NAZI GERMANY is the common English name for the period in German
history from 1933 to 1945, when
Germany was governed by a dictatorship
under the control of
Adolf Hitler and the
Nazi Party (NSDAP). Under
Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state in
Nazi Party controlled nearly all aspects of life. The
official name of the state was _
Deutsches Reich _ from 1933 to 1943
and _Großdeutsches Reich_ ("Greater German Reich") from 1943 to 1945.
The period is also known under the names the THIRD REICH (German :
_Drittes Reich_) and the NATIONAL SOCIALIST PERIOD (German : _Zeit des
Nationalsozialismus_, abbreviated as _NS-Zeit_). The Nazi regime came
to an end after the Allied Powers defeated
Germany in May 1945, ending
World War II
World War II in Europe .
Hitler was appointed Chancellor of
Germany by the President of the
Paul von Hindenburg on 30 January 1933. The Nazi Party
then began to eliminate all political opposition and consolidate its
power. Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934, and
Hitler became dictator of
Germany by merging the powers and offices of the Chancellery and
Presidency. A national referendum held 19 August 1934 confirmed Hitler
Führer (leader) of Germany. All power was centralised in
Hitler's person, and his word became above all laws. The government
was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of factions
struggling for power and Hitler's favour. In the midst of the Great
Depression , the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass
unemployment using heavy military spending and a mixed economy .
Extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of
_Autobahnen _ (motorways). The return to economic stability boosted
the regime's popularity.
Racism, especially antisemitism , was a central feature of the
Germanic peoples (the
Nordic race ) were considered by the
Nazis to be the purest branch of the
Aryan race , and were therefore
viewed as the master race . Millions of
Jews and other peoples deemed
undesirable by the state were murdered in the
Holocaust . Opposition
to Hitler's rule was ruthlessly suppressed. Members of the liberal,
socialist, and communist opposition were killed, imprisoned, or
exiled. Christian churches were also oppressed, with many leaders
imprisoned. Education focused on racial biology , population policy,
and fitness for military service. Career and educational opportunities
for women were curtailed . Recreation and tourism were organised via
Strength Through Joy program, and the 1936 Summer Olympics
showcased the Third
Reich on the international stage. Propaganda
Joseph Goebbels made effective use of film, mass rallies, and
Hitler's hypnotic oratory to influence public opinion. The government
controlled artistic expression, promoting specific art forms and
banning or discouraging others.
Beginning in the late 1930s, Nazi
Germany made increasingly
aggressive territorial demands, threatening war if they were not met.
It seized Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939.
Hitler made a
non-aggression pact with
Joseph Stalin and invaded Poland in September
World War II
World War II in Europe. In alliance with Italy and
Axis powers ,
Germany conquered most of Europe by 1940 and
threatened Great Britain. _Reichskommissariats _ took control of
conquered areas, and a German administration was established in what
was left of Poland.
Jews and others deemed undesirable were
imprisoned, murdered in
Nazi concentration camps and extermination
camps , or shot.
Following the German invasion of the
Soviet Union in 1941, the tide
gradually turned against the Nazis, who suffered major military
defeats in 1943. Large-scale aerial bombing of
Germany escalated in
1944, and the
Axis powers were pushed back in Eastern and Southern
Europe. Following the Allied invasion of France ,
conquered by the
Soviet Union from the east and the other Allied
powers from the west and capitulated within a year. Hitler's refusal
to admit defeat led to massive destruction of German infrastructure
and additional war-related deaths in the closing months of the war.
The victorious Allies initiated a policy of denazification and put
many of the surviving Nazi leadership on trial for war crimes at the
Nuremberg trials .
* 1 Name
* 2 Background
* 3 History
Nazi seizure of power
* 3.2 Militaristic foreign policy
* 3.3 Austria and Czechoslovakia
* 3.4 Poland
World War II
World War II
* 3.5.1 Foreign policy
* 3.5.2 Outbreak of war
* 3.5.3 Conquest of Europe
* 3.5.4 Turning point and collapse
* 3.5.5 German casualties
* 4 Geography
* 4.1 Territorial changes
* 4.2 Occupied territories
* 4.3 Post-war changes
* 5 Politics
* 5.1 Ideology
* 5.2 Government
* 5.3 Law
* 5.4 Military and paramilitary
* 5.4.2 The SA and SS
* 6 Economy
* 6.2 Wartime economy and forced labour
* 7 Racial policy
* 7.1 Persecution of
* 7.2 Persecution of Roma
* 7.3 People with disabilities
* 7.5 Oppression of ethnic Poles
* 7.6 Mistreatment of Soviet POWs
* 8 Society
* 8.1 Education
* 8.2 Oppression of churches
* 8.3 Health
* 8.4 Role of women and family
* 8.5 Environmentalism
* 9 Culture
* 10 Legacy
* 11 See also
* 12 Notes
* 13 References
* 13.1 Citations
* 13.2 Bibliography
* 13.3 Historiography and memory
* 14 Further reading
* 15 External links
The official name of the state was _Deutsches Reich_ from 1933 to
1943, and _Großdeutsches Reich_ from 1943 to 1945.
Common English terms are "Nazi Germany" and "Third Reich". The
latter, adopted by Nazi propaganda, was first used in a 1923 book by
Arthur Moeller van den Bruck . The book counted the Holy Roman Empire
(962–1806) as the first
Reich and the
German Empire (1871–1918) as
the second. The Nazis used it to legitimize their regime as a
successor state. After they seized power, Nazi propaganda
retroactively referred to the
Weimar Republic as the _Zwischenreich_
Further information: Adolf Hitler\'s rise to power
The German economy suffered severe setbacks after the end of World
War I, partly because of reparations payments required under the 1919
Treaty of Versailles . The government printed money to make the
payments and to repay the country's war debt; the resulting
hyperinflation led to inflated prices for consumer goods, economic
chaos, and food riots. When the government failed to make the
reparations payments in January 1923, French troops occupied German
industrial areas along the
Ruhr . Widespread civil unrest followed.
The National Socialist German Workers\' Party (NSDAP; Nazi Party)
was the renamed successor of the German Workers\' Party founded in
1919, one of several far-right political parties active in
the time. The party platform included removal of the Weimar Republic,
rejection of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, radical
antisemitism , and anti-
Bolshevism . They promised a strong central
government, increased _
Lebensraum _ (living space) for Germanic
peoples, formation of a national community based on race, and racial
cleansing via the active suppression of
Jews , who would be stripped
of their citizenship and civil rights. The Nazis proposed national
and cultural renewal based upon the _Völkisch_ movement .
When the stock market in the United States crashed on 24 October 1929
, the effect in
Germany was dire. Millions were thrown out of work,
and several major banks collapsed.
Hitler and the NSDAP prepared to
take advantage of the emergency to gain support for their party. They
promised to strengthen the economy and provide jobs. Many voters
decided the NSDAP was capable of restoring order, quelling civil
unrest, and improving Germany's international reputation. After the
federal election of 1932 , the Nazis were the largest party in the
Reichstag , holding 230 seats with 37.4 percent of the popular vote.
History of Germany
NAZI SEIZURE OF POWER
See also: Adolf Hitler\'s rise to power
Although the Nazis won the greatest share of the popular vote in the
two Reichstag general elections of 1932, they did not have a majority,
Hitler led a short-lived coalition government formed by the NSDAP
and the German National People\'s Party . Under pressure from
politicians, industrialists, and the business community, President
Paul von Hindenburg appointed
Hitler as Chancellor of
Germany on 30
January 1933. This event is known as the _
Machtergreifung _ (seizure
of power). In the following months, the NSDAP used a process termed
Gleichschaltung _ (co-ordination) to rapidly bring all aspects of
life under control of the party. All civilian organisations,
including agricultural groups, volunteer organisations, and sports
clubs, had their leadership replaced with Nazi sympathisers or party
members. By June 1933, virtually the only organisations not in the
control of the NSDAP were the army and the churches. _ Hitler
became Germany's head of state, with the title of
Reichskanzler _, in 1934.
On the night of 27 February 1933, the Reichstag building was set
Marinus van der Lubbe , a Dutch communist, was found guilty of
starting the blaze.
Hitler proclaimed that the arson marked the start
of a communist uprising. Violent suppression of communists by the
Sturmabteilung _ (SA) was undertaken all over the country, and four
thousand members of the Communist Party of
Germany were arrested. The
Reichstag Fire Decree , imposed on 28 February 1933, rescinded most
German civil liberties, including rights of assembly and freedom of
the press. The decree also allowed the police to detain people
indefinitely without charges or a court order. The legislation was
accompanied by a propaganda blitz that led to public support for the
In March 1933, the Enabling Act , an amendment to the Weimar
Constitution , passed in the Reichstag by a vote of 444 to 94. This
Hitler and his cabinet to pass laws—even laws that
violated the constitution—without the consent of the president or
the Reichstag. As the bill required a two-thirds majority to pass,
the Nazis used the provisions of the
Reichstag Fire Decree to keep
several Social Democratic deputies from attending; the Communists had
already been banned. On 10 May the government seized the assets of
the Social Democrats; they were banned in June. The remaining
political parties were dissolved, and on 14 July 1933,
a de facto one-party state when the founding of new parties was made
illegal. Further elections in November 1933 , 1936 , and 1938 were
entirely Nazi-controlled and saw only the Nazis and a small number of
independents elected. The regional state parliaments and the
_Reichsrat _ (federal upper house) were abolished in January 1934.
The Nazi regime abolished the symbols of the Weimar Republic,
including the black, red, and gold tricolour flag , and adopted
reworked imperial symbolism. The previous imperial black, white, and
red tricolour was restored as one of Germany's two official flags; the
second was the swastika flag of the NSDAP, which became the sole
national flag in 1935. The NSDAP anthem "
Horst-Wessel-Lied " ("Horst
Wessel Song") became a second national anthem.
In this period,
Germany was still in a dire economic situation;
millions were unemployed and the balance of trade deficit was
Hitler knew that reviving the economy was vital. In 1934,
using deficit spending, public works projects were undertaken. A total
of 1.7 million
Germans were put to work on the projects in 1934 alone.
Average wages both per hour and per week began to rise.
The demands of the SA for more political and military power caused
anxiety among military, industrial, and political leaders. In
Hitler purged the entire SA leadership in the Night of the
Long Knives , which took place from 30 June to 2 July 1934. Hitler
Ernst Röhm and other SA leaders who, along with a number of
Hitler's political adversaries (such as
Gregor Strasser and former
Kurt von Schleicher ), were rounded up, arrested, and shot.
On 2 August 1934, President von Hindenburg died. The previous day,
the cabinet had enacted the "Law Concerning the Highest State Office
of the Reich", which stated that upon Hindenburg's death, the office
of president would be abolished and its powers merged with those of
Hitler thus became head of state as well as head of
government. He was formally named as _
Führer und Reichskanzler _
(leader and chancellor).
Germany was now a totalitarian state with
Hitler at its head. As head of state,
Hitler became Supreme Commander
of the armed forces. The new law altered the traditional loyalty oath
of servicemen so that they affirmed loyalty to
rather than the office of supreme commander or the state. On 19
August, the merger of the presidency with the chancellorship was
approved by 90 percent of the electorate in a plebiscite .
Joseph Goebbels ,
Reich Minister of
Germans were relieved that the conflicts and street fighting of
the Weimar era had ended. They were deluged with propaganda
Joseph Goebbels , who promised peace and plenty for
all in a united, Marxist-free country without the constraints of the
Versailles Treaty. The first major Nazi concentration camp ,
initially for political prisoners, was opened at Dachau in 1933.
Hundreds of camps of varying size and function were created by the end
of the war. Upon seizing power, the Nazis took repressive measures
against their political opposition and rapidly began the comprehensive
marginalisation of persons they considered socially undesirable. Under
the guise of combating the Communist threat, the National Socialists
secured immense power. Above all, their campaign against
Germany gained momentum.
Beginning in April 1933, scores of measures defining the status of
Jews and their rights were instituted at the regional and national
level. Initiatives and legal mandates against the
Jews reached their
culmination with the establishment of the
Nuremberg Laws of 1935,
stripping them of their basic rights. The Nazis would take from the
Jews their wealth, their right to intermarry with non-Jews, and their
right to occupy many fields of labour (such as practising law,
medicine, or working as educators). They eventually declared them
undesirable to remain among German citizens and society, which over
time dehumanised the Jews; arguably, these actions desensitised
Germans to the extent that it resulted in the
Holocaust . Ethnic
Germans who refused to ostracise
Jews or who showed any signs of
Nazi propaganda were placed under surveillance by the
Gestapo , had their rights removed, or were sent to concentration
camps. Everyone and everything was monitored in Nazi Germany.
Inaugurating and legitimising power for the Nazis was thus
accomplished by their initial revolutionary activities, then through
the improvisation and manipulation of the legal mechanisms available,
through the use of police powers by the
Nazi Party (which allowed them
to include and exclude from society whomever they chose), and finally
by the expansion of authority for all state and federal institutions.
MILITARISTIC FOREIGN POLICY
International relations (1919–1939) See also:
Remilitarization of the Rhineland and German involvement in the
Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
As early as February 1933,
Hitler announced that rearmament must be
undertaken, albeit clandestinely at first, as to do so was in
violation of the Versailles Treaty. A year later he told his military
leaders that 1942 was the target date for going to war in the east.
Germany out of the
League of Nations in 1933, claiming its
disarmament clauses were unfair, as they applied only to Germany. The
Saarland , which had been placed under
League of Nations supervision
for 15 years at the end of World War I, voted in January 1935 to
become part of Germany. In March 1935
Hitler announced that the
Reichswehr _ would be increased to 550,000 men and that he was
creating an air force. Britain agreed that the
Germans would be
allowed to build a naval fleet with the signing of the Anglo-German
Naval Agreement on 18 June 1935.
When the Italian invasion of Ethiopia led to only mild protests by
the British and French governments, on 7 March 1936
Hitler used the
Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance as a pretext to order the
Wehrmacht Heer_ ground forces to march 3,000 troops into the
demilitarised zone in the
Rhineland in violation of the Versailles
Treaty. As the territory was part of Germany, the British and French
governments did not feel that attempting to enforce the treaty was
worth the risk of war. In the one-party election held on 29 March,
the NSDAP received 98.9 percent support. In 1936
Hitler signed an
Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan and a non-aggression agreement with the
Fascist Italy of
Benito Mussolini , who was soon referring to a
Hitler sent air and armoured units to assist General Francisco Franco
and his Nationalist forces in the
Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War , which broke out
in July 1936. The
Soviet Union sent a smaller force to assist the
Republican government . Franco's Nationalists were victorious in 1939
and became an informal ally of Nazi Germany.
AUSTRIA AND CZECHOSLOVAKIA
German occupation of Czechoslovakia
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia Ethnic
Germans in Saaz , Czechoslovakia, greet German soldiers with the Nazi
salute , 1938
In February 1938,
Hitler emphasised to Austrian Chancellor Kurt
Schuschnigg the need for
Germany to secure its frontiers. Schuschnigg
scheduled a plebiscite regarding Austrian independence for 13 March,
Hitler demanded that it be cancelled. On 11 March,
Hitler sent an
ultimatum to Schuschnigg demanding that he hand over all power to the
Austrian NSDAP or face an invasion. The _Wehrmacht_ entered Austria
the next day, to be greeted with enthusiasm by the populace.
Republic of Czechoslovakia was home to a substantial minority of
Germans, who lived mostly in the
Sudetenland . Under pressure from
separatist groups within the
Sudeten German Party
Sudeten German Party , the Czechoslovak
government offered economic concessions to the region.
to incorporate not just the
Sudetenland but the whole of
Czechoslovakia into the Reich. The Nazis undertook a propaganda
campaign to try to drum up support for an invasion. Top leaders of
the armed forces were not in favour of the plan, as
Germany was not
yet ready for war. The crisis led to war preparations by the British,
the Czechoslovaks, and France (Czechoslovakia's ally). Attempting to
avoid war, British Prime Minister
Neville Chamberlain arranged a
series of meetings, the result of which was the
Munich Agreement ,
signed on 29 September 1938. The Czechoslovak government was forced to
accept the Sudetenland's annexation into Germany. Chamberlain was
greeted with cheers when he landed in
London bringing, he said, "peace
for our time." The agreement lasted six months before
the rest of Czech territory in March 1939. A puppet state was created
in Slovakia .
Austrian and Czech foreign exchange reserves were soon seized by the
Nazis, as were stockpiles of raw materials such as metals and
completed goods such as weaponry and aircraft, which were shipped back
to Germany. The _
Reichswerke Hermann Göring _ industrial conglomerate
took control of steel and coal production facilities in both
In January 1934
Germany signed a non-aggression pact with Poland,
which disrupted the French network of anti-German alliances in Eastern
Europe. In March 1939,
Hitler demanded the return of the Free City of
Danzig and the
Polish Corridor , a strip of land that separated East
Prussia from the rest of Germany. The British announced they would
come to the aid of Poland if it was attacked. Hitler, believing the
British would not actually take action, ordered an invasion plan
should be readied for a target date of September 1939. On 23 May he
described to his generals his overall plan of not only seizing the
Polish Corridor but greatly expanding German territory eastward at the
expense of Poland. He expected this time they would be met by force.
Germans reaffirmed their alliance with Italy and signed
non-aggression pacts with Denmark, Estonia, and Latvia. Trade links
were formalised with Romania, Norway, and Sweden. Hitler's foreign
Joachim von Ribbentrop , arranged in negotiations with the
Soviet Union a non-aggression pact, the
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact ,
which was signed in August 1939. The treaty also contained secret
protocols dividing Poland and the Baltic states into German and Soviet
spheres of influence.
WORLD WAR II
Further information: Diplomatic history of
World War II
World War II §
Germany's foreign policy during the war involved the creation of
allied governments under direct or indirect control from Berlin. A
main goal was obtaining soldiers from the senior allies, such as Italy
and Hungary, and millions of workers and ample food supplies from
subservient allies such as
Vichy France . By the fall of 1942, there
were 24 divisions from
Romania on the Eastern Front, 10 from Italy,
and 10 from Hungary. When a country was no longer dependable, Germany
assumed full control, as it did with France in 1942, Italy in 1943,
and Hungary in 1944. Although Japan was an official powerful ally, the
relationship was distant and there was little co-ordination or
co-operation. For example,
Germany refused to share their formula for
synthetic oil from coal until late in the war.
Outbreak Of War
Animated map showing German and Axis allies' conquests in Europe
throughout World War II. (Click through to the full-size image to view
the animated version.)
Germany and her allies, at the height of
Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. Britain and France
declared war on
Germany two days later.
World War II
World War II was under way.
Poland fell quickly, as the
Soviet Union attacked from the east on 17
Reinhard Heydrich , then head of the Gestapo, ordered on
21 September that
Jews should be rounded up and concentrated into
cities with good rail links. Initially the intention was to deport the
Jews to points further east, or possibly to Madagascar . Using lists
prepared ahead of time, some 65,000 Polish intelligentsia, noblemen,
clergy, and teachers were killed by the end of 1939 in an attempt to
destroy Poland's identity as a nation. The Soviet forces continued
to attack, advancing into Finland in the
Winter War , and German
forces were involved in action at sea. But little other activity
occurred until May, so the period became known as the "
Phoney War ".
From the start of the war, a British blockade on shipments to Germany
Reich economy. The
Germans were particularly dependent on
foreign supplies of oil, coal, and grain. To safeguard Swedish iron
ore shipments to Germany,
Hitler ordered an attack on Norway , which
took place on 9 April 1940. Much of the country was occupied by German
troops by the end of April. Also on 9 April, the
Germans invaded and
occupied Denmark .
Conquest Of Europe
Against the judgement of many of his senior military officers, Hitler
ordered an attack on France and the
Low Countries , which began in May
1940. They quickly conquered
Luxembourg , the Netherlands , and
Belgium , and France surrendered on 22 June. The unexpectedly swift
defeat of France resulted in an upswing in Hitler's popularity and a
strong upsurge in war fever.
In spite of the provisions of the Hague Convention , industrial firms
in the Netherlands, France, and Belgium were put to work producing war
materiel for the occupying German military. Officials viewed this
option as being preferable to their citizens being deported to the
Reich as forced labour.
The Nazis seized from the French thousands of locomotives and rolling
stock, stockpiles of weapons, and raw materials such as copper, tin,
oil, and nickel. Financial demands were levied on the governments of
the occupied countries as well; payments for occupation costs were
received from France, Belgium, and Norway. Barriers to trade led to
hoarding, black markets, and uncertainty about the future. Food
supplies were precarious; production dropped in most areas of Europe,
but not as much as during World War I. Greece experienced famine in
the first year of occupation and the Netherlands in the last year of
Hitler made peace overtures to the new British leader, Winston
Churchill , and upon their rejection he ordered a series of aerial
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force airbases and radar stations. However, the
Luftwaffe failed to defeat the
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force in what became
known as the
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain . By the end of October, Hitler
realised the necessary air superiority for his planned invasion of
Britain could not be achieved, and he ordered nightly air raids on
British cities, including London,
Plymouth , and
In February 1941, the German _
Afrika Korps _ arrived in Libya to aid
the Italians in the
North African Campaign and attempt to contain
Commonwealth forces stationed in Egypt. On 6 April,
the invasion of Yugoslavia and the battle of Greece . German efforts
to secure oil included negotiating a supply from their new ally,
Romania , who signed the
Tripartite Pact in November 1940.
German soldiers march near the
Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe in Paris, 14 June 1940
On 22 June 1941, contravening the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, 5.5
million Axis troops attacked the Soviet Union. In addition to Hitler's
stated purpose of acquiring _Lebensraum_, this large-scale offensive
Operation Barbarossa ) was intended to destroy the Soviet
Union and seize its natural resources for subsequent aggression
against the Western powers. The reaction among
Germans was one of
surprise and trepidation. Many were concerned about how much longer
the war would drag on or suspected that
Germany could not win a war
fought on two fronts. German
Panzer IV in
Thessaloniki . The
banner on the building in the background reads "
Bolshevism is the
greatest enemy of our civilization".
The invasion conquered a huge area, including the Baltic republics,
Belarus , and West
Ukraine . After the successful Battle of Smolensk ,
Army Group Centre to halt its advance to Moscow and
temporarily divert its Panzer groups to aid in the encirclement of
Kiev . This pause provided the
Red Army with an
opportunity to mobilise fresh reserves. The Moscow offensive, which
resumed in October 1941, ended disastrously in December . On 7
December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor , Hawaii. Four days later,
Germany declared war on the United States.
Food was in short supply in the conquered areas of the Soviet Union
and Poland, with rations inadequate to meet nutritional needs. The
retreating armies had burned the crops, and much of the remainder was
sent back to the Reich. In
Germany itself, food rations had to be cut
in 1942. In his role as
Plenipotentiary of the
Four Year Plan ,
Hermann Göring demanded increased shipments of grain from France and
fish from Norway. The 1942 harvest was a good one, and food supplies
remained adequate in Western Europe.
Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce was an organisation set up to loot
artwork and cultural material from Jewish collections, libraries, and
museums throughout Europe. Some 26,000 railroad cars full of art
treasures, furniture, and other looted items were sent back to Germany
from France alone. In addition, soldiers looted or purchased goods
such as produce and clothing—items which were becoming harder to
obtain in Germany—for shipment back home.
Turning Point And Collapse
Death and destruction during the
Battle of Stalingrad . October
Germany, and Europe as a whole, was almost totally dependent on
foreign oil imports. In an attempt to resolve the persistent
Germany launched _Fall Blau_ (
Case Blue ), an offensive
against the Caucasian oilfields, in June 1942. The
Red Army launched
a counter-offensive on 19 November and encircled the Axis forces, who
were trapped in Stalingrad on 23 November. Göring assured Hitler
that the 6th Army could be supplied by air, but this turned out to be
infeasible. Hitler's refusal to allow a retreat led to the deaths of
200,000 German and Romanian soldiers; of the 91,000 men who
surrendered in the city on 31 January 1943, only 6,000 survivors
Germany after the war. Soviet forces continued to push
the invaders westward after the failed German offensive at the Battle
of Kursk , and by the end of 1943, the
Germans had lost most of their
territorial gains in the east.
In Egypt, Field Marshal
Erwin Rommel 's _Afrika Korps_ were defeated
by British forces under Field Marshal
Bernard Montgomery in October
1942. The Allies landed in Sicily in July 1943, and in Italy in
September. Meanwhile, American and British bomber fleets, based in
Britain, began operations against
Germany . In an effort to destroy
German morale, many sorties were intentionally given civilian targets.
Soon German aircraft production could not keep pace with losses, and
without air cover, the Allied bombing campaign became even more
devastating. By targeting oil refineries and factories, they crippled
the German war effort by late 1944.
On 6 June 1944, American, British, and Canadian forces established a
western front with the D-Day landings in
Normandy . On 20 July 1944,
Hitler narrowly survived a bomb attack . He ordered savage reprisals,
resulting in 7,000 arrests and the execution of more than 4,900
people. The failed
Ardennes Offensive (16 December 1944 – 25
January 1945) was the last major German campaign of the war. Soviet
Germany on 27 January. Hitler's refusal to admit
defeat and his repeated insistence that the war be fought to the last
man led to unnecessary death and destruction in the closing months of
the war. Through his Justice Minister,
Otto Georg Thierack , he
ordered that anyone who was not prepared to fight should be summarily
court-martialed. Thousands of people were put to death. In many
areas, people looked for ways to surrender to the approaching Allies,
in spite of exhortations of local leaders to continue the struggle.
Hitler also ordered the intentional destruction of transport, bridges,
industries, and other infrastructure—a scorched earth decree—but
Albert Speer was able to keep this order from being
fully carried out. Play media US Air Force film of the
destruction in central
Berlin in July 1945
During the Battle of
Berlin (16 April 1945 – 2 May 1945), Hitler
and his staff lived in the underground _
Führerbunker _, while the Red
Army approached. On 30 April, when Soviet troops were one or two
blocks away from the
Reich Chancellery ,
Hitler and Eva Braun
committed suicide in the _Führerbunker_. On 2 May General Helmuth
Weidling unconditionally surrendered
Berlin to Soviet General Vasily
Hitler was succeeded by Grand Admiral
Karl Dönitz as Reich
President and Goebbels as
Reich Chancellor. Goebbels and his wife
Magda committed suicide the next day, after murdering their six
children . On 4–8 May 1945 most of the remaining German armed
forces surrendered unconditionally. The German Instrument of Surrender
was signed 8 May, marking the end of the Nazi regime and the end of
World War II
World War II in Europe . Main article: Mass suicides in 1945 Nazi
Suicide rates in
Germany increased as the war drew to a close,
particularly in areas where the
Red Army was advancing. More than a
thousand people (out of a population of around 16,000) committed
suicide in Demmin on and around 1 May 1945 as the 65th Army of 2nd
Belorussian Front first broke into a distillery and then rampaged
through the town, committing mass rapes, arbitrarily executing
civilians, and setting fire to buildings. High numbers of suicides
took place in many other locations, including
dead), Stolp in Pommern (1,000 dead), and Berlin, where at least
7,057 people committed suicide in 1945.
World War II
World War II casualties and German casualties in
World War II
World War II German refugees in Bedburg, near
Kleve . 19
Estimates of the total German war dead range from 5.5 to 6.9 million
persons. A study by German historian Rüdiger Overmans puts the
number of German military dead and missing at 5.3 million, including
900,000 men conscripted from outside of Germany's 1937 borders, in
Austria, and in east-central Europe. Overy estimated in 2014 that in
all about 353,000 civilians were killed by British and American
bombing of German cities. An additional 20,000 died in the land
campaign. Some 22,000 citizens died during the Battle of Berlin.
Other civilian deaths include 300,000
Germans (including Jews) who
were victims of Nazi political, racial, and religious persecution,
and 200,000 who were murdered in the Nazi euthanasia program.
Political courts called _Sondergerichte _ sentenced some 12,000
members of the
German resistance to death, and civil courts sentenced
an additional 40,000 Germans. Mass rapes of German women also took
At the end of the war, Europe had more than 40 million refugees ,
its economy had collapsed, and 70 percent of its industrial
infrastructure was destroyed. Between twelve and fourteen million
Germans fled or were expelled from east-central Europe to
Germany. During the
Cold War , the
West German government estimated a
death toll of 2.2 million civilians due to the flight and expulsion of
Germans and through forced labour in the
Soviet Union . This figure
remained unchallenged until the 1990s, when some historians put the
death toll at 500,000–600,000 confirmed deaths. In 2006 the
German government reaffirmed its position that 2.0–2.5 million
Main article: Territorial evolution of
Germany from 1933 to 1943. Red: 1933
As a result of their defeat in World War I and the resulting Treaty
Northern Schleswig , and
Memel . The Saarland temporarily became a protectorate of France,
under the condition that its residents would later decide by
referendum which country to join. Poland became a separate nation and
was given access to the sea by the creation of the Polish Corridor,
which separated Prussia from the rest of Germany. Danzig was made a
Germany regained control of the Saarland through a referendum held in
1935 and annexed Austria in the
Anschluss of 1938. The Munich
Agreement of 1938 gave
Germany control of the Sudetenland, and they
seized the remainder of Czechoslovakia six months later. Under threat
of invasion by sea,
Lithuania surrendered the Memel district in March
Between 1939 and 1941, German forces invaded Poland , France ,
Luxembourg , the Netherlands , Belgium , and the
Soviet Union .
South Tyrol , and
Istria were ceded to
Germany by Mussolini
in 1943. Two puppet districts were set up in the area, the
Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral and the Operational Zone of
the Alpine Foothills .
Under the cover of anti-partisan operations , the Germans
murdered civilians in 5,295 different localities in occupied Soviet
Some of the conquered territories were immediately incorporated into
Germany as part of Hitler's long-term goal of creating a Greater
Reich . Several areas, such as Alsace-Lorraine, were placed
under the authority of an adjacent _Gau _ (regional district). Beyond
the territories incorporated into
Germany were the
_Reichskommissariate _ (
Reich Commissariats), quasi-colonial regimes
established in a number of occupied countries. Areas placed under
German administration included the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
Reichskommissariat Ostland _ (encompassing the Baltic states and
Belarus), and _
Ukraine _. Conquered areas of
Belgium and France were placed under control of the Military
Administration in Belgium and Northern France . Belgian Eupen-Malmedy
, which had been part of German until 1919, was annexed directly. Part
of Poland was immediately incorporated into the Reich, and the General
Government was established in occupied central Poland. Hitler
intended to eventually incorporate many of these areas into the Reich.
The governments of Denmark, Norway (_
Reichskommissariat Norwegen _),
and the Netherlands (_
Reichskommissariat Niederlande _) were placed
under civilian administrations staffed largely by natives.
With the issuance of the
Berlin Declaration on 5 June 1945 and later
creation of the
Allied Control Council
Allied Control Council , the four Allied powers
temporarily assumed governance of Germany. At the Potsdam Conference
in August 1945, the Allies arranged for the Allied occupation and
denazification of the country.
Germany was split into four zones, each
occupied by one of the Allied powers, who drew reparations from their
zone. Since most of the industrial areas were in the western zones,
Soviet Union was transferred additional reparations. The Allied
Control Council disestablished Prussia on 20 May 1947. Aid to Germany
began arriving from the United States under the
Marshall Plan in 1948.
The occupation lasted until 1949, when the countries of East Germany
Germany were created.
Germany finalised her border with
Poland by signing the
Treaty of Warsaw (1970) .
divided until 1990, when the Allies renounced all claims to German
territory with the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to
Germany , under which
Germany also renounced claims to territories
lost during World War II.
Heinrich Himmler , Hitler, and
Viktor Lutze perform the Nazi
salute at the
Nuremberg Rally , September 1934
The NSDAP was a far-right political party which came into its own
during the social and financial upheavals that occurred with the onset
Great Depression in 1929. While in prison after the failed
Beer Hall Putsch of 1923,
Hitler wrote _
Mein Kampf _, which laid out
his plan for transforming German society into one based on race. The
Nazism brought together elements of antisemitism, racial
hygiene , and eugenics , and combined them with pan-Germanism and
territorial expansionism with the goal of obtaining more _Lebensraum_
for the Germanic people. The regime attempted to obtain this new
territory by attacking Poland and the Soviet Union, intending to
deport or kill the
Slavs living there, who were viewed as
being inferior to the Aryan master race and part of a Jewish Bolshevik
conspiracy. The Nazi regime believed that only
Germany could defeat
the forces of
Bolshevism and save humanity from world domination by
International Jewry . Others deemed life unworthy of life by the
Nazis included the mentally and physically disabled,
Romani people ,
homosexuals , Jehovah\'s Witnesses , and social misfits.
Influenced by the _Völkisch_ movement, the regime was against
cultural modernism and supported the development of an extensive
military at the expense of intellectualism. Creativity and art were
stifled, except where they could serve as propaganda media. The party
used symbols such as the Blood Flag and rituals such as the Nazi Party
rallies to foster unity and bolster the regime's popularity.
See also: Government of Nazi
Germany Hitler, Göring, Goebbels,
Rudolf Hess during a military parade in 1933
Reichsstatthalter _ decrees between 1933 and 1935
effectively abolished the existing _Länder_ (constituent states ) of
Germany and replaced them with new administrative divisions , the
_Gaue_, headed by NSDAP leaders (_Gauleiters _), who effectively
became the governor of their respective regions. The change was never
fully implemented, as the Länder were still used as administrative
divisions for some government departments such as education. This led
to a bureaucratic tangle of overlapping jurisdictions and
responsibilities typical of the administrative style of the Nazi
Jewish civil servants lost their jobs in 1933, except for those who
had seen military service in World War I. Members of the NSDAP or
party supporters were appointed in their place. As part of the
process of _Gleichschaltung_, the
Reich Local Government Law of 1935
abolished local elections. From that point forward, mayors were
appointed by the Ministry of the Interior.
Germany autocratically by asserting the _Führerprinzip
_ (leader principle), which called for absolute obedience of all
subordinates. He viewed the government structure as a pyramid, with
himself—the infallible leader—at the apex. Rank in the party was
not determined by elections; positions were filled through appointment
by those of higher rank. The party used propaganda to develop a cult
of personality around Hitler. Historians such as Kershaw emphasise
the psychological impact of Hitler's skill as an orator. Kressel
writes, "Overwhelmingly ...
Germans speak with mystification of
Hitler's 'hypnotic' appeal". Roger Gill states, "His moving speeches
captured the minds and hearts of a vast number of the German people:
he virtually hypnotized his audiences."
Top officials reported to
Hitler and followed his policies, but they
had considerable autonomy. Officials were expected to "work towards
the Führer" – to take the initiative in promoting policies and
actions in line with his wishes and the goals of the NSDAP, without
Hitler having to be involved in the day-to-day running of the country.
The government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but rather a
disorganised collection of factions led by members of the party elite
who struggled to amass power and gain the Führer's favour. Hitler's
leadership style was to give contradictory orders to his subordinates
and to place them in positions where their duties and responsibilities
overlapped. In this way he fostered distrust, competition, and
infighting among his subordinates to consolidate and maximise his own
Further information: Law of
Germany Chart showing the
pseudo-scientific racial divisions used in the racial policies of Nazi
Germany A meeting of the four jurists who imposed Nazi ideology
on the legal system of Germany. From left to right:
Roland Freisler ,
Franz Schlegelberger ,
Otto Georg Thierack , and
Curt Rothenberger .
On 20 August 1934, civil servants were required to swear an oath of
unconditional obedience to Hitler; a similar oath had been required of
members of the military several weeks prior. This law became the basis
of the _Führerprinzip_, the concept that Hitler's word overrode all
existing laws. Any acts that were sanctioned by Hitler—even
murder—thus became legal. All legislation proposed by cabinet
ministers had to be approved by the office of Deputy
Hess , who also had a veto over top civil service appointments.
Most of the judicial system and legal codes of the Weimar Republic
remained in use during and after the Nazi era to deal with
non-political crimes. The courts issued and carried out far more
death sentences than before the Nazis took power. People who were
convicted of three or more offences—even petty ones—could be
deemed habitual offenders and jailed indefinitely. People such as
prostitutes and pickpockets were judged to be inherently criminal and
a threat to the racial community. Thousands were arrested and confined
indefinitely without trial.
Although the regular courts handled political cases and even issued
death sentences for these cases, a new type of court, the
Volksgerichtshof _ (People's Court), was established in 1934 to deal
with politically important matters. This court handed out over 5,000
death sentences until its dissolution in 1945. The death penalty
could be issued for offences such as being a communist, printing
seditious leaflets, or even making jokes about
Hitler or other top
party officials. Nazi
Germany employed three types of capital
punishment; hanging, decapitation, and death by shooting. The Gestapo
was in charge of investigative policing to enforce National Socialist
ideology. They located and confined political offenders, Jews, and
others deemed undesirable. Political offenders who were released from
prison were often immediately re-arrested by the
Gestapo and confined
in a concentration camp.
In September 1935 the
Nuremberg Laws were enacted. These laws
initially prohibited sexual relations and marriages between Aryans and
Jews and were later extended to include "Gypsies, Negroes or their
bastard offspring". The law also forbade the employment of German
women under the age of 45 as domestic servants in Jewish households.
Reich Citizenship Law stated that only those of "German or related
blood" were eligible for citizenship. At the same time the Nazis used
propaganda to promulgate the concept of _
Rassenschande _ (race
defilement) to justify the need for a restrictive law. Thus
other non-Aryans were stripped of their German citizenship. The
wording of the law also potentially allowed the Nazis to deny
citizenship to anyone who was not supportive enough of the regime. A
supplementary decree issued in November defined as Jewish anyone with
three Jewish grandparents, or two grandparents if the Jewish faith was
MILITARY AND PARAMILITARY
German Army (Wehrmacht)
_ A column of tanks and other armoured vehicles of the
Panzerwaffe _ near Stalingrad , 1942
The unified armed forces of
Germany from 1935 to 1945 were called the
Wehrmacht . This included the _Heer _ (army), _
Kriegsmarine _ (navy),
and the _
Luftwaffe _ (air force). From 2 August 1934, members of the
armed forces were required to pledge an oath of unconditional
Hitler personally. In contrast to the previous oath,
which required allegiance to the constitution of the country and its
lawful establishments, this new oath required members of the military
Hitler even if they were being ordered to do something
Hitler decreed that the army would have to tolerate and even
offer logistical support to the _
Einsatzgruppen _—the mobile death
squads responsible for millions of deaths in Eastern Europe—when it
was tactically possible to do so. Members of the _Wehrmacht_ also
participated directly in the
Holocaust by shooting civilians or
undertaking genocide under the guise of anti-partisan operations. The
party line was that the
Jews were the instigators of the partisan
struggle, and therefore needed to be eliminated. On 8 July 1941,
Heydrich announced that all
Jews were to be regarded as partisans, and
gave the order for all male
Jews between the ages of 15 and 45 to be
In spite of efforts to prepare the country militarily, the economy
could not sustain a lengthy war of attrition such as had occurred in
World War I. A strategy was developed based on the tactic of
Blitzkrieg _ (lightning war), which involved using quick coordinated
assaults that avoided enemy strong points. Attacks began with
artillery bombardment, followed by bombing and strafing runs. Next the
tanks would attack and finally the infantry would move in to secure
any ground that had been taken. Victories continued through mid-1940,
but the failure to defeat Britain was the first major turning point in
the war. The decision to attack the
Soviet Union and the decisive
defeat at Stalingrad led to the retreat of the German armies and the
eventual loss of the war. The total number of soldiers who served in
the _Wehrmacht_ from 1935 to 1945 was around 18.2 million, of whom 5.3
The SA And SS
Sturmabteilung _ (SA; Storm Detachment; Brownshirts), founded in
1921, was the first paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party. Their initial
assignment was to protect Nazi leaders at rallies and assemblies.
They also took part in street battles against the forces of rival
political parties and violent actions against
Jews and others. By
Ernst Röhm 's leadership, the SA had grown to over half a
million members—4.5 million including reserves—at a time when the
regular army was still limited to 100,000 men by the Versailles
Röhm hoped to assume command of the army and absorb it into the
ranks of the SA. Hindenburg and Defence Minister Werner von Blomberg
threatened to impose martial law if the alarming activities of the SA
were not curtailed.
Hitler also suspected that Röhm was plotting to
depose him, so he ordered the deaths of Röhm and other political
enemies. Up to 200 people were killed from 30 June to 2 July 1934 in
an event that became known as the
Night of the Long Knives . After
this purge the SA was no longer a major force. Members of the SA
enforce the boycott of Jewish stores . 1 April 1933
Initially a force of a dozen men under the auspices of the SA, the
Schutzstaffel _ (SS) grew to become one of the largest and most
powerful groups in Nazi Germany. Led by _
Reichsführer-SS _ Heinrich
Himmler from 1929, the SS had over a quarter million members by 1938
and continued to grow. Himmler envisioned the SS as being an elite
group of guards, Hitler's last line of defence. The _
Waffen-SS _, the
military branch of the SS, became a de facto fourth branch of the
In 1931 Himmler organised an SS intelligence service which became
known as the _
Sicherheitsdienst _ (SD; Security Service) under his
Obergruppenführer _ Reinhard Heydrich. This organisation
was tasked with locating and arresting communists and other political
opponents. Himmler hoped it would eventually totally replace the
existing police system. Himmler also established the beginnings of a
parallel economy under the auspices of the SS Economy and
Administration Head Office. This holding company owned housing
corporations, factories, and publishing houses.
From 1935 forward the SS was heavily involved in the persecution of
Jews, who were rounded up into ghettos and concentration camps. With
the outbreak of World War II, SS units called _
followed the army into Poland and the Soviet Union, where from 1941 to
1945 they killed more than two million people, including 1.3 million
Jews. The _
SS-Totenkopfverbände _ (death's head units) were in
charge of the concentration camps and extermination camps , where
millions more were killed.
Main article: Economy of Nazi
The most pressing economic matter the Nazis initially faced was the
30 percent national unemployment rate. Economist Dr. Hjalmar Schacht
, President of the
Reichsbank and Minister of Economics, created in
May 1933 a scheme for deficit financing. Capital projects were paid
for with the issuance of promissory notes called
Mefo bills . When the
notes were presented for payment, the
Reichsbank printed money to do
so. While the national debt soared,
Hitler and his economic team
expected that the upcoming territorial expansion would provide the
means of repaying the debt. Schacht's administration achieved a rapid
decline in the unemployment rate, the largest of any country during
the Great Depression.
On 17 October 1933, aviation pioneer
Hugo Junkers , owner of the
Junkers Aircraft Works , was arrested. Within a few days his company
was expropriated by the regime. In concert with other aircraft
manufacturers and under the direction of Aviation Minister Göring,
production was immediately ramped up industry-wide. From a workforce
of 3,200 people producing 100 units per year in 1932, the industry
grew to employ a quarter of a million workers manufacturing over
10,000 technically advanced aircraft per year less than ten years
IG Farben synthetic oil plant under construction at Buna
Werke (1941). This plant was part of the complex at Auschwitz
concentration camp .
An elaborate bureaucracy was created to regulate German imports of
raw materials and finished goods with the intention of eliminating
foreign competition in the German marketplace and improving the
nation's balance of payments . The Nazis encouraged the development of
synthetic replacements for materials such as oil and textiles. As the
market was experiencing a glut and prices for petroleum were low, in
1933 the Nazi government made a profit-sharing agreement with IG
Farben , guaranteeing them a 5 percent return on capital invested in
their synthetic oil plant at
Leuna . Any profits in excess of that
amount would be turned over to the Reich. By 1936, Farben regretted
making the deal, as the excess profits by then being generated had to
be given to the government.
Major public works projects financed with deficit spending included
the construction of a network of _Autobahns _ and providing funding
for programmes initiated by the previous government for housing and
agricultural improvements. To stimulate the construction industry,
credit was offered to private businesses and subsidies were made
available for home purchases and repairs. On the condition that the
wife would leave the workforce, a loan of up to 1,000 Reichsmarks
could be accessed by young couples of Aryan descent who intended to
marry. The amount that had to be repaid was reduced by 25 percent for
each child born. The caveat that the woman had to remain unemployed
was dropped by 1937 due to a shortage of skilled labourers. _
Autobahn _, late 1930s
Hitler envisioned widespread car ownership as part of the new
Germany. He arranged for designer
Ferdinand Porsche to draw up plans
for the _KdF-wagen_ (
Strength Through Joy car), intended to be an
automobile that every German citizen could afford. A prototype was
displayed at the
International Motor Show in
Berlin on 17 February
1939. With the outbreak of World War II, the factory was converted to
produce military vehicles. No production models were sold until after
the war, when the vehicle was renamed the Volkswagen (people's car).
Six million people were unemployed when the Nazis took power in 1933,
and by 1937 there were fewer than a million. This was in part due to
the removal of women from the workforce. Real wages dropped by 25
percent between 1933 and 1938. Trade unions were abolished in May
1933 with the seizure of the funds and arrest of the leadership of the
Social Democratic trade unions. A new organisation, the German Labour
Front , was created and placed under NSDAP functionary
Robert Ley .
The average German worked 43 hours a week in 1933, and by 1939 this
increased to 47 hours a week.
By early 1934 the focus shifted away from funding work creation
schemes and toward rearmament. By 1935, military expenditures
accounted for 73 percent of the government's purchases of goods and
services. On 18 October 1936
Hitler named Göring as Plenipotentiary
of the Four Year Plan, intended to speed up the rearmament programme.
In addition to calling for the rapid construction of steel mills,
synthetic rubber plants, and other factories, Göring instituted wage
and price controls and restricted the issuance of stock dividends .
Large expenditures were made on rearmament, in spite of growing
deficits. With the introduction of compulsory military service in
1935, the _Reichswehr_, which had been limited to 100,000 by the terms
of the Versailles Treaty, expanded to 750,000 on active service at the
start of World War II, with a million more in the reserve. By January
1939, unemployment was down to 301,800, and it dropped to only 77,500
WARTIME ECONOMY AND FORCED LABOUR
Further information: Forced labour under German rule during World War
II _ Woman with
OST-Arbeiter _ badge at the
IG Farben plant in
Auschwitz concentration camp
The Nazi war economy was a mixed economy that combined a free market
with central planning; historian
Richard Overy described it as being
somewhere in between the command economy of the
Soviet Union and the
capitalist system of the United States.
In 1942, after the death of Armaments Minister
Fritz Todt , Hitler
Albert Speer as his replacement. Speer improved production
via streamlined organisation, the use of single-purpose machines
operated by unskilled workers, rationalisation of production methods,
and better co-ordination between the many different firms that made
tens of thousands of components. Factories were relocated away from
rail yards, which were bombing targets. By 1944, the war was
consuming 75 percent of Germany's gross domestic product , compared to
60 percent in the
Soviet Union and 55 percent in Britain.
The wartime economy relied heavily upon the large-scale employment of
Germany imported and enslaved some 12 million people
from 20 European countries to work in factories and on farms;
approximately 75 percent were Eastern European. Many were casualties
of Allied bombing, as they received poor air raid protection. Poor
living conditions led to high rates of sickness, injury, and death, as
well as sabotage and criminal activity. The wartime economy also
relied upon large-scale robbery, initially through the state seizing
the property of Jewish citizens, and later by also plundering the
resources of occupied territories.
Foreign workers brought into
Germany were put into four different
classifications; guest workers, military internees, civilian workers,
and Eastern workers. Different regulations were placed upon the worker
depending on their classification. To separate
Germans and foreign
workers, the Nazis issued a ban on sexual relations between Germans
and foreign workers.
Women played an increasingly large role. By 1944 over a half million
served as auxiliaries in the German armed forces, especially in
anti-aircraft units of the Luftwaffe; a half million worked in civil
aerial defence; and 400,000 were volunteer nurses. They also replaced
men in the wartime economy, especially on farms and in small
Very heavy strategic bombing by the Allies targeted refineries
producing synthetic oil and gasoline as well as the German
transportation system, especially rail yards and canals. The
armaments industry began to break down by September 1944. By November
fuel coal was no longer reaching its destinations, and the production
of new armaments was no longer possible. Overy argues that the
bombing strained the German war economy and forced it to divert up to
one-fourth of its manpower and industry into anti-aircraft resources,
which very likely shortened the war.
Nazism and race and Racial policy of Nazi
Racism and antisemitism were basic tenets of the NSDAP and the Nazi
regime. Nazi Germany's racial policy was based on their belief in the
existence of a superior master race . The Nazis postulated the
existence of a racial conflict between the Aryan master race and
inferior races, particularly Jews, who were viewed as a mixed race
that had infiltrated society and were responsible for the exploitation
and repression of the Aryan race.
PERSECUTION OF JEWS
Further information: Anti-Jewish legislation in prewar Nazi
Jews began immediately after the seizure of
power; following a month-long series of attacks by members of the SA
on Jewish businesses, synagogues, and members of the legal profession,
on 1 April 1933
Hitler declared a national boycott of Jewish
businesses . The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil
Service , passed on 7 April, forced all non-Aryan civil servants to
retire from the legal profession and civil service. Similar
legislation soon deprived Jewish members of other professions of their
right to practise. On 11 April a decree was promulgated that stated
anyone who had even one Jewish parent or grandparent was considered
non-Aryan. As part of the drive to remove Jewish influence from
cultural life, members of the National Socialist Student League
removed from libraries any books considered un-German, and a
nationwide book burning was held on 10 May.
Violence and economic pressure were used by the regime to encourage
Jews to voluntarily leave the country. Jewish businesses were denied
access to markets, forbidden to advertise in newspapers, and deprived
of access to government contracts. Citizens were harassed and
subjected to violent attacks. Many towns posted signs forbidding
entry to Jews. _ Damage caused during
Kristallnacht _. 9 November
In November 1938, a young Jewish man requested an interview with the
German ambassador in Paris. He met with a legation secretary, whom he
shot and killed to protest his family's treatment in Germany. This
incident provided the pretext for a pogrom the NSDAP incited against
Jews on 9 November 1938. Members of the SA damaged or destroyed
synagogues and Jewish property throughout Germany. At least 91 German
Jews were killed during this pogrom, later called _
the Night of Broken Glass. Further restrictions were imposed on Jews
in the coming months – they were forbidden to own businesses or work
in retail shops, drive cars, go to the cinema, visit the library, or
own weapons. Jewish pupils were removed from schools. The Jewish
community was fined one billion marks to pay for the damage caused by
_Kristallnacht_ and told that any money received via insurance claims
would be confiscated. By 1939 around 250,000 of Germany's 437,000
Jews emigrated to the United States, Argentina, Great Britain,
Palestine, and other countries. Many chose to stay in continental
Europe. Emigrants to Palestine were allowed to transfer property there
under the terms of the
Haavara Agreement , but those moving to other
countries had to leave virtually all their property behind, and it was
seized by the government.
PERSECUTION OF ROMA
Like the Jews, the
Romani people were subjected to persecution from
the early days of the regime. As a non-Aryan race, they were forbidden
to marry people of German extraction. Romani were shipped to
concentration camps starting in 1935 and were killed in large numbers.
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Action T4 was a programme of systematic murder of the physically and
mentally handicapped and patients in psychiatric hospitals that mainly
took place from 1939 to 1941 and continued until the end of the war.
Initially the victims were shot by the _Einsatzgruppen_ and others; in
addition gas chambers and gas vans using carbon monoxide were used by
early 1940. Under the provisions of a law promulgated 14 July 1933,
the Nazi regime carried out the compulsory sterilisation of over
400,000 individuals labelled as having hereditary defects. More than
half the people sterilised were those considered mentally deficient,
which included not only people who scored poorly on intelligence
tests, but those who deviated from expected standards of behaviour
regarding thrift, sexual behaviour, and cleanliness. Mentally and
physically ill people were also targeted. The majority of the victims
came from disadvantaged groups such as prostitutes, the poor, the
homeless, and criminals. Other groups persecuted and killed included
Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, social misfits, and members of the
political and religious opposition .
The Holocaust Crematorium at Auschwitz I
Germany's war in the East was based on Hitler's long-standing view
Jews were the great enemy of the German people and that
_Lebensraum_ was needed for Germany's expansion.
Hitler focused his
attention on Eastern Europe, aiming to defeat Poland, the Soviet Union
and remove or kill the resident
Slavs in the process. After
the occupation of Poland, all
Jews living in the General Government
were confined to ghettos , and those who were physically fit were
required to perform compulsory labour. In 1941
Hitler decided to
destroy the Polish nation completely. He planned that within 10 to 20
years the section of Poland under German occupation would be cleared
of ethnic Poles and resettled by German colonists. About 3.8 to 4
million Poles would remain as slaves, part of a slave labour force of
14 million the Nazis intended to create using citizens of conquered
nations in the East.
Generalplan Ost _ (General Plan for the East) called for
deporting the population of occupied Eastern Europe and the Soviet
Union to Siberia, for use as slave labour or to be murdered. To
determine who should be killed, Himmler created the _
Volksliste _, a
system of classification of people deemed to be of German blood. He
ordered that those of Germanic descent who refused to be classified as
Germans should be deported to concentration camps, have their
children taken away, or be assigned to forced labour. The plan also
included the kidnapping of children deemed to have Aryan-Nordic
traits, who were presumed to be of German descent. The goal was to
implement _Generalplan Ost_ after the conquest of the Soviet Union,
but when the invasion failed,
Hitler had to consider other options.
One suggestion was a mass forced deportation of
Jews to Poland,
Palestine, or Madagascar. A wagon piled high with corpses
outside the crematorium in the
Buchenwald concentration camp newly
liberated by US Army, 1945
Somewhere around the time of the failed offensive against Moscow in
Hitler resolved that the
Jews of Europe were to be
exterminated immediately. Plans for the total eradication of the
Jewish population of Europe—eleven million people—were formalised
Wannsee Conference on 20 January 1942. Some would be worked to
death and the rest would be killed in the implementation of _Die
Endlösung der Judenfrage_ (the
Final Solution of the Jewish question
). Initially the victims were killed with gas vans or by
_Einsatzgruppen_ firing squads, but these methods proved impracticable
for an operation of this scale. By 1941, killing centres at Auschwitz
concentration camp , Sobibor ,
Treblinka , and other Nazi
extermination camps replaced _Einsatzgruppen_ as the primary method of
mass killing. The total number of
Jews murdered during the war is
estimated at 5.5 to six million people, including over a million
children. Twelve million people were put into forced labour.
German citizens (despite much of the later denial) had access to
information about what was happening, as soldiers returning from the
occupied territories would report on what they had seen and done.
Evans states that most German citizens disapproved of the genocide.
Some Polish citizens tried to rescue or hide the remaining Jews, and
members of the Polish underground got word to their government in
London as to what was happening.
In addition to eliminating Jews, the Nazis also planned to reduce the
population of the conquered territories by 30 million people through
starvation in an action called the
Hunger Plan . Food supplies would
be diverted to the German army and German civilians. Cities would be
razed and the land allowed to return to forest or resettled by German
colonists. Together, the
Hunger Plan and _Generalplan Ost_ would have
led to the starvation of 80 million people in the Soviet Union. These
partially fulfilled plans resulted in the democidal deaths of an
estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war.
OPPRESSION OF ETHNIC POLES
Nazi crimes against the Polish nation
Execution of Polish citizens in
Bochnia , during the German occupation
of Poland , 18 December 1939
Poles were viewed by Nazis as subhuman non-Aryans. During the German
occupation of Poland , 2.7 million ethnic Poles were killed by the
Nazis. Polish civilians were subject to forced labour in German
industry , internment , wholesale expulsions to make way for German
colonists and mass executions . The German authorities engaged in a
systematic effort to destroy Polish culture and national identity.
AB-Aktion , many university professors and members of
the Polish intelligentsia were arrested and executed, or transported
to concentration camps. During the war, Poland lost an estimated 39 to
45 percent of its physicians and dentists, 26 to 57 percent of its
lawyers, 15 to 30 percent of its teachers, 30 to 40 percent of its
scientists and university professors, and 18 to 28 percent of its
MISTREATMENT OF SOVIET POWS
Further information: German mistreatment of Soviet prisoners of war
Generalplan Ost Naked Soviet prisoners of war in
Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp
During the war between June 1941 and January 1942, the Nazis killed
an estimated 2.8 million Soviet prisoners of war. Many starved to
death while being held in open-air pens at Auschwitz and elsewhere.
Soviet Union lost 27 million people during the war; less than nine
million of these were combat deaths. One in four of the population
were killed or wounded.
Further information: University education in Nazi
Nazi book burning on 10 May 1933 in Berlin. Books by Jewish and
leftist authors were burned.
Antisemitic legislation passed in 1933 led to the removal all of
Jewish teachers, professors, and officials from the education system.
Most teachers were required to belong to the _Nationalsozialistischer
National Socialist Teachers League ; NSLB), and
university professors were required to join the National Socialist
German Lecturers . Teachers had to take an oath of loyalty and
obedience to Hitler, and those who failed to show sufficient
conformity to party ideals were often reported by students or fellow
teachers and dismissed. Lack of funding for salaries led to many
teachers leaving the profession. The average class size increased from
37 in 1927 to 43 in 1938 due to the resulting teacher shortage.
Frequent and often contradictory directives were issued by Reich
Minister of the Interior
Wilhelm Frick ,
Bernhard Rust of the
Reichserziehungsministerium _ (Ministry of Education), and various
other agencies regarding content of lessons and acceptable textbooks
for use in primary and secondary schools. Books deemed unacceptable
to the regime were removed from school libraries. Indoctrination in
National Socialist thought was made compulsory in January 1934.
Students selected as future members of the party elite were
indoctrinated from the age of 12 at
Adolf Hitler Schools for primary
National Political Institutes of Education for secondary
education. Detailed National Socialist indoctrination of future
holders of elite military rank was undertaken at Order Castles .
Nazi salute in school (1934). Children were indoctrinated at an
Primary and secondary education focused on racial biology, population
policy, culture, geography, and especially physical fitness. The
curriculum in most subjects, including biology, geography, and even
arithmetic, was altered to change the focus to race. Military
education became the central component of physical education, and
education in physics was oriented toward subjects with military
applications, such as ballistics and aerodynamics. Students were
required to watch all films prepared by the school division of the
Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda .
At universities, appointments to top posts were the subject of power
struggles between the education ministry, the university boards, and
the National Socialist German Students\' League . In spite of
pressure from the League and various government ministries, most
university professors did not make changes to their lectures or
syllabus during the Nazi period. This was especially true of
universities located in predominately Catholic regions. Enrolment at
German universities declined from 104,000 students in 1931 to 41,000
in 1939. But enrolment in medical schools rose sharply; Jewish doctors
had been forced to leave the profession, so medical graduates had good
job prospects. From 1934, university students were required to attend
frequent and time-consuming military training sessions run by the SA.
First-year students also had to serve six months in a labour camp for
Reichsarbeitsdienst _ (National Labour Service); an additional
ten weeks service were required of second-year students.
OPPRESSION OF CHURCHES
Kirchenkampf See also: Religion in Nazi
When the Nazis seized power in 1933, 67 percent of the population of
Protestant , 33 percent was
Roman Catholic , while Jews
made up less than 1 percent. According to 1939 census, 54 percent
considered themselves Protestant, 40 percent Roman Catholic, 3.5
Gottgläubig _ (God-believing; a Nazi religious movement),
and 1.5 percent nonreligious .
Under the _
Gleichschaltung _ process,
Hitler attempted to create a
Reich Church from Germany's 28 existing Protestant
state churches , with the ultimate goal of eradication of the
churches in Germany.
Ludwig Müller , a pro-Nazi, was installed as
Reich Bishop, and the
German Christians , a pro-Nazi pressure group,
gained control of the new church. They objected to the Old Testament
because of its Jewish origins, and demanded that converted
barred from their church. Pastor
Martin Niemöller responded with the
formation of the
Confessing Church , from which some clergymen opposed
the Nazi regime. When in 1935 the
Confessing Church synod protested
the Nazi policy on religion, 700 of their pastors were arrested.
Müller resigned and
Hanns Kerrl as Minister for
Church Affairs, to continue efforts to control Protestantism. In
Confessing Church envoy protested to
Hitler against the
religious persecutions and human rights abuses. Hundreds more pastors
were arrested. The church continued to resist, and by early 1937
Hitler abandoned his hope of uniting the
Protestant churches. The
Confessing Church was banned on 1 July 1937. Niemöller was arrested
and confined, first in
Sachsenhausen concentration camp and then at
Dachau. Theological universities were closed and more pastors and
theologians were arrested. Prisoner barracks at Dachau
Concentration Camp , where the Nazis established a dedicated clergy
barracks for clerical opponents of the regime in 1940
Persecution of the Catholic Church in
Germany followed the Nazi
Hitler moved quickly to eliminate political Catholicism ,
rounding up functionaries of the Catholic-aligned Bavarian People\'s
Catholic Centre Party , which, along with all other non-Nazi
political parties, ceased to exist by July. The _
Reich Concordat) treaty with the Vatican was signed in 1933, amid
continuing harassment of the church in Germany. The treaty required
the regime to honour the independence of Catholic institutions and
prohibited clergy from involvement in politics.
disregarded the Concordat, closing all Catholic institutions whose
functions were not strictly religious. Clergy, nuns, and lay leaders
were targeted, with thousands of arrests over the ensuing years, often
on trumped-up charges of currency smuggling or immorality. Several
high-profile Catholic lay leaders were targeted in the 1934 Night of
the Long Knives assassinations. Most Catholic youth groups refused
to dissolve themselves and
Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach
encouraged members to attack Catholic boys in the streets. Propaganda
campaigns claimed the church was corrupt, restrictions were placed on
public meetings, and Catholic publications faced censorship. Catholic
schools were required to reduce religious instruction and crucifixes
were removed from state buildings.
Pope Pius XI had the _"
Mit brennender Sorge "_ ("With Burning
Concern") Encyclical smuggled into
Passion Sunday 1937 and
read from every pulpit. It denounced the systematic hostility of the
regime toward the church. In response, Goebbels renewed the regime's
crackdown and propaganda against Catholics. Enrolment in
denominational schools dropped sharply, and by 1939 all such schools
were disbanded or converted to public facilities. Later Catholic
protests included the 22 March 1942 pastoral letter by the German
bishops on "The Struggle against Christianity and the Church". About
30 percent of Catholic priests were disciplined by police during the
Nazi era. A vast security network spied on the activities of clergy,
and priests were frequently denounced, arrested, or sent to
concentration camps – many to the dedicated clergy barracks at
Dachau. In the areas of Poland annexed in 1939 , the Nazis instigated
a brutal suppression and systematic dismantling of the Catholic
Statues representing the ideal body were erected in the streets
Berlin for the
1936 Summer Olympics .
Germany had a strong anti-tobacco movement . Pioneering research
by Franz H. Müller in 1939 demonstrated a causal link between tobacco
smoking and lung cancer. The
Reich Health Office took measures to try
to limit smoking, including producing lectures and pamphlets. Smoking
was banned in many workplaces, on trains, and among on-duty members of
the military. Government agencies also worked to control other
carcinogenic substances such as asbestos and pesticides. As part of a
general public health campaign, water supplies were cleaned up, lead
and mercury were removed from consumer products, and women were urged
to undergo regular screenings for breast cancer.
Government-run health care insurance plans were available, but Jews
were denied coverage starting in 1933. That same year, Jewish doctors
were forbidden to treat government-insured patients. In 1937 Jewish
doctors were forbidden to treat non-Jewish patients, and in 1938 their
right to practice medicine was removed entirely.
Medical experiments, many of them pseudoscientific , were performed
on concentration camp inmates beginning in 1941. The most notorious
doctor to perform medical experiments was SS-_
Hauptsturmführer _ Dr
Josef Mengele , camp doctor at Auschwitz. Many of his victims died or
were intentionally killed. Concentration camp inmates were made
available for purchase by pharmaceutical companies for drug testing
and other experiments.
ROLE OF WOMEN AND FAMILY
Further information: Women in Nazi
Women were a cornerstone of Nazi social policy. The Nazis opposed the
feminist movement, claiming that it was the creation of Jewish
intellectuals, and instead advocated a patriarchal society in which
the German woman would recognise that her "world is her husband, her
family, her children, and her home." Soon after the seizure of power,
feminist groups were shut down or incorporated into the National
Socialist Women\'s League . This organisation coordinated groups
throughout the country to promote motherhood and household activities.
Courses were offered on childrearing, sewing, and cooking. The League
published the _
NS-Frauen-Warte _, the only NSDAP-approved women's
magazine in Nazi Germany. Despite some propaganda aspects, it was
predominantly an ordinary woman's magazine.
Women were encouraged to leave the workforce, and the creation of
large families by racially suitable women was promoted through a
propaganda campaign. Women received a bronze award—known as the
_Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter_ (Cross of Honour of the German
Mother )—for giving birth to four children, silver for six, and gold
for eight or more. Large families received subsidies to help with
their utilities, school fees, and household expenses. Though the
measures led to increases in the birth rate, the number of families
having four or more children declined by five percent between 1935 and
1940. Removing women from the workforce did not have the intended
effect of freeing up jobs for men. Women were for the most part
employed as domestic servants, weavers, or in the food and drink
industries—jobs that were not of interest to men. Nazi philosophy
prevented large numbers of women from being hired to work in munitions
factories in the build-up to the war, so foreign labourers were
brought in. After the war started, slave labourers were extensively
used. In January 1943
Hitler signed a decree requiring all women
under the age of fifty to report for work assignments to help the war
effort. Thereafter, women were funnelled into agricultural and
industrial jobs. By September 1944, 14.9 million women were working in
munitions production. _ Young women of the Bund Deutscher Mädel_
League of German Girls ) practising gymnastics in 1941
The Nazi regime discouraged women from seeking higher education. Nazi
leaders held conservative views about women and endorsed the idea that
rational and theoretical work was alien to a woman's nature since they
were considered inherently emotional and instinctive – as such,
engaging in academics and careerism would only "divert them from
motherhood." The number of women allowed to enroll in universities
dropped drastically, as a law passed in April 1933 limited the number
of females admitted to university to ten percent of the number of male
attendees. Female enrolment in secondary schools dropped from 437,000
in 1926 to 205,000 in 1937. The number of women enrolled in
post-secondary schools dropped from 128,000 in 1933 to 51,000 in 1938.
However, with the requirement that men be enlisted into the armed
forces during the war, women comprised half of the enrolment in the
post-secondary system by 1944.
Women were expected to be strong, healthy, and vital. The sturdy
peasant woman who worked the land and bore strong children was
considered ideal, and athletic women were praised for being tanned
from working outdoors. Organisations were created for the
indoctrination of Nazi values. From 25 March 1939, membership in the
Hitler Youth became compulsory for all children over the age of ten.
Jungmädelbund _ (Young Girls League) section of the
was for girls age 10 to 14, and the _Bund Deutscher Mädel_ (BDM;
League of German Girls ) was for young women age 14 to 18. The BDM's
activities focused on physical education, with activities such as
running, long jumping, somersaulting, tightrope walking, marching, and
The Nazi regime promoted a liberal code of conduct regarding sexual
matters, and was sympathetic to women who bore children out of
wedlock. Promiscuity increased as the war progressed, with unmarried
soldiers often intimately involved with several women simultaneously.
The same was the case for married women, who liaised with soldiers,
civilians, or slave labourers. Sex was sometimes used as a commodity
to obtain, for example, better work from a foreign labourer.
Pamphlets enjoined German women to avoid sexual relations with foreign
workers as a danger to their blood.
With Hitler's approval, Himmler intended that the new society of the
Nazi regime should de-stigmatise illegitimate births, particularly of
children fathered by members of the SS, who were vetted for racial
purity. His hope was that each SS family would have between four and
six children. The _
Lebensborn _ (Fountain of Life) association,
founded by Himmler in 1935, created a series of maternity homes where
single mothers could be accommodated during their pregnancies. Both
parents were examined for racial suitability before acceptance. The
resulting children were often adopted into SS families. The homes
were also made available to the wives of SS and NSDAP members, who
quickly filled over half the available spots.
Existing laws banning abortion except for medical reasons were
strictly enforced by the Nazi regime. The number of abortions declined
from 35,000 per year at the start of the 1930s to fewer than 2,000 per
year at the end of the decade. In 1935 a law was passed allowing
abortions for eugenics reasons.
Main article: Animal welfare in Nazi
Nazi society had elements supportive of animal rights, and many
people were fond of zoos and wildlife. The government took several
measures to ensure the protection of animals and the environment. In
1933, the Nazis enacted a stringent animal-protection law that
affected what was allowed for medical research. But the law was only
loosely enforced. In spite of a ban on vivisection, the Ministry of
the Interior readily handed out permits for experiments on animals.
Reich Forestry Office, under Göring, enforced regulations that
required foresters to plant a wide variety of trees to ensure suitable
habitat for wildlife. A new
Reich Animal Protection Act became law in
1933. The regime enacted the
Reich Nature Protection Act in 1935 to
protect the natural landscape from excessive economic development. The
act allowed for the expropriation of privately owned land to create
nature preserves and aided in long-range planning. Perfunctory
efforts were made to curb air pollution, but little enforcement of
existing legislation was undertaken once the war began.
The regime promoted the concept of _
Volksgemeinschaft _, a national
German ethnic community. The goal was to build a classless society
based on racial purity and the perceived need to prepare for warfare,
conquest, and a struggle against Marxism. The German Labour Front
founded the _Kraft durch Freude_ (KdF; Strength Through Joy)
organisation in 1933. In addition to taking control of tens of
thousands of previously privately run recreational clubs, it offered
highly regimented holidays and entertainment such as cruises, vacation
destinations, and concerts.
Reichskulturkammer _ (
Reich Chamber of Culture) was organised
under the control of the
Propaganda Ministry in September 1933.
Sub-chambers were set up to control aspects of cultural life such as
film, radio, newspapers, fine arts, music, theatre, and literature.
Members of these professions were required to join their respective
Jews and people considered politically unreliable were
prevented from working in the arts, and many emigrated. Books and
scripts had to be approved by the
Propaganda Ministry prior to
publication. Standards deteriorated as the regime sought to use
cultural outlets exclusively as propaganda media.
Radio became popular in
Germany during the 1930s, with over 70
percent of households owning a receiver by 1939, more than any other
country. Radio station staffs were purged of leftists and others
deemed undesirable by July 1933.
Propaganda and speeches were typical
radio fare immediately after the seizure of power, but as time went on
Goebbels insisted that more music be played so that listeners would
not turn to foreign broadcasters for entertainment. See also: List of
authors banned in Nazi
Germany _ Plans for
Berlin called for the
Volkshalle _ (People's Hall) and a triumphal arch to be built at
either end of a wide boulevard.
As with other media, newspapers were controlled by the state, with
Reich Press Chamber shutting down or buying newspapers and
publishing houses. By 1939 over two thirds of the newspapers and
magazines were directly owned by the
Propaganda Ministry. The NSDAP
daily newspaper, the _
Völkischer Beobachter _ (Ethnic Observer), was
Alfred Rosenberg , author of _The Myth of the Twentieth
Century _, a book of racial theories espousing Nordic superiority.
Goebbels controlled the wire services and insisted that all newspapers
Germany only publish content favourable to the regime. His
propaganda ministry issued two dozen directives every week on exactly
what news should be published and what angles to use; the typical
newspaper followed the directives closely. Newspaper readership
plummeted, partly because of the decreased quality of the content, and
partly because of the surge in popularity of radio.
Authors of books left the country in droves, and some wrote material
critical of the regime while in exile. Goebbels recommended that the
remaining authors concentrate on books themed on Germanic myths and
the concept of blood and soil . By the end of 1933 over a thousand
books, most of them by Jewish authors or featuring Jewish characters,
had been banned by the Nazi regime. Main article:
Hitler took a personal interest in architecture, and worked closely
with state architects
Paul Troost and
Albert Speer to create public
buildings in a neoclassical style based on
Roman architecture .
Speer constructed imposing structures such as the Nazi party rally
Nuremberg and a new
Reich Chancellery building in Berlin.
Hitler's plans for rebuilding
Berlin included a gigantic dome based on
the Pantheon in Rome and a triumphal arch more than double the height
Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Neither structure was built. Main
article: Art of the Third
Hitler's belief that abstract ,
Dadaist , expressionist , and modern
art were decadent became the basis for policy. Many art museum
directors lost their posts in 1933 and were replaced by party members.
Some 6,500 modern works of art were removed from museums and replaced
with works chosen by a Nazi jury. Exhibitions of the rejected pieces,
under titles such as "Decadence in Art", were launched in sixteen
different cities by 1935. The
Degenerate Art Exhibition , organised by
Goebbels, ran in
Munich from July to November 1937. The exhibition
proved wildly popular, attracting over two million visitors.
Richard Strauss was appointed president of the
Reichsmusikkammer _ (
Reich Music Chamber) on its founding in November
1933. As was the case with other art forms, the Nazis ostracised
musicians who were deemed racially unacceptable, and for the most part
disapproved of music that was too modern or atonal .
considered especially inappropriate, and foreign jazz musicians left
the country or were expelled.
Hitler favoured the music of Richard
Wagner , especially pieces based on Germanic myths and heroic stories,
and attended the
Bayreuth Festival each year from 1933. Main article:
Nazism and cinema
Leni Riefenstahl (behind cameraman) at the
1936 Summer Olympics
Movies were popular in
Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, with
admissions of over a billion people in 1942, 1943, and 1944. By 1934
German regulations restricting currency exports made it impossible for
American film makers to take their profits back to America, so the
major film studios closed their German branches. Exports of German
films plummeted, as their antisemitic content made them impossible to
show in other countries. The two largest film companies, Universum
Film AG and Tobis , were purchased by the
Propaganda Ministry, which
by 1939 was producing most German films. The productions were not
always overtly propagandistic, but generally had a political subtext
and followed party lines regarding themes and content. Scripts were
Leni Riefenstahl 's _
Triumph of the Will _ (1935), documenting the
Nuremberg Rally, and _Olympia _ (1938), covering the 1936 Summer
Olympics , pioneered techniques of camera movement and editing that
influenced later films. New techniques such as telephoto lenses and
cameras mounted on tracks were employed. Both films remain
controversial, as their aesthetic merit is inseparable from their
propagandising of National Socialist ideals.
Main article: Consequences of
Nazism Defendants in the dock at
The Allied powers organised war crimes trials, beginning with the
Nuremberg trials , held from November 1945 to October 1946, of 23 top
Nazi officials. They were charged with four counts—conspiracy to
commit crimes, crimes against peace, war crimes , and crimes against
humanity —in violation of international laws governing warfare. All
but three of the defendants were found guilty; twelve were sentenced
to death. The victorious Allies outlawed the NSDAP and its subsidiary
organisations. The display or use of
Nazi symbolism such as flags,
swastikas , or greetings, is illegal in
Germany and Austria, and
other restrictions, mainly on public display, apply in various
Swastika § Post–
World War II
World War II stigmatization for
Nazi ideology and the actions taken by the regime are almost
universally regarded as gravely immoral. Hitler, Nazism, and the
Holocaust have become symbols of evil in the modern world. Interest
Germany continues in the media and the academic world.
Richard J. Evans remarks that the era "exerts an almost
universal appeal because its murderous racism stands as a warning to
the whole of humanity."
The Nazi era continues to inform how
Germans view themselves and
their country. Virtually every family suffered losses during the war
or has a story to tell. For many years
Germans kept quiet about their
experiences and felt a sense of communal guilt, even if they were not
directly involved in war crimes. Once study of Nazi
introduced into the school curriculum starting in the 1970s, people
began researching the experiences of their family members. Study of
the era and a willingness to critically examine its mistakes has led
to the development of a strong democracy in today's Germany, but with
lingering undercurrents of antisemitism and neo-Nazi thought.
* Catholic resistance to Nazi
* Collaboration with the Axis Powers during
World War II
World War II
* German Resistance to
Glossary of German military terms
* Glossary of Nazi
* List of books about Nazi
* List of books by or about
* List of German field marshals#Nazi
* List of
Nazi Party leaders and officials
Nazi rule over the Danube River
* Orders, decorations, and medals of Nazi
Reich Chancellery meeting of 12 December 1941
Sino-German cooperation until 1941
* ^ Including de facto annexed/incorporated territories .
* ^ The office formally became vacant on Hitler's death. His titles
Führer und Reichskanzler from August 1934. See Gesetz über das
Staatsoberhaupt 1934 .
* ^ 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 Polish Corridor—its area
was 633,786 square kilometres (244,706 sq mi). See Statistisches
Jahrbuch 2006 .
* ^ "Die Bevölkerung des Deutschen Reichs nach den Ergebnissen der
Berlin 1941." (2).
* ^ The party's name in German was _Nationalsozialistische Deutsche
* ^ On 29 November 2006 State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of
Christoph Bergner said the reason the statistics do not
match is because Haar only includes people who were directly killed.
The figure of 2 to 2.5 million also includes people who died of
disease, hunger, cold, air raids, and other causes. Koldehoff 2006 .
German Red Cross still maintains that the death toll from the
expulsions is 2.2 million. Kammerer -webkit-column-width: 20em;
column-width: 20em; list-style-type: decimal;">
* ^ Lauryssens 1999 , p. 102.
* ^ Evans 2003 , p. 103–108.
* ^ Evans 2003 , pp. 186–187.
* ^ Evans 2003 , pp. 170–171.
* ^ Goldhagen 1996 , p. 85.
* ^ Evans 2003 , pp. 179–180.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Kershaw 2008 , p. 81.
* ^ Shirer 1960 , pp. 136–137.
* ^ Goldhagen 1996 , p. 87.
* ^ Evans 2003 , pp. 293, 302.
* ^ Shirer 1960 , pp. 183–184.
* ^ McNab 2009 , p. 14.
* ^ Evans 2005 , p. 14.
* ^ Evans 2003 , pp. 329–334.
* ^ Evans 2003 , p. 354.
* ^ Evans 2003 , p. 351.
* ^ Shirer 1960 , p. 196.
* ^ Evans 2003 , p. 336.
* ^ Evans 2003 , pp. 358–359.
* ^ Shirer 1960 , p. 201.
* ^ Evans 2005 , pp. 109, 637.
* ^ Evans 2005 , p. 109.
* ^ Cuomo 1995 , p. 231.
* ^ _A_ _B_ McNab 2009 , p. 54.
* ^ McNab 2009 , p. 56.
* ^ Kershaw 2008 , pp. 309–314.
* ^ Evans 2005 , pp. 31–34.
* ^ Overy 2005 , p. 63.
* ^ Shirer 1960 , pp. 226–227.
* ^ Kershaw 2008 , p. 317.
* ^ Shirer 1960 , p. 230.
* ^ Kershaw 2001 , pp. 50–59.
* ^ Evans 2003 , p. 344.
* ^ Evans 2008 , map, p. 366.
* ^ Walk 1996 , pp. 1–128.
* ^ Friedländer 2009 , pp. 44–53.
* ^ Fritzsche 2008 , pp. 76–142.
* ^ Hildebrand 1984 , pp. 20–21.
* ^ Evans 2005 , pp. 338–339.
* ^ Evans 2005 , p. 618.
* ^ Evans 2005 , p. 623.
* ^ Kitchen 2006 , p. 271.
* ^ Evans 2005 , p. 629.
* ^ Evans 2005 , pp. 633.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Evans 2005 , pp. 632–637.
* ^ Evans 2005 , p. 641.
* ^ Steiner 2011 , pp. 181–251.
* ^ Evans 2005 , pp. 646–652.
* ^ Evans 2005 , p. 667.
* ^ Kershaw 2008 , p. 417.
* ^ Kershaw 2008 , p. 419.
* ^ Evans 2005 , pp. 668–669.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Evans 2005 , pp. 671–674.
* ^ Evans 2005 , p. 683.
* ^ Beevor 2012 , p. 24.
* ^ Mazower 2008 , pp. 264–265.
* ^ Weinberg 2010 , p. 60.
* ^ Evans 2005 , pp. 689–690.
* ^ Kershaw 2008 , p. 486.
* ^ Evans 2005 , p. 691.
* ^ Kershaw 2008 , p. 496.
* ^ Snyder 2010 , p. 116.
* ^ Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, 1939 .
* ^ Mazower 2008 , chapter 9.
* ^ Weinberg 2005 , p. 414.
* ^ Martin 2005 , p. 279–80.
* ^ Beevor 2012 , pp. 22, 27–28.
* ^ Beevor 2012 , p. 32.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , pp. 148–149.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , p. 144.
* ^ Evans 2008 , p. 15.
* ^ Beevor 2012 , p. 40.
* ^ Mazower 2008 , p. 260.
* ^ Beevor 2012 , pp. 73–76.
* ^ Evans 2005 , p. 120.
* ^ Beevor 2012 , pp. 70–71, 79.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Shirer 1960 , pp. 696–730.
* ^ Kershaw 2008 , p. 562.
* ^ Mazower 2008 , p. 265.
* ^ Evans 2008 , pp. 333–334.
* ^ Mazower 2008 , p. 271.
* ^ Mazower 2008 , pp. 272, 279.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Mazower 2008 , p. 262.
* ^ Shirer 1960 , pp. 774–782.
* ^ Kershaw 2008 , pp. 563, 569, 570.
* ^ Evans 2008 , p. 149.
* ^ Evans 2008 , p. 153.
* ^ Evans 2008 , p. 151.
* ^ Kershaw 2008 , p. 584.
* ^ Evans 2008 , pp. 160–161.
* ^ Evans 2008 , pp. 189–190.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Stolfi 1982 .
* ^ Shirer 1960 , pp. 900–901.
* ^ Evans 2008 , p. 43.
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