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HITLERS GERMANY

Hitlers rise to power


Weaknesses of the Weimar government

The constitution and system of proportional representation

People voted for a party rather than specific candidates

Parties gained seats based on the number of votes won

Democratic and fair system but resulted in high degree of fragmentation in parliament

Too many small competing parties without any party gaining a majority

The democratic Weimar government had a president who was chosen by the people

The president chose the chancellor and the cabinet ministers

Allowed the president to dissolve both houses of parliament and rule by decree for 6 months in time of emergency

What constituted as a emergency was not clearly defined

Exploited by Hitler to seize power legally and to remain in power

Many people had little faith in the ability of the government


Lack of support

Opposition from the left


o Wanted more equality in society
o Were influenced by the Russian Bolsheviks
o Were opposed to democracy
o Frequent uprisings by the Spartacists occurred between 1918 and 1919
o The Spartacists were opposed by anti-communist ex-servicemen, the Freikorps and there were frequent battles between

both groups
Opposition from the right
o Felt that Germany should not be solely responsible for WW1
o Disagreed with the terms of the TOV with the reparation, military and territorial terms
o Wanted Germanys army and industry to be strong again, and wanted territorial expansion
o Wanted a dictatorial style of government
o Many were extreme nationalists and called those who ratified the treaty the November criminals
o Did not accept Germanys defeat in the war and blamed politicians for not having the courage to continue the war
Lost the support of the middle class
o The Weimar government was heavily in debt due to the payment of war reparations
o Germanys problems were worsened by the hyper-inflation caused by the overprinting of money which the government used
o
o

to pay off its debt


Many Germans lost their savings overnight and they blamed the government
The middle class was the worst hit and they stopped supporting the government, believing the government and its

democratic government had failed


Impact of the Great Depression

The great depression was a severe worldwide economic depression sparked by the stock market crash in 1929 in the New York stock
exchange. The depression affected almost every country in the world, but it hit Germany particularly badly, because Germany was
dependent on loans and investments from the USA. When the USA suddenly recalled the loans and deposits from Germany banks,
Germany suffered a economic crisis, which in turn caused a social crisis. Factories closed down and millions lost their jobs. The
situation also resulted in a political crisis. The coalition government in power at that time could not decide what course of action to take.
From 193- onwards, no government had enough support in the Reichstag to pass laws. The only way of action could be taken was
when the president used his emergency powers. However, the president at that time was a right-wing nationalist and did not care
about democracy. People were angry and wanted more decisive action. There was a decline in support for parties with moderate

opinions and the rise in support for extreme parties like the Communist and Nazi party.
Hyperinflation

Post-war Germany struggled with poverty, high unemployment and fragile economy. The reparation payments were therefore an
unwelcome burden, highly unpopular with the German people. The government kept up the reparation payments by printing more
money. The more money printed, the more its value decreased. Prices spiraled out of control and hyperinflation occurred. The poor
were hard-hit and wealthier Germans and the middle class felt the most bitter. Their savings and pensions were wiped out virtually
overnight. Hyperinflation caused the Weimar government to lose the support of the middle and lower middle class.

Unable to keep order in the country

The government spent much of its time trying to suppress riots and attempts to overthrow the government

It relied heavily on the Freikrops to suppress revolts

The Freikorps themselves tried to overthrow the government in the 1920 Kapp Putsch, which almost succeeded.

In November 1923, Hitler himself attempted to overthrow the government in the Munich Beer Hall putsch.

Members of the Weimar government became targets for attack

Between 1919 and 1922, there were 376 political murders.

Many people were deeply socked by the level of violence in the country and lost confidence in the governments ability to maintain law

and order
The judges and police, many of whom preferred the days of autocratic rule under the Kaiser, were sympathetic towards the murderers

and the murderers mostly received light sentences


Lost a capable leader

Despite its weaknesses, the Weimar government did not collapse

This was due to the efforts of chancellor Gustav Stresemann

He was able to negotiate for a longer term for reparation through the Dawes and Young plane

He also improved relations with the Allies and Germany was admitted to LON.

These positive developments led some people to describe the years between 1924 and 1929 as the golden age for Germany

His death in 1929 was a big blow to Germany


Hitlers abilities

Excellent and charismatic speaker

Hitler had the natural ability to capture peoples attention with his public speaking skills

He was able to inspire confidence and belief among the Germans that he could be the one to lead Germany out of its problems

Under Hitlers leadership, the national socialist German workers party or Nazi party grew and came up with its first programme known

as the Twenty-five points in 1920


For his role in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, he was arrested
However, his stirring speech made the judges sympathetic towards him and he received a light sentence of a 5-year jail sentence. He

was released on parole after only 9 months


Reorganized the Nazi party

The jail term proved to be a turning point

It convinced Hitler that legal means and not force alone would help him gain power

Upon release, he concentrated his efforts on reorganizing the Nazi party

Among the changes made was the setting up of branches in different parts of Germany as well as the creation of a youth movement

Created SA in 1921 and SS

Created propaganda arm

Initially, the Nazi party had very little support from the people.
o The working class supported either the Social Democratic Party or the Communists
o The years 1924-1929 saw a general economic prosperity and political stability. Thus the people did not see the need to vote
o

out the Weimar government


At the time, the Germans were not interested in Nazi calls to keep Jews out of German political life nor in the Nazi plan to

invade other countries. The people also did not like the way Nazis beat up their opponents to intimidate them

After the Great Depression in 1929, many Germans suffered. The Weimar governments popularity dipped even further

With improved organization, Hitler was able t gain much popularity and support.
Skillful at making deals with politicians

The Nazis won less than 3% of the votes in the 1928 elections

By 1932, they had won 37.3%, making them the party with the most seats in the Reichstag

In 1932, president Von Hindenburg was pressurized to agree to Hitlers demand for chancellorship. He was persuaded by Franz Von
Papen who thought that the conservatives could channel their support for Hitler into support for the policies of the cabinet

Furthermore, it was hoped that Hitler could help the government to control the communist

This was welcomed by the rich industrialists who then supported the appointment of Hitler as chancellor

On 30 January 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor. Within months, he ended Weimar government and started the Third Reich
Exploited fear of communism to win support

The Nazi party and the communists became popular during the difficult times after the great depression

Many Germans believed that the Weimar government had failed them and were open to trying out alternatives form of government

Hitler made use of propaganda to spread fear about the aims of communism

He convinced the people that the Nazi Party was the only party capable of providing order and stopping the Communists.

Many rich industrialists support the Nazis as they wanted anti-communist government

With strong financial support, Hitler was able to build a sizeable private army SA.

Impact of Hitlers rise to power


Political impact
Consolidation of power: When Hitler became chancellor in 1933, he took several measures to consolidate power. Although the Nazis were in power, they did
not have a clear majority in parliament. Only 3 out of 11 cabinet ministers were Nazis. The communists were Hitlers main rivals for political power. They held
meetings and rallies to reach out to the German people. Hitler therefore sought to increase the power and authority of the Nazis. He called for another
election in March 1933, hoping to win a majority in the Reichstag. In the run up to the election, the Nazis employed their usual tactics- rallies, speeches,
parades and violence against other political parties. This time though, they also had advantage of controlling the police and the media.

Democracy in Germany was destroyed

February 1933 Reichstag Fire


o Hoping for full control, Hitler dissolved the Reichstag and called for fresh elections in March 1933
o A week before the elections however, the Reichstag building caught fire
o Blaming the incident on the Communists and claiming that the state was in danger, Hitler managed to convince the

President to grant him emergency powers


o Using these powers, Hitler arrested the Communists and other political opponents
o In 5 march 1933, the Nazis won 43.9% of the votes in Reichstag
23 March 1933 Enabling act
o This act gave Hitler full dictatorial powers for 4 years
o To pass the Enabling act, Hitler needed 2/3 majority of the Reichstag
o To achieve this, Hitler outlawed the Communist Party and arrested most of them to prevent them from voting against him.
o On March 1933, he got 2/3 of the votes with the support of the Nationalists and the Catholic Centre Party
o Within a month, Hitler made use of his powers to strengthen his control
o In April 1933, new laws were passed to remove all members of other political parties from all government departments
o In May 1933, all trade unions were banned and reorganized into a Nazi-controlled organization, the German Labor Force of
DAF. The social democratic party was dissolved.
o In July 1933, all other political parties in the country were banned. Germany thus became a one-party dictatorship.
Threats to Hitler within the Nazi party were removed
o The SA was Hitlers private army and played a crucial role in his rise
o By 1934, the SA had grown into a 4 million strong army under Ernest Rohm
o Hitler was worried about the potential threat from the SA
o Rohms call for the SA to be made into a second German army and large firm nationalists worried the generals, industrialists
o

and Hitler, who was afraid that the SA might challenge his position
On 29 and 30 June 1934, Hitler had Rohm and many SA leaders arrested and executed, together with other political
leaders who opposed him. This event was known as the Night of the Long Knives.

Social Impact

Emergency laws were used

Hitler used his emergency powers to suspend political and civil rights after the Reichstag fire

The government had the power to arrest anyone suspected of being against the government

Suspects could be imprisoned for an indefinite period of time, without being brought to a court of law

The courts were also under the total control of the Nazis

Only Nazis or Nazi supporters could become judges

Hence, it became impossible to get a fair trial in Nazi Germany


The SS and the Gestapo

The SS and the Gestapo often arrested and killed opponents of the Nazi party

The Gestapo were not accountable to the courts or to any law

The SS and Gestapo struck fear in all Germans

Nazi Germany is sometimes called a police state because of the virtually unlimited power of its police force
Informers

The Nazis divided each town into smaller units called viertels or quarters

Each quarter had its own Nazi quarter warden who would visit the houses in his quarter every week to check and gather information on
everyone

The Quarter wardens acted as informers to the Nazi Party of any possible opposition

People were encouraged to report on their families and neighbors who did not show total support for Hitler and the Nazi Party
Concentration Camps

Concentration camps were built to house the huge number of people arrested for being anti-government

Between 1933 and 1939, more than 200,000 Germans were arrested and sent to concentration camps

The people were very badly treated there they were forced to work very hard and had little food to eat

As a result of the hardship and suffering they had to endure, there were many deaths in the concentration camps
Only pro-Nazi cultural activities were allowed

the Germans to think like Nazis

The Nazis organized a lot of cultural activities to encourage Germans to support Hitler

The development of other forms of culture were not permitted


Propaganda

Joseph Goebbels, one of Hitlers most trusted ministers, was put in charge of the Nazi propaganda programme.

He played an important role in spreading Nazi propaganda in Germany to gain the peoples support for the Fuhrer and the

Fatherland
The Nazis brought all radio stations under their total control. The Germans were encouraged to buy radios which were sold very

cheaply in Germany, and radio loudspeakers were also installed in public and work areas
Whenever Hitler gave speeches, orders would be given for everyone to switch on their radios and listen to his speech
The Nazis also controlled the cinemas, a very popular form of entertainment in the 1930s
Only movies approved by the Nazis could be shown
Short films which highlighted the achievements of the Nazis and which contained Nazi beliefs had to be screened before the start of all

movies
German movies in the 1930s usually praised the Nazis or showed the Jews as the enemies of the Germans
The Ministry of Propaganda made sure the only information the German people got was what the government wanted them to hear,

read, see
Censorship

The Nazis controlled all forms of media and there was very strict censorship

Publications, including newspaper, could publish only what was approved by the Ministry of Propaganda

Any publications that did not follow this was closed down and the people responsible arrested and thrown in the concentration camps

Books written by Jews and other undesirable people were removed from libraries and shops, and burnt in public
Parades and rallies

Even after gaining political control of the state, the Nazis continued to use spectacular and colorful rallies just as they had done before

coming to power
The biggest rally was an annual one held in Nuremburg. Hundreds of thousands of people witnessed or took part in the rally
The people were very impressed by the Nazi uniforms, colorful flags, searchlights and torchlight processions. These gave an

impression of power and unity, which greatly appealed to the Germans.


Youth were brainwashed by the Nazis

Nazi youth organizations were set up for both sexes

Boys went through programmes of military athletics while the girls prepared for eventual motherhood

German youths who were not members of these youth organizations found it difficult to enter universities or obtain jobs

Through these programmes, German youths were brainwashed by the Nazis

Though many young people enthusiastically joined these organizations, others did not. One of the largest anti0Nazi youth groups were

Under the Nazi rule, all cultural activities, such as musical performance, films, and art exhibition were aimed at shaping the minds of

the Edelweiss Pirates


The Edelweiss Pirates were youths who did not like the strictly controlled life required by the Nazi youth organization
The Nazis punished the members of the Edelweiss pirates by putting thousands of them in prisons and hanging the leaders of the

group, but this did not deter them

The presence of these groups showed that the Nazi did not have complete control over the German people
Education system was controlled by the Nazis

Hitler made sure that schools encouraged loyalty and obedience to Nazi beliefs

All teachers had to attend special training camps to help them teach Nazi beliefs more effectively

Physical education was emphasized to ensure all the German children were healthy

Students were taught how unfair the TOV was.

Textbooks portrayed the Jews and the Communists negatively

Students were also taught the superiority of the German race


Women were given limited responsibilities

The Nazis believed that women should only be concerned about children, church, kitchen

Hitler thought the role of German women was to produce racially pure and healthy German babies and to look after their families

Many professional women were forced to give up on their jobs and stay at home

Women who bore many children received special awards and cash to encourage them to have more
Jews were treated cruelly

Hitler was also known for this anti-Jewish stance and laws

Hitler and the Nazis believed that the Germans were part of the Aryan race. They believed that the Aryans were the superior race and
the non- Aryans the inferior race, and that the inferior races should be the slaves of the superior race

Hitler made it clear from the time he entered politics that he hated the Jews and that they should not be allowed to take part in German

life
Hitler were strongly opposed to marriages between Germans and Jews for he felt that this weakened the German race and wanted

Germans to remain racially pure


Although the Jews were only about 1% of the German population, Hitler convinced many Germans that the Jews were responsible for

all the bad things that were happening in Germany


When the Nazis came to power in 1933, they immediately began to take measures against the Jews
o In 1933, all Jews were sacked from government jobs. The government called for the boycott of Jewish shops and they could
o

not own farms. Jews were banned from jobs involving the media
In 1935, Jews were banned from joining the army. Jewish authors could not publish their works and were not allowed to
own radios, typewriters and bicycles. The Nuremburg laws were passed. Jews were stripped of their citizenship and they

were banned from marrying the Germans


In 1938, Jewish doctors and lawyers were not allowed to have German clients. Jews were banned from entering the public
places of entertainment and they were not allowed to purchase magazines or newspaper. Jews were not allowed to attend

state schools and universities and banned from owning businesses.


On 7 November 1938, following the killing of a German official, Ernst vom Rath, by a Jew, the Nazis used this as an excuse to organize

a night of violence against the Jews


More than 7,500 Jewish shops an dover 400 synagogues were destroyed
More than 90 Jews were killed while another 30,000 were arrested
This event was know in history as the Kristallnacht (Night of Broke Glass)
Hitler was also responsible for carrying out The Final Solution which killed more than 6 million Jews through mass execution death

camps in parts of Germany and Poland. This event is known as the Holocaust
Christian churches were controlled by the Nazis

The Reich church was established by Hitler

The Reich church controlled all protestant churches and preached Nazi values

Members of the catholic church who opposed the Nazi party were arrested and sent to concentration camps

Hitler was able to reduce the influence of Christian churches over the people significantly

This was achieved through closing all church schools and church youth groups
Economic impact

Working conditions partly improved

The German Labor Front DAF) replaced the trade union

The DAF controlled the workers to ensure that wages were fixed according to the employers

Efforts were made to improve the lives of the workers, e.g. the Strength through Joy programmes included cheap holidays, cruises

and sporting activities to encourage the workers


The DAF also included a programme that enabled all workers to own cars at low prices. This was stopped however, when war broke

out. Many workers paid their installments but did not receive their cars.
New jobs were created

Hitler spent large sums of money on government projects that involved many workers

The National Labor Service employed many jobless people in government building projects. Schools, hospitals and highways were
built using this labor

The civil service was expanded to provide more jobs

Unemployment was further reduced with the reintroduction of conscription and the removal of Jews from their jobs

Overall unemployment fell from six million in 1933 to below one million in 1939
Big businesses benefitted

The rearmament programme benefitted big businesses

This was due to the increase in demand in the coal, steel, chemical and transport sectors

Small businesses did not benefit as they were not treated favorably by the Nazis, compared to the large companies

However, due to a lack of natural resources, Germany did not achieve self-sufficiency. Germany was still spending money to buy

goods from abroad


Overall, although unemployment fell, the German economy did not improve