Nazi Germany

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weaknesses of the weimar government

proportional representation instead of voting for an MP, like we do in Britain, Weimar Germans voted for a party. Each party was then allocated seats in the Reichstag exactly reflecting (proportional' to) the number of people who had voted for it. This sounds fair, but in practice it was a disaster it resulted in dozens of tiny parties. 

article 48 - this said that, in an emergency, the president did not need the agreement of the Reichstag, but could issue decrees. The problem with this was that it did not say what an emergency was, and in the end, it turned out to be a back door that Hitler used to take power legally.

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nazi beliefs

Lebensraum - the need for 'living space' for the German nation to expand 

  • A strong Germany - the Treaty of Versailles should be abolished and all German-speaking people united in one country.
  • Führer - the idea that there should be a single leader with complete power rather than a democracy.
  • Social Darwinism - the idea that the Aryan race was superior and Jews were 'subhuman'.
  • Germany was in danger - from Communists and Jews, who had to be destroyed.
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hitler's rise to power

  1. Hitler was a great speaker, with the power to make people support him.
  2. The moderate political parties would not work together, although together they had more support than the Nazis.
  3. The depression of 1929 created poverty and unemployment, which made people angry with the Weimar government. People lost confidence in the democratic system and turned towards the extremist political parties such as the Communists and Nazis during the depression.
  4. The Nazi storm troopers attacked Hitler's opponents.
  5. Goebbels' propaganda campaign was very effective and it won support for the Nazis. The Nazis targeted specific groups of society with different slogans and policies to win their support.
  6. Hitler was given power in a seedy political deal by Hindenburg and Papen who foolishly thought they could control him.
  7. German people were still angry about the Treaty of Versailles and supported Hitler because he promised to overturn it.
  8. Industrialists gave Hitler money and support.
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how hitler consolidated his power part 1

Reichstag Fire - the Reichstag building is set on fire. A Dutch Communist, van der Lubbe, is caught red-handed in the burning building.

General Election - only 44 per cent of the population vote for the Nazis, who win 288 seats in the Reichstag.

Enabling Act - the SA intimidates all the remaining non-Nazi deputies. The Reichstag votes to give Hitler the right to make his own laws.

Trade unions are abolished and their leaders arrested.

Concordat - Hitler makes an agreement with the Pope who sees him as someone who can destroy communism. This agreement allows Hitler to take over political power in Germany as long as he leaves the Catholic Church alone.

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how hitler consolidated his power part 2

Political parties are banned - only the Nazi party is allowed to exist.

People's Courts - Hitler sets up the Nazi people's courts where judges have to swear an oath of loyalty to the Nazis.

Night of the Long Knives - some SA leaders are demanding that the Nazi party carry out its socialist agenda, and that the SA take over the army. Hitler cannot afford to annoy the businessmen or the army, so the SSmurders perhaps 400 of the SA members, including its leader Röhm, along with a number of Hitler's other opponents.

Führer - when Hindenburg dies, Hitler declares himself jointly president, chancellor and head of the army

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role of women

The role of women

The Nazis had clear ideas of what they wanted from women.

Women were expected to stay at home and look after the family. Women doctors, teachers and civil servants were forced to give up their careers. Even at the end of the war, women were never asked to serve in the armed forces.

Their job was to keep the home nice for their husband and family - their life should revolve round the three 'Ks':

  • church- kirche 
  • children- kinder 
  • cooking kuche 
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opposition groups

  1. The White Rose group was formed by students at Munich University. They published anti-Nazi leaflets, but were discovered and executed in 1943.
  2. During the war, 'swing' groups were formed. These were young people who rejected Nazi values, drank alcohol and danced to jazz. More violent groups were called the Edelweiss Pirates. They daubed anti-Nazi slogans, sheltered deserters and beat up Nazi officials. In 1944, the Cologne Pirates (the Edelweiss Pirates based in Cologne) killed the Gestapo chief, so the Nazis publicly hanged 12 of them.
  3. In 1944, a group of army officers and intellectuals called the Kreisau Circle tried to bomb Hitler. The bomb was planted by Colonel Stauffenberg. It exploded, but Hitler survived. In retaliation, 5,000 people were executed.
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  • Tried to eliminate the Jews.
  • Killed 85 per cent of Germany's Gypsies.
  • Sterilised black people.
  • Killed mentally disabled babies.
  • Killed mentally ill patients.
  • Sterilised physically disabled people and people with hereditary diseases.
  • Sterilised deaf people.
  • Put homosexuals, prostitutes, Jehovah's Witnesses, alcoholics, pacifists, beggars, hooligans and criminals - who they regarded as anti-social - into concentration camps.
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how the nazi's persecuted the jews (key dates) par


  • Boycott of Jewish businesses.
  • Jewish civil servants, lawyers and teachers sacked.
  • Race Science lessons to teach that Jews are untermensch.


  • 'Jews not wanted here' signs put up at swimming pools etc.
  • Nuremberg laws (15 September) Jews could not be citizens. They were not allowed to vote or to marry a German.


  • Jews could not be doctors.
  • Jews had to add the name Israel (men) or Sarah (women) to their name.
  • Jewish children forbidden to go to school.
  • Kristallnacht (9 November) - attacks on Jewish homes, businesses andsynagogues.
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how the nazi's persecuted the jews (key dates) par


  • Jews were forbidden to own a business, or own a radio.
  • Jews were forced to live in ghettoes.


  • Army Einsatzgruppen squads in Russia started mass-shootings of Jews.
  • All Jews were forced to wear a yellow star of David.


  • Wansee Conference (20 January) decided on the Final Solution, which was to gas all Europe's Jews. The main death camps were at Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibor.
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economic benefits

  • He stopped paying reparations and invested the money in German companies.
  • He began a huge programme of public works including planting forests, and building hospitals and schools. He also built public buildings such as the 1936 Olympic Stadium. The construction of the autobahns created work for 80,000 men.
  • Rearmament created jobs in the armaments industry.
  • The introduction of national service meant all young men spent six months in the RAD and then they were conscripted into the army. By 1939, 1.4 million men were in the army, so they were not counted as unemployed.
  • Many Jews were sacked and their jobs given to non-Jews.
  • Many women were sacked and their jobs given to men.
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