Nazi Organisations & the co-ordination of German society.

  • Gleichshaltung.
  • German Youths.
  • Schools & Orgainisations.
  • Women.
  • Workers & their oganisations.
  • Peasants.
  • Middles clasees.
  • Traditional Elites (Army, Landowners, Big businesses).
  • Hitler's plans for the churches.
  • Nazi religion policies.
  • SS, SD, Gestapo.
  • Nazi opposition.
  • Did German people co-operate with Hitler?
  • Resistance & Non-conformity.
  • Why is opposition difficult to measure?
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The Gleichschaltung

  • 'Forcing into line'.
  • The Nazi attempt to control German society, with Hitler's aim of no independent organisations standing in his way to power. 
  • All Germans were made to conform to thid regime, with no private space to turn to, so that the Nazis could successfully achieve the Volksgemeinschaft.
  • Methods included propaganda and indoctrination, terror and repression which were all used to eliminate all Nazi opposition. 
  • Men were to have a fighting spirit and women were to be willing to give their bodies to the state by producing several children.
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Schools: Rust was education minister and was responsible for the education system throughout Germany. It was Rust's job to fulfil Hitler's Aryan race aim by; 

  • Dismiss Jewish and politically unreliable teachers.
  • Pressure on teachers to join the National Socialist Teacher's League. By 1937, 97% of teachers had joined with the majority being sent on a month training course to be indoctrinated with Nazi ideology and physical training.
  • Local Nazi officials were sent to keep a close eye on what was being taught in schools. Any criticisms of the regime could have caused teachers to be dismissed, but no classroom surveillance. 
  • Schools were run on the Fuhrerprinzip whereby Headteachers were appointed externally and teachers were forced to be under their leadership.
  • In 1935, regulations were issued by the Ministry of education stating what had to be taught in schools and these regulations had managed to cover every school year and the majority of subjects by 1938.


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Universities: Between 1933 and 1939, the number of university students decreased rapidly and greatly from around 110,000 in 1933 to around 50,000 in 1939, as the Nazis felt that the importance of academic education was unimportant, causing university places to expand.

  • Access to university became strictly rationed, with only the most politically reliable students being accepted. Only 10% of these were allowed to be women and only 1.5% Jewish. 
  • All students had to join the German Student's league but 25% managed to avoid doing this.
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The Hitler Youth

  • Before 1933, there were many separate and successful youth organisations linked with churches, political parties etc.
  • Hitler Youth was created in 1926 and was unsuccessful in the beginning.
  •  As soon as the Nazi party came into power, all youth organisations other than the Hitler Youth were banned or taken over, apart from those to do with the Catholic Church. This is when the Hitler Youth movement started to become successful. 
  • A law passed in 1936 made the Hitler Youth an official education movement, parallel to schools. Catholic youth organisations were also banned in same law as Hitler Youth was only official movement allowed.
  • By 1936, the Hitler Youth had been granted a monopoly over all sports facilities and competitions for children under 14.
  • By 1939, membership was made compulsory
  • Emphasis was put on competition, struggle, heroism, leadership & loyalty.
  • 'Live faithfully, fight bravely & die laughing'.  
  • Members had to swear a personal oath of alliance to the Fuhrer.
  • Growing up in Germany was shaped by the movement.
  • Movement was stricter and more authority based by late 1930s with a growing military drill theme so enthusiasm and attendance decreased.
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The League of German Girls

  • The female equivalent of the Hitler Youth.
  • Motto: 'Be faithful, be pure, be German.'  
  • Part of a German girl's process of growing up and preparing for the future role of a mother and housewife in the 'Volksgemeinschaft'. 
  • Membership became compulsory in 1939.
  • They were told it was their duty to be fit and healthy for the future as their bodies belonged to the nation and to become childbearers. 
  • They were taught how to eat healthily, hygiene, cleanliness sewing and cooking with gymnastics for fitness and companionship.
  • Although the movement was strictly structured, it was classless as equality was key in Hitler's master race.
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The Working-Class & the Nazi party

  • The working class was the largest socio-economic group in 1933 at 46% of the economically active population, so their support was greatly needed for the Nazis to gain as much power.
  • In order to do this, they adopted the name 'The National Socialist German Worker's Party' to win support away from communism and socialism.
  • Nazism mainly relied on the support of peasant farmers and small craftsmen and shopkeepers.
  • In the early 1930s, 40% of Nazi voters and party members were working class. By 1933, the Nazis had successfully managed to break through the middle class' hostility towards them.

The German Labour Front (DAF) Deutsches Arbeitsfront: Established in May 1933 under Ley. It took over assets of the newly banned trade unions, becoming the largest organisation in the Third Reich. Membership wasn't compulsory but it grew rapidly as it was the only officially recognised organisation for the representation of workers. Its 2 main aims were to win workers over to the Volksgemeinschaft and to encourage workers to increase production. By 1939, the DAF had 44,500 paid employees.

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Strength Through Joy: Set up by the DAF and Leys to organise workers' leisure time to 'gain strength for their work by experiencing joy in their leisure'.

  • Workers were to be more efficient if they were refreshed by cultural activities, holidays and sports. 
  • The Nazis wanted to encourage workers into the Volksgemeinschaft, a spirit a social equality, to bring Germans forward from the different regions of the country, to break down religious or regional differences, to encourage participation in sport, competition and ambition.
  • By 1939, it owned 8 cruise ships and rented another 4.

Beauty of Labour: The department of the KdF (Kraft durch Freude) which focused getting workers to work harder and campaigned for better washing facilities and toilets within factories.It encouraged the provision of sports and recreation facilities at the workplace and campaigned for employers to provide workers with hot and nutritious meals.

  • By 1938, 34,000 companies had improved working conditions & facilities.
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The effectiveness of Nazi policies towards workers: 

  • Gestapo reports show that reactions were mixed. Many had been influenced other parties' ideas before Nazism so were resistant to new Nazi ideology.
  • Many workers were unimpressed by Nazi propaganda but took advantage of the benefits on offer.
  • The KdF was popular as it offered activities instead of boredom & pressure.


  • They were regarded as special in Nazi ideology because they were seen as the racially pure group, keeping their traditional and romanticised ways of life with their attachment to soil and free of the moral decline within cities.
  • They became the centre of the Volksgemeinschaft and policies towards them included reversing the drift of the population from the Countryside to the Cities, to relieve farmers of debt burdens and to establish a harmonious and prosperous 'people's community' in the Countryside.
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The Churches

  • Coordinating the Churches caused problems for the Volksgemeinschaft as it was divided by faith (majority Protestant along with some Catholics) and religious loyalties were very deeply-rooted and strong and were an obstacle for Hitler.
  • Hitler realised that he had to carefully take control of the Churches without losing out on any valuable support. He did this by firstly gaining control gradually of them and them weakening their influence.
  • 58% (40 million) of population Protestant & 32% (22 million) Catholic.

Protestants: Many were anti-Semitic and anti-communist with nationalist views seeing Germany as a Protestant State. The Nazis saw the German Evangelical Church as an opportunity for uniting Germans into one national Church. In 1933, the strongest area of Nazi support came from Protestants due to shared views. In the Summer, the Nazis began to coordinate the Protestant Churches into one Reich church under their control. The Church elections of July 1933 saw the German Christians (a pressure group of Nazi supporters working with the German Evangelical Church established in May 1832 with 600,000 supporters by the late 1830s and merged Nazi ideology with their beliefs) win the most support, putting them in a position to Nazify the church.

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The Confessional Church: A break-away movement of 5,000 Protestant Pastors who disagreed with the united Reich Church. They aimed to re-establish an ideology purely based upon the Bible ** This shows that the Nazis' attempt to coordinate Churches and religion failed. **
The Roman Catholic Church: Followers part of international Church led by the Pope, difficult for Hitler to gain control of as it was less susceptible to Nazi ideology. In the early 1930s, Catholics were the least likely group to vote for Nazis. However, they were keen to be accepted and seen as part of the German nation, being prepared to compromise with Hitler to do this. There were many who were anti-Semitic and were completely against Communism.
The Concordat: In July 1933, the regime and the Vatican reached an agreement to preserve the autonomy of the Catholic Church & the Nazis.

  • The Vatican recognised Nazi regime & promise not to interfere in politics.
  • The regime promised not to interfere with the Catholic church nor its schools, lay groups or youth organisations. 

In the summer of 1933, the Nazis broke the agreement as they began to seize Catholic Lay organisation property, forcing them to lose, Catholic priests were under surveillance on the Night of the Long Knives (June 1934) and some were executed by the SS. The agreement was made tighter when Catholics spoke out against the regime; Meetings were severely restricted, propaganda heavily censored, Hitler Youth membership became compulsory.

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The German Faith Movement

The Nazi's alternative to Christianity, involving a pagan style worship of nature centred on the sun. The flag was a golden sun on a blue background occasionally with a Nazi Swastika attached. In particular, many of the SS were ant-Christian.

The German Christians wanted to Nazify Christianity but the German Faith Movement went further and aimed to replace Christianity completely with the new Pagan faith, encouraging Germans to leave Christianity and follow the Pagan religion and rituals. 

Did the Nazis succeed in weakening the Christian Churches?


  • 1934, 85% German children - Catholic school decreasing 5% by 1937.
  • 1934, 58% German children - Protestant school decreasing 9% by 1937.
  • Pope Pius XII didn't speak out against Nazi atrocities committed.


  • Nazis met strong opposition by Bishops & people-attempt to control them. 
  • Pope Pius XII condemmed Nuremburg (anti-Semitic) laws, July 1938.
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The Police State

  • Hitler's rule: If you said nothing, no harm would come to you.
  • If you had doubt's or disagreed with Nazism, you kept them to yourself.
  • A large Police force was needed to control the 17 million non-supporters.
  • The Nazi concept of authority based on Fuhrerprinzip (Leadership principle).
  • Hitler refused to allow his freedom of action to be dictated by rules.
  • 'There is only one kind of law and that lies in one's strength.' Hitler's words was law in the Third Reich.
  • After 1933, the Nazis did not introduce a new legal system. Instead, they passed some new laws to deal with political differences and forced the existing justice system (the police & courts) to bend and adapt to their will.
  • To ensure opposition was properly dealt with, they introduced new police organisations & courts, the Weimar's legal principles no longer applied.
  • Individuals could be arrested if it was thought that they were a threat and imprisoned without trial, with no evidence to support them.
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The SS

  • Schutzstaffel: Created in 1926 as Hitler's personal bodyguard. Himmler took charge in 1929 and it grew rapidly and expanded its role.
  • Once the Nazis came to power and after the Night of the Long Knives, the role of the SS became the main Nazi party organisation that was involved in the identification, arrest and detention of political prisoners.
  • By 1936, Himmler had been appointed as Chief of the German Police and the SS controlled the entire Police Force within the Third Reich, eventually running the concentration camps.
  • Ideological role: The SS were an elite force within the Nazi party  members were role models for the Volksgemeinschaft.
  • Military: The armed SS (Waffen-SS) grew out of the paramilitary training the SS had for concentration camp guards, giving the Nazis more control.
  • Economic: The SS owned several companies (publishing & mineral water)and employed slave labour in concentration camps during the war.
  • Conquest: After 1939, the SS was given responsibility for administering conquered territories. 

Himmler wanted the SS to be racially pure, strictly disciplined and extremely obedient with values of loyalty and honour.

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The Gestapo

  • The secret police state originally set up in Prussia but was extended to cover the whole country and the Third Reich was established.
  • Led by Muller, an anti-Communist but not a Nazi but was dedicated to state.
  • They developed a reputation for being all-seeing and all-knowing with Germans believing that they had secret agents everywhere.
  • But it was actually a small organisation with only 20,000 officers for the whole country in 1939. 
  • Most members were office based and were not members of the Nazi party.
  • It depended on information from sources via informers.
  • They were mostly motivated by personal grudges.
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The extent of conformity & resistance by 1939

  • There was little opposition.
  • There was evidence of Hitler's increasing popularity.
  • People were given no official outlets for any complaints or criticisms they may have wanted to voice.
  • The use to terror and fear prevented most from daring to speak out.
  • There was widespread acceptance of the regime.
  • Most Germans ended up having the view that the Third Reich was less chaotic and better organised in comparison to the Weimar Republic.
  • From time to time, there were groups who did oppose the regime and attempted to resist the Volksgemeinschaft'. 
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The problem of sources and definition.


  • There were no free elections and no opinion polls - democratic society.
  • Public opinion against Nazism was hidden.
  • Elections were pointless as the Nazis were the only party who were allowed to put up candidates for them.
  • Gestapo reports are the most useful source but are subjective: they reflect the views of the writers and people who did not want to offend their superiors - they could have been telling them what they wanted to hear.
  • The Gestapo only relied on informers for information which could have been unreliable.


  • Focuses and definitions have been placed upon different groups of people (heroic individuals, religious convictions, left-wing opposition continuing whilst Hitler was in power).
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