Social and Economic Impact

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  • Created by: emmacram
  • Created on: 15-02-16 14:30

Youth Movements

  • Hitler knew that loyalty from young people was essential if the Nazis were to remain strong.
  • Youth movements were a way of teaching children Nazi ideas - so they would be loyal to the Nazi party when they grew up.
  • Propaganda claimed that young people were more likely to be successful under the Nazis than they had been in the Weimar republic.
  • The Hitler Youth was founded in 1926. Boys aged fourteen and over were recruited to the movement. It became compulsory in 1936.
  • The Hitler Youth became part of the SA. Promising boys may be sent to Hitler Schools where they were trained to lead.
  • Boys wore military-style uniforms and took part in physical exercise preparing for war. Many later joined the army.
  • Girls between fourteen and eighteen joined the League of German Maidens to be trained in domestic skills like sewing and cooking and sometimes physical activities (camping or hiking).
  • A Reich Youth Leader was introduced in 1933 and youth movements increased in importance.
  • During WW2, members of the Hitler Youth contributed to the war effort - for example, helping with air defence work, farm work and collecting donations for Nazi charities.
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Nazis in Schools and Universities

  • Education in schools meant learning Nazi propaganda. No Jewish people could teach in schools or universities. Most teachers joined the Nazi Teachers' Association and were trained in Nazi methods. Children had to report teachers who did not use them.
  • Subjects like history and biology were rewritten to fit in with Nazi ideas. Children were taught to be anti-Semitic and that the First World War was lost because of Jews and communists.
  • Physical education became more important for boys, sometimes playing war games with live ammunition.
  • In universities students burned anti-Nazi and Jewish books and Jewish lecturers were sacked. Education across Germany was 'Nazified'.
  • After 1939, all young people ended up in Nazi youth movements - even those who weren't so keen.
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  • The Nazis wanted women to be homemakers.
  • Nazis didn't want women to have too much freedom. They believed the role of women was to support their families at home.
  • The League of German Maidens spread the Nazi idea that it was an honour to produce large families for Germany. Nazis gave awards to women for doing this.
  • At school, girls studied subjects like cookery. It was stressed that they should choose 'Aryan' husbands.
  • Women were banned from being lawyers in 1936 and the Nazis did their best to stop them following other professions. But the shortage of workers after 1937 meant more women had to go back to work.
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  • Many Nazis were against Christianity - its teaching of peace was seen as incompatible with Nazi ideas. However, the Nazis didn't want to risk an immediate attack on it.
  • Hitler signed an agreement with the Catholic Church in 1933. Each side promised not to interfere with the other. However the Nazis did try to curb the influence of the Church - and there were some Catholic protests against Nazi policies.
  • Hitler tried to unite the different Protestant Churches into one Reich Church. He placed the Nazi Bishop Ludwig Muller at its head. Some Church members split off in protest at this state interference. They formed the Confessing Church.
  • Many clergy who stood up to the Nazi regime were sent to concentration camps.
  • There was little opposition in Germany to Nazis from Christian groups. Many Christians supported Hitler because stopped spread of communism which was actively hostile to religion. 
  • Martin Niemoller was a Lutheran minister, a decorated World War One U-boat captain, and a one-time Nazi supporter. He objected to Nazi interference in the Church and was one of the Confessing Church founders, which stood against the persecution of Church members and as a result spent the rest of the Nazi years in concentration camps.
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  • Clemens August von Galen was the Catholic Bishop of Munster, who used his sermons to protest about the euthanasia of the disabled and against Nazi racial policies. Only the need to maintain the support of the German Catholics stopped the Nazis from executing him.
  • Another key member of the Confessing Church was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran theologian and pastor who opposed the Nazis from the beginning. He joined the resistance - helping Jews escape from Germany and plotting to kill Hitler. He was caught and spent over a year in prison before he was executed just weeks before the fall of the Nazis.
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  • Hitler started a huge programme of public works, which gave jobs to thousands of people.
  • From 1933, huge motorways - Autobahns - were started. Unemployment fell dramatically.
  • But the Nazis also fiddled with the statistics to make unemployment look lower than it really was. E.g. they didn't count women or Jewish people in the unemployment statistics - this is called 'invisible unemployment'.
  • All men between 18 and 25 could be recruited into the National Labour Service and given jobs.
  • The Nazis got rid of trade unions. Instead workers had to join the Nazis' Labour Front.
  • The Nazis introduced 'Strength through Joy' - a scheme which provided workers with cheap holidays and leisure activities. Another scheme, 'Beauty of Labour', encouraged factory owners to improve conditions for their workers.
  • Output increased in Germany and unemployment was almost ended completely. The Nazis introduced the Volkswagen (the people's car) as an ambition for people to aim for.
  • Wages were still relatively low though and workers weren't allowed to go on strike or campaign for better conditions.
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Self Sufficiency&Military

  • Germany's industrial growth meant it was buying more raw materials from abroad. Germany was importing a lot more than it was exporting, which caused economic problems.
  • The Minister of the Economy, Schacht, brought in the New Plan in 1934.
  • This strictly controlled imports and encouraged exports - the aim was to make Germany more self sufficient. Production increased and unemployment fell.
  • Schacht eventually resigned because he felt the increased focus on weapons production was damaging the economy. Control of the economy fell to Goring.
  • The Nazis built up the army secretly at first because it was breaking the Versailles Treaty.
  • Hitler sacked some of the generals and replaced them with Nazi supporters. Goring was put in charge of the Luftwaffe (air force) which had been banned at Versailles.
  • In 1935, military conscription was reintroduced (drafting men into the army).
  • In 1936, the Nazis intrroduced a Four-Year Plan to prepare the country for a war. Industrial production increased - many workers had to retrain in jobs that would help the war effort.
  • The plan was to make Germany a self sufficient country (an 'autarky') so it wasn't reliant on foreign goods. They especially wanted to be self sufficient in the raw materials needed for war. But by 1939, Germany was still importing about a third of its raw materials.
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Social Revolution

  • Nazi policies affected many aspects of society like education, working conditions and law and order. Nazi ideas also had a big impact on people's attitudes and the way certain social groups were treated - e.g. their ideas about the 'master race' or the role of the women.
  • Nazi propaganda spread the idea that society was changing completely. They portrayed themselves as defying the Treaty of Versailles to bring pride back to the people.
  • The economic recovery in the mid-1930s made it seem like people's lives were improving.
  • The Nazi ideal of Volksgemeinschaft - a perfect community of the people working hard towards the same aims - seemed attractive to lots of people.
  • To some extent the Nazis broke down old divisions between social classes.
  • Nazis did make a difference to society, but the changes were not always deep. Nazi propaganda made changes seem greater than they really were.
  • It wasn't always necessary to join the Nazi Party. Many people in important positions kept their jobs without being members, for example Schacht the Minister of the Economy.
  • Some parents didn't want their children to join Nazi youth movements. Many Germans resisted Nazi propaganda. But it was dangerous to be openly against the Nazis/
  • Some of the changes introduced by the Nazis such as health reforms were started during the Weimar Republic, but the Nazis claimed them as theirs.
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Social Revolution.

  • The Nazis discriminated against many social groups, e.g. Jews, communists,  Romani and people with disabilities. The Nazis' vision for Germany excluded many groups.
  • There were still strong social divisions between classes, despite the ideal of Volksgemeinschaft
  • Nazis focused on gaining the support of the workers in Germany. Campaigns like Strength through Joy and the Beauty of Labour made workers feel important. One third of all workers had been unemployed in the Great Depression under the Weimar Republic.
  • The value of Germany's production went up from 58000 million marks in 1932 to 93000 million marks in 1937. Workers were made to feel an essential part of the Volksgemeinschaft.
  • Small-business owners were able to advance more in society than under the Weimar where class differences were stronger. This appealed to the middle classes.
  • But workers and small-business owners were not really better off. The cost of living rose by about 25% - but wages didn't go up. Trade Unions were banned, as was the right to strike or resign. Small businesses had to pay high taxes.
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Impact of the Second World War

  • In 1936 Goring was put in charge of the economy. He aimed to make Germany self sufficient - so it could produce enough goods and raw materials to not need imports.
  • Hitler combined economic and military policy. The economy was being geared to war.
  • A Four-Year Plan started in 1936 concentrated on war preparations.
  • Many workers were retrained to do jobs that would help the war effort, such as producing weapons and working in chemical plants.
  • At the start of the Second World War, the German economy wasn't ready.
  • Production geared to war was increased at the expense of domestic goods. The Nazis needed to build up industries like weapons and chemicals and increase Germany's agricultural output, quickly.
  • By the outbreak of war a quarter of the workforce was busy on work for the war effort, especially on weapons. Two years later this had become three-quarters. Working hours increased to over 50 hours per week.
  • Production was often inefficient. Germany took raw materials from occupied lands in the East and used slave labour to keep its war effort going. In 1942 Hitler put Albert Speer in charge of the war economy.
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Impact of the Second World War.

  • By focusing the economy more completely on the war effort and by increasing efficiency, Speer greatly increased weapons production. But Allied bombing was taking an increasing toll on German industry.
  • At first, most Germans didn't suffer badly because of the war - but they did make sacrafices to help the war effort by working longer hours for wages that were lower than they'd been under the Weimar Republic.
  • Millions of foreign workers were brought into Germany. Some business people resented the outbreak of war, especially with rationing of clothes and food introduced in 1939.
  • More women and children had to work, especially after 1941 when German forces were doing badly in Russia. Civilians were soon being killed through Allied bombing raids.
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