GERMANY: Key points

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GERMANY: Key points
Key dates:
1919 – Treaty of Versailles
1923 - Hyperinflation
1929 – Wall Street Crash
1933 – The Nazis in power
1945 – death of Hitler and end of
the Second World War 1
The end of the First World War and
the start of the Weimar Republic
1918
The
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First World War ended. Germany lost. Britain, France and the USA won.
Germany had a revolution.
The Kaiser (king) of Germany left and Germany became a republic.
Many soldiers blamed the politicians for surrendering and called it the ‘stab in the back’
There were elections and the first President was Friedrich Ebert.
1919
Fighting in Berlin between Communists and Nationalists.
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Communists (Spartacists) wanted a workers’ revolution. They tried to take control but their leaders (Rosa
Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht) were murdered by nationalists.
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Nationalists (the Freikorps) wanted to bring back a strong leader like the Kaiser. Led by Wolfgang Kapp
they tried to take control but failed when the workers went on strike.
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Berlin was so dangerous the government left the city and met in Weimar.
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They made the rules for the new republic. It was known as the Weimar Republic.
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Germany was to be ruled by a President, a Chancellor and a parliament (Reichstag).
The
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Treaty of Versailles.
The winners in the war punished Germany.
Germany had to accept blame for the war.
Germany had to lose land and most of its armed forces.
Germany had to pay a lot of money every year (reparations).
The leaders of the new Republic were forced to sign the Treaty. This made them very unpopular with many
Germans.
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Strengths and weaknesses of
the Weimar Republic
• The system
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President - Similar to the king or queen in Britain but with more power and elected every 7 years. He
appointed the Chancellor. In an emergency he could make laws without going to Parliament.
Chancellor appointed by the President and similar to the British Prime Minister. He led the
government and needed to have the support of the majority in Parliament.
Reichstag (parliament) – similar to the House of Commons in Britain. Elected every 4 years and had
the power to pass or reject changes to the law.
• Strengths
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All Germans had equal rights including the right to vote, free speech, religious freedom, to travel
freely and hold political meetings.
The election system of proportional representation meant that all parties got a fair share of seats in
the Reichstag to match the percentage of people who voted for them.
• Weaknesses
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Proportional representation made the government weak because it led to too many parties in the
Rechstag, including extremist parties like the Nazis.
No one party got enough votes to form a majority in the Reichstag so parties had to get together in
coalition governments which were often weak and short lived.
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Adolf Hitler
• Early life
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Born 1889 in Austria. His father died when he was 14, his mother when he was 18.
Did badly at school and left school with no qualifications. Wanted to be an artist but failed the
exam for the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in 1907. Lived in a homeless hostel, getting money
by painting and selling postcards
1913 moved to Munich in Germany to avoid arrest for failing to register for the Austrian army.
1914 when war started, volunteered for the German army. Won medals for bravery and got a
reputation as a good public speaker. 1918 badly gassed and was in hospital when the war ended.
• The start of the Nazis
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Like many other soldiers he believed Germany had been ‘stabbed in the back’ and blamed
communists and Jews
In Munich after the war the army employed him to check up on extreme groups.
September 1919 he was sent to a meeting of a small group called the German Workers’ Party
He joined the group as member number 7
He changed its name to National Socialist German Workers’ Party and became its leader in
1921.
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The Nazi Party
– Its new symbol was the swastika (red, white and black)
– Hitler set up the SA (sturm abteilung or stormtroopers) known as
the brownshirts who were the armed and uniformed wing of the
Nazis. Many Freikorps members joined. The leader of the SA was
Ernst Rohm.
– The Nazi programme was
• nationalist (to appeal to rightwingers), - destroy the Treaty of Versailles and build
up the arnmed forces
• socialist (to appeal to workers) - give workers a share in company profits and
share out land
• racist (especially antisemitic against Jews) to appeal to Germans who needed
people to blame for war defeat
– Hitler hated communists and promised to smash them. This
appealed to the middle classes and big business.
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The crisis in 1923
The Occupation of the Ruhr and Hyperinflation.
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Germany could not pay reparations to France… SO
France sent its army into the Ruhr, an industrial part of Germany… SO
German workers in the Ruhr went on strike… SO
The German government printed money to pay its workers.… SO
The amount printed in bank notes was far more than the actual gold reserves the government had ... SO
The value of German money went down and down. Prices went up and up. Hyperinflation
Pensioners found their money was worthless.
People with savings found they lost all value.
Wages could not keep up with prices and so people could not afford basic food such as bread
Some people did well, especially farmers and people who had taken out loans.
The Munich Beer Hall Putsch.
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Adolf Hitler tried to take power in the city of Munich.
He failed and went to prison. There he wrote his book ‘Mein Kampf (My Struggle)’.
He decided that the Nazis would work to take power through elections and not by armed force.
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The ‘Golden Twenties’
Gustav Stresemann, the new Chancellor, dealt with the problems of 1923 with the Dawes
Plan:
He brought in a new currency.
He agreed with France that payment of reparations would start again but in
smaller amounts. He ended the strikes and the French army pulled out of the
Ruhr.
The USA loaned 800 million gold marks to Germany to help start up German
industry. Germany borrowed another $3,000 million from US banks.
Stresemann also made agreements with Britain and France. The Locarno Treaty in 1925
fixed the borders of countries in Europe and the Kellogg-Briand Pact in 1928 agreed
that in future all problems in Europe would be solved peacefully.
Germany joined the League of Nations which was set up to prevent another war.
1924-29
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Things seemed to be going better in Germany. The German economy began to grow.
Berlin became a big arts and entertainment centre.
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The Nazis in the Twenties
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Hitler’s Nazi Party did not get much support in elections. However he and the other Nazi
leaders began building their party.
They decided to win power through elections and worked out their programme:
– Destroy the Treaty of Versailles and end reparations
– Only those of German blood allowed to be members of the nation (not Jews)
– No more non-German immigration
– Take over land in from other countries to give ‘living space’ to Germans
– The punishments for criminals against Germany should be death
– Provide generous old age pensions
– No money for those who do not work
– Help to small businesses
– New education system. Pupils taught to love their country. A big emphasis on physical
fitness. Sports and gymnastics compulsory.
1924 election – 32 Nazi seats in the Reichstag.
1928 election – 12 Nazi seats in the Reichstag.
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The Wall Street Crash and the
Depression
1929.
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The Wall Street Crash – a massive financial crisis in the USA.
As a result the whole world went into economic depression and Germany was worst hit because it had
depended so much US money.
American loans to Germany ended. Many German businesses had to close. By 1932 6 million Germans
were unemployed. Many families suffered terrible poverty. Half of Germans aged between 16 and 30
could not find work, including 60% of university graduates.
Stresemann had died in 1929.
1929-1933
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People lost confidence in the Weimar government. It seemed unable to solve Germany’s problems. It
was blamed for relying too much on the USA.
The Proportional representation voting system meant that governments were weak.
There was more and more support for the Nazis and Communists.
The Nazi SA (brownshirts) were fighting the Communists in the streets.
Hitler promised bread, work and land. He said he would tear up the Treaty of Versailles. He
blamed the Jews for Germany’s problems.
The Nazis started to do well in elections. Many workers liked their promises of work.
The Nazis got a lot of money from big businesses because they were against the Communists. They
got a lot of middle class support for the same reason.
The racism of the Nazis was also popular with many people.
Nazi propaganda (organised by Goebbels) was very effective – rallies, posters, radio, newspapers,
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parades and marches.
The Rise of Hitler
1930 elections – 109 Nazi seats in the Reichstag
1932 elections – 230 Nazi seats.
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The Nazis were the biggest party. Their promises and propaganda had won many supporters.
President Hindenburg tried to stop Hitler being Chancellor but failed. In the end there was a deal that
made Hitler Chancellor and von Papen Vice-Chancellor.
Hindenburg and von Papen thought they were going to be able to control Hitler.
1933
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Hitler became Chancellor. He immediately called new elections, hoping to get enough seats to have a
majority in Parliament.
The Reichstag (Parliament building) caught fire. No one knows really who started the fire. A man from
Holland called Marius van der Lubbe confessed.
Hitler blamed the Communists and took special powers.
Communists were arrested. Meetings were not allowed. The Nazis used terror to scare people.
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Where did support from the
Nazis come from?
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The countryside
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The middle classes
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Workers in the big cities supported the communists more than the Nazis
However, in smaller towns many workers liked Hitler’s promises of more rights for working people and
better jobs
Women
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They feared a communist takeover
Many big businesses gave money to the Nazis
The working classes
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They were afraid of communism and of big businesses
The Nazis said they would protect them from both
Many middle class people admired the discipline of the Nazis
The upper classes
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Farming people were the first to support the Nazis
Even more support after the Wall Street Crash when food prices went down
Nazi propaganda targeted women, promising to make the family more important and give special
support to women as wives and mothers.
The young
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The Nazis got strong support from many young people
They were attracted by the discipline of the SA, Nazi ideals and promises of jobs
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Hitler takes control
1933-35 – the 8 points
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Hitler used the Reichstag Fire to attack the Communists. Their leaders were arrested and their party
was banned.
New elections: using terror, killings and anti-Communist propaganda the Nazis did better but they still
did not get a majority
Hitler forced the Parliament to agree a new law. This was the Enabling Act. It said Hitler could make
any law he wanted without asking Parliament.
Trade unions and clubs were all taken over by the Nazis.
All other political parties were banned.
Hitler organised the murder of hundreds of top Nazis including Rohm, the head of the SA and his friend.
(the ‘Night of the Long Knives’). The SA was closed down and replaced by the SS.
President Hindenburg died and Hitler was now President and Chancellor.
He got all the soldiers in the army to swear to die for him personally.
He now had total control. He was a dictator, now known as the Fuehrer (leader).
Germany was a country of terror where everyone was afraid to speak out.
He started building up the army. This – as well as huge construction work and new roads – gave jobs to everyone,
even though wages went down.
But most Germans supported him. They wanted a strong leader.
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The Nazi system 1933-1945
The Third Reich
Terror – controlled by Heinrich Himmler
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The SS (Schutz Staffel = protection squad) – black uniforms, 240,000 members
Concentration camps – forced labour camps for anyone who criticised the Nazis )Jews, Communists,
Socialists, trade unionists, gays, church leaders etc)
Gestapo – the state secret police with a network of informers and local wardens
Police and courts controlled by the Nazis
Laws restricting the rights and liberties of everyone
Propaganda – controlled by Josef Goebbels
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Newspapers – all that disagreed with the Nazis were closed down.
Meetings, marches and rallies
Radio – all controlled and not allowed to pick up foreign stations
Films
Book burning – no books could be published without Goebbels’s permission and books by Jewish authors or
with anti-Nazi ideas were burnt.
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Culture – modern art, progressive theatre and jazz music were banned
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Sport – the Berlin Olympics in 1936 were used to promote the idea of white ‘Aryan’ superiority. Germany
won the most medals but one black American athlete, Jesse Owens, won 4 golds.
“The powers of understanding of the people are feeble. And they quickly forget. Effective propaganda should be
limited to a few bare points, as simple as possible. These slogans should be repeated until the very last
person has grasped the idea,”
( Adolf Hitler)
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Nazi ideas
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The Nazis were:
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Nationalist – the needs of the nation were more important than the individual person.
Racist – belief that the Germanic (Aryan) ‘race’ was a ‘master race’ superior to others
and Jews were ‘subhuman’. Hitler wanted to create a master race through selective
breeding, especially through the SS. All SS members had to be tall, fair-haired and
blue-eyed and they could only marry similar women. Race farms existed to breed pure
Aryan children.
Militarist – wanting society to be run like an army and the whole state to be under army
and police control.
Fascist – influenced by ideas from Italy and the Roman Empire that wanted all the
people to be part of the one body of the nation under a strong ruler. No opposition or
different opinions would be allowed.
The Nazis would compare a nation to a human body. Every part of the body has a different
function but they are all controlled by the one brain. With out one directing brain there
would be chaos and confusion. The leader – Adolf Hitler – was the brain.
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Nazi economic policies
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The New Plan 1933
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The Nazi Minister of the Economy was Schacht.
His aims were to reduce unemployment and make Germany self-sufficient so it could survive
future wars. This was called
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The New Plan
• Imports to Germany cut
• Trade agreements with other countries to get raw materials in return for German goods
By 1935 production was up 50% and Germany was exporting more than it imported.
The Four Year Plan
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autarky.
Led by Hermann Goering. The plan was to be ready for war within 4 years and be selfsufficient in rubber, oil and steel.
This was not so successful. In 1939 Germany still depended on foreign imports for raw
materials and oil.
It seemed the only way to achieve self-sufficiency would be by invading and taking over other
countries
Unemployment
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The Nazis successfully reduced unemployment. How they did this:
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Job creation schemes on public buildings and motorways (autobahns)
Investment in private companies
The National Labour Service (RAD) – all men had to do 6 months with low wages and long hours
Stopping Jews and women from working and sending political opponents to concentration camps
Creating jobs in the weapons and armaments industries
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Were Germans better or worse off?
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Better
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Worse
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Most German men had work
Strength Through Joy – a scheme that ran fun activities for workers
Beauty Through Work – improved working conditions eg. canteens and sports facilities
Average wages went up
Volkswagen – a chance for workers to get cheap cars
Trades unions were abolished and workers had few rights
Most workers could not afford Strength Through Joy activities
National Labour Service was not popular
The cost of living went up, cancelling out the rise in wages
Average working hours per week went up
The Volkswagen scheme was a con – workers paid 5 marks a week but no one ever got a car
Who benefited most?
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Some farmers because of rising food prices
Some small businesses
– Big business
most of all because trades unions and strikes were banned and there were big
government contracts to make weapons. The average salary of managers went up 70%
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Women in Nazi Germany
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Women in Weimar Germany before 1933
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They could vote and enjoyed much greater social freedom than before.
They could smoke and drink in public places
New fashions – short skirts, make-up and short hairstyles
Many more women doctors, teachers and civil servants
Women in Nazi Germany
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Back to the traditional role of wife and mother
Hitler wanted to increase the birth rate and produce more soldiers for the ‘master race’
KKK (Kinder, Kirche, Kuche – children, church and cooking)
Less women in jobs meant jobs for unemployed men
Women doctors, civil servants and teachers forced to leave their jobs.
Large grants of money to women who gave up jobs and had lots of children
Government loans to married couples – for each child they had, they could keep 25% of the
loan, so if they had 4 children they did not have to pay anything back
Strict laws against abortion and all birth control banned
Gold medals for 8 children, silver for 6 and bronze for 5
The ideal Nazi woman was fair-haired, blue-eyed, strong, with broad hips for child-bearing and
traditional clothes (not fashionable).
In spite of this the number of working women went up because the Nazis needed more workers
in weapons factories and because employers preferred women workers as they could pay them
less.
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Young people in Nazi Germany
• Youth movements
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All boys had to join the Hitler Youth. Military training, camps, sports and Nazi ideas. The aim as to become
good soldiers.
Girls joined the League of German Maidens. Keeping fit and home-building. The aim was to become good
wives and mothers.
• School
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Nazi control of the school curriculum. Teachers who refused were sacked.
The most important subject was PE. Boxing was compulsory for boys. Girls had to do home-making and
childcare.
History lessons were about the unfair Treaty of Versailles, the rise of the Nazis and the evil of Jews and
Communists.
Biology was about the superiority of the blond, blue-eyed ‘Aryan’ race.
German lessons were about war heroes and the Nazi Party.
Geography lessons were about the land in other countries that the Nazis said should be taken by Germany.
Maths lessons had problems about bombs and how to save money by not spending it on the mentally ill.
• Resistance
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Many young people hated the Hitler Youth and did not join. Some young people joined gangs like the
Edelweiss Pirates, the Texas Cowboys, and the Navajos – preferring to have a good time. Some even beat up
Nazis.
Students in the White Rose Club spread leaflets against the Nazis and their leaders were executed.
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Opposition to the Nazis
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Political groups - Socialists, Communists, trade unions. They were arrested in large
numbers or left the country. There were some secret meetings and handing out of antiNazi leaflets.
The churches. Some church leaders supported the Nazis and others were against them.
To deal with Catholics, Hitler made a deal with the Pope saying he would leave the
Catholics alone if they did not interfere with politics. He brought all the Protestant
Churches together under Nazi control and made the pastors swear loyalty to him. Church
schools and youth clubs were closed down. Still some Christians opposed the Nazis and
ended up in camps. They included Martin Niemoller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Army officers. Some – including Colonel von Stauffenberg - wanted to get rid of Hitler
and tried to kill him with a bomb. They failed and were executed.
Young people: Edelweiss Pirates and White Rose Club (see previous page).
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Treatment of minorities
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Who did the Nazis target?
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‘burdens on the community’ – severely disabled, mentally ill, unhealthy, homosexuals
• Hospitals were ordered to kill the severely disabled
• The mentally ill were sterilised and 70,000 were later killed by the ‘Public Ambulance Service
Ltd’
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‘undesirables’ – gypsies, vagrants
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‘subhumans’ – Slavs, Black people
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Vagrants were forced to work and 100,000 were sent to concentration camps
Gypsies were not allowed to marry non-gypsies and were called ‘aliens’.
Gypsies forced to register with the authorities. During the Second World War half a million
gypsies died in the Nazi death camps. This disaster is called the Porajmos (‘Devouring’) in the
Roma language
Germans were not allowed to marry black people.
Mixed race children were sterilised.
Jews – see next pages
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Nazi treatment of Jews 1933-1939
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1933
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1934
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Jews banned from being vets, dentists, accountants etc
1938
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Nuremberg Laws – Jews not allowed to be German citizens, not allowed to marry non-Jews
1936
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Jews banned from public places such as parks and swimming baths
1935
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Boycott of Jewish shops
Jews sacked from jobs as civil servants and lawyers
Kristallnacht (The Night of Breaking Glass) – three days of the SA destroying Jewish shops,
homes and synagogues.
Jewish children not allowed in German schools
1939
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Jews not allowed to run shops or businesses
Jews in German-occupied Poland forced to live in ghettoes (‘Jewish reservations’) – only
starvation rations allowed in and thousands died from cold and hunger
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‘The Holocaust’ 1939-1945
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The killings were supervised by the SS under the control of Heinrich Himmler.
The mass killing of European Jews is known as the Holocaust (‘all consuming fire’)
and also referred to as the Shoah by Jews.
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1939-41
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Mass killings of Jews in Poland, Russia and other countries occupied by Germany
First shootings, then gas vans.
Killings done by Einsatzgruppen (murder squads) with Jews forced to dig their own
graves before being shot
About 2 million killed in Russia
1942
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However, many other people – German and others – also took part.
The Wannsee Conference when the Nazis agreed upon the ‘Final Solution’ – to kill all
the Jews in Europe
1942-45
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About 6 million Jews killed in death camps such as Auschwitz, Chelmno, Treblinka and
Sobibor
They were transported in trains from all over occupied Europe
Most killings were in gas chambers using Zyklon-B
Bodies were then burnt in ovens
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Did no one resist the mass
killings?
• There were many acts of Jewish resistance
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After Kristallnacht many escaped from Germany or sent their children to safety
In occupied countries some Jews joined armed resistance movements against the Nazis
Jews in the Warsaw ghetto rose up in an armed fight back against the Nazis and held
out for several weeks
• There were cases of Jews being helped by non-Jews
– Sometimes they were helped to escape, or hidden
– Some of those who helped them were found out and themselves killed
– In cases where whole communities supported the Jews, such as the people of
Denmark and the village of in France, Nazi violence was far less.
• However, in most cases the victims of the Holocaust
were not helped – most people stood by and let it
happen
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How did it end?
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1934-39 Hitler built up the German armed forces and took over Austria and Czechoslovakia.
In September 1939 Germany invaded Poland and the Second World War began.
1940-42 Germany invaded Western Europe and took over most of the continent except for
Britain. They failed to invade Britain. Hitler then invaded Russia. When Japan attacked the
USA Hitler declared war on the USA too.
1942-45 All over Europe in countries occupied by Germany millions were sent to death camps
(run by the SS) because they were Jewish, gypsy, gay or against the Nazis. Meanwhile the
Russians beat the Germans in battle and started pushing them back.
1944-45 US and British forces invaded German-occupied France on ‘D-Day’. Germany was
now being attacked from the east (by Russia) and the west (by the US and British forces).
Eventually the whole of Germany was taken and Hitler killed himself in Berlin. The ‘thousand
year empire’ of the Nazis had lasted 12 years and cost millions of lives.
People are still arguing about the many lessons to be learnt from the story of Hitler and the
Nazis.
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1.
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9.
How did the Nazis keep control of Germany after 1933? (page 13)
What were the key Nazi ideas and beliefs? (page 14)
How did the Nazis handle the German economy? (page 15)
Were ordinary Germans better or worse off under the Nazis? (page
16)
What was the position of women in Nazi Germany? (page 17)
How did the Nazi system affect young people? (page 18)
What sort of opposition was there and why was there so little?
(page 19)
How did persecution of Jews in Germany develop between 1933
and 1939? (pages 20 and 21)
What was the ‘Final Solution’ and how was it carried out? (pages
22 and 23)
1.How did the Nazis keep
control of Germany after 1933?
• Terror - SS, Gestapo (police)
• Concentration camps, police and courts
• Propaganda – newspapers, meetings,
radio, film
• Book burnings, music banned
• Sport used to promote white Aryan race