Germany 1919-1945

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The Weimar Republic

since 1888 Germany was ruled by a Kaiser, no democracy and Kaiser controlled by Reichstag. 1918 violent uprisings meant the Kaiser fled and Germany became a Republic. 

Germany economically broken after ww1, people were starving.

Violent protests in big cities, half a million workers on strike. 

The weimar constitution

  1. the president
  2. the chancellor
  3. the Reichstag
  4. German people
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Problems caused by Treaty of Versailles

  • New governement signed the armistice, known as 'November Criminals' because people were angry and shocked
  • Terms of the treaty were too harsh- LAMBS
  • Left wing violence- the sparticist uprising- communists led an uprising (Jan 1919) but were crushed by army and Friekorps. The red rising of the Ruhr- 50,000 workers take control of Ruhr, crushed by Friekorps
  • Right wing violence- the Kapp Putsch (Mar 1920) Friekorps take over key building in Berlin and govermnent flee; people went on strike and take over failed. Munich Putsch- led by Nazi's and SA; planned to take over government, they sent in the army
  • March 1922 Germany announced they couldn'y pay reparations, France sent in troops to the Ruhr and took produce. Goverment told Ruhr workers to stop working but they would still recieve pay.
  • more money had to be printed which led to hyper inflamation.
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The Golden Years

August 192'3- Stresemann came to power, known as the 'Golden Years'

  • told France they could pay reparations and called off strike in the Ruhr
  • introduced the currency which brought hyperinflamation to control
  • 'Dawes Plan' gave Germany more time to pay reparations, loans from America
  • 'Locarno Pact'- UK and France promised not to invade
  • 'Young Plan' reduced the amount to pay for reparations


  • many saw weakness with the cooperation with other countries
  • German economy dependent on US loans
  • rich people made to pay more taxes
  • unemployment never fell below 1 million
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Achievements of Weimar period

Foreign Policy

Stesemann's signed the Locarno treaties in 1925, guaranteeing not to change Germany's western borders with France and Belguim. In 1926 Germany were accepted into the League of Nations

The economy.

By 1927 German indusry seemed to have recovered well. 1928 they achieved the same levels as before the war and made them the second greatest industrial power. Government was able to increase welfare benefits and wages for state employees


Free expression of ideas, writers and poets flurished, golden age for cinema and artists tried to represent reality for German people

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Nazi Party in 1920s

1920- Nazi party publish the 25 point plan which stated their aims:

  • anti semitism
  • overthrow versailles treaty
  • expand Germany
  • help workers and the poor

1921- Hitler took over the party and renamed it the 'The National Socialists'. Designed the swastika as the symbol

1923- Munich Putsch- 14 Nazi's killed and Hitler was sent to prison where he realised he had to change tatics in order for the Nazi Party to gain power legally.

People were put off by Nazi anti-semitism and the aim of invading other countries. Hitler was banned from speaking which was were he gained the most support and the Nazi principles of hate and blame were less effective when people were well off so they had to change.

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Nazi's change tactics

  • merged with other right wing parties, Nazi's became a national organisation
  • got support from the rich in Germany and USA by appealing to their fear of communism
  • youth groups were set up to gain their support
  • proganda was used more effectively
  • set themselves up as a 'modern organisation' 


1928 election- Nazi's recieved 3% of total votes

The workers voted for the social democrats and many were happy with the government as it was. Those who weren't voted for the communists

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Wall Street Crash

The price of shares in New York stock exchange crashed in October 1929 and so the US had to recall loans from around the world. This hit Germany hard as they were dependant to US loans. This led to the Great Depression.

The Great Depression meant that unemployment rised and many German people were starving and living in poverty. They blmaed the government which made the Weimar look weak. The government had to cut social benefits to solve economic crisis which made them less popular. Increased support for extremists parties like the Nazi's and by 1932 they had 12 seats in the Reichstag.


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How Hitler gained power in 1933

Actions of the Nazi Party:

  • Nazi promises- make Germany stronger again, appealed to everyone 
  • Hitler's leadership skills
  • Nazi propaganda
  • Organisation- worked hard in local regions to gain support. Marches made them look capable of strenghing Germant

Other events:

  • weak oppostion- social democrts and the communists wouldn't work together 
  • fear of communism- rich feared a revolution and would lose their wealth, Nazi's used this
  • political deal- president Hindenburg makes Von Papen chancellor but is then removed. Von Papen uses Nazi party to gain power. Makes a deal to become vice chancellor and Hitler becomes chancellor, Hindenburg agress in Jan 1933
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Consolidating his power

support fell 33%, Hitler needed 50%to control Reichstag

1. The Reichstag fire (Feb 1933)- reichstag building destroyed,dutsch communist found at scene so Nazi's claimed it was the start of communist revolution. 4000 communist leaders arrested

2. Emergency power- Nazi's could arrest without trial and banned political groups from meeting

3. New elections- Nazi's win 44% of votes (March 1933)

4. Enabling law (Mar 1933)- Hitler given power to create new laws without Reichstag, end of democracy

5. Night of the long knives (Jun 1934)- Hitler worried about the power of the SA and sent SS to destroy them; 400 SA members killed including leader and some other opponents. This stopped people opposing the Nazi party and gave power to the SS

6. Hindenburgs death- Hitler made Fuhrer, made army take personal oath to him

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Opposition to the Nazi regime

  • Former political opponents- communists, social democrats had secret meetings and handed out leaflets. Political leaders were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
  • Churches- Catholic and Protestant churches were closed down as well as youth groups and church schools
  • Army officers- Officers turned against him because they were against decision to invade USSR or turned against him when war went badly. 1944- bomb plot to kill Hiltler failed
  • Young people- white rose group spread anti-Nazi leaftlets and posters, leader were executed. Edelweiss Pirate got into fights with Nazi youth groups and sang ant Hitler songs.

There was so little opposition because people believed life was good under Nazi control, censorship of media meant no voices were heard and people were too scared because od SS and Gestapo

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How the Nazi's controlled opponents

Concentration camps

  • used the tortune then as death camps
  • prisoners used as slave labour

The gestapo

  • state secret police
  • spied on people
  • arrested and imprisoned without trial

The police and Law courts

  • Nazi's took over police
  • courts under Nazi control, no fair trials
  • death penalty increased
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Groups persecuited

  • tramps 
  • physically and mentally disabled
  • homosexuals
  • gypsies
  • Jews

Jewish persecution.

  • 1933- boycott of Jewish shops
  • 1935- Nuremburg laws- lost German citizenship, couldn't marry non Jews
  • 1938- Kristallnacht- Nazi's encouraged peopleto attack Jews and destroy their businesses and homes. Police weren't to intervene, 91 Jews died and many were transported to concentration camps.
  • 1941- ww2 had started- German invaded Poland and USSR, Jews were round up and shot
  • 1941- final solution- mass extermination of Jews in Europe. 6 million killed in death camps (Holocaust) 

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Controlling the youth

Youth groups

Hitler youth (boys 14-18) popular before Hitler came to power, made complusory when he took leadership. Spent time doing physical activities and were made to take a personal oath promising to be faithful to Hitler. League of German maidens (girls 14-18) did physical activites and domestic skills


Teachers had to be members of Nazi Party and whole cirriculum changed to teach Nazi ideas. Only taught: PE, history, biology and geography

Was this successful?:

Yes- enjoyed the activities.

No- some rejected the Nazi way such as the Edelweiss Pirates

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Controlling the women

  • Work- all women employed by the state were sacked so they would stay at home
  • Loans- offered to couples to encourage them to get maried. The more children they had the less they would pay back
  • Medals- awarded for having children, more children= better medal
  • Propaganda- promoted old-fashioned image of women, were made to wear traditional German clothing

Was this successful?:

Yes- number of marriage and babies born increased 

No- number of women working went up because of the shortage of workers. Employers liked to employ women as they were payed less. 

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did people benefit from Nazi regime?

Reduced unemployment:

  • increased the armed forces and rearmament 
  • put young men to work
  • introduced huge building programmes

Advantages for workers:

  • national labour services set up the find men work
  • strength through joy was set up to arrange leisure activites for workers and their families

Disadvantages for workers:

  • trade unions abolished 
  • workers had no rights
  • forced to join German Labour Front
  • national labour service had gruelling hours and military style dicipline
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