|Hitler’s Germany, 1933–39
A. Hitler became Chancellor in 1933. By 1934, he was totalitarian dictator of Germany (CREEP NF).
1. Chancellor, 30 January 1933 – In November 1932, Chancellor Von Schleicher resigned. In January 1993, Hindenburg offered Hitler the post of Chancellor. Von Papen, his adviser, was to be Vice-Chancellor, and the Nazis were allowed only 2 seats in the Cabinet. Hindenburg was sure that he could control Hitler.
2. Reichstag Fire, 27 February 1933 – Hitler called this ‘a heaven-sent opportunity’. Hitler took emergency powers, blamed/ arrested the Communists, and frightened voters. A Dutch Communist, Van der Lubbe, was caught red-handed, but there is some evidence (Ernst’s confession) that the Nazis may have started the fire themselves – OR, German historian J Fest: ‘by instantly taking advantage of the fire, the Nazis made the deed their own’.
3. Election, 5 March 1933 – Hitler used state radio and huge rallies in his election campaign. The Nazis won their largest-ever share of the votes. he expelled the 80 Communists; this gave him an overall majority leads to . . .
4. Enabling Act, 23 March 1933 –Hitler has right to make laws for 4 years without consulting the Reichstag = dictator.
5. Political Opponents Destroyed –police under Nazi control, trade unions banned and the leaders imprisoned (German workers had to join the German Labour Front) + opposition parties banned and leaders put in camps.
6. Night of the Long Knives, 30 June 1934 – Squads of SS men executed Rohm and 400 other people (including government critics such as Schleicher). Hitler turned on the SA because: a. It was growing too powerful (Rohm wanted to be leader of the army and quarrelled with Hitler). b. Hitler was now the government and had no more use for a force which had been designed to destabilise/overthrow the government. c. Rohm wanted to be commander of a joint army-SA d. SA was too Socialist: Rohm and the SA wanted a ‘second’ (socialist) revolution – they were recruiting Communists and wanted an alliance with Russia – Hitler’s industrialist sponsors were against this e. Hitler claimed that the SA were plotting a coup.
f. Scandalous homosexuality: In contrast to the Nazi concept of manliness, ‘clean-living’ culture and the family.
7. Fuhrer, 19 August 1934 – When Hindenburg died, Hitler took over the functions of president and became Fuhrer (Supreme Leader). On 2 August 1923 the army swore an oath of personal loyalty to him.
B Methods of Control: Gestapo, Police & courts, Concentration Camp, SS, Terror, Propaganda, Hitler Youth
C Propaganda – Torchlit Processions, Marches, Meetings, Bands, Book-burning, Hitler’s Speeches, Parades, Cinema, Josef Goebbels, Newsreels, Censored, Olympic Games, People’s Radio, Newspapers, Loudspeakers, Television, Flying Displays, Posters, Jazz Music Banned.
D Nazi Youth (nb Nazi indoctrination – school questions in Maths on shell projections/ cost of social care)
a. WHY: to secure the future, report on grumblers and prepare them for war.
b. HOW: pumped money, attractive activities, harnessed rebelliousness, made feel superior, indoctrinated.
c. EFFECTS: going to Hitler Youth in spare time (and doing marching, singing, craft, wargames etc), believing Nazi propaganda about Hitler/race/lebensraum, different lessons at school, more aggressive, feeling superior, feeling estranged from parents, perhaps reporting on parents/neighbours. Girls trained for Church, Children and Kitchen.
E Economic Policies (Did the standard of living of Germans rise, 1933–39?) (UFICS)
1. Unemployment a. In June 1933, the Nazis passed a Law to Reduce Unemployment, b. The RAD (National Labour Service) sent men on public works; eg the autobahns., c. Government spending rose, 1932–38 from about 5 billion to 30 billion marks., d. Unemployment fell from nearly 6 million to virtually nothing, e. Hitler built up the armed forces (e.g. conscription took 1 million unemployed), f. the army needed equipment, so this set steel mills, coal mines and factories back into production, g. the Luftwaffe gave jobs to fitters, engineers and designers, h. the Nazi state machinery needed thousands of clerks, prison guards etc.
2. Farming a. By the 1933 Farm Law, farmers were assured of sales and given subsidies, b. The government kept food prices at the 1928 level, c. BUT farmers were organised into the Reich Food Estate and strictly controlled (e.g., one rule stated that hens must lay 65 eggs a year).
3. Industry a. The New Plan of 1934 stopped imports, and subsidised industry, b. Production rose, especially of oil, steel, coal and explosives, c. in 1936, Goering was put in charge. His Four Year Plan proposed to get the army and industry ready for war in four years, d. Employers were happy when workers were well disciplined.
e. BUT businesses were strictly controlled; they could be told to make something different/ were not allowed to raise wages/ workers could be sent to other factories, f. Goering said: ‘Iron makes an empire strong; butter only makes people fat’, g. Economists know now that these policies cause massive economic problems.
4. Conditions a. The Nazis tried to make people proud (e.g. the film The Beauty of Work in 1934).
b. BUT trade unions were banned and all workers had to join the German Labour Front. They lost their right to strike for better pay and conditions, c. Wages actually fell, d. People who refused to work were imprisoned, e. Wages and conditions on the RAD schemes were very poor.
5. Strength through Joy (KdF) Movement a. Workers were offered cut-price holidays, theatre trips and concerts. In Berlin, 1933–38, the KdF sponsored 134,000 events for 32 million people (2 million went on cruises & weekend trips, and 11 million on theatre trips), b. The KdF designed the Volkswagen (or ‘People’s Car’) ‘Beetle’, which it was planned to be able to buy for 5 marks a week., c. The government made sure that everybody could get a cheap radio.
F Race, religion and culture (Persecuting of the Jews)
nb Aryan superiority, Nazi Anti-Semitism, Kristallnacht, The Final Solution