The Machinery of Terror


Germany became a Police State

1. The Nazis wanted complete control over the machinery of government and people's lives.

2. Hitler's Enabling Act of 1933 allowed the government to read people' mail, listen in on their phone calls, and search their homes without notice.

3. The Law for the Reconstruction of the Reich (1934) gave the Nazis total power over local governments.

4. There were laws to sack civil servants who didn't support the Nazis and accept their rules.

5. The Nazis also made changes to the justice system. Judges didn't have to be 'fair' and unbiased. Instead, they were expected to make rulings that were in line with Nazi Party policy.

  • In 1933, the Nazis set up special courts where the basic rights of those accused were suspended - they couldn't appeal or question evidence given against them.
  • In 1934, Hitler established the People's Court in Berlin, which held trials for important political crimes. Defendants were nearly always found guilty.

6. The Sicherheitsdienst (SD) was the Nazi intelligence service. It was initially run by Reinhard Heydrich - he aimed to bring every German under continual supervision.

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People could be Terrorised into Conforting

The government was also prepared to use terror and even violence against the German people.

1. The ** (Schutzstaffel) began as a bodyguard for Hitler. It expanded massively under the leadership of Himmler during the 1930s. Its members were totally loyal to Hitler, and feared for their cruelty.

2. Himmler was also in charge of the secret police - he Gestapo. The Gestapo's job was 'to protect public safety and order', but their methods included harsh interrogations and imprisonment without trial.

3. Local wardens were employed to make sure Germans were loyal to the Nazis. Members of the public were encouraged to report disloyalty. Many were arrested by the Gestapo as a result.

4. After 1933, concentration camps were created across Germany and its territories to hold political prisoners and anybody else considered dangerous to the Nazis. Some of these were later turned into death camps.

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Not everyone lived in Constant Terror

1. Most Germans were prepared to go along with the new regime. Some people  accepted the new rules out of fear.

2. Others went along with them because they believed in their aims, even if they didn't approve of the Nazis' brutal methods.

For those that didn't fit in with the Nazi ideals (e.g. Jews), life under the ** and the Gestapo could be terrifying. But Hitler was supported, not feared, by many Germans.

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