The Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression
The recovery of the German economy was fragile. It depended heavily on American loans. In 1929 disaster struck with the Wall Street Crash.
- American banks were forced to recall their loans. German companies were unable to pay.
- German buisnesses began to close. Millions lost their jobs. By 1932 the number of unemployment had reached 6million.
- Many became homeless as they could not afford to pay rent.
- More and more people felt negatively towards Weimar, Weimar did nothing so it made them seem very weak
- People began to turn to more extremist parties
In the years 1929-33, as the effects of the depression got worse there was a growth in support for extremist political parties. (Communists and Nazis)
- Hitler portrayed himself as a strong leader who was capable of making Germany strong again
- Hitler was a charismatic public speaker and was a good organiser
- Hitler promised to rip up the hated Treaty of Versailles
- Hitler promised to create jobs for the unemployed
- Hitler promes to destroy communism
- The Nazis gave the German people scapegoats (people to blame) - Jews and Communists-
- Nazi propaganda was simple but effective (Josef Goebbels)
- Used modern technology (radio) to spread their message
- Used planes to fly Hitler all across Germany
- SA (Stormtroopers) were used to break up other political group meetings
- They created violence which Hitler then blamed on Communists
- The protected Nazi meetings
The Nazis had a broad appeal, they appealed to lots of different groups of people. Although in doing this, some of his promises contradicted themselves
Unemployed Workers - Hitler promised to create jobs for the unemployed
Middle Class - Communism was a threat to the Middle class, Hitler promised to destroy Communism
Businessmen - Hitler promised to lower workers rights and wages, Businesses would benefit and make larger profits. In return they provided Hitler with money and resources to help him get his message across
German Nationalists - Hitler promised a dictatorship and to make Germany strong again.
Some German people did not benefit, Jews and Communists
Weaknesses of Weimar Government
Weimar tried to deal with the depression by raising taxes, cutting saliries and cutting unemployment benefit. This made weimar very unpopular.
Weimar used proportional representation which lead to many coalition goverments who made slow decisions
Weimar appeared very weak and so many people wanted a strong decisive government (Nazis) rather than a weak democracy
By 1932 the Nazi message had reached a large audience and the Nazi party was the largest in the Reichstag.
In 1932 there was also a presidential election but Hitler lost to President Hindenburg, he used the opportunity to put across the Nazi message, promising to build a stronger country.
As the Nazi party was the strongest in the Reichstag, Hitler demanded to be made Chancellor. Hindenburg was suspicious of Hitler and instead appointed Franz von Papen as Chancellor.
Von papen called another election in November 1932, to increase his support, the Nazis lost seats but were still the largest party in the Reichstag, von papen did not get the extra support he needed.
Hitler is made Chancellor
It was clear that President Hindenburg could not continue to work with a Chancellor who did not have support in the Reichstag.
- Hindenburg and Von Papen decided to make Hitler Chancellor
- They believed they would be able to control him once he was in power
- They were scared of Communism and believed they could use Hitler to get rid of it
On 30th January Hitler became German Chancellor and von Papen Vice-Chancellor
Reasons why Hitler became Chancellor
Wall Street Crash - Created mass unemployment, Highlighted the weaknesses of the Weimar Government, Created poverty, Germans turned to extremist parties
Weakness of Weimar - Their failure to deal with the Depression, Weaknesses of constitution, Proportional representation
Nazi Promises - Rip up Treaty of Versailles, Broad appeal, Return to dictatorship
Hitlers Leadership - Great public speaker and organiser, Nazis appeared strong
Organisation of Nazis - Marches and rallies, Powerful propaganda
SA - Scared and intimidated people, broke up other parties meetings
Communism - People were scared of Communism
Von Papen and Hindenburg - Misjudged Hitler and thought they could control him
Reichstag Fire - February 1933
- The Reichstag was set on fire
- A communist, Van de Lubbe was found inside the building and arrested for the crime
- The Nazis were quick to exploit the fire for their own purposes
- They were quick to blame the Communist Party
- Hitler pursuaded President Hindenburg to use Article 48, to pass an emergency law, this gave Hitler the power to arrest anyone he thought responsible
- German Communists were arrested and their Political Party destroyed
- It helped the Nazis in the 1933 March Elections
- Removed a political opponent of Hitler and the Nazis
- Effectively destroyed the Communists
Election of March 1933
In the Election of 1933, the Nazi party was still the largest political party in the Reichstag in March 1933, however they only had 44% of the votes and so did not have an overall majority.
However he gained the support of the Nationalists, who were also extreme right-wing, and got support from the Centre Party by promising to protect the Catholic Church in Germany.
In addition, by using the Presidents Emergency Law, the Communists were not allowed to take their seats in the Reichstag.
Enabling Act, March 1933
Hitler still did not have enough support to have complete control of Germany. He wanted to pass an Enabling Act, to do this however he needed to obtain the votes of two-thirds of the Reichstag, but he had the support of only half.
- He ordered his SA to intimidate the opposition
- The SA attacked and threatened members of other parties (social democrats) and they were forced to sign the Enabling Act
- The Enabling Act was passed bu 441 votes to 94
The Enabling Act - Gave Hitler complete power for four years. He could pass any laws without the support of the Reichstag and was a dictator by law.
He used the Enabling Act to:
- Put Nazis is senior positions
- Remove opposition
Elimination of political opposition - 1933
In July 1933, Hitler increased his grip on power even futher.
- The communist party was already banned, but using the enbaling act he banned all other political parties in Germany.
- Germany became a one-party state, the democratic Weimar Republic had been destroyed and Germany had become a dictatorship.
- Hitler then banned trade unions and all workers became part of the German Labour Front
Hitler was destroying all possible opposition towards him
Night of the Long Knives - June 1934
- The SA: Became an embarrasment, their behavour was violent, Rohm and other SA leaders were homosexuals.
- The German army saw the SA as a rival and wouldn't fully support Hitler until the SA were disbanded
- Rohm was a threat to Hitlers dominance of the Nazi Party, Hitler thought they might launch an attack on Hitler as they were growing in size.
- Hitler made a deal with the generals of the German army, they promised to support him if the SA was disbanded.
- On 30th June 1934, SS assissnation squads murdered Hitlers potential SA rivals including Rohm, up to 400 people were killed.
- SS were personally loyal to Hitler and they replaced the SA
- Hitler no longer had any opposition
- Hitler became more popular with the Army
Death of Hindenburg - Hitler becomes Fuhrer - 1934
In August 1934, President Hindenburg died
- He was the last remaining person who could have removed Hitler
- It allowed Hitler to combine the post of President and Chancellor to become Fuhrer - Leader of Germany
- The Army swore a personal oath of loyalty to Hitler not the state
- It allowed Hitler to make the Enabling Act permenant and rule as a dictator indefinately
How Hitler changed Germany from a Democracy to a D
The Reichstag Fire - Meant that Hitler could destroy Communist Party
The Enabling Act -
- Made Hitler a legal dictator for four years.
- Meant that Hitler could ban other political parties
- He could ban trade unions
- He could put Nazis into senior positions in the government
Night of the Long Knives -
- Destroys internal opposition to Hitler
- Army swear a oath of loyalty to Hitler
Death of Hindenburg-
- removes any obstical to his power
- Hitler combines Chancellor and President to become FUHRER
The SS, Gestapo, Police and Courts
SS and Gestapo
The police state that Hitler wanted was enforced ruthlessly by the SS (Hitlers bodyguard) and the Gestapo (Secret Police)
Gestapo - Led by Reinhard Heydrich
SS - Led by Heinrich Himmler
They both used terror tactics to intimidate, arrest and even kill possible opponents of the Nazis - such as liberals, communists and socialists.
Police and Courts
The police were under instructions to ignore crimes commited by Nazis
The Nazis controlled the courts, trials were very biased
The Gestapo could hold anyone arrested in "protective custody" in a concentration camp.
The camps were run by SS guards.
They mostly contained politic prisoners but anyone brave enough to critisize the Nazis were sent here:
- Trade Unionists
Propaganda and Censorship
The main aim was to provide Germans with a Nazi view. Josef Goebbels used his power to control all information that reached the German people.
- Newspapers - Censored by the Government and only allowed to print stories favourable to Nazis
- Radio - Controlled, all stories and news items were favourable to Nazis
- Film - German films showed great German heros, cartoons were used to show Jews as weak and devious
- Books - only published with Goebbels permission
- Art - Only Nazi approved painters could show their works
- Posters - Germany was plastered with Propaganda Posters
- Nuremberg Rallies - Mass rallies were organised, they showed the German people the power of the state and the huge support for Nazis
- 1936 Berlin Olympics - used by the Nazis to suggest the superiority of the Aryan Race
Education and Churches
Education and Youth
Teachers had to belong to the German Teacher's League and follow a Nazi curriculum.
- School textbooks were rewritten in support of Nazi ideas and history
- Children were taught the Aryan race was superior to others
- Outside of school, parents were encouraged to allow their children to join youth groups organised by the Nazis (Hitler Youth and German Girls League) where they were indoctrinated with Nazi ideas and beliefs
In 1933, the Catholic Church in Germany signed an agreement with Hitler. Both sides agreed not to interfere with each other.
The Nazis effectively took over Protestant Churches in Germany. Many protestants accepted this because they were Nazi supporters, even though many Christian elements of worship were not allowed.
Hitler had promised to remove unemployment. This was achieved by 1938.
- The Labour Service Corps was set up. From 1935, it was compulsury for men to serve in the Corps for six months
- Unemployed men were used to build government funded roads, motorways, houses, hospitals and schools
- From 1935, all men were compelled to do military service for two years
- Rearmament provided thousands of jobs
Hitler was also determined to make Germany self sufficient, he did this by trying to make Germany less dependant on imported materials
The Labour Front replaced trade unions. Workers were not allowed to leave their jobs without government permission and strikes were banned. Many people were happy to see the German economy recovering and so happy to have jobs.
The "Strength through Joy" movement organised leisure activities and provided the public with cheap holidays and entertainment.
Many Germans were pleased with the apparent improvements. Unemployment was falling rapidly and industry was expanding.
Policy towards Women
Hitler stated that women's role was Kinder, Kuche, Kirche (Children, Kitchen and Church)
- The Nazis wanted to encourage as many births as possible of "racially pure" children - the most productive mothers recieved special medals
- German women who held positions of responsibility before 1933 lost status and were sacked from their jobs.
- Women who were happy to be mothers remained loyal to Hitler and were happy with their lifestyle
The Jews and Kristallnacht
Jews were hugely persecuted against by the Nazis. In 1933 they organised a boycott of all Jewish Buisnesses. In education Jewish children were sent to other schools and Germans were taught Jews were responsible for Germanys defeat in WW1 and they were unclean.
In 1935 the Nuremberg Laws were introduced, Germans could no longer be German citizens and had to wear a yellow star on their clothing.
Kristallnacht - The night of broken glass
- In 1938 Hitler ordered an immediate attack on the Jews and their property
- Thousands of Jewish buisnesses were attacked and synagogues burned down
- Violence against the Jews increased
Persecution of Other Groups
Nazis also pursecuted other groups as he wanted to create a master race of superior aryans and anyone who didn't fit into this was discriminated against:
- The disabled
- The homeless