Weimar and Nazi Germany

Mr. Hyer’s NOTES

Germany 1919–1933

1919–1923    CRISIS

1923–1929    RECOVERY

1929–1933    COLLAPSE

Postwar Germany

Impact of the War on Germany by 1918 (Social, Economic and Political Changes)

Kaiser Abdicates

The End of World War I / "November Criminals"

The Weimar Constitution

Main Weaknesses of the Constitution

Political Parties and the Constitution

FAR LEFT: KPD (Communist Party of Germany)

LIBERAL LEFT: SPD (Social Democratic party of Germany)

FAR RIGHT: NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party) (Nazis)

Views of Weimar

Major Putsches

The Spartacist Uprising (Communist - left) (A Revolution - needs popular support to succeed)

The Kapp Putsch (Conservative - right) (A coup d'etat: small group of people, usually political party or group of generals - usually supported by the conservative right / elite.)

The Munich Putsch (Nazi Party)

Major Events During the Weimar Republic

Occupation of the Ruhr Valley

Runaway Inflation (Hyperinflation)

Stresemann's Currency Reform

The Policy of Fulfillment

The Dawes Plan

The Locarno Pact

The Young Plan

Rise of Adolf Hitler

Background to Adolf Hitler

Nazi Achievement of Power 1929 - 33

Why did Hitler become Chancellor in 1933?


Hitler’s “Political Genius”

The Wall Street Crash

Attractive Policies

Divided Opponents

Nazi campaigning in the elections of 1932

Consolidation of Power / Rule of Hitler

Reichstag Fire - Feb. 27, 1933

General Election - March 5, 1933

Employment Law - May 2

Night of the Long Knives - June 30, 1934

When Hindenburg died, Hitler took over the office of President and leader of the army (the soldiers had to swear to die for Adolf Hitler personally). Hitler called himself 'Fuhrer'.

METHODS of Hitler's / Nazi Regime Rule

Repression, Intimidation and Fear


Control of the Youth / Education


The Nazis and the Christian Churches

Economic Policies

Farming Policies

Treatment of Women

Nazi Policies Toward Women

Increase Pure German Births

Treatment of Minorities

Hated the Jews

Nuremberg Laws September 1935

Crystal Night (Kristallnacht: "Night of Broken Glass")

What did the former Kaiser Wilhelm think about German Jews?

Cordell Hull, FDRs Sec. of State and its relations with Nazi Germany

Treatment of Opposition

Foreign Policy

Hitler's Foreign Policy Objectives




Paper 2 Essay Study Guide

How did Nazi rule affect the Germans?

Germany 1919–1933

The history of Germany 1919–1933 falls into three phases:


1919–1923    CRISIS

At first the Weimar Republic had great difficulties:

a.        Left wing rebellions

b.        All people were angry with it

c.        Right-wing rebellions and terrorism

d.        Invasion and inflation

e.        Munich Putsch


The republic survived the crises of 1919-23 by using the right-wing army and Freikorps units to crush the Communists, and getting the help of  the left-wing unions to crush the Kapp Putsch.

Stresemann, and American money (the Dawes Plan) led to a period of prosperity which saw a cultural flowering in Germany.


1923–1929    RECOVERY

But the Republic survived and (after Gustav Stresemann became Chancellor in 1923) did well:

a.        Economic Prosperity

b.        Foreign Policy successes

       c.        Cultural flowering


Later in the 20s the Weimar Republic began to enjoy a degree of political stability, as well as economic prosperity.


1929–1933    COLLAPSE

After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, however, the Republic collapsed:

a.        Unemployment

b.        Nazi Party grew more powerful

c.      In 1933, Adolf Hitler became Chancellor


The Great Depression of the early 30s proved the Weimar Republic's undoing. As the German economy spiraled downward, the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler won increasing support.

Weimar Republic TIMELINE

1918    Emperor William II abdicates; a German republic is established  (See details below)

1919    The German Revolution of 1918 - 19

                The Spartacist Revolt

                The Free Corps

The National Assembly adopts the Weimar Constitution (See details below)

1919        The Treaty of Versailles

                The Terms of Treaty

                German Hatred of the Treaty

1920        The Kapp Putsch in Berlin

Kapp supported by Berlin Police, Free Corps and some army

Put down after 100 hours. Ebert back in charge.                

1923    French and Belgian troops occupy the Ruhr valley

                    Germany experiences a catastrophic inflation (see details below)

                    The Beer Hall Putsch, led by Hitler and Ludendorff, fails (see details below)

1924    The adoption of the Dawes Plan ends the Ruhr crisis

1925    Germany, France, Great Britain, and Italy sign the Locarno Pact

                    Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg wins the German presidential election

1926    Germany enters the League of Nations

1929    The Young Plan eases Germany's reparations burden

1929         The Great Depression Begins

1930    The Reichstag election results in the Nazis becoming Germany's second largest party

1932    Hindenburg defeats Hitler in the presidential election

                The July Reichstag election results in the Nazis becoming Gemany's largest party

                The November Reichstag election results in the Nazis losing some seats.

1933    Hitler Comes to Power, 1933

                von Papen’s government

                Reichstag elections of November 1932

                    The Nazi party becomes Germany's only legal political party

1934    A purge eliminates Hitler's opponents within the Nazi Party

                    President Hindenburg dies; Hitler assumes the powers of the presidency

1935    The Nuremberg Laws deprive Germany's Jews of their rights as citizens

Postwar Germany

Impact of the War on Germany by 1918 (Social, Economic and Political Changes)


Germany is losing the Great War. Peace movements led by SPD and Spartacus League. Threat of Socialist or Communist Revolution.

March 3: Signing of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty. Russia surrendered, giving over to the Germans 40 percent of its industries and a large portion of its land and population. New hope for Germany (more resources, end of two-front war, more troops for the Western Front to fight the newly arrived American soldiers.)

March 21: Last German offensive along the Somme failed. Allies counterattack.

Nov. 9: Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated.

Nov. 10: A republic under Fredrick Ebert (SPD) was proclaimed

Nov. 11: An armistice is signed, ending the fighting.

Kaiser Abdicates

On November 9 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II boarded the imperial train for Holland. He signed the official act of abdication as King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany on November 28th with German troops still on foreign soil and the Weimar republic not yet a reality. His abdication was designed to put Germany in a better negotiating position with the victorious democracies. The final pressure for his abdication came from General von Hindenburg. 

The End of World War I / "November Criminals"

Germany's failed final offensive was followed by the mutiny of its High Seas Fleet. Forced to seek peace by naval rebellion, increasing desertions, shortages of ammunition and food, and the prospect of ever increasing American troops and supplies, the General Staff agreed to an armistice and the fighting ended on November 11, 1918. The negotiators of the armistice who were leaders of the Social Democratic, Democratic and Catholic Center parties were labeled as the criminals by Germans on the political right who felt that these men betrayed their country and stopped a war that Germany could still win. Men like Phillip Scheidemann, Walter Rathenau and Matthias Erzberger who negotiated did so because the German Generals pleaded with them to gain an armistice as they feared that the German army was running out of munitions and food and was in danger of falling apart. These men, who helped create and lead the Weimar Republic in its early years, would always be considered "November Criminals" by the enemies of the Weimar Republic. The reluctant negotiators who had felt it was their patriotic duty to follow the Generals request were marked for murder by their enemies and would be repudiated by the Generals who had pressured then to carry out the negotiations.

Since reporting of the actual progress of the war was highly censored, and virtually all combat took place outside of Germany, Germans were almost totally unprepared for their defeat and surrender.

The "November Criminals" in Short: 

November 1918:

Ebert Wanted a Moderate Democratic Government

 Not too far to the Left (Between Liberal and Radical)

Believed Germans Wanted End to War and Moderate Change (Not Radical)

Most People Feared Far Left (Bolsheviks) – Communist Revolution

Moderate Government Needed to Draw Up Constitution

To Do So He Needed Support of Traditional Elite

(Right / Conservative / Reactionaries)

Two Critical Deals Made Prior to Creation of Weimar Constitution

Deal with Army (Nov. 1918)

Deal with Industrialists (Jan. 1919)

Two Fatal Flaws in Ebert’s Decisions

Over-Estimated Threat from Left

Under-Estimated Threat from Right


Jan. 10: Spartacist Uprising in Berlin is put down

Feb. 11: The Weimar Republic under President Ebert and Chancellor Phillip Scheidemann is declared at the city of Weimar, Germany.

June 28: Signing of the Versailles Treaty officially ended World War I.

In June of 1919, the German government leaders reluctantly signed the Treaty of Versailles. Virtually all Germans considered this Treaty--imposed by the victorious English, French and Americans--to be unfair and humiliating. Germans were particularly disappointed in the American President Woodrow Wilson who they thought would gain them more moderate terms. The Treaty stripped Germany of territory, people, and resources and imposed monetary reparations payments. Those socialist, liberal, and Catholic political leaders who argued for the Treaty’s acceptance did so only after the Generals had made it clear to them that Germany could no longer militarily resist and faced occupation if it tried. Nonetheless, German nationalists considered the Treaty’s signers as traitors who stabbed Germany in the back.

Treaty of Versailles

Hitler will later argue that peace wasn’t morally binding because it was a “diktat.”

What Did Kaiser Wilhelm II think about the Weimar Republic?

These notes are based on Lucie Palmeri's question on October 7, 2011

Check out the Kaiser's thoughts on Weimar Germany, Hitler and the Nazis on Wikipedia. I read it and it is fairly reliable and interesting. 

"Congratulations, you have won using my troops." You have to love such arrogance. Most of Hitler's troops weren't even born when the Kaiser fled in 1918. What a jerk.

If you want to have a fun time with the pitfalls of Wikipedia, check out this minor error.

1. This is a book written by a British historian.

2. Scroll up to page 210. Read the last paragraph. This was written by the Kaiser to a German general in 1919 referring to his abdication.

3. Now, go back to the first paragraph on page 211. What year did he state that Jews should be gassed? If you believe 1919 you would be wrong. But you wouldn't know that reading the Wikipedia article. 

4. It isn't the historian's fault. It is sloppy editing done by whomever on the wiki. Reread the first graph on the wiki about his abdication. 

5. I know the quote. It was written in 1929 (or 1927) by the Kaiser to his American journalist friend.(3rd paragraph on page 128, where he states that should be treated like mosquitoes)

6. The Kaiser's antisemitism and connections with Nazi Germany would make a great IA topic. 

The Weimar Constitution

Among the main points of the Weimar Constitution:

Main Weaknesses of the Constitution 

Political Parties and the Constitution

The Weimar Government and the formation of the Constitution

The early meetings of the newly elected National Assembly were held in the quiet town of Weimar. Between February and August much of the work of the representatives was focused upon forming a construction and establishing the mechanisms within which democratic government would work within the German Republic. The process was so lengthy as many aspects of the constitution had to be redrafted as they moved power from local state governments to the central authorities, for example. The following is an overview of the main features of the constitution that emerged in August of 1919.

The President

The constitution of the Weimar Republic stated that the people would elect the President. The term of the presidency was set at 7 years. The President had a range of powers that need careful analysis when evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the constitution. These included: The President was the head of the armed forces; The President chose the Chancellor and had the legal right to dismiss him; It was the President who decided when to call elections, therefore allowing him to dismiss governments; Article 48 of the constitution allowed the President to rule independently of the Reichstag in the case of national emergency and; The President had the right to call referendums.

The Reichstag

The Reichstag was the main legislative body under the Weimar constitution. Members of the Reichstag were elected using a system of Proportional Representation based on Universal Suffrage for all adults aged 20 or older. This system worked as follows. Germany was divided into electoral regions. Within each of these regions a political party would put forward a number of candidates. The number of these who became deputies within the Reichstag was based on the total number of votes the party received within that electoral region. One member could be sent for every 60,000 votes cast for the party.

The elected deputies then sat in the Reichstag. The leader of the most powerful elected party would usually then be appointed Chancellor by the President. The Chancellor could then choose his own Cabinet from the elected deputies. The Chancellor and the Cabinet answered to the Reichstag, so they were reliant upon the continued support of the majority of deputies. Should they lose the support of the majority a vote of no confidence was sufficient for the President to dismiss the Chancellor and either call new elections or appoint an alternative Chancellor.

It was the Reichstag that debated issues and voted on proposed legislation. Once passed by the Reichstag the legislation would then be debated in the Reichsrat, the second German house of Parliament where it would be either ratified or rejected.

The Reichsrat

The Reichsrat was the second Parliamentary house. Each of the Regional governments could appoint members to this house. The numbers of members sent to this house by any state were roughly in proportion to the size of the state, though the constitution forbade any one state having more than two fifths of the representatives in the Reichsrat. This was to prevent larger states, Prussia for example, dominating proceedings. The Reichsrat had limited authority. It could not propose legislation nor could it amend it. Its function was to offer advice and it had the right to reject legislation that was approved by the Reichstag.

Regional Government

Each of the states that make up Germany retained its own State Parliament. These governments controlled education, operated the local police force and Judiciary and managed local affairs. Under the Weimar constitution several powers that had previously been held by the States now moved to central control, most notably control of the armed forces.


The constitution of the Weimar republic allowed the people to force a referendum on issues. In order to do this 10% of the electorate needed to sign a petition in favour of a proposal. Were the Reichstag to dismiss the proposal it then had to go to a referendum. This would allow the people to vote on the issue, answering a single question with a 'Yes' or 'No' vote.

The guarantee of rights

The constitution also had a section that guaranteed the basic rights of German citizens. In this section the constitution outlined the right to localised self-government, a 'dignified existence for all people', economic freedoms, religious freedom and freedom of the Trade Unions. These rights were not only guaranteed but also supported by the development of additional welfare measures such as unemployment benefits, sick pay and the establishment of labour exchanges.

FAR LEFT: KPD (Communist Party of Germany)

Communist Party Platform

"We are committed to the overthrow of the presently existing, oppressive Republic and all of its economic and social institutions.

We favor:

  1. The abolition of private property.
  2. The establishment of land reform programs, so that the government can take over the land and distribute it for the common good.
  3. Government ownership of all industrial productive forces, so that they can be run for the benefit of the people rather than the capitalists.
  4. A foreign policy that regards the Soviet Union as an ally against capitalism.

To the German people: The cause of your misery is the fact that French, British, and American capitalists are exploiting German workers to get rich themselves. Germans, unite to get rid of this terrible burden."

LIBERAL LEFT: SPD (Social Democratic party of Germany)

SPD Party Platform

"We are committed to maintaining the Republic and a policy that will allow Germany to take its rightful place among the free governments of Europe.

  1. We will support the present German Republic so that freedom, democracy, and justice will live in the hearts of our German countrymen.
  2. We will honor all of Germany’s obligations, political and financial, in order that Germany’s honor and respect will not be decreased in the eyes of the world.
  3. We plan to create more jobs by undertaking an extensive program of public works.
  4. We will provide unemployment compensation for up to six months.
  5. We will cut government expenditures to lower taxes.
  6. We believe in the right of those who disagree with the party to speak and write on those issues without interference."

MODERATE: Center Catholic Party

In terms of ideology and class, the Catholic Center Party (Zentrum, or, Z) was more diverse than any of its Weimar rivals. Its one area of uniformity was its commitment to protect the interests of Germany’s Catholics; about 34% of the population. Thus, it is not surprising that the largest number of Center Party supporters were Catholic, although Protestants also supported the party and were included in its legislative delegation. Even some of Germany’s Jews (1% of the population) voted for the Catholic Center party. Catholic women voted for the party in very high numbers. While it had a left-liberal trade union wing, and a right-conservative nationalist wing, the weight of its support placed the party at the center of the political spectrum. The Center Party was vital to the stability of the Republic, and it was a part of every Weimar government. Its leaders served as chancellors for nine administrations and were included in each of the twenty-one cabinets that ruled during the fourteen years of the Republic. With the change in leadership of the party in 1928, it drifted towards its more conservative wing which had evolved into the Bavarian People’s Party.(BVP). Independent of the national Catholic Center party, the BVP often positioned itself in opposition to the Weimar government.

FAR RIGHT: NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party) (Nazis)

See my website for the Nazi 25-point program, which served as the party's platform.

Perception of the Weimar Republic

Views of Weimar

    Dolchstoss - The "Stab in the Back" legend. This theory was believed by many ordinary Germans. They believed they were stabbed in the back by their own political leaders - revolution and political betrayal. "The Dictate of Versailles."

The Right Wing Believed:

•Germany Army did not lose WWI on the Battlefield.

•It was lost by the politicians, not the army


•Betrayed by Civilians and Politicians on the home front

•Especially those that supported the creation of the Weimar Republic

•Those that signed the Armistice were known as the "November Criminals.“

•Betrayal led to TOV humiliation

•Nazis will later use the myth as part of their “history”

First use of Dolchstoss

Paul von Hindenburg’s Testimony Before Nov. 1919 Reichstag Commission on Germany’s Role in War:

•He Lied – Said Army had been on the verge of victory in the Fall of 1918. (He has been one to push the idea of an armistice to avoid the Allies from occupying Germany if its army failed, which it was at the time.)

•Instead defeat was precipitated by a Dolchstoß ("stab in the back") by disloyal elements on the homefront and unpatriotic politicians.

Weimar Germany is a liberal, democratic republic. However, many conservative nationalists remain in positions of influence. (Higher civil servants, teachers, judges, military officers, and professors.) They are unsympathetic to the new republic.

Major Putsches 

The Spartacist Uprising (Communist - left) (A Revolution - needs popular support to succeed)

The Kapp Putsch (Conservative - right) (A coup d'etat: small group of people, usually political party or group of generals - usually supported by the conservative right / elite.)

The Munich Putsch (Nazi Party)

On November 8th, 1923, the Bavarian government held a meeting in a Munich beer hall. Adolf Hitler arrived with armed stormtroopers, jumped onto a table, fired two shots in the air and told the audience that the National Revolution had begun. The next day he and 3,000 armed Nazi supporters clashed with Police. When shots were fired Hitler fled. Arrested two days later, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Although Hitler was still an Austrian citizen, the Bavarian officials decided not to deport him. A sympathetic judge allowed Hitler to use the trial as a political podium to present his radical views. His minimal sentence was to be served in a comfortable prison fortress.

Major Events During the Weimar Republic

Occupation of the Ruhr Valley

Runaway Inflation (Hyperinflation)

In the period following the end of World War I, Germany experienced a disastrous period of inflation. The German government method of financing the war by borrowing heavily and printing large quantities of unbacked currency began the inflationary spiral. It was compounded by the loss of resources and reparations, which resulted from the Treaty of Versailles. And these difficulties were in turn compounded by political violence. The unwillingness of industrialists and labor leaders to put aside their narrow interests and work for the common good was yet another factor which aggravated the situation. Many Germans, particularly those on fixed incomes and pensions, endured great hardships and lived in sharply reduced circumstances. By November of 1923, hyper-inflation paralyzed Germany and only foreign loans and the issuing of a entirely new currency restored confidence and ended the crisis.



U.S. Dollars










Jan. 1923



Jul. 1923



Aug. 1923



Nov. 1, 1923



Nov. 15, 1923



Nov. 16, 1923



Stresemann's Currency Reform

The Policy of Fulfillment

The Dawes Plan

The Locarno Pact

The Young Plan

Rise of Adolf Hitler

Background to Adolf Hitler

Austrian Origins

The First World War

Munich 1919 - 1924

It advocated: 

Nazi Membership in the 1920s by social group (%)

Skilled workers (e.g. plumbers)                            33

Businessmen (e.g. factory owners)                    19

Lower employees (e.g. shop assistants)    18

Unskilled workers (e.g. farm labourers)    12

Farmers                                                                                               11

Students                                                                                               4

Professionals (e.g. doctors, lawyers)             3

Aristocrats (lords)                                                                    0

"Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!"

(One People, One Empire, One Leader)

The Nazis have a message for every segment of the public: 


Poor: the message is, you are condemned by the greed of high finance.We will change that, and we will insist upon a more equitable distribution of resources.


Middle Class:  the argument is very simple: They play upon their fears of communism. They tell them, don’t worry we will protect your property.  Look East, look to Russia, and what do you see, the nationalization of property. We will preserve your private wealth and property. 


Upper class: Don’t worry we are a friend of industry. Don’t worry we are friendly to Germany’s aristocratic tradition. 


Military: we are one with you. 


Bureaucrats: an appeal that satisfies their interest as well


Propaganda: We stand above class.  We stand above all of these separate interest.  We stand for one thing only: A better and stronger Germany. We stand for the principle of honor, German militarism, and German pride.

Nazi Achievement of Power 1929 - 33

The Nazi Breakthrough

The efforts of Chancellor Heinrich Bruning (1930 - 1932) to stem the tide of bad economic news were spectacularly unsuccessful, and in 1932, new elections were called. Using a revolutionary strategy of perpetual campaigning and other propaganda innovations, the Nazis scored dramatic successes in regional and national elections, emerging in the summer as the largest political party in Germany (with 38% of the vote). Bruning's successor, Franz von Papen, had little support and less success in dealing with the economic problems, and having never been in power, Hitler and his party were perfectly positioned to attack the established parties and their failures. Negative campaigning was raised to new heights. In November 1932, the Nazis suffered an unexpected defeat at the ballot box, seeing their vote drop for the first time since they began their dramatic ascent.

Conspiracy or popular acclaim?

Weimar's addiction to Article 48.

Mounting electoral support for the Nazi party

A product of the system

Why did Hitler become Chancellor in 1933?

The Beer Hall Putsch


Hitler’s “Political Genius”

The Wall Street Crash

Attractive Policies

Divided Opponents

1932 Elections

Nazi campaigning in the elections of 1932

Why did Hitler become Chancellor in 1933?

In 1931, the NSDAP briefly took part in an anti-government alliance, giving Hitler access to conservative circles. 

In 1932, the Nazis did well in the four major national campaigns. During these campaigns, street battles between the Communist and Nazis became a plague, as public violence rose to new heights.

Chancellor Bruning was unable to strengthen the economy.

Key Names You Need to Know

-von Papen, Chancellor / Advisor to Hindenburg

-Hindenburg, President of Germany

-von Schleicher, Chancellor prior to Hitler

Rise to Power  - July 1932 to Jan. 30, 1933


•July 1932- Reichstag elections, 230 Nazi party members (not majority) von Papen remains as chancellor, pushes economy reforms. These will mostly fail.

•Nov. 1932- New elections, 192 Nazi party members

•Dec 1932- Von Schleicher is chancellor does not do well, resigns

•Jan.: von Papen & Hindenburg meet secretly. Believe they can control Hitler?

         -3 Nazi cabinet post out of 11 (Hitler is one of them.)

         -Hindenburg could control Hitler from the top

         -Von Papen had support of conservatives

         -they hoped the people would see Hitler as an extremist and he would resign

•January 1933:  von Schleicher is ineffective and resigns as chancellor

•Jan 30th 1933:  Hindenburg gave Hitler the job as chancellor, Von Papen in vice chancellor. What could possibly go wrong?

Consolidation of Power / Rule of Hitler

Reichstag Fire - Feb. 27, 1933

The Reichstag (the German Parliament) burned down.  A Dutch Communist named van der Lubbe was caught red-handed with matches and fire-lighting materials. Hitler used it as an excuse to arrest many of his Communist opponents, and as a major platform in his election campaign of March 1933.  The fire was so convenient that many people at the time claimed that the Nazis had burned it down, and then just blamed the Communists. Modern historians, however, tend to believe that van der Lubbe did cause the fire, and that Hitler just took advantage of it.

General Election - March 5, 1933 

Hitler held a general election, appealing to the German people to give him a clear mandate. Only 44% of the people voted Nazi, which did not give him a majority in the Reichstag, so Hitler arrested the 81 Communist deputies (which did give him a majority).  Goering become Speaker of the Reichstag.

Goebbels Takes Control of Media - March 13, 1933

Goebbels is appointed head of Ministry of Propaganda. Took control of the media.

Enabling Act - March 23, 1933

The Reichstag voted to give Hitler the power to make his own laws. Nazi stormtroopers stopped opposition deputies going in, and beat up anyone who dared to speak against it. The Enabling Act made Hitler the dictator of Germany, with power to do anything he liked - legally.

Employment Law - May 2

Major program of public works, such as road building, to create jobs.

Night of the Long Knives - June 30, 1934

The SA were the thugs who Hitler had used to help him come to power.   They had defended his meetings, and attacked opponents.   By 1934 there were more than a million of them.

Historians have often wondered why Hitler turned on the SA.   But Hitler was in power in 1934, and there was no opposition left - the SA were an embarrassment, not an advantage.  Also, Rohm, the leader of the SA, was talking about a Socialist revolution and about taking over the army.  On the night of 30 June 1934 - codeword 'Hummingbird - Hitler ordered the SS to kill more than 400 SA men.

President Paul von Hindenburg Dies - Aug. 2, 1934

Hitler Declares Himself Fuhrer - August 19, 1934 

When Hindenburg died, Hitler took over the office of President and leader of the army (the soldiers had to swear to die for Adolf Hitler personally). Hitler called himself 'Fuhrer'.

METHODS of Hitler's / Nazi Regime Rule


More info contained in the "Nazis Methods of Rule Reading": Economic Recovery and Rearmament



Repression, Intimidation and Fear

More info contained in the "Nazis Methods of Rule Reading": Repression and Control


The Nazis took over local government and the police.  Heinrich Himmler became head of police as well as head of the SS. Prior to the Night of the Long Knives, Himmler named Victor Heydrich as its leader. The Nazis started to replace anti-Nazi teachers and University professors.   Hitler set up the Gestapo (the secret police) and encouraged Germans to report opponents and 'grumblers'.   Tens of thousands of Jews, Communists, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, gypsies, homosexuals, alcoholics and prostitutes were arrested and sent to concentration camps for 'crimes' as small as writing anti-Nazi graffiti, possessing a banned book, or saying that business was bad. 


Rely on the readings found in the Nazi Methods of Rule Readings Shared File Folder

Der Stürmer = Nazi Newspaper used for Propaganda

Der Stürmer, a weekly magazine published by Julius Streicher, was the most vile anti-Semitic publication of the National Socialist period. This special edition was dedicated to the practice of ritual murder ascribed to the Jews. The authors presented their prejudices as fact in order to intensify anti-Semitic hatred towards the "murderers of Christ." This accusation, which emerged in the Middle Ages, maligned Jews as "murderers" of Christian children for ritualistic purposes. Der Stürmer attempted to keep this old prejudice alive by citing alleged current examples.

Control of the Youth / Education

More info contained in the "Nazis Methods of Rule Reading": Nazis and Young People


More info contained in the "Nazis Methods of Rule Reading": Nazis and the Churches

More info contained in the "Hitler's Germany Readings": Hitler's Germany - Ch 6

The Nazis and the Christian Churches

Source: "On the Founding of the state church: The Cross wasn't heavy enough yet."

A 1933 cartoon by John Heartfield.

Economic Policies 

More info contained in the "Nazis Methods of Rule Reading": Economic Recovery and Rearmament

The Four Year Plan

        Farming Policies


        Business and the Middle Class

Treatment of Women

More info contained in the "Nazis Methods of Rule Reading": Women in Nazi Germany

More info contained in the "Hitler's Germany Readings": Hitler's Germany - Ch 6

How successfully did the Nazis impose their ideology on German women?

Law for the Encouragement of Marriage

The Nazis Ideals for Women

Nazi Policies Toward Women

Increase Pure German Births





Public Life

Treatment of Minorities

More info contained in the "Nazis Methods of Rule Reading": Treatment of Minorities

Racial Theory

Hated the Jews


Nuremberg Laws September 1935



Crystal Night (Kristallnacht: "Night of Broken Glass")


By 1939 half Jewish population fled abroad

What did the former Kaiser Wilhelm think about German Jews?

Following his abdication in Nov. 1918 he began to believe that the Jews were the reason for Germany's downfall. 

The "Internationalism" of the Jews annoyed the disgruntled German nationalists (including Wilhelm) in search of a scapegoat for defeat. 

In December 1919 the Kaiser wrote: "The most profound and nastiest outrage that a nation has ever brought about in its history, the Germans have brought down upon themselves [when they were] seduced and [mis-]led by the race of Juda they hate so much, and who were enjoying their hospitality! That was all the thanks they got! No German must ever forget this and must not sleep until this parasite is swept from German soil and exterminated! This venomous toadstool on the German oak!"

In 1920 Wilhelm was reading Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion. The book appeared to prove - until shown as a fraud - that World War I and the catastrophe that followed had been engineered by a powerful clique of rich Jews. (The book is a fraudulent antisemitic text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for achieving global domination. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were major proponents of the text: It was studied, as if factual, in German classrooms after they came to power in 1933, despite having been exposed as fraudulent years before.)

In 1927 he wrote: [The] press, Jews and mosquitoes...are a nuisance that humanity must get rid of in some way or another. I believe the best would be gas?" Wilhem II had no knowledge of how gas could really be used to exterminate people. To him it was a fantasy to do so though. 

Cordell Hull, FDRs Sec. of State and its relations with Nazi Germany

Treatment of Opposition 

More info contained in the "Nazis Methods of Rule Reading": Why So Little Opposition


Gestapo: Tens of thousands of Jews, Communists, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, gypsies, homosexuals, alcoholics and prostitutes were arrested and sent to concentration camps for 'crimes' as small as writing anti-Nazi graffiti, possessing a banned book, or saying that business was bad. 

Jews and other Opponents purged from Government Jobs - April 7, 1933

Trade Unions banned  - May 2, 1933

The Trade Unions offices were closed, their money confiscated, and their leaders put in prison.   In their place, Hitler put the German Labour Front which reduced workers' pay and took away the right to strike.

Political Opposition banned - July 14, 1933 

The Law against the Formation of Parties declared the Nazi Party the only political party in Germany.   All other parties were banned, and their leaders were put in prison.

Carl von Ossietzky

An outspoken pacifist and prominent opponent of Hitler, German-born Ossietzky was awarded the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize for a series of articles exposing Germany's continued breach of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I.

When it was announced that he had won the Peace Prize he was battling tuberculosis in a hospital under the watch of the Gestapo. 


In 1929 Walter Kreiser, one of the writers for Die Weltbühne, published an expose of the training of a special air unit of the Reichswehr, referred to as Abteilung M ("M Battalion"), which was secretly training in Germany and in Soviet Russia, in violation of Germany's agreements under the Treaty of Versailles. Kreiser and Ossietzky, the paper's editor, were questioned by a magistrate of the Supreme Court about the article later that year, and were finally indicted in early 1931 for "treason and espionage," the assertion being that they had drawn international attention to state affairs which the state had purposefully attempted to keep secret. The arrests were widely seen at the time as an effort to silence Die Weltbühne which had been a vocal critic of the Reichswehr's policies and secret expansion.

Counsel for the defendants pointed out that the information they had published was true, and, more to the point, that the budgeting for Abteilung M had actually been cited in reports by the Reichstag's budgeting commission. The prosecution successfully countered that Kreiser (and Ossietzky, as his editor) should have known that the reorganization was a state secret when he questioned the Ministry of Defense on the subject of Abteilung M and the ministry refused to comment on it. Kreiser and Ossietzky were convicted and sentenced to eighteen months in prison. Kreiser fled Germany but Ossietzky remained and was imprisoned, being released at the end of 1932 for the Christmas amnesty.

Ossietzky continued to be a constant warning voice against militarism and Nazism when, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor and the Nazi dictatorship began. Even then, Ossietzky was one of a very small group of public figures who continued to speak out against the Nazi Party. On 28 February 1933, after the Reichstag fire, he was arrested and held in so-called protective custody in Spandau prison. Wilhelm von Sternburg, one of Ossietzky's biographers, surmises that if Ossietzky had had a few more days, he would surely have joined the vast majority of writers who fled the country. In short, Ossietzky underestimated the speed with which the Nazis would go about ridding the country of unwanted political opponents. He was detained afterwards at the concentration camp KZ Esterwegen near Oldenburg, among other camps.

The government had been unable to prevent this, but they now refused to release him so that he could travel to Oslo to receive the prize. In an act of civil disobedience, after Hermann Göring prompted him to decline the prize, Ossietzky issued a note from the hospital saying that he disagreed with the authorities who had stated that by accepting the prize he would cast himself outside the deutsche Volksgemeinschaft (community of German people):

"After much consideration, I have made the decision to accept the Nobel Peace Prize which has fallen to me. I cannot share the view put forward to me by the representatives of the Secret State Police that in doing so I exclude myself from German society. The Nobel Peace Prize is not a sign of an internal political struggle, but of understanding between peoples. As a recipient of the prize, I will do my best to encourage this understanding and as a German I will always bear in mind Germany's justifiable interests in Europe."

Ossietzky's Nobel Prize was not allowed to be mentioned in the German press, and a government decree forbade German citizens from accepting future Nobel Prizes.

Foreign Policy

More info contained in the "Nazis Methods of Rule Reading": 

In 1936 Hitler wrote a secret message to Herman Goering, who was in charge of economic affairs. The message ended:

"I thus set the following task:

  1. The Germany army must be ready to fight within 4 years.
  2. The German economy must be fit for war within 4 years."

Within four years Germany was at war and had already occupied nine European countries. It was clear what Hitler's foreign policy aims were.

Hitler's Foreign Policy Objectives


Violations of Versailles Treaty

Lesson:  Britain, France, USA were NOT willing to preserve Versailles settlement  



The Austria Crisis of 1934

The Saar returned to Germany, 1935

Rearmament and Conscription, 1935

Stresa Conference, 1935

Remilitarization of the Rhineland, 1936

Danzig, 1933-39

Anschluss with Austira, 1938

Czechoslovakia, 1938

The Munich Conference, Sept. 1938

Summary:      Conference to decide fate of Sudetenland.  Major participants - Mussolini, Hitler, Chamberlain, Deladier.  Sudetenland ceded to Germany.

Significance:  USSR not included - led to distrust.  Culmination of appeasement.  Collective security abandoned and western powers discredited.  Hitler would not honour terms and saw West as unwilling to fight for Eastern Europe.  Bought some breathing space for Britain.

The annexation of Czechoslovakia, March 1939

Nazi-Soviet Pact, 1939

Operation Barbarossa, June 1941


A policy aimed to prevent aggressors from starting wars by finding out what they want and agreeing to demands that seem reasonable

Neville Chamberlain was the British Prime Minister that negotiated with Hitler in 1938


1933-Germany leave the L of N - start to rearm in secret

1935-Anglo-German Naval Agreement, Abyssinian Crisis, German announces conscription.

1936- Remilitarization of the Rhineland

1938 (March) Anschluss

1938 (Sept) Sudetenland crisis and the Munich agreement

1939- Germany take over the rest of Czechoslovakia

1939 Britain and France abandon appeasement and guarantee to defend Poland


Most politicians wanted to avoid war

The people of Britain wanted to avoid war

Britain had only a small army and airforce

Many people thought of the Sudetenland in the same way they had about Austria

Winston Churchill did not agree but he was in a minority.

The results of Appeasement

Europe saved from war? Possibly though some historians that if the Czechs, French, British and Russians had stood up to Hitler he would have been defeated, and would have faced war on two fronts

Czechoslovakia was abandoned, and weakened by the loss of important military defences and resources

Germany gained the Sudetenland- another step towards the Greater Germany.

Britain and France gained time to build up their armed forces, but so did Germany

Hitler decided Britain and France were unlikely ever to oppose him by force

Stalin was offended at being excluded from the talks and decided he could not rely on Britain to help the USSR stand up against Germany

Foreign Policy

Three Phases


I.      Phase I: 1933-1937 – “Peacefully” undoing Versailles


II.    Phase II: 1937 – 1939 – Radicalization


III.  Phase III: 1939 – 1941 – Blitzkrieg / WWII



A.     1933 – AH promises peace in Europe; friendship treaty with Poland; “Concordant” with the Vatican

B.      1933: Quits League of Nations (denounces “foreign” control over German affairs)

C.      1935: after settling internal Party issues (Röhm Purge in ’34)

1.  Rearmament (violation of Versailles)

2.  Conscription (violation of Versailles)

D.      1936: Versailles destroyed

1.  Remilitarization of the Rhineland (violation of Versailles)

2.  Aid to Spanish Fascists in Spanish Civil War

E.       Lesson:  Britain, France, USA were NOT willing to preserve Versailles settlement  

II.                Phase II: 1937 – 1939 – Radicalization

A.     Nov 1937:

1.  Reichskristallnacht – violence against Jewish Germans

2.  Hossbach Memorandum – top secret meeting; “war is inevitable”

B.      Feb 1938: radical shakeup of the military;  anti-Nazi coup plans fall apart

C.      March 1938: Anschluss with Austria (violation of Versailles)

D.      Sep 1938: Sudetenland Crisis; Munich conference; Allies permit German seizure of Sudetenland; “Peace in our Time” (N. Chamberlain)

E.       Allies vow to protect (a) rest of Czechoslovakia & (b) Poland  

III.             Phase III: 1939 – 1941 – BLITZKRIEG

1939Spring: Germany occupies remainder of Czechoslovakia (violating Munich deal)Germany occupies German-speaking cities along BalticGermany threatens PolandNAZI-SOVIET PACT1 Sep 39 – Hitler says that “in self-defense,” Germany has attack PolandUSSR attacks Poland from the EastLull – USSR attacks Finland;  quiet in rest of Europe; “Phoney War”1940Spring: VICTORY IN THE WEST – Denmark; Norway; Belgium; Luxemburg; Netherlands;  FRANCE (division; Vichy Regime)  BATTLE OF BRITAIN (invasion of Britain cancelled)  Battle of the Atlantic  

IV.              Phase IV: 1941 – 1943: WAR AGAINST THE WORLD

1941June: OPERATION BARBAROSSA – Germany attacks USSRSweeping victories;  first mass murders of Jews in Russia  Concentration camps in Poland began murdering Jews & Soviet prisoners  German troops to help Italians in North Africa  December: after Pearl Harbor, Germany declares war on USA1942Summer & Fall:

U-Boats defeated in Battle of the Atlantic

Germans defeated in North Africa (EL ALAMEIN)

US troops invade North Africa

Allies begin day & night bombing of Germany


1943Germany on strategic defensive

Russians counterattack

US & British invade Italy

Bombing of Germany

 V.                 Phase V: 1944-45 – Disaster

1944Allies capture RomeD-DAY (June 6, 1944) – Allies invade FranceRussians enter Eastern Europe“Battle of the Bulge” – final German offensive in West1945Germany invadedBattle of Berlin – Russians capture the cityApril 30: Hitler’s suicideMay 7/8 – Germany’s unconditional & total surrender

Paper 2 Essay Study Guide 

On Friday, October 1 you will have a major Paper 2 essay exam. You will have 50 minutes to answer one IB question on the rise and consolidation of power of Adolf Hitler

You are to rely on your textbook, my notes, and your notes that you've taken in class. Be sure to use the next couple of days to create a detailed outline of what you want to write. You can't use all of the reasons, but you have to be able to clearly articulate the details how each of the broad reasons led to Hitler becoming the Fuhrer.

Be sure to know the following so that you are able to clearly articulate it in your essay: 

Broad reasons for the RISE of the Nazi Party and Hitler

Broad reasons for the CONSOLIDATION OF POWER by the Nazi Party and Hitler:

Elimination of Opposition

Be sure you can name names of others who assisted Hitler. Remember, he didn't do it all. 


How did Nazi rule affect the Germans?


1    Nazi Party members

·          were especially happy - they got all the best houses, preferential treatment, good jobs in the government and power over other people


2    Ordinary People


For ordinary people, life was good:

·          full employment (work programmes/ Strength through Joy) gave prosperity and financial security - many observers stated that there seemed to be no poverty in Germany,

·          full employment (work programmes/ Strength through Joy) gave prosperity and financial security - many observers stated that there seemed to be no poverty in Germany,

·          law and order (few people locked their doors),

·          autobahns improved transport,

·          frequent ceremonies, rallies, colour and excitement,

·          Nazi propaganda gave people hope,

·          Nazi racial philosophy gave people self-belief

·          Trust in Adolf Hitler gave a sense of security (one German woman told the American reporter Nora Wall: 'He is my mother and my father.   He keeps me safe from all harm.')


There were few drawbacks:

·          Wages fell, and strikers could be shot - the Nazis worked closely with the businessmen to make sure that the workforce were as controlled as possible.

·          Loss of personal freedoms (eg freedom of speech).

·          All culture had to be German - eg music had to be Beethoven or Wagner or German folk songs - or Nazi - eg all actors had to be members of the Nazi party/ only books by approved authors could be read.

3    Women

The Nazis were very male-dominated and anti-feminist.     

Nazi philosophy idealised the role of women as child-bearer and creator of the family:

·          The Law for the Encouragement of Marriage gave newly-wed couples a loan of 1000 marks, and allowed them to keep 250 marks for each child they had.   

·          Mothers who had more than 8 children were given a gold medal.   

But not all women were happy with the Nazi regime:

·          Job-discrimination against women was encouraged.   Women doctors, teachers and civil servants were forced to give up their careers.

·          Women were never allowed to serve in the armed forces - even during the war.


4    Youth

Most German young people were happy.   


·          Nazi culture was very youth-oriented.   

·          The HJ provided exciting activities for young boys.   

·          The HJ and the BDM treated young men and women as though they were special, and told then they had knew more then their parents.   

·          Many parents were frightened that their children would turn them into the Gestapo, which gave young people a power that they enjoyed.


But not all young people were happy with the Nazi regime:

·          Some girls were unhappy with the emphasis on the three Cs (Church, children, cooker).   Girls who were regarded as true Aryan girls were sent off to special camps where they were bred (like farm animals) with selected 'Aryan' boys.

·          Towards the end of the war, youth gangs such as the Eidelweiss Pirates grew up, rejecting the HJ and Nazi youth culture, drinking and dancing to American jazz and 'swing' music.   In Cologne in 1944 they sheltered army deserters and even attacked the Gestapo.   If they were caught, they were hanged.


5    Opponents

But remember that:

·          Many Germans welcomed this because it brought political stability after the Weimar years

The Nazi's used 'fear and horror' against anyone who disapproved of their regime:

·          Hitler banned all Trade Unions on 2 May 1933.   Their offices were closed, their money confiscated, and their leaders put in prison. 

·          Communists were put into concentration camps or killed.

·          Many Protestant pastors such as Dietrich Bonhoffer were persecuted and executed.

·          Each block of flats had a 'staircase ruler' who reported grumblers to the police - they were arrested and either murdered, or sent to concentration camps.

·          Children were encouraged to report their parents to the Gestapo of they criticized Hitler or the Nazi party.


6    Untermensch

But note that:

·          Many Germans approved of this.



The Nazi regime despised many groups it thought were racially or socially inferior (untermensch = subhuman) - people they called the 'germs of destruction'.   Groups which were persecuted and killed included:

·          Black people, who were sterilized and killed.

·          Jews, such as Anne Frank, who the Germans systematically persecuted, put into concentration camps, used for medical experiments and, in the end, devised the Final Solution of genocide.

·          Gypsies, who were treated as badly as the Jews - 85% of Germany's gypsies were killed.

·          5000 mentally disabled babies were killed 1939-45.   

·          72,000 mentally ill patients were killed 1939-41.

·          Physically disabled people and families with hereditary illness were sterilized - 300,000 men and women were sterilized 1934-45.

·          Beggars, homosexuals, prostitutes, alcoholics, pacifists, hooligans and criminals were also regarded as anti-social, and they were put in concentration camps.

Nazi Leaders

Herman Goering

1914        WW1 Fighter Pilot Hero

1922        Close ally of Hitler.

1923        Played an important part in the Munich Putsch. Became popular with Nazi activists. Marriage to a Swedish aristocrat, Carin con Kantow, helped gain respectable conservative support.

1928        Elected to the Reichstag.

1932        Became the Reichstag’s President.

1933        January – his status and political contacts helped him play a key part in the deal to appoint Hitler Chancellor. 

Prussian minister for interior. 

Organized the infiltration of state police by members of the SA and SS.

February – widely accepted Goering organized the Reichstag fire in order to discredit the communists.

1934        August- drew up the death list for the Night of the Long Knives.

Relished in giving the good news of the purge of Rohm to the world’s press.

1936        Gained control of the Luftwaffe.

Joseph Gobbels

1925        Joined the Nazi Party as a supporter of the radical ideas of Gregor Strasser.   

        Became the Party’s expert on propaganda

1926        Appointed Gauleiter (party leader) of Berlin.

        Invented the ‘Hitler Myth’ by publishing pamphlets and organizing demonstrations and election campaigns.

1933        January – appointed Minister of Propoganda and Popular Enlightenment.

        Immediately took control of the Newspapers, films, radio and arts.

        February – carefully exploited the Reichstag fire.   

        May -  carefully exploited the burning of books

1936        Carefully exploited the Berlin Olympics.

Violently anti-Semitic

Author of the Nuremberg Laws 1935

Organizer of Kristallnacht in November 1938

Temporarily lost favor with Hitler due to his anti-war feelings in 1939 and an affair with Czech actress Lida Baarova.

Heinrich Himmler

1922        Joined the Nazi Party.

1923        Took part in the Munich Putsch.

1929        Appointed head of Hitler’s personal bodyguard, the SS.

1930        Elected to the Reichstag.

        Thirst for power led him to increase the SS from 200 in 1929 -52,000 in 1933.

1933        September took control of all political police units

        Set up the first concentration camp in Dachau

1934        April - Became head of the Prussian police and Gestapo

        August – mastermined the Night of the Long Knives, smashing the power of the SA and securing the SS’s position.

Believed Aryan racial superiority could only be achieved with the elimationof the inferior social and racial groups.

Attempted to make the SS racially elite.

Leading support of the Final Solution 1941.

Rudolf Hess

1920        Inspired to join the Nazi Party when hearing Hitler speak.

1923        Took part in the Munich Putsch.

        Helped Hitler write Mein Kampf.

1933        As a reward for his absolute loyalty and work her was appointed Deputy Leader and Reich Minister without Portfolio.

1938        Joined the secret Cabinet Council.

1939        Joined the Ministerial Council for the Reich Defense.

Outbreak of War – he was the third most important Nazi after Hitler and Goring.

Always a strong supporter of Lebensraum

Flew to Scotland in an attempt to procure peace in 1941, imprisoned.

Martin Bormann

1927        Joined the Nazi Party.

1934        Due to his dedication and efficiency he was appointed to the staff of Rudolf Hess.

1935        Appointed Hitler’s private secretary after helping to establish party control over the civil service.

He was able to promote his racist and atheistic policies.

By the end of WW2 he was the second most powerful Nazi.

Albert Speer

1931        Joined the Nazi Party

1934        Paul Troost died, leaving Speer as Hitler’s favorite architect.

        Developed the Nazi style of politics, i.e. parades and rallys.   

        Commissioned by Hitler to design the new Reich Chancellory in Berlin and the Party Palace in Nuremburg.

1937        Speer made responsible for rebuilding Berlin and other German cities in a neo-classical monumental style.

        Transformed the war economy, made it much more efficient and productive.

        Denied all knowledge of the Final Solution, but accepted the Nazi regime was morally responsible.

        20 years in Spandau prison, wrote  Inside the Third Reich.

1981        September 1, died in London.