Germany 1919-1945


Problems faced by the Weimar Government

  • The 'Stab in the Back': The Kaiser didn't tell the German people about how the war was going badly for Germany, so when peace came it was a shock to the people. People were now very bitter and were looking for someone to blame, the German army had been stabbed in the back by the new government 
  • The Treaty of Versailles-1919:People were annoyed at the government for signing the treaty, it made Germany look weak, but really the Weimar didn't have a choice
  • Political Violence: Lots of oppostion from right wing and left wing groups, Left Wing: Spartacist Rising,1919. Right Wing: The Kapp Putsch, Munich Putsch, 1923 led by the Nazi Party 
  • Invasion of the Ruhr: 1922, Germany announced it could not pay the reparations for the next three years, the French didnt believe it so French troops marched into the Ruhr and took control of the mines, trainlines, factories. The Government told the workers to go on strike-passive resistance. 
  • Hyper Inflation:The Government had to pay the workers who were on strike, so they printed more money, the more they printed the less it is worth, prices rose at an incredible rate, by November 1923 the German mark is worthless. 
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The Treaty of Versailles


  • Lost 13% of it's land
  • Germany was split into two,to give Poland access to the sea-Polish Corridor
  • Rhineland was demilitarized,to protect the French 
  • Oversea colonies were taken away 
  • Asace Lorraine went to France, Saar went to the League of Nations 


  • Army was reduced to 100,000 men
  • Six battleships, navy was cut to 15,000 sailors 
  • Germany was not allowed sumbarines,tanks or air force 


  • 'War Guilt', allies could demand compensation for the damage that had been caused 

MONEY: Reparations set in 1921=£66000

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How did Stresemann solve the problems?

Hyper Inflation: Scrap the old currency and set up and whole new one-Retenmark  

French Occupation in the Ruhr: Call of passive resistance, promise to pay reparations to France, so they leave 

Germany is not trusted: Make a series of treaties with other European countries, stick to the treaty of Versailles and try not to regain the land lost. In 1926 Germany joined the League of Nations.

The Massive Reparations: Promise to stick to the terms of treaty, persuade allies to let you have longer to pay the money you owe. Get loans from the USA so you can start paying back reparations 
Young Plan:Lowered the total amount of money Germany had to pay in reparations
Dawes Plan:Geramny could pay reparations in lower amount but for a longer amount of time+loans from America  

Germany needs to rebuild economy: Try and get loans from the USA, use this money to build homes, roads, schools and hospitals. Tax richer people more and use the money to increase pensions and help the unemployed

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Why had the Nazis fail to get into power by 1928?

1. The Nazis lacked the support of the working class

Most workers voted for the Social Democratic Party 
Workers who wanted change voted for the Communists

2. 1924-1929 was a time of peace and prosperity 
Political violence in Germany had decreased and Stresemann had managed to solve most of the problems faced

3. The Nazis ideas were too extreme

People were put off by the Nazis anti-semetic ideas and their aim of invading other countries
The SA were very violent  

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Getting Hitler into Power: Wall St Crash

Wall St Crash 1929:

Germany was dependant on America for loans and when the Wall St Crash hit, America recalled all their loans,people lacked the confidence to invest in businesses and there is a decline in world trade. 

The Great Depression:
German firms go bankrupt--->Unemployment rises---->Germans are forced to live in poverty, less money to spend on goods-----> demand for German goods drop

3 effects of the depression:

  • Made life a great struggle for people 
  • People thought the government wern't doing enough to help. The government didnt want hyper inflation to happen again. As people lost their jobs, taxes were less so the government cut back on the amount of money that they spent to help the needy- this made them unpopular 
  • Support for extreme parties increased. As unemployment increased so did the support for more political parties
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How did Hitler become Chancellor?

  • Fear of Communism: Communist Party was the largest in Europe. It was very popular with working class however business owners and farmers didn't like communism becasue the government had taken over farmers land and big industries 
  • Weak Opposition:The Nazis two main rivals were the Communists and the Social Democratic Party. These two parties were also rivals and were not prepared to worl together 
  • A political deal: July 1932, Nazis won 37% of votes, Hitler demanded to be Chancellor, Hindenburg however appointed Franz Von Papen, Von Papen did not have control over the Reichstag. Von Schleicher was then appointed Chancellor, Von Papen wanted revenge so he made a deal with Hitler, that he would be Chancellor and Von Papen, vice chancellor. Hindenburg agreed and Hitler became Chancellor in Jan 1933. They made sure only 3 out of 12 people who made up the government were Nazis  
  • Hitler's Leadership:Strong speaker+could identify his audience and fill them with a sense of hope
  • Nazi Promises:Desgined to appeal to everyone, very flexible with what they said depending on audience 
  • Organisations:SA looked like they could bring law+order to Germany, leafleting, public meetings, soup kitchens for the unemplyed 
  • Propaganda:Josef Goebbles-films,slideshows,radio, slogans, rallies, loud speakers,posters 
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Hitler's Path to Dictatorship

  • 27th Feb 1933: Reichstag Fire- Van der Lubbe was a communist found at the scene. Nazis claimed this was the start of a communist plot to take over Germany(terrorist attack), Hitler called out Article 48. The police could arrest anyone they wanted without trial. 
  • 5 March: Elections-SA used to pressure people into voting for Nazis, won 44% of the vote 
  • 24th March:Enabling Act-Hitler wanted the Enabling Act so he could pass laws without going through the president or the reichstag. Hitler needed to get 2/3 of the Reichstag to agree, Hitler joined with the Centre Party and 444 votes. Reichstag had voted itself out of exsistence 
  • 2nd May: Trade Unions taken over-All trade unions were merged into one organisation called the DAF
  • July:All political prties banned
  • 29-30th June 1934:Night of the Long Knives-SA leaders were taken to Nazi headquarters and shot dead even Rohm
  • 2nd August:Hindenburg dies-Hitler was now the Fuhrer
  • August:Army Oath-Personal loyalty to Hitler
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Control through terror:

Organsised by Heinrich Himmler 

  • The **: Had 240,000 members, everyone had to be Aryan they were trained to be ruthless and loyal to Hitler. They could arrest people without trial and search houses 
  • The Gestapo:The state secret police. They could open mail, tap telephones and collect information from a wide range of informers. The Gestapo arrested people without trial, tortured them and imprisoned them in Concentration Camps.
  • The Police and Courts: The normal police became part of the informers collecting information on everyone, however ignoring crimes committed by Nazis. Nazis were appointed as judges so a fair trial was immpossible. The number of offences that resulted in the death penalty went from 3 to 46 e.g. telling an anti-nazi joke, having a relationship with a Jew 
  • Local Wardens: Every town was divided into blocks, the block warden woulld visit every home every week to collect donations and check up on things,
  • Concentration camps: Inmates were held in camps for short periods of questioning,torture, hard labour and forced instruction in Nazi ideas. The camps held jews,Communists, Socialists, trade unionists, church leaders 
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Control through propaganda

Organised by Josef Goebbles 

  • Radio: People could only listen to Hitler's speeches, German music, German history, foreign stations could not be picked up. Radios were made cheap so everyone could have one.
  • Books: Book burnings took place, books that were written by anyone the Nazis didn't approve of were burnt. This would prevent people thinking outside the Nazi ideas 
  • Films:There was always a newsreel film before the main one made by Goebbels. Anti semetic films were made-The Eternal Jew 
  • Newspapers: Jews were banned from working or owning a newspaper
  • Rallies: Shows power and unity, stadium was built just to show the rallies 
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Opposition Groups:

Former Political Opponents: They wanted to bring back democracy, they held secret meetings, strikes, anti nazi graffti, handed out leaflets

The Churches: They wanted to keep politics and religion seperate, some just wanted to keep their positions

Army Ofiicers: They wanted to replace Hitler and seize power, attempted to assasinate Hitler(July Bomb Plot), gave Hitler the excuse to round up all his well known opponents,arrest and execute them. 

Edelweiss Pirates: A group of young people who though outside the Nazi way and avoided going to Hitler Youth meetings instead they drank, had sex, some beat up Nazis 

The White Rose Group: Sophie and Hans Scholl set up the group, they spread anti nazi messages through handing out leaflets, graffiti, posters. They were executed 

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Hitler's Germany

1. A Germany with the Nazi Party in Control

German people shouldnt vote or criticise they should obey and be grateful 

2. A Racially pure Germany 

Only Aryans, blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin would be wlecome 

3. A Germany with traditional roles for men and women

Women, wearing simple clothes, no make up, would stay at home, cook simple meals and produce babies. 
Men would work and if necessary fight. Boy and girls would be prepared for their roles through the educational system 

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How did the Nazis change the lives of Young People

The Hitler Youth:
80% of young Germans were members by 1939.
Activities: Hiking,running, cross country, jumping out the first floor of a building, close combat exercises.
League of German Maidens 
The emphasis for girls was on keeping fit and home building

PE: 3 double lessons a week, boxing was cumpulsory for boys, girls focused on chilcare and home building
History: Pupils were taught about the unfairness of the Treaty of Versailles, the wickedness of Jews and Cummunists, rise of the Nazis
Biology: Instructed on the Nazi racial ideas and the superiority of the Aryan race
German: Focused on Geramn War heroes, and Nazi party
Geography: Taught about land that used to be Germanys and should now be re taken 
Maths: Maths question that slipped in anti semetic messages and indocrinating children 


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How did the Nazis change the lives of Women?

All women employed by the state, were sacked!

Loans: Were offered tyo couples to encourage them to get married, they recieved 1000 marks, the more children they had, the less of the loan they had to pay back. 

Medals: The Honour Cross was awarded to mothers, gold for 8, silver for 6, bronze for 4. 
However women with inherited diseases, or weakness such as colour blindness to be sterillised 

Women had to wear simple clothes, they couldnt dye their hair, wear make up, wear high heels or smoke. 
Children, Church, Cooking  

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How did Nazis change the lives of workers?

How did the Nazis reduce unemployment? 

  • Huge building programmes: New autobahns, hospitals,schools, houses paid for by the government 
  • Re-arming Germany: New tanks, planes, ships this meant industries boomed 
  • By removing women from the unemployment register 
  • By removing jews from the unemployment register 

The DAF:
Organised better working conditions for workers, ventillation etc, through an organisation callled Strength Through Joy. This organisation provided workers with free tickets, holidays
However workers had no rights, they could not go on strike, wages fell and hours increased,
All young men had to work for the National Labour Service for 6 months, worked like an army, were promised a Volkswagen that people paid for in advance however it was never delievered.


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how did Nazis change the lives of people who didn'

  • Habitual crimanals, who were regarded as socially useless(not doing anything to help Germany) were sent to concentration camps 
  • The physically and mentally disabled were regarded as a burden they were there first to be gassed 
  • Those who didnt fit into normal famillies e.g. homeosexuals, were sent to concentration camps, many were castrated and used in medical experiments
  • Those who would not make Hitler their first loyalty, put in concentration camps 
  • Those who were not Aryan, sterilised and some out in concentration camps 

The Nuremburg Laws-1935- Jews were not German citezens or allowed to have sex with a non jew 

Kristllnacht-1938, November

From prejudice to persecution

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The War

Goebbles was put in charge of 'total war'- nothing mattered except the war effort

  • Women under 50 were sent to the factories to work and produce war materials, many didnt like this so pretended to be ill or got pregnant. Hitler still wanted to increase the birth rate, so women were allowed to have babies with other husbands or husbands were allowed to father other children 
  • All theatres and concert halls were closed except cinemas 
  • No non military clothing or funiture was made 
  • Civil Defence: The Nazis setup a homeguard to defend the country in an emergency, it was made up of old men and teenagers 
  • There was more opposition from Hitler Youth 
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The Holocaust

The Einsatzgruppen:
Following behind invading armies were a group of ** members called the Einsatzgruppen. They rounded up Jews in each town, took them out to the countryside, made them dig a trench. The Jews were then shot into the trench. 

The ghettos: 
Jews were put into section cut off from the city called ghettos. They were very overcrowded, dirty, food, power and water were cut off. Many Jews died there each day, if anyone tried to escape they would be shot.

The 'Final Solution': 

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