall on the walls street stock exchange in new york. worried about loosing money people rushed to sell shares before they fell further. but this panic sent prices even lower. shares worth $20,000 in the morning were worth $1000 by the end of a days trading

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economic effects

banks were major investors in shares and suffered huge loses german banks lost so much money that people feared they couldnt pay out the money in bank account. people rushed to get their money back-causing some banks to run out of cash

german and americam banks urgently needed the return of money they had lent to businesses. but german companies were dependant upon these loans. they either had to reduce operations or close german industrial output fell and unemployment rose

the worldwide depression was a disaster for export industries but high unemployment meant that domestic demand for goods fell too. unemployment rose further.

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social and political effects


  • the middle classes lost saving,their companies or thier homes
  • workers became unemployed


  • raising taxes to pay the cost of unemployment benefit
  • reducing unemployment to make payments more affordable

this pleased no one. right wing parties, the middle classed and the wealthy opposed higher taxes. left wing parties and the working classes oppsed lower benefits.

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Adolf hitler- early life

at school he loved the history, literature and music of germanic people. he dreamed of a future as a great artist or architect, but he did badly in exams and failed to gain a place at an art academy. he became a rebel. 

after leaving school, hitler worked as a sign writer a house painter even a road sweeper in vienna, austrias capital. at times a virtual tramp. he followed local politics. vienna had strongly anti-jewish mayor at this time, karl lueger. hitler began to blame the jews for dominating industry and the art world, and reducing chances for people like him.

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Hitler and WW1

hitler saw ww1 as a chance to unite all the german people of europe. hitler joined the german army. he served in the 16th bavain infantry regiment in france and saw harsh times. hitler was ag ood soilder. he became corporal and was awarded the iron cross for bravery. wartime boosted his confidence.

he believed that the germman arm had not been defeated it had been 'stabbed in the back' by socialists and jews.

after the war hitler was given an army assignment checking up on political groups. one of these was the german workers' party (DAP), a small group founded on 9 jan 1919 by anton drexler.

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who was the DAP

the DAP was small and little known when hitler joind in the autumn of 1919, it had about 40 regular members.the leader was drexler.many people were dissastified with the weimar republic in the period up to 1923, and hitlers group attacked supporters from the arm, the police and small businesses membership grew rapidly,to abot 1100 in june 1920

the key ideas of DAP is the communists and socialists whom they blamed for bringing down the kaiser-the weimar politicians who had accepted the versialles treaty-the weakness of all democracies-the jews,whom they blamed for undermining the german economy

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what was the 25 point programme

it was a program that included scrapping the versailles treaty,expanding germanys borders to give its people lebensrarum-more land to live in and deprving the jews of germancitzenship. the program also made clear that the DAP were willing to use force to acheive this.

hitler was an energetic, passionate speaker and his public speakings started to attract larger numbers to meetings. many people were dissatisfied with the weimar republic in the period up to 1923, and  hitlers group attracted supporters from the  army, the police and small businesses. membership grew rapidly, to about 1100 in june 1920

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the munich putsch


  • hitler wanted to get rid of the weimar republic
  • the weimar politicians were hated for signing the versailles treaty
  • hitler planned to overthrow the bavarian government and then go to berlin and take control of germany


  • hitler was given nine months in prison
  • hitler was arrested and put on trial
  • hitler was not well known before everybody had heard of him
  • hitler showed great oratory skills and political talenthitler learnt it was better to use persuasion than force


  • the police broke up a march of hitlers supporters and the SA. sixteen marchers were killed
  • hitler stormed a meeting of the bavarian government
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Hitlers role grows

7 aug 1920, the DAP changed its name to the national socialist german workers' party (NSDAP). the party then adopted swastika as its emblem, and its member began to use the raised arm salute. increased membership boosted funds and the party was able to buy a newspaper for 180,000 marks, enabling it to spead its views even further.

mid 1921, hitler  pushed drexler aside and became the party leader. he gathered around him loyal party leaders: ernst rohm , hermann goering,a wealthy hero of the german air force, ruldolf hess, a wealthy academic who became hitlers deputy, julius streicher, founder of another nazi paper

1921, created the SA, or storm troopers. these were the partys private army. they were recruited from demobbed soilders, the unemployed and students. they provided security at meetings and bodyguards for nazi leaders, they also broke up meetings of opposition groups. hitler put rohm in charge of the SA. many of the SA were thugs and difficult to control.

so 1923 hitler selected trusted members of the SA and formed his own bodyguard, the SS. in 1923, hitler was an unlikely future ruler of germany. his contol of the NSDAP was shaky.

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the rebirth of Nazism,1924

hitler left prison in 1924, with a clearer vision for his nazi party.


  • breaking the restrictions on germany in the T.O.V
  • reviving the power of germany
  • making germany self sufficient, not dependant on imports from abroad
  • expanding germanys borders
  • purifying the german 'race'


  • like the communists, hitler wanted to control bog businesss
  • however, communists wanted to take all private land and businesses in the hands of the workers. hitler did not support this form of socialism.
  • to him, socialism meant running the economy in the national intrest so that: bith agriculture and industry would flourish, businesses would not make unfair profits, jews could not control businesss, workers would be treated fairly
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this was the belief that the nazi party should totally control every aspect of life.

  • hitler despised democracy. he said it was weak
  • he believed in the leadership principle: total loyalty to the leader. this way, he said, the leader could organise every aspect of society for the benefit of the german people

traditional german values

  • strong family values, with clear male and female roles
  • christian morality
  • old style german culture, with traditional art,music and thetre
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hitler believed that life was contest, in which people constantly struggled against each other.nazis believed that germany should struggle:

  • outside her borders, against other countries, for land-to get living space,so that all german people could live together,united
  • inside her borders, against non-german people, so that they could strenthen the true german race

racial purity

  • according to hitler, the aryans were the superior race. these were the germanic people of northern europe, who he said had produced all that was good in human culture
  • he believd that other races, from places like eastern europe and from asia and africa were inferior races
  • the lowest form of life, he said, were the jews, whom he described as parasites who fed off the countries they lived in
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how Hitler improved the organisation& finance NSDA

Hitler re launched the nazi party on 27 feb 1925. he had lost none of his personal appeal:4000 people heard his speak;a further 1000 had to be turned away

hitler appointed 2 efficient organisers to run nazi headquarters;phillip bouhler as secretary and franz schwarz as treasuer. he also divided the party into regions and appointed a network of gauleiters answerable only to him, who ran the NSDAP in each gaue, or region.

to fund all this, hitler improved the partys finaces. he befriended germanys most wealthy businessmen. they shared his hatered of communism and hoped hitler would limit the power of trade unions. by the early 1930s, the nazis were recieving donations from giants of german industry, such as thyssen, krupp and bosch.

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the growth of the SA; start of the SS

this extra income helped hitler expand the SA. it had 40,000 members by 1930. the munich putsch had taught hitler the importance of a totally loyal bodyguard but hitler didnt trust the SA. many storm troopers were violent thugs and diffivult to control, and while hitler was in prison the SA had developed a dangerous loyalty to ernst rohm,its commander. so in 1925, hiter set up a new party security group, the SS.

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Joseph Goebbels and Nazi propaganda

hitler worked with goebbels to improve nazi party propaganda. hitler and goebbels had a simple message, but they created many ways to get it across.

  • they created scapegoats whom they blamed for germanys problems: the jews, the communists and the moderate leaderss of the weimar republic-especially the social democrats, who had signed the armistic and T.O.V.
  • they promoted hitler as the voice of the nazi party. by the 1930s,his speeches were reported in 120 daily or weekly nazi newspapers, read by hundreds of thousands of germans accross the whole country
  • they used the most up to date technology,including radio, films gramophone records, to keep hitler in the public eye. hitler used airplanes to fly from venue to venue, so that he could speak in up to 5 cities a day
  • they created a clear image for the party-an image of strength. the image was set by hitlers passion, the spectacle of mass nazi rallies and the impressive power of the SA
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weak nazi results in national elections 1924-29

by 1929, the nazi party was well organised. it had 100,000 memebers and hitler was a national figure. however, in some ways, these were lean years.

  • since 1923, inflation had eased, employment had increased and the public were better off
  • stressemann seemed to be regaining status for germany on the worls stage
  • in 1925, hidenburg, 78 year old ex field marshal, of the german army, had become president; his reputation made more people support the weimar republic

as a result, voters supported moderate parties, such as the socialists, and all extreme parties lost ground. in the general elections of may 1928:

  • the nazis won only 12 seats
  • they were the ninth biggest reichstag party
  • they polled only 810,000 votes-just 2.6 % of the national votes
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Nazi support grows

in october 1929, share prices crashed on wall street, the US stock exchange. american banks recalled loans to german industries and banks, causing many to close. unemployment rose and savings were lost, bringing suffering to working people and middle classes alike. unrest increased as people demonstrated in streets

chancellor bruning could not get majority support in the reichstag and had to govern by presidental decree. he tried raising taxes to pay benefits to the poor. he tried banning demonstrations to calm unrest. all failed. voters turned to the extreme right-wing and left-wing parties to solve their problems.

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hitlers appeal

hitler was one of the reasons people turned to the nazis. he was the partys figurehead. he appeared everywhere. he used airplanes in a whirlwind campaign for the 1930 and 1932 elections. germans saw him as man who could:

  • be a strong leader
  • unite the country
  • restore order from social unrest
  • force other nations to scrap T.O.V
  • persuade other nations to treat germany fairly

since WW1, germanys national pride had suffered. promises to 'tear up the treaty of versailles' and restore social order were very popular with the german people

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the strength of the SA

the main opponents for the nazis were the communist party. one factor in the electoral success of the NSDAP was that it had a stronger army than the communists. by 1930, the SA had 400,000 brown shirted stom troopers.

  • firstly the SA was used rallies to make the nazi party seem strong, organised, displined and reliable. in the midst of economic and social turmoil, the nazis seemed strong enough to control unrest and stand up to foreign powers
  • secondly the SA storm troopers were used to whip up feelings of hope for the future
  • they were used to disrupt opposition parties. the elections of 1930 and 1932 were violent. armed,uniformed men tore down opposition posters, intimidated their candidates, broke into their offices and disrupted their rallies. in 1932, in one clash alone in hamburg, 19 people wer killed. voters were also intimidated outside polling stations
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working class support

nazis had different appeal for different people.

  • many working people were attracted by nazi support for traditional german values and a strong germany
  • the nazis promised them 'work and bread' on posters
  • they also used posters which gave the impression that working people supported the nazis. after all, they were originally called the german workers party

the working class were important in politics. they were the biggest group of voters. but the NSDAP never dominated the working class vote. when times where hard, many workers supported the communists so nazi working class support was important, but it wasnt enough

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middle class support

one key group in the growth of nazi support was the middle class, which contained proffesional people, like teachers and lawyers, business people and small farmers. they often owned land or businesses and had savings. between 1929 and 1932, they deserted the moderate parties like the social democrats and the german peoples party, and supported the nazis. there were sevreal reasons for this.

  • the great depression.many had lost their companies, their savings or their pensions. they saw hitler as a strong leader who could help the country recover
  • they were also afraid of the growing communist party after 1929. the communists wanted to abolish private ownership of land and businesses. the middle classes saw the nazis as a strong party which could protect them from the communists
  • there was also a view that there had been a moral decline under the weimar republic, including more drinking and sexual openness. the nazis represented a return to traditional german values. this went down well with the middle classes
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the nazis targeted farmers in particular. the nazi policy of confiscating all private land was changed in 1928. the new policy said that private land would only be confiscated if owned by jews. so hitler could promise to protect the farmers from the communist party, which would have confiscated their land.

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big businesses

the support of big businesses was another reason for the growth of nazi party after 1929. the wealthy business classses usually supported the national party. but this party, along with the more moderate parties, decelined after 1929-its reichstag seats were cut by half. industrialists saw hitler as their best hope of protection from the rise of the communists

there were 2 main benefits from this for the nazia.

  • nazi finances benefited from wealthy businessmen, like benz and krupps, who began to pour money into the NSDAP
  • nazi propaganda benefited too. the national party leader, alfred hugenberg, was a newspaper tycoon. he allowed goebbels to use newspapers for nazi propaganda against the communists
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young people and women

the nazi party also gained support from women and the young.

  • young people were attracted by hitlers passionate speeches, his ambitions for the future and the atmosphere of nazi rallies
  • at first, women did not support the nazis whose polices towards women restricted them. however, nazi propaganda made special appeals to women. it claimed that voting for the NSDAP was best for their countires and best for their familes
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something for everyone

no single group was the key to nazi success, some historians say this was new for german politics and helped the NSDAP to grow.

therefore, between 1929 and 1932, the nazis grew from what the interior ministry called an 'insignificant threat' to the biggest party in the reichstag, with 230 members. moderate memebers cringed in the reichstag as the nazi delegates answered to the intitial roll call with 'present. hail hitler.'

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the presidential elections of 1932

by july 1932, the NSDAP was the biggest party in the reichstag.

the wall street crash had caused the collapse of german industry and banking. unemployment  and the loss of savings caused hardship and unrest. as in general elections,peopele protested by voting for extreme candidates, hindenburg, president since 1925, hung on with 18 million votes. the communist leader, ernst thallmann, polled on 5 million. however, hitler polled 11 million votes

because no candidate had acheievd 50% of the vote, the election was repeated in april. hindenburg, polled 19 million and re elected president. however, while, the communist vote fell to 4 million, hitlers vote grew to 13 million. hitler was now a major political figure in germany.

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the fall of chancellor bruning

in april 1932, the moderate socialist chancellor, bruning, used a presidental decree to ban the SA and SA. he wanted to calm unrest and control the nazis. but right wing parties were angered. an ambitious general, kurt von schleicher, decided to remove bruning. he organised a coalition of right wing groups, consisting of landowners, industrialists and army officers. then he persuaded hidenburg that they had a majority in the reichstag, and bruning was sacked.

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von papen becomes chancellor

hindenburg made von papen chancellor in may 1932.

von schleider offred the NSDAP a place in the coalition. he thought he could control the nazis. hitler agreed to the offer. from may 1932, therefore hitler and the nazi party were for the first time, part of the government of germany.

von papens coalition was weak from the start. hitler demanded that hindenburg should sack von papen and appoint him chancellor. he refused.

instead von paen hung on to office and called a new election for nov 1932. without hitlers support, von papen could no longer command a majority in the reichstag, nor the confidence of hindenburg. von papen resigned.

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von schleicher becomes chancellor

39 business tycoons signed a letter asking hindenburg to appoint hitler as chancellor. but hindenburg was still opposed.

von schleicher was confident that support for the nazi was fading. but he consistently failed to get a majority in the reichstag. he informed hindenburg that von papen and hitler were conspiring against him-they were- and that he needed hindenburg to susped the consituituon and declare von schleicher head of a military dictatorship. hidenburg refused, but news of von schleichers plan leaked out and he lost any remainig support in the reischstag. his time was up.

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Hitler become chancellor

throughout all this, von papen had continued to plot against von schleicher with hindenburg and right-wing parties in the reichstag. he told them that,if they supoorted hitler as chancellor, with von papen as vice chancellor, they could make all decisions themselves and use hitler as a figurehead. he said he had hitler 'in his pocket'

so reluctantly, hindenburg agreed that there was no alternative. on 30 january 1933, adolf hitler was legally and democratically appointed chancellor of germany.

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the reichstag fire

on the evening of 27 feb 1933, the reichstag building was destroyed by a massive fire. a young dutchman, a communist supporter, named marinus van der lubbe, was caught on site with matches and firelighters. he confessed and was put on trail with 4 others, though he claimed he acted alone. the other 4 were found not guilty and released. van der lubbe was found guilty and excuted.

hitler saw the reichstag fire as an opportunity to attack the communists. he had made a nazi, hermann goering, the new cheif of police. goering and hitler claimed that the evidence showed that van der lubbe was part of a communist conspiracy against the government.

hitler used the reichstag fire to make hindenburg declare a state of emergency. as long as hidenburg supported him, hitler could now use decrees to govern germany. next he persuaded hindenburg to call an election for 5 march 1933. he hoped for more nazi seats in the reichstag. there was nothing unconstitutional about any of this. however, before the election took place:

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  • hitler issued the decree for the protection of the people and the state. this gave him powers to suspend the civil rights of german citizens. he was able to imprison political opponents and ban communist newspapers
  • since he now controlled germanys police force, hitler could ensure that they turned a blind eye to the activities of the SA
  • hitler also persuaded krupp and other industrilists to finance the nazi campaign- 3 million marks were donated in just one meeting

it was a bloody election campaign; violent clashes led to 70 deaths

when results were announced, the nazis had increased their reichstag members to 288. hitler used his emergency powers to ban the communists from taking up their 81 seats. with the support of the other nationalist parties, this gave hitler 2/3 majority in the reichstag. this was crucial. he now had enough votes to change the constitution of the republic

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the enabling act

the enabling act changed the consitution of the weimar republic. hitler forced it through the reichstag in late march 1933. the full name of the act was the law for the removal of the distress of the people and reich. it gave hitler the right to make laws for 4 years without the consent of the reichstag. it was renewed in 1937.

the new law was passed by 444 votes to 94. in this sense, it was legal-even though reichstag memebers were intimidated during the vote. however, in effect, it marked the end of democratic rule of the weimar republic

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trade unions,political parties and local governmen

hitler belived that, if communists amongst working men were able to control their trade unions, the unions could be used, in strikes for example, to undermine the government. therefore, in may 1933, hitler used his powers to ban trade unions and make strikes illegal

in july 1933, hitler followed the ban on trade unions by issueing a decree too amke all politcal parties in germany illegal, except for the NSDAP

the next step was for hitler to strengthen the central government in berlin-which he controlled-and to weaken local government in germany. under the weimar consitition, all regions of germany had thier own parliament, which ran local government in the area. by 1934, hitler had control of the reichstag-but he could not control the 18 regions parliaments. so in jan 1934, he abolished the region parliaments and declared that govenors, appointed by him, would run every region of germany

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the night of the long knives

by the start of 1934, hitler had made germany a one party state. he now made sure that he was the unrivalled leader of the one party-the nazi party.

hitler feared ernst rohm, the leader of the SA,

  • rohm had merged an armys veterans group, the stahlhelm, with the SA. this brought SA numbers to 3 million. with so many SA members loyal to him, rohm was in an ideal position to challenge hitler
  • rohm also oposed hitlers policies. he criticised hitlers links with rich industrilists and army generals. he wanted more socialist policies, to tax the rich and help the working clases

the german party also worried about the power of rohm. after the T.O.V the army only had 100,000 men it was dwarfed by the SA. rohm wanted the SA to replace the german army. leaders of the SS, resented rohm too. they wanted to reduce the power of the SA, so that they could increase their own power and the status of the SS. in 1934 leaders of the SS and the army warned hitler that rohm was planning to seize power. so june 1934, hitler arraged for rohm and several other senior officers of the SA, to be arrested, imprisoned and shot. the night of the long knives

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rohm was taken to stadelheim gaol, where on 1 july, an SS brigade leader arrived. he left a loaded pistol, with one bullet, in rohms cell, therefore inviting rohm to commit suicide. after 15 mins hearing no sound, he entered the cell with his deputy, where they both shot him. in the middle of this von papen, still vice chancellor, protested to goering. he was told that the SS had things under control and he should return home for his own safety. SS squads were rounding up suspects; one group reached von papens office before he did, shot his press secretary and arrested his staff.von papens home was surrounded and his telephone cut off.

over 4 days about 400 people, including 150 senior members of the SA, were shot without trial. these included:

  • general von schleider-the ex chancellor- who was gunned down. goering announced they had been shot resisting arrest
  • gregor strasser, a nazi member with socialist views similar to rohm, who was locked in gestapo cell before gunmen sprayed bullets through a window. 

hitler clearly acting illegally by murdering his rivals for power. the SA continued after 1934 but it was limited to giving muscle to the nazi party and no longer rivalled the army. it was also now firmly inder hitlers control

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the death of president hindenburg

2 aug 1934, he died, aged 87, and hitler moved in to take over supreme power.

  • he declared himself germanys fuhrer
  • he decreed that, as fuhrer, he would add all of the presidents powers to those he already held as chancellor
  • he forced an oath of loaylty to him from every soilder in the army

a public vote was organised to confirm hitler as fuhrer. bombarded by pro-nazi propaganda, 90% of voters decided in favour. the weimar republic had ended; hitlers third reich had begun.

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the gestapo

  • these were hitlers non-uniformed secret police force
  • set up in 1933 by hermann goering and placed under control of the SS in 1936
  • led by reinhard heydrich
  • germans particulary feared the gestapo because they couldnt tell them apart from regular members of the public
  • they arrested anyone who acted against or who spoke out about nazi ideas
  • the SS could imprison people without trial
  • they only had to answer to their commanders and hitler
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the SS

  • a military group set up in 1925 as a personal bodyguard for hitler
  • run by heinrich himmler from 1929
  • totally loyal to hitler
  • SS warned hitler about rohm in 1934
  • SS used in night of the long knives
  • in 1930 the SS were expanded and put in charge of other state security services
  • carried out nazi policy of racial purification
  • himmler ensured members were aryan in appearance and expected to marry racially pure wives
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the law courts

  • hitler took control of what happened in the courts
  • he set up the national socialist league for the maintenence of the law
  • he insisted all judges must be members. if any judges displeased the nazis, they were denied membership
  • certain that judges would support nazi ideas, hitler gave them freedom to punish people even if they had not broken the law
  • he also set up a new people's court, to hear all treason cases. judges from this court were hand-picked. if their sentences were too lenient, hitler increased them himself
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concentration camps

  • first one opened in dachau in 1933
  • later that year the first camp for women was opened at moringen
  • camps were normally located in isolated areas outside cities and away from public gaze
  • inmates were mainly political prisoners or 'undisirables' like prostitutes, and minority groups such as jews
  • from 1938 onwards, the SS used camp inmates as forced labour for business enterprises for example making army uniforms
  • there were 6 concentrations camps by 1939. after 1939, this grew in number and were used for mass murder
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Nazi Germany and the church

christian beliefs opposed to national socialism (nazi beliefs):

  • catholics followed the pope not hitler
  • catholivs had there own schools, which taught values different from nazi state schools
  • christians believed in 'do not kill'
  • christianity preached tolerance and peace and respect for all people

hitler wanted everyone to follow him. he didnt want people who believed very strongly in their faith will die for it. wanted the priest and pope to share his ideas. he went about this with violence and the police

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censorship and propaganda

the press

journalists were given regualr breifing containing the information the government were willing to publicise, they were sometimes given direct instructions what to write. newspapers were encouraged by the nazis-but they had to provide views which the ministry agreed with or face the consequences.


the nazis had little respect for academic reserach, between 1933 and 1938, 3000 proffesionals or lecturers were dismissed from jobs. research was heavily directed by the ministry and the results were expected to support nazi views. all academics who remained had to agree publicy to things which were clearly nonsense.

the arts

plays were a good way of getting nazi views accross=cheap theatre tickets. music censured-no jazz. books censured

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all radio stations were put under nazi control. hitler and other nazi officials made frequent broadcasts. cheap mass produced radios were sold or placed in cafes, factories and schools; speakers were even placed in the street. by the 1930 there were more radios per person in germany than anywhere in europe.


film makers had to send the plot of every new film to goebbels for approval. goebbels also influenced films shown at cinemas with audiences of over 250 million in 1933, they obviously had excellent potential for getting nazi views accross


hitler refused to present medals to any of the nine black US medal winners. nazis built the largest stadium in the world-to show off. germany won 33 medals,more than any other country.

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women in nazi germany

nazis had a very different view of how women should fit into society. they believed that like germanys youth women should serve their society and the best way that they could do this was to be good mothers to be good members german women should:

  • stay healthy
  • learn housecraft-cookery and needlework
  • marry and enable their husbands to be useful workers
  • have children and bring them up to be useful good germans
  • stay at home and concentrate on domestic matters, not work or politics

furthurmore 'good' german women were not expeted to wear makeup or trousers, or to dye or perm their hair

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marriage and child birth

birth rate was falling in nazi germany and the nazis wanted to reverse this as well on their general views on the role of women, they had several policies specifically intended to increase marriage and childbirth.

  • in 1933, the law for the encouragement of marriage was introduced loans of 1000 marks were provided for yound couples to marry as long as the wife left work
  • mothers cross encouraged childbirth bronze for 4 or 5 children,silver for 6 or 7 and gold for 8 or more children
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children and nazi germany

teachers teaching the children had to support nazi views. all teachers had to be careful about what they said as children were encouraged to inform the authorities if a teacher said something that did not fit in with the nazi curriculum for schools

girls had a differenct curriculum as they studied domestic science and eugenics.both of which were to prepare young girls to be the perfect mother and wife. for boys considered special, different school were created. those who were physical fitter and stronger than the rest went to adolf hitler schools where they were taught to be the future leaderss of germany.

even after school there time was occupied. the hitler youth catered for 10 to 18 years olds. there was seperate organisations for boys and girls. the task for boys was to prepare the boys for military service. for girls, the organisition prepared them for motherhood

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germany 1933

  • by jan 1933 unemployment had reached 6 million
  • no one would loan germany the weimar government couldnt do anything to help the unemployed
  • hitler was elected on a promise to give the german people 'bread' and jobs
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how did Hitler reduce unemployment

the nazis set up RAD (national labour service). this gave men jobs in public work schemes, men in RAD had to wear a uniform and live in camps, they were given free meals and pocket money. also they built drainage ditches,schools, a new network of motorways.

national self sufficiency. hitler wanted to make germany a strong indepandant country that was sufficient in food and materials. germany lost WW1 because it run out of these things german scientists developed all sorts of artificial subsitutes-petrol,coal and coffee from acorns. it gave unemployed jobs 

by 1934 all jews were sacked from civil service jobs which were then given to german workers. unemployed jews were not registered on the unemployment list. women lost their jobs which were given to men. people who refused jobs offered by labour service were arrested and put in concenttation camps

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did life improve for Germans under Nazi rule

hitler set up 2 organistations to help working conditions. one was the SDA-beauty of labour. this organisation tried to ensure good standards at work-of safety,cleankiness, lighting,noise levels,ventilation and hot meals. the other was KDF. this provided leisure activities for workers, including sport facilities, films, outings and thetre shows. the most loyal workers could win impressive holidays.

this shows the improvements in living standards. hitler hoped people would recognise that they were better off than communist countries and that workers would see hard work as a noble thing

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what is the background to anti-seminism

anti-semitism, had been common in europe for centuries. there were several reasons: their religion, customs and looks made jews stand out as 'different' some christians hated jews, blaming them for the execution of christ. when times were hard, people looked for scapegoats and sometimes blamed the jews. jews were critiscised for being communist rebels-like kurt eisner, the jewish leader of the communist in munich 1918. but they were also criticied for being selfish capitalists, since many jews were wealthy business people. among many, hitler was one who blamed manys problems on the jews

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Hitlers views

1925, hitler set out his racial views more clearly in mein kampf. he claimed that there was a hirachy of races. the aryan race was the supperior race. they were portrayed as tall,blond,blue-eyed and athletic. other races such as the slavs of eastern euroupe, were lesser races. then there were the sub-humans;this included africans worst of all according to hitler were also the gypsies and jews

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ways Jews were persecuted

from april 1933, there were nazi boycotts of jewish businesses

from may 1933, jews were banned from government jobs

from sept 1933, jews were banned from inheriting land

from may 1935,jews were banned from the army

from june 1935, jews were banned from resturants

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Nuremberg laws

15 sept 1935, a set of changes called the nuremburg laws were passed

  • these included the reich law on citenzinship, which stated that only those of german blood could be german citizens. jews lost the right to vote, hold government office or have german passports
  • jews were required to wear coloured patches to set them apart
  • forced to travel in diffrent parts of busses and trains
  • the reich law for the protection of german blood and honour forbid jews from marrying germans

from 1938,matter became more ominous

  • from march 1932, jews had to carry identity cards
  • from july 1938, jewish doctors dentists and lawyers were forbidden to work for white aryan germans
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7 nov 1938, a young polish jew hershel, went into the german embassy in paris, randomly picked out a german and shot him. hershel had greivence against germans for the way they had treated his parents. a wave of anger swept the country. then 9 nov von rath died. goebbels told hitler he left this meeting saying that the fuhrer had ordered that if germans decided to take revenge on jews, the government should do nothing to prevent it. this was reported in the nazi newspaper.

so on 9 and 10 nov, gangs smashed up jewish property and attacked jews. some germans were horrified others watched with pleasure. however, even these listed 814 shops, 171 homes and 191 synagogues destroyed, about 100 jews were killed. the damage was  so bad, that these events were called kristallnacht (cystal night).

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the aftermath

goebbels blamed the jews for starting the trouble on kristallnacht:he said that jews would be:

  • fined 1 billion marks to pay for the damage
  • banned from running shops or businesses
  • banned from german schools or universities the SS and SA had started to round up jews as punishment. by 12 nov 20,000 jews had been sent to concentration camps persecution came to head in 1939
  • reinhard heydrich, head of gestapo, became its director, he was given the task of ridding germany of its jews altogether-by enforced imigration
  • so in april 1939, orders went out that all jews should be evicted from their homes. they would be crowded into certain areas of cities-sometimes enclosed areas of cities-ghettos. until they could be deported. living conditions were overcrowded and there was little food
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which other groups were persecuted

there were 30,000 gypsies in germany in 1930s.they suffered similar persecution to the jews. nazis also persecuted only people whom they believed undermined moral standards, such as homosexuals,prositutes,jehovahs witness, alcoholics, pacifists, beggers , hooligans and pertistant criminals. nazis also persecuted those whom they belived weakned the pure german bloodline, such as the unhealthy, the disabled or the mentally ill

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