Presentation on theme: "Hitler’s Germany Kevin J. Benoy. A Totalitarian State Hitler began to establish a totalitarian state immediately upon assuming power in 1933. He was helped."— Presentation transcript:
Hitler’s Germany Kevin J. Benoy
A Totalitarian State Hitler began to establish a totalitarian state immediately upon assuming power in He was helped by having gullible conservative allies and an aging President – who would soon die in office.
A Totalitarian State Trade unions were abolished. The KPD (Communist Party) was abolished. Non-Aryans were dismissed from government jobs. Opponents and suspected opponents were harrassed.
A Totalitarian State Media were censored. The legal system now took orders from the government. – Nazis were appointed judges and Chiefs of police. – The Gestapo (Secret State Police) was ordered to identify and eliminate opponents of the Nazis. – Anyone could be arrested on mere suspicion and held in “protective custody.” – The first “concentration camp” – Dachau – was established.
A Totalitarian State Party members were slotted into government positions, so that party and state became indistinguishable. The federal system was replaced by a unitary one divided into districts controlled by Gauleiters, appointed by Hitler.
A Totalitarian State In the “Night of the Long Knives” Hitler destroyed the left wing of his own party to: – eliminate opposition within the Party. – guarantee that the army not interfere in national politics.
A Totalitarian State The aim of the Nazis was Gleichaltung – coordination or subordination of the state. All power resided in the Fuhrer (leader). Private life apart from the state was not tolerated – the motto being “what benefits the state is right.” Individuals had duties to the state, but the state was not responsible to individuals.
Youth Policy Totalitarian states understand that their hold on power relies on the unquestioning support of a fervent core of supporters. Nazi youth groups were formed to ensure a continuing supply of fanatical followers.
Youth Policy Young boys joined the Pimpfen (Little Fellows) at the age of 5 or 6. Activities included hiking, camping and physical activity – along with political indoctrination.
Youth Policy At 10, boys wrote a test, moving on to the Deutsche Jungvolk (Young Folk), if they passed. Earlier activities continued, but military discipline was stressed and each boy swore an oath to Hitler.
Youth Policy At 14, boys could join the Hitler Youth. Here, advanced military training was given.
Youth Policy Between 18 and 25, young men had to serve a year of Labour Service – in the Reichsarbeitsdiens – the RAD. After 1935, 2 years of military service was required.
Youth Policy Girls organizations began a little later in age. At 10, girls could join the Jungmadelbund (Young Maidens). They engaged in physical activities and health training.
Youth Policy Older girls, at 14, joined the Bund Deutscher Madel (League of German Maidents). Physical fitness was stressed: – They had to run 60 meters in 14 seconds, throw a ball 12 meters, march for 2 hours, swim 100 meters – and make a bed perfectly. Motherhood training was important. The duty of German girls, to Hitler, was to stay home, marry and produce offspring for the service of the state.
Youth Policy Education was carefully controlled. Biology and History were given special attention: – Biology taught the superiority of Aryans. – History taught the virtues of Nazi ideas. All lessons began and ended with a Nazi salute and “Heil Hitler.”
Youth Policy The brightest children were hand-picked to attend special “Adolf Hitler Schools” and trained to be future leaders. Though the goal was to have one such school in every Gau, the expense to the Party was prohibitive and only 10 such schools existed in 1939.
The Churches In 1937, Pope Pius XI condemned Nazism as anti-Christian. Priests and nuns who spoke out were arrested and sent to concentration camps. However, the Church could not count on the support of its own followers as Nazi ideology often took precedence over Church teachings.
Youth Policy Marches, rallies, party hikes and Nazi youth camps fostered great enthusiasm on the part of youngsters and children were encouraged to look carefully at what their elders did – reporting anything that might be considered anti-Nazi. Children were turned into informants, even against their parents.
The Churches Hitler first seemed to wish to avoid confrontation with the Churches. In 1933 he signed a Concordat (agreement) with the Roman Catholic Church, promising not to interfere in church affairs in return for the church staying out of politics. He did not honour his part of the bargain – banning the Catholic Youth League because it competed for membership with Nazi youth organizations.
The Churches The Protestant Churches, under Pastor Niemoller – once a supporter of Hitler, also resisted, with Niemoller and 800 followers arrested.
The Churches In 1935 Hitler created a Reich Ministry for Church Affairs to control the Protestant Churches. Hanns Kerrl, the Minister, was given the power to grant or withhold funds, confiscate church property, imprison ministers and issue binding orders.
Church Policy Children learned a new creed: – “Jesus freed men from sin just as Hitler saved Germany from ruin.” – And “Jesus worked for heaven while Hitler works for the German earth.” Jesus became a martyr sacrificed by the Jews and avenged by the Fuhrer.
Church Policy Raised a Catholic, Hitler did not grasp Christian ideals. Privately he said that “one is either a German or a Christian. One cannot be both” and that Christian teachings were “all the same Jewish swindle...In the end I will eradicate Christianity in Germany, root and branch.” Publicly he continued to use religious terminology in his speeches.
Jewish Policy Of all the persecuted groups in Germany, none suffered more grievously than German Jews. They were publicly accused of being at the root of almost all national problems. One of the 25 basic party policies stated “None but members of the nation may be citizens of the state. None but those of German blood may be members of the nation. No Jew, therefore, may be a member of the nation. While other policies were discarded when it suited the Fuhrer, this was never modified.
Jewish Policy In April 1933, the SA promoted a boycott of Jewish businesses and services. Customers were harassed if they entered Jewish premises.
Jewish Policy In 1935 Hitler passed the Nuremberg Laws, depriving Jews of their citizenship, voting rights, and the right to marry non-Jews. Businesses were confiscated and Jews were encouraged to leave the country – but other nations refused to accept them.
Jewish Policy In 1938 a German diplomat in Paris was murdered by a French Jew. The SS orchestrated a massive retaliation against German Jews – Kristallnacht (Crystal night) – so named because of the vast expanses of broken glass.
Jewish Policy The damage was extensive,. – 814 shops were looted. – 191 synagogues were burned down. – Officially 36 Jews were beaten to death – but the reality was worse. – 20,000 Jews were sent into “protective custody” in concentration camps.
Jewish Policy Most Germans were numbed by the event – but they accepted the increasing harassment of their neighbours without a murmur. This silence also met the persecution of Gypsies and homosexuals.
Jewish Policy Jews were barred from theatres, concerts, movies and other public performances. They could not buy jewellery or gold. They could not walk on certain streets. Finally, they were forced to wear large yellow stars to make them stand out clearly – and were banished to ghettos – the last stage before the “final solution,” which would begin in 1942.
Race Theory The Party philosopher, Rosenberg, took racial theory to absurd lengths. He argued that race was the primordial force in society – upon it language, art, beauty, progress and achievement were all based. Germans were, naturally, superior to all others. Blood and Soil together produc ed the “folk soul.” This made it blasphemous to allow German soil to be contaminated by an alien race.
Race Theory This version of Social Darwinism encouraged imperial expansion. Hitler spoke of Lebensraum, living space, at the cost of neighbouring countries. In addition, the Auslandsdeutsche (Germans living abroad), were encouraged to return to the Reich.
Life in Hitler’s Germany For those not among the scapegoats, life was increasingly comfortable. Hitler brought economic stability and relative prosperity (at a cost to the persecuted). His reduction of unemployment and creation of a strong business climate endeared him to businesses and workers.
The Economy Hitler was committed to a policy of autarky – intending that Germany become economically self-sufficient. Production targets were set by Hitler’s Minister of Economics, Hjalmar Schacht, in the 1934 Four Year Plan. Though the aim was for total self-sufficiency, the target was impossible.
The Economy It was possible for coal, iron and light metals, but not for copper and tin. Food supplies would continue to be imported. A barter trade system allowed Germany to stand outside the world currency system. The mark could be maintained at an unrealistic level and barter allowed Hitler to wage economic warfare by buying crops at artificially high prices and drawing countries into economic dependence on the Reich – as was done with Greece, Jugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria.
The Economy Unemployment was greatly reduced. – In January, 1933 it stood at 6 million. – By December, 1934 it stood at 2.6 million. – By 1937 it was 1 million. – In 1938 there was a labour shortage.
The Economy Worker loyalty was ensured by full employment and by state administered welfare and social insurance plans. Even holidays were planned by the Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy), which organized and supervised leisure activities.
Rearmament The lion’s share of funding and production in this economic rebuilding was for armaments and military related work. Hitler announced rearmament in In 1935 conscription was introduced (which reduced unemployment).
Rearmament An air force, the Luftwaffe, was openly created in In 1936 a new, powerful, warship was launched – the Graf Spee. Soon to be followed by the even more powerful Bismarck and Tirpitz.
Rearmament In 1938 the army was shaken up, with the replacement of Fritsch, the Commander –in- Chief and the War Minister. Hitler assumed the position of War Minister personally. By this time, the old high ranking leaders could no longer count on the support of those below them in a show- down with Hitler. The conscripts and junior officers – who gained rapid advancement in an era of rearmament – were, for the most part, ardent Nazis.
Rearmament By 1939 the army numbered 730,000 men, with a further 1 million reserves. Germany’s air-force had twice the numerical strength of Britain’s. In 1939, Germans spent 16 times as much on armaments as in Even autobahn (highway) construction projects had military purpose, allowing the swift deployment of troops. New synthetic oils, rubber and wool were developed (with indifferent success) to avoid the strategic weaknesses noted in World War I.