Machinery of Terror

  • Created by: GreyCP
  • Created on: 11-06-18 12:22


  • Nazis aimed to make Ger a totalitarian state (where the gov controls all aspects of life.)
  • Hitler created a terror state - his enabling act of 1933 meant the gov could read people's mail, listen in on phone calls and search homes without notice.
  • The Law for the Reconstruction of the Reich in 1934 gave the Nazis power over local goverments 
  • They changed the justice system - Judges no longer had to be fair, they were expected to make rulings in line with Nazi Policy. 1933 - Nazis set up special courts where basic rights of those accused were suspended - you couldn't appeal/question evidence given against you
  • 1934 - H establishes People's Court in Berlin - trials for political crimes - nearly all defendants found guilty
  • Sicherheitsdienst (SD) = Nazi intelligent service, formed in 1931, it aimed to bring every German under continual supervision. Led by Heydrich, under control of ** & Himmler.Wore uniforms.
  • Nearly 17 million people in Ger hadn't voted for H and the Nazis, these people were likely to be a constant problem for H unless dealt with so Nazis developed a policy of intimidation.
  • H's Police State worked on the rule if you said nothing no harm could come to you. You kept any doubts about the running of the country to yourself or you'd pay the price. The wrong comment overheard by a Nazi Official = serious consequences.  
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  • ** - Schutzstaffel - (Protection Squad) - they were set up in 1925 as a personal bodyguard for H. Main role in 1930's = Nazi Party Police Force. Wear black uniforms, carried out Nazi Racial Policy. Himmler runs the ** from 1929 and trains them. 24,000 members by 1939. All members had to be Aryan and physically fit. After the NotLK they run the concentration camps. Could also arrrest people withour trial. Involved in the mass genocide of the Jews.
  • Gestapo - Non-uniformed secret police. Led by Reinhard Heydrich. Placed under ** control and Himmler in 1934 =. MOST FEARED - YOU DIDN'T KNOW WHO THEY WERE. Had aroung 40,000 members and 160,000 agents and informers. They could tap phones, open mail, arrest people without trial, torture them and imprison them in CC. They relied upon large sections of Ger society to act as informers. Informers would report to Block Wardens who would visit local communities and check people were praising Hitler/flying Nazi flags on celebration days etc


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Terror State

  • Concentration Camps - ran by **, set up as soon as Nazis came into power (1933), usually in remote rurual areas. Fisrt used to question & torture people. Late 1930, they were run by Death Head section of ** as labour camps. Some prisoners had to work for Nazi owned businesses, camops held jews, communists, political prisoners, socialist and church leaders & those who held anti-nazi views. First camp opened in Dachau in 1933, one for women in Moringen. Undesirables e.g. homosexuals also sent there. 
  • Police and Courts : Ordinary police continued work but bosses were all Nazis. Courts under Nazi control as well. No offences carrying the death penalty rose from 3 in 1933 to 46 by 1943. Over 90% of defendants in the Belrin People's Court recieved the death penalty. 
  • Members of the public were encouraged to report disloyalty, acted as mass surveillance. They would tip off authorities in their own self interest. Family & friends would report each other - self policing. Enemies of the State were persued more intensely than ordinary germans, sometimes they's turn a bling eye to some misdemeanours. 
  • NEWER HISTORIANS CHALLENGE THE IDEA THERE WAS NO ESCAPE. They argue there were relatively few officers in cities and this declined as the war went on. Usually 1 officer per 10,000 to 15,000 people, in Russia it was 1:500 people. 
  • Most gers were prepared to go along with these new rules, some through fear. Others because they believed in Nazi aims even if they didn't approve of the brutual methods.
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It means spreading info that affects how people think. They used it to help them control lives.

  • Goebbels in charge of the Ministry of People's Enlightenment & Propoganda, founded 1933
  • It had departments for music, theatre, film, literature, radio etc. All artists, journalists, musicians had to register and get their work approved
  • Gobbeld had joined in 1922, became closer to H after Bamberg C in 1926. Co-ordinated his electoral campaigns & presidency campaign
  • All newspapers opposing Nazi views closed down. 1600 closed in 1935 alone
  • Journalises given briefings by Gov, told what to write
  • no freedom of speech
  • After 1933, G censors radio stations, uses them to broadcast Nazi Prop. Cheap mass produced radios sold to public, placed in cafes, factories and schools. All stations out under Nazi control. Radios had short wave designs, preventing people from listening to foreign stations. By 1939 70% of houses had a radio, giving the Nazis a voice in most homes.Goebbels thought radios were a weapon to the totalitarian state. 
  • Nurmeburg Rally held once a year, show german strength & unity. HUGE PROPOGANDA EXERCISE - flags, swastika banners, lights = POWER of H etc Foucused on speeches led by H & Goebbels. 1934 rally recorded in a film "Triumph of the Will." 1936 - 1 mill attended.
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  • Berlin Olympics - sport was nazified, all visitors had to give the Nazi Salute during the German national anthem. 1936 Olympics supposed to showcase superiority of the Aryan Race, ger wealth and power. Ger won 33 medals. Jesse Owens (African-American) won 4 gold medals challenging Aryan superiority & undermining H. 
  • Reich Chamber of Culture banned any culture that didn't fit in with Nazi Ideas
  • Reich Chamber of Visual Arts, ensured painters & sculptors had to apply for membership. Some forbidden to produce art. Modernist art removed from galleries. Nazis disliked modern Architecture. H got Albert Speer to design many new buildings, they were big & took inspo from Ancient Rome. Showed Nazi power through grand buildings. 
  • Jazz Music banned, seen as work of black people. Tradtional folkmusic favoured inc Beethoven & Bach. New books had to be approved by Chamber of Culture. 2,500 writers banned. Millions of books burned, May 1933 - stundents in Berlin burned 20,000 books written by jews, comms.
  • Cinemas, audiences of over 250 million in 1933 - useful for getting Nazi Ideas across - Films preceeded by a 45 minute Nazi News Reel publicising German Achievements. 


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  • Used to unite people, make Ger strong under Nazis
  • Encouraged germans to hate countries that signed the TofV, saying Ger should fight for the land that was stolen by the treaty back
  • Goebbels created the Hitler Myth -  made H seem like the saviour of Ger. This was the cult of the Fuhrer
  • Said Jews & Communists were the biggest cause of Nazi Problems
  • Encouraged returning to traditional values & a revival of Ger culture
  • In 1933 only 3% of Ger daily newspapers were controlled by the Nazis. 1944 - 82%. 
  • Nazis produced many films, showed the strength of H and them, weaknesses of opponents, Leni Riefstahl = important director
  • Posters - showed evil of Ger's enemies, power of H. 
  • Promised an empire that would last a 1000 years. 
  • Modern Art labelled degenerate, exhibitions created to show how bad it was. Under Weimar artists had started to experiment.
  • School Textbooks rewritten to make Germans look successful
  • "Strength through Joy" programme sought to show ordinary gers the Nazis cared about their stanadard of living. 
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Effectiveness of Propoganda?

It's difficult to tell. 

  • Some say it's better at reinforcing existing attitudes rather than changing them
  • His TofV hatred propoganda was popular because this was largely disliked anyway
  • After political weakness of Weimar, the people liked Hitler's strong, God-like image, so the Hitler Myth was effective and it was a strong focus in propoganda 
  • Anti-Jewish and Anti-Communist attitudes already existed before H came to powe. 
  • WR seen as too liberal by many, a return to traditional values seemed appropriate
  • The Depression had left many in povery, making them easier to persuade & the Nazis promise of help popular.

Goebbels wanted to create mass enthuciasm for the Nazi Party. During the war people began to question the H Myth & tell anti-Nazi jokes. Some prop focused on the scheming Jews, seducing Aryan women & corrupting racial purity. IT BUILT ON PRE-EXISITING ATTITUDES. 

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Problems Goebbels faced with Propoganda??

  • 1) Newspapers - no national newspapers, many privately owned
  • 2) Radios - expensive, not everyone owned one, only state radio stations
  • 3) Films - under Weimar people had got used to big entertaining films, great stories, great actors, the Nazi Prop films were boring compared to this
  • 4) Festivals - lots connected to the Church, to get people's interest they had to be impressive
  • 5) Culture - the GY culture was seen as decadent & immoral. It wasn't "German." 
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