Hitler's Germany: Wikis


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Großdeutsches Reich
Greater German Reich
1933–1945
Flag National Insignia
Motto
"Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer."

"One People, one Reich, one Leader."

Anthem
"Das Lied der Deutschen" (official)

First stanza of
"Das Lied der Deutschen"
followed by "Horst-Wessel-Lied"
Nazi Germany at its height in 1942.
Capital Berlin
Language(s) German
Government Republic[1]
Single-party state
President
 - 1933 – 1934 Paul von Hindenburg
 - 1934 – 1945 Adolf Hitler (as Führer)
 - 1945 Karl Dönitz
Chancellor
 - 1933 – 1945 Adolf Hitler
 - 1945 Joseph Goebbels
Legislature Reichstag
 - State council Reichsrat
Historical era Interwar period/WWII
 - Machtergreifung [2] 30 January 1933
 - Gleichschaltung 27 February 1933
 - Anschluss 13 March 1938
 - World War II 1 September 1939
 - Death of Adolf Hitler 30 April 1945
 - German Instrument of Surrender 7/8 May 1945
Area
 - 1941 (Großdeutschland) [3] 696,265 km2 (268,829 sq mi)
Population
 - 1941 (Großdeutschland) est. 90,030,775 
     Density 129.3 /km2  (334.9 /sq mi)
Currency Reichsmark (RM)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Weimar Republic
Saar (League of Nations)
First Austrian Republic
Czechoslovak Republic
Klaipėda Region
Free City of Danzig
Second Polish Republic
Kingdom of Italy
Eupen-Malmedy
Luxembourg
Alsace-Lorraine
Drava Banovina
Flensburg government
Allied-occupied Germany
Allied-administered Austria
Third Republic of Czechoslovakia
Republic of Poland
Alsace-Lorraine
Eupen-Malmedy
Luxembourg
Kingdom of Italy
Kaliningrad Oblast
Saar protectorate
People's Republic of Slovenia
Democratic Federal Yugoslavia
Elten and Selfkant
Today part of  Austria
 Belarus
 Belgium
 Czech Republic
 France
 Germany
 Italy
 Lithuania
 Luxembourg
 Netherlands
 Poland
 Russia
 Slovenia
 Ukraine

Nazi Germany and the Third Reich are the common English names for Germany under the government of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Worker's Party (NSDAP), from 1933 to 1945. Third Reich (Drittes Reich) denotes the Nazi State as the historical successor to the mediæval Holy Roman Empire (962–1806) and to the modern German Empire (1871–1918). Nazi Germany had two official names, the Deutsches Reich (German Reich), from 1933 to 1943, when it became Großdeutsches Reich (Greater German Reich).

On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany, and, although he initially headed a coalition government, he quickly eliminated his government partners. In 1933, the German national borders still were those established in the peace Treaty of Versailles (1919), between Germany and the Allied Powers (United Kingdom, France, the United States, Italy, Japan et alii.) at the end of the First World War (1914–18); to the north, Germany was bounded by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea; to the east, it was divided into two and bordered Lithuania, the Free City of Danzig, Poland, and Czechoslovakia; to the south, it bordered Austria and Switzerland, and to the west, it touched France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Rhineland, and the Saarland. Those borders changed with Germany’s regained control of the Rhineland, the Saarland, the Memelland, and annexed Austria, the (Czech) Sudetenland and Bohemia and Moravia. Germany expanded into Greater Germany during the Second World War, begun 1 September 1939, with the German invasion of Poland, triggering the United Kingdom and France to declare war on Nazi Germany.

During the war, Germany conquered and occupied most of Europe and Northern Africa. The Nazis persecuted and murdered millions of Jews and other minorities in the Holocaust Final Solution. Despite an alliance with other nations, mainly Italy and Japan, the Axis, by 1945, Germany had been defeated and occupied by the Allied powers, the Soviet Union, UK, US, Canada, and France.[4]

Contents

History

Nazi Germany arose in the wake of the national shame, embarrassment, anger, and resentment resulting from the Treaty of Versailles (1919),[5] that dictated, to the vanquished Germans, responsibility for:

  • Germany's acceptance of and admission to sole responsibility for causing World War I[6]
  • The permanent loss of various territories and the demilitarization of other German territory[7]
  • The payment by Germany of heavy reparations, in money and in kind, such payments being justified in the Allied view by the War Guilt clause[8]
  • Unilateral German disarmament and severe military restrictions[9]

Other conditions fostering the rise of the Third Reich include nationalism and Pan-Germanism, civil unrest attributed to Marxist groups, the global Great Depression of the 1930s (consequent to the Wall Street Crash of 1929), hyperinflation, the reaction against the counter-traditionalism and liberalism of the Weimar Republic, and the rise of communism in Germany, i.e. the growth of the KPD ( Communist Party of Germany). Many voters, seeking an outlet for their frustrations, and an expression for their repudiation of parliamentary democracy, which appeared incapable of keeping a government in power for more than a few months, began supporting far right-wing and far left-wing political parties, opting for political extremists such as the Nazi Party, (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP, National Socialist German Workers' Party)[10]

Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany, January 1933.

The Nazis promised strong, authoritarian government in lieu of effete parliamentary republicanism, civil peace, radical economic policy (including full employment), restored national pride (principally by repudiating the Versailles Treaty), and racial cleansing, partly implemented via the active suppression of Jews and Marxists, all in name of national unity and solidarity, rather than the partisan divisions of democracy, and the social class divisiveness of Marxism. The Nazis promised national and cultural renewal based upon Völkisch movement traditionalism, and proposed rearmament, repudiation of reparations, and reclamation of territory lost to the Treaty of Versailles.

The Nazi Party claimed that through the Treaty, the Weimar Republic’s liberal democracy, the traitorous “November criminals” had surrendered Germany's national pride, by the inspiration and conniving of the Jews, whose goal was national subversion and the poisoning of the German blood.[5] To establish that interpretation of recent German history, the Nazi propaganda effectively used the Dolchstoßlegende (“Dagger-stab in the Back”) explaining the German military failure.

From 1925 to the 1930s, the German government evolved from a de jure democracy to a de facto conservative–nationalist authoritarian state under war hero-President Paul von Hindenburg, who disliked the liberal democracy of the Weimar Republic, and wanted to make Germany into an authoritarian state.[11] The natural ally for establishing authoritarianism was the German National People's Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP), "the Nationalists", but, after 1929, with the German economy floundering, more radical and younger nationalists were attracted to the revolutionary nature of the National Socialist Party, to challenge the rising popular support for communism. Moreover, the middle-class political parties lost support as the voters aggregated to the left- and right- wings of the German political spectrum, thus making majority government, in a parliamentary system, even more difficult.

In the federal election of 1928, when the economy had improved after the hyperinflation of the 1922–23 period, the Nazis won only 12 seats. Two years later, in the federal election of 1930, months after the US stock market crash, the Nazi Party won 107 seats, progressing from ninth-rated splinter group to second-largest parliamentary party in the Reichstag. After the federal election of 1932, the Nazis were the largest party in the Reichstag, holding 230 seats.[12] President Hindenburg was reluctant to confer substantial executive power to Adolf Hitler, but former chancellor Franz von Papen and Hitler concorded an NSDAP–DNVP party alliance that would allow Hitler’s chancellorship, subject to traditional-conservative control, for President Hindenburg to develop an authoritarian state. In the event, Hitler consistently demanded to be appointed chancellor, in exchange for Hindenburg’s receiving any Nazi Party support of the cabinets appointed under his authority.

On 30 January 1933, President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany, after General Kurt von Schleicher’s failure to form a viable government, (see the Machtergreifung seizure of power). By becoming the Vice Chancellor, Gen. Von Schleicher had expected to control Hitler, and by keeping the Nazis a cabinet minority. Hitler pressured Hindenburg through his son Oskar von Hindenburg, and via intrigue by former Chancellor Franz von Papen, leader of the Catholic Centre Party, whose politics were partly dictated by his anti-communism.[citation needed] Although the Nazis had won the greatest share of the popular vote in the two Reichstag general elections of 1932, they had no majority proper, just a slight parliamentary majority via the NSDAP–DNVP alliance that governed by Presidential Decree, per Article 48 of the 1919 Weimar Constitution.[13] Moreover, in the early months of 1933, the Nazi Government’s treatment of German Jews was the first stage of the long-term process to resolve Germany’s Die Judenfrage (Jewish Question), by purging them from German society — the core of the “cultural revolution” proposed in Nazism.[14]

Consolidation of power

The Nazi Government quickly installed a totalitarian dictatorship to Germany with legal measures establishing a co-ordinated central government, (see Gleichschaltung). On the night of 27 February 1933, the Reichstag building was set afire, and the Dutch council communist Marinus van der Lubbe was found inside; he was arrested, charged with arson, tried, and then decapitated. The fire immediately provoked the response of thousands of anarchists, socialists, and communists throughout the Reich; describing said free-speech exercises as insurrection, the Nazis imprisoned many to Dachau concentration camp. The public worried that the fire had been a signal meant to initiate communist revolution in Germany, as in 1919, so the Nazis exploited the arson with the Reichstag Fire Decree (27 February 1933), rescinding most German civil liberties, including habeas corpus, to so suppress their opponents.

In March 1933, with the Enabling Act, voted 444–94 (the remaining Social Democrats), the Reichstag conferred dictatorial (decree) powers to Chancellor Adolf Hitler; four years of political power authorizing him to deviate from the Weimar Constitution; in the event, Germany officially became a single-party state on 14 July 1933. Forthwith, throughout 1934, the Nazi Party ruthlessly eliminated all political opposition; the Enabling Act already had banned the Communists (KPD), the Social Democrats (SPD) were banned in June, despite appeasing Hitler, and, in the June-July period, the Nationalists (DNVP), the People's Party (DVP), and the German State Party (DStP) were like-wise obliged to disband. Moreover, at the urging of Franz von Papen, the remaining Catholic Centre Party, disbanded on 5 July 1933 after obtaining Nazi Government guarantees for Catholic religious education and youth groups.

Abolished: Flag of the Weimar Republic, 1919–33.
Established: Flag of Nazi Germany, 1933–35, the Nazi Party flag.

In establishing the Dritte Reich, the Nazi régime abolished the Weimar Republic symbols, including the black-red-gold tricolour flag, and adopted new and old imperial symbolism representing the dual nature of Germany’s third empire. The previous, imperial black-white-red tricolour, mostly disused by the Weimar Republic, was restored as one of Germany's two, official, national flags; the second was the swastika flag of the Nazi party, which became the national German flag in 1935. The national anthem remained Deutschland über Alles (aka the Deutschlandlied, “Song of Germany”), yet the Nazis altered the lyrics, retaining only the initial verse, and appended to the Horst-Wessel-Lied (“Horst Wessel Song”), accompanied by the Hitler salute.

On 30 January 1934, Reich President and Chancellor Hitler formally centralised government power to himself with the Gesetz über den Neuaufbau des Reichs (Act to rebuild the Reich), by disbanding Länder (federal state) parliaments, and transferring states’ rights and administration to the Berlin central government. The centralization began soon after the March 1933 Enabling Act promulgation, when state governments were replaced with Reichsstatthalter (Reich governors). Local government also was deposed; Reich governors appointed mayors of cities and towns with populaces of fewer than 100,000; the Interior Minister appointed the mayors of cities with populaces greater than 100,000; and, in the cases of Berlin and Hamburg (and Vienna after the Anschluss Österreichs in 1938), President and Chancellor Adolf Hitler had personal discretion to appoint their mayors.

By spring of 1934, only the Reichswehr remained independent of Nazi Government control; traditionally, it was separate from the national government, a discrete political entity. Earlier, the Sturmabteilung (SA, “Storm Detachment”), had expected to assume command of the Nazi German military; the Reichswehr opposed SA Leader Ernst Röhm’s ambition to subsume the Reichswehr to the SA. Moreover, Röhm also aimed to launch the “socialist revolution” to complement the “nationalist revolution” occurred with the political ascendance of Adolf Hitler to German government. Röhm and the Sturmabteilung leaders wanted the régime to fulfil its campaign promise of enacting socialist legislation for Aryan Germans.

At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense, I tell you that the Nazi movement will go on for 1,000 years! . . . Don’t forget how people laughed at me, 15 years ago, when I declared that one day I would govern Germany. They laugh now, just as foolishly, when I declare that I shall remain in power!
—Adolf Hitler to a British correspondent in Berlin, June 1934 , [15]

Possessing only virtual absolute power without the Reichswehr, and wanting to preserve good relations with them, and certain politicians and industrialists (weary of SA political violence), Hitler ordered the Gestapo and the Schutzstaffel (SS) to assassinate his political enemies in the Nazi Party with the “Night of the Long Knives” (30 June 1934) purges of Ernst Röhm, his SA cohort, the Strasserist, left-wing Nazis, and other political enemies.

Nazi Germany: One people at the Reichsparteitag, Nürnberg, 1935.

Upon the death of Paul von Hindenburg, on 2 August 1934, the Nazi-controlled Reichstag consolidated the offices of Reichspräsident (Reich President) and Reichskanzler (Reich Chancellor), and reinstalled Adolf Hitler as Führer und Reichskanzler (Leader and Reich Chancellor). Until Hindenburg’s death, the Reichswehr did not follow Hitler, partly because the (multi-million-man) Sturmabteilung was larger than the German Army (limited to 100,000 soldiers by the Treaty of Versailles), and because the SA leaders sought to first subsume the Reichswehr to the SA, and then launch the Nazi socialist revolution. The assassination of Ernst Röhm and the SA leaders, fixed the Reichswehr’s position as the sole armed forces of the Reich, and the Führer’s imperial expansion promises guaranteed him military loyalty. Hindenburg’s death facilitated changing the German soldiers’ oath of allegiance from the Reich of the German Constitution to personal fealty to Adolf Hitler, the Führer of Nazi Germany.[16]

In the event, the Nazis ended the official NSDAP–DNVP government alliance, and began introducing Nazism and Nazi symbolism to public and private German life; textbooks were revised, or re-written to promote the Pan-German racist fantasy of Großdeutschland (Greater Germany) to be established by the Nazi Herrenvolk; teachers who opposed curricular Nazification were dismissed. Furthermore, to coerce popular obedience to the state, the Nazis established the Gestapo secret state police — independent of civil authority. The Gestapo controlled the German populace with some 100,000 spies and informers, thereby were aware of anti-Nazi criticism and dissent.

Happy with Nazi prosperity, most Germans remained silently obedient, while political opponents, especially the Communists, Marxists, and international socialists were imprisoned; “between 1933 and 1945, more than 3 million Germans had been in concentration camps, or prison, for political reasons”[17][18][19] “Tens of thousands of Germans were killed for one or another form of resistance. Between 1933 and 1945, Polish Special Courts killed 12,000 Germans, courts martial killed 25,000 German soldiers, and civil justice killed 40,000 Germans. Many of these Germans were part of the government, civil, or military service, a circumstance which enabled them to engage in subversion and conspiracy, while involved, marginally or significantly, in the government’s policies.”[20]

World War II

German and Axis allies' conquests (in blue) in Europe during World War II

Conquest of Europe

The "Danzig crisis" peaked in early 1939, around the time that reports of controversy in the Free City of Danzig increased, the United Kingdom "guaranteed" to defend Poland's territorial integrity and the Poles rejected a series of offers by Nazi Germany regarding both the Free City of Danzig and the Polish Corridor. Then, the Germans broke off diplomatic relations. Hitler had learned that the Soviet Union was willing to sign a non-aggression pact with Germany and would support an attack on Poland. Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 and two days later, the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany. World War II was underway, but Poland fell quickly, especially after the Soviets attacked Poland on 17 September. The United Kingdom proceeded to bomb Wilhelmshaven, Cuxhaven,[21] Heligoland[22] and other areas. Still, aside from battles at sea, no other activity occurred. Thus, the war became known as "the Phony War".

The year 1940 began with little more than the UK dropping propaganda leaflets over Prague and Vienna[23] but a German attack on the British High Seas fleet was followed by the British bombing the port city of Sylt.[24] After the Altmark Incident off the coast of Norway and the discovery of the United Kingdom's plans to encircle Germany, Hitler sent troops into Denmark and Norway. This safeguarded iron ore supplies from Sweden through coastal waters. Shortly thereafter, the British and French landed in Mid- and North Norway, but the Germans de facto defeated these forces in the ensuing Norwegian campaign.

British fisherman giving a hand to an Allied soldier while a Stuka's bomb explodes a few metres ahead. More than 300,000 troops were evacuated from Dunkirk and the surrounding beaches in May and June 1940.

In May 1940, the Phony War ended. Against the will of his advisors, Hitler ordered an attack on France through the Low Countries. The Battle of France ended with an overwhelming German victory. However, with the British refusing Hitler's offer of peace, the war continued.[25][26] Germany and Britain continued to fight at sea and in the air. However, on 24 August, two off-course German bombers accidentally bombed London – against Hitler's orders, changing the course of the war.[27] In response to the attack, the British bombed Berlin, which sent Hitler into a rage. The German leader ordered attacks on British cities, and the UK was bombed heavily during The Blitz.[28] This change in targeting priority interfered with the Luftwaffe's objective of achieving the air superiority over Britain necessary for an invasion and allowed British air defenses to rebuild their strength and continue the fight.

Hitler hoped to break British morale and win peace. However, the British refused to back down; eventually, Hitler called off the Battle of Britain strategic bombing campaign in favor of the long-planned invasion of the Soviet Union: Operation Barbarossa. Germany and its allies invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. On the eve of the invasion, Hitler's former deputy, Rudolf Hess, attempted to negotiate terms of peace with the United Kingdom in an unofficial private meeting after crash-landing in Scotland. By contrast, Hitler had hoped that rapid success in the Soviet Union would bring Britain to the negotiating table.

Operation Barbarossa was supposed to begin earlier than it did; however, failed Italian ventures in North Africa and the Balkans concerned Hitler. In February 1941, the German Afrika Korps was sent to Libya to aid the Italians and hold the British Commonwealth forces from British-held Egypt. As the North African Campaign continued, in spite of orders to remain on the defensive, the Afrika Korps regained lost Italian territory, pushed the British back across the desert and advanced into Egypt. In April, the Germans launched the invasion of Yugoslavia to aid friendly forces and restore order in the midst of what was believed to be a British-supported coup. This was followed by the Battle of Greece, again to bail out the Italians, and the Battle of Crete. Because of the diversions in North Africa and the Balkans, the Germans were not able to launch Barbarossa until late in June. Moreover, men and material were diverted to create the "fortified Europe" that Hitler wanted before Germany focused its attention on the East.

Nevertheless, Barbarossa began with great success. Only Hitler worried that the German Army and its allies were not advancing into the Soviet Union fast enough. By December 1941, the Germans and their allies were at the gates of Moscow; to the north, troops had reached Leningrad and surrounded the city.[29] Meanwhile, Germany and her allies controlled almost all of mainland Europe, with the exception of neutral Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Vatican City and Monaco.

Supply trucks on their way to Leningrad on the Road of Life. In 1942 alone, the Siege of Leningrad claimed some 650,000 lives.

On 11 December 1941, four days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Nazi Germany declared war on the United States. Not only was this a chance for Germany to strengthen its ties with Japan, but after months of anti-German hysteria in the American media and Lend-Lease aid to Britain, the leaking of Rainbow Five and the foreboding content of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor speech made it clear to Hitler that the US could not be kept neutral. Moreover, Germany's policy of appeasement towards the US, designed to keep the US out of the war, was a burden to Germany's war effort. Germany had refrained from attacking American convoys, even if they were bound for the United Kingdom or the Soviet Union. By contrast, after Germany declared war on the US, the German navy began unrestricted submarine warfare, using U-Boats to attack ships without warning.

The goal of Germany's navy, the Kriegsmarine, was to cut off Britain's supply line. Under these circumstances, one of the most famous naval battles in history took place, with the German battleship Bismarck, Germany's largest and most powerful warship, attempting to break out into the Atlantic and raid supply ships heading for Britain. Bismarck was sunk – but not before sending Britain's largest warship, the battlecruiser HMS Hood, to the depths of the ocean. German U-Boats were more successful than surface raiders like Bismarck. However, Germany failed to make submarine production a top priority early on and by the time it did, the British and their allies were developing the technology and strategies to neutralize it. Furthermore, in spite of the submarines' early success in 1941 and 1942, material shortages in Britain failed to fall to their World War I levels. The Allied victory in the Battle of the Atlantic was achieved at a huge cost: between 1939 and 1945, 3,500 Allied ships were sunk (gross tonnage 14.5 million) at a cost of 783 German U-Boats.[30]

The last Jew in Vinnitsa: An Einsatzgruppe D soldier shoots a Jew kneeling before a full mass grave, Vinnitsa, Ukraine, 1942.

Persecution and extermination campaigns

The persecution of racial, ethnic, and social minorities and "undesirables" continued in Germany and the occupied countries. From 1941, Jews were required to wear a yellow badge in public; most were kept in walled ghettos, where they remained isolated from the general populace. In January 1942, the Wannsee Conference, headed by Reinhard Heydrich (direct subordinate of SS Chief Heinrich Himmler), redacted the plans for the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" (Endlösung der Judenfrage). From then, ’til war’s end, some six million Jews and homosexuals, Slavs, and political prisoners, were systematically killed in extermination camps and in concentration camps; contemporarily, this genocide is known as the the Holocaust, in English, and the Shoah in Hebrew.

Parallel to the Holocaust, the Nazis executed the Generalplan Ost (General Plan East) for the conquest, ethnic cleansing, and exploitation of the populaces of the captured Soviet and Polish territories; some 20 million Soviet civilians, 3 million Gentile Poles, and 7 million Red Army soldiers were killed. The Nazis' aggressive war for Lebensraum (Living space) in eastern Europe was waged “to defend Western Civilization against the Bolshevism of subhumans”. Estimates indicate that, had the Nazis won the war, they would have deported some 51 million Slavs from Central and Eastern Europe.[31] Because of the atrocities suffered under Stalin, many Ukrainians, Balts, and other oppressed nationalities, fought for the Nazis. The white populaces of Nazi-occupied Soviet Russia, who racially qualified as of the Aryan race, or had no immediate Jewish ancestors, were not persecuted, and often were recruited to the Waffen Schutzstaffel (Waffen-SS) divisions; eventually, the Nazi régime meant to Germanize the racially-acceptable white volk of occupied eastern Europe.

Allied victory

Wehrmacht professionalism: Field Marshal Rommel inspecting the Free India Legion, France, 1944

In early 1942, the Red Army counter-attacked, and, by winter’s end, the Wehrmacht no longer were immediately outside Moscow. Yet the Germans and their fascist allies held a strong line, and, in the spring, launched a major attack against the petroleum fields of the Caucasus and the Volga River in south Russia. That established the conditions for the definitive Nazi–Soviet confrontation, the Battle of Stalingrad (17 July 1942 – 2 February 1943), wherein Germany and its allies were defeated. After winning a major tank battle at Kursk-Orel in July 1943, the Red Army progressed west, to Germany; henceforth, the Wehrmacht and allies remained on the defensive.

Nazi Germany vanquished: US soldiers cross the franco–German Siegfried Line.

In Lybia, the Afrika Korps failed to break through the line at First Battle of El Alamein (1–27 July 1942), having suffered repercussions from the Battle of Stalingrad. Beginning in 1942, Allied bombing of Germany increased, resulting in the razing, among others, of the cities of Cologne and Dresden, killing thousands of civilians, and causing hardship for the survivors.[32] Contemporary estimates of Nazi German military dead is 5.5 million. [33]

In November 1942, the Wehrmacht and the Italian Army retreated to Tunisia, where they fought the Americans and the British in the Tunisia Campaign (17 November 1942 – 13 May 1943). After initially winning, the German and Italian armies were defeated by shortages of men and matériel. The Allies invaded Sicily and Italy and were severely resisted, especially in Operation Shingle (22 January 1944 – 5 June 1944) at Anzio, and the Battle of Monte Cassino (17 January 1944 – 18 May 1944); the campaign perdured from mid-1943 until almost war’s end. In June 1944, US and UK forces established the western front with the D-Day (6 June 1944) landings in Normandy, France. After the successful Operation Bagration (22 June – 19 August 1944), the Red Army was in Poland; and in East Prussia, West Prussia, and Silesia the German populaces fled en masse, fearing Communist persecution, atrocity, and death.

Nazi Germany destroyed:: Flag of the USSR over the Reichstag. (Yevgeny Khaldei)

Meanwhile, in the underground Führerbunker, Adolf Hitler, leader of Nazi Germany became psychologically isolated and detached, exhibiting the signs of mental illness;[citation needed] in meeting with military commanders, he began considering suicide, should Germany lose the war. In the event, the Red Army surrounded Berlin, leaving it incommunicado from Greater Germany; despite the losses of armies and lands, the Führer neither relinquished power, nor surrendered. Moreover, without communications from Berlin, Hermann Göring sent Hitler an ultimatum, threatening to assume command of Nazi Germany in April if he received no reply — which he would interpret as Hitler incapacitated. Upon receiving the ultimatum, the Führer ordered Göring's immediate arrest, and despatched an aeroplane delivering the reply to Göring in Bavaria. Later, in northern Germany, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler began communicating with the Western Allies about peace negotiations; Hitler responded violently, ordering the Reichsführer’s arrest and execution.

In spring of 1945, the Red Army was at Berlin; US and UK forces had conquered most of west Germany and met the Red Army at Torgau on the Elbe on 26 April 1945. With Berlin under siege, Hitler and key Nazi staff lived in the armoured, underground Führerbunker while aboveground, in the Battle of Berlin (16 April 1945 – 2 May 1945) the Red Army fought remnant German army forces, Hitler Youth, and the Waffen-SS, for control of the ruined capital city of Nazi Germany.

Capitulation of German forces

On 30 April 1945, as the Battle for Berlin raged and the city was being overrun by Soviet forces, Hitler committed suicide in his underground bunker. Two days later, on 2 May 1945, German General Helmuth Weidling unconditionally surrendered Berlin to the Soviet General Vasily Chuikov.

Hitler was succeeded by Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz as Reich's President and Dr. Joseph Goebbels as Reich Chancellor. No one was to replace Hitler as the Führer, a position Hitler abolished in his will. However, Goebbels committed suicide in the Fuhrerbunker a day after assuming office. The caretaker government Dönitz established near the Danish border unsuccessfully sought a separate peace with the Western Allies. On 4–8 May 1945 most of the remaining German armed forces throughout Europe surrendered unconditionally (German Instrument of Surrender, 1945). This was the end of World War II in Europe.

The war was the largest and most destructive in human history, with 60 million dead across the world,[34] including between 9 and 11 million people who perished during the Holocaust.[35] The Soviet Union lost around 27 million people during the war, about half of all World War II casualties.[36] Towards the end of the war, Europe had more than 40 million refugees.[37]

With the creation of the Allied Control Council on 5 July 1945, the four Allied powers "assume[d] supreme authority with respect to Germany" (Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany, U.S. Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series, No. 1520).

The Fall of the Third Reich

The Potsdam Conference in August 1945 created arrangements and an outline for a new government for the post-war Germany as well as war reparations and resettlement. All German annexations in Europe after 1937, such as the Sudetenland, were reversed, and in addition subject to a peace settlement Germany's eastern border was shifted westwards to the Oder-Neisse line, effectively reducing Germany in size by approximately 25% compared to its 1937 border. The territories east of the new border comprised East Prussia, Silesia, West Prussia, two-thirds of Pomerania and parts of Brandenburg. Much of these areas were agricultural, with the exception of Upper Silesia, which was the second-largest center of German heavy industry. Many smaller and large cities such as Stettin, Königsberg, Breslau, Elbing and Danzig were cleansed of their German populations and taken from Germany as well.

France took control of a large part of Germany's remaining coal deposits. Virtually all Germans in Central Europe outside of the new eastern borders of Germany and Austria were subsequently, over a period of several years, expelled, affecting about 17 million ethnic Germans. Most casualty estimates of this expulsion range between one to two million dead. The French, US and British occupation zones later became West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany), while the Soviet zone became the communist East Germany (the German Democratic Republic, excluding sections of Berlin).

The initial repressive occupation policy in Germany by the Western Allies was reversed after a few years when the Cold War made the Germans important as allies against communism. West Germany recovered economically by the 1960s, in what was called the economic miracle (German term Wirtschaftswunder), mainly due to the currency reform of 1948 which replaced the Reichsmark with the Deutsche Mark as legal tender, halting rampant inflation, but also to a minor degree helped by economic aid (in the form of loans) through the Marshall Plan which was extended to also include West Germany. West German recovery was upheld thanks to fiscal policy and intense labour, eventually leading to the influx of Gastarbeiter ("guest workers").

The Allied dismantling of West German industry was finally halted in 1951, and in 1952 West Germany joined the European Coal and Steel Community. In 1955 the military occupation of West Germany was ended. East Germany recovered at a slower pace under communism until 1990, due to reparations paid to the Soviet Union and the effects of the centrally planned economy. Germany regained full sovereignty in 1991.

The US Army blows up the swastika atop the Nazi Party rally ground (Zeppelin field) in Nuremberg.

After the war, surviving Nazi leaders were put on trial by an Allied tribunal at Nuremberg for crimes against humanity. A minority were sentenced to death and executed, but a number were jailed and then released by the mid-1950s due to poor health and old age, with the notable exception of Rudolf Hess, who died in Spandau Prison in 1987 while in permanent solitary confinement. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, some renewed efforts were made in West Germany to take those who were directly responsible for "crimes against humanity" to court (e.g., Auschwitz trials). However, many of the less prominent leaders continued to live well into the 1980s and 1990s.

The victorious Allies outlawed the Nazi Party, its subsidiary organizations, and most of its symbols and emblems (including the swastika in most manifestations) throughout Germany and Austria; this prohibition remains in force. The end of Nazi Germany also saw the rise in unpopularity of related aggressive manifestations of nationalism in Germany such as Pan-Germanism and the Völkisch movement which had previously been significant political ideas there, and in other parts of Europe, before the Second World War. Those that remain are largely fringe movements. In all non-fascist European countries there were legal purges to punish the members of the former Nazi and Fascist parties. Even there, however, some of the former leaders found ways to accommodate themselves under the new circumstances.

Nuremberg Trials
Nazi War Crime Trials: The prosecution’s principal defendant was Hermann Göring (left, first row ), the most important surviving Third Reich official.

Nazi German war crimes and crimes against humanity revived internationalism in Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc, resulting in the establishment of the United Nations (26 June 1945). One of the organization’s first orders of business was establishing war crimes tribunals to try Nazi officials in the Nuremberg Trials, held in the Nazis' (former) political stronghold, Nuremberg, Bavaria. The first, major and trial was the Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), of 24 key Nazi officials — including Hermann Göring, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Rudolf Hess, Albert Speer, Karl Dönitz, Hans Frank, and Julius Streicher. Many defendants were found “guilty”, 12 were sentenced to death by hanging, many praised Hitler to their lives’ ends. Göring evaded execution by suicide, he swallowed cyanide in his cell; Hess, (former Hitler confidant) was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment to Spandau, where he died in 1987; Speer, the state architect and armaments minister who expanded Nazi Germany with slaves, was imprisoned for 20 years; Konstantin von Neurath, a Third Reich cabinet minister in office before the Nazi régime); and the economist Hjalmar Schacht. Nonetheless, some have accused the Nuremberg Trials of being “victor’s justice”, because no like action was taken to punish the war crimes and crimes against humanity of the victors.[38][39]

Geography

Administrative regions of Greater German Reich in 1943.

Administration

To consolidate Adolf Hitler’s control of Germany, in 1935, the Nazi régime replaced the administration of the Länder (constituent states) with gaus (regional districts) headed by governors answerable to the central Reich government in Berlin. The reorganization politically weakened Prussia, which had historically dominated German politics. Moreover, despite having centralised and assumed the Gau governments, some Nazis retained leadership title to non-existent Länder; Hermann Göring, was and remained the Reichsstatthalter (Reich state governor) and Minister–President of Prussia until 1945, and Ludwig Siebert remained as Minister–President of Bavaria.

Regions and protectorates

Nazi occupation economy: A 50 Korun note, the currency of the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

In in the years leading to war, in addition to the Weimar Republic proper, the Reich came to include areas with ethnic German populations, such as Austria, the Czechoslovak Sudetenland, and the Lithuanian territory of Memel (the Klaipėda region). Regions conquered after war’s start, include Eupen-et-Malmédy, Alsace-Lorraine, Danzig, and territories of Poland (Second Polish Republic).

From 1939 to 1945, the Third Reich ruled Bohemia and Moravia as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, with its own currency; conquered, subjugated, and annexed before the war, like-wise, Czech Silesia was incorporated to the province of Silesia; and Luxembourg was a wartime annexation in 1942. Central Poland and Polish Galicia were governed by the protectorate General Government. Eventually, the Polish people were to be removed, and Poland proper then re-populated with 5 million Germans. By late 1943, Nazi Germany had conquered the Province of Bolzano-Bozen (South Tyrol) and Istria, which had been parts of Austria-Hungary before 1919, and seized Trieste after the (erstwhile Axis Ally) Italian Fascist government capitulated to the Allies.

Greater Germany: the idea

Greater German Reich: A 42-pfennig postal stamp of Adolf Hitler (1944). Germany became the Grossdeutsches Reich in 1943.

Beyond the annexations were the Reichskommissariat (Reich Commissariat) administrative regions established in occupied lands; Nazi-occupied Soviet Russia included the Reichskommissariat Ostland (Easternland) and Reichskommissariat Ukraine. In northern Europe, there were the Reichskommissariat Niederlande (Netherlands) and the Reichskommissariat Norwegen (Norway), established for German colonization. In 1944, a Franco–Belgian Reichskommissariat derived from the previous Military Administration of Belgium and North France, again, established for German colonization.

The de facto borders of the Reich changed long before its vanquishment in May 1945; as the Red Army progressed westwards, the colonist German populaces fled to Germany proper, as the Western Allies advanced eastwards, from France. At war’s end, a small strip of land, from Austria to Bohemia and Moravia (and other isolated regions) was the only area not occupied by the Allies. Upon its defeat, some have historians propose that the Reich was in debellation. France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, established occupation zones. The prewar German lands east of the Oder-Neisse line and Stettin, and environs (nearly 25 per cent of pre-war German territory) were under Polish and Soviet administration, sundered for Polish and Soviet annexation; the Allies expelled the German colonists. In 1947, the Allied Control Council disestablished Prussia with Law No. 46 (20 May 1947); per the Potsdam Conference (6 July–2 Aug 1945), the Prussian lands east of the Oder-Neisse Line were divided and administered by Poland and the Kaliningrad Oblast, pending the final peace treaty Later, by signing the Treaty of Warsaw (1970) and the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany (1990), Germany renounced claims to territories lost during the Second World War (1939–45).[citation needed]

Economy

In keeping with the political syncretism of fascism, the Nazi war economy was a mixed economy of free-market and central-planning practices; historian Richard Overy reports: “The German economy fell between two stools. It was not enough of a command economy to do what the Soviet system could do; yet it was not capitalist enough to rely, as America did, on the recruitment of private enterprise.”[40]

Nazi national economy: The Reichsmark was much valuated during the Third Reich (1933–45).

When the Nazis assumed German government, their most pressing economic matter was a national unemployment rate of approximately 30 per cent;[41] at the the start, Third Reich economic policies were the brainchildren of the economist Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, President of the Reichsbank (1933) and Minister of Economics (1934), who helped Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler implement Nazi redevelopment, reindustrialization, and rearmament of Germany; formerly, he had been Weimar Republic currency commissioner and Reischsbank president.[41] As Economics Minister, Schacht was one of few ministers who took advantage of the administrative freedom allowed by the removal of the Reichsmark from the gold standard — to maintain low interest rates, and high government deficits; the extensive, national public works, reducing the unemployment, were deficit-funded policy.[41] The consequence of Economics Minister Schacht’s administration was the extremely rapid unemployment-rate decline, the greatest of any country during the Great Depression.[41] Eventually, this Keynesian economic policy was supplemented by the increased production demands of rearmament, inflating military budgets, and increasing government spending; the 100,000-soldier Reichswehr expanded to millions, and renamed as the Wehrmacht in 1936.[41].

Nazi economics: Polish-forced-workers’ badge.
Nazi economics:OST-Arbeiter badge.

During the 1930s, Nazi Government economic intervention, and the rearmament, almost achieved full employment, yet real wages diminished by 25 per cent, between 1933 and 1938.[42] Nazi control of labour featured trade union abolishment, and workers’ loss of the rights to collective bargaining, to strike, and to quit a job. In 1935, the worker-identification Labour book appeared, it registered personal and professional identities, career, and the (previous) employer’s consent allowing the worker to be employed elsewhere.[43][43]

Nazi control of business retained a diminished investment profit-incentive, controlled with economic regulation concording a company’s functioning with the Reich’s national production requirements. Government financing eventually dominated private investment; in the 1933–34 biennium, the proportion of private securities issued diminished from more than 50 per cent of the total, to approximately 10 per cent in the 1935–38 quadrennium. Heavy profit taxes limited self-financing companies, and the largest companies (usually government contractors) mostly were exempted from paying taxes on profits — in practice, however, Nazi Government control allowed “only the shell of private ownership” in the Third Reich economy.[44]

In 1937, Hermann Göring replaced Schacht as Minister of Economics, and introduced the Four Year Plan that would establish German self-sufficiency for war — within four years — by curtailing foreign importations; fixing wages and prices (violators merited concentration-camp internment); stock dividends were restricted to six per cent on book capital, et cetera. Strategic goals were to be achieved regardless of cost (as in Soviet economics): thus the rapid construction of synthetic-rubber factories, steel mills, automatic textile mills, et cetera.[41]

The Four-Year Plan is discussed in the German-expansion Hossbach Memorandum (5 November 1937) meeting-summary of Hitler and his military and foreign policy leaders planning aggressive war. Nevertheless, when Nazi Germany started the Second World War, in September of 1939, the Four Year Plan’s expiry was not until 1940; to control the Reich economy, Economics Minister Göring had established the Office of the Four Year Plan. In 1942, the increased burdens of the war, and the accidental aeroplane-crash death of Reichsminister Fritz Todt, placed Albert Speer in economics ministry command; he then established a war economy in Nazi Germany, which required the large-scale employment of forced labourers. To supply the Third Reich economy with slaves, the Nazis abducted some 12 million people, from some 20 European countries; approximately 75 per cent were Eastern European.[45]

Politics

Through staffing of most government positions with Nazi Party members, by 1935 the German national government and the Nazi Party had become virtually one and the same. By 1938, through the policy of Gleichschaltung, local and state governments lost all legislative power and answered administratively to Nazi Party leaders, known as Gauleiters, who governed Gaue and Reichsgaue.

Government

Nazi Germany was made up of various competing power structures, all trying to gain favor with the Führer, Adolf Hitler. Thus many existing laws were stricken and replaced with interpretations of what Hitler wanted. Any high party/government official could take one of Hitler's comments and turn it into a new law, of which Hitler would casually either approve or disapprove. This became known as "working towards the Führer", as the government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of individuals each trying to gain more power and influence through the Führer. This often made government very convoluted and divided, especially with Hitler's vague policy of creating similar posts with overlapping powers and authority. The process allowed the more unscrupulous and ambitious Nazis to get away with implementing the more radical and extreme elements of Hitler's ideology, such as anti-Semitism, and in doing so win political favor. Protected by Goebbels' extremely effective propaganda machine, which portrayed the government as a dedicated, dutiful and efficient outfit, the dog-eat-dog competition and chaotic legislation was allowed to escalate. Historical opinion is divided between "intentionalists", who believe that Hitler created this system as the only means of ensuring both the total loyalty and dedication of his supporters and the impossibility of a conspiracy; and "structuralists", who believe that the system evolved by itself and was a limitation on Hitler's supposedly totalitarian power.

Cabinet and national authorities

Reich offices

  • Office of the Four-Year Plan (Hermann Göring)
  • Office of the Reich Master Forester (Hermann Göring)
  • Office of the Inspector for Highways
  • Office of the President of the Reich Bank
  • Reich Youth Office
  • Reich Treasury Office
  • General Inspector of the Reich Capital
  • Office of the Councillor for the Capital of the Movement (Munich, Bavaria)

Reich ministries

State ideology

National Socialism had some of the key ideological elements of fascism which originally developed in Italy under Benito Mussolini; however, the Nazis never officially declared themselves fascists. Both ideologies involved the political use of militarism, nationalism, anti-communism and paramilitary forces, and both intended to create a dictatorial state.[citation needed] The Nazis, however, were far more racially-oriented than the fascists in Italy, Portugal, and Spain. The Nazis were also intent on creating a completely totalitarian state, unlike Italian fascists who while promoting a totalitarian state, allowed a larger degree of private liberties for their citizens. These differences allowed the Italian monarchy to continue to exist and have some official powers. However the Nazis copied much of their symbolism from the Fascists in Italy, such as copying the Roman salute as the Nazi salute, use of mass rallies, both made use of uniformed paramilitaries devoted to the party (the SA in Germany and the Blackshirts in Italy), both Hitler and Mussolini were called the "Leader" (Führer in German, Duce in Italian), both were anti-Communist, both wanted an ideologically-driven state, and both advocated a middle-way between capitalism and communism, commonly known as corporatism. The party itself rejected the fascist label, claiming National Socialism was an ideology unique to Germany.

The totalitarian nature of the Nazi party was one of its principal tenets. The Nazis contended that all the great achievements in the past of the German nation and its people were associated with the ideals of National Socialism, even before the ideology officially existed. Propaganda accredited the consolidation of Nazi ideals and successes of the regime to the regime's Führer ("Leader"), Adolf Hitler, who was portrayed as the genius behind the Nazi party's success and Germany's saviour.

To secure their ability to create a totalitarian state, the Nazi party's paramilitary force, the Sturmabteilung (SA) or "Storm Detachment" used acts of violence against leftists, communist, democrats, Jews and other opposition or minority groups. The SA "storm troopers" violently clashed with the Communist Party of Germany (German Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands — KPD) which created a climate of lawlessness and fear. In the cities, people were anxious over punishment or even death, if they displayed opposition to the Nazis. Given the frustrations of the people (after World War I and during the Great Depression) it was easy for the SA to attract large numbers of alienated (and unemployed) youth and working class people for the party.

The "German problem", as it is often referred to in English scholarship, focuses on the issue of administration of Germanic regions in Northern and Central Europe, an important theme throughout German history.[46] The "logic" of keeping Germany small worked in the favor of its principal economic rivals, and had been a driving force in the recreation of a Polish state.[citation needed] The goal was to create numerous counterweights in order to "balance out Germany's power".

The Nazis endorsed the concept of Großdeutschland, or Greater Germany, and believed that the incorporation of the Germanic people into one nation was a vital step towards their national success.[citation needed] It was the Nazis' passionate support of the Volk concept of Greater Germany that led to Germany's expansion, that gave legitimacy and the support needed for the Third Reich to proceed to conquer long-lost territories with overwhelmingly non-German population like former Prussian gains in Poland that it lost to Russia in the 1800s, or to acquire territories with German population like parts of Austria. The German concept of Lebensraum ("living space") or more specifically its need for an expanding German population was also claimed by the Nazi regime for territorial expansion.

Two important issues were administration of the Polish corridor and Danzig's incorporation into the Reich. As a further extension of racial policy, the Lebensraum program pertained to similar interests; the Nazis determined that Eastern Europe would be settled with ethnic Germans, and the Slavic population who met the Nazi racial standard would be absorbed into the Reich. Those not fitting the racial standard were to be used as cheap labour force or deported eastward.[47]

Racialism and racism were important aspects of society within the Third Reich. The Nazis combined anti-Semitism with anti-Communist ideology, regarding the leftist-internationalist movement—as well as international market capitalism—as the work of "Conspiratorial Jewry". They referred to this so-called movement with terminology such as the "Jewish-Bolshevistic revolution of subhumans".[48] This platform manifested itself in the displacement, internment, and systematic extermination of an estimated 11 million to 12 million people in the midst of World War II, roughly half of them being Jews targeted in what is historically remembered as the Holocaust (Shoah), 3 million ethnic Poles,and another 100,000–1,000,000 being Roma, who were murdered in the Porajmos. Other victims of Nazi persecution included communists, various political opponents, social outcasts, homosexuals, freethinkers, religious dissidents such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, the Confessing Church and Freemasons.[49]

Foreign relations

Foreign relations between Germany and the rest of Europe were riddled with political manuevres and opportunistic decisions. Fearing a second world war, Britain and France sought a policy of appeasement towards Germany, and refused aggressive foreign policies to satisfy the newly-powered Nazis. Hitler aims upon coming to power was threefold; destroy Versailles, re-unite lost German territories under the decrees of Versailles, and Lebensraum. It is said that Hitler eventually wanted Britain as an ally with eventual wars with the USSR, and eventually the USA. Hitler used the Appeasement policies of Britain and France to his opportunistic advantage when he announced in March 1935 that he would conscript men into his army and create the Luftwaffe; both a direct violation of Versailles. His foreign policies were designed to test the nerve of Britain and France so he could see what else he was able to get away with. His other concern was Italy, whom under Mussolini had become a similarly fascist country, but had so much internal civil disruption Hitler wanted a more stable and powerful ally.

Although Germany's relations with Italy improved with creation of the Rome-Berlin Axis, tensions remained high because the Nazis wanted Austria to be incorporated into Germany. Italy was opposed to this, as were France and Britain. In 1938, an Austrian-led Nazi coup took place in Austria and Germany sent in its troops, annexing the country. Italy and Britain no longer had common interests and, as Germany had stopped supporting the German speaking population under Italy's control in Bolzano-Bozen (South Tyrol), Italy began to gravitate towards Germany.

Hitler with (from left to right) Neville Chamberlain, Édouard Daladier, Benito Mussolini, and Galeazzo Ciano pictured before signing the Munich Agreement.

Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia in September 1938 came about during talks with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, in which Hitler, backed by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, demanded that the German territories be ceded. Chamberlain and Hitler came to an agreement when Hitler signed a piece of paper which said that with the annexation of the Sudetenland, Germany would proceed with no further territorial aims. Chamberlain took this to be a success in that it avoided a potential war with Germany. However, the Nazis helped to promote Slovakian dissention and declaring that the country was no more, seized control of the Czech part.

For quite some time, Germany had engaged in informal negotiations with Poland regarding the issue of territorial revision, but after the Munich Agreement and the reacquisition of Memel, the Nazis became increasingly vocal. Poland refused to allow the annexation of the Free City of Danzig.

Germany and the Soviet Union began talks over planning an invasion of Poland. In August 1939, the Molotov Pact was signed and Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to divide Poland along a mutually-agreed set boundary. The invasion was put into effect on 1 September 1939. Last-minute Polish-German diplomatic proceedings failed, and Germany invaded Poland as scheduled. Germany alleged that Polish operatives had attacked German positions, but the result was the outbreak of World War II, as Allied forces refused to accept Germany's claims on Poland and blamed Germany for the conflict.

From 1939-1940, the so-called "Phony War" occurred, as German forces made no further advances but instead, both the Axis and Allies engaged in a propaganda campaign. However in early 1940, Germany began to concern that the British intended to stop trade between Sweden and Germany by bringing Norway into an alliance against Germany, with Norway in Allied hands, the Allies would be dangerously close to German territory. In response, Germany invaded Denmark and Norway ending the Phony War (leapfrogging the British invasion troops bound towards Norway by just 24 hours). After sweeping through the Low Countries and occupying northern France, Germany allowed French nationalist and war hero Philippe Petain to form a fascist regime in southern France known as the "French State" but more commonly referred to as Vichy France named after its capital in Vichy.

In 1941, Germany's invasion of Yugoslavia resulted in that state's splintering. In spite of Hitler's earlier view of inferiority of all Slavs, he supported Mussolini's agenda of creating a fascist puppet state of Croatia, called the Independent State of Croatia. Croatia was led by the extreme nationalist Ante Pavelić a long-time Croatian exile in Rome, whose Ustashe movement formed a government in modern-day Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Ustashe were allowed to persecute Serbs, while Germany contributed to that goal in German-occupied Serbia.

From 1941 to the end of the war, Germany engaged in war with the Soviet Union in its attempt to create the Nazi colonial goal of Lebensraum "living space" for German citizens. The German occupation authorities set up occupation and colonial authorities called Reichskommissariats such as Reichskommissariat Ostland and Reichskommissariat Ukraine. The Slavic populations were to be destroyed along with Jews there to make way for German colonists.

As the fortunes of war changed, Germany was forced to occupy Italy when Mussolini was thrown out as Prime Minister by Italy's king in 1943. German forces rescued Mussolini and instructed him to establish a fascist regime in Italy called the Italian Social Republic. This was the last major foreign policy delivered. The remainder of the war saw the decline of German power and desperate attempts by Nazi officials such as Heinrich Himmler to negotiate a peace with the western Allies against the wishes of Hitler.

Law

Most of the judicial structures and legal codes of the Weimar Republic remained in use during the Third Reich, but significant changes within the judicial codes occurred, as well as significant changes in court rulings. The Nazi party was the only legal political party in Germany; all other political parties were banned. Most human rights of the constitution of the Weimar Republic were disabled by several Reichsgesetze ("Reich's laws"). Several minorities such as the Jews, opposition politicians and prisoners of war were deprived of most of their rights and responsibilities. The Plan to pass a Volksstrafgesetzbuch ("people's code of criminal justice") arose soon after 1933, but didn't come into reality until the end of World War II.

As a new type of court, the Volksgerichtshof ("people's court") was established in 1934, only dealing with cases of political importance. From 1934-September 1944, a total of 5,375 death sentences were spoken by the court. Not included in this numbers are the death sentences from 20 July 1944-April 1945, which are estimated at 2,000. Its most prominent jurist was Roland Freisler, who headed the court from August 1942-February 1945.

Military

The military of the Third Reich – the Wehrmacht – was the name of the unified armed forces of Germany from 1935-1945 with Heer (Army), Kriegsmarine (Navy), Luftwaffe (Air Force) and a military organization Waffen-SS (Military branch of the Schutzstaffel, which was, de facto, a fourth branch of the Wehrmacht. The German Army furthered concepts pioneered during the First World War, combining Ground and Air Force assets into combined arms teams. Coupled with traditional war fighting methods such as encirclements and the "battle of annihilation", the German military managed many lightning quick victories in the first year of the Second World War, prompting foreign journalists to create a new word for what they witnessed: Blitzkrieg. The total number of soldiers who served in the Wehrmacht during its existence from 1935-1945 is believed to approach 18.2 million.

Racial policy

The effects of Nazi social policy in Germany was divided between those considered to be "Aryan" and those considered "non-Aryan", Jewish, or part of other minority groups. For "Aryan" Germans, a number of social policies put through by the regime to benefit them were advanced for the time, including state opposition to the use of tobacco, an end to official stigmatization toward Aryan children who were born from parents outside of marriage, as well as giving financial assistance to Aryan German families who bore children.[50]

The Nazi Party pursued its racial and social policies through persecution and killing of those considered social undesirables or "enemies of the Reich".

Especially targeted were minority groups such as Jews, Romani (also known as Gypsies), Jehovah's Witnesses,[51] people with mental or physical disabilities and homosexuals.

In the 1930s, plans to isolate and eventually eliminate Jews completely in Germany began with the construction of ghettos, concentration camps, and labour camps which began with the 1933 construction of the Dachau concentration camp, which Heinrich Himmler officially described as "the first concentration camp for political prisoners."[52]

The aftermath of Kristallnacht, Jewish shops vandalized.
Naked Soviet POWs in Mauthausen concentration camp. Between June 1941 and January 1942, the Nazis killed an estimated 2.8 million Red Army POWs, whom they viewed as "subhuman".[53]
Senator Alben W. Barkley, a member of the US Congressional Nazi crimes committee visiting Buchenwald concentration camp shortly after its liberation.
Lager Nordhausen concentration camp

In the years following the Nazi rise to power, many Jews were encouraged to leave the country and did so. By the time the Nuremberg Laws were passed in 1935, Jews were stripped of their German citizenship and denied government employment. Most Jews employed by Germans lost their jobs at this time, which were being taken by unemployed Germans. Notably, the Nazi government attempted to send 17,000 German Jews of Polish descent back to Poland, a decision which led to the assassination of Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, a German Jew living in France. This provided the pretext for a pogrom the Nazi Party incited against the Jews on 9 November 1938, which specifically targeted Jewish businesses. The event was called Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass, literally "Crystal Night"); the euphemism was used because the numerous broken windows made the streets look as if covered with crystals. By September 1939, more than 200,000 Jews had left Germany, with the Nazi government seizing any property they left behind.

The Nazis also undertook programs targeting "weak" or "unfit" people, such as the T-4 Euthanasia Program, killing tens of thousands of disabled and sick Germans in an effort to "maintain the purity of the German Master race" (German: Herrenvolk) as described by Nazi propagandists. The techniques of mass killing developed in these efforts would later be used in the Holocaust. Under a law passed in 1933, the Nazi regime carried out the compulsory sterilization of over 400,000 individuals labeled as having hereditary defects, ranging from mental illness to alcoholism.

Another component of the Nazi programme of creating racial purity was the Lebensborn, or "Fountain of Life" programme founded in 1936. The programme was aimed at encouraging German soldiers — mainly SS — to reproduce. This included offering SS families support services (including the adoption of racially pure children into suitable SS families) and accommodating racially-valuable women, pregnant with mainly SS men's children, in care homes in Germany and throughout Occupied Europe. Lebensborn also expanded to encompass the placing of racially pure children forcibly seized from occupied countries—such as Poland—with German families.[citation needed]

The Nazis considered Jews, Romani people, Poles along with other Slavic people like the Russians, Ukrainians, Czechs and anyone else who was not an "Aryan" according to the contemporary Nazi race terminology to be Untermensch ("subhuman"). The Nazis rationalized that the Germans, being a super human (Übermenschlich) race, had a biological right to displace, eliminate and enslave inferiors.[54][55] After the war, under the "Big Plan", Generalplan Ost foresaw the eventual expulsion of more than 50 million non-Germanized Slavs of Eastern Europe through forced migration, as well as some of the Balts, beyond the Ural Mountains and into Siberia. In their place, Germans would be settled in an extended "living space" of the 1000-Year Empire. Herbert Backe was one of the orchestrators of the Hunger Plan - the plan to starve tens of millions of Slavs in order to ensure steady food supplies for the German people and troops.[56]

At the outset of World War II, the German authority in the General Government in occupied Poland ordered that all Jews face compulsory labour and that those who were physically incapable such as women and children were to be confined to ghettos.[57]

To the Nazis, a number of ideas appeared on how to answer the "Jewish Question". One method was a mass forced deportation of Jews. Adolf Eichmann suggested that Jews be forced to emigrate to Palestine.[58] Franz Rademacher made the proposal that Jews be deported to Madagascar; this proposal was supported by Himmler and was discussed by Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini but was later dismissed as impractical in 1942.[59] The idea of continuing deportations to occupied Poland was rejected by the governor, Hans Frank, of the General Government of occupied Poland as Frank refused to accept any more deportations of Jews to the territory which already had large numbers of Jews.[59] In 1942, at the Wannsee Conference, Nazi officials decided to eliminate the Jews altogether, as discussed the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question". Concentration camps like Auschwitz were converted and used gas chambers to kill as many Jews as possible. By 1945, a number of concentration camps had been liberated by Allied forces and they found the survivors to be severely malnourished. The Allies also found evidence that the Nazis were profiteering from the mass murder of Jews not only by confiscating their property and personal valuables but also by extracting gold fillings from the bodies of some Jews held in concentration camps.

Social Policy

Education

Education under the Nazi regime focused on racial biology, population policy, culture, geography and especially physical fitness.[60] Anti-Semitic policy led to the expulsion of Jewish teachers and professors and officials from the education system.[61] All university professors were required to be a member of the National Socialist Association of University Lecturers in order to be able to be employed as professors.[62]

Social Welfare

Advertisement for state-engineered Kdf-Wagen. Commonly known then and afterwards named the Volkswagen ("People's Car"), as it was designed to be an inexpensive automobile which every German citizen could be able to purchase.

Recent research by academics such as Götz Aly has emphasized the role of the extensive Nazi social welfare programs that focused on providing employment for German citizens and insuring a minimal living standard for German citizens. Heavily focused on was the idea of a national German community. To aid the fostering of a feeling of community, the German people's labour and entertainment experience s— from festivals, to vacation trips and traveling cinemas — were all made a part of the "Strength through Joy" (Kraft durch Freude, KdF) program. Also crucial to the building of loyalty and comradeship was the implementation of the National Labour Service and the Hitler Youth Organization, with compulsory membership. In addition to this, a number of architectural projects were undertaken. KdF created the KdF-wagen, later known as the Volkswagen ("People's Car"), which was designed to be an automobile that every German citizen would be able to afford. The KdF wagon also was created in the idea that it could be converted to a military vehicle for war. Another national project undertaken was the construction of the Autobahn, which made it the first freeway system in the world.

Health

According to the research of Robert N. Proctor for his book The Nazi War on Cancer[63][64], Nazi Germany had arguably the most powerful anti-tobacco movement in the world. Anti-tobacco research received a strong backing from the government, and German scientists proved that cigarette smoke could cause cancer. German pioneering research on experimental epidemiology led to the 1939 paper by Franz H. Müller, and the 1943 paper by Eberhard Schairer and Erich Schöniger which convincingly demonstrated that tobacco smoking was a main culprit in lung cancer. The government urged German doctors to counsel patients against tobacco use.

German research on the dangers of tobacco was silenced after the war, and the dangers of tobacco had to be rediscovered by American and English scientists in the early 1950s, with a medical consensus arising in the early 1960s. German scientists also proved that asbestos was a health hazard, and in 1943 — as the first nation in the world to offer such a benefit — Germany recognized the diseases caused by asbestos, e.g., lung cancer, as occupational illnesses eligible for compensation. The German asbestos-cancer research was later used by American lawyers doing battle against the Johns-Manville Corporation.

As part of the general public-health campaign in Nazi Germany, water supplies were cleaned up, lead and mercury were removed from consumer products, and women were urged to undergo regular screenings for breast cancer.[63][64]

Women's rights

The Nazis opposed women's feminist movement, claiming that it was Jewish-led, had a left-wing agenda (compared to Communism) and was bad for both women and men. The Nazi regime advocated a patriarchal society in which German women would recognize the "world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home."[65] Hitler claimed that women taking vital jobs away from men during the Great Depression was economically bad for families in that women were paid only 66 percent of what men earned.[65] This being said, Hitler never considered endorsing the idea of raising women's wages to avoid such a scenario again, but instead called for women to stay at home. Simultaneously with calling for women to leave work outside the home, the regime called for women to be actively supportive of the state regarding women's affairs. In 1933, Hitler appointed Gertrud Scholtz-Klink as the Reich Women's Leader, who instructed women that their primary role in society was to bear children and that women should be subservient to men, once saying "the mission of woman is to minister in the home and in her profession to the needs of life from the first to last moment of man's existence.".[65] The expectation even applied to Aryan women married to Jewish men—a necessary ingredient in the 1943 Rosenstrasse protest in which 1800 German women (joined by 4200 relatives) obliged the Nazi state to release their Jewish husbands.

The Nazi regime discouraged women from seeking higher education in secondary schools, universities and colleges.[66] The number of women allowed to enroll in universities dropped drastically under the Nazi regime, which shrank from approximately 128,000 women being enrolled in 1933 to 51,000 in 1938.[62] Female enrollment in secondary schools dropped from 437,000 in 1926 to 205,000 in 1937.[62] However with the requirement of men to be enlisted into the German armed forces during the war, women made up half of the enrollment in the education system by 1944.[62]

Organizations were made for the indoctrination of Nazi values to German women. Such organizations included the Jungmädel ("Young Girls") section of the Hitler Youth for girls from the age 10 to 14, the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM, "German Girl's League") for young women from 14 to 18.

On the issue of sexual affairs regarding women, the Nazis differed greatly from the restrictive stances on women's role in society. The Nazi regime promoted a liberal code of conduct as regards sexual matters, and were sympathetic to women bearing children out of wedlock.[50] The collapse of 19th century morals in Germany accelerated during the Third Reich, partly due to the Nazis, and greatly due to the effects of the war.[50] Promiscuity increased greatly as the war progressed, with unmarried soldiers often involved intimately with several women simultaneously.[50] Married women were often involved in multiple affairs simultaneously, with soldiers, civilians or slave labourers.[50] "Some farm wives in Württemberg had already begun using sex as a commodity, employing carnal favours as a means of getting a full day's work from foreign labourers.". [50] Marriage or sexual relations between a person considered “Aryan” and one that was not were classified as Rassenschande were forbidden and under penalty (people found guilty could face concentration camp, while non-Aryans death penalty).

Despite the somewhat official restrictions, some women forged highly visible, as well as officially praised, achievements. Examples are aviatrix Hanna Reitsch and film director Leni Riefenstahl.

An example of the almost cynical way in which Nazi doctrines differed from practice is that, whilst sexual relationships among campers was explicitly forbidden, boys' and girls' camps of the Hitlerjugend associations were needlessly placed close together as if to make it happen. Pregnancy (including repercussions on established marriages) often resulted when fetching members of the Bund Deutscher Mädel were assigned to duties which juxtaposed them with tempted men.[67]

Abortion was heavily penalized in Nazi Germany unless on the grounds of "racial health"; from 1943 abortionists faced the death penalty.[68] Display of contraceptives was not allowed and Hitler himself described contraception as "violation of nature, as degradation of womanhood, motherhood and love." [69]

Environmentalism

In 1935, the regime enacted the "Reich Nature Protection Act". While not a purely Nazi piece of legislation since parts of its influences pre-dated the Nazi rise to power, it nevertheless reflected Nazi ideology. The concept of the Dauerwald (best translated as the "perpetual forest") which included concepts such as forest management and protection was promoted and efforts were also made to curb air pollution.[70][71]

In practice, the enacted laws and policies met resistance from various ministries that sought to undermine them, and from the priority that the war-effort took to environmental protection.

Animal protection policy

The Nazis had elements which were supportive of animal rights, zoos and wildlife,[72] and took several measures to ensure their protection.[73] In 1933 the regime enacted a stringent animal-protection law.[74][75] Many NSDAP leaders including Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring were supporters of animal protection. Several Nazis were environmentalists (notably Rudolf Hess), and species protection and animal welfare were significant issues in the regime.[76] Heinrich Himmler made efforts to ban the hunting of animals.[77] Göring was an animal lover and conservationist.[78] The current animal welfare laws in Germany are more or less modification of the laws introduced by the National Socialist regime.[79]

Culture

The regime sought to restore traditional values in German culture. The art and culture that came to define the Weimar Republic years was repressed. The visual arts were strictly monitored and traditional, focusing on exemplifying Germanic themes, racial purity, militarism, heroism, power, strength, and obedience. Modern abstract art and avant-garde art was removed from museums and put on special display as "degenerate art", where it was to be ridiculed. In one notable example, on 31 March 1937, huge crowds stood in line to view a special display of "degenerate art" in Munich. Art forms considered to be degenerate included Dada, Cubism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Impressionism, New Objectivity, and Surrealism. Literature written by Jewish, other non-Aryans, or authors opposed to the Nazis was destroyed by the regime. The most infamous destruction of literature was the book burnings by German students in 1933.

In 1933, Nazis burned works considered "un-German" in Berlin which included books by Jewish authors, political opponents, and other works which did not align with Nazi ideology.
German Nazi propaganda poster: "Danzig is German".

Despite the official attempt to forge a pure Germanic culture, one major area of the arts, architecture, under Hitler's personal guidance, was neoclassical, a style based on architecture of ancient Rome.[80] This style stood out in stark contrast and opposition to newer, more liberal, and more popular architecture styles of the time such as Art Deco. Various Roman buildings were examined by state architect Albert Speer for architectural designs for state buildings. Speer constructed huge and imposing structures such as in the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg and the new Reich Chancellery building in Berlin. One design that was pursued, but never built, was a gigantic version of the Pantheon in Rome, called the Volkshalle to be the semi-religious centre of Nazism in a renamed Berlin called Germania, which was to be the "world capital" (Welthauptstadt). Also to be constructed was a Triumphal arch several times larger than that found in Paris, which was also based upon a classical styling. Many of the designs for Germania were impractical to construct because of their size and the marshy soil underneath Berlin; materials that were to be used for construction were diverted to the war effort.

Cinema and media

The majority of German films of the period were intended principally as works of entertainment. The import of foreign films was legally restricted after 1936 and the German industry, which was effectively nationalised in 1937, had to make up for the missing foreign films (above all American productions). Entertainment also became increasingly important in the later years of World War II when the cinema provided a distraction from Allied bombing and a string of German defeats. In both 1943 and 1944 cinema admissions in Germany exceeded a billion,[81] and the biggest box office hits of the war years were Die große Liebe (1942) and Wunschkonzert (1941), which both combine elements of the musical, wartime romance and patriotic propaganda, Frauen sind doch bessere Diplomaten (1941), a comic musical which was one of the earliest German films in colour, and Wiener Blut (1942), the adaptation of a Johann Strauß comic operetta. The importance of the cinema as a tool of the state, both for its propaganda value and its ability to keep the populace entertained, can be seen in the filming history of Veit Harlan's Kolberg (1945), the most expensive film of the era, for the shooting of which tens of thousands of soldiers were diverted from their military positions to appear as extras.[82]

Despite the emigration of many film-makers and the political restrictions, the German film industry was not without technical and aesthetic innovations, the introduction of Agfacolor film production being a notable example. Technical and aesthetic achievement could also be turned to the specific ends of the Greater German Reich, most spectacularly in the work of Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935), documenting the Nuremberg Rally (1934), and Olympia (1938), documenting the 1936 Summer Olympics, pioneered techniques of camera movement and editing that have influenced many later films. Both films, particularly Triumph of the Will, remain highly controversial, as their aesthetic merit is inseparable from their propagandizing of Nationalsocialism ideals.[82]

Religion

Sports

Olympic Stadium (photo by Josef Jindřich Šechtl).

Established in 1934, the Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen (NSRL), (sometimes also known under the acronym NSRBL) was the umbrella organization for sports during the Third Reich.

Two major displays of Nazi German art and culture were at the 1936 Summer Olympics and at the German pavilion at the 1937 International Exposition in Paris. The 1936 Olympics was meant to display to the world the Aryan superiority of Germany to other nations. German athletes were carefully chosen not only for strength but for Aryan appearance. However, one common belief of Hitler snubbing African-American athlete Jesse Owens has recently been discovered to be technically incorrect—it was African-American athlete Cornelius Cooper Johnson who was believed to have been snubbed by Hitler, who left the medal ceremonies after awarding a German and a Finn medal. Hitler claimed it was not a snub, but that he had official business to attend to which caused him to depart. On reports that Hitler had deliberately avoided acknowledging his victories, and had refused to shake his hand, Owens recounted:

"When I passed the Chancellor he arose, waved his hand at me, and I waved back at him. I think the writers showed bad taste in criticizing the man of the hour in Germany." He also stated: "Hitler didn't snub me — it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram."

Hitler was criticized for this and the Olympic committee officials insisted that he greet each and every medalist, or none at all. Hitler did not attend any of the medal presentations which followed, including the one after Jesse Owens won his four medals, and met with German winners outside the stadium afterwards. [83][84]

See also

History

Politics

Society

Links

References

Notes

  1. ^ The Weimar Constitution was never formally repealed. Sources : James Burnham, The Machiavellians, defenders of freedom‎, Blackstone, 1963, p. 123, Q & A at Nuremberg trial
  2. ^ German election, 1933
  3. ^ in 1939, before Germany acquired control of the last two regions which had been in its control before the Versailles Treaty, Alsace-Lorraine, Danzig and the part of West Prussia colloquially known as the "Polish Corridor", it had an area was 633786 sq. km., Statistisches Bundesamt (Federal Statistical Office), Statistisches Jahrbuch 2006 für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, p. 34.
  4. ^ Keegan, John (1989), The Second World War, Glenfield, Auckland 10, New Zealand: Hutchinson 
  5. ^ The Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919) concluded the Allies' peace with Austria, which was aligned with Germany during the war via the then-extant Austrian-Hungarian empire. Hungary, another principal belligerent aligned with Germany, was party to the Treaty of Trianon, a separate treaty distinct from St. Germain and Versailles. Hungary and Austria were both formed as republics after the dissolution of the Habsburg's Austrian-Hungarian empire.
  6. ^ This was the notorious Article 231, the so-called War Guilt Clause
  7. ^ All of Germany's foreign colonies were forfeited. The part of Germany known as the Rhineland, bordering France, was demilitarized: Germany was forbidden to have troops or military installations there.
  8. ^ Article 231 of Versailles stipulated that Germany bore sole responsibility for the outbreak of the war.
  9. ^ Germany would be limited to an army of 100,000 men, with mandatory lengthy terms of enlistment to prevent the establishment of reserves. The General Staff was to be dissolved along with certain military colleges. Tanks were forbidden. Limits were placed on the navy in the form of the size and types of ships permitted, including the prohibition of any submarines. A military air force was likewise forbidden.
  10. ^ The letters Nati- in Nationalsozialist are pronounced much like "Nazi" in English. This type of syllabic shortening of words is common in German, for example Sozis for Sozialisten and Kitas for Kindertagesstätte ("day care centers").
  11. ^ Mary Fulbrook. The Divided Nation: A History of Germany, 1918-1990. Oxford UP, 1992, 45
  12. ^ The Nazi Party did not achieve a parliamentary majority, however, before Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. The Nazis’ plurality diminished from 230 seats to 196 seats after the federal election of November 1932.
  13. ^ Hakim, Joy (1995). A History of Us: War, Peace and all that Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 100–104. ISBN 0-19-509514-6. 
  14. ^ Richard Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich (New York: Penguin Books, 2003), 441.
  15. ^ GERMANY: Second Revolution?, TIME Magazine, July 2, 1934
  16. ^ "The Devils Disciples", Anthony Read , W. W. Norton & Co., 2003, ISBN 0-393-04800-4
  17. ^ Henry Maitles NEVER AGAIN!: A review of David Goldhagen, Hitlers Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust", further referenced to G Almond, "The German Resistance Movement", Current History 10 (1946), pp409–527.
  18. ^ David Clay, "Contending with Hitler: Varieties of German Resistance in the Third Reich", p.122 (1994) ISBN 0-521-41459-8
  19. ^ Otis C. Mitchell, "Hitler's Nazi state: the years of dictatorial rule, 1934-1945"‎ (1988), p.217
  20. ^ Peter Hoffmann "The History of the German Resistance, 1933-1945"p.xiii
  21. ^ CuHaven Online [1] see also: Die Hessisch-thüringische 251. Infanterie-division, Karl-Wilhelm Maurer, 14. [2]
  22. ^ http://www1.ndr.de/kultur/geschichte/helgolandchronik2.html
  23. ^ "British Military Aviation in 1940 - Part 1". Rafmuseum.org.uk. http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/milestones-of-flight/british_military/1940.cfm. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  24. ^ Monday, Apr. 01, 1940 (1940-04-01). "IN THE AIR: Raid on Sylt - TIME". TIME<!. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,885838,00.html. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  25. ^ "SC Military Museum". Scguard.com. http://www.scguard.com/museum/ww23940.html. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  26. ^ Quester,George "Bargaining and Bombing During World War II in Europe," World Politics, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Apr., 1963), pp. 421, 425. Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
  27. ^ "History - British Bombing Strategy in World War Two". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/area_bombing_02.shtml. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  28. ^ Chronological Summary of Royal Air Force Bomber Command Operations – Your Archives
  29. ^ "Siege of Leningrad (Soviet history)". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  30. ^ "Introduction" U-Boat Operations of the Second World War—Vol 1 by Wynn, Kenneth, 1998 p. 1
  31. ^ "Hitler's War; Hitler's Plans for Eastern Europe". http://www.dac.neu.edu/holocaust/Hitlers_Plans.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  32. ^ "Germany's forgotten victims". Guardian.co.uk. October 22, 2003.
  33. ^ Schrijvers, Peter (2001). The Crash of Ruin: American Combat Soldiers in Europe during World War II. NYU Press. pp. 83–86. ISBN 0814798071. http://books.google.com/books?id=VjpxBM1_OYIC&pg=PA84&lpg=PA84&dq=dead+german+soldiers+during+wwii&source=web&ots=fSVc2b8D1x&sig=9t1zhaVyU1QxRshu1aF1HxlqnFU#PPA84,M1. 
  34. ^ "World War II: Combatants and Casualties (1937— 1945)". http://web.jjay.cuny.edu/~jobrien/reference/ob62.html. Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  35. ^ "The Holocaust". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  36. ^ "Leaders mourn Soviet wartime dead". http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4530565.stm. 
  37. ^ "REFUGEES: Save Us! Save Us!". Time. July 9, 1979.
  38. ^ Eisikovits, Nir, "Transitional Justice", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2009 Edition) Section 1.2.1 Victor's Justice
  39. ^ (Estonian) Pinn, Voldemar. Unknown World War II. Haapsalu, 1998. p. 82–83.
  40. ^ Richard Overy, 1995, Why the allies won, Random House, p. 205.
  41. ^ a b c d e f "Slouching Towards Utopia?: The Economic History of the Twentieth Century – XV. Nazis and Soviets- J. Bradford DeLong – University of California at Berkeley and NBER(February 1997)". http://econ161.berkeley.edu/TCEH/Slouch_Purge15.html. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  42. ^ "econ161.berkeley.edu". http://econ161.berkeley.edu/TCEH/Slouch_Purge15.html. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  43. ^ a b "Nazis and Soviets". Econ161.berkeley.edu. http://econ161.berkeley.edu/TCEH/Slouch_Purge15.html. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  44. ^ Peter Temin (November 1991), Economic History Review, New Series 44, No.4: 573–593 
  45. ^ John C. Beyer; Stephen A. Schneider. "Forced Labour under Third Reich - Part 1" (PDF). Nathan Associates Inc.. http://www.nathaninc.com/nathan2/files/ccLibraryFiles/FILENAME/000000000072/Forced%20Labour%20Under%20the%20Third%20Reich%2C%20Part%20One.pdf.  and John C. Beyer; Stephen A. Schneider. "Forced Labour under Third Reich - Part 2" (PDF). Nathan Associates Inc.. http://www.nathaninc.com/nathan2/files/ccLibraryFiles/FILENAME/000000000073/Forced%20Labour%20Under%20the%20Third%20Reich%2C%20Part%20Two.pdf. 
  46. ^ Bischof, Günter, "The Historical Roots of a Special Relationship: Austro-German Relations Between Hegemony and Equality". In Unequal Partners, ed. Harald von Riekhoff and Hanspeter Neuhold. San Francisco: Westview Press, 1993
  47. ^ "Hitler's Plan". Dac.neu.edu. http://www.dac.neu.edu/holocaust/Hitlers_Plans.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  48. ^ "ess.uwe.ac.uk". ess.uwe.ac.uk. http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/ssnur1.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  49. ^ Katz. "Jews and Freemasons in Europe". in Israel Gutman. The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. p. vol. 2, p. 531. ISBN 9780028971667 OCLC 20594356. 
  50. ^ a b c d e f Perry Biddiscombe "Dangerous Liaisons: The Anti-Fraternization Movement in the US Occupation Zones of Germany and Austria, 1945-1948", Journal of Social History 34.3 (2001) 611–647
  51. ^ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum"ushmm.org". http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005394. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  52. ^ "Ein Konzentrationslager für politische Gefangene". Münchner Neueste Nachrichten. 1933-03-21. http://www.mazal.org/archive/DACHPHO/Dach02.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-16.  Translation: "The Munich Chief of Police, Himmler, has issued the following press announcement: On Wednesday the first concentration camp is to be opened in Dachau with an accommodation for 5000 persons. All Communists and—where necessary—Reichsbanner and Social Democratic functionaries who endanger state security are to be concentrated here, as in the long run it is not possible to keep individual functionaries in the state prisons without overburdening these prisons, and on the other hand these people cannot be released because attempts have shown that they persist in their efforts to agitate and organize as soon as they are released."
  53. ^ Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners (p. 290) - "2.8 million young, healthy Soviet POWs" killed by the Germans, "mainly by starvation ... in less than eight months" of 1941-42, before "the decimation of Soviet POWs ... was stopped" and the Germans "began to use them as laborers" (emphasis added).
  54. ^ Hitler's Plans for Eastern Europe. Selections from: "Poland under Nazi Occupation", by Janusz Gumkowkski and Kazimierz Leszczynski
  55. ^ Heinrich Himmler Speech before SS Group Leaders Posen, Poland 1943. Hanover College Department of History
  56. ^ Tooze, Adam, The Wages of Destruction, Viking, 2007, pp. 476–85, 538–49, ISBN 0670038261
  57. ^ Kershaw, Ian. 2000, 4th edition. The Nazi Dictatorship; Problems & Perspectives of Interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. P. 111.
  58. ^ Kershaw, Ian. 2000, 4th edition. The Nazi Dictatorship; Problems & Perspectives of Interpretation. P. 111.
  59. ^ a b Kershaw, Ian. 2000, 4th edition. The Nazi Dictatorship; Problems & Perspectives of Interpretation. p. 111.
  60. ^ Pauley, Bruce F. Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini: Totalitarianism in the Twentieth Century. 2nd Edition. 2003. Wheeling, Illinois, USA: Harlan Davidson Inc. Pp. 118.
  61. ^ Pauley, 2003. Pp. 118
  62. ^ a b c d Pauley, 2003. Pp. 119.
  63. ^ a b Nazi Medicine and Public Health Policy Robert N. Proctor, Dimensions: A Journal of Holocaust Studies.
  64. ^ a b Review of "The Nazi War on Cancer" Canadian Journal of History, Aug 2001 by Ian Dowbiggin
  65. ^ a b c "spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk". http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERwomen.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  66. ^ Pauley, 2003. Pp. 119
  67. ^ For a more elaborate discussion, see William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Touchstone Edition) (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990), ISBN 0-671-72868-7, section titled "Education in the Third Reich" (pp. 248–256), esp. pp. 254–256. The following quotation from p. 254 typifies the Shirer narrative:

    I listened to women leaders of the B.D.M.—they were invariably of the plainer type and usually unmarried—lecture their young charges on the moral and patriotic duty of bearing children for Hitler's Reich—within wedlock if possible, but without it if necessary.

  68. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=T205AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA382&lpg=PA382&dq=germany+abortion+death+penalty&source=bl&ots=nQMCJDEN0w&sig=Xfm-Vxwh0RhTXF-spSpNDl9vEM8&hl=en&ei=w1guSsuPJoP6_AaBj6W4Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3 Abortion By Malcolm Potts, Peter Diggory, John Peel at Google Books
  69. ^ "History of Contraception". Glowm.com. http://www.glowm.com/index.html?p=glowm.cml/section_view&articleid=375#r88. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  70. ^ JONATHAN OLSEN "How Green Were the Nazis? Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich (review)" Technology and Culture – Volume 48, Number 1, January 2007, pp. 207–208
  71. ^ Review of Franz-Josef Brueggemeier, Marc Cioc, and Thomas Zeller, eds, "How Green Were the Nazis?: Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich" Wilko Graf von Hardenberg, H-Environment, H-Net Reviews, October, 2006.
  72. ^ Thomas R. DeGregori (2002). Bountiful Harvest: Technology, Food Safety, and the Environment. Cato Institute. pp. p153. ISBN 1930865317. 
  73. ^ Arnold Arluke, Clinton Sanders (1996). Regarding Animals. Temple University Press. pp. p132. ISBN 1566394414. 
  74. ^ Hartmut M. Hanauske-Abel, Not a slippery slope or sudden subversion: German medicine and National Socialism in 1933, BMJ 1996; pp. 1453–1463 (7 December)
  75. ^ "kaltio.fi". http://www.kaltio.fi/index.php?494. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  76. ^ Robert Proctor (1999). The Nazi War on Cancer. Princeton University Press. pp. p5. ISBN 0691070512. 
  77. ^ Martin Kitchen (2006). A History of Modern Germany, 1800-2000. Blackwell Publishing. pp. p278. ISBN 1405100400. 
  78. ^ Seymour Rossel (1992). The Holocaust: The World and the Jews, 1933-1945. Behrman House, Inc. pp. p79. ISBN 0874415268. 
  79. ^ Bruce Braun, Noel Castree (1998). Remaking Reality: Nature at the Millenium. Routledge. pp. p92. ISBN 0415144930. 
  80. ^ Scobie, Alexander. Hitler's State Architecture: The Impact of Classical Antiquity. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-271-00691-9. Pp. 92.
  81. ^ Kinobesuche in Deutschland 1925 bis 2004 Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft e. V
  82. ^ a b Cinema of Germany#1933-1945 Film industry in the Third Reich
  83. ^ Hyde Flippo, The 1936 Berlin Olympics: Hitler and Jesse Owens German Myth 10 from German.about.com
  84. ^ Rick Shenkman, Adolf Hitler, Jesse Owens and the Olympics Myth of 1936 13 February 2002 from History News Network (article excerpted from Rick Shenkman's Legends, Lies and Cherished Myths of American History. Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st ed edition (November 1988) ISBN 0688065805). Ironically, it was US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who declined to invite Owens to the White House or to congratulate him in any way. See "Getting to Know the Racial Views of Our Past Presidents: What about FDR?" Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 38 (2002–2003, Winter), 44–46.

Further reading

  • William Sheridan Allen. The Nazi Seizure of Power : the Experience Of A Single German Town, 1922–1945 by New York ; Toronto: F. Watts, 1984. ISBN 0-531-09935-0.
  • Gisela Bock "Racism and Sexism in Nazi Germany: Motherhood, Compulsory Sterilization, and the State" from When Biology Became Destiny: Women in Weimar and Nazi Germany edited by Renate Bridenthal, Atina Grossmann, and Marion Kaplan, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1984.
  • Karl Dietrich Bracher. The German Dictatorship; The Origins, Structure, and Effects of National Socialism; New York, Praeger 1970.
  • Michael Burleigh. The Third Reich: A New History, 2002. ISBN 0-8090-9326-X. Standard scholarly history, 1918–1945.
  • Martin Broszat. German National Socialism, 1919–1945 translated from the German by Kurt Rosenbaum and Inge Pauli Boehm, Santa Barbara, Calif.: Clio Press, 1966.
  • Martin Broszat. The Hitler State: The Foundation and Development Of The Internal Structure Of The Third Reich. Translated by John W. Hiden. London: Longman, 1981. ISBN 0-582-49200-9.
  • Richard J. Evans. The Coming of the Third Reich. ISBN 0-14-100975-6, standard scholarly history to 1933
  • Richard J. Evans. The Third Reich in Power 2005 ISBN 1-59420-074-2, scholarly history
  • Paul Garson. Album of the Damned: Snapshots from the Third Reich 2008 ISBN 978-0897335768, Academy Chicago Publishers
  • Richard Grunberger. A Social History of the Third Reich 1974 ISBN 0-14-013675-4.
  • Klaus Hildebrand. The Third Reich London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1984 ISBN 0-04-943033-5.
  • Andreas Hillgruber Germany and the two World Wars, Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1981 ISBN 0-674-35321-8.
  • Heinz Höhne. The Order of the Death's Head: The Story of Hitler's SS. Translated by Richard Barry. London: Penguin Books, 1971.
  • David Irving. Hitler's War. London: Focal Point Publications. ISBN 1-872197-10-8.
  • Adam Tooze. The Wages of Destruction: The Making and the Breaking of the Nazi Economy. New York: Viking, 2006. ISBN 978-0-670-03826-8.
  • Ian Kershaw. The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation, 4th ed. London: Arnold, 2000. ISBN 0-340-76028-1
  • Claudia Koonz. Mothers In The Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987. ISBN 0-312-54933-4.
  • Claudia Koonz. The Nazi Conscience. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003.
  • Guido Knopp. Hitler's Henchmen. 1998. Sutton Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-7509-3781-5.
  • Christian Leitz, ed. The Third Reich: The Essential Readings. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, 1999. ISBN 0-631-20700-7.
  • Richard Overy & Timothy Mason "Debate: Germany, “Domestic Crisis” and War in 1939" pages 200–240 from Past and Present, Number 122, February 1989.
  • Frank McDonough, Hitler and the Rise of The Nazi Party, Pearson Longman, 2003.
  • Eric Michaud, The Cult of Art in Nazi Germany, translated by Janet Lloyd, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-804-74327-4.
  • Hans Mommsen. From Weimar to Auschwitz Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-691-03198-3.
  • Roger Moorhouse. Killing Hitler. London: Jonathan Cape, 2006. ISBN 0-224-07121-1.
  • Detlev Peukert. Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition and Racism in Everyday Life. London: Batsford, 1987. ISBN 0-7134-5217-X.
  • Anthony Read. The Devils Disciples. W. W. Norton & Co., 2003. ISBN 0-393-04800-4.
  • Hans Rothfels. The German Opposition to Hitler: An Assessment Longwood Pr Ltd: London 1948, 1961, 1963, 1970 ISBN 0-85496-119-4.
  • William L. Shirer. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. ISBN 0-671-72868-7
  • David Schoenbaum Hitler’s Social Revolution; Class and Status in Nazi Germany, 1933-1939, Garden City, N.Y. Doubleday, 1966.
  • The Nazi Elite edited by Ronald Smelser and Rainer Zitelmann, translated by Mary Fischer, New York : New York University Press, 1993, ISBN 0814779506.
  • Henry Ashby Turner. German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-19-503492-9.
  • Alfred Sohn-Rethel. Economy and Class Structure of German Fascism. London, CSE Bks, 1978. ISBN 0-906336-00-7
  • Sir John Wheeler-Bennett. The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics 1918–1945, Palgrave Macmillan: London: 1953, 1964, 2005 ISBN 1-4039-1812-0.
  • Christian Zenter and Friedemann Bedurftig. The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. Munich: Sudwest Verlag GmbH & co. KG.


Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

< Wikiversity

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Part of the Department of European History.

There are several discussion topics that still have yet to be addressed. Please don't sign up unless you plan on contributing to the discussion. My email address is under my user page if anyone needs to contact me. --Kfitton 8:48, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Contents

Introduction to Hitler's Germany

Hitler's Germany, or from here on out referred to as 'The Third Reich', is a course that will familiarize the student with key themes in the current historical literature involving the subject. The course breaks down to several weeks of discussion held on the main page and a paper that each student will complete on a topic of their choosing, which will then be critiqued by the class for its merit and historical content. The student taking this class will hopefully walk away with a greater understanding of the time and exposure to an active academic environment that requires scholarly research. The instructor has taken a class exactly on this subject and will attempt to mold many of those ideas into this class, so students will be prepared to take on university level material should the opportunity arise. It should be noted that subject material in this class will be of a frank and sometimes grotesque manner, so if the student is not capable of maintaining a professional demeanor and historical objectivism, it is suggested that they not sign up for this class. This is intended to be roughly a '300' or '3rd year' or 'junior' level college class.

Suggested Reading for this Course

While using online resources are encouraged, it is suggested to pick up the following books for cheap on Amazon.com or any other used book seller. These are books from people respected in the field of study on The Third Reich.

  • The Nazi Dictatorship by Ian Kershaw, 4th ed.
  • Atlas of Nazi Germany by Michael Freeman, 2nd ed.
  • The Nazi Revolution by Allan Mitchell, 4th ed. Highly recommended!
  • Weimar and Nazi Germany by Panikos Panayi.
  • Nazi Culture by George Mosse. Highly recommended!
  • Inside Hitler's Germany by Benjamin Sax and Deiter Kuntz. Highly recommended!
  • A History of Nazi Germany by Joseph W. Bendersky, 2nd ed.

During the course, the instructor will be referencing these books, and while not necessary to have it would make for a much greater class environment and overall understanding of the topic.

Schedule and Assignments

Class Roster

Now open for signups - click on the edit and add your user here if you wish to enroll. Also, if you have in your possession, any of the suggested reading texts, please list the author(s) after your user so that the instructor can tailor discussions toward those texts.

User:Mevan have read mein kampf and have watched hitler documentaries of the bbc and downfall and rise of evil Yo Vivire The Hitler Myth by Ian Kershaw

Blackbrunettes

waronide chezzydoh

Bartdutch

PaddyC

Downey

Domiproud

Alfmaster

--Bruno Moreschi 14:08, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Alijohnson

Noiz

Think outside the box

guglicello

HistoryBuff

tucker529

Feather - am getting the Ian Kershaw book

Nuno Santana

Wolsztyniak - have read "On Hitler's Mountain" by Irmgard A. Hunt

subatai_baadur

Somethinggood

memzy


Krishna Tadepalli - I have "Mein Kampf" by Hitler himself and "What Hitler knew" by Zachary Shore both in pdf formats.


dangell

Alyssa (The preceding unsigned comment was added by 132.79.7.15 (talk • contribs) 14:34, 9 September 2007.)

stopsignnamedcat

Sean gorter

Alexandrianphilosopher

Melissa Officinalis

Joe1973


Docta Trey

Week Schedule

  • Week 1 - What Causes a Facist Dictatorship? Post-WWI through Weimar Germany
  • Week 2 - Structure of the National Socialist Party, Political and Social Repercussions
  • Week 3 - Early forays into German Politics, German Political Spectrum
  • Week 4 - NSDAP gains control of the country, The Nazi State
  • Week 5 - Horrors and Failures of The Third Reich
  • Week 6 - Discussion for Final Paper
  • Week 7 - Critique of Final Papers and Closing Comments

Assignments Due

Keep in mind, assignments will NOT be collected, except for Week 6-7. All work is a suggestion to students in order for them to be prepared for the week topics.

  • Pre-Week 1 - Students enrolling should start by looking up various governmental systems and taking notes in preparation for discussion. In particular: Fascism, Communism, Democracy, Totalitarianism, and Monarchism/Oligarchy.
  • Week 1 - Students should compare the differences between Italian Fascism and German National Socialism, particulary in the notion of the Fuhrerprinzip. Suggested reading: Rise of Dictatorships
  • Week 2 - It was often said that Nazi support was, "a mile wide and an inch deep". Students should look into why the National Socialists gained such widespread appeal amongst certain sections of society. This is prep work for week 2 discussion.
  • Week 3 - Taking information from the Week 3 Discussion, students should map out political groups and how these groups played into Hitler/Hindenburg's control of the government. Stress should be placed upon the Enabling Bill (also known as the Reichstag Fire Decree), that will be discussed in Week 4. Suggested reading Reichstag_fire
  • Week 4 - The Volksgemeinschaft or People's Community was a core idea behind Nazi control of the state. Students should look more into a specific area (ie: education, economics, social groups, labor, etc) for examples of National Socialist Gleichschaltung in possible preparation for the final paper.
  • Week 5 - Is the Holocaust a singular event or just another genocide on an industrial scale? Considering this question is prep work for the discussion during Week 5.
  • Week 6 - Students will have a topic and potential thesis statement ready for discussion Week 6.
  • Week 7 - Final papers will be presented for class critique, papers should have a refined thesis as per commentary during Week 6, should be in the area of 2-5 pages (due to time constraints) with all proper historical writing procedures followed.

Ideas Outline

Historian's Struggle

  • Is the event known as The Third Reich (1933-1945) something unique in history? Adding to that, is The Third Reich a product of structuralism (ie: societal factors) or intentionalism (Hitler's force alone)?
    • Case for Structuralism - The system of support that the Nazi party had teamed together with widespread disenfranchisement felt by those social groups that were hit hard by the end of WWI and the Treaty of Versailles (middle class, businesses, military, nationalists).
    • Case for Intentionalism - The apparent strength of Hitler's ability to lead the German people. More often than not this was actually allowing differing groups to bicker over what Hitler's actual will was, so then it was necessary for Hitler to make a judgment, thus ensuring his control over the system.

Typically this argument tends to center around whether Hitler was a strong or weak leader...those in the strong camp tend towards Intentionalism while the latter tend to support the idea of Structuralism. Does the issue of Hitler make this a case completely unique from all other examples of fascism or does each instance require a 'leader' such as Mussolini or Franco, as in the cases of Italy and Spain respectively? Based upon the literature, and which historian you tend to follow, it would seem that the overall comparision to other fascists states is remarkably similar except for one area; the horrific eugenics/racial policies that the Nazis carried out.

Historical Objectivism

  • Being objective in history is a cornerstone of the profession, however what does this have to do with The Third Reich? Simple, it becomes a fundamental necessity when trying to separate historical fact from the crushing morality surrounding the atrocities committed. So the historian must learn that while reprehensible, the facts surrounding the time are what need to be evaluated, not judgments made based upon our opinions. Does this make historians uncaring monsters? Of course not, but in order to fairly evaluate the social, political, and economic factors that make an occurance like this happen, historians have to put their opinions aside. Often, as can be seen even in professional historiographies, bias and personal opinions can sneak in and taint work done in honest scholarship. While reading texts on the subject, historians should be actively looking for bias in any particular instance and should adjust accordingly.

Volksgemeinschaft

  • The Volksgemeinschaft (VGS) is a German word for a uniquely German ideal - the people's community. As explained higher up in this class, the thing to keep in mind is that the VGS had a very strict definition of who was considered valid and acceptable. This is the area where Aryan racial policy finds a societal defense, after all, only an Aryan can defend the Fatherland against the unstable elements, right?

Gleichschaltung

  • Also known as the co-ordination of party and state, this term compasses all of the actions by the Nazi party/state with the goal of creating the VGS in mind. Where VGS is the ideal, Gleichschaltung is the execution and the lengths to which the Nazi party will go, eventually leads to the final solution. It should be noted as a point of interest, that upon gaining control of the state, one of the first targets for gleichschaltung were education and the youth of Germany. The Hitler Youth would prove to be some of the most fanatical and loyal units throughout the whole Reich period.

Necessary Terms

  • Reichswehr - aka the German Army, Weimar period
  • Wehrmacht - the German Armed Forces, Third Reich
  • BlitzKrieg - lightning war, quick assaults with emphasis on mobility
  • Einsatzgruppen - security groups charged with clearing occupied zones (ie: exterminiation)
  • Fuhrerprinzip - Leadership focused on one charismatic leader at the top
  • Kraft durch Freude (KdF) - the 'Strength through Joy' Nazi recreational organization
  • Kristallnacht - 'Night of Broken Glass', first major pogrom against Jews, 9-12 November 1938
  • Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Worker's Party) - NSDAP, also known as the Nazi party
  • Lebensraum - Living space, the needed expansion into eastern Europe as seen as necessary by Hitler
  • Reichstag - German parliment, a rubber stamp during Nazi rule
  • Schutzstaffel - aka the SS, German Special Forces, included police/political/military units, along with 'Death's Head' exterminiation camp guards
  • Sturmabteilung - Stormtroopers, original political guards and terror troops from Nazi party, importance declines after Nazis take control of the state

People to Know

  • Martin Bormann- Head of the Party, private secretary to Hitler
  • Hans Frank - Governor-General of occupied Poland
  • Joseph Goebbels - Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
  • Hermann Goering - Commander of the Luftwaffe, Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan
  • Rudolf Hess - Early secretary to Hitler, flew to Scotland on 'peace mission'
  • Heinrich Himmler - Chief of German Police and SS, arguably the second most powerful man in the Reich
  • Paul von Hindenburg - Last president of Weimar Germany, national hero in WWI, office is taken over upon his death and seen as the fall of democracy in Germany
  • Franz von Papen - Former chancellor under Weimar Germany, negotiates putting Hitler into the chancellorship
  • Erwin Rommel - Nazi General, famous tactician, commander in North Africa and Normandy, monikered "The Desert Fox"
  • Albert Speer - Minister of Armaments and Munitions, also a favorite of Hitler for his architectural work
  • Karl Dönitz - German Naval Officer, head of the Kriegsmarine, and eventual successor to Hitler after Hitler's suicide in 1945

Discussion Record

Discussions will take place each week, with a topic opening on Sunday and discussion being closed on Saturday. Students will add their response underneath the question, please make statements fruitful and historically valid. At the end of the class, the last set of discussions will be on critique of student papers. More instructions will follow with each week.

  • Week 1 - This week's discussion will surround the issues involved in turning a somewhat modern democracy into a fascist dictatorship. What was the combination of factors during this time that allowed fascism to thrive instead of democracy/monarchism in places like Germany, Italy, Spain?

The single biggest factor in turning Germany from a somewhat modern democracy into a fascist state is the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty took from Germany valuable land, forces them to pay lots of money, and limited the German military to 100,000 men, putting the vast majority of Germanys fighting men out of a job.

The economic impact of this sent Germany into a major depression, which helped fuel the already strong force of communism. The military limitations lead to the rise of the Freikorps who spent their time fighting the communists. Together these two factions polarized Germany, and near anarchy ensued in Germany. With the right fighting the left, and even different factions of the left fighting the left. Fascism arises as a reaction to communism, and promised to restore Germany to its former glory. Also I think it is worth mentioning Germanys geographical position, surrounded on all sides and land locked. This makes war much more likely as a country would always like to have at least one friendly border.The biggest issues leading to the general rise of Fascism during the post World War I era were: Reactions to International Communism, transitions from monarchy’s to democracies, international depression, paramilitaries, and the rise of nationalism. Also of note is fascist propaganda. Fascism arose in Germany, Italy and Spain as a reaction to socialism, communism, or both. In all three countries the leftists are the first to take power from. the Monarchy’s. The new government is leftist but not communist. Both the radical left and right wing try to over throw the new government. While at the same time fighting each other. Along with the political chaos is the great depression, and lots unhappy former solders joining paramilitary organizations. Due to the wide spread paramilitary activity and former veteran sympathy for fascism the fascists were able to take power with out a majority of the population, sometimes taking a country by force. With the effective use of propaganda the fascists are able to stir up nationalistic sentiment, all three countries were declining empires, and their people wanted to see a restoration of the empire. -JDowney

Alright, looks like we have a discussion on our hands! Just for notice, because of the mix up..I'm giving an extra week to this first topic so that people can find the link if needed. Anyway.. I think you have a good start, however there are a few holes I would like for you to clear up with me. First, while the treaty is a huge portion of the unrest taking place in Weimar Germany, the government was making their payments with help of loans from the west. It wasn't until the great depression, that the loans dried up and put Germany on the spot - when the hyperinflation really takes off. Second, at that time, Germany was not landlocked; they did have some ports on the north coast near Denmark..however you are correct in that they were surrounded by a lot of countries that didn't really like them (excepting austria and what we now know as the Checz Republic). Your assessment of the military is accurate. Political polarization was not exactly left vs right however, as we will be covering later, the German political spectrum consisted mainly of (from left to right): KPD (communists), SPD (socialists), zentrum (Catholic center party), nationalists (we would call them neo-conservatives in today's climate), and NSDAP (nazis). During Weimar, the SPD was the main force in the government and everything was swinging around that axis. The working classes either supported the SPD or joined the KPD, while business interests and nationalists joined the right leaning parties. The zentrum (center) party was mostly concerned about religious issues and tried to ride the fence in order to protect those religious freedoms. However, once the depression breaks out, political tensions start to spike and you see the existence of the NSDAP take shape. This dynamic and agressive, nationalistic group that believes that communists and jews have forced Germany into this position of weakness and that getting rid of the unstable elements in society will make Germany better off in the long run. The vast majority of supporters in the early period are war veterans and middle class (shopkeepers, burecrats, etc) people that are tired of seeing 'their' country wasting away. Also keep in mind that most of the business interests and the military tended to side with the nationalist parties (of which Paul von Hindenburg was a part of). This is the climate where the paramilitary groups start to thrive as a means for out of work men to do something they consider meaningful. Street wars would start to take place and almost every political group had to have some sort of bodyguards around in order to stop harassment from other factions. It should be noted that so far in the history of time, the two greatest propagandists were the NSDAP and the Communist Party. Taking a look at the posters of the time, these two groups did fantastic work when it came to shifting opinions, even to the point of the Nazis just using a black poster with Hitler's name and face on it - nothing else. It was the poster that said everything and nothing, something quite powerful during it's time. --Kfitton 15:43, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

So then the factors turning Germany from a democracy to a dictatorship are: The Treaty of Versailles, class warfare and the rise of international communism, widespread paramilitary groups, the war guilt clause, and a general propensity towards a strong national government and the command economy. Another factor that I’m unsure of is the role of Catholicism, both in Germany and in other fascist regimes. The only proof that this is a factor is in that; first Catholicism is still fairly powerful in all 3 countries. It’s a political issue in all three countries; Catholicism is known to have been sympathetic to fascism. It seems the churches like the capitalists saw fascism as a better alternative to communism, and something they could control. Maybe it is better to say that the declining power of the Catholic Church is a factor in the rise of fascism and communism. For its declining influence among the masses of poor leads to the rise of communism not just in Germany but also in the entire world. Communism is usually atheistic and hence a danger to the church. The church seeing that its power is fading fast finds an ally in the fascists. They might have seen the fascists as a modern evolution of the monarchies, which they ruled as a sort of Theocratic-Oligarchy over the kings of Europe for centauries. JDowney

For the most part, you're correct...the Catholic center party (Zentrum) tended to play the fence by backing whoever was in power as long as they didn't mess with religious rights. They tended to look at the long term survival instead of 'wedge' issues of the day. During Weimar, they backed the SPD who was in control at the time...as the SPD lost power to the Nazis, the Zentrum started to shift in order to try and save their institutions from the chop. --Kfitton 23:04, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

In researching it occured to me that modern Russia shares many of the same conditions as the prefascist states of pre-WWII europe. I found a few websites that support this theory, what do you think? Downey 05:02, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Well, economically there are some similarities..but I'm not seeing the global preconditions nor the massive internal political divisions that existed in Germany during the Weimar period. I could be wrong as Russian history is not one of my areas of study, but without firm evidence I couldn't support a hypothesis that modern Russia is like Weimar Germany. --Kfitton 11:33, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Week 2 - This week the discussion is surrounded by the curiosity of why the Nazi party was so effective, what is it about the inherit structures of the party that allows such a well-coordinated response to the internal pressures of politics and the external pressures of communism and democracy?

There are I'm sure many reasons why the Nazis were so effective, despite initially weak support at the polls. First there is the romantic nationalism and the Völkisch movement. The German people were simply put, depressed. The Volkisch movement gives them some pride in the selves back and gives them some other people to blame their plight upon. Second is the structure of the party which was much like a military hierarchy. I’m not sure if this is new for a political organization. However in Germany it allows for some unique things to happen, best known being the holocaust. Like a military hierarchy everyone answers to someone higher up and follows any orders given to them from higher ups. Very important to their ability to provide a well coordinated response to internal political pressure and the external pressure of communism and democracy is that an inferior should have no guilt for following orders given by a superior. Perhaps it could be said that the Nazis mastered the art of passing the buck, which allowed ordinary people to do extraordinary and sometime terrible things with out the misgivings and guilt that normally occurs. That many party members were ex-military/current paramilitary men surely encouraged this quasi-military political structure and helped it succeed so well. Downey 01:05, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

An accurate analysis..the only part you're missing is the exceptional use of propaganda. Part of the structure of the Nazi party was a key link to producing propaganda that the public couldn't get enough of. It said everything and nothing all in the same stroke...and the disenfranchised seized upon anyone willing to be a leader in the storm. --Kfitton 23:25, 15 September 2006

What was it about the Nazi propaganda that was so powerful? Downey 07:33, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

In the history of the world, the two best propagandists were probably the Nazis and the Soviets. The range and scope to which they were willing to go in order to produce materials to influence also borders on the deranged/obsessive. This will explain a bit more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda#Nazi_Germany --Kfitton 14:28, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

In one sense, there was nothing unusual about the Nazi regime. it was the same reversion to barbarism, muderousness, mass deception and mass barbarism which has occurred throught human history. However what made it different was that it was the only case of mass concerted genocide to occur towards an entire group within a national society (as opposed to expulsion from within, or of genocide per se, but towards foreign indigenous peoples) in at least the last 150 years of modern European history. --Sm8900 22:06, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Well..just thinking off the top of my head, there is the Armenian genocide, the event in Cambodia, and the ethnic killing during Kosovo and the breakdown of Yugoslavia. Expanding further, there is the current events taking place in Africa. So taking that into account, I don't think I would have made the same claim that you have proposed, additionally, I'm a bit perplexed as your paragraph doesn't really make sense in this portion of the discussion - the effectiveness of the Nazi party. --Kfitton 00:40, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

Practically it was a combination of harnassing the German people (Gleichschaltung) together with an efficient propoganda machine. Also contributing factors are, as shown by other authors, the after effects of the treaty of Versailles, adverse economic situation. These added factors breed extremism as shown throughout history and even in our world todate. Bart 21:41, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

One thing that hasn't been touched on deeply is the role of the brownshirts. This paramilitary arm of a political party is quite divorced from modern democratic politics, where politics is seen as an intellectual rather then a physcial sport. I'm wondering if this might not have had impact on how citizens percieved the Nazi Party. Historybuff 03:40, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

The brownshirts, also known as the SA (Sturmabeiltung or Stormtroopers), originally were the bodyguards for important members and ran security for all the meetings. The closer time got to Hitler taking power, the SA turned into a terrorizing force. They would actively search out rival meetings, newspapers, and members to weaken the other political and social groups. There has to be a reminder that during this time in Germany there is economic turmoil, vast unemployment, and political pressure. Being a member of a political party was also being part of a social group. So to Germans at the time - it doesn't seem so strange that the Nazis have the SA as part of their organization, after all most of the other groups had similar (albeit usually less organized) 'soldiers' as well. --Kfitton 07:14, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

  • Week 3 - Hitler's earlier attempts to gain control of the government are much more radical than the successful political one later on. Explain to me how the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, Mein Kampf, and the eventual political rise of the Nazis are all related? As part of that, explain how Hitler used the Nationalist factions and Hindenburg to wean down the SPD during Weimar.
  • Week 4 - Explain the pattern of legalized revolution that the Nazi party adopts as the method of gaining control of the government. Once control was established, the Nazi party starts to assimilate all forms of social interaction and government institutions, why is it that there is a dual structure involved (both the party AND the state)? Are there any particular cases of groups susceptiable or resistant to this movement?
  • Week 5 - Make an argument as to whether or not the Holocaust was a singular event or just another genocide. If the argument is made for being a singular event, then describe what was inherit to the Nazi system that allowed such an event to occur. If not, then describe how it relates to other genocides throughout the world. Regardless of case, does the Holocaust as an event change the nature of the Nazi regime and how does that change history?

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