time of the nationalsocialism - Zeit des Nationalsozialismus

Nazi marching column with swastika flags on the way back from the Nazi party rally (presumably 1938) on the Fürth / Nuremberg city ​​limits , anti-Jewish propaganda on the town sign and children with the Hitler salute (which was mandatory in front of Nazi flags at that time) . [1] In the background a factory building of the " Aryanized ", previously Jewish company JW Spear .
Center of Stalingrad, February 2, 1943

The era of National Socialism (also Nazi era and the Nazi dictatorship called) will be the period from 1933 to 1945, in which Adolf Hitler in Germany one of the Nazi Party supported (NSDAP) leader dictatorship established. The Nazi era began on January 30, 1933 with Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor and ended on May 8, 1945 with the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht to the Allies and their allies . With its expansive, revisionist and racist ideologyand politics unleashed the Second World War , in which the National Socialists and their accomplices committed mass crimes and genocide .

The model for National Socialist social policy was a self-contained, racially and ideologically uniform national community of " Aryans ". Politically dissenters and opponents of the regime were persecuted from the beginning of the Nazi dictatorship by means of state terror and, among other things, locked in concentration camps . Jews were discriminated against and systematically deprived of their rights, for example through the Nuremberg Laws . The radical anti-Semitic politics of the National Socialists culminated in the Holocaust .

The foreign policy of the Nazi state was aimed at making Germany's defeat in World War I forgotten and at renewing and expanding the previous great power position . Germany withdrew from the League of Nations as early as 1933 ; With the armament of the armed forces , the reintroduction of general conscription in 1935 and the occupation of the demilitarized Rhineland in 1936, important parts of the Versailles Treaty were violated. In 1938 Austria was " annexed " to the German Reich . In the same year the Munich Agreement allowedGermany the incorporation of the Sudetenland .

In the expansion phase from 1938 onwards, the National Socialists and their supporters committed numerous crimes against humanity against ethnic , religious and other social minorities across Europe . Around six million European Jews were murdered in the historically unprecedented Holocaust , up to 500,000 Sinti and Roma in Porajmos and around 100,000 people with mental and physical disabilities as part of “ Aktion T4 ” and “ Aktion Brandt ”. Following the strategy of the hunger planBetween 1941 and 1944 the German occupiers in the Soviet Union consciously let an estimated 4.2 million people starve to death and around 3.1 million Soviet soldiers died in German captivity .

The era of the National Socialist dictatorship in Germany and across large parts of Europe is viewed in an ethical and moral sense as a breach of civilization and as a low point in German , but also European history as a whole.

Origin and rise of National Socialism

The ideological ideas and social developments that came together under National Socialism are to be seen as deeply rooted in the 19th century. According to Kurt Bauer, extreme nationalist, racist, anti-Semitic and chauvinist views could be found in most European countries in the 19th and 20th centuries, but without being representative of a whole society . There are many reasons that National Socialism was able to come to power "at an ominous moment in history": "Monocausal explanations fail miserably when it comes to complex causes and relationships that made National Socialism powerful." [2]

In Hans-Ulrich Thamer's view, fascism and National Socialism emerged from the crisis of the European bourgeois-liberal order and from the age of revolutions. Both movements presupposed the formation and consolidation of the great political currents of thought of the 19th century: liberalism, democracy, socialism and conservatism - and their deformation through mass mobilization and mass ideology. Their relationship to the traditional state and social order is twofold: both reactionary and revolutionary. “They were traditionalist and modernist, anti-Marxist and anti-bourgeois. [...] With the apparent victory of the liberal democracies after 1918, their challengers rose at the same time: Bolshevism, fascism and National Socialism. "[3]

Consequential First World War

George F. Kennan described the First World War as the “great catastrophe of the 20th century” and viewed it as the trigger for hyperinflation as well as the Great Depression, the Second World War and the Cold War . [4] The political, social and economic conditions for the rise of National Socialism were created during and through the First World War . For Ian Kershaw , "without the First World War and its legacy [...] the Third Reich is inconceivable." The National Socialists had exploited the collective trauma by interpreting Germany's defeat in 1918 as a catastrophe that continued to have an impact. [5]In doing so, they made use of conspiracy-theoretical interpretations such as that of the “ November criminals ” and the stab in the back legend : Jews and Social Democrats had treasonously stabbed the supposedly victorious German army with the November Revolution. This thesis was shared by large parts of the German population and was suitable for sustainably delegitimizing the Weimar Republic . [6]

The Versailles Treaty , which was imposed by the victorious powers Germany and felt by most Germans to be unjust , also became a widespread object of National Socialist outrage and propaganda . [7] He charged Germany and his allies with war guilt in Article 231 , which served as the basis for reparation claims and provided clear fronts in the war guilt debate. The Versailles Treaty brought with it the loss of all colonies and considerable areas in east, north and west of Germany; the Rhineland was by troops of the Allies occupied, and Germany was subject to strict arms restrictions. The amount of the reparation payments to be made was initially indefinite; related benefits were enforced from 1920 to 1923 by means of ultimatums . The National Socialists, who were fundamentally revolting, described all attempts by the Weimar governments to soften the treaty through a policy of understanding with France and Great Britain as “national treason”. For them the "fight against Versailles" was the central concern. [8th]

Domestically, too, the world war had devastating consequences, which the National Socialists were able to exploit: it was financed through government bonds , the buyers of which had been promised a substantial return. Instead, the German Reich disposed of all of its national debt through hyperinflation until 1923 , which de facto expropriated not only bond owners but also all holders of savings. This breach of trust favored the rise of National Socialism. [9]

Kurt Bauer also considers the Bolshevik October Revolution to be hardly possible without the First World War, which has caused an intensification and radicalization of the political conflict in Europe: “The tremendous and extremely violent overthrow of the social and social conditions in Russia led to the end of the war and in the post-war period not simply to be dismissed as irrational fears of a similar revolution - and thus ultimately to the tendency to see in right-wing extremist, fascist groups guarantees against Bolshevism. ” [10] In addition, it is sometimes pointed out that the clear command structures experienced during the war the front generation for the alleged merits of an authoritarian system and for thatHad made the Führer principle receptive. [11]

Another factor that weighed heavily on the Weimar Republic and supported the Nazi movement was the persistence of undemocratic traditions in state and society: the November Revolution had left most of the imperial officials, judges, university professors, etc. in their offices. In the Weimar democracy, which was gripped by severe crises at the beginning of the 1930s, these monarchist and nationalistically socialized elites were not decidedly on the side of democracy, but were ready to form an alliance with the NSDAP. The historian Martin Broszatjudges that the NSDAP, since its rise to a mass party in 1929/30, has only summarized "what - fragmented but broadly - had long been pre-formed as ideological-political and interest-political potential". [12] Although Ernst Troeltsch's much-cited catchphrase of the "republic without republicans" turns out to be wrong in view of the election results up to 1930, [13] there was a shortcoming in the democratic stability of the population. An indication of this was the election of the declared opponent of the Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, as Reich President in 1925 . After his re-election in 1932 on January 30, 1933, he appointed the defeated competitor Adolf Hitler as Reich Chancellor.

One of the framework conditions that favored the rise of the National Socialists was, not least, the latent and often critical political instability of the Weimar Republic, which was exposed to several coup and revolutionary attempts in its early years . In the early 1930s, civil war-like clashes between members of the SA and the Red Front Fighters Association (which had been banned since 1929) shook public order. [14] The government and with it the political system of the Weimar Republic lost because of the failure to face the challenges of the Great DepressionMassive trust in the population: The pro-cyclical deflationary policy and the German banking crisis of the summer of 1931 exacerbated the depression until, with five million unemployed, every third German family was affected. The British economic historian Harold James sees National Socialism as “Germany's answer to the global economic crisis”. [15]

Foundation and rise of the NSDAP by 1933

Hitler's DAP membership card with the alleged membership number 7 (January 1, 1920). According to Anton Drexler, the number 555 was retouched and the number 7 was inserted in its place.

In its founding year 1920, the NSDAP, which emerged from the German Workers' Party (DAP), was only "one of several dozen small groups in the nationalist-folk spectrum that had emerged in Munich since the end of the war." [16] In which on February 24, 1920 im Munich Hofbräuhaus presented 25-point program [17] , it represented decidedly anti-democratic, ethnic-nationalist and racist, especially anti-Semitic positions. At the end of the year she acquired the Munich observer and made him Völkischer Beobachter (VB) as an organ of the NSDAP, the "Combat Journal of the National Socialist Movement Greater Germany ”. Adolf Hitler, a member of the DAP since September 1919, acquired the reputation of a “drummer” and “whip” of the party and was elected “First Chairman with dictatorial power” in 1921 at his own ultimate request. [18] In October 1921, with the involvement of members of the Ehrhardt Marine Brigade , which had failed in the Kapp Putsch, the Sturmabteilung (SA) was founded, which was initially used primarily in battlefields. [19] Local supporters of the German Volkischer Schutz- und Trutzbund, which has a large number of members, helped establish local NSDAP groups beyond Munich .[20]

When, after the murder of Walther Rathenau by members of the right-wing extremist organization Consul , the German Volkischer Schutz- und Trutzbund was banned in the Free State of Prussia on the basis of the newly created Republic Protection Act (the government of the Free State of Bavaria saw no need for action), but not the NSDAP, it came in 1922 a migration movement within the right-wing extremist milieu and to double the NSDAP membership. [21] At the height of the crisis year 1923After the Weimar Republic, Hitler decided, also under the impression of increasing impatience of his own party people, with the support of the former world war strategist Erich Ludendorff, to carry out a putsch based on the model of Mussolini's march on Rome with the aim of overturning the governments in Bavaria and Berlin. The so-called "March on the Feldherrnhalle " in Munich by the National Socialist propaganda , however, was put down by the Bavarian state police , the NSDAP now also banned in Bavaria. [22]

German first edition of Mein Kampf , July 1925. Exhibit in the German Historical Museum in Berlin.

In the Hitler trial before the Bavarian People's Court , those involved in the coup were consistently mild, if not acquittals. Hitler himself, for whom the course of the trial offered the widely perceived stage for propaganda on his own behalf, only received the statutory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment in the Landsberg Fortress . He was given the prospect of being released from prison after serving six months, and expulsion as a foreigner under the Republic Protection Act was waived. [23] While imprisoned under unusually comfortable conditions, [24] Hitler dictated to his secretary and later deputyRudolf Hess wrote his programmatic autobiography Mein Kampf .

The ban on the NSDAP of November 23, 1923 was undermined by the establishment of front organizations: in Bavaria by the Großdeutsche Volksgemeinschaft under Alfred Rosenberg , who was replaced by Julius Streicher and Hermann Esser in July 1924 ; in Northern Germany through the National Socialist Freedom Movement of Greater Germany led by Gregor Strasser and Erich Ludendorff . [25]After his release from prison on December 20, 1924, Hitler found a divided and weakened nationalist camp which he reserved to unite and now to bring it to power legally. In fact, he always succeeded in the future in keeping the upper hand in internal party struggles and rivalries. The historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler suspects that without the person of Hitler “National Socialism would in all probability have remained an ordinary authoritarian nationalist party with vague goals, as it existed in some places”. [26]After the ban in Prussia was lifted on December 12, 1924 - the danger posed by the National Socialists no longer seemed great enough for this severest sanction - the NSDAP was re-established on February 27, 1925 in the Munich Bürgerbräukeller with Hitler as the only speaker. [27]In the two-hour speech, which he began with the well-known ideological set pieces, Hitler finally declared that he would not allow factions or wings to impose any conditions on him in his claim to leadership "and then cleverly staged the reconciliation of those hopelessly quarreling in his absence on the open scene". The speech, however, also had the consequence that the Bavarian government issued a ban on speaking against Hitler, which numerous other state governments joined and which lasted until March 1927, in Prussia until September 1928. [28] The Weimar Republic remained in this phase of relative stabilization the NSDAP a marginal splinter party.

The Stahlhelm flag companies move into the Berlin stadium during the major event “Ten Years of the Versailles Treaty” (June 1929).

The referendum against the Young Plan , which ultimately failed in 1929 and which gave the National Socialist agitation broad development, and the global economic crisis that spread to Germany with growing mass unemployment were important factors in the enormous increase in the number of mandates for the NSDAP in the 1930 Reichstag election . With regard to the spectrum of potential voters, which included workers, middle class and farmers among others, the NSDAP was unusually broad; In a formulation by party researcher Jürgen W. Falter, it was a “people 's party of protest”. [29] The leading role in shaping the Harzburg FrontIn October 1931, the National Socialists made it increasingly compatible in German nationalist circles. In the Reichswehr trial in Ulm against Reichswehr officers who were accused of spreading Nazi propaganda, Hitler testified in his publicly effective so-called legality oath that he was trying to gain power “not by illegal means,” and thus countered rumors of another coup. However, also because of the declining capacity of the Reichstag to act, the era of presidential cabinets that began after the Reichstag elections in 1930 shifted more and more to the extra-parliamentary area. The defense associations of the parties - the SAThe NSDAP, the Stahlhelm closely related to the DNVP , the Red Front Fighters' League based on the KPD , the Social Democrat-dominated Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold - met in militant conflicts on the streets and in the meeting rooms.

With his naturalization, Hitler, who was stateless on his own initiative from 1925 , was given the opportunity to run against Hindenburg in the 1932 presidential election. The prevailed again; but from two subsequent Reichstag elections in July and November 1932, which resulted from the Reichstag's resistance to the emergency ordinance regime of Reich Chancellor Franz von Papen appointed by Hindenburg, the NSDAP emerged as by far the strongest faction. As extreme wing parties, the National Socialists and Communists now had a negative majorityin the Reichstag, which made any parliamentary work impossible. In talks with Hindenburg about the possible participation of the National Socialists in government, Hitler relentlessly claimed chancellorship for himself; he declined the offered vice-chancellorship . For a long time, Hindenburg refused to appoint Hitler as chancellor and, even after von Papen's double failure, preferred Kurt von Schleicher to Hitler for an understanding with the Reichstag. When even von Schleicher found no support in the Reichstag, he himself, in cooperation with other confidants of the now 86-year-old Paul von Hindenburg, recommended the appointment of Hitler as Reich Chancellor.

Establishment of the regime in 1933/34

When the Hitler cabinet was formed , only two other National Socialists were represented among the twelve members besides himself: Wilhelm Frick and Hermann Göring . DNVP Minister Alfred Hugenberg and Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen believed that Hitler was “committed” to their own ends. Von Papen ironed off doubters: “What do you want! I have Hindenburg's trust. In two months we have pushed Hitler into a corner so that he squeaks. ” [30] The French ambassador André François-Poncet, who was of a different opinion from the start, found six months after Hitler took up his chancellorship that when National Socialism came to power within five months, it had taken Italian fascism five years under Mussolini to cover it. [31]

After unsuccessful sham negotiations between Hitler and the Center for the Formation of a Majority Government, Hindenburg dissolved the Reichstag again on February 1, 1933 and called new elections. [32] In the ordinance of the Reich President for the protection of the German people on February 4, the KPD was banned and the first emergency ordinances were issued, which were primarily directed against communists and socialists and restricted freedom of the press, freedom of opinion and freedom of assembly. Immediately after the Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933, Hindenburg issued the Reichstag Fire Ordinance , which these basic rightsthe constitution cut even more. Many members of the KPD, the SPD and the smaller communist and socialist parties as well as the free trade unions were mistreated and taken into " protective custody ". All over the Reich, provisional places of detention for the SA in gymnasiums, barns or cellars , in which political opponents were detained and tortured, were set up. A first concentration camp of the SS camp system, which was later set up by the SS as planned, was set up in Dachau . Many detainees did not survive the conditions, which included torture and murder.

In the Reichstag election on March 5, 1933 , which was accompanied by repressive measures , the NSDAP missed an absolute majority, but this was corrected by canceling the seats won by the KPD before the first session of the new Reichstag. The Enabling Act of March 24, 1933 initially gave the government almost unrestricted legislative powers for a period of four years . With the law against the formation of new parties of July 14, 1933, the NSDAP became the only authorized party in Germany: the demonstrative end of Weimar democracy. For the Reichstag election on November 12, 1933only a single list of NSDAP members and selected guests was presented. The German Reichstag was retained, but was a sham parliament until 1945. See also the right to vote in the time of National Socialism . With the alignment of the states , which lost all sovereign tasks, the independence of the states guaranteed by the Weimar Constitution in favor of the Nazi central authority, which soon afterwards was expressed solely in the “will of the leader”, ended. Until the end of 1934, similar measures affected most clubs, associations and unions, the craftsmen and student associations, Media, cultural institutions and the judiciary. Party organizations of the NSDAP took over the former tasks of state agencies and non-state interest groups in many areas.

Schoolhouse in Fürth on the occasion of the referendum on the union of the offices of Reich President and Reich Chancellor on August 19, 1934. Official result in the Reich: 89.9 percent approval

When, in the middle of 1934, the SA leadership under Ernst Röhm, driven by continued revolutionary impatience and self-esteem, became a nuisance to Hitler, who was concerned with consolidating his position of power and balancing interests with the Reichswehr leadership , he ended the so-called Röhm putsch in agreement with Himmler , Goebbels and Göringwith the help of SS loyalists and had both Röhm and his entourage as well as other personal opponents murdered - staging himself as the supreme court lord and restorer of orderly circumstances. In doing so, he secured the support of the Reichswehr leadership, so that after the imminent death of Hindenburg, nothing stood in the way of Hitler's already prepared amalgamation of the Chancellorship and Presidency. By admitting that the Reichswehr would remain the only armed forces in the Reich in the future, Hitler could now easily make himself their commander-in-chief.

After Hindenburg's death on August 2, 1934, Hitler took over the office of Reich President on the basis of a law passed by his government and gave himself the title of Führer and Reich Chancellor . With a plebiscite he had his action confirmed afterwards. Minister of War Werner von Blomberg , whom Hindenburg had appointed before Hitler and who, along with others, should “frame” or “tame” his power according to the ideas of the conservatives, had the Reichswehr sworn in on Hitler's person. The officials also had to take a “ driver's oath ”. With the law to restore the civil serviceAs a basis, employees critical of the regime were removed from the public administration. With this, Hitler had enforced, stabilized and permanently secured his rule domestically.

Peace years 1934 to 1939

According to the propagated claim, all social differences should be abolished in the NS national community. [33] One promised to dissolve old social contradictions and to create a national mass society. Social relationships were under constant tension, even in the non-public area. “The private could be a place of retreat, at the same time it was subject to the constant demand to realign one's own behavior and tear down the previous boundaries between private and public life. National Socialism demanded a permanent decision to behave appropriately in the interests of the national community. " [34]

An essential instrument to bring about the national socialist way of thinking was violence. It was an important part of the National Socialist self-image and the rise of the movement. It formed “a central pillar” of the political order since 1933, and according to Dietmar Süß it was “one of the essential characteristics of Nazi rule to continue to delimit state and party authority.” [35] Even during the first months of Hitler's government, so did Riccardo Bavaj , the expansion of National Socialist power took place by means of violence in a "reciprocal dynamic from above and below". [36]Violence also remained the always available means of choice against all those who corresponded to the political and ethnic-racist enemy images of the National Socialists and therefore should not belong to the National Socialist community. Even before 1933, the NSDAP published lists, directories and, in some cases, city maps that either marked the route to “German” shops or the location of “Jewish” shops. That should encourage the German housewife to make the right purchase decision. [37]

The National Socialists paid special attention to youth, their comprehensive social control, indoctrinating apprehension and mobilization, while the educational role of parents was pushed back as far as possible. [38] "Power and consensus in Hitler's state", according to Thamer, "rested to a large extent on the fact that the regime repeatedly released youthful enthusiasm and aggressiveness and at the same time knew how to discipline and manipulate them." [39]

Propaganda and personality cult

1935: Shops close so that a speech by Hitler can be heard.

Hitler had already emphasized the importance of Nazi propaganda for the achievement of the self-imposed goals in the re-establishment of the NSDAP in 1925: The party was not an end in itself, but should only "enable the political-agitational struggle of the movement, to create the organizational prerequisites for educational activities are absolutely necessary. ”In Mein Kampf he called for the use of propaganda to win people over to the party organization, who in turn should mobilize other people to continue the propaganda. It is a matter of decomposing the "existing condition" and spreading the new teaching. Victory is possible "if the new worldview is taught to all people as possible and, if necessary, is later imposed." [40]

The Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels, created in March 1933, was given responsibility “for all tasks of intellectual influence on the nation, advertising for the state, culture and economy, informing the domestic and foreign public about them and administering all facilities serving these purposes. ” [41] According to Thamer, several hundred officials were busy drafting the daily press instructions for the German newspaper system, which largely continued to exist in its numerical diversity, and monitoring their compliance. Day after day, the newspaper representatives received the pre-filtered information and instructions on how to use it. [42]Another important means of disseminating the regime's political propaganda was radio and the specially developed people's receiver , which was widely distributed and with which listening to the radio - according to the propagated claim - should no longer be a private matter for each individual, but a "state political duty". The coverage rate with radios rose from 25 percent of all households in 1933 to 65 percent in 1941, although some rural regions and low-income urban households still had no radio reception. [43]

The core component of Nazi propaganda was the personality cult around Hitler. This became particularly visible in everyday public life after the Hitler salute had become mandatory for all Reich authorities, Reichsstatthalter and the state governments since July 1933 , which the party carried over to all public life as a "German greeting", including schools. where teachers should greet the class with "Heil Hitler" at the beginning of each lesson. In cities, small enamel signs were sometimes attached to power poles, lamp posts, shops and front doors with inscriptions such as: “The German greets: Heil Hitler!” Or “Volksgenossen, if you come in, your greeting should be 'Heil Hitler' ! "[44] Another element of the Hitler cult was the annual celebration of the Führer birthday on April 20th. The evening before, the new age groups joined the Hitler Youth across the Reich; On the day itself, swearing-in, membership and awarding of awards were carried out everywhere. [45]

April 20 was thus integrated into the Nazi-specific calendar of celebrations, festivals and days of remembrance, which began on January 30th on the “day of the seizure of power”. On February 24th, the “party founding ceremony” took place, in the middle of March the Heroes' Remembrance Day ; on May 1st the “National Labor Day” was celebrated, soon afterwards Mother's Day with honors for the heroines of the “Gebärschlacht”. On June 21st, the summer solstice was celebrated with fire wheels and fire speeches; and at the beginning of September there was an annual Nazi party rallyin Nuremberg, the highest festival of the NSDAP, a five-day celebration in 1933, an eight-day celebration in 1938, which in terms of splendor and power even surpassed all other events on the NS calendar. "The magic of flags and torches, the mass rituals and the leader cult, the Todesverklärung and vows numbed the senses and satisfy oldest showers desires." [46] in late September or early October, which was the "Nährstand" dedicated Reich Thanksgiving on the Bückeberg in Hameln also as Mass event celebrated, 1933 with 500,000 people, 1937 with more than 1.3 million. [47]On November 9th, Hitler and his entourage celebrated the day in Munich to commemorate the "Fallen of the Movement": Together with the "Old Fighters", Hitler marched behind the "blood flag" between other flags and burning offering bowls in order to avoid the failure of the putsch of 1923 into a triumph and to elevate the fallen of the movement "to the founders of religions of a new state cult": "The blood they shed has become baptismal water for the Reich." [48] At the end of the NS festival calendar In December there were the celebration of the winter solstice and the “People's Christmas , the Nazi-specific modifications of which were intended to push back the Christian Christmas, which, however, only had some success in party circles.[49]

Social policy accents

While the communist and social democratic sections of the working class lost their political and trade union representation through violence and repression within a few months of the Nazi regime - the German Labor Front (DAF) under Robert Ley was replacedfounded and working life in the factories organized according to the Fiihrer-allegiance principle - on the other hand, the Nazis' aim was to win over the mass of wage earners for their ideas of a new, racially exclusive national community. In addition to May 1st, other paid holidays were created and paid vacation was extended. They provided tax relief for lower and middle income at the expense of higher incomes, placed debtors in a better position than creditors and improved tenant protection. [50]

The regime's leisure-time policy measures under the umbrella of the “NS-Gemeinschaft 'Kraft durch Freude' (KdF), which followed the example of the fascist Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro in Italy, gained lasting popularity . In Hitler's call for founding it said: “I want the German worker to be given sufficient leave. I wish this because I want a people with strong nerves, because only with a people who keep their nerve can one really make great politics. " [51]With the extension of the collectively regulated annual vacation time from three days in 1933 to six to twelve days, an opportunity to travel was created for everyone. Since membership in the DAF included that in the KdF, there was a broad social impact. According to Thamer, the prices were unrivaled, both for a weekend trip to the Bavarian Forest and for a cruiseto Italy. This was made possible through strict rationalization, through subsidies from DAF funds and through price dictates for the accommodation industry. The number of participants in KdF vacation trips rose from 2.3 million in 1934 to 10.3 million in 1938. Nevertheless, only every third to fourth participant in a KdF trip belonged to the workforce; The main beneficiaries were the middle classes. [52]

With the catchphrase “culture for everyone”, concerts and plays were brought to the factories within the KdF framework and financial and social hurdles, such as the dress code , that prevented workers from entering concert halls and theaters, were lifted. In the end, larger contingents of tickets for the Bayreuth Festival were offered to a working-class audience at low prices. [53]

Burleigh sees the National Socialist People's Welfare (NSV) as an essential instrument for mobilizing the Nazi community feeling , to which Hitler in May 1933 granted responsibility for "all questions of people's welfare and welfare" under the direction of Erich Hilgenfeldt . The church welfare associations that still existed alongside them and the German Red Cross were gradually subordinated to the NSV, which by 1939 rose to become the largest NS mass organization after the DAF - with over eighty thousand employees and one million volunteers. Through membership fees and mass fundraising campaigns, she had enormous financial resources. [54]The National Socialists were particularly interested in duty and sacrifice for the well-being of the community and an activist climate in their service. This also applied to the Winter Relief Organization of the German People (WHW) assigned to the NSV as a social emergency aid program for the toughest months of the year. The solidarity of the better-off was demonstratively demanded, especially through the stew Sunday on every first Sunday of the month in winter, whereby the funds saved for a lavish meal should be transferred to the WHW. [55]

According to Thamer, the activities emanating from NSV, KdF, WHW and other NS organizations, such as mass tourism and stewing, “worked towards a psychological equalization and a change in the social world of emotions. The evocation of the national community and the equalizing effect of mass consumption and industrial mass culture reinforced each other. Although the National Socialist national community remained a myth, myths also have a transformative power, especially when they make use of the suggestion of technical and civilizational progress. " [56]

Women's role and family function

In the National Socialist community, women were ideologically destined to play their part in marriage, family and household within the framework of a “comradeship of the sexes”. In a speech to the National Socialist Women's Association , Hitler emphasized that the success of the National Socialist Community would only be possible through the deployment of millions of “fanatical fellow fighters” who dedicated themselves to the service of common life support. This made marriage a "place of performance-oriented conservation of the species". She was through a marriage loanFunded on the condition that a “marriage suitability certificate” stating “marriage suitability” and “marriage suitability”. The test criteria were fertility, hereditary health as well as social and educational competence in the sense of the National Socialist community. "To a greater extent than ever before, the state gained access to the physicality of married and newlywed men and women through official medical examinations." [57]

According to the Nazi program, four children per family should ensure the survival of the people. “The population planners and family judges of the Third Reich patrolled the intimate place of marriage.” [58] The interest-free marriage loan of 500 to 1,000 Reichsmarks was also linked to the unemployment of the woman when it was introduced. For each child the woman gave birth, a quarter of the loan amount was waived, so that the loan was "deferred" after the fourth birth. With the upgrading of Mother's Day and the introduction of the Cross of Honor of the German Mother , further incentives were intended to encourage childbearing. [59] The mother and child aid organization created on February 28, 1934- Goebbels stated in the foreword to the foundation: "Mother and child are the pledge for the immortality of a people" - provided for immediate help to eliminate material emergencies, such as the procurement of laundry and food aid. The care of pre-school children and the sending of mothers to rest homes were also possible services, whereby the selection was again based on “hereditary” aspects. [60]

It is true that marriages and births actually increased in the first years of Nazi rule; However, the National Socialists could not break the trend towards smaller families: an average of 2.3 children were born in the marriages concluded in 1920; 2.2 children closed in 1930; in those of the war year 1940 only 1.8 children on average. [61] In 1941 the production of contraceptives was banned. On abortions was from 1943, the death penalty .

Against the ideological guidelines, there was no decline in female employment during the Nazi era. Between 1933 and 1939 the number of women in the labor force rose by 1.3 million. However, the proportion of women in academic professions and administrative officials has been reduced. At universities, a numerus clausus from 1933 onwards limited the proportion of female first-year students to 10 percent. In 1936 Hitler personally decreed that women were not allowed to become judges or lawyers. When, under the conditions of the Nazi economy, which was heading towards war, the exhaustion of the workforce became a priority, the employment ban for wives as a condition for a marital loan was lifted in 1937. [62]


One of the National Socialist guiding principles was that the future belonged to those who had the youth behind them. By embedding them in the NS organization and indoctrination structure - from the young people to the Hitler Youth (HJ) to the various NS adult associations and mass organizations, the adolescents should, according to Hitler, be completely formed into "whole National Socialists". Eventual remnants of “class consciousness or class arrogance” are finally taken over by the Wehrmacht for further treatment, “and when they return after two, three or four years, then we immediately take them back to the SA, SS so that they do not relapse under any circumstances and so on, and they will no longer be free all their lives. "[63]

According to contemporary advisors, early childhood education was already aimed at strict regulation in terms of time and emotions: strictly synchronized eating and sleeping rhythms, toilet training with flogging and hardening in a harsh environment. [64] Even for small children there were National Socialist kindergartens with trained educators; for illegitimate or surplus children there was the Lebensborn facility , where they were brought up in state homes.

The goals of Nazi education in the further stages of development of the adolescents were aimed at loyalty to the people instead of the ability to think, towards faith and devotion instead of enlightenment and insight. Central values ​​were honor, Germanness, blood and soil, as well as the lordship of the Aryan race, and scorn and hatred of alleged "pests of the people" of all kinds were stoked. Parents and schools were put under pressure to adapt in this regard. Hitler's slogan of “breeding perfectly healthy bodies” was taken up by an expansion of physical education. In particular, the curricula for the school subjects biology, geography, history and German have been given anti-Semitic and racial accents. [65]

The service obligation of young people in the HJ, the Nazi principle that youth should be led and educated by young people, as well as the introduction of the State Youth Day , which exempted HJ members from attending school on Saturdays in favor of the HJ service, weakened the educational function of the school. Especially since the young management staff sometimes claimed even more extensive service and training-related special exemptions from school attendance. In part, in contradiction to the Nazi image of women, such special rights were also granted by BDM-Activists used. They also spent their free time outside of the home in a politically organized manner. "The claim to totality," says Thamer, "with which the upbringing to become a 'race-conscious' and 'hereditary' German woman and mother was carried to the last corner of the empire," said the girls from the traditional confinement of household, family, Church and school brought out. "In the provinces even girls' sport and the wearing of sportswear were tantamount to a revolutionary break in modernity." [66]

Nonetheless, the Nazi education system in the school sector also reached the limits of its influence in terms of complete ideological penetration. The inertia of educational federalism played just as much a role as the extensive continuity of the German teaching staff between 1933 and 1939. This is why in some schools the internal climate was rather indifferent to the ideological guidelines of the Nazi apparatus, if only cautiously distant. On the other hand, the National Political Educational Institutes (Napolas) and Adolf Hitler Schools serving to train Nazi leadership cadre did not make up more than one to two percent of an Abitur class. [67]


During the Weimar period there were separate sports organizations for the Communists, Social Democrats, Catholics and Protestants, but none of the National Socialists. In autumn 1932, Gregor Strasser, the head of organization of the NSDAP, was asked whether one should set up one. He wrote that it was too late to do something sensible for this, the time to take over power was too short, one would go the fascist way of state sport as in Italy. [68] As none of the NSDAP's personalities had distinguished themselves as potential Reich Sports Leader , Hans von Tschammer und Osten becameselected, who as a violent commissioner in Central Germany had to be compensated for the abandonment of his marauding SA men. Sports policy took place in several steps: [69] In the spring of 1933, Jews and democrats were forced out of the clubs and associations, workers' sports organizations were closed, and a uniform sports organization with equalization was founded. In the summer, company sports came into force through joy , and in the fall the focus was placed on the 1936 Olympic Games. In the summer of 1936, the church sports organizations were closed and the Olympic Games were held. All sporting youth work was henceforth done by the Hitler Youth(HJ) adopted. In 1938 the sports organizations were taken over by the NSDAP ( NSRL ). Jewish associations were banned. [70]

During the National Socialist dictatorship, sport experienced “an appreciation like never before in history. The younger generation in particular was trained in sports at school and in the Hitler Youth to an extent that was unprecedented. ” [71] Physical fitness was considered the basis of military performance. In addition, the National Socialists saw sport as an instrument to promote military virtues such as toughness, courage and discipline. Finally, sport was also a means of strengthening public health . Therefore, women's sport also experienced a strong upswing in the Nazi state. [72]

Cultural policy

Cultural life was shaped by politics and served propaganda purposes. Most of the works were created by artists who conformed to the regime and served Nazi propaganda or at least conveyed the views of the National Socialists. An agricultural idyll untouched by modern technology or Germanic gods were often depicted.

The visual arts were anti-modern and followed a concept of realism of the 19th century, in which, for example, heroically exaggerated motifs or those of petty-bourgeois idyll were in the foreground. Pathetic representations in the sense of the National Socialist ideology glorified agricultural work ( blood and soil ideology ), motherhood or war. In sculpture and architecture, monumental representations, which were essentially based on classicism , were often in the foreground.

Modern art such as pictures from the fields of New Objectivity or Expressionism were condemned as "degenerate" and burned, the creators of the works first declassified, then persecuted.

See also: Degenerate Art , Architecture in National Socialism , National Socialist Film Policy , Book Burning in Germany in 1933 , Reich Music Chamber , Literature in the Time of National Socialism

Persecution of the Jews

Jewish emigration from Germany 1933–1941 [73]
year Number of emigrants
1933 37–38.000
1934 22–23.000
1935 20–21.000
1936 24–25.000
1937 23.000
1938 33–40.000
1939 75–80.000
1940 15.000
1941 8.000
Even leaders of Sciences were expelled, including the mathematician Emmy Noether .

The disenfranchisement and persecution of German Jews began immediately after Hitler came to power, initially with targeted street terror by the SA. From March 1933, Jewish doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, pool attendants , etc. were forced out of their freelance professions, excluded from their professional associations and were banned from working . On April 1, 1933, the SA organized the first boycott of Jewish businesses . With the law to restore the civil service of April 7, 1933, unpopular civil servants were removed from the civil service. The Aryan paragraph contained therein was the first racist law for “non- Aryans“And concerned followers of the Jewish faith or presumed Jewish origin. They were first removed from the public service, then also from clubs, professional associations and regional Protestant churches that introduced similar regulations. They were also legally excluded from general schools and gradually from public life. Only former Jewish soldiers of the First World War did the front-line fighters' privilege offer little protection until 1935. The law on admission to the bar aimed to eliminate Jewish lawyers and was also enacted on April 7, 1933.

As a result, around 200,000 politically or racially persecuted people chose to emigrate . The Nazi regime welcomed this as a "flight of opponents of the system". At the same time, it set up concentration camps - initially the Dachau concentration camp - in which mainly political opponents, but also religious minorities, were interned en masse. This made the dictatorial character of the regime at home and abroad obvious.

From September 1935, the Reich Citizenship Act deprived all German Jews of their civil rights. However, only a few more of them emigrated than before. Most of them had adjusted to the discrimination and hoped in vain for the regime to be replaced. In 1938 the systematic disenfranchisement of German Jews continued with the Aryanizations , which were legally underpinned by numerous ordinances, e.g. B. the ordinance on the elimination of Jews from German economic life and the ordinance on the use of Jewish assets . With the name change regulation for the use of an additional first name, the regulation on passports of JewsAll Jews were recorded with ID cards and registration lists. During the nationwide November pogroms of 1938 , in which Jewish culture was destroyed throughout Germany and Austria, tens of thousands of “ action Jews ” were imprisoned in concentration camps. Immediately afterwards, the Jews who remained were forbidden to possess any weapons by the regulation against the possession of weapons by Jews of November 11, 1938 ( RGBl. I, 1573). The mistreatment and killings continued for the days and weeks that followed.

Terror apparatus

An apparatus of repression made up of the Gestapo , SS , SD and security police was set up. The nature of the violent repression included the imprisonment and the establishment of illegal concentration camps as a police measure in 1933 immediately after the parliamentary elections in March ( preventive detention declared as “ protective custody ”). The steel helmet and the assault departments of the NSDAP were made into " auxiliary police ", which arbitrarily humiliated and abused their previous opponents. In Bremerhaven, prisoners were tortured on the " ghost ship ".

In the years that followed, the Gestapo was primarily responsible for combating “anti-state movements” and had 32,000 employees; this was relatively little, but the regime was able to rely on the many Nazi sympathizers and informers .

Legal system in the unjust state

The structure, tasks and basic structure of the courts did not change in the transition from the Weimar Republic to National Socialism. A large part of the laws, such as the German Civil Code (BGB) or the Criminal Code (StGB) , have only been partially changed. The Weimar Constitution was not officially repealed, but in fact it was overturned by a large number of laws (cf. the “ Law to Eliminate the Need of the People and the Reich ” (Enabling Act) of March 24, 1933 and the “Regulation for the Protection of People and State ”of February 28, 1933, the so-called Reichstag Fire Ordinance ). The WRV did not recognize the Nazi legal doctrine: Carl Schmittdeclared in 1933 "in truth [the] Enabling Act is a provisional constitutional law of the new Germany". [74] This concerned in particular fundamental rights , the separation of powers and legislation . Many laws and regulations were in direct contradiction to the WRV. Changed penal laws applied retrospectively.

As a new source of law , in addition to parliamentary laws and ministerial ordinances , the so-called Fuehrer's Decree , viewed by Nazi lawyers as a sui generis legal source, stood above all other legal sources. Special courts were introduced to implement this .

The BGB was hardly changed, but through the “gateways” of the general clauses of §§ 138, 242, 826 BGB, the National Socialist ideology was also implemented in civil law. For example, each contract was i. S. d. BGB, which was concluded with a homosexual or a Jew, immoral and therefore null and void according to § 138 BGB .

Prussian Minister of Justice Hanns Kerrl visiting the trainee camp in Jüterbog . Symbol of justice, the paragraph sign, hung on the gallows. 1934

The overlapping of NSDAP guidelines and administrative law, which resulted from the “unity of party and state”, led to the latter being marginalized. The new administrative purpose was the fulfillment of a community purpose. In this context there was an elimination of subjective public rights (citizens' rights to defend themselves against state action) and a loss of competence of the administrative judiciary .

By the protective custody (detention by SA and SS completely without method) were deliberately set on or off under pressure in advance of criminal defendant, and witnesses. Torture was considered a legitimate means of gathering evidence, including by the Gestapo . An admission of guilt at the beginning of the process (similar to the guilty plea in the Anglophone legal system ) to shorten the process was introduced and also applied. Penal laws were extended to a large number of offenses by applying the same law (Section 2a StGB old version). The " healthy public sentiment " was considered an expanded customary law .

Special offenses for minorities or groups of people (Jews, forced laborers , foreigners) have been included in criminal law . The persecution of homosexuals also intensified during the Nazi era. In 1935, section 175 of the RStGB was massively tightened in terms of the offenses and the sentence, thus decreeing the total criminalization of male homosexuality. In 1936 a “Reich Central Office for Combating Homosexuality and Abortion” was set up. With the gradual expansion of the German Empire, for the subject peoples (especially in Eastern and Southeastern Europe) special "legal principles" applied. The National Socialist hierarchy of “ super- ” and “ sub-human ” found expression in numerous decrees, Führer orders and regulations during the Second World War , most consistently enforced in the eastern regions (including the General Government , see also: Poland Decrees , Polish Criminal Law Ordinance ).

The criminal law of the Third Reich was for the most part not related to the crime, but focused on the perpetrator (cf. the Customs Criminal Law of 1933 and the Ordinance against Public Pests of 1939). This meant that the punishment was not primarily determined according to the seriousness of the crime, but rather according to the perceived danger to the people from the perpetrator.

In the foreground of the penal system in National Socialist Germany was the "atonement" of guilt and deterrence in the sense of general prevention . Special prevention only played a subordinate role. From 1944 onwards, standing courts were used more and more throughout the entire Reich to try "disruptors of military strength" and deserters . These were generally occupied by lay judges (e.g. by the mayor of a town).

Roland Freisler (center) as President of the People's Court , 1944

In 1934 the People's Court (VGH) was created. Its main purpose was to handle political show trials. From 1934 to June 1944, the VGH passed 5,375 death sentences. For the period from July 1944 to April 1945 it is estimated that around 2,000 additional death sentences will be passed. The members of the White Rose and the assassins of July 20, 1944 were sentenced to death by the VGH.

The jurisprudence changed its basic orientation from the jurisprudence of interests to the jurisprudence of ideology. This was accompanied by a strict rejection of a natural law . In National Socialist jurisprudence, law-making through interpretation (circumvention of legislation, “Führer word”) was generally recognized.

Economic policy

Economic life in the Nazi state was based on incentives and obligations. In doing so, the private sector's disposal over the company was fundamentally unaffected. At the same time, as announced and promised to its supporters in the large economy before 1933, the regime invested in the armament of the Wehrmacht and in the military-civil infrastructure (motorway, barracks construction) and benefited from the recovery of the world economy with the, which occurred before the transfer of power the result of a reduction, then an end to general unemployment, welcomed by all. While the labor movement was suppressed and persecuted by all means, it was also limited to “ German-blooded“Workers introduced a number of social policy improvements. As early as 1933, symbolically and demagogically, May 1st was rededicated as a traditional “day of struggle” of the labor movement as a non-working holiday, and the leisure organization “Kraft durch Freude” offered vacation opportunities and cultural events.

Parts of the economy played an important role in the takeover and goals of Hitler. A group of industrialists, including the President of the Reichsbank and later Minister of Economics, Hjalmar Schacht , submitted a petition to President Hindenburg in 1932 , in which they demanded Hitler's appointment as Chancellor. In addition, Hitler received donations from big industrialists like Flick and Krupp and bankers ( Keppler-Kreis ) before and especially after the seizure of power. B. the Adolf Hitler donation to the German economy . There was general approval for the success of the National Socialistsimportant in large and growing parts of the “German national community”, initially due to political and ideological agreement and later due to economic successes and socio-political improvements, which were to be understood as privileges vis-à-vis minorities. Since the beginning of the war, the initial military successes, above all the victory over France, made a significant contribution to general satisfaction and economic security.

One of Hitler's most urgent tasks after taking power was overcoming the economic crisis, which had helped him gain power, but which would have endangered him if it had failed. He achieved this primarily through deficit spending , i.e. economic stimulus programs and job creation measures financed with loans (the Mefo bills ). The end of reparation payments during the Weimar Republic also began to take effect, and the economic situation had already improved before Hitler. With the departure from the deflationary policy of Briining , contrary to popular opinion, Franz von Papen and Franz von Papen were already under the previous governmentsKurt von Schleicher measures to revive the economy were initiated that did not primarily serve to prepare for war, such as the construction of the motorways .

Initially, war preparations did not play a major role in stimulating the economy. For example, measures aimed at population policy, such as marriage loans, were more obvious : a couple was offered a loan of 1,000 Reichsmarks when they married, if the woman then left working life permanently. Dictatorial steps also played a role, such as the abolition of the trade unions or the murder of the anti - capitalist SA chief of staff Ernst Röhm , who called for a social revolution based on the 25-point program.

An important measure was the production battle in agriculture . In September 1933 all farms, cooperatives and chambers of agriculture were forcibly merged into the Reichsnährstand . The nutritional status was glorified and popularized as a source of racial renewal, but in reality it became less important. The average wage in agriculture fell steadily, and the percentage of those employed in agriculture also fell. The industry should also become more independent from abroad, so that the extraction of domestic raw materials was increased. The establishment of the Reich Labor Servicecombined the propagandistic purpose of apparently getting the young unemployed “off the street” in the short term with the striving for self-sufficiency to create new agricultural areas through z. B. to gain drainage of moors and swamps.

With the law on the organization of national labor on April 20, 1934, the leader principle was also introduced in companies. In the operating community , the operator was responsible for his "followers"; she was obliged to be faithful to him. In order to tie important industrialists to the Wehrmacht, they were appointed military economic leaders. Labor trustees had been controlling the factories since May 1933 and ensuring that the economy was brought into line; they also regulated the adoption of collective bargaining regulations .

There was no increase in the standard of living for most of the working population, as armaments were soon given priority. So z. B. hidden inflation , restrictions in the choice of profession, in the free choice of the job and an extension of the working hours are accepted. The growth was based on a planned economy and served the systematic armament and war preparation. With the law to restore the civil service of 1933, the dismissal of Jewish officials and judges based on the " Aryan paragraph ", which was soon extended to doctors and pharmacists, lawyers and journalists, university professors and artists, and AryanizationFrom businesses, property, apartments and furniture, a gigantic redistribution of jobs and assets began, from which Germans who had not become unemployed during the global economic crisis soon also benefited.

The distribution of ration cards began three days before the attack on Poland, scheduled for September 1, 1939, the beginning of World War II . Soon prisoners of war and an increasing number of abducted civilians were being used as slave labor, sometimes under inhumane conditions; at the end of the war there were around nine million ( see also: Poland decrees , Polish Criminal Law Ordinance , Eastern Workers , General Representative for Labor Deployment Fritz Sauckel ). Since the men were needed in the war, they worked in the factories, contrary to the statements of Mein Kampf, more and more women. It was only after the first defeats against the Soviet Union and the USA entered the war at the end of 1941 that there was a clear switch to a war economy; of total war with the goal of full utilization of the economic and human potential for warfare was of only on February 18, 1943 Joseph Goebbels proclaimed.

At the end of the war, industry collapsed due to the bombing of the infrastructure (railways) and industrial plants and the lack of raw material supplies, the supply of food became problematic, the black market flourished. A gradual recovery only came with the loans from the Marshall Plan and the currency reform .

Research and medicine

The main concern of many Nazi-minded doctors and professors in the German Reich was the “ breeding of perfectly healthy bodies ” (quote from Hitler) and the “ eradication of the weak and the sick ” or the Jews. These purposes served z. For example, the Lebensborn homes , in which Aryan children were born and raised, racial hygiene and, as eugenic measures, the murders of the sick under National Socialism : seeAktion T4 ”, “ Aktion Brandt ” and “ Child euthanasia ”.

Other areas of science and research were also instrumentalized and organized in accordance with National Socialism.

Religion policy

The church and religious policies of National Socialism were inconsistent and full of contradictions. While older research was based on a unified will to annihilate churches and Christianity, opponents, sympathizers and neutralists from churches and Christianity faced each other in both the party and government agencies. [75] Apart from the ban on slaughtering in April 1933, the laws of the Jewish religion were essentially not affected. [76] However, in the course of the general, racially justified persecution of the Jews, the Jewish communities were gradually robbed of their protection and legal status. [77]

In his government declaration of March 1933, Hitler had assigned the two major churches a state-supporting role. He then initially relied on the German Christians , who achieved a landslide victory in the church elections in June 1933 and then ruled part of the regional churches. Thereupon the inferior groups also elected Ludwig Müller as Reich Bishop . The Pastors' Emergency League , from which the Confessing Church emerged in 1934 , was created against the exclusion of baptized Jews . This fought on the basis of the Barmer Theological Declarationagainst state encroachments on church affairs and against the total state without legal binding. In practice, only rudimentary consequences were drawn from this, e. B. the formation of a separate organizational structure with the United Church leadership , a memorandum to Hitler against the deprivation of rights of minorities and against concentration camps, later the establishment of the Grüber office to help persecuted Jewish Christians and Jews. From 1937 the activities of the BK were increasingly subject to state control and many of their representatives were imprisoned, from 1939 most of the BK pastors were drafted into military service. As a rule, however, the Protestant churches and their hierarchies have shown themselves to be willing supporters and sympathizers of the regime.[78]

The Catholic Church distanced itself from the racism of the NSDAP until 1933. On July 22, 1933, however, the Vatican surprisingly concluded the Reich Concordat with the new Reich government in order to protect the German Catholic bishops, their dioceses and structures from attacks by the regime. In return, priests and bishops were obliged not to interfere in politics. The Center Party , which had been quite strong until then, gave up its opposition and then lost its right to exist. Through the Concordat, Hitler gained international prestige on the diplomatic stage.

Nevertheless, there were attacks on Catholic orders, the Kolping youth and other Catholic groups. In 1936 and 1937, the Nazi state organized a series of around 250 criminal trials against Catholic priests and religious who were charged with various sexual crimes such as homosexual acts among men or child abuse . The trials, some of which had been very carelessly prepared - in the summer of 1937, for example, a witness wanted to identify the presiding judge instead of the defendant as his alleged molester - were carried out at the direction of the Propaganda MinisterGoebbels was accompanied by malicious comments in the press. The aim was to discredit the church and to soften the rights promised in the Reich Concordat. [79]

Pope Pius XI In 1937, with his encyclical With Burning Concern, turned sharply against German church policy and pointed to the part of the Concordat agreements not fulfilled by the National Socialists, but also to the contradictions between Christian faith and Nazi ideology. The encyclical did not directly denounce the systematic disenfranchisement of Jews or other religious and ethnic groups, but condemned a distinction according to race.

National Socialism also had its own religious elements, above all the Führer cult and ritual mass marches with worship-like forms, Führer salutes, torches, solemn proclamations and hymns. [80] After the “final victory” by “antipopes”, the “party philosopher” Alfred Rosenberg wanted to split the Catholic and Protestant Churches into opposing groups and tried to revive the old Germanic, Persian and Indian religions to “add one more to the passing biblical tradition to slip older and better ones ". The private secretary Hitler Bormann worked a Nazi Catechism from, the teachings of which gradually Ten bids ofShould replace Bible . Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler had far-reaching ideas about the introduction of an old Germanic-pagan belief in gods and about the “pacification” of the Slavic peoples through the “teaching of the serious Bible Students ”.

The official bodies had reservations about most of the smaller religious communities. Connections abroad, especially in the USA, refusal to take the oath and a fundamental distance from the National Socialist “national community” made such groups suspect; Pacifism and rejection of the National Socialist racial doctrine made them appear as opponents of the regime. The security service therefore demanded the destruction of the vast majority of the “sectarian”, while “harmless” groups should remain in order to promote “fragmentation in the ecclesiastical and religious area”. However, some agencies such as the Foreign Office warned against the dissolution of some religious communities such as the Mormons , out of consideration for their international connectionsor Christian Science . The National Socialist state therefore proceeded differently with the individual small religious communities based on political considerations and depending on the degree of adaptation. The Jehovah's Witnesses [81] were persecuted particularly harshly from the start ( see also: Jehovah's Witnesses during the National Socialist era ). The Jehovah's Witnesses were banned in 1933 as allegedly close to Judaism, externally controlled and pacifist from the USA . About 10,000 of them were imprisoned during the National Socialist era, 2,000 of them in concentration camps; 1,200 Jehovah's Witnesses were executed or murdered. [82] TheChristian science was gradually restricted in its activities, but only banned in 1941. [81] The Seventh-day Adventists were banned in 1933, perhaps also because they were confused with the pacifist Reform Adventists . The ban was lifted after ten days, after which the church leadership tried to adapt to the state in order to avoid the dissolution of the church. [83] The Reform Adventists, however, were banned in 1936. Entire communities were on trial and many of their members were convicted. Young men like Anton Bruggerwere sentenced to death for conscientious objection. The Reform Adventists stayed underground until the end of the Nazi regime. Other communities like the Mormons, however, could continue indefinitely. [81]

natural reserve

Nature conservation under National Socialism began in 1933 when nature conservation associations were brought into line and members of the Jewish faith were excluded from the associations. Comprehensive new legal regulations in the years 1933 to 1935 of the Nazi regime in the field of nature and environmental protection , above all the Reich Nature Conservation Act (RNG), regulated for the first time compensation after private interventions and introduced the less protected "landscape protection" as a new category. In practice, the Nazi regime did not stick to the path of comprehensive nature conservation that was initially prescribed by law.

Organization of the military

With the Reichswehr , the National Socialists took over the armed forces of the Weimar Republic . The Reichswehr was loyal to the state and did not actively support the NSDAP until it came to power, but many soldiers themselves were not supporters of the republic, so they did not defend it either. Under Hitler, the Reichswehr also hoped for progress in the revision of the Versailles Treaty, the leadership of the Reichswehr had already been informed of Hitler's plans on February 3, and they had fears about the SA. Efforts within the SA to take over the Reichswehr were ended by Hitler's crackdown on the Röhm putsch, in which he switched off the SA, since he saw the Reichswehr as better suited for the war. The Reichswehr was also involved in this action; they even tolerated the murder of two of their generals.

On August 3, after the death of the previous Commander-in-Chief, Reich President von Hindenburg, the Reichswehr was sworn in on the person of Hitler and thus became an instrument of Hitler. With the reintroduction of conscription on March 16, 1935, the Reichswehr was renamed the Wehrmacht. The Wehrmacht was expanded and modernized; in 1939 it had a strength of 2.75 million men.

Resistance within the Wehrmacht leadership to his war plans, more out of doubts about the feasibility of the plans than for ideological reasons, he eliminated through the Blomberg-Fritsch crisis and created the Wehrmacht High Command . The resistance that continued to exist, especially after the first successes of the war, could not prevail. The Wehrmacht tolerated the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, and parts of the Wehrmacht were also involved in executions. Only when Germany suffered defeats like the one at Stalingrad did members of the Wehrmacht try to end the war by eliminating Hitler in the assassination attempt on July 20, 1944 .

Foreign and armaments policy

The Treaty of Versailles was gradually broken and repealed. At the same time Hitler affirmed his will for peace. This was initially believed abroad, especially in the appeasement era of Great Britain; an attempt was made to "tame" Hitler through concession and to avoid a new world war.

In 1935 the Saarland was reintegrated into the German Reich after a referendum carried out under international control resulted in an overwhelming approval (90.8%). The Reichswehr was converted into the Wehrmacht with the introduction of compulsory military service , and the existence of the Air Force was revealed at the same time . Both steps violated the Versailles Treaty. The invasion of the demilitarized Rhineland on March 7, 1936 also marked a breach of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Locarno Pactrepresents what Hitler justified with the ratification of the Franco-Soviet Assistance Pact by France, which would have represented a breach of the Locarno Pact on the part of France. [84]

At the Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi party in 1935 which were the Nuremberg racial laws decided that anchored the 1,933 already begun exclusion and isolation of German Jews as state laws and robbed them with racist reasons a lot of their civil rights. In 1935, Himmler gave his speech Der Untermensch in front of SS members , in which he contrasted the alleged atrocities of the Jews with the good and great cultural acts of the people .

In August 1936, Hitler used the Olympic Games in Berlin as a propaganda stage for the world public. The four-year plan was supposed to make the German Reich ready for war by 1940 at the latest. The regime, together with Mussolini's Italy, now supported the fascist General Franco militarily in the Spanish civil war against the republic there. This gave Hitler the opportunity to test the operational readiness of his military in the event of war. The Condor Legion of the German Air Force destroyed the Basque city of Guernica in a first area bombing in 1937 . In one in the Hoßbach transcriptAt the meeting held on November 5, 1937, Hitler presented his plans for German war and foreign policy to the most important representatives of the Wehrmacht and the Foreign Minister.

On February 20, 1938, Hitler announced in a speech his goal of uniting all Germans in Central Europe in one state. On March 12, 1938, he preceded an intended referendum in Austria and after the invasion of the Wehrmacht ( company Otto ), to the cheers of the Viennese gathered on Heldenplatz , announced the “entry of my homeland into the German Reich”. Another area outside the empire that was mainly inhabited by Germans was the Czech Sudetenland . With the Karlovy Vary program, which was practically impossible to achieve, Hitler provoked the Sudeten crisis , which was established on September 29, 1938 in the Munich Agreementled to the annexation of the Sudetenland to the German Empire. Hitler had intended to use the crisis to start a war and had been pushed by Mussolini and Goering to an agreement, which he regarded as a political defeat.

Most Germans agreed to this policy. Referendums were 1933 , 1934 , 1935 , 1936 and 1938 large majorities in favor of former decisions of Hitler. There were four main reasons for this:

  • Harmonization and terror against all dissenters intimidated the population.
  • A beginning upswing in the world economy, government investment programs, especially for armament and infrastructures that could be used by the military, revitalized the economy and brought about full employment in the second half of the 1930s , with wages remaining at the low level of the world economic crisis .
  • The ideology of the Volksgemeinschaft gave many Germans the feeling that they were living in an increasingly egalitarian society without class differences.
  • They experienced the foreign policy measures of the National Socialists as successes and reparations for past national humiliations.

After Herschel Grynszpan carried out an attack on the embassy secretary Ernst Eduard vom Rath in Paris on November 7, 1938 , the National Socialists staged the November pogroms . Local SA and SS members, some of whom appeared as civilians, set fires in numerous synagogues , abused and murdered many German Jews in front of the police, who did not intervene according to the orders, and deported tens of thousands of Jews to the concentration camps on November 10th. The " Jewish fine " imposed on the victims of over one billion Reichsmarks was used to finance the armament as immediate preparation for war.

In mid-March 1939, Slovakia was proclaimed an independent state. The area remaining from the former Czechoslovak Republic became dependent on the German Empire as the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia . A week later, the Memelland was also annexed to the German Reich.

In order to keep his back free for his expansion goals in the east, Hitler concluded the German-Soviet non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union in August 1939 . In its secret additional protocol, Poland was divided up between the two states in the event of war. Hitler, on the other hand, promised not to act against Stalin if Stalin seized Finland, which he then did.

Second World War 1939 to 1945

With the attack on Poland , the Nazi regime began to implement the policy of conquest and Germanization it had been preparing for years with war. During the Second World War , National Socialist Germany committed genocide millions of times . On September 27, 1940, Germany, the fascist ruled Italy and the Japanese Empire - the Axis Powers - signed the three-power pact as a political and military coalition. After rapid victories over the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Norway in 1940, the Nazi regime broke the German-Soviet non-aggression pactfrom 1939 and attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 (" Operation Barbarossa "). On December 11, 1941, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States .

The turn of the war began in the autumn and winter of 1942/1943 with the German defeats in the battles of El Alamein and Stalingrad . Mid-1943 was the turning point of the German submarine war in the Atlantic . The British and US air forces achieved almost complete air control over Germany from spring / summer 1944 and destroyed entire cities in the bombing war . At the beginning of June 1944, Western Allied troops landed in Normandy ( Operation Overlord ) and thus opened the second front in the west with the aim of bringing the troops of the Wehrmacht to push back into German territory and ultimately overthrow the Nazi regime.

The Allied troops reached the borders of the “Old Reich” in October 1944. US and Soviet troops met in Central Germany on April 25, 1945 (“ Elbe Day ”). After Hitler's suicide on April 30, 1945, the battle for Berlin ended two days later . As a result, the Wehrmacht unconditionally surrendered to the Allies and their allies on May 8, 1945.

World War II killed over 62 million people worldwide. [85] In its course, the National Socialists and their helpers murdered around a third of all European Jews ( Shoah ), around 3.5 million non-Jewish Soviet citizens and Poles (see also Crimes of the Wehrmacht ), at least 100,000, possibly over 500,000 Sinti and Roma ( Porajmos ) , around 200,000 disabled people (including “ Aktion T4 ”), an unknown number of German “ anti-social ” and around 5,000 homosexuals (→ Rosa Winkel ). In theNational Socialist racial hygiene regarded these groups as "inferior" or "unworthy of life" "racial pests". Before the war, around 20,000 political opponents of the regime, mostly members of left-wing parties, and around 1,200 Jehovah's Witnesses had been murdered. Deserters , looters and saboteurs received the death penalty as “ pests of the people.

Conquests (1939-1942)

The attack on Poland without a declaration of war on September 1, 1939 triggered World War II . On September 3, Great Britain and France first declared war on the German Reich . After the Wehrmacht's victory over Poland , the western part of Poland ( Greater Poland , West Prussia , Upper Silesia ) was annexed by Germany and the center was declared a Generalgouvernement . On September 17, occupied the Red Army almost without a fight eastern Poland ; Poland became, as inHitler-Stalin Pact agreed, split up.

In 1940 the Wehrmacht occupied Denmark and Norway and then defeated the states of Luxembourg , the Netherlands , Belgium and France in the so-called “ Blitzkrieg ”, which lasted only six weeks . France was divided into two zones after the western campaign . Only the north and west of France remained under German occupation. Marshal Pétain moved the seat of government to Vichy in the unoccupied part of France . Hitler's popularity peaked with the "erasure of the shame of Versailles ". The plannedInvasion of Great Britain - the " Operation Sea Lion " - was canceled by Hitler because the German Air Force could not achieve air sovereignty over England despite the numerical superiority of the pilots (6: 1) in the Battle of Britain .

In 1940/1941 Germany occupied Yugoslavia and Greece together with fascist Italy . Both countries were divided among the allied dictatorships. However, their conquest was followed by a grueling partisan war . Hungary , Romania and Bulgaria were won as allies of the Greater German Empire . At Mussolini's request , the Italian troops in North Africa were supported by German units from January 1941, the German Africa Corps , made famous by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the "desert fox".

On June 22, 1941, the Wehrmacht marched into the Soviet-occupied part of Poland and immediately afterwards attacked the Soviet Union itself in breach of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact . In the " Operation Barbarossa " planned as a war of annihilation , the German armed forces reached Moscow , Leningrad and Stalingrad . The Battle of Stalingrad marked a turning point in the war against the Soviet Union .

The occupied territories in the east were systematically plundered on the instructions of the National Socialists . The occupied Soviet territory was divided into various Reich Commissioners , each subordinate to a Reich Commissioner . The overall plan provided for the division of the USSR and its destruction as an independent state. This ultimate goal was only prevented by the further course of the war, but the systematic pillage, suppression and murder of the civilian population began.

The " General Plan Ost " drawn up by Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler provided for the decimation of the Slavic peoples by a total of 30 million and the oppression of the rest of them who work as construction workers, unskilled workers, factory workers, domestic staff, agricultural workers, in the armaments industry, building roads, etc. should. According to the German Hunger Plan of May 1941, agricultural products from the Ukraine and southern Russia were transported to Germany on a large scale as "a prelude to the 'General Plan East'" . [86]While up to 30 million starvation deaths were taken into account, at least four million people died of starvation in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union due to the failed blitzkrieg. [87] The victims of the “Hunger Plan” also include the 2.6 million Soviet soldiers who starved to death in German captivity. [88]

The Jewish population in the occupied territories was recorded and deported to concentration camps , insufficiently fed, used for forced labor and murdered in specially set up gas vans and gas chambers in extermination camps . In the occupied eastern territories in particular, many thousands of Jews were shot by the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the SD as well as by SS units and then buried in mass graves . The number of people in the Holocaustthe total number of Jews killed by shootings, gassings, starvation, abuse, forced labor and disease is estimated at about six million. Their property was expropriated and declared imperial property. In this way, financial resources in local currency were available to the occupying forces.

From Stalingrad to the surrender (1942–1945)

In the winter of 1941/1942 the Wehrmacht offensive in the Soviet Union stalled. On December 11, 1941, after the attack by the German ally Japan on the American base Pearl Harbor , Hitler declared war on the USA, which was supplying Great Britain with goods.

In the Battle of Stalingrad, the Wehrmacht suffered its first - and ultimately decisive - defeat due to bad decisions made by Hitler. By the end of 1943 the Red Army of the Soviet Union, which was also supported by the USA with arms deliveries, was able to recapture large areas. On May 13, 1943, the Axis powers in North Africa had to surrender.

Buchenwald near Weimar on April 24, 1945

In the meantime, the Holocaust against the Jews, announced ideologically since 1924 and politically initiated since 1933, was in progress. In 1943 the Allied bombing war began on German cities, killing around 300,000 civilians. On February 18, 1943, Goebbels announced the " total war " in the Sportpalast speech . From the end of 1944, many Germans fled their traditional homeland in the east before the advancing Red Army. In 1944 it conquered large parts of south-eastern Europe. On June 6th, the invasion of the Western Allies began in Normandy , having previously landed in Sicilyconquered Italy from the south and advanced against Germany. On July 20, an assassination attempt and a coup attempt by members of the Wehrmacht and members of the resistance group of the " Kreisau Circle " against Hitler failed .

In early 1945, at the Yalta Conference , the Allies decided to divide the empire after the war. In order to leave the Allies with no useful infrastructure, Hitler issued the Nero order on March 19, 1945 , which was only partially carried out. In April the Soviet troops reached the capital and the battle for Berlin broke out . Hitler killed himself on April 30th in the bunker of the Reich Chancellery after he had designated Admiral Karl Dönitz as his successor as Reich President and Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht. In addition to Hitler, other leading functionaries also killed themselves, such as Joseph Goebbels andHeinrich Himmler - but only later in captivity after he was presented with forged ID cards. In the early morning hours of May 7, 1945, Colonel General Jodl - authorized by Dönitz - signed the unconditional surrender of the German armed forces , which, ratified by signing another document of surrender, was to come into force the next day. Shortly after the unconditional surrender, the executive government with Karl Dönitz was arrested in Flensburg - Mürwik .

The Second World War lasted in Southeast Asia until September 2nd. He claimed a total of over 62 million deaths . In the last months of the war and following the occupation of the kingdom, most remaining Germans from Eastern Europe were expelled .

Resistance to National Socialism

Even before the takeover of power, various groups began to oppose the National Socialists. During the time of National Socialism itself, the resistance, which was always associated with mortal danger, was limited to a vanishingly small minority of the German population, whereas this resistance had assumed greater proportions in the areas occupied during World War II, for example in the partisan war.

Shortly after the NSDAP came to power, mainly communist , social democratic and other left groups were active. However, within a few years these were severely weakened by the Gestapo and the SS. In the Reich, for example, the Catholic Bishop of Münster and Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen, through his public condemnation of the murders of the disabled, contributed to the fact that Action T4 was stopped by the National Socialists. Individuals of the Protestant Confessing Church such as Pastor Martin Niemöller or Dietrich Bonhoefferjoined resistance circles after the outbreak of World War II. Like many other Nazi opponents, Bonhoeffer had to pay for his courage in the concentration camp with his life. The communist lone fighter Georg Elser carried out a bomb attack on Hitler in the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich on November 8, 1939 , which Hitler survived because he unexpectedly left the room shortly before the detonation of the bomb, which was stopped by a time fuse . Elser was soon caught and murdered in Dachau concentration camp in April 1945. The Munich student resistance group White Rose around the siblings Hans and Sophie Schollcalled for resistance to the Nazi regime in several leaflets. This group also sought contact with resistance groups in the Wehrmacht. The most important members of the group were caught in February 1943 and sentenced to death by the People's Court under the chairmanship of the notorious judge Roland Freisler , and executed a short time later. The edelweiss pirates appeared in the Cologne area , some groups of young people coming from the Bund and communist tradition, who initially turned against the uniformity of the Hitler Youth , but in the course of the war also went over to concrete resistance actions , including acts of sabotagewere enough. From Vienna, the resistance group around chaplain Heinrich Maier forwarded information about the locations, employees and productions of the Nazi armaments factories to the Allies in order to enable their bombers to carry out targeted air strikes, which should shorten the war and protect the civilian population. [89] The Rote Kapelle resistance group consisted of various independent groups that worked against the regime on several levels.

The occasional and comparatively rare resistance from private individuals, which tended to take place in silence, often arose from a moral disgust for the acts of the regime or out of pity for the victims. It ranged from denying the Hitler salute to the forbidden supply of food for forced laborers or the hiding of the persecuted, mostly Jews.

Hitler survived several attacks, including the most famous attack on July 20, 1944 , which was organized by the military resistance , which was also in contact with the Kreisauer Kreis resistance group . Following the bomb attack carried out by Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg , the " Operation Walküre."“To an attempted coup, but after Hitler's survival became known, it quickly collapsed and was suppressed. The direct actors in the attempted coup, members of the Wehrmacht, including Stauffenberg himself, were shot on the night of July 20-21, 1944. In the course of the following investigations, further overturning plans from the years 1938 to 1944 were discovered. By the end of the war , over 200 people were involved in trials before the People's Court , which were initially shown in excerpts in the newsreel, in connection with the assassination attempt on July 20 sentenced to death. Several popular generals (including Erwin Rommel , Günther von Kluge ), who were suspected of complicity, became theHonor suicide suggested.

The Secret State Police ( Gestapo ) and the People's Court were important executive authorities in the persecution, especially of the resistance within Germany.

Resistance was also offered by artists living in Germany or in exile, such as the critical writer and playwright Bertolt Brecht and others who, with their means - mostly journalistic - turned against the Nazi regime.

In addition to the resistance in Germany, resistance groups such as the Polish Home Army or the Resistance in France also emerged in the occupied territories after the start of the war . They offered bitter resistance to the Germans under their occupation in the partisan war , which took place above all in the Balkan states of Yugoslavia , Albania and Greece as well as in Poland ( Warsaw Uprising) was particularly effective, but also resulted in extremely gruesome reprisals by the German occupiers - such as the mass shooting of civilians. In occupied Poland in particular, the population of entire villages and towns was often indiscriminately murdered in retaliation for resistance.

The resistance in Germany itself, unlike in the occupied territories, received almost no support from the Allies; rather, the Allied war goal of unconditional surrender led to indirect solidarity with the leadership and, even after a coup d'état, hardly any more favorable peace conditions could be expected.

Genocide and other crimes against humanity

Photo of the gatehouse of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp , taken by Stanisław Mucha shortly after the liberation by the Red Army on January 27, 1945

Supporters of the left-wing parties, Jehovah's Witnesses and opposition youths were persecuted as politically undesirable groups and thousands were murdered even before the war began.

The murder of population groups for reasons of " racial hygiene " began before the war with the mass murder of German disabled people . From the beginning of the war, " Aktion T4 " was justified by the lack of hospital places and disguised as " euthanasia ". The "treatment" - murder - of the handicapped people selected for this purpose was justified with their inability to work. For this purpose, specialist departments of psychiatric institutions were converted at around 30 locations for the killings. The murder also happened while being transported in sealed trucks (" gas vans ") with their exhaust gases or with carbon monoxide. The corpses were burned and their relatives received false death certificates. The perpetrators were then used as specialists in the death factories in Eastern Europe.

The Holocaust , the systematic genocide of around six million Jews and “mixed Jews”, including over three million Poles and 1.8 million children, was the Nazis' greatest crime. It began with mass shootings of Jews and Polish executives by special "Einsatzgruppen" in occupied Poland . This was followed by large-scale deportations (under the code name "resettlement" [90] ) and internment in ghettos and labor camps , where hundreds of thousands perished as forced laborers. There were also German and Austrian Jews deported ; with massacres like the one in Babyn Yar(29/30 September 1941) and Riga (29 November – 1 December 1941) overcrowded ghettos were emptied for the transport of Jews.

With the war against the Soviet Union in 1941–1945 , the murders of the Jews expanded into widespread genocide . Three extermination camps were set up to carry out Aktion Reinhardt from June 1941 ; From December 1941, the first murders began in gas vans based on the T4 campaign. The aim was to test the effects of poison gas in order to be able to kill more effectively and to avoid the moral scruples of the murderers in mass shootings. At the secret Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, representatives of all the important Nazi authorities organized the “ final solution to the Jewish question“In detail and arranged Europe-wide deportations of up to 11 million Jews to the Eastern European ghettos and camps. By the summer of 1942, the crematoria in Auschwitz-Birkenau had been completed; now the mass murders were concentrated on industrial gassing. The utilization of the property of the approximately three million gassed people was regulated in detail.

Starved Soviet prisoners of war in Mauthausen concentration camp

In addition to the Jews, the National Socialist racial policy also regarded “ Gypsies ”, Slavs and homosexuals as “unworthy of life” or “racially inferior”. These groups - the largest of them about 2.5 to 4 million Soviet prisoners of war - were also murdered en masse, some of them also in the extermination camps. These people, according to Timothy Snyder , “were either deliberately murdered or deliberately intended to starve them to death. Had it not been for the Holocaust , it would be remembered as the worst war crime of modern times. ” [86] The main reason for these crimes was racial and politicalHabitat ideology, which Hitler presented in Mein Kampf in 1924 and which has been realized in a world war since 1939 .

The Nazi perpetrators tried to keep their crimes as secret as possible and to camouflage them with euphemisms such as resettlement or special treatment . Nevertheless, the Germans learned enough details through private reports and sometimes quite undisguised hints in the media to be able to draw conclusions about the organized murder of Jews. The disappearance of Jewish neighbors without a trace, the goal of their public evacuation was noticed, but not further questioned. From 1933 onwards, the phrase “otherwise you would go to a concentration camp” was a threatening word for almost everyone. Rumors about the camps “in the east” came with the vacationers to practically every village; allied radio stations (which were heard although listening to enemy radio stationswas forbidden and was sometimes punished draconian) reported the mass murders. The Holocaust was an “open secret” in Germany: Whoever wanted to know, could know, but a widespread lack of curiosity prevented many Germans from knowing more precisely . [91] The Polish secret service provided the British with evidence of the mass murder in Auschwitz as early as 1942. The then Pope Pius XII. knew about it early on .

The constant attacks on Jewish sections of the population from April 1933 onwards were in part passively accepted and welcomed by beneficiaries. Expropriation-like “aryanizations” of even the smallest shops or businesses always had beneficiaries and happened in front of the eyes of the local population. Rescue operations for Jews were a rare exception; Completion or indifference was the rule. Oskar Schindler saved around 1200 Jewish forced laborers from Krakow from murder. The Grüber office set up by the Confessing Church in 1938 helped Jewish Christians in particular to secretly leave the country until it was closed in 1940.

In the Nuremberg trials , only leaders were convicted of crimes against humanity and war criminals , among other things . A real reappraisal of the Nazi crimes and their making possible only began in West Germany around 1960. Since 1945, Holocaust denial has had a lasting and international tradition.

At the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum an Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos has been written since 2000 (directors: Geoffrey Megargee and Martin Dean). [92] In 2013 they named over 42,500 places of violence that existed in occupied Europe in the Third Reich (including concentration camps, labor camps, ghettos, Jewish houses and places where women were forced into prostitution). [93] Until then, this number had been estimated to be far lower. [94]

Forced laborers and spoiled children

Hundreds of thousands of people from the occupied territories, especially from Poland, the Balkan countries and the Soviet Union , were kidnapped into the Reich as forced laborers . Many of them did not survive World War II. The children of the forced laborers were brought to foreign child care centers” set up on Himmler's orders , which had no other aim than to let these “unwanted” children wither away unnoticed by the public.

In addition, tens of thousands of Polish children who met the “racial characteristics” were taken from their families and deported to Germany, few of whom were able to return to their parents after the war. Others who did not meet the racial characteristics were murdered en masse in concentration camps. The best-known case is probably the deportation of tens of thousands of children from the area around Zamość - where Germans from the Baltic States and Bessarabia were settled - to Auschwitz .

Reflections on the state of NS research

An overview of the controversies about Nazi research up to the turn of the millennium can be found in Ian Kershaw , who discusses reflections on the “essence of National Socialism” in a chapter of his relevant work and “historiographical development trends since German unification” in the final chapter. Regarding the term totalitarianism, which was already referring to fascism and National Socialism in the 1920s , he states that the totalitarianism theory was re-launched in the 1990s and is still widespread. The heated ideological debates that dominated the Cold War era , however, would have evaporated. [95]

Michael Burleigh expressed in its overall presentation of the Nazi era , although understand that German-speaking historians have concentrated in their processing of the Nazi period in German history between 1933 and 1945, but counters that the world to the effects of Nazism even before the outbreak of war felt, for example by the numerous refugees who fled from Germany and Austria, but also in the form of arbitrary and violent disturbances of the international order. [96]In portraying the crimes committed in World War II, Burleigh also considers the portrayal of European manifestations of collaboration with the National Socialists as important as the participation of non-German and non-Austrian perpetrators in the Holocaust. [97] As a political religion and totalitarian form of rule, Burleigh interprets and treats National Socialism in his work and notes, like Kershaw, that this approach “came back into fashion” only in the 1990s. [98]

Riccardo Bavaj recognizes the “totalitarian will to shape” among the National Socialists in his synthesis published in 2016 and explains: “There is talk of a totalitarian will to shape, not because a totalitarian theory of classical character should be adhered to, but because the concept of totalitarianism reflects the political aspirations of the National Socialists aimed at a complete delimitation of the political, typologically best sums it up. ” [99] The NS Volksgemeinschaft thus stood for a“ totalitarian social experiment ”, which was about transforming society into a homogeneous community,“ organized in the form of a leadership that presented itself as an expression of a supposedly unified popular will. " [100]For Bavaj, war, expansion and annihilation were "integral parts" of this experiment. [101]

In the conclusion of his 2017 study «One people, one empire, one leader». German society in the Third Reich states, Dietmar Süß , that National Socialism not only smashed the existing forms of plural publicity, but also intervened in the lifestyle of every individual and every family. “But this private life was not simply externally controlled by the Nazi leaders, because many people were able to reconcile individual happiness with changed political regulations. They contributed to the fact that National Socialism was able to penetrate almost every crack in society, and often enough they themselves embodied the totalitarian claims of the regime. " [102]

The historian Wolfgang Wippermann, on the other hand, in various publications, most recently in 2002, strictly rejects the application of the term totalitarianism to the Nazi era: The inherent equation of National Socialism with Stalinism or other dictatorships from the left serves to relativize and trivialize the National Socialist crimes: You question "the singularity of the Holocaust ". [103]

Michael Wildt provides the model of the “Volksgemeinschaft” in the Nazi era“For Wildt, a scientifically productive use of the term does not require“ Volksgemeinschaft ”as a given, but rather examines the practices of its production, that is, communalization. It seems to him worthwhile to examine the "modes of appropriation" according to generation and gender, "precisely because the Nazi regime tried hard to bind both young people and women to itself." to be differentiated from the community experiences of young BDM leaders through “comradeship”. Their sense of community was also fed by an increase in responsibility and access to management positions that were previously not open to them as young women. so the communalization. It seems to him worthwhile to examine the "modes of appropriation" according to generation and gender, "precisely because the Nazi regime tried hard to bind both young people and women to itself." to be differentiated from the community experiences of young BDM leaders through “comradeship”. Their sense of community was also fed by an increase in responsibility and access to management positions that were previously not open to them as young women. so the communalization. It seems to him worthwhile to examine the "modes of appropriation" according to generation and gender, "precisely because the Nazi regime tried hard to bind both young people and women to itself." to be differentiated from the community experiences of young BDM leaders through “comradeship”. Their sense of community was also fed by an increase in responsibility and access to management positions that were previously not open to them as young women. "Here, for example, the" masculine communalization "through" comradeship "must be differentiated from the community experiences of young BDM leaders. Their sense of community was also fed by an increase in responsibility and access to management positions that were previously not open to them as young women. "Here, for example, the" masculine communalization "through" comradeship "must be distinguished from the community experiences of young BDM leaders. Their sense of community was also fed by an increase in responsibility and access to management positions that were previously not open to them as young women.[104]

See also

Portal: National Socialism - Overview of Wikipedia content on the subject of National Socialism


Richard J. Evans: The Third Reich. Volume 1: Ascent. DVA, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-421-05652-8 .
Richard J. Evans: The Third Reich. Volume 2 / I – II: Dictatorship . DVA, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-421-05653-6 .
Richard J. Evans: The Third Reich. Volume 3: War . DVA, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-421-05800-3 .


Commons : National Socialism - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: National Socialism - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Hitlerzeit - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Nazi era - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Leo Foitzik: Rauden, the village of my childhood , p. 51.
  2. ^ Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2008, p. 15 f.
  3. Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, p. 25.
  4. ^ Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna 2008, p. 53.
  5. Ian Kershaw: Foreword. In: Gerd Krumeich (Ed.): National Socialism and First World War . Essen 2010, p. 7.
  6. See e.g. B. Gerhard Hirschfeld , Gerd Krumeich , Irina Renz in connection with Markus Pöhlmann (Ed.): Encyclopedia First World War . Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2014, pp. 728, 988 ff., 997 ff .; Gerd Krumeich: National Socialism and World War I: An Introduction . In: ders. (Ed.): National Socialism and First World War. Klartext, Essen 2010, p. 11 ff .; Helmut Reinalter : stab in the back legend. In: the same (ed.): Handbook of conspiracy theories. Salier, Leipzig 2018, ISBN 978-3-96285-004-3 , p. 92 ff.
  7. Michael Salewski : The Weimar revision syndrome. In: From Politics and Contemporary History . 2, pp. 14-25 (1980); Peter Hayes : Why? A story of the Holocaust. Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2017, p. 71 f.
  8. ^ Henning Köhler : Germany on the way to itself. A story of the century . Hohenheim-Verlag, Stuttgart 2002, SS 227.
  9. Volker Berghahn : The First World War . CH Beck, Munich 2003, p. 17.
  10. ^ Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna 2008, p. 57.
  11. ^ Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna 2008, p. 58. “Studies of the social and age structure of Nazi elites show that academically educated technocrats who looked back on years of frontline experience - often as young officers - were clearly overrepresented. They knew obeying as well as commanding; Nothing seemed more natural to them than for a leader to set the direction autocratically and without being contradicted. "(Ibid.)
  12. Martin Broszat: On the structure of the Nazi mass movement . In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 31, Heft 1 (1983), p. 63 ( online , accessed on May 5, 2019).
  13. Ursula Büttner : Researched? The Weimar Republic as a subject of historical research. In: From Politics and Contemporary History , Volume 68, Issue 18–20 (2018), p. 32 ( online , accessed May 5, 2019.)
  14. Christian Striefler: Struggle for power. Communists and National Socialists at the end of the Weimar Republic . Propylaea Publishing House, Berlin 1993.
  15. Harold James: Germany in the world economic crisis. 1924-1936 . Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1988, p. 24.
  16. ^ Sven Felix Kellerhoff : The NSDAP. A party and its members. Stuttgart 2017, p. 27.
  17. Kellerhoff points out that the idea of ​​the party program still explicitly applied to the DAP. In March 1920, Hitler had asked to join the DAP and did not use the new party name for the first time until May 2, 1920. (Sven Felix Kellerhoff: Die NSDAP. A party and its members. Stuttgart 2017, p. 48 f.) The German National Socialist Workers' Party already existed in Austria , which also introduced the swastika symbol. ( Werner Maser : The storm on the republic. Early history of the NSDAP . Stuttgart 1973, p. 224).
  18. ^ Sven Felix Kellerhoff: The NSDAP. A party and its members. Stuttgart 2017, p. 66 f.
  19. ^ Sven Felix Kellerhoff: The NSDAP. A party and its members. Stuttgart 2017, p. 67 f.
  20. ^ Sven Felix Kellerhoff: The NSDAP. A party and its members. Stuttgart 2017, p. 74 f.
  21. ^ Sven Felix Kellerhoff: The NSDAP. A party and its members. Stuttgart 2017, p. 80 f.
  22. ^ Ernst Piper : National Socialism. Its history from 1919 until today. Bonn 2012, pp. 28–36.
  23. "In the opinion of the court, the provisions of the Republic Protection Act cannot be applied to a man who thinks and feels as German as Hitler did." (Quoted from Ernst Piper : National Socialism. His story from 1919 to today. Bonn 2012, p. 37.)
  24. “The day began with a working breakfast under the swastika flag. Each of the gentlemen had a small suite of one or two rooms. There was a smoking room and lavish parties were celebrated in the evenings. Separate rooms were available for the pile of mail and the countless gifts and bouquets of flowers that came from everywhere. [...] The party celebrities waited to receive instructions. And government agencies such as the Reichswehr continued to maintain contact with Hitler. ”(Quoted from Ernst Piper : National Socialism. Its history from 1919 to today. Bonn 2012, p. 37 f.)
  25. Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, p. 114.
  26. ^ Hans-Ulrich Wehler: German history of society . Vol. 4: From the beginning of the First World War to the founding of the two German states 1914–1949 . CH Beck, Munich 2003, p. 551.
  27. ^ Sven Felix Kellerhoff: The NSDAP. A party and its members. Stuttgart 2017, p. 112 and 115 f.
  28. ^ Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna 2008, p. 130.
  29. ^ Jürgen W. Falter: Hitler's voters. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1991, pp. 364–374; similar to Hagen Schulze : Weimar. Germany 1917–1933. Siedler, Berlin 1994, p. 339 f.
  30. Quoted from Sven Felix Kellerhoff: The NSDAP. A party and its members. Stuttgart 2017, p. 272.
  31. Quoted from Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, pp. 14, 19.
  32. ^ Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna 2008, p. 198.
  33. ^ Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna 2008, p. 198.
  34. Dietmar Süß: "One people, one empire, one leader". German society in the Third Reich . Beck, Munich 2017, p. 12.
  35. Dietmar Süß: "One people, one empire, one leader". German society in the Third Reich . Beck, Munich 2017, p. 10.
  36. ^ Riccardo Bavaj: The National Socialism. Origin, Rise and Rule. Berlin 2016, p. 63. The SA, which had grown to more than 400,000 members, became the dominant power in public space. "There were no longer any limits to the hunt for communists, and the social democrats also caught the wave of violence with full force." (Ibid., P. 65)
  37. ^ Riccardo Bavaj: The National Socialism. Origin, Rise and Rule. Berlin 2016, p. 81.
  38. ^ Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna 2008, p. 277.
  39. Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, p. 400.
  40. Quoted from Sven Felix Kellerhoff: The NSDAP. A party and its members. Stuttgart 2017, p. 142.
  41. Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, p. 430.
  42. Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, p. 433.
  43. ^ Riccardo Bavaj: The National Socialism. Origin, Rise and Rule. Berlin 2016, pp. 127 and 129.
  44. ^ Riccardo Bavaj: The National Socialism. Origin, Rise and Rule. Berlin 2016, p. 85 f.
  45. ^ Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna 2008, p. 266.
  46. Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, p. 420 f.
  47. ^ Riccardo Bavaj: The National Socialism. Origin, Rise and Rule. Berlin 2016, p. 91 f. Bavaj notes on the logic of the “bizarre drama” the special weight attached to the peasantry for the self-sufficiency policy of the Nazi regime: “The lesson learned from the First World War was that Germany had to become independent of commercial imports in order to enter to be immune to a future war from the consequences of a renewed blockade policy. 'Freedom of food' and 'freedom of defense' are closely related. "(Ibid., P. 92)
  48. Quoted from Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, p. 421.
  49. ^ Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna 2008, p. 270.
  50. ^ Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna 2008, p. 273 f.
  51. Quoted from Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, p. 500. DAF leader Ley compared the working worker with the engine of a motor vehicle, which also has to be regularly overhauled after a certain mileage. (Ibid.)
  52. Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, p. 501. “For the small employees and workers, the cruise remained a dream,” says Süß, “the shorter excursions and short trips that made up the majority of the KdF tourism program and also for smaller budgets were more real were affordable. "(Dietmar Süß: " One people, one Reich one leader ". German society in the Third Reich . Beck, Munich 2017, p. 144)
  53. Michael Burleigh: The time of National Socialism. An overall picture. Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 294.
  54. Michael Burleigh: The time of National Socialism. An overall picture. Frankfurt am Main 2000, pp. 257-261.
  55. Michael Burleigh: The time of National Socialism. An overall picture. Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 262.
  56. Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, p. 502 f.
  57. ^ Riccardo Bavaj: The National Socialism. Origin, Rise and Rule. Berlin 2016, pp. 115–117.
  58. Dietmar Süß: "One people, one empire, one leader". German society in the Third Reich . Beck, Munich 2017, p. 12.
  59. ^ Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna 2008, p. 282 f.
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  62. Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, p. 514 f. From 1933 to 1945 the proportion of working women in the total female population rose from 34.2 to 36.1 percent. (Kurt Bauer: National Socialism. Origins, Beginnings, Rise and Fall. Vienna 2008, p. 284)
  63. Hans-Ulrich Thamer: Seduction and violence. Germany 1933–1945. Berlin 1998, p. 400 and 407 f.
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  75. ^ Kurt Nowak: Churches and Religion. In: Wolfgang Benz, Hermann Graml, Hermann Weiß (eds.): Encyclopedia of National Socialism . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1997, p. 195 f.
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  83. ^ Daniel Heinz: Missionary openness in the world, ideological adaptation in Germany. Seventh-day Adventists and Jews during the Nazi era. In: Daniel Heinz (ed.): Free churches and Jews in the Third Reich (= Church - Denomination - Religion 54). V&R unipress, Göttingen 2009, ISBN 978-3-89971-690-0 , pp. 284-286.
  84. ^ Hans-Adolf Jacobsen: National Socialist Foreign Policy 1933–1938. Metzner, Frankfurt am Main 1969, pp. 416-421.
  85. Jörg Echternkamp : The 101 most important questions. The second World War. Beck, Munich 2010, p. 139 f .; Christian Hartmann : Company Barbarossa. Beck, Munich 2011, p. 115 f.
  86. a b Timothy Snyder: The Holocaust. The hidden reality ( memento of October 18, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), in: Eurozine , February 18, 2010; Printed in: Transit , Heft 38, 2009, pp. 6–19, quoted on p. 9.
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  89. See Hansjakob Stehle: The spies from the rectory , in: The time of January 5, 1996; Peter Broucek: The Austrian Identity in Resistance 1938–1945 , in: Military Resistance: Studies on Austrian State Conception and National Socialist Defense , Böhlau, Vienna 2008, p. 163 ; Andrea Hurton, Hans Schafranek: Im Netz der Verräter , in: derStandard.at , June 4, 2010, accessed on August 3, 2017; Peter Pirker: Superversion of German rule. The British secret service SOE and Austria , 2012, p. 252 ff.
  90. See Hans Hesse, Jens Schreiber: From the slaughterhouse to Auschwitz. The Nazi persecution of the Sinti and Roma from Bremen, Bremerhaven and north-west Germany. Tectum Verlag, Marburg 1999, ISBN 3-8288-8046-0 , limited preview in the Google book search
  91. ^ Frank Bajohr and Dieter Pohl : The Holocaust as an open secret . Munich 2006, pp. 55-65.
  92. www.ushmm.org About the encyclopiedia (Memento vom 27. August 2013 im Internet Archive)
  93. Holocaust Study: More than 40,000 Nazi Forced Camps in Europe. In: Zeit Online . March 2, 2013, accessed December 25, 2014 .
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  95. ^ Ian Kershaw: The Nazi state - historical interpretations and controversies at a glance . Reinbek bei Hamburg 1999, p. 392. "Despite constant encouragement, there have not yet been many comparative studies of dictatorships, and the existing ones have so far not achieved a significant empirical breakthrough with regard to National Socialism." (Ibid., P. 392 f.)
  96. Michael Burleigh: The time of National Socialism. An overall picture. Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 39. “There is no tenable reason why only Germans should decide how many and which points a history of this period should have, as much as they do to research and understand this inglorious epoch of German history may have contributed, which in a fundamental sense is not only 'their' story. "(Ibid., p. 14)
  97. Michael Burleigh: The time of National Socialism. An overall picture. Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 40. "The trans-European conquests of the Nazis may have been the catalyst that unleashed these disastrous forces, but that hardly absolves the peoples concerned from their share of responsibility for the 'ethnic cleansing' and racist mass murders, which were committed in their countries afterwards. "(Ibid.)
  98. Michael Burleigh: The time of National Socialism. An overall picture. Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 15 f.
  99. ^ Riccardo Bavaj: The National Socialism. Origin, Rise and Rule. Berlin 2016, Note 34 (on Chapter 3: “Forming a Weltanschauung field”), p. 179.
  100. ^ Riccardo Bavaj: The National Socialism. Origin, Rise and Rule. Berlin 2016, pp. 62 and 75. “The fact that the national community project is referred to here as an experiment means, on the one hand, that National Socialism, as political modernism, attempted something new in terms of social technology. On the other hand, the experimental character of this project consisted in the fact that at various levels, in everyday life as well as in politics and administration, new behavioral patterns and ideas were actively experimented with, instead of passively following a master plan hatched by the 'Führer' - so important for Hitler for the formulation general guidelines. "(Ibid., p. 75 f.)
  101. ^ Riccardo Bavaj: The National Socialism. Origin, Rise and Rule. Berlin 2016, p. 62.
  102. Dietmar Süß: "One people, one empire, one leader". German society in the Third Reich . Beck, Munich 2017, p. 271.
  103. ^ Wolfgang Wippermann: Theories of fascism. On the status of the current discussion . 5th edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1989, pp. 96-100; the same and Michael Burleigh: The Racial State. Germany 1933-1945. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1991, pp. 12 ff. And others; the same: theories of totalitarianism. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1997, p. 99 fuö .; the same: About some theoretical and methodological basic questions of the fascism discussion . In: the same and Werner Loh (ed.): "Faschismus" controversial . Lucius and Lucius, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 978-3-11-051070-6 , p. 165 (here the quote) (retrieved from De Gruyter Online).
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