End of WW1
Germany emerged from the war broken, with more than 2 million dead. As defences were defeated there were many rebellions within the army. Germany became so desperate for peace that the Kaiser stood down. Germany had little choice but to sign the armistice, yet many thought this was a betrayal. This lead to the early government, lead by Ebert (Social Democratic Party), being refered to as 'November criminals'. The terms of the Treaty of Versailles were intensly disliked by the German population, probably due to clauses such as War guilt, and the reduction of the German forces. Land and Colonies were also lost.The new government came to be the Weimar Republic, as it was formed in Weimar, due to political unrest in Berlin.
Rebellion in the Weimar Republic
The early years of the Weimar Republic were full of rebellions and opposition.
Spartacist revolution-Janurary 1919. Lead by the Spartacist League (Communist Party), they attempted to take power in Berlin. The government formed the Freikorps (volunteer soldiers) to fight them. Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, the leaders, were executed by the Freikorps (who were very anti-communist).
Kapp Putsch- 1920. Lead by Dr Wolfgang Kapp with the Freikorps. They wanted to bring back the Kaiser. The regular army refused to fire on them, so they were only halted by a general strike, called by the government.
Munich Putsch-1923. Lead by Adolf Hitler and the German workers party. Marched on Munich, believing that the army would join their cause. However they opened fire and some protesters were killed. Hitler arrested and uses trail as publicity, then writes Mein Kampf in prison. Decides that if he cannot take power, he will be voted in.
Some members of the Freikorps formed a Organisation Consul. They assassinated leading politicians who agreed to the Treaty of Versailles.
The Problems of 1923
There were many problems in 1923, which neary lead to the collapse of the Weimar Republic.
Germany missed a reparations payment.
This meant that French troops occupied the Ruhr, intending to take the amount owed in raw goods.
However the government, and the country needed the goods, so workers are encouraged to rebel or strike.
The striking workers still needed to be paid, so the government printed more money. However this reduced the value of the money they already had, so more and more money is needed.
This produced HYPERINFLATION. It meant that about 2 million marks would get you 1 loaf of bread. This worked well for visitors, and people with loans, as they could pay back on much less. However for pensioners, who had saved, they discovered that their life savings wouldn't feed them for 1 week.
The Stresemann era of 1923-29 was a time of prosperity for Germany, despite the early troubles of the government. Under his 'guidance', a new currency was introduced. He also signed the Dawes Plan, in which the USA loaned Germany money (there was no point really, germany paid the UK, and the UK paid the USA). He also agreed to the Young plan, which spread reparations further apart (until 1988).
Stresemann also signed the Locarno Pact, in which borders between France, Belgium and Germany were 'respected'. He also signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, against the use of war in foreign policy.
However one of Stresemann's greatest acheivements was getting Germany re-accepted by the international community in 1926, when German joined the League of Nations.
Flaws of the Weimar Republic
There were several flaws in the Weimar constitution. However the general idea seemed to work. Everyone over 21 had the vote. Election were every 4 years for Reichstag and 7 years for President. Seats were voted for using Proportional Representation. There was also part of the constitution called Article 48, which stated that the President could pass laws by emergency decree.
The proportional representation meant that there was usually no overall majority, and article 48 was often used. This meant that there was no political stability to the government.
Article 48 meant that only 1 person (the President) had to agree to the law before it was passed. This meant that the laws were not always best for the people.
Early rise of the Nazi party
After the failure of the Munich Putsch, Hitler decided to control Germany through legal means. The Nazi party were a extremist party, well known for anti-Semitic views. During his imprisonment Hitler dictated Mein Kampf (My Struggle). The Nazi party had little success until 1929. This was because Wall Street crashed, USA called back it's loans and the economy collapsed. Also Stresemann died leaving Germany less politically stable. This meant that ordinary German people started looking for more radical options, such as the Nazis and Communists. The Nazi party promised everything to everyone. Hitler expoilted the governments problems, and promised 'Arbeit und Brot', or work and bread. The Nazi party became the largest party in the Reichstag in 1932. Hitler only became Chancellor because von Papen, was overthrown by von Schleicher. von Papen persuaded Hindenburg (the President), to replace him with Hitler, believing he could be easily controlled. This was 1933.
Nazi's gain power
In 1933 the Nazis had only 3 of 12 government positions. In March 1933 a election was called. The main propoganda for this election showed the dangers of communists. Hitlers claims appeared to have come true in Febuary of that year, when the Reichstag was burnt down, supposedly by a Dutch communist, van der Lubbe. However there have been many claims that it was the SA who set the fire, and then framed van der Lubbe. Either way the fire was very useful to Hitler, who arrested many communists, and banned political opponents from holding meetings. The election results increased the Nazi party's power but did not give them a majority. To gain the majority he wanted, Hitler banned the communist party from taking their seats, and he gained the support of the Centre party (Church), by saying he would not take measures against the church.
Hitler's consolidation of power
Enabaling law-1933. This law allowed Hitler to make laws without the Reichstag for 4 years. Despite the majority he surrounded the building with Stormtroopers. The law was passed by 441 voted to 84. The Reichstag met 12 times in the next 6 years, passed only 4 laws and the only speeches were made by Hitler.
Law Against the Establishment of Parties-1933. This banned all other parties, and made the Nazi party the only legal party in Germany. Germany was now a dictatorship.
Night of the Long Knives- 1934. Leading SA leaders (including Roehm), were killed by the SS (Hitler's personal guard). Many others were arrested. This was because Hitler thought that Roehm might challenge him, or offend Nazi donors. Propoganda was used to convince people that they had been a threat.
Hindenburg died. Hitler replaces him in the combined office of President and Chancellor, but is called Fuhrer (leader).
The army swore an oath of loyalty to Hitler NOT Germany as it had before in 1934. This meant Hitler had absolute power over Germany.
Nazi control was mainly due to propaganda. Goebbels was the Minister for Propaganda and Enlightenment. They controlled all media, films, newspapers, music, radio. There were more radios per head in Germany than USA. Goebbels suppressed non Nazi views, such as Jazz and Communism, and also spread the message of Nazism. There were also mass book burnings and rallies, to show the power of the Nazi party. The Olympic Games were even held in Munich 1936. It was televised, with a brand new stadium. Hitler saw it as a great way to show the superiority of the Aryan race, but included 1 Jew on the team after international pressure. More medals were won by Germany than any other country, but Black athletes, such as Jesse Owens who on his own won 4 gold medals and broke 11 world records. This showed that Nazi racial policy didn't really work, so Hitler refused to shake his hand.
There was much opposition towards the Nazis both before and during the war.
Church opposed Hitler because he started to interfer, and even set up his own Church. Many were sent to concentration camps.
Youth rebelled against the itler Youth. Many just listened to music and picked fights, but some translated BBC broadcasts and helped army deserters.
Some Army members rejected Hitlers plans. They were sacked in large numbers.
During the war
1944 Bomb plot. Some leading politicians tried to assassinate Hitler, but he survived. The leaders were hung with piano wire.
Rose movement handed out pamplets trying to persuade people to oppose the Naiz regime. They were arrested and killed.
Life in Nazi Germany-Youth
The Hitler Youth movement became compulsory for all young people.
For boys there was a emphases on military training, and were prepared for joining the army.
Girls were prepared for motherhood, and tought domestic studies, such as cooking.
Young people were encouraged to report on parents and teachers for critising the Nazi regime.
New textbooks were printed, teaching Race Studies and Ideology, and how Jews were to blame for all Germanys problems.
Life in Nazi Germany-Women
For women in Nazi Germany there was much propaganda. They were encouraged to have children, and stay at home for a stable family. Women were discriminated against at work, and many were forced to give up their jobs. Women were said to be different not inferior. They were removed from jury service, as they were not capable of thinking without emotion. Women were encouraged into having children, with Mother's Crosses awarded for 4,6 and 8 children. Contraceptives were hard to get, and anti abortion laws were passed.
Life in Nazi Germany-Work
One of the things Hiter promised was work, and unemployment did fall during the Nazi regime. Lots of public works were started (like building motorways) and many unskilled workers were used on these projects. Also many unemployed joined the army.
However Trade Unions were abolished, and instead the Geramn Labour front was set up. Wages fell, hours got longer and employees had fewer rights. Also workers had to pay to join their local branch.
Strength through Joy was set up to reward hard workers. They were given cruises and theatre tickets.
Volkswagen Peoples car. This was Hitlers idea, a car that everybody could afford. However very few were ever bought.
The Nazis persecuted many groups in German society.
Jews, Foreigners, Disabled (both physically and mentally), Gypsies, Homosexuals, Criminals, Communists, Clergy, Homeless etc.
Many of these were sent to labour camps, but Jews were sent to concentration/death camps, as part of the final solution.
Some were sterilised, but euthanasia was used on some.
Many mearly lost their rights and citizenship. Some tried to emigrate, and a few such as Einstein were successful.