Saturday, 27 July 2013

Hitler and rise of Nazism


Nazism and the Rise of Hitler

The Allied Powers -The UK, France, the then USSR and USA

 Axis Powers- Germany, Italy and Japan.

Central powers- Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey (Ottoman Empire)

Genocidal war

1.      Killing of a selected racial group by the other. Under the shadow of the Second World War, Germany had waged a genocidal war against Jews.
2.      The number of people killed included 6 million Jews, 200,000 Gypsies, 1 million Polish civilians, 70,000  Germans  who  were  considered  mentally  and  physically disabled,  besides  innumerable  political  opponents.
3.      Nazis devised an unprecedented means of killing people, that is, by gassing them in various killing centers.

What was international Military Tribunal?

1.      After the Second World War the allied powers formed an international military court (Tribunal) at Nuremberg to punish Nazi war criminals.
2.      The Nuremberg Tribunal sentenced only eleven leading Nazis to death.  Many others were imprisoned for life.

Germany in the World War I

1.      Germany,  a  powerful  empire  fought  the  First  World  War  (1914-1918)  alongside  the Austrian empire and Turkey and against the Allies (England, France and Russia.)
2.      All  joined  the  war  enthusiastically  hoping  to  gain  from  a  quick victory. 
3.      Germany made initial gains by occupying France and Belgium.
4.      But USA’s entry changed the course of the war.
5.       However the Allies won the War by defeating Germany and the Central Powers in November 1918.

Birth of the Weimar Republic and its failure

1.      The defeat of Imperial Germany and the abdication of the emperor gave an opportunity to parliamentary parties to recast German polity. A National Assembly met at Weimar and established a democratic constitution with a federal structure.
2.      The  Weimar constitution  had  some  inherent  defects,  which  made  it  unstable and  vulnerable  to  dictatorship. One defect was proportional representation. This made achieving a majority by any one party a near impossible task, which led to a rule by coalitions.
3.      Another defect was  Article  48,  which  gave  the  President  the  powers  to  impose emergency, suspend civil rights and rule by decree.
4.      Within its short life, the Weimar Republic saw twenty different cabinets (governments) lasting on an average 239 days, and a liberal use of Article 48. People lost confidence in the democratic parliamentary system, which seemed to offer no solutions except Hitler..

Versailles treaty- (A Pease treaty signed between allied powers and Germany)

1.      Germany lost its overseas colonies, a tenth of its population and 13 per cent of its territories.
2.       75 per cent of its iron mines and 26 per cent of its coal mines were given to France, Poland, Denmark and Lithuania.
3.      The Allied Powers demilitarised Germany to (not to possess more than one lakh soldiers) weaken its power.
4.      Germany was made responsible for the I World War and damages the Allied countries suffered. Germany was forced to pay compensation amounting to £6 billion.
5.      The Allied armies also occupied the resource-rich Rhineland for much of the 1920s.

November criminals

Many Germans held the new Weimar Republic responsible for not only the defeat in the war but the disgrace at Versailles. Those who supported the Weimar Republic, mainly Socialists, Catholics and Democrats became easy targets of attack in the conservative nationalist circles. They were mockingly called as the November criminals.

The Effects of the World War I in Germany

a.      Psychological Effect (social effect)

1.      The First World War left a deep imprint on European society. Soldiers were placed above civilians.
2.      Politicians and media laid great stress on the need for men to be aggressive, strong and masculine.
3.      Aggressive war propaganda and national honour led to popular support for conservative dictatorships

b.       Political Radicalism( Political effect)

1.      The birth of the Weimar Republic coincided with the revolutionary uprising of the Spartacist League on the pattern  of  the Revolution in Russia.
2.      The political atmosphere in Berlin was charged with demands for Soviet-style government.  But the uprising was suppressed with  the  help  of  a  war  veterans  organisation  called  Free Corps.

c.       Economic crisis (Hyperinflation)

1.      Germany had fought the war largely on loans and had to pay war reparations in gold. This depleted gold reserves.
2.      In 1923 Germany refused to pay so the French occupied its leading industrial area, Ruhr.
3.      Germany printed paper currency recklessly. With too much printed money in circulation, the value of the German mark fell. In April the US dollar was equal to 24,000 marks, in August 4,621,000 marks and in December 98,860,000 marks.
4.      This crisis came to  be  known  as  hyperinflation,  a  situation  when  prices  rise phenomenally  high.

d.      Economic Depression and its impact on Germany

1.      The years between 1924 and 1928 USA gave short-term loans to Germany. This support was withdrawn when the Wall Street Exchange crashed in 1929 in the USA.
2.      Fearing a fall in prices, people made frantic efforts to sell their shares. On one single day, 24 October, 13 million shares were sold. This was the start of the Great Economic Depression in the USA.
3.      The German economy was the worst hit by the economic crisis. By 1932, industrial production was reduced to 40 per cent, Workers lost their jobs, and number of unemployed touched an unprecedented 6 million.
4.      Germans hung  placards  around  their  necks saying, Willing  to  do  any  work.
5.      Unemployed  youths  took  to criminal activities and total despair became  common place. The middle  classes,  especially  salaried  employees  and  pensioners,  saw their  savings  diminish  when  the  currency  lost  its  value. 

e.       Proletarianisation ( Fear of becoming poor)

1.      The rich, small business men, middle class and self-employed persons developed a fear that at any time they would become poor and come to street in poverty.
2.      This group began to support Hitler and his ideas.

Hitler’s Promises

1.      Hitler promised to build Germany in to a strong nation.
2.      Hitler promised to undo the injustice of the Versailles Treaty and restore the dignity of the German people.
3.      He promised employment for those looking for work.
4.       He promised to secure future of the youth.
5.      He promised to weed out all foreign influences and resist all foreign conspiracies against Germany.

Hitler’s Destruction of Democracy

1.    On 30  January  1933,  President  Hindenburg  offered  the Chancellorship to Hitler. Having acquired power, Hitler set out to dismantle the structures  of  democratic  rule.
2.     A  mysterious  fire  that  broke  out  in the  German  Parliament  building  and the  Fire  Decree  of  28  February  1933 was passed which indefinitely  suspended  civic rights  like  freedom  of  speech,  press  and  assembly. 
3.    Then he turned on his arch- enemies, the Communists, most of whom were hurriedly packed off to the  newly  established concentration camps. The repression of the Communists was severe. The socialists, democrats and Catholics also were arrested and killed.
4.    On  3  March  1933,  the  famous  Enabling  Act  was  passed.  This Act established dictatorship  in  Germany.  It  gave  Hitler  all  powers  to control  over  the  economy,  media,  army and  judiciary.
5.    Special surveillance and security forces were created to control and order society in ways that the Nazis wanted.  Apart from the already existing  regular  police  in  green  uniform  the Gestapo (secret state police), the SS (the protection squads), criminal police and the Security Service (SD). The police  forces  arrested, tortured and killed the undesirables.

Reconstruction of German Economy by Hitler

1.      Hitler  assigned  the  responsibility  of  economic  recovery  to  the economist Hjalmar Schacht who provided employment through a state-funded work-creation programme. This project  produced  the  famous  German  superhighways  and  the people’s car, the Volkswagen.
2.      In  foreign  policy  also  Hitler  acquired  quick  successes.  He reoccupied the Rhineland in 1936, and integrated Austria and Germany in 1938 under the slogan, One  people, One empire, and One leader.
3.      He then went on to wrest German-speaking Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, and gobbled  up  the entire  country.  In  all  of  this  he  had  the  unspoken  support  of England and France.
4.      These quick successes at home and abroad seemed to reverse the destiny of  the  country. Hitler invested hugely  in  rearmament  as  the  state  still  ran  on  deficit  financing.
5.      Hitler chose war as the way out of the approaching economic crisis which led to II World War. 

Germany in the World War II

1.      In  September  1939,  Germany  invaded Poland. This started a war with France and England. In September 1940, a Tripartite Pact  was  signed  between  Germany,  Italy  and Japan, strengthening Hitler’s claim to international power.
2.      Hitler moved  to  achieve  his  long-term  aim  of  conquering Eastern Europe. He wanted to ensure food supplies and living space for Germans.
3.       He attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941. In this historic blunder Hitler exposed the German western front to British aerial bombing and the eastern front to the powerful Soviet armies. The  Soviet  Red  Army  inflicted  a  crushing  and  humiliating  defeat on  Germany  at  Stalingrad.  
4.      Japan was expanding its power in the east. It had occupied French Indo-China and was planning attacks on US naval bases in the Pacific. When Japan extended its support to Hitler and bombed the  US  base  at  Pearl  Harbor,  the  US  entered  the  Second  World War.
5.      The war ended in May 1945 with Hitler’s defeat and the US dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

Hitler’s worldview/ Nazi ideology/ Nazi worldview (peculiar features of Nazi World View)

1.      According to Nazi ideology there  was  no  equality  between  people,  but  only  a  racial hierarchy.  In  this  view  blond,  blue-eyed,  Nordic  German  Aryans were  at  the  top,  while  Jews  were  located  at  the  lowest  rung.  They came to be regarded as an anti-race, the arch-enemies of the Aryans.
2.      The  other  ideology  of  Hitler’s  was Lebensraum, or living space. He believed that new territories had to be acquired for settlement. This would enhance the area of the mother country, and the material resources to be used for Germany.
3.      Nazis wanted only  a  society  of pure  and  healthy Nordic  Aryans. They  alone  were  considered  desirable. Only  they were seen as worthy of prospering and multiplying against all others who were classed as undesirable.
4.      Under the Euthanasia Programme, Helmuth’s father along with other Nazi officials had killed many Germans who were considered mentally  or  physically  unfit.
5.       Many Gypsies and blacks living in Nazi Germany were considered  as  racial  inferiors. They  were  widely  persecuted.  Even Russians and Poles were considered subhuman and killed.
6.       Jews remained the worst sufferers in Nazi Germany.  They  had  been  stereotyped  as  killers  of  Christ  and usurers. They  lived in separately marked areas called ghettos. They were often persecuted through  periodic  organised  violence,  and  expulsion  from  the  land.

The Racial Utopia and killing of polish Civilians

1.      Genocide and war became two sides of the same coin in Germany. Occupied Poland was divided up. Much of north-western Poland was annexed to Germany. Poles were forced to leave their homes  and  properties  behind  to  be  occupied  by  ethnic  Germans
2.      Members of the Polish intelligentsia were murdered in large numbers in order to keep the entire  people  intellectually  and  spiritually  servile. 
3.      Polish  children who looked like Aryans were forcibly snatched from their mothers and examined  by  race  experts.  If  they  passed  the  race  tests  they were raised in German families and if not, they were deposited in orphanages where most perished.

Youth in Nazi Germany / What happened in schools under Nazism?

1.      All schools were cleansed and purified.  This meant that teachers who were Jews or seen as politically unreliable were dismissed.
2.      Children were first segregated Germans  and  Jews  could  not  sit  together  or  play  together. Subsequently, undesirable children Jews,  the physically handicapped, Gypsies were thrown out of schools.
3.      Good German children were subjected to a process of Nazi schooling, a  prolonged  period  of  ideological  training.  School  textbooks  were rewritten. Racial science was introduced to justify Nazi ideas of race. Stereotypes about Jews were popularised even in classes.
4.      Children were taught to be loyal and submissive, hate Jews, and worship Hitler. Even the function of sports was to nurture a spirit of violence and aggression among children. Hitler believed that boxing could make children iron hearted, strong and masculine.
5.      Youth organisations were made responsible for educating German youth in the .the spirit of National Socialism.. Ten-year-olds had to enter Jungvolk.  At 14, all boys had to join the Nazi youth organization called Hitler Youth, where they learnt to worship war, glorify aggression and violence, condemn democracy, and hate Jews, communists, Gypsies and all those categorised as undesirable.

 The Nazi Cult of Motherhood

1        While  boys  were  taught to  be  aggressive,  masculine  and  steel  hearted,  girls  were  told  that they  had  to  become  good  mothers  and  rear  pure-blooded  Aryan children.  Girls  had  to  maintain  the  purity  of  the  race,  distance themselves  from  Jews,  look  after  the  home,  and  teach  their children  Nazi  values
2        In Nazi Germany all mothers were not treated equally. Women  who  bore  racially  undesirable  children  were  punished and those who produced racially desirable children were awarded. They were given favoured  treatment  in  hospitals  and  concessions in shops , theatre tickets and railway fares.
3         To encourage women to  produce  many  children,  Honour Crosses were awarded. A bronze cross was given for four children, silver for six and gold for eight or more.
4        All Aryan women who deviated from  the  prescribed  code  of conduct were publicly condemned, and severely punished. Those who maintained contact  with  Jews,  Poles  and  Russians  were paraded through the town with shaved heads and blackened faces.

The Art of Propaganda (why was Nazi propaganda effective in creating a hatred for Jews)

1.      The Nazi regime used language and media with care, and often to great effect. Nazis never used the words kill or murder in their official communications. Mass killings were termed special treatment, final solution, euthanasia, selection and disinfections.
2.       Media  was  carefully  used  to  win  support  for  the  regime  and popularise  its  worldview.  Nazi  ideas  were  spread  through  visual images, films, radio, posters, catchy slogans and leaflets.
3.      In posters, groups identified as the enemies of Germans were stereotyped, mocked, abused and described as evil. Socialists and liberals were represented  as  weak  and  degenerate.  They were attacked as malicious foreign agents. 
4.      Orthodox Jews were shown with flowing beards wearing kaftans. They were referred to as vermin, rats and pests. Their movements were compared to those  of  rodents. 

How did the common people react to Nazism?

1.      Many people saw  the  world  through  Nazi  eyes,  and  spoke  their  mind  in Nazi  language.  They  felt  hatred  and  anger  surge  inside  them  when they saw someone who looked like a Jew.
2.      They marked the houses of Jews and reported suspicious neighbours. They believed that Nazism  would  bring  prosperity and  improve  general  well-being.
3.      But not every German was a Nazi. Many organised active resistance to Nazism, braving police repression and death. The large majority of Germans, however, were passive onlookers and apathetic witnesses. They were too scared to act, to differ, to protest.

What did Jews feel in Nazi Germany? 

1.      Charlotte Beradt secretly recorded jew’s dreams in her diary and later published them in a highly disconcerting book called the Third Reich of Dreams.
2.      She describes how Jews themselves began believing in the Nazi stereotypes about them. They dreamt of their hooked noses, black hair and eyes, Jewish looks  and  body  movements. 
3.      The stereotypical images publicised in the Nazi press them even in  their  dreams.  Jews died  many  deaths even before they reached the gas chamber.


1.      Jews wanted the world to remember the atrocities and sufferings they had endured during the Nazi killing operations. They collected and preserved documents wrote diaries, kept notebooks, and created archives which are called the Holocaust.
2.      On the other hand when the war seemed lost, the Nazi leadership distributed petrol to its functionaries to destroy all  incriminating evidence available in offices.
3.      The history and the memory of the Holocaust live on in memoirs, fiction, documentaries, poetry,  memorials  and  museums  in  many parts of the world today. These are a tribute to those who resisted Nazism and a warning to those who watched the Nazi crimes in silence.

1.      What is Genocidal war?
2.      What was international Military Tribunal?
3.      What was Weimar Republic and what were the defects of its constitution?
4.      Explain the conditions of Versailles treaty?
5.      Who were called as November criminals?
6.      What were the Effects of the World War I in Germany?
7.      Explain Hitler’s Promises
8.      How did Hitler Destroyed Democracy in Germany?
9.      How did Hitler Reconstruct German Economy?
10.  Explain the peculiar features of Nazi World View.
11.  What happened to schools under Nazism in Germany?
12.  Explain the Nazi Cult of Motherhood.
13.  Why was Nazi propaganda so effective in creating a hatred for Jews?
14.  How did the common people react to Nazism?
15.  What did Jews feel in Nazi Germany? 
16.  What is Holocaust?