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Source D

The Nazi agricultural ‘expert’, Walter Darre, romanticises the peasantry.

At the bottom of his heart the true peasant …has only a deep mostly silent contempt for the city dweller or non-farmer … The peasant directs the farm, he is the head, the other limbs; but all together they are visible for the farm … To be a peasant therefore means to have a feeling for the organic and interplay of forces in the work as a whole.

(cited in Nazi Ideology before 1933- a Documentation, B Millar Lane and L J Rupp (eds), Manchester 1978)

Source E

A Nazi Party statement of March 1930, possibly written by the Strasser brothers, emphasises the peasantry will find their place within a broadly based movement.
The present distress of the farmers is part of the distress of the entire German people.

It is madness to believe that a single occupational group can exclude itself from the German community which shares in the same fate; it is a crime to set farmers and city dwellers against one another, for they are bound together for better or for worse.

The old ruling political parties which led our people into slavery cannot be the leaders on the road to emancipation.

The war of liberation against our oppressors and their taskmasters can be successfully led only by a political liberation movement which, although it fully recognises the significance of the farmers and of agriculture for the German workers as a whole, draws together the consciously German members of every occupation and rank.
This political liberation movement of the German people is the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

Source F

At the Nuremberg Rally of September 1934 Hitler comments on the place of women in Nazi society.
If one says that man’s world is the State, his struggle, his readiness to devote his powers to the service of the community, one might be tempted to say that the world of woman is a smaller world. For her world is her husband, her family, her children and her house. But where would the greater world be if there were no one to care for the small world ? … Providence has entrusted to women the cares of that world which is peculiarly her own … Every child that a woman brings into the world is a battle, a battle waged for the existence of her people.

Source G

A school pupil comments on life in the mid 1930s.
No one in our class ever read Mein Kampf. I myself had only used the book for quotations. In general we didn’t know much about National Socialist ideology. Even anti-Semitism was taught rather marginally at school, for instance through Richard Wagner’s essay The Jews in Music – and outside school the display copies of Der Sturmer made the idea seem questionable, if anything… Nevertheless, we were politically programmed: programmed to obey orders, to cultivate the soldierly ‘virtue’ of standing to attention and saying ‘Yes, Sir’, and to switch our minds off when the magic word ‘fatherland’ was uttered and Germany’s honour and greatness were invoked.

(from Inside Nazi Germany, D Peubert, Batsford, 1987)

Source H

A Nazi publication on youth in 1938.

The education for Germany, which is organised by the Hitler Youth itself in accordance with the Fuhrer’s will that ‘Youth must be led by youth’ … And just as the Hitler Youth is neither a league for pre-military training, nor a sports club, so it has no room, either, for the cultivation of a separate youth culture in musical groups and Hitler Youth Choirs, in literary clubs and theatrical societies. Whatever is happening within the new German youth happens exclusively in compliance with that great and unalterable law: the commitment to the Fuhrer is the commitment to Germany.

(from Fascism, Roger Gribbon (Ed), Oxford University Press, 1995)

Source I

On German culture in 1938.

Now, more than four years after the decisive change which German life experienced on 30 January 1933, the criteria and principles which had to be fought for then have penetrated the general spiritual awareness of the nation. It has long since become self-evident to the overriding majority of the German people that the norms which determine and shape our political life since 1933 must also, through a deep inner necessity, affect the whole spiritual and artistic life of the present and future of our people.
This development, for which we must thank the cleansing of German cultural life from all distortions alien to its nature (artfremd), a process which gathered irresistible momentum after 1933 and is now complete …

(from Fascism, Roger Gribbon (Ed), Oxford University Press, 1995)

Source J

In August 1939 Goebbels speaks on the value of the radio.

Broadcasting has certain quite definite tasks to perform, particularly in view of the times in which we are living at this moment. What is needed is not heavy, serious programmes which, after all, only a fraction of the people can grasp: we must provide the broad masses and millions of our people, engaged as they are in a struggle for existence, with as much relaxation and entertainment, edification and improvement, as possible.

(from Inside Nazi Germany, D Peubert, Batsford, 1987)

Source K

The SPD underground (SOPADE) in the 1930s observes the terror in Germany.

Terror in its all-embracing form, in its totally inhuman brutality, remains concealed not only from those abroad; even in Germany itself there are certain circles of the population who have no inkling of what is occurring. It is not uncommon for a ‘citizen’ who has absolutely no enthusiasm for the system but has little interest in politics, who crosses the road to avoid a swastika flag which he would be expected to salute, to put the following question with an undertone of accusation: ‘Do you personally know of anyone who is still in a concentration camp from then ?’ (By ‘then’ is meant the take-over in 1933.)

(from National Socialist Rule in Germany, Norbert Frei, Blackwall, 1993)

Source L

An underground Socialist (SOPADE) witnesses peasant hostility to the regime in 1934.

The peasants, to a man, are angry about the Hitler system. Market days in the towns …almost assume the character of political meetings. Only a chairman is missing. Everything is discussed and grumbled about … The gendarmes behave as though they had not heard the market-goers. If known Nazis informers turn up, the most that happens is that people move along a bit and talk more quietly, but the informers can sense the mood of the peasants perfectly well. For a long while it has been impossible to speak of the peasants fearing the Nazis. On the contrary, known Nazis avoid the peasants, so as not to be called to account about when they finally intend to start turning their promises into reality.

(from National Socialist Rule in Germany, Norbert Frei, Blackwall, 1993)

Source M

Lloyd George in 1937 on how Hitler has regenerated Germany.
Whatever one may think of his (Hitler’s) methods - and they are certainly not those of a parliamentary country - there can be no doubt that he has achieved a marvellous transformation in the spirit of the people, in their attitude towards each other, and in their social and economic outlook … As to his popularity, especially among the youth of Germany, there can be no manner of doubt. The old trust him; the young idolises him. It is not the admiration accorded to a popular leader. It is the worship of a national hero who has saved his country from utter despondency and degradation…

(from Germany: The Third Reich, G layton, Hodder and Stoughton, 1992)

Source N

In a speech in 1937 Hitler claims to have created a Volksgemeinschaft.
We in Germany have really broken with a world of prejudices. I leave myself out of account. I, too, am a child of the people; I do not trace my line from any castle: I come from the workshop … By my side stand Germans from all walks of life who once were workers on the land are now governing German states in the name of the Reich … It is true that men who came from the bourgeoisie and former aristocrats have their place in this Movement … We have not broken down classes in order to set new ones in their place: we have broken down classes to make way for the German people as a whole.

Source O

In May 1939 a local government official comments on the popularity of the regime.

There was hardly a shop window to be seen without a display of the Fuhrer’s portrait and the victorious symbols of the new Reich. The numerous celebrations were very well attended in the garrison towns the population was especially captivated by the military parades. Everywhere was a happy celebration of people, who were not in the slightest disturbed by the agitation incited in the nations which surround us, because they know their fate is safe in the Fuhrer’s hands.

(from National Socialist Rule in Germany, Norbert Frei, Blackwall, 1993)

Source P

The Socialists (SOPADE) in exile comment on Kristallnacht in November 1938.
The brutal measures against the Jews have caused great indignation among the population. People spoke their minds quite openly, and many Aryans were arrested as a result. When it became known that a Jewish woman had been taken from childbed, even a police official said that this was too much: ‘Where is Germany heading, if these methods are being used?’ As a result, he was arrested too … After the Jews, who are going to be the next victims? That is what people will be asking. Will it be the Catholics?

(from Inside Nazi Germany, D Peubert, Batsford, 1987)
Source Q

Himmler on the Jewish question in the early 1940s.

The painful decision had to be taken, to remove this people from the face of the earth. For the organisation that had to perform it, this was the hardest task we have ever faced. It has been performed, I believe I may say, without our men and leaders suffering any harm of mind or spirit … That is all I wish to say about the Jewish question. You know how things stand, and you will keep the knowledge to yourselves.

Source R

Hitler to Speer in March 1945.
If the war is to be lost, the nation will also perish. This fate is inevitable. There is no need to consider the basis of even a most primitive existence any longer. On the contrary it is better to destroy even that, and to destroy it ourselves. The nation has proved itself weak, and the future belongs solely to the stronger Eastern nation. Besides, those who remain after the battle are of little value; for the good have fallen.



  1. How successfully did the Nazi regime promote harmony and remove class conflict in the Third Reich?

  1. To what extent did the Nazis succeed in attracting support from German workers in the period 1929 to 1939?

  1. Discuss the role of women and the family in the Third Reich.

  1. Discuss the reaction of the German people to the persecution of the Jews?

  1. How far was resistance possible within the Third Reich, and what forms did it take?

Source-based Questions

  1. How far would German workers have agreed with the views expressed in Source B?

  1. Does Source C accurately reflect the popularity of the Third Reich?

  1. What light does Source K shed on the nature of repression in Hitler’s Germany?

  1. Discuss the views on the peasantry expressed in Sources D and E?

  1. How far do Sources F and G agree on the position of German youth in the Third Reich?

  1. Contrast the views expressed by Hitler on the German people in Sources N and R.

Section Three: Hitler’s Foreign Policy: 1933-1939

Source A

Hitler on German foreign policy in ‘Mein Kampf’.
Germany will either be a world power or there will be no Germany. And for world power she needs magnitude which will give her the position she needs in the present period, and life to her citizens. And so we National Socialists consciously draw up a line beneath the foreign policy tendency of our pre-war period … We stop endless German movement to south and west, and turn our gaze towards land in the east. At long last we break off the colonial and commercial policy of the pre-war period and shift to the soil policy of the future.

Source B

Hitler’s first major ‘peace speech’ on 17 March 1933.
Speaking deliberately as a German National Socialist, I desire to declare in the name of the national Government, and of the whole movement of national regeneration, that we in this new Germany are filled with deep understanding for the same feelings and opinions and for the rightful claims to life of the other nations … Our boundless love for and the loyalty to our own national traditions makes us respect the national claims of others and makes us desire from the bottom of our hearts to live with them in peace and friendship. We therefore have no use for the idea of Germanization.

Source C

Hitler decides to remilitarise the Rhineland in 1936.

In accordance with the fundamental right of a nation to secure its frontiers and ensure its possibilities of defence, the German Government has today restored the full and unrestricted sovereignty of Germany in the demilitarised zone of the Rhineland.

Source D

On 5 November 1937 Hitler allegedly outlines his foreign policy aims before the leaders of the armed services. (The Hossbach Memorandum.)

The aim of German policy was to make secure and to preserve the racial community (Volksmasse) and to enlarge it. It was therefore a question of space …
If we did not act by 1943-5, any year could, in consequence of a lack of reserves, produce the food crisis, to cope with the necessary foreign exchange was not available, and this must be regarded as a ‘warning of the regime’. Besides the world was expecting our attack and was increasing its counter measures from year to year. It was while the rest of the world was still preparing its defences (sich abriegele) that we were obliged to take the offensive…
If the Fuhrer was still living, it was his unalterable resolve to solve Germany’s problems of space at the latest by 1943-5


Source E

A Social Democrat comments on the Anschluss with Austria in March 1938.
The atmosphere was similar to that on 30th January 1933, when Hitler became Reich Chancellor. Everyone was carried away by this atmosphere. Only gradually did groups form here and there, and people began to discuss what had happened. You could hear people saying that war was now on the way and they were going home to pack and move out to the villages. But these were isolated voices. The general opinion in the groups was: ‘Let’s face it, Hitler is a great man, he knows what he wants and the world is scared of him.’ … Hitler’s prestige has risen enormously again and he is practically idolised … The western powers simply daren’t do anything against Germany, and even if they do, Germany is strong enough to get its own way.

(from Inside Nazi Germany, D Peubert, Batsford, 1987)

Source F

On 22 August 1939 Hitler addresses his generals.

Colonel-General von Brauchitsch has promised me to bring the war against Poland to a close with a few weeks. Had he reported to me that he needs two years or even only one year, I should not have given the command to march and should have allied myself temporarily with Britain instead of Russia for we cannot conduct a long war. To be sure a new situation has arisen. I experienced those poor worms Daladier and Chamberlain in Munich. They will be too cowardly to attack. They won’t go beyond a blockade. Against that we have our autarchy and the Russian raw materials.

Poland will be depopulated and settled with Germans. My pact with the Poles was merely conceived of as gaining of time. As for the rest, gentlemen, the fate of Russia will be exactly the same as I am now going through with in the case of Poland. After Stalin’s death - he is a very sick man - we will break the Soviet Union. Then there will begin the dawn of the German rule of the earth.
Source G

Hitler threatens the Jews with annihilation in a Reichstag speech in January 1939.

Today I will once more be a prophet: If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations into a world war, then the result will not be the bolshevisation of the earth and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe !



  1. Were there any guiding principles behind Hitler’s foreign policy?

  1. Was Hitler’s foreign policy, 1933-1939, merely a continuation of that of his Weimar predecessors?

  1. Why did Germany find itself at war with Britain and France in September 1939?

  1. Why was the outbreak of war in September 1939 not marked by uncontrolled enthusiasm in Germany?

  1. How far was Germany prepared for war in 1939?

Source-based Questions

  1. Does Source A accurately reflect Hitler’s foreign policy aspirations?

  1. What circumstances led to Hitler’s ‘peace speech’ in Source B?

  1. What light does Source C shed on Hitler’s foreign policy?

  1. Explain the significance of Source D, the Hossbach Memorandum.

  1. How far does Source E express the views of the German people?

  1. Why did Hitler make the speech in Source G in January 1939?

  1. Compare the views expressed in Sources B and F on Hitler’s Foreign policy?

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