Nazi Germany 1933-1945

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  • Created by: Molly
  • Created on: 20-05-14 19:44

Nazi Ideology...

Power of the Will:

Power, strength and determination personified Hitler in propaganda. Parades of SA represented unity and discipline.

Aggressive Nationalism:

Reverse the Treaty of Versailles, establish a greater German Reich and to secure Lebensraun.

Anti-democracy and a belief in a dictatorship:

To destroy the Weimar government. He believed democracy led to communism. He blamed the Jews for democracy.

Struggle, Violence and War:

Hitler extoloed military virtues of courage, loyalty and self-sacrifice.

Social Darwinism and the master race:

Only the fittest would prevail. There was a hierarchy of races. Aryans were maintain racial purity.


Only Aryans would be citizens of the state. Based on 'blood and soil'. Everyone would work for the good of the nation.

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The Reichstag Fire...

Reichstag Fire - 27th February 1933

The Reichstag building was destroyed. A young Dutch communist was arrested and charged with causing the fire. The Nazis claimed that this was part of a communist plot to start a revolution in Germany.

Decree for the Protection of the People and the State - 28th February 1933

This was issued in immediate response to the Reichstag Fire by President Hindenburg. It meant the immediate suspension of key civil liberties. Hitler could now exercise his power through easily arresting and imprisoning his opponents. This also made discrimination easier.

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The use of terror in 1933...

In January 1933 the SA were the Nazis' main instrument of terror. Membership began at around 500,00 but this grew to 3,000,000 a year later.

The SA unleashed a sustained assault on political opponents such as the communists during the lead up to the March elections. By July 1933, 26,789 political prisoners had been arrested by the SA. Election meetings were broken up, newspapers were suppressed and the distribution of election leaflets became almost impossible. Left-wing parties were virtually driven underground.

Terror could not guarantee that the Nazis would stay powerful as the communists and SPD still gained votes in the 5th March 1933 elections. The Nazis won 288 seats (43.9% of the vote) but were still short of the majority.

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The Enabling Act...

The Enabling Act - 24th March 1933

The Enabling Act granted Hitler's government emergency powers to rule by decree for four years. It required a two-thirds majority in the Reichstag for it to become law. This was achieved partly through violence. The SA and ** lined the corridors and doors of the Kroll Opera House, Berlin. Communist deputies were banned from taking their seat. Only the SPD had the courage to vote against the Act but it was duly passed.

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Hitler needed the Army on his side as they had the power to remove him, physically and through appealing to Hindenburg. On the 3rd February 1933 Hitler met with Hammerstein, the Army's Commander in Chief. He told him that he planned rearm the Army and that he wouldn't undermine their role as the most important institution in Germany. Additionally Hitler promised to get rid of the growing SA that threatened the Army's existence. In return the Army gave Hitler a free pass to establish a dictatorship.

Big Businesses:

Hitler had always had the support of leading industrialists. On the 20th February 1933 Hitler met with them and asked for financial aid to support the Nazi election campaign. He received 3 million Reichmarks. The Big Businesses would benefit from an anti-communist government.Big Businesses avoided the process of Gleichschaltung.

Civil Service:

Traditional, conservative-minded civil servants accepted Hitler as they identified with authoritarian rule and did not like the Weimar Republic. The traditionalists believed the Nazis would rule through a state government which would be run by non-politcal expert administrators. However they realised this was not the case. Hitler feared a revolution from below which would undermine his attempts to build an alliance with conservative forces. He introduced in April 1933 the Law for the Re-establishment for the Civil Service which led to the purge of Jews, Commmunists and Socialists from the civil service.

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The Night of the Long Knives...

The Night of the Long Knives - 30th June 1934

The ambitions of Rohm and the SA were growing as Rohm had plans to merge the SA and the army. The army feared this as the SA outnumbered them significantly and it would cut the amount of duties the army were required to do.

Hitler also felt threatened by the SA and the planned revolution from below. His insecurities were added to by the fact that the army had not sworn an oath of allegiance to the Nazi regime. The army promised to swear an oath if Hitler got rid of the SA.

Hitler also used the Night of the Long Knives to eliminate other opponents and to settle old scores. At least 84 people were executed including Rohm and the SA leaders. Among the other victims were General Schleicher and Gustav von Kahr who played a key role in crushing the Munich Putsch. Fritz Gerlich, the Catholic newspaper editor, was also executed.

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The use of policies to consolidate power...

The Law for the Protection of Retail Trade - May 1933

This law banned any further extension of large department stores The aim was to protect small shopkeepers from competition from larger stores which, in Nazi eyes, were Jewish-owned. This led to boycotts of department stores.

The Law to Reduce Unemployment - June 1933

The Nazis began public work schemes to provide work for the unemployed. It also provided subsidies for private construction projects and offered tax rebates and loans to companies to encourage them to increase production. It also persuaded women to leave their jobs once married. In June 1933 work on the Autobahns began.

The Reich Entailed Farm Law - September 1933

All farms between 7.5 and 125 hectares were declared to be hereditary states which could not be sold or closed. It was also decreed that only Aryan German citizens were allowed to own farms. This was designed to protect small peasant farmers from being forced to leave the land however it actually deprived farmers of the freedom to sell or mortgage properties.

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Parades and Public Spectacle:

Organisation, order and discipline was shown through the wearing of uniforms and medals, the carrying of banners and the choreographed singing of party songs. On 30th January 1933, after Hitler was appointed Chancellor, 100,000 SA and ** men took part in the Torchlight Procession. Spectators were obliged to salute and hang swastikas. Compliance was monitored by Nazi 'block-leaders'.


It was difficult for Goebbels to take control as since January 1933 there were 4,700 privately owned newspapers.  There were some Nazi newspapers but they only gathered 2.5% of sales. Socialist and Communist publishing houses were closed down. The Nazis increased its direct ownership of newspapers. Those in private hands were obliged to comply with government directives. Newspapers became bland, conformist and boring and sales declined.


Radio broadcasts had been used effectively in the election campaigns of 1932 and 1933. They gave Hitler the opportunity to talk directly to the people. in 1933 he made over 50 broadcasts. In January 1933 radio statios were controlled by state governments, Goebbels was determined to change this. Some 13% of staff were dismissed on racial or political grounds. In April 1934 all radio stations had finally been taken under by the Reich Radio Company. By 1939, 70% of households owned a radio.

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The Hitler Myth...

The Hitler Myth was a cultivated image that portrayed Hitler as: 

  • A representative of justice and a man of peace.
  • Defender of Germany who was a political genius and dynamic, energetic and forceful.
  • Responsible for all successes of the Nazi government as he was hardworking, tough and incompromising.

Why did it develop?

  • Reaction to the weak Weimar Government.
  • Satisfied people's need for strong leadership.
  • Enhanced propaganda.

What were the effects?

  • Helped gain Hitler popularity.
  • Strengthened the regime as it helped to cover up inconsistencies and failueres.

It did contribute to the decline of the Third Reich as Hitler started to believe himself to be infalliable. In reality the myth presented a false image of Hitler.

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Key events of the development of the Hitler Myth..

The Day of Potsdam - 21st March 1933

Following their election victory the Nazis staged the opening of the new Reichstag at the Garison Church in Potsdam. The setting was deliberately chosen as it represented the old, imperial Germany. The date too was significant as it was the start of spring which symbolised a new awakening. The day became a clever piece of theatre which united the old and new Germany with Hindenburg's blessing as he represented imperial Germany.

Hitler's Birthday - 20th April

Celebrations were orchestrated to show universal public acclaim for Hitler. Flags, bunting and photographs of Hitler were displayed in towns and villages across Germany.

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Economy - Hjalmar Schacht...

  • Schacht was made Minister of the Reichsbank 1933-39 and Minister of Economics 1934-36.
  • He continued state investment to reduce unemployment.
  • He believed the only way to have a sustained economy was to tighten wages and prices so to control inflation.
  • Schacht introduced the New Plan in 1934 in order to control German foreign trade and improve the country's Balance of Payments. He set up tradeing with countries in South America and South-East Europe to prevent Germany incurring a huge foreign currency deficit whilst still allowing it to buy raw materials needed for rearmament.
  • Schacht introduced Mefo Bills - (an exchange system where the gov. would provide credit notes for work done by industries, payment would occur after 5 years).
  • He took the first steps towards rearmament.
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Economy - Hermann Goring

  • Goring was appointed commissioner of Raw Materials in April 1936.
  • He believed in the policy of Autarky.
  • In 1936 he introduced the New Four Year Plan aiming to make Germany ready for war within four years.
  • Rearmament and autarky was achieved through; controls on labour supply, prices, raw materials and foreign exchange. Additionally Goring established new state-owned industrial plants such as the Hermann Gorring Steelworks. Production of iron, steel and chemicals was increases.
  • Goring focussed on wage reductions, food shortages and conscription of female workers due to demands of rearmament.
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Economy - Albert Speer...

  • Speer was appointed as Reich Minister for Armaments and Production in February 1942.
  • He was responsible for all industrial output and raw materials.
  • Speer introduced the policy of Total War.
  • The economy improved greatly under Speer because; central control of raw materials and more realistic contracts saw a rise in output per head in the armaments industry, he employed more women in factories, made effective use of concentration camp prisoners as workers and he prevented skilled workers being lost to the military.
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The Nazi Economic Policy...

In January 1933 the German economy was in a depression. There were nearly 6 million people out of work. By 1935 official figures showed that unemployment had fallen to 2 million, while by 1939, there were labour shortages in key industries. Propagandists called this a success and therefore an 'economic miracle'.


The state urged national comrades to eat a 'one pot meal' on Sunday once a month as 'sacrifice for the Reich' and to donate the money they saved to Winterhilfe.


This fund was introduced in 1933 to provide extra help to the unemployed during the winter months. Propaganda was used to encourage donations and to demonstrate how Germans were uniting to help each other. Unlike other schemes, Winterhilfe did actually provide benefits to Germans, with nearly 9 million receiving payments in 1938.

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Who gained the most from Nazi Economic Policy?...

Elite and Big Businesses:  Benefits - Big Businesses were needed to accelerate rearmament and were thereby supported by the government and given loans. Elites had linkswith the army allowing them to keep their land.  Drawbacks - Big Businesses that were Jewish owned were helped by the government in order to save jobs but the Jews were forced to resign their ownership.

Small Businesses:  Benefits - Had the support of the Nazis as they both hated Big Businesses. The Law for the Protection of Retail Trade meant department stores were banned from expanding.  Drawbacks - Nazis supported Big Businesses and as a result between 1933-39 the number of shoe repair shops declined by 14%. Department stores were not closed down.

Workers:  Benefits - The KdF allowed workers to go on holiday. There was an increase in workers in factories and there was an increase in pay between 1933-39. Some employers gave benefits and bonuses. Beauty for Labour improved working conditions. Drawbacks -  KdF was just a propaganda tool. There was control over wages and workers were also subjected to pay compulsory contributions to DAF.

Peasants and Farmers:  Benefits - The Nazis needed self-sufficieny; peasants were a life source. Nazis introduced a suspension of debt payments and increased tariffs on agricultural imports meaning peasants' products were bought. The Reich Food Estate was established to take repsonsibility of agriculutre production. Drawbacks -  Summer 1945 price controls meant farmers didnt benefit from food shortages; agriculture wasunprofitable and people moved to towns.

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The Berlin Olympic Games 1936...

  • The Nazi regime saw the Berlin Olympics as an opportunity to present a positive image of the Third Reich to the world. 
  • The stadium became a symbol of revival and confidence.
  • During the opening ceremony a Hindenbury airship flew over, a choir of thousands sang and flags were flown.
  • Anti-semitic propaganda was removed.
  • The police rounded up criminals and put them in detention.
  • Sport and physical exercise showed the Nazi ideal of racial purity and the Volksgemeinschaft.
  • Schools devoted time to sport and the Hitler Youth and the German Labour Front organised sport for millions.
  • Sport provided the opportunity to demonstrate the Aryan race and its 'superiority'.
  • No Jewish athletes were selected to compete.
  • The German team headed up the medal table with 89 which lived up to expectations.
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  • Coordinated by Bernhard Rust, the Education Minister.
  • Under the Law for the Re-establishment of the Professional Civil Service a number of teachers were dismissed on the grounds of political unreliability or because they were Jewish.
  • Teachers were pressurised into joining the Nationalist Socialist Teacher's League and by 1937 97% of teachers had joined.
  • Teachers were sent to training courses where they were indoctrinated with Nazi ideology and obliged to participate in physical training.
  • Teachers could be denounced to the authorities by their pupils if they made any criticisms of the regime.
  • Vetting of textbooks was undertaken after 1933. From 1935 central directives were issued by the Ministry of Education covering what could be taught and by 1938 these rules covered every school year and most subjects.
  • There was stress on race in Biology and eugenics and pupils were taught to measure their skulls and decide upon their racial type.
  • In Maths pupils could be asked to calcukate the relative costs ot treating the mentally ill.
  • Schools were run on the Fuhrerprinzip - Headteachers were appointed from outside the schools and teaching staff were obliged to accept orders from above.
  • Girls studied needlework and domestic science and how to pick a good husband to prepare for their future roles.
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Specialist Schools...

NAPOLA Schools:

Created for boys aged 10-18 years old. These were boarding schools which provided military-style education. There was a heavy emphasis on physicale education and drill, manual labour and political indoctrination. After 1936 NAPOLA schools came under the control of the **. By 1938 21 of these schools had been established across Germany.

Adolf Hitler Schools:

Set up after 1937 by Robert Ley (leader of the German Labour Front) and Baldur Von Schirach (leader of the Hitler Youth). These were for boys aged from 12-18 and provided a military-style education but were more selective in their admissions policy being intended purely for the future Nazi elite.

Ordensburgen (Castles of Order):

Large boarding schools catering for 1000 students at a time aged between 25-30. They were described as 'finishing schools for the future leadership'. They were designed to complete the training of selected youths after school, army service and professional training.

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  • With their stress on physical education and political indoctrination the Nazis downgraded the importance of academic education and the number of students decreased considerably betweem 1933-39.
  • Access to higher education was strictly rationed and selection was made based on political reliability.
  • Women were restricted to 10% of the available university places but the number of females in higher education increased to 44% and between 1939-44 there was a rise of 82,000. Jews were restricted to 1.5%.
  • Students had to attend twice weekly political indoctrination and physical training sessions. They were forced to do four months labour service and two months in an SA camp.
  • Under the Law for the Re-Establishment of the Professional Civil Service about 1,200 university staff were dismissed.
  • University teachers were obliged to join the Nazi Lecturer's League.
  • Students had to join the German Student's League although 25% managed to avoid this.
  • The university curriculum was modified.
  • In November 1933 all university teachers were made to sign the 'Declaration in support of Hitler and the Nationalist Socialist State'.
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The Hitler Youth...

  • The Hitler Youth was set up in 1926 and in its early years was relatively unsuccessful.
  • When the Nazis came to power in 1933 all other youth groups were banned or taken over, except those linked to the Catholic Church.
  • In 1936 a Law for the Incorporation of German Youth gave the Hitler Youth the status of an official education movement. (Catholic youth groups were then banned).
  • Membership became compulsory in 1939.
  • The emphasis in youth activities was on competition, struggle, heroism and leadership as boys were prepared for their future role as warriors.
  • Members had to swear an oath of allegiance to the Fuhrer.
  • There was a set syllabus of political indoctrination and a heavy emphasis on military drill.
  • Boys were taught to sing Nazi songs and encouraged to read Nazi pamphlets.
  • The opportunity to participate in sports and camping trips attracted millions of boys. For these boys their growing up was shaped by the Hitler Youth.
  • Many children joined against the wishes of their parents. For boys the Hitler Youth offered an outlet for their teenage rebelliousness.
  • By the late 1930s enthusiasm seemed to be waning. There were reports of poor attendance at weekly parades.
  • Boys resented the harsh punishments imposef for minor infringements of the rules.
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The League of German Girls...

  • The female equivalent of the Hitler Youth.
  • Aimed to prepare girls for their future role as housewives and mothers in the Volksgemeinschaft.
  • Membership became compulsory in 1939.
  • Girls were taught that they had to a duty to be healthy since their bodies belonged to the nation.
  • They needed to be fit for their future role as childbearers.
  • They were instructed in matters of hygiene, cleanliness and health eating.
  • Formation dancing and group gymnastics helped to raise fitness and developed comradeship.
  • At weekly home evenings girls were taught handicrafts, sewing and cooking. There were also sessions for political education and racial awareness.
  • Annual summer camps were highly structures with sports, route marches, indoctrination, flag waving and saluting.
  • By 1937 100,000 members had attended youth camps.
  • After the outbreak of war girls were focussed on helping with the war effort on the home front eg. collecting Winterhilfe and visiting wounded soldiers. Older girls worked in hospitals. After the announcement of Total War girls helped man anti aircraft guns and joined the home guard.
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The Working Class and the Nazi Party...

  • In 1933 the working class was the largest socio-economic group in German society at 46%.
  • Their support was needed by parties seeking power in the Weimar Government.
  • Most workers in the 1920s and 1930s were supportive of the SPD with a minority supporting the KPD.
  • In predominately Catholic areas like the Rhineland workers tended to join Catholic trade unions and voted for the Catholic Centre Party.
  • Trade Unions were an important and powerful force in German industry as well as politics. However the unemployment of the 1930s weakened their power.
  • The Nazis relied on the support of the peasant farmers and small shopkeepers. As a result the party did best in small rural towns and predominately Protestant areas.
  • By 1933, 40% of Nazi voters and party members were workers.
  • The Nazis aimed to create a 'people's community' where class, religion, age and gender differences were put aside and a national unity would be embraced.
  • Trade Unions were banned on the 2nd May 1933.
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The German Labour Front...

  • DAF was established on the 6th May 1933 to replace the Trade Unions.
  • DAF was led by Robert Ley.
  • DAF aimed to coordinate the workers and win them over to the Volksgemeinschaft and increase production.
  • DAF did not have the power to bargain over wages or influence over social and economic policy.
  • DAF spread its own ideology among the working class through propaganda.
  • Strength Through Joy was a subsidary organisation.
  • In 1936 DAF provided vocational training courses to improve workers' skill.
  • DAF had a large business empire including banks, insurance companies, housing associations and travel companies.
  • By 1939 DAF had 44,500 paid employees.
  • Workers in the Third Reich came under increasing pressure to work harder and accept a squeeze on wages and living standards. The Nazis knew they could not take the workers for granted.
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Strength Through Joy...

  • This was a subsidary organisation of DAF that organised workers' leisure time.
  • Workers who were refreshed by holidays, sports and cultural activities would be more efficient when they returned to work.
  • The KdF would encourage workers to see themselves as part of the Volksgemeinschaft. There would be no time for workers to develop private lives.
  • The KdF would encourage a spirit of social equality. All activities were organised on a one-class basis.
  • The KdF would break down regional and religious barriers.
  • The KdF would encourage participation in sport to improve the physical and mental health of the nation. Every youth in employment was obliged to undertake two hours each week of physical education at their workplace.
  • The KdF would encourage competition and ambition. A KdF National Trades Competition was organised for apprentices to improves skills and standards of work.
  • The KdF offererd subsidised holidays, sporting activities, hikes, theatre and cinema visits.
  • Membership of the KdF came automatically with membership of DAF so by 1936, 35 million belonged to it.
  • By 1939, the KdF owned 8 cruise ships. Cruises went to places such as Madeira and Turkey. Life on cruise ships was regimented. Passengers were instructed to dress modestly and to avoid excessive drinking. Gestapo and ** agents travelled on the cruises to spy on people. Cruises were designed to show the world how socially technologically advanced Germans were.under the Nazi regime.
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Beauty of Labour...

  • The aim was to get workers to work harder.
  • Devoted to improving the conditions of the workplace.
  • Campaigned for better wash facilities and toilets in factories.
  • Encourage the provision of sports and recreation facilities.
  • Campaigned for employers to provide canteens serving hot, nourishing meals.
  • Tax incentives were introducted to encourage employers to make improvements and competitions were set up to award the most improved firms. Certificates were issued signed by Hitler saying that they were 'model firms.
  • By 1938 it was claimed that 34,000 companies had improved their working conditions and facilities.
  • Workers had to suffer the brunt of the cost. Many firms expected employees to paint the factories, clean up the working environment and build new facilities in their own time for no extra pay.
  • 'Contributions' were taken from workers' pay to cover costs and those not willing to help were threatened with dismissal.
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Nazi Organisations for Women...

  • The Reich Labour Service was extended to women in 1939 and provided for 6 months compulsory labour service for young women aged 19-25, mostly on farms.
  • The German Women's League was set up in September 1933 to coordinate all women's groups under Nazi control. It had a domestic science department which gave advice to women on cooking and healthy eating. By 1939 they had over 6 million members, 70% of whom were not members of the Nazi party.
  • The Nationalist Socialist Women's Organisation was an elite organisation. It was primarily for propaganda and indoctrination among women to promote the Nazi ideology that women should be childbearers and home-makers.
  • The Reich Mother's Service was a branch of the German Women's League for training in motherhood of which 1.7 million women had attended by March 1939.
  • The Nationalist Socialist Welfare Organisation catered for the welfare needs of both men and women. Its Mother and Child section established 25,000 advice centres to help women with child welfare. It also helped the unemployed and have education grants to children.
  • Medals were awarded to mothers who had had so many children.
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  • Richard Darre was in charge of the Reich Food Estate which coordinated the peasants and prevented individual middle men from profiteering. It linked together producers, wholesalers and retailers.
  • The Reich Entailed Farm law was introduced in 1933 to protect small/medium sized farms.
  • Peasants were given considerable financial inducement to stay on the land. Agricultural workers were exempt from National and Health Insurance.
  • The Reich Food Estate launced the 'Battle for Production' in 1934 and farmers' income increased by 41% between 1933-39.
  • Between 1933-36 a total of 650,000,000 RM was spent in order to clear farmers' debt. Most of this money went to owners of large farms, it was only after 1935 that smaller farms benefited.
  • Price controls squeezed farmers' profits which meant that they could not afford to pay higher wages. They were also restricted in that they could not buy expensive, labour-saving machinery.
  • After 1936 the government had the power to force smaller farms to merge together to become more efficient units. This angered many farmers and it conflicted with Nazi ideology 'Blood and Soil'.
  • Wages of agricultural labourers were far below those earned by industrial workers in the cities and they suffered from poor social conditions like housing. The results was a shift in population from the countryside to the towns.
  • Farm land was requisitioned so that the rearmament programme could have space for air fields, army camps and training grounds.
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The Church...

  • The main Church in Germany was the Protestant.
  • In early 1933 Protestant Ministers showed support for the Nazi regime by holding mass weddings of the SA brownshirts and their wives.
  • The Nazi party showed support for the Protestants by turning the 450th anniversary of Martin Luther's birth into a major national celebration.
  • The German Christians were established in May 1932 and were a pressure group of Nazi supporters operating within the German Evangelical Church . They had 600,000 supporters. The pastors described themselves as the SA of the Church. They wore uniforms and hung swastika flags. Church members were regarded as soldiers fighting for Christ.

The Reich Church:

  • In the spring and summer of 1933 the Nazi regime began to coordinate the 28 separate state churches into one Reich Church.
  • In the Church elections of 1933 the German Christians won and were now in a position to 'Nazify' the Church.
  • Ludwig Muller was appointed Reich Bishop.
  • Elected bodies within the Church were abolished and the Church was re-organised based on the leadership principle.
  • Those pastors who had not declared their allegiance to the new regime were dismissed along with all non-Aryans.
  • 18 pastors, mostly men who had converted to Christianity from Judaism were dismissed.
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Protestant Resistance - The Confessional Church...

  • Niemoller and Bonhoffer established a Pastor's Emergency League which evolved into the Confessional Church.
  • The Confessional Church was formed in September 1933.
  • It had the support of 5,000 pastors.
  • It was established to resist state interference and to re-establish theology based on the Bible.

Nazi response:

  • The Nazi regime tried to weaken the Church through repression whilst trying to exploit the divisions appearing within the Church.
  • In the late 1930s Church schools were abolished to pressurise youth to join the Hitler Youth.
  • The Nazi regime launched a campaign to persuade party members to renounce their church membership.
  • In 1935 5% of the population were 'god believers' but had renounced formal membership.
  • Priests and pastors were forbidden from playing a part in the Nazi party.
  • By 1939 the Nazis had cut links with organised religion.
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The Concordat...

  • Th Catholic Church opted for cooperation and compromise with the Nazi regime believing its autonomy would be preserved.
  • Catholic authorities abolished the Centre Party rather than having it banned.
  • The Catholic Trade Unions voluntarily disbanded when the Trade Unions did.
  • The Concordat was signed on 20th July 1933. The regime promised it wouldn't interfere with the Church and that the Church could keep control of its schools.The Vatican recognised the Nazi regime and promised that it wouldn't interfere with its policies.
  • The Nazis soon began to break the Concordat; in the summer of 1933 they seized Catholic lay organisations and forced them to close, the Gestpapo and ** put Catholic priests under surveillance, Catholic newspapers were forced to drop 'Catholic' from their name and The Night of the Long Knives saw the execution of leading Catholics such as Fritz Gerlich the editor of the Catholic Journal.
  • In 1935-6 some Catholic Priests began to retaliate such as Bishop Galen who issued pamphlets and spoke out openly against the regime particularly the euthanasia programme which led to its temporary halting.
  • Nazis increased the pressure through the permission to hold meetings restricted and the censorship of newspapers.
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The Papal Encylical...

  • Pope Pius XI decided that the Church could no longer remain silent in the face of Nazi repression.
  • He issued an Encylical entitled, 'With Burning Grief'. It condemened the hatred poured upon the Church.
  • It was read out by Priests in all Churches.

Nazi Response:

  • Gestapo and ** men were stationed inside Church organisations to spy on the Church.
  • Catholic press had restrictions.
  • Catholic youth groups were closed down.
  • The charity, Catholic Action, was banned in January 1938.
  • State subsidies to the Church were cut.
  • Crucifixes were removed from Catholic schools.
  • Propaganda was released publicising 'Catholic sex scandals'.
  • In the Summer of 1939 all Catholic schools had been converted to community schools.
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The German Faith Movement...

  • An alternative religion that was created to undermine the influence of the Churches in Germany.
  • The chief advocate was Richard Darre.
  • It was a rejection of Christianity and based on paganism.
  • Darre believed paganism was more authentically Aryan.
  • He believed that medieval German knights had been weakened by their conversion to Christianity.
  • Baptism, marriage and death rituals were replaced with pagan rites.
  • Christmas was replaced with 'Winter Solstice'.
  • The German Faith Movement was only a fringe cult and had only 40,000 supporters.
  • Darre's ideas did make a strong impression on the ** leader, Himmler, who adopted neo-pagan ideas, rites and symbols for the **.
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The Police System...

  • In the Weimar Republic it was separate state authorities that controlled the police forces in Germany.
  • The Nazis did not abolish these police forces but created a system of party-controlled, political police forces which were answerable to Hitler.
  • The ** was controlled by Himmler. The SA was controlled by Rohm. The Gestpao was controlled by Goring.
  • There was competition and rivarly between Himmler, Rohm and Goring for control over the police.
  • Himmler gained control after Rohm was executed during the Night of the Long Knives and he exploited the rivalry between Goring and the Minister of the Interior, William Frick.
  • Himmler's victory was sealed when the Reich Security Department Headquarters was created in 1939 which placed all party and state police organisations under one organisation, supervised by the **.
  • The ** had formed in 1926 as Hitler's personal bodyguard and after the Night of the Long Knives the role of the ** expanded. It became the main organisation involved in identification, arrest and detention of political prisoners.
  • The ** ran the concentration camps.
  • The ** ran its own elite schools for ideological indoctrination.
  • The Waffen-** grew from paramilitary training given to the **. The Waffen-** were considered to be elite forces and intended to give the party more control over the army.
  • The ** owned several companies and during the war they employed slave labour in the concentration camps to work for these companies.
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Political Resistance...


  • The SPD were unprepared for Nazi takeover in January 1933.
  • SPD activists continued to organise openly for the elections in March 1933.
  • SPD deputies vote against the Enabling Act.
  • By the end of 1933 thousands of SPD activists had been murdered or placed into 'pretentive custody' and the
  • The SPD began to establish small, secret cells of supporters in factories.
  • There were some city-based groups such as the Berlin Red Patrol and the Hanover Socialist Front.
  • Propaganda pamphlets were smuggled across the border from Czechoslovakia but most contact was by word of mouth.


  • The KPD was much better prepared for underground activity.
  • About 10% of the KPD's membership had been murdered in 1933.
  • Revolutionary unions were established in Berlin and Hamburg which were able to recruit members and publish newspapers.
  • Their underground networks were broken up by the Gestapo in 1934.
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Workers' Resistance...

  • In 1935 a strike occured amongst Autobahn workers.
  • 37 strikes were reported in the Rhineland-Westphalia, Silesia and Wutternburg.
  • In 1935 there were 25,000 strikers out of a workface of 16,000,000 according to Gestapo reports.
  • 100 strikes were reported to the authorities in 1936.
  • There were 250 stoppages in 1937 due to poor working conditions and low wages. 40 of these stoppages involved politcal content.
  • Between 1935-6 there was increased strike activity due to widespread discontent over food prices.
  • 4,000 strikers spent periods in prison in 1935.
  • There was a stoppage for 17 minutes at the Opel Works in 1936. 7 ringleaders were arrested and imprisoned.
  • Some workers purposefull damaged machinery
  • There were high levels of absenteeism and slow working which were dealt with through labour regulations of introducing penalities to 'slackers'.
  • In 1938 the Gestapo arrested 114 workers at a munitions plant in Gleiwitz for absenteesism and slow working.
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Youth Resistance...

Edelweiss Pirates:

  • Working class people who were anti-Hitler Youth and tried to avoid conscription.
  • They organised expeditions to the countryside where they sang songs that had been banned by the Hitler Youth.
  • In 1944 the Cologne group helped army deserters, escaped prisoners of war and of concentration camps. They obtained supplies by attacking military depots.
  • The Gestapo arrested them, shaved their heads and banished them to labour camps but this did not work.
  • On 7th December 1942 the Gestapo in Dusseldorf broke up 28 groups. The leaders of the Cologne group were publicly hanged in November 1942.

Swing Youth:

  • Middle class people who just wanted to have a good time.
  • They listened to American and British jazz and wore English-style clothes.

The White Rose Group:

  • Based in Munich and led by Hans and Sophie Scholl. They were consciously political.
  • They issued pamphlets and in February 1943 they paint anti-Nazi slogans on buildings.
  • They were caught by the Gestapo and executed.

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Elites' Resistance...

  • The Elites showed resistance because some felt a moral conviction that the Nazi regime was evil, some believed Hitler was leading them to disaster (the defeat at Stalingrad) and some wanted a return to an authoritarian-style of government.
  • The Kriesau Circle was made up of members of the elite such as aristocracts, lawyers, SPD politicians and churchmen like Bonhoeffer.
  • A first plot was planned in 1938 by General Beck to get rid of Hitler through a military coup. Appeals were made to Britain and France who were notified of the plan but this was only received sympathetically.
  • After the failure of a bomb plot in March 1943, Stauffenburg successfully planted a bomb at Hitler's headquarters in East Prussia in July 1944.
  • The bomb exploded but Hitler escaped with minor injuries and a broadcast confirmed the assasination attempt had failed.
  • Himmler was in charge of rounding up conspirators. The ** arrested 7,000 people and executed 5,746.
  • Beck committed suicide and Stauffenburg was shot.
  • The failure led to the army losing its independence as it was effectively placed under ** control.
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Public Mood in response to Conflicts...

  • Invasion of Poland 1st September 1939 and Britain and France declare war on Germany 3rd September 1939: reluctant loyalty and a sense of foreboding.
  • Rapid defeat of Poland followed by a period of 'phoney war' October 1939 - April 1940: growing hostility towards Britain as the main cause of war and a hope that the war will soon be over, growing discontent due to severe winter and poor conditions such as coal shortages.
  • Rapid victories over Norway and Denmark and Holland Belgium May - June 1940: euphoria and celebrations of the speedy victories, SD reports speaks of unity and optimism.
  • Refusal of Britain to make peace and first large-scale bombing of Berlin July - September 1940: euphoria subsides replaced by disillusionment and frustration.
  • German advances in the Balkans and North Africa and the start of Blitz on British cities October 1940 - May 1941: disillusionment as Britain is not near defeat, winter shortages of coal and shoes, rising prices, public mood is of light depression.
  • Invasion of the USSR and early German success force Red Army to retreat June 1941: public mood is mixed and uncertain.
  • Rising casualty figures and letters sent home from soldiers gradually awakened civilians to the realities of war.
  • Total War was announced in February 1943 at the Sports Palace in Berlin after Stalingrad. It was a call for radical measures to mobilise the population and the economy for war.
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  • Rationing of food and other commodities affect morale. It had negative reflections on the war weariness of the First World War and the Nazis were determined to repeat the same mistakes.
  • Rationing decrees were published before the war began on 28th August 1939.
  • There was rationing of bread, cereal products, meats, fats and dairy products.
  • Allocation of food rationing was based on age, occupation and race. Those in manual labour received more than those in clerical posts. Jews received smaller rations whereas pregnant women received special allocations. These stayed roughly the same for the first 2 years of war.
  • Food was transported from territories under occupation back to Germany.
  • There were no serious food shortages between 1939-41 but shortages of coal, shoes, soap and washing powder caused discontent from time to time.
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Workers in the War Years...

  • Outbreak of war led to an increase in conscription but there was a need in the production of armaments therefore the labour force had to be used efficiently including the use of foreign labour. In 1941 there were 4 million foreign workers.
  • There was a reduction of workers in consumer goods industries as they were released into the military.
  • Conscription of labour was not implemented during the first 2 years of war.
  • On 3rd September 1939 Hitler imposed wage reductions and a ban on the payment of bonuses through the Decree on the Conversion of the Whole German Economy onto a War Footing. This caused discontent and absenteeism rised therefore in October 1939 the regime relented.
  • On 13th January 1943 Hitler issued the Decree for the Comprehensive Deployment of Men and Women for Reich Defence Tasks. This established a committee to oversee the mobilisation of labour for the war effort. All men aged 16-65 and women aged 17-45 had to register for work. Small businessed were closed and employees transferred to more essential work.
  • In August 1944 there were an estimated 7.6 million foreign workers in Germany but they were vulnerable to Nai terror; many were executed for a lack of discipline without trial.
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Women during the War Years...

  • Women endured hardships and queued for food and commodities during shortages and had to shoulder childcare.
  • Couples were encouraged to have more children and women were pressured to give up employment once married during 1933-39.
  • This was not always consistent as by September 1939 the number of married women working had increased as 6,400,000 were working which was 27% of the labour force.
  • Women were employed more during the war years as men were conscripted. There was tension between Nazi ideology and the needs of war economy as Hitler refused advice that women were needed more.
  • By June 1940 only 250,000 women had been conscripted.
  • Married women did not always seek work as conscripted soldiers were provided with benefits.
  • Factory hours increased meaning troubles with childcare so womens' employment levels declined.
  • The Nationalist Socialist Women's organisation ran classes to teach women how to cope with activites such as cookery and sewing.
  • Women were also mobilised to help with the harvest, to prepare parcels of food and clothing for soldiers and to help with evacuation.
  • 1943 led to an extension in the conscription of women. In November 1943 Hitler was asked to raise the age limit to 50 for women but he refused. In the summer of 1944 he gave in.
  • By 1945 women made up 60% of the labour force.
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Youth during the War Years...

  • It was not considered necessary in the early stages to conscript the youth into helping with war work or military service. There was greater emphasis on preparing boys for their future roles as soldiers through activities such as shooting practice and fieldcraft.
  • Hitler Youth members were sent to help with the harvest and all youths were expected to participate in collecitng money for the winter aids programme. 600,000 boys helped with the gathering of the harvest and 1,400,000 girls.
  • Evacuation began in September 1940.
  • In 1940 a youth was liable to be called up into the armed forces at the age of 19.
  • In 1941 the age was reduced to 18.
  • In 1943 the age was reduced to 17.
  • Military training camps were set up at 17 years of age to attend 3 week courses under the army and Waffen-**.
  • 120 camps were established.
  • Boys aged 16-17 were conscripted as Luftwaffe and naval auxilaries and were deployed on air defence duties.
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The Impact of Bombing...

  • Germana cities had been bombed by the RAF since 1939.
  • The RAF carried out a major bombing raid on the city of Lubeck at the end of March 1942.
  • The RAF attacked at night and the USAAF usually attacked during the day often with 1,000 aircraft.
  • 43 German cities were attacked between March and July in 1943.
  • Hamburg was bombed 7 times between 25th July and 3rd August.
  • Germany's industrial cities were attacked and a high concentration of raids on cities in the Rhineland and Ruhr areas.
  • Evacuation began in September 1940 and was stepped up in 1942 but the practicalities caused friction and resentment.
  • It appeared that there was unequal treatment of the working and middle classes; complaints of overcrowded conditions.
  • There was also religious tension; Protestant areas lodged with Catholics.
  • There was disgruntlement from men who had to stay behind and work which posed a threat to productivity.
  • Wives who returned to cities could have their ration books withdrawn. In October 1943, 800 women demonstrated about this and November 1943 produced SD reports that miners refused to work until they had been restored.
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