Allemagne nazie

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Coordonnées : 52°31′N 13°24′E / 52.517°N 13.400°E / 52.517; 13.400

Reich allemand
(1933-1943)
Deutsches Reich

Grand Reich allemand (1943-1945) Grosdeutsches Reich

1933-1945
Flag of Nazi Germany
Drapeau
(1935-1945)
Emblem (1935–1945) of Nazi Germany
Emblème
(1935-1945)
Hymnes :  
Das Lied der Deutschen
("Le chant des Allemands")

Horst-Wessel-Lied [a]
("La chanson de Horst Wessel")
Greater German Reich (1942).svg
Le contrôle territorial de l'Allemagne à son apogée pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale (fin 1942) :
Capitale
et plus grande ville
Berlin 52°31′N 13°23′E
 / 52.517°N 13.383°E / 52.517; 13.383
Langues courantesAllemand
Religion
[1]
Démonyme(s)Allemand
Gouvernement État fasciste nazi unitaire à parti unique sous une dictature totalitaire
Chef d'état 
• 1933-1934
Paul von Hindenburg [c]
• 1934-1945
Adolf Hitler [d]
• 1945
Karl Dönitz [c]
Chancelier 
• 1933-1945
Adolf Hitler
• 1945
Joseph Goebbels [e]
• 1945
Lutz von Krosigk [f]
Corps législatifReichstag
Reichsrat (dissous en 1934)
Ère historiqueEntre-deux-guerres  • Seconde Guerre mondiale
30 janvier 1933
23 mars 1933
•  Anschluss
12 mars 1938
1er septembre 1939
30 avril 1945
2 mai 1945
•  Abandonner
8 mai 1945
5 juin 1945
Zone
1939 [g]633 786 km 2 (244 706 milles carrés)
1940 [2] [b]823 505 km 2 (317 957 milles carrés)
Population
•  1939 [3]
79 375 281
• 1940 [2] [b]
109 518 183
MonnaieReichsmark (ℛℳ)
Précédé par
succédé par
République de Weimar
État fédéral d'Autriche
Allemagne de l'est
Allemagne de l'Ouest
L'Autriche

L'Allemagne nazie , [h] officiellement connue sous le nom de Reich allemand [i] de 1933 à 1943, et le Grand Reich allemand [j] de 1943 à 1945, était l' État allemand entre 1933 et 1945, lorsque Adolf Hitler et le parti nazi contrôlaient le pays, le transformant en une dictature . Sous le règne d'Hitler, l'Allemagne est rapidement devenue un État totalitaire où presque tous les aspects de la vie étaient contrôlés par le gouvernement. Le Troisième Reich , [k] signifiant "Troisième Royaume" ou "Troisième Empire", a fait allusion à la vanité des nazis selon laquelle l'Allemagne nazie était le successeur de l'ancienSaint Empire romain germanique (800-1806) et Empire allemand (1871-1918). Le Troisième Reich, qu'Hitler et les nazis appelaient le Reich de mille ans , [4] [l] a pris fin en mai 1945 après seulement 12 ans, lorsque les Alliés ont vaincu l'Allemagne, mettant fin à la Seconde Guerre mondiale en Europe .

Le 30 janvier 1933, Hitler est nommé chancelier d'Allemagne , chef du gouvernement , par le président de la République de Weimar , Paul von Hindenburg , chef de l'État . Le parti nazi a alors commencé à éliminer toute opposition politique et à consolider son pouvoir. Hindenburg mourut le 2 août 1934 et Hitler devint dictateur de l'Allemagne en fusionnant les fonctions et les pouvoirs de la chancellerie et de la présidence. Un référendum national tenu le 19 août 1934 a confirmé Hitler comme seul Führer(chef) de l'Allemagne. Tout le pouvoir était centralisé dans la personne d'Hitler et sa parole devint la loi suprême. Le gouvernement n'était pas un corps coopératif coordonné, mais un ensemble de factions luttant pour le pouvoir et les faveurs d'Hitler. Au milieu de la Grande Dépression , les nazis ont restauré la stabilité économique et mis fin au chômage de masse en utilisant de lourdes dépenses militaires et une économie mixte . Utilisant des dépenses déficitaires , le régime a entrepris un programme de réarmement secret massif , formant la Wehrmacht (forces armées), et a construit de vastes projets de travaux publics, y compris les Autobahnen (autoroutes). Le retour à la stabilité économique a renforcé la popularité du régime.

Le racisme , l'eugénisme nazi , et surtout l' antisémitisme , étaient des traits idéologiques centraux du régime. Les peuples germaniques étaient considérés par les nazis comme la race maîtresse , la branche la plus pure de la race aryenne . La discrimination et la persécution des Juifs et des Roms ont commencé sérieusement après la prise du pouvoir. Les premiers camps de concentration ont été établis en mars 1933. Les Juifs et autres personnes jugées indésirables ont été emprisonnés, et les libéraux , les socialistes et les communistes ont été tués, emprisonnés ou exilés. Églises chrétiennes et citoyens quiopposés à la domination hitlérienne ont été opprimés et de nombreux dirigeants emprisonnés. L'éducation était axée sur la biologie raciale , la politique démographique et l'aptitude au service militaire. Les opportunités de carrière et d'éducation pour les femmes ont été réduites . Les loisirs et le tourisme ont été organisés via le programme Strength Through Joy , et les Jeux olympiques d'été de 1936 ont présenté l'Allemagne sur la scène internationale. Le ministre de la Propagande Joseph Goebbels a fait un usage efficace du cinéma, des rassemblements de masse et de l'éloquence hypnotique d'Hitler pour influencer l'opinion publique. Le gouvernement contrôlait l'expression artistique, promouvant des formes d'art spécifiques et interdisant ou décourageant d'autres.

À partir de la seconde moitié des années 1930, l'Allemagne nazie a fait des demandes territoriales de plus en plus agressives, menaçant la guerre si elles n'étaient pas satisfaites. La Sarre a voté par plébiscite pour rejoindre l'Allemagne en 1935, et en 1936, Hitler a envoyé des troupes en Rhénanie , qui avait été démilitarisée après la Première Guerre mondiale. L'Allemagne a saisi l' Autriche dans l' Anschluss de 1938, et a demandé et reçu la région des Sudètes de la Tchécoslovaquie cette même année. En mars 1939, l' État slovaque a été proclamé et est devenu un État client de l'Allemagne, et le protectorat allemand de Bohême et de Moravie a été établi sur le reste de la zone occupée.Terres tchèques . Peu de temps après, l'Allemagne a fait pression sur la Lituanie pour qu'elle cède le territoire de Memel . L'Allemagne a signé un pacte de non-agression avec l' Union soviétique et a envahi la Pologne le 1er septembre 1939, déclenchant la Seconde Guerre mondiale en Europe . Au début de 1941, l'Allemagne et ses alliés européens dans les puissances de l' Axe contrôlaient une grande partie de l'Europe. Les bureaux étendus du Reichskommissariat ont pris le contrôle des zones conquises par les nazis et une administration allemande a été établie dans le reste de la Pologne. L'Allemagne exploitait les matières premières et la main-d'œuvre à la fois de ses territoires occupés et de ses alliés.

Le génocide , les meurtres de masse et le travail forcé à grande échelle sont devenus les caractéristiques du régime. À partir de 1939, des centaines de milliers de citoyens allemands handicapés mentaux ou physiques ont été assassinés dans les hôpitaux et les asiles . Les escadrons de la mort paramilitaires des Einsatzgruppen ont accompagné les forces armées allemandes à l'intérieur des territoires occupés et ont procédé au massacre de millions de Juifs et d'autres victimes de l'Holocauste . Après 1941, des millions d'autres ont été emprisonnés, ont travaillé jusqu'à la mort ou assassinés dans les camps de concentration et d' extermination nazis . Ce génocide est connu comme l'Holocauste.

Alors que l' invasion allemande de l'Union soviétique en 1941 a d'abord été couronnée de succès, la résurgence soviétique et l'entrée des États-Unis dans la guerre ont signifié que la Wehrmacht a perdu l'initiative sur le front de l'Est en 1943 et à la fin de 1944 avait été repoussée à la pré -1939 frontière. Les bombardements aériens à grande échelle de l'Allemagne se sont intensifiés en 1944 et les puissances de l'Axe ont été repoussées en Europe de l'Est et du Sud. Après l' invasion alliée de la France , l'Allemagne a été conquise par l'Union soviétique de l'est et les autres Alliésde l'ouest, et capitula en mai 1945. Le refus d'Hitler d'admettre sa défaite conduisit à la destruction massive des infrastructures allemandes et à d'autres morts liées à la guerre dans les derniers mois de la guerre. Les Alliés victorieux ont lancé une politique de dénazification et ont jugé bon nombre des dirigeants nazis survivants pour crimes de guerre lors des procès de Nuremberg .

Nom

Les termes anglais courants pour l'État allemand à l'époque nazie sont « l'Allemagne nazie » et « le troisième Reich ». Ce dernier, une traduction du terme de propagande nazie Drittes Reich , a été utilisé pour la première fois dans Das Dritte Reich , un livre de 1923 d' Arthur Moeller van den Bruck . Le livre comptait le Saint Empire romain germanique (962-1806) comme le premier Reich et l' Empire allemand (1871-1918) comme le second. [5]

Fond

L'Allemagne était connue sous le nom de République de Weimar pendant les années 1919 à 1933. C'était une république avec un système semi-présidentiel . La République de Weimar a été confrontée à de nombreux problèmes, notamment l' hyperinflation , l'extrémisme politique (y compris la violence des paramilitaires de gauche et de droite), des relations controversées avec les vainqueurs alliés de la Première Guerre mondiale et une série de tentatives infructueuses de gouvernement de coalition par des partis politiques divisés. [6] De graves revers à l'économie allemande ont commencé après la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale, en partie à cause des paiements de réparations requis en vertu du Traité de Versailles de 1919. Le gouvernement a imprimé de l'argent pour effectuer les paiements et rembourser la dette de guerre du pays, mais l'hyperinflation qui en a résulté a entraîné une augmentation des prix des biens de consommation, un chaos économique et des émeutes de la faim. [7] Lorsque le gouvernement a fait défaut sur leurs paiements de réparations en janvier 1923, les troupes françaises ont occupé les zones industrielles allemandes le long de la Ruhr et des troubles civils généralisés ont suivi. [8]

Le Parti national-socialiste des travailleurs allemands ( Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei ), communément appelé le parti nazi, a été fondé en 1920. C'était le successeur renommé du Parti des travailleurs allemands (DAP) formé un an plus tôt, et l'un de plusieurs loin- droit des partis politiques alors actif en Allemagne. [9] La plate - forme du parti nazi comprenait la destruction de la République de Weimar, le rejet des termes du traité de Versailles, l' antisémitisme radical et l'anti- bolchevisme . [10] Ils ont promis un gouvernement central fort, augmenté le Lebensraum(« espace vital ») pour les peuples germaniques, formation d'une communauté nationale fondée sur la race et nettoyage racial via la suppression active des Juifs , qui seraient déchus de leur citoyenneté et de leurs droits civils. [11] Les nazis ont proposé un renouveau national et culturel basé sur le mouvement Völkisch . [12] Le parti, en particulier son organisation paramilitaire Sturmabteilung (SA; Détachement de tempête), ou Chemises brunes, a utilisé la violence physique pour faire avancer sa position politique, perturbant les réunions d'organisations rivales et attaquant leurs membres ainsi que les Juifs dans les rues. [13] Ces groupes armés d'extrême droite étaient courants en Bavière, et ont été tolérés par le gouvernement d'État d'extrême droite sympathique de Gustav Ritter von Kahr . [14]

Lorsque le marché boursier américain s'est effondré le 24 octobre 1929 , l'effet en Allemagne a été terrible. [15] Des millions de personnes ont été licenciées et plusieurs grandes banques se sont effondrées. Hitler et les nazis se préparaient à profiter de l'urgence pour gagner le soutien de leur parti. Ils ont promis de renforcer l'économie et de créer des emplois. [16] De nombreux électeurs ont décidé que le parti nazi était capable de rétablir l'ordre, de réprimer les troubles civils et d'améliorer la réputation internationale de l'Allemagne. Après les élections fédérales de 1932 , le parti était le plus important du Reichstag , détenant 230 sièges avec 37,4 % des suffrages exprimés. [17]

Histoire

Adolf Hitler est devenu le chef de l'État allemand, avec le titre de Führer und Reichskanzler , en 1934.

Prise du pouvoir par les nazis

Bien que les nazis aient remporté la plus grande part du vote populaire lors des deux élections générales du Reichstag de 1932, ils n'avaient pas la majorité. Hitler a donc dirigé un gouvernement de coalition de courte durée formé avec le Parti national du peuple allemand . [18] Sous la pression des politiciens, des industriels et du monde des affaires, le président Paul von Hindenburg a nommé Hitler chancelier d'Allemagne le 30 janvier 1933. Cet événement est connu sous le nom de Machtergreifung (« prise du pouvoir »). [19]

Dans la nuit du 27 février 1933, le bâtiment du Reichstag est incendié . Marinus van der Lubbe , un communiste néerlandais, a été reconnu coupable d'avoir déclenché l'incendie. Hitler a proclamé que l'incendie criminel marquait le début d'un soulèvement communiste. Le décret sur les incendies du Reichstag , imposé le 28 février 1933, a abrogé la plupart des libertés civiles, y compris les droits de réunion et la liberté de la presse. Le décret autorisait également la police à détenir des personnes indéfiniment sans inculpation. La législation était accompagnée d'une campagne de propagande qui a conduit le public à soutenir la mesure. La répression violente des communistes par les SA a été entreprise dans tout le pays et 4 000 membres du Parti communiste d'Allemagne ont été arrêtés. [20]

En Mars 1933, la loi d' habilitation , un amendement à la Constitution de Weimar , adoptée au Reichstag par un vote de 444 à 94. [21] Cette modification a permis Hitler et son cabinet à adopter des lois de lois-même qui violaient la constitution sans consentement du président ou du Reichstag. [22] Comme le projet de loi exigeait une majorité des deux tiers pour passer, les nazis ont utilisé des tactiques d'intimidation ainsi que les dispositions du décret sur les incendies du Reichstag pour empêcher plusieurs députés sociaux-démocrates d'y assister, et les communistes avaient déjà été interdits. [23] [24] Le 10 mai, le gouvernement a saisi les biens des sociaux-démocrates et ils ont été interdits le 22 juin. [25]Le 21 juin, les SA ont fait une descente dans les bureaux du Parti national populaire allemand – leurs anciens partenaires de la coalition – qui s'est ensuite dissous le 29 juin. Les autres grands partis politiques ont emboîté le pas. Le 14 juillet 1933, l'Allemagne est devenue un État à parti unique avec l'adoption d'une loi décrétant que le parti nazi est le seul parti légal en Allemagne. La fondation de nouveaux partis a également été rendue illégale et tous les partis politiques restants qui n'avaient pas encore été dissous ont été interdits. [26] La loi d'habilitation servirait par la suite de fondement juridique à la dictature établie par les nazis. [27] Nouvelles élections en novembre 1933 , 1936 et 1938étaient contrôlés par les nazis, avec seulement des membres du Parti et un petit nombre d'indépendants élus. [28]

Nazification de l'Allemagne

A colour-coded map of Germany in the early 1930s showing the individual German states and independent cities. The largest states of Prussia and Bavaria are coloured in light grey and light blue respectively.
Alors que les États allemands traditionnels n'ont pas été officiellement abolis (à l'exception de Lübeck en 1937 ), leurs droits constitutionnels et leur souveraineté ont été érodés et ont finalement pris fin. La Prusse était déjà sous administration fédérale lorsque Hitler est arrivé au pouvoir, fournissant un modèle pour le processus.

Le cabinet d'Hitler a utilisé les termes du décret sur les incendies du Reichstag et plus tard de la loi d'habilitation pour lancer le processus de Gleichschaltung (« coordination »), qui a placé tous les aspects de la vie sous le contrôle du parti. [29] Les États individuels non contrôlés par des gouvernements nazis élus ou des coalitions dirigées par les nazis ont été contraints d'accepter la nomination de commissaires du Reich pour aligner les États sur les politiques du gouvernement central. Ces commissaires avaient le pouvoir de nommer et de révoquer les gouvernements locaux, les parlements des États, les fonctionnaires et les juges. De cette façon, l'Allemagne est devenue un État unitaire de facto , avec tous les gouvernements des États contrôlés par le gouvernement central sous les nazis. [30] [31]Les parlements des États et le Reichsrat (chambre haute fédérale) ont été abolis en janvier 1934 [32], tous les pouvoirs de l'État étant transférés au gouvernement central. [31]

Toutes les organisations civiles, y compris les groupes agricoles, les organisations de bénévoles et les clubs sportifs, ont vu leur direction remplacée par des sympathisants nazis ou des membres du parti ; ces organisations civiques ont fusionné avec le parti nazi ou ont fait face à la dissolution. [33] Le gouvernement nazi a déclaré une " Journée du travail national " pour le 1er mai 1933 et a invité de nombreux délégués syndicaux à Berlin pour des célébrations. Le lendemain, les stormtroopers de la SA ont démoli les bureaux syndicaux dans tout le pays ; tous les syndicats ont été contraints de se dissoudre et leurs dirigeants ont été arrêtés. [34] La loi de restauration de la fonction publique professionnelle, adoptée en avril, a démis de leurs fonctions tous les enseignants, professeurs, juges, magistrats et responsables gouvernementaux qui étaient juifs ou dont l'engagement envers le parti était suspect. [35] Cela signifiait que les seules institutions non politiques qui n'étaient pas sous le contrôle des nazis étaient les églises. [36]

Le régime nazi a aboli les symboles de la République de Weimar, y compris le drapeau tricolore noir, rouge et or, et a adopté un symbolisme retravaillé. L'ancien drapeau impérial noir, blanc et rouge a été restauré comme l'un des deux drapeaux officiels de l'Allemagne; le second était le drapeau à croix gammée du parti nazi, qui est devenu le seul drapeau national en 1935. L'hymne du parti " Horst-Wessel-Lied " ("Horst Wessel Song") est devenu un deuxième hymne national. [37]

L'Allemagne était toujours dans une situation économique désastreuse, alors que six millions de personnes étaient au chômage et que le déficit de la balance commerciale était intimidant. [38] En utilisant des dépenses déficitaires , des projets de travaux publics ont été entrepris à partir de 1934, créant 1,7 million de nouveaux emplois à la fin de cette seule année. [38] Les salaires moyens ont commencé à augmenter. [39]

Consolidation du pouvoir

La direction SA a continué à faire pression pour une plus grande puissance politique et militaire. En réponse, Hitler a utilisé la Schutzstaffel (SS) et la Gestapo pour purger l'ensemble de la direction SA. [40] Hitler a ciblé SA Stabschef (chef d'état-major) Ernst Röhm et d'autres dirigeants de la SA qui, avec un certain nombre d'adversaires politiques d'Hitler (tels que Gregor Strasser et l'ancien chancelier Kurt von Schleicher ), ont été arrêtés et abattus. [41] Jusqu'à 200 personnes ont été tuées du 30 juin au 2 juillet 1934 lors d'un événement qui est devenu connu sous le nom de Nuit des longs couteaux . [42]

Le 2 août 1934, Hindenburg meurt. La veille, le cabinet avait promulgué la « loi concernant la plus haute fonction publique du Reich », qui stipulait qu'à la mort de Hindenburg, la fonction de président serait abolie et ses pouvoirs fusionnés avec ceux de chancelier. [43] Hitler est devenu ainsi le chef d'État aussi bien que le chef du gouvernement et a été officiellement nommé comme Führer und Reichskanzler ("Leader et Chancelier"), bien que finalement Reichskanzler ait été abandonné. [44] L' Allemagne était maintenant un État totalitaire avec Hitler à sa tête. [45] En tant que chef de l'État, Hitler est devenu commandant suprême des forces armées. La nouvelle loi prévoyait un serment de loyauté modifié pour les militaires afin qu'ilsloyauté affirmée à Hitler personnellement plutôt qu'au poste de commandant suprême ou à l'État. [46] Le 19 août, la fusion de la présidence avec la chancellerie a été approuvée par 90 pour cent de l'électorat lors d'un plébiscite . [47]

A black and white photo of a man wearing a suit and tie. His body is facing to the left while his head is turned towards the right.
Joseph Goebbels , ministre du Reich des Lumières et de la Propagande

La plupart des Allemands étaient soulagés que les conflits et les combats de rue de l'ère de Weimar aient pris fin. Ils ont été inondés de propagande orchestrée par le ministre des Lumières et de la Propagande Joseph Goebbels , qui a promis la paix et l'abondance pour tous dans un pays uni, sans marxisme, sans les contraintes du traité de Versailles. [48] Le parti nazi a obtenu et légitimé le pouvoir par ses premières activités révolutionnaires, puis par la manipulation de mécanismes juridiques, l'utilisation des pouvoirs de police et la prise de contrôle de l'État et des institutions fédérales. [49] [50] Le premier grand camp de concentration nazi , initialement destiné aux prisonniers politiques, a été ouvert à Dachau en 1933. [51]Des centaines de camps de tailles et de fonctions diverses ont été créés à la fin de la guerre. [52]

À partir d'avril 1933, des dizaines de mesures définissant le statut des Juifs et leurs droits sont instituées. [53] Ces mesures ont abouti à l'établissement des lois de Nuremberg de 1935, qui les ont dépouillés de leurs droits fondamentaux. [54] Les nazis prendraient aux Juifs leur richesse, leur droit de se marier avec des non-Juifs et leur droit d'occuper de nombreux domaines du travail (comme le droit, la médecine ou l'éducation). Finalement, les nazis ont déclaré que les Juifs ne souhaitaient pas rester parmi les citoyens et la société allemands. [55]

Renforcement militaire

Dans les premières années du régime, l'Allemagne était sans alliés et son armée a été considérablement affaiblie par le traité de Versailles. La France, la Pologne, l'Italie et l' Union soviétique avaient chacune des raisons de s'opposer à la montée au pouvoir d'Hitler. La Pologne a suggéré à la France que les deux nations s'engagent dans une guerre préventive contre l'Allemagne en mars 1933. L'Italie fasciste s'est opposée aux revendications allemandes dans les Balkans et sur l' Autriche , que Benito Mussolini considérait comme étant dans la sphère d'influence de l'Italie. [56]

Dès février 1933, Hitler annonça que le réarmement devait commencer, quoique clandestinement au début, car cela était en violation du traité de Versailles. Le 17 mai 1933, Hitler prononça un discours devant le Reichstag décrivant son désir de paix mondiale et accepta une offre du président américain Franklin D. Roosevelt pour le désarmement militaire, à condition que les autres nations d'Europe fassent de même. [57] Lorsque les autres puissances européennes n'ont pas accepté cette offre, Hitler a retiré l'Allemagne de la Conférence mondiale du désarmement et de la Société des Nations en octobre, affirmant que ses clauses de désarmement étaient injustes si elles ne s'appliquaient qu'à l'Allemagne. [58] Lors d' un référendum tenu en novembre, 95 pour cent des électeurs ont soutenu le retrait de l'Allemagne. [59]

En 1934, Hitler dit à ses chefs militaires qu'une guerre à l'Est devrait commencer en 1942. [60] La Sarre , qui avait été placée sous tutelle de la Société des Nations pendant 15 ans à la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale, vota en janvier 1935 pour faire partie de l'Allemagne. [61] En mars 1935, Hitler a annoncé la création d'une armée de l'air et que la Reichswehr serait portée à 550 000 hommes. [62] La Grande-Bretagne a accepté que l'Allemagne construise une flotte navale avec la signature de l' Accord naval anglo-allemand le 18 juin 1935. [63]

Lorsque l' invasion italienne de l'Éthiopie n'a suscité que de légères protestations de la part des gouvernements britannique et français, le 7 mars 1936, Hitler a utilisé le traité franco-soviétique d'assistance mutuelle comme prétexte pour ordonner à l'armée de faire marcher 3 000 soldats dans la zone démilitarisée de la Rhénanie. en violation du traité de Versailles. [64] Comme le territoire faisait partie de l'Allemagne, les gouvernements britannique et français ne pensaient pas qu'essayer de faire respecter le traité valait le risque d'une guerre. [65] Lors des élections à parti unique tenues le 29 mars, les nazis ont reçu 98,9 pour cent de soutien. [65] En 1936, Hitler a signé un pacte anti-Kominternavec le Japon et un accord de non-agression avec Mussolini, qui se réfère bientôt à un « axe Rome-Berlin ». [66]

Hitler a envoyé des fournitures militaires et une assistance aux forces nationalistes du général Francisco Franco pendant la guerre civile espagnole , qui a commencé en juillet 1936. La légion allemande Condor comprenait une gamme d'avions et leurs équipages, ainsi qu'un contingent de chars. L'avion de la Légion a détruit la ville de Guernica en 1937. [67] Les nationalistes ont été victorieux en 1939 et sont devenus un allié informel de l'Allemagne nazie. [68]

Autriche et Tchécoslovaquie

(En haut) Hitler proclame l' Anschluss sur la Heldenplatz , Vienne, 15 mars 1938
(En bas) Les Allemands de souche utilisent le salut nazi pour saluer les soldats allemands lorsqu'ils entrent à Saaz , 1938

En février 1938, Hitler insista auprès du chancelier autrichien Kurt Schuschnigg sur la nécessité pour l'Allemagne de sécuriser ses frontières. Schuschnigg a programmé un plébiscite concernant l'indépendance autrichienne pour le 13 mars, mais Hitler a envoyé un ultimatum à Schuschnigg le 11 mars exigeant qu'il remette tout le pouvoir au parti nazi autrichien ou fasse face à une invasion. Les troupes allemandes entrèrent en Autriche le lendemain, pour être accueillies avec enthousiasme par la population. [69]

La République de Tchécoslovaquie abritait une importante minorité d'Allemands, qui vivaient principalement dans les Sudètes . Sous la pression de groupes séparatistes au sein du Parti allemand des Sudètes , le gouvernement tchécoslovaque a offert des concessions économiques à la région. [70] Hitler a décidé non seulement d'incorporer les Sudètes dans le Reich, mais de détruire entièrement le pays de la Tchécoslovaquie. [71] Les nazis ont entrepris une campagne de propagande pour essayer de générer un soutien pour une invasion. [72] Les chefs militaires allemands supérieurs se sont opposés au plan, car l'Allemagne n'était pas encore prête pour la guerre. [73]

La crise a conduit à des préparatifs de guerre par la Grande-Bretagne, la Tchécoslovaquie et la France (alliée de la Tchécoslovaquie). Tentant d'éviter la guerre, le Premier ministre britannique Neville Chamberlain organisa une série de réunions dont le résultat fut l' Accord de Munich , signé le 29 septembre 1938. Le gouvernement tchécoslovaque fut contraint d'accepter l'annexion des Sudètes à l'Allemagne. Chamberlain a été accueilli par des acclamations lorsqu'il a atterri à Londres, affirmant que l'accord apportait "la paix pour notre temps". [74] En plus de l'annexion allemande, la Pologne a saisi une étroite bande de terre près de Cieszyn le 2 octobre, tandis qu'à la suite de l'Accord de Munich, la Hongriedemandé et reçu 12 000 kilomètres carrés (4 600 milles carrés) le long de leur frontière nord dans le premier prix de Vienne le 2 novembre. [75] À la suite de négociations avec le président Emil Hácha , Hitler s'empare du reste de la moitié tchèque du pays le 15 mars 1939 et crée le protectorat de Bohême-Moravie , un jour après la proclamation de la République slovaque dans la moitié slovaque. [76] Également le 15 mars, la Hongrie a occupé et annexé la Carpatho-Ukraine récemment proclamée et non reconnue et une bande de terre supplémentaire contestée avec la Slovaquie . [77] [78]

Les réserves de change autrichiennes et tchèques ont été saisies par les nazis, tout comme les stocks de matières premières telles que les métaux et les produits finis tels que les armes et les avions, qui ont été expédiés en Allemagne. Le conglomérat industriel Reichswerke Hermann Göring a pris le contrôle des installations de production d'acier et de charbon dans les deux pays. [79]

Pologne

A propaganda poster of a large cathedral with sunlight shining on it. Several buildings can be seen around the cathedral while a left-facing eagle clutching a swastika is seen in the upper right corner of the poster. The words "DANZIG IST DEUTSCH" can be seen in the bottom left of the poster.
Une affiche de propagande nazie proclamant que Dantzig est allemand

En janvier 1934, l'Allemagne signe un pacte de non-agression avec la Pologne. [80] En mars 1939, Hitler a exigé le retour de la ville libre de Dantzig et du corridor polonais , une bande de terre qui séparait la Prusse orientale du reste de l'Allemagne. Les Britanniques ont annoncé qu'ils viendraient au secours de la Pologne si elle était attaquée. Hitler, croyant que les Britanniques n'agiraient pas réellement, ordonna qu'un plan d'invasion soit préparé pour septembre 1939. [81] Le 23 mai, Hitler décrivit à ses généraux son plan global consistant non seulement à s'emparer du corridor polonais, mais aussi à étendre considérablement le territoire allemand vers l'est. au détriment de la Pologne. Il s'attendait cette fois à ce qu'ils soient combattus par la force. [82]

Les Allemands ont réaffirmé leur alliance avec l'Italie et ont signé des pactes de non-agression avec le Danemark, l'Estonie et la Lettonie tandis que des liens commerciaux ont été officialisés avec la Roumanie, la Norvège et la Suède. [83] Le ministre des Affaires étrangères Joachim von Ribbentrop a négocié avec l'Union soviétique un pacte de non-agression, le pacte Molotov-Ribbentrop , signé en août 1939. [84] Le traité contenait également des protocoles secrets divisant la Pologne et les États baltes en sphères d'influence soviétiques. [85]

La Seconde Guerre mondiale

(En haut) Carte animée montrant la séquence des événements en Europe tout au long de la Seconde Guerre mondiale
(En bas) L'Allemagne et ses alliés au plus fort du succès de l'Axe, 1942

Police étrangère

La politique étrangère de l'Allemagne en temps de guerre impliquait la création de gouvernements alliés contrôlés directement ou indirectement depuis Berlin. Ils avaient l'intention d'obtenir des soldats d'alliés tels que l'Italie et la Hongrie et des travailleurs et des vivres d'alliés tels que Vichy France . [86] La Hongrie a été la quatrième nation à rejoindre l'Axe, en signant le Pacte Tripartite le 27 septembre 1940. La Bulgarie a signé le pacte le 17 novembre. Les efforts allemands pour sécuriser le pétrole comprenaient la négociation d'un approvisionnement de leur nouvel allié, la Roumanie , qui a signé le pacte le 23 novembre, aux côtés de la République slovaque. [87] [88] [89] À la fin de 1942, il y avait 24 divisions roumaines sur le front oriental, 10 italiennes et 10 hongroises.[90] L' Allemagne a pris le contrôle total de la France en 1942, de l'Italie en 1943 et de la Hongrie en 1944. Bien que le Japon soit un puissant allié, la relation était distante, avec peu de coordination ou de coopération. Par exemple, l'Allemagne a refusé de partager sa formule pour le pétrole synthétique du charbon jusqu'à la fin de la guerre. [91]

Déclenchement de guerre

L'Allemagne envahit la Pologne et s'empara de la ville libre de Dantzig le 1er septembre 1939, déclenchant la Seconde Guerre mondiale en Europe. [92] Honorant leurs obligations de traité, la Grande-Bretagne et la France ont déclaré la guerre à l'Allemagne deux jours plus tard. [93] La Pologne est tombée rapidement, alors que l'Union soviétique attaquait de l'est le 17 septembre. [94] Reinhard Heydrich , chef de la Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo ; police de sécurité) et du Sicherheitsdienst (SD ; service de sécurité), a ordonné le 21 septembre que les Juifs polonais soient rassemblés et concentrés dans des villes bien desservies par les voies ferrées. Initialement, l'intention était de les déporter plus à l'est, ou éventuellement à Madagascar . [95] Utilisationlistes préparées à l'avance , quelque 65 000 intellectuels polonais, nobles, membres du clergé et enseignants ont été tués à la fin de 1939 dans une tentative de détruire l'identité de la Pologne en tant que nation. [96] [97] Les forces soviétiques ont avancé en Finlande pendant la guerre d'hiver et les forces allemandes ont participé à des actions en mer. Mais peu d'autres activités ont eu lieu jusqu'en mai, de sorte que la période est devenue connue sous le nom de " drôle de guerre ". [98]

Dès le début de la guerre, un blocus britannique sur les expéditions vers l'Allemagne a affecté son économie. L'Allemagne était particulièrement dépendante des approvisionnements étrangers en pétrole, charbon et céréales. [99] Grâce aux embargos commerciaux et au blocus, les importations en Allemagne ont diminué de 80 pour cent. [100] Pour protéger les expéditions suédoises de minerai de fer vers l'Allemagne, Hitler ordonna l' invasion du Danemark et de la Norvège , qui commença le 9 avril. Le Danemark a chuté après moins d'une journée , tandis que la majeure partie de la Norvège suivait à la fin du mois. [101] [102] Début juin, l'Allemagne occupait toute la Norvège . [103]

Conquête de l'Europe

Contre l'avis de nombre de ses officiers supérieurs, Hitler ordonna en mai 1940 une attaque contre la France et les Pays-Bas . [104] [105] Ils ont rapidement conquis le Luxembourg et les Pays - Bas et ont déjoué les Alliés en Belgique , forçant l'évacuation de nombreuses troupes britanniques et françaises à Dunkerque . [106] La France tomba aussi, se rendant à l'Allemagne le 22 juin . [107] La victoire en France a entraîné une augmentation de la popularité d'Hitler et une recrudescence de la fièvre guerrière en Allemagne. [108]

En violation des dispositions de la Convention de La Haye , des entreprises industrielles des Pays-Bas, de France et de Belgique ont été mises au travail pour produire du matériel de guerre pour l'Allemagne. [109]

Des soldats allemands défilent près de l' Arc de Triomphe à Paris, le 14 juin 1940

Les nazis ont saisi des milliers de locomotives et de matériel roulant français, des stocks d'armes et des matières premières telles que le cuivre, l'étain, le pétrole et le nickel. [110] Les paiements pour les coûts d'occupation ont été prélevés sur la France, la Belgique et la Norvège. [111] Les obstacles au commerce ont conduit à la thésaurisation, aux marchés noirs et à l'incertitude quant à l'avenir. [112] L'approvisionnement en nourriture était précaire; la production a chuté dans la plus grande partie de l'Europe. [113] La famine a été vécue dans de nombreux pays occupés. [113]

Les ouvertures de paix d'Hitler au nouveau Premier ministre britannique Winston Churchill ont été rejetées en juillet 1940. Le grand amiral Erich Raeder avait informé Hitler en juin que la supériorité aérienne était une condition préalable à une invasion réussie de la Grande - Bretagne , alors Hitler a ordonné une série d'attaques aériennes sur Bases aériennes et stations radar de la Royal Air Force (RAF), ainsi que des raids aériens nocturnes sur des villes britanniques, dont Londres , Plymouth et Coventry . La Luftwaffe allemande n'a pas réussi à vaincre la RAF dans ce qui est devenu la bataille d'Angleterre, et à la fin du mois d'octobre, Hitler réalisa que la supériorité aérienne ne serait pas atteinte. Il reporta définitivement l'invasion, un plan que les commandants de l'armée allemande n'avaient jamais pris tout à fait au sérieux. [114] [115] [m] Plusieurs historiens, y compris Andrew Gordon , croient que la raison principale de l'échec du plan d'invasion était la supériorité de la Royal Navy, pas les actions de la RAF. [116]

En février 1941, l' Afrika Korps allemand est arrivé en Libye pour aider les Italiens dans la campagne d'Afrique du Nord . [117] Le 6 avril, l'Allemagne a lancé une invasion de la Yougoslavie et de la Grèce . [118] [119] Toute la Yougoslavie et certaines parties de la Grèce ont ensuite été divisées entre l'Allemagne, la Hongrie, l'Italie et la Bulgarie. [120] [121]

Invasion de l'Union soviétique

Le 22 juin 1941, contrevenant au pacte Molotov-Ribbentrop, environ 3,8 millions de soldats de l'Axe attaquent l'Union soviétique. [122] En plus de l'objectif déclaré d'Hitler d'acquérir Lebensraum , cette offensive à grande échelle—nom de code Opération Barbarossa— était destinée à détruire l'Union soviétique et à saisir ses ressources naturelles pour une agression ultérieure contre les puissances occidentales. [123] La réaction parmi les Allemands fut celle de la surprise et de l'appréhension, car beaucoup s'inquiétaient de la durée de la guerre ou soupçonnaient que l'Allemagne ne pourrait pas gagner une guerre menée sur deux fronts. [124]

Mort et destruction pendant la bataille de Stalingrad , octobre 1942

L'invasion a conquis une vaste zone, y compris les États baltes , la Biélorussie et l'ouest de l' Ukraine . Après le succès de la bataille de Smolensk en septembre 1941, Hitler ordonna au groupe d'armées Centre d'arrêter son avance vers Moscou et de détourner temporairement ses groupes Panzer pour aider à l'encerclement de Leningrad et de Kiev . [125] Cette pause fournit à l' Armée rouge l' occasion de mobiliser de nouvelles réserves. L'offensive de Moscou, qui a repris en octobre 1941, s'est terminée de manière désastreuse en décembre . [126] Le 7 décembre 1941, le Japon attaque Pearl Harbor, Hawaï. Quatre jours plus tard, l'Allemagne déclare la guerre aux États-Unis. [127]

La nourriture était rare dans les régions conquises de l'Union soviétique et de la Pologne, car les armées en retraite avaient brûlé les récoltes dans certaines régions, et une grande partie du reste a été renvoyée au Reich. [128] En Allemagne, les rations ont été coupées en 1942. Dans son rôle de plénipotentiaire du plan de quatre ans , Hermann Göring a exigé une augmentation des expéditions de céréales de France et de poisson de Norvège. La récolte de 1942 a été bonne et les approvisionnements alimentaires sont restés suffisants en Europe occidentale. [129]

L'Allemagne et l'Europe dans son ensemble dépendaient presque totalement des importations étrangères de pétrole. [130] Dans une tentative de résoudre la pénurie, en juin 1942, l'Allemagne lança Fall Blau ("Case Blue"), une offensive contre les champs pétrolifères du Caucase. [131] L'Armée rouge lance une contre-offensive le 19 novembre et encercle les forces de l'Axe, qui sont piégées à Stalingrad le 23 novembre. [132] Göring a assuré à Hitler que la 6e armée pourrait être ravitaillée par voie aérienne, mais cela s'est avéré irréalisable. [133]Le refus d'Hitler d'autoriser une retraite a entraîné la mort de 200 000 soldats allemands et roumains ; sur les 91 000 hommes qui se sont rendus dans la ville le 31 janvier 1943, seuls 6 000 survivants sont retournés en Allemagne après la guerre. [134]

Tournant et effondrement

Les pertes ont continué à s'accumuler après Stalingrad, entraînant une forte réduction de la popularité du parti nazi et une détérioration du moral. [135] Les forces soviétiques ont continué à pousser vers l'ouest après l'échec de l'offensive allemande à la bataille de Koursk à l'été 1943. À la fin de 1943, les Allemands avaient perdu la plupart de leurs gains territoriaux à l'est. [136] En Egypte, le maréchal Erwin Rommel de Afrika Korps ont été défaits par les forces britanniques sous le maréchal Bernard Montgomery en Octobre 1942. [137] Les Alliés débarquent en Sicile en Juillet 1943 et en Italie en Septembre. [138] Pendant ce temps, les flottes de bombardiers américains et britanniques basés en Grande-Bretagne ont commencéopérations contre l'Allemagne . De nombreuses sorties ont été intentionnellement données à des cibles civiles dans le but de détruire le moral allemand. [139] Le bombardement d'usines d'avions ainsi que le Centre de recherche de l'armée de Peenemünde , où les roquettes V-1 et V-2 étaient développées et produites, ont également été jugés particulièrement importants. [140] [141] La production d'avions allemande ne pouvait pas suivre le rythme des pertes et sans couverture aérienne, la campagne de bombardement alliée est devenue encore plus dévastatrice. En ciblant les raffineries de pétrole et les usines, ils ont paralysé l'effort de guerre allemand à la fin de 1944. [142]

Le 6 juin 1944, les forces américaines, britanniques et canadiennes établissent un front en France avec le débarquement du jour J en Normandie . [143] Le 20 juillet 1944 , Hitler a survécu à une tentative d'assassinat. [144] Il ordonne des représailles brutales, entraînant 7 000 arrestations et l'exécution de plus de 4 900 personnes. [145] L' offensive ratée des Ardennes (16 décembre 1944 – 25 janvier 1945) fut la dernière grande offensive allemande sur le front occidental et les forces soviétiques entrèrent en Allemagne le 27 janvier. [146] Le refus d'Hitler d'admettre sa défaite et son insistance pour que la guerre soit menée jusqu'au dernier homme ont entraîné des morts et des destructions inutiles dans les derniers mois de la guerre.[147] Par l'intermédiaire de son ministre de la Justice Otto Georg Thierack , Hitler a ordonné que quiconque n'était pas prêt à se battre soit traduit en cour martiale et des milliers de personnes ont été mises à mort. [148] Dans de nombreuses régions, les gens se sont rendus aux Alliés qui approchaient malgré les exhortations des dirigeants locaux à continuer de se battre. Hitler a ordonné la destruction des transports, des ponts, des industries et d'autres infrastructures - undécret de la terre brûlée - mais le ministre de l'Armement Albert Speer a empêché cet ordre d'être pleinement exécuté. [147]

Film de l' US Army Air Force de la destruction dans le centre de Berlin en juillet 1945

Pendant la bataille de Berlin (16 avril 1945 - 2 mai 1945), Hitler et son personnel vivaient dans le Führerbunker souterrain pendant que l'Armée rouge approchait. [149] Le 30 avril, alors que les troupes soviétiques se trouvaient à deux pâtés de maisons de la Chancellerie du Reich , Hitler, avec sa petite amie et alors sa femme Eva Braun se sont suicidés . [150] Le 2 mai, le général Helmuth Weidling rendit sans condition Berlin au général soviétique Vasily Chuikov . [151] Hitler a été remplacé par le grand amiral Karl Dönitz comme président du Reich et Goebbels comme chancelier du Reich. [152]Goebbels et sa femme Magda se sont suicidés le lendemain après avoir assassiné leurs six enfants . [153] Entre le 4 et le 8 mai 1945, la plupart des forces armées allemandes restantes se sont rendues sans condition. L' instrument allemand de reddition a été signé le 8 mai, marquant la fin du régime nazi et la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale en Europe . [154]

Le soutien populaire à Hitler a presque complètement disparu à la fin de la guerre. [155] Les taux de suicide en Allemagne ont augmenté, en particulier dans les régions où l'Armée rouge progressait. Parmi les soldats et le personnel du parti, le suicide était souvent considéré comme une alternative honorable et héroïque à la reddition. Les récits de première main et la propagande sur le comportement non civilisé des troupes soviétiques qui avançaient ont provoqué la panique parmi les civils sur le front de l'Est, en particulier les femmes, qui craignaient d'être violées. [156] Plus d'un millier de personnes (sur une population d'environ 16 000 habitants) se sont suicidées à Demmin le et vers le 1er mai 1945 en tant que 65e armée du 2e front biélorussed'abord fait irruption dans une distillerie puis s'est déchaînée dans la ville, commettant des viols en masse, exécutant arbitrairement des civils et incendiant des bâtiments. Un nombre élevé de suicides a eu lieu dans de nombreux autres endroits, dont Neubrandenburg (600 morts), Stolp à Pommern (1 000 morts) [157] et Berlin, où au moins 7 057 personnes se sont suicidées en 1945. [158]

Victimes allemandes

Réfugiés allemands à Bedburg, près de Kleve , 19 février 1945

Les estimations du nombre total de morts de guerre allemands vont de 5,5 à 6,9 millions de personnes. [159] Une étude de l'historien allemand Rüdiger Overmans évalue le nombre de militaires allemands morts et disparus à 5,3 millions, dont 900 000 hommes enrôlés hors des frontières allemandes de 1937. [160] Richard Overy a estimé en 2014 qu'environ 353 000 civils ont été tués lors de raids aériens alliés. [161] D'autres morts civils incluent 300 000 Allemands (y compris des Juifs) qui ont été victimes de persécutions politiques, raciales et religieuses nazies [162] et 200 000 qui ont été assassinés dans le programme d'euthanasie nazi . [163] Tribunaux politiques appelés Sondergerichtea condamné à mort quelque 12 000 membres de la résistance allemande , et les tribunaux civils ont condamné 40 000 Allemands supplémentaires. [164] Des viols de masse de femmes allemandes ont également eu lieu. [165]

Géographie

Changements territoriaux

Carte du Grand Reich allemand avec les divisions administratives définies par le parti nazi, 1944

À la suite de leur défaite lors de la Première Guerre mondiale et du traité de Versailles qui en a résulté, l'Allemagne a perdu l' Alsace-Lorraine , le Schleswig du Nord et Memel . La Sarre est devenue un protectorat de la France à condition que ses résidents décident plus tard par référendum quel pays rejoindre, et la Pologne est devenue une nation distincte et a obtenu l'accès à la mer par la création du corridor polonais, qui séparait la Prusse du reste de l'Allemagne, tandis que Dantzig est devenue une ville libre. [166]

Germany regained control of the Saarland through a referendum held in 1935 and annexed Austria in the Anschluss of 1938.[167] The Munich Agreement of 1938 gave Germany control of the Sudetenland, and they seized the remainder of Czechoslovakia six months later.[74] Under threat of invasion by sea, Lithuania surrendered the Memel district in March 1939.[168]

Between 1939 and 1941, German forces invaded Poland, Denmark, Norway, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Greece, and the Soviet Union.[107] Germany annexed parts of northern Yugoslavia in April 1941,[120][121] while Mussolini ceded Trieste, South Tyrol, and Istria to Germany in 1943.[169]

Occupied territories

Public execution of 54 Poles in Rożki, Masovian Voivodeship (near Radom), German-occupied Poland, 1942

Some of the conquered territories were incorporated into Germany as part of Hitler's long-term goal of creating a Greater Germanic Reich. Several areas, such as Alsace-Lorraine, were placed under the authority of an adjacent Gau (regional district). The Reichskommissariate (Reich Commissariats), quasi-colonial regimes, were established in some occupied countries. Areas placed under German administration included the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Reichskommissariat Ostland (encompassing the Baltic states and Belarus), and Reichskommissariat Ukraine. Conquered areas of Belgium and France were placed under control of the Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France.[170] Belgian Eupen-Malmedy, which had been part of Germany until 1919, was annexed. Part of Poland was incorporated into the Reich, and the General Government was established in occupied central Poland.[171] The governments of Denmark, Norway (Reichskommissariat Norwegen), and the Netherlands (Reichskommissariat Niederlande) were placed under civilian administrations staffed largely by natives.[170][n] Hitler intended to eventually incorporate many of these areas into the Reich.[172] Germany occupied the Italian protectorate of Albania and the Italian governorate of Montenegro in 1943[173] and installed a puppet government in occupied Serbia in 1941.[174]

Politics

Heinrich Himmler, Hitler and Viktor Lutze perform the Nazi salute at the Nuremberg Rally, September 1934

Ideology

The Nazis were a far-right fascist political party which arose during the social and financial upheavals that occurred following the end of World War I.[175] The Party remained small and marginalised, receiving 2.6% of the federal vote in 1928, prior to the onset of the Great Depression in 1929.[176] By 1930 the Party won 18.3% of the federal vote, making it the Reichstag's second largest political party.[177] While in prison after the failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, which laid out his plan for transforming German society into one based on race.[178] Nazi ideology brought together elements of antisemitism, racial hygiene, and eugenics, and combined them with pan-Germanism and territorial expansionism with the goal of obtaining more Lebensraum for the Germanic people.[179] The regime attempted to obtain this new territory by attacking Poland and the Soviet Union, intending to deport or kill the Jews and Slavs living there, who were viewed as being inferior to the Aryan master race and part of a Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy.[180][181] The Nazi regime believed that only Germany could defeat the forces of Bolshevism and save humanity from world domination by International Jewry.[182] Other people deemed life unworthy of life by the Nazis included the mentally and physically disabled, Romani people, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and social misfits.[183][184]

Influenced by the Völkisch movement, the regime was against cultural modernism and supported the development of an extensive military at the expense of intellectualism.[12][185] Creativity and art were stifled, except where they could serve as propaganda media.[186] The party used symbols such as the Blood Flag and rituals such as the Nazi Party rallies to foster unity and bolster the regime's popularity.[187]

Government

Hitler, Göring, Goebbels and Rudolf Hess during a military parade in 1933

Hitler ruled Germany autocratically by asserting the Führerprinzip ("leader principle"), which called for absolute obedience by all subordinates. He viewed the government structure as a pyramid, with himself—the infallible leader—at the apex. Party rank was not determined by elections, and positions were filled through appointment by those of higher rank.[188] The party used propaganda to develop a cult of personality around Hitler.[189] Historians such as Kershaw emphasise the psychological impact of Hitler's skill as an orator.[190] Roger Gill states: "His moving speeches captured the minds and hearts of a vast number of the German people: he virtually hypnotized his audiences".[191]

While top officials reported to Hitler and followed his policies, they had considerable autonomy.[192] He expected officials to "work towards the Führer" – to take the initiative in promoting policies and actions in line with party goals and Hitler's wishes, without his involvement in day-to-day decision-making.[193] The government was a disorganised collection of factions led by the party elite, who struggled to amass power and gain the Führer's favour.[194] Hitler's leadership style was to give contradictory orders to his subordinates and to place them in positions where their duties and responsibilities overlapped.[195] In this way he fostered distrust, competition, and infighting among his subordinates to consolidate and maximise his own power.[196]

Successive Reichsstatthalter decrees between 1933 and 1935 abolished the existing Länder (constituent states) of Germany and replaced them with new administrative divisions, the Gaue, governed by Nazi leaders (Gauleiters).[197] The change was never fully implemented, as the Länder were still used as administrative divisions for some government departments such as education. This led to a bureaucratic tangle of overlapping jurisdictions and responsibilities typical of the administrative style of the Nazi regime.[198]

Jewish civil servants lost their jobs in 1933, except for those who had seen military service in World War I. Members of the Party or party supporters were appointed in their place.[199] As part of the process of Gleichschaltung, the Reich Local Government Law of 1935 abolished local elections, and mayors were appointed by the Ministry of the Interior.[200]

Law

Chart showing the pseudo-scientific racial divisions used in the racial policies of Nazi Germany

In August 1934, civil servants and members of the military were required to swear an oath of unconditional obedience to Hitler. These laws became the basis of the Führerprinzip, the concept that Hitler's word overrode all existing laws.[201] Any acts that were sanctioned by Hitler—even murder—thus became legal.[202] All legislation proposed by cabinet ministers had to be approved by the office of Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess, who could also veto top civil service appointments.[203]

Most of the judicial system and legal codes of the Weimar Republic remained in place to deal with non-political crimes.[204] The courts issued and carried out far more death sentences than before the Nazis took power.[204] People who were convicted of three or more offences—even petty ones—could be deemed habitual offenders and jailed indefinitely.[205] People such as prostitutes and pickpockets were judged to be inherently criminal and a threat to the community. Thousands were arrested and confined indefinitely without trial.[206]

A meeting of the four jurists who imposed Nazi ideology on the legal system of Germany (left to right: Roland Freisler, Franz Schlegelberger, Otto Georg Thierack, and Curt Rothenberger)

A new type of court, the Volksgerichtshof ("People's Court"), was established in 1934 to deal with political cases.[207] This court handed out over 5,000 death sentences until its dissolution in 1945.[208] The death penalty could be issued for offences such as being a communist, printing seditious leaflets, or even making jokes about Hitler or other officials.[209] The Gestapo was in charge of investigative policing to enforce Nazi ideology as they located and confined political offenders, Jews, and others deemed undesirable.[210] Political offenders who were released from prison were often immediately re-arrested by the Gestapo and confined in a concentration camp.[211]

The Nazis used propaganda to promulgate the concept of Rassenschande ("race defilement") to justify the need for racial laws.[212] In September 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were enacted. These laws initially prohibited sexual relations and marriages between Aryans and Jews and were later extended to include "Gypsies, Negroes or their bastard offspring".[213] The law also forbade the employment of German women under the age of 45 as domestic servants in Jewish households.[214] The Reich Citizenship Law stated that only those of "German or related blood" could be citizens.[215] Thus Jews and other non-Aryans were stripped of their German citizenship. The law also permitted the Nazis to deny citizenship to anyone who was not supportive enough of the regime.[215] A supplementary decree issued in November defined as Jewish anyone with three Jewish grandparents, or two grandparents if the Jewish faith was followed.[216]

Military and paramilitary

Wehrmacht

A column of tanks and other armoured vehicles of the Panzerwaffe near Stalingrad, 1942

The unified armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945 were called the Wehrmacht (defence force). This included the Heer (army), Kriegsmarine (navy), and the Luftwaffe (air force). From 2 August 1934, members of the armed forces were required to pledge an oath of unconditional obedience to Hitler personally. In contrast to the previous oath, which required allegiance to the constitution of the country and its lawful establishments, this new oath required members of the military to obey Hitler even if they were being ordered to do something illegal.[217] Hitler decreed that the army would have to tolerate and even offer logistical support to the Einsatzgruppen—the mobile death squads responsible for millions of deaths in Eastern Europe—when it was tactically possible to do so.[218] Wehrmacht troops also participated directly in the Holocaust by shooting civilians or committing genocide under the guise of anti-partisan operations.[219] The party line was that the Jews were the instigators of the partisan struggle and therefore needed to be eliminated.[220] On 8 July 1941, Heydrich announced that all Jews in the eastern conquered territories were to be regarded as partisans and gave the order for all male Jews between the ages of 15 and 45 to be shot.[221] By August, this was extended to include the entire Jewish population.[222]

In spite of efforts to prepare the country militarily, the economy could not sustain a lengthy war of attrition. A strategy was developed based on the tactic of Blitzkrieg ("lightning war"), which involved using quick coordinated assaults that avoided enemy strong points. Attacks began with artillery bombardment, followed by bombing and strafing runs. Next the tanks would attack and finally the infantry would move in to secure the captured area.[223] Victories continued through mid-1940, but the failure to defeat Britain was the first major turning point in the war. The decision to attack the Soviet Union and the decisive defeat at Stalingrad led to the retreat of the German armies and the eventual loss of the war.[224] The total number of soldiers who served in the Wehrmacht from 1935 to 1945 was around 18.2 million, of whom 5.3 million died.[160]

The SA and SS

(Top) SA members enforce a boycott of Jewish stores, 1 April 1933
(Bottom) Troop inspection in Berlin of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, 1938

The Sturmabteilung (SA; Storm Detachment), or Brownshirts, founded in 1921, was the first paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party; their initial assignment was to protect Nazi leaders at rallies and assemblies.[225] They also took part in street battles against the forces of rival political parties and violent actions against Jews and others.[226] Under Ernst Röhm's leadership the SA grew by 1934 to over half a million members—4.5 million including reserves—at a time when the regular army was still limited to 100,000 men by the Versailles Treaty.[227]

Röhm hoped to assume command of the army and absorb it into the ranks of the SA.[228] Hindenburg and Defence Minister Werner von Blomberg threatened to impose martial law if the activities of the SA were not curtailed.[229] Therefore, less than a year and a half after seizing power, Hitler ordered the deaths of the SA leadership, including Rohm. After the purge of 1934, the SA was no longer a major force.[42]

Initially a small bodyguard unit under the auspices of the SA, the Schutzstaffel (SS; Protection Squadron) grew to become one of the largest and most powerful groups in Nazi Germany.[230] Led by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler from 1929, the SS had over a quarter million members by 1938.[231] Himmler initially envisioned the SS as being an elite group of guards, Hitler's last line of defence.[232] The Waffen-SS, the military branch of the SS, evolved into a second army. It was dependent on the regular army for heavy weaponry and equipment, and most units were under tactical control of the High Command of the Armed Forces (OKW).[233][234] By the end of 1942, the stringent selection and racial requirements that had initially been in place were no longer followed. With recruitment and conscription based only on expansion, by 1943 the Waffen-SS could not longer claim to be an elite fighting force.[235]

SS formations committed many war crimes against civilians and allied servicemen.[236] From 1935 onward, the SS spearheaded the persecution of Jews, who were rounded up into ghettos and concentration camps.[237] With the outbreak of World War II, the SS Einsatzgruppen units followed the army into Poland and the Soviet Union, where from 1941 to 1945 they killed more than two million people, including 1.3 million Jews.[238] A third of the Einsatzgruppen members were recruited from Waffen-SS personnel.[239][240] The SS-Totenkopfverbände (death's head units) ran the concentration camps and extermination camps, where millions more were killed.[241][242] Up to 60,000 Waffen-SS men served in the camps.[243]

In 1931, Himmler organised an SS intelligence service which became known as the Sicherheitsdienst (SD; Security Service) under his deputy, Heydrich.[244] This organisation was tasked with locating and arresting communists and other political opponents.[245][246] Himmler established the beginnings of a parallel economy under the auspices of the SS Economy and Administration Head Office. This holding company owned housing corporations, factories, and publishing houses.[247][248]

Economy

Reich economics

IG Farben synthetic oil plant under construction at Buna Werke (1941). This plant was part of the complex at Auschwitz concentration camp.

The most pressing economic matter the Nazis initially faced was the 30 per cent national unemployment rate.[249] Economist Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, President of the Reichsbank and Minister of Economics, created a scheme for deficit financing in May 1933. Capital projects were paid for with the issuance of promissory notes called Mefo bills. When the notes were presented for payment, the Reichsbank printed money. Hitler and his economic team expected that the upcoming territorial expansion would provide the means of repaying the soaring national debt.[250] Schacht's administration achieved a rapid decline in the unemployment rate, the largest of any country during the Great Depression.[249] Economic recovery was uneven, with reduced hours of work and erratic availability of necessities, leading to disenchantment with the regime as early as 1934.[251]

In October 1933, the Junkers Aircraft Works was expropriated. In concert with other aircraft manufacturers and under the direction of Aviation Minister Göring, production was ramped up. From a workforce of 3,200 people producing 100 units per year in 1932, the industry grew to employ a quarter of a million workers manufacturing over 10,000 technically advanced aircraft annually less than ten years later.[252]

An elaborate bureaucracy was created to regulate imports of raw materials and finished goods with the intention of eliminating foreign competition in the German marketplace and improving the nation's balance of payments. The Nazis encouraged the development of synthetic replacements for materials such as oil and textiles.[253] As the market was experiencing a glut and prices for petroleum were low, in 1933 the Nazi government made a profit-sharing agreement with IG Farben, guaranteeing them a 5 per cent return on capital invested in their synthetic oil plant at Leuna. Any profits in excess of that amount would be turned over to the Reich. By 1936, Farben regretted making the deal, as excess profits were by then being generated.[254] In another attempt to secure an adequate wartime supply of petroleum, Germany intimidated Romania into signing a trade agreement in March 1939.[255]

Autobahn, late 1930s

Major public works projects financed with deficit spending included the construction of a network of Autobahnen and providing funding for programmes initiated by the previous government for housing and agricultural improvements.[256] To stimulate the construction industry, credit was offered to private businesses and subsidies were made available for home purchases and repairs.[257] On the condition that the wife would leave the workforce, a loan of up to 1,000 Reichsmarks could be accessed by young couples of Aryan descent who intended to marry, and the amount that had to be repaid was reduced by 25 per cent for each child born.[258] The caveat that the woman had to remain unemployed outside the home was dropped by 1937 due to a shortage of skilled labourers.[259]

Envisioning widespread car ownership as part of the new Germany, Hitler arranged for designer Ferdinand Porsche to draw up plans for the KdF-wagen (Strength Through Joy car), intended to be an automobile that everyone could afford. A prototype was displayed at the International Motor Show in Berlin on 17 February 1939. With the outbreak of World War II, the factory was converted to produce military vehicles. None were sold until after the war, when the vehicle was renamed the Volkswagen (people's car).[260]

(from left) Hitler; Robert Ley, head of the German Labour Front; Ferdinand Porsche, armaments manufacturer; and Hermann Göring, head of the Four Year Plan (1942)

Six million people were unemployed when the Nazis took power in 1933 and by 1937 there were fewer than a million.[261] This was in part due to the removal of women from the workforce.[262] Real wages dropped by 25 per cent between 1933 and 1938.[249] After the dissolution of the trade unions in May 1933, their funds were seized and their leadership arrested,[263] including those who attempted to co-operate with the Nazis.[34] A new organisation, the German Labour Front, was created and placed under Nazi Party functionary Robert Ley.[263] The average work week was 43 hours in 1933; by 1939 this increased to 47 hours.[264]

By early 1934, the focus shifted towards rearmament. By 1935, military expenditures accounted for 73 per cent of the government's purchases of goods and services.[265] On 18 October 1936, Hitler named Göring as Plenipotentiary of the Four Year Plan, intended to speed up rearmament.[266] In addition to calling for the rapid construction of steel mills, synthetic rubber plants, and other factories, Göring instituted wage and price controls and restricted the issuance of stock dividends.[249] Large expenditures were made on rearmament in spite of growing deficits.[267] Plans unveiled in late 1938 for massive increases to the navy and air force were impossible to fulfil, as Germany lacked the finances and material resources to build the planned units, as well as the necessary fuel required to keep them running.[268] With the introduction of compulsory military service in 1935, the Reichswehr, which had been limited to 100,000 by the terms of the Versailles Treaty, expanded to 750,000 on active service at the start of World War II, with a million more in the reserve.[269] By January 1939, unemployment was down to 301,800 and it dropped to only 77,500 by September.[270]

Wartime economy and forced labour

Woman with Ostarbeiter badge at the IG Farben plant in Auschwitz

The Nazi war economy was a mixed economy that combined a free market with central planning. Historian Richard Overy describes it as being somewhere in between the command economy of the Soviet Union and the capitalist system of the United States.[271]

In 1942, after the death of Armaments Minister Fritz Todt, Hitler appointed Albert Speer as his replacement.[272] Wartime rationing of consumer goods led to an increase in personal savings, funds which were in turn lent to the government to support the war effort.[273] By 1944, the war was consuming 75 per cent of Germany's gross domestic product, compared to 60 per cent in the Soviet Union and 55 per cent in Britain.[274] Speer improved production by centralising planning and control, reducing production of consumer goods, and using forced labour and slavery.[275][276] The wartime economy eventually relied heavily upon the large-scale employment of slave labour. Germany imported and enslaved some 12 million people from 20 European countries to work in factories and on farms. Approximately 75 per cent were Eastern European.[277] Many were casualties of Allied bombing, as they received poor air raid protection. Poor living conditions led to high rates of sickness, injury, and death, as well as sabotage and criminal activity.[278] The wartime economy also relied upon large-scale robbery, initially through the state seizing the property of Jewish citizens and later by plundering the resources of occupied territories.[279]

Foreign workers brought into Germany were put into four classifications: guest workers, military internees, civilian workers, and Eastern workers. Each group was subject to different regulations. The Nazis issued a ban on sexual relations between Germans and foreign workers.[280][281]

By 1944, over a half million women served as auxiliaries in the German armed forces.[282] The number of women in paid employment only increased by 271,000 (1.8 per cent) from 1939 to 1944.[283] As the production of consumer goods had been cut back, women left those industries for employment in the war economy. They also took jobs formerly held by men, especially on farms and in family-owned shops.[284]

Very heavy strategic bombing by the Allies targeted refineries producing synthetic oil and gasoline, as well as the German transportation system, especially rail yards and canals.[285] The armaments industry began to break down by September 1944. By November, fuel coal was no longer reaching its destinations and the production of new armaments was no longer possible.[286] Overy argues that the bombing strained the German war economy and forced it to divert up to one-fourth of its manpower and industry into anti-aircraft resources, which very likely shortened the war.[287]

Financial exploitation of conquered territories

German loot stored at Schlosskirche Ellingen, Bavaria (April 1945)

During the course of the war, the Nazis extracted considerable plunder from occupied Europe. Historian and war correspondent William L. Shirer writes: "The total amount of [Nazi] loot will never be known; it has proved beyond man's capacity to accurately compute."[288] Gold reserves and other foreign holdings were seized from the national banks of occupied nations, while large "occupation costs" were usually imposed. By the end of the war, occupation costs were calculated by the Nazis at 60 billion Reichsmarks, with France alone paying 31.5 billion. The Bank of France was forced to provide 4.5 billion Reichsmarks in "credits" to Germany, while a further 500,000 Reichsmarks were assessed against Vichy France by the Nazis in the form of "fees" and other miscellaneous charges. The Nazis exploited other conquered nations in a similar way. After the war, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded Germany had obtained 104 billion Reichsmarks in the form of occupation costs and other wealth transfers from occupied Europe, including two-thirds of the gross domestic product of Belgium and the Netherlands.[288]

Nazi plunder included private and public art collections, artefacts, precious metals, books, and personal possessions. Hitler and Göring in particular were interested in acquiring looted art treasures from occupied Europe,[289] the former planning to use the stolen art to fill the galleries of the planned Führermuseum (Leader's Museum),[290] and the latter for his personal collection. Göring, having stripped almost all of occupied Poland of its artworks within six months of Germany's invasion, ultimately grew a collection valued at over 50 million Reichsmarks.[289] In 1940, the Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce was established to loot artwork and cultural material from public and private collections, libraries, and museums throughout Europe. France saw the greatest extent of Nazi plunder. Some 26,000 railroad cars of art treasures, furniture, and other looted items were sent to Germany from France.[291] By January 1941, Rosenberg estimated the looted treasures from France to be valued at over one billion Reichsmarks.[292] In addition, soldiers looted or purchased goods such as produce and clothing—items, which were becoming harder to obtain in Germany—for shipment home.[293]

Goods and raw materials were also taken. In France, an estimated 9,000,000 tonnes (8,900,000 long tons; 9,900,000 short tons) of cereals were seized during the course of the war, including 75 per cent of its oats. In addition, 80 per cent of the country's oil and 74 per cent of its steel production were taken. The valuation of this loot is estimated to be 184.5 billion francs. In Poland, Nazi plunder of raw materials began even before the German invasion had concluded.[294]

Following Operation Barbarossa, the Soviet Union was also plundered. In 1943 alone, 9,000,000 tons of cereals, 2,000,000 tonnes (2,000,000 long tons; 2,200,000 short tons) of fodder, 3,000,000 tonnes (3,000,000 long tons; 3,300,000 short tons) of potatoes, and 662,000 tonnes (652,000 long tons; 730,000 short tons) of meats were sent back to Germany. During the course of the German occupation, some 12 million pigs and 13 million sheep were taken. The value of this plunder is estimated at 4 billion Reichsmarks. This relatively low number in comparison to the occupied nations of Western Europe can be attributed to the devastating fighting on the Eastern Front.[295]

Racial policy and eugenics

Racism and antisemitism

Racism and antisemitism were basic tenets of the Nazi Party and the Nazi regime. Nazi Germany's racial policy was based on their belief in the existence of a superior master race. The Nazis postulated the existence of a racial conflict between the Aryan master race and inferior races, particularly Jews, who were viewed as a mixed race that had infiltrated society and were responsible for the exploitation and repression of the Aryan race.[296]

Persecution of Jews

Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses, April 1933. The posters say "Germans! Defend yourselves! Don't buy from Jews!"

Discrimination against Jews began immediately after the seizure of power. Following a month-long series of attacks by members of the SA on Jewish businesses and synagogues, on 1 April 1933 Hitler declared a national boycott of Jewish businesses.[297] The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service passed on 7 April forced all non-Aryan civil servants to retire from the legal profession and civil service.[298] Similar legislation soon deprived other Jewish professionals of their right to practise, and on 11 April a decree was promulgated that stated anyone who had even one Jewish parent or grandparent was considered non-Aryan.[299] As part of the drive to remove Jewish influence from cultural life, members of the National Socialist German Students' League removed from libraries any books considered un-German, and a nationwide book burning was held on 10 May.[300]

The regime used violence and economic pressure to encourage Jews to leave the country voluntarily.[301] Jewish businesses were denied access to markets, forbidden to advertise, and deprived of access to government contracts. Citizens were harassed and subjected to violent attacks.[302] Many towns posted signs forbidding entry to Jews.[303]

On 7 November 1938 a young Jewish man, Herschel Grynszpan, shot and killed Ernst vom Rath, a legation secretary at the German embassy in Paris, to protest his family's treatment in Germany. This incident provided the pretext for a pogrom the Nazis incited against the Jews two days later. Members of the SA damaged or destroyed synagogues and Jewish property throughout Germany. At least 91 German Jews were killed during this pogrom, later called Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.[304][305] Further restrictions were imposed on Jews in the coming months – they were forbidden to own businesses or work in retail shops, drive cars, go to the cinema, visit the library, or own weapons, and Jewish pupils were removed from schools. The Jewish community was fined one billion marks to pay for the damage caused by Kristallnacht and told that any insurance settlements would be confiscated.[306] By 1939, around 250,000 of Germany's 437,000 Jews had emigrated to the United States, Argentina, Great Britain, Palestine, and other countries.[307][308] Many chose to stay in continental Europe. Emigrants to Palestine were allowed to transfer property there under the terms of the Haavara Agreement, but those moving to other countries had to leave virtually all their property behind, and it was seized by the government.[308]

Persecution of Roma

Like the Jews, the Romani people were subjected to persecution from the early days of the regime. The Romani were forbidden to marry people of German extraction. They were shipped to concentration camps starting in 1935 and many were killed.[183][184] Following the invasion of Poland, 2,500 Roma and Sinti people were deported from Germany to the General Government, where they were imprisoned in labour camps. The survivors were likely exterminated at Bełżec, Sobibor, or Treblinka. A further 5,000 Sinti and Austrian Lalleri people were deported to the Łódź Ghetto in late 1941, where half were estimated to have died. The Romani survivors of the ghetto were subsequently moved to the Chełmno extermination camp in early 1942.[309]

The Nazis intended on deporting all Romani people from Germany, and confined them to Zigeunerlager (Gypsy camps) for this purpose. Himmler ordered their deportation from Germany in December 1942, with few exceptions. A total of 23,000 Romani were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp, of whom 19,000 died. Outside of Germany, the Romani people were regularly used for forced labour, though many were killed. In the Baltic states and the Soviet Union, 30,000 Romani were killed by the SS, the German Army, and Einsatzgruppen. In occupied Serbia, 1,000 to 12,000 Romani were killed, while nearly all 25,000 Romani living in the Independent State of Croatia were killed. The estimates at end of the war put the total death toll at around 220,000, which equalled approximately 25 per cent of the Romani population in Europe.[309]

Other persecuted groups

Poster from the Nazi Party's Office of Racial Policy: "60 000 RM is what this person with hereditary illness costs the community in his lifetime. Fellow citizen, that is your money too."

Action T4 was a programme of systematic murder of the physically and mentally handicapped and patients in psychiatric hospitals that took place mainly from 1939 to 1941, and continued until the end of the war. Initially the victims were shot by the Einsatzgruppen and others; gas chambers and gas vans using carbon monoxide were used by early 1940.[310][311] Under the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, enacted on 14 July 1933, over 400,000 individuals underwent compulsory sterilisation.[312] Over half were those considered mentally deficient, which included not only people who scored poorly on intelligence tests, but those who deviated from expected standards of behaviour regarding thrift, sexual behaviour, and cleanliness. Most of the victims came from disadvantaged groups such as prostitutes, the poor, the homeless, and criminals.[313] Other groups persecuted and killed included Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, social misfits, and members of the political and religious opposition.[184][314]

Generalplan Ost

Germany's war in the East was based on Hitler's long-standing view that Jews were the great enemy of the German people and that Lebensraum was needed for Germany's expansion. Hitler focused his attention on Eastern Europe, aiming to conquer Poland and the Soviet Union.[180][181] After the occupation of Poland in 1939, all Jews living in the General Government were confined to ghettos, and those who were physically fit were required to perform compulsory labour.[315] In 1941 Hitler decided to destroy the Polish nation completely; within 15 to 20 years the General Government was to be cleared of ethnic Poles and resettled by German colonists.[316] About 3.8 to 4 million Poles would remain as slaves,[317] part of a slave labour force of 14 million the Nazis intended to create using citizens of conquered nations.[181][318]

The Generalplan Ost ("General Plan for the East") called for deporting the population of occupied Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to Siberia, for use as slave labour or to be murdered.[319] To determine who should be killed, Himmler created the Volksliste, a system of classification of people deemed to be of German blood.[320] He ordered that those of Germanic descent who refused to be classified as ethnic Germans should be deported to concentration camps, have their children taken away, or be assigned to forced labour.[321][322] The plan also included the kidnapping of children deemed to have Aryan-Nordic traits, who were presumed to be of German descent.[323] The goal was to implement Generalplan Ost after the conquest of the Soviet Union, but when the invasion failed Hitler had to consider other options.[319][324] One suggestion was a mass forced deportation of Jews to Poland, Palestine, or Madagascar.[315]

In addition to eliminating Jews, the Nazis planned to reduce the population of the conquered territories by 30 million people through starvation in an action called the Hunger Plan. Food supplies would be diverted to the German army and German civilians. Cities would be razed and the land allowed to return to forest or resettled by German colonists.[325] Together, the Hunger Plan and Generalplan Ost would have led to the starvation of 80 million people in the Soviet Union.[326] These partially fulfilled plans resulted in the democidal deaths of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war (POWs) throughout the USSR and elsewhere in Europe.[327] During the course of the war, the Soviet Union lost a total of 27 million people; less than nine million of these were combat deaths.[328] One in four of the Soviet population were killed or wounded.[329]

The Holocaust and Final Solution

A wagon piled high with corpses outside the crematorium in the Buchenwald concentration camp liberated by the U.S. Army, 1945

Around the time of the failed offensive against Moscow in December 1941, Hitler resolved that the Jews of Europe were to be exterminated immediately.[330] While the murder of Jewish civilians had been ongoing in the occupied territories of Poland and the Soviet Union, plans for the total eradication of the Jewish population of Europe—eleven million people—were formalised at the Wannsee Conference on 20 January 1942. Some would be worked to death and the rest would be killed in the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question.[331] Initially the victims were killed by Einsatzgruppen firing squads, then by stationary gas chambers or by gas vans, but these methods proved impractical for an operation of this scale.[332][333] By 1942 extermination camps equipped with gas chambers were established at Auschwitz, Chełmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, and elsewhere.[334] The total number of Jews murdered is estimated at 5.5 to six million,[242] including over a million children.[335]

The Allies received information about the murders from the Polish government-in-exile and Polish leadership in Warsaw, based mostly on intelligence from the Polish underground.[336][337] German citizens had access to information about what was happening, as soldiers returning from the occupied territories reported on what they had seen and done.[338] Historian Richard J. Evans states that most German citizens disapproved of the genocide.[339][o]

Oppression of ethnic Poles

Poles were viewed by Nazis as subhuman non-Aryans, and during the German occupation of Poland 2.7 million ethnic Poles were killed.[340] Polish civilians were subject to forced labour in German industry, internment, wholesale expulsions to make way for German colonists, and mass executions. The German authorities engaged in a systematic effort to destroy Polish culture and national identity. During operation AB-Aktion, many university professors and members of the Polish intelligentsia were arrested, transported to concentration camps, or executed. During the war, Poland lost an estimated 39 to 45 per cent of its physicians and dentists, 26 to 57 per cent of its lawyers, 15 to 30 per cent of its teachers, 30 to 40 per cent of its scientists and university professors, and 18 to 28 per cent of its clergy.[341]

Mistreatment of Soviet POWs

Soviet prisoners of war in Mauthausen

The Nazis captured 5.75 million Soviet prisoners of war, more than they took from all the other Allied powers combined. Of these, they killed an estimated 3.3 million,[342] with 2.8 million of them being killed between June 1941 and January 1942.[343] Many POWs starved to death or resorted to cannibalism while being held in open-air pens at Auschwitz and elsewhere.[344]

From 1942 onward, Soviet POWs were viewed as a source of forced labour, and received better treatment so they could work.[345] By December 1944, 750,000 Soviet POWs were working, including in German armaments factories (in violation of the Hague and Geneva conventions), mines, and farms.[346]

Society

Education

Antisemitic legislation passed in 1933 led to the removal of all Jewish teachers, professors, and officials from the education system. Most teachers were required to belong to the Nationalsozialistischer Lehrerbund (NSLB; National Socialist Teachers League) and university professors were required to join the National Socialist German Lecturers.[347][348] Teachers had to take an oath of loyalty and obedience to Hitler, and those who failed to show sufficient conformity to party ideals were often reported by students or fellow teachers and dismissed.[349][350] Lack of funding for salaries led to many teachers leaving the profession. The average class size increased from 37 in 1927 to 43 in 1938 due to the resulting teacher shortage.[351]

Frequent and often contradictory directives were issued by Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, Bernhard Rust of the Reich Ministry of Science, Education and Culture, and other agencies regarding content of lessons and acceptable textbooks for use in primary and secondary schools.[352] Books deemed unacceptable to the regime were removed from school libraries.[353] Indoctrination in Nazi ideology was made compulsory in January 1934.[353] Students selected as future members of the party elite were indoctrinated from the age of 12 at Adolf Hitler Schools for primary education and National Political Institutes of Education for secondary education. Detailed indoctrination of future holders of elite military rank was undertaken at Order Castles.[354]

The Nazi salute in school (1934): children were indoctrinated at an early age.

Primary and secondary education focused on racial biology, population policy, culture, geography, and physical fitness.[355] The curriculum in most subjects, including biology, geography, and even arithmetic, was altered to change the focus to race.[356] Military education became the central component of physical education, and education in physics was oriented toward subjects with military applications, such as ballistics and aerodynamics.[357][358] Students were required to watch all films prepared by the school division of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.[353]

At universities, appointments to top posts were the subject of power struggles between the education ministry, the university boards, and the National Socialist German Students' League.[359] In spite of pressure from the League and various government ministries, most university professors did not make changes to their lectures or syllabus during the Nazi period.[360] This was especially true of universities located in predominantly Catholic regions.[361] Enrolment at German universities declined from 104,000 students in 1931 to 41,000 in 1939, but enrolment in medical schools rose sharply as Jewish doctors had been forced to leave the profession, so medical graduates had good job prospects.[362] From 1934, university students were required to attend frequent and time-consuming military training sessions run by the SA.[363] First-year students also had to serve six months in a labour camp for the Reich Labour Service; an additional ten weeks service were required of second-year students.[364]

Role of women and family

Women were a cornerstone of Nazi social policy. The Nazis opposed the feminist movement, claiming that it was the creation of Jewish intellectuals, instead advocating a patriarchal society in which the German woman would recognise that her "world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home".[262] Feminist groups were shut down or incorporated into the National Socialist Women's League, which coordinated groups throughout the country to promote motherhood and household activities. Courses were offered on childrearing, sewing, and cooking. Prominent feminists, including Anita Augspurg, Lida Gustava Heymann, and Helene Stöcker, felt forced to live in exile.[365] The League published the NS-Frauen-Warte, the only Nazi-approved women's magazine in Nazi Germany;[366] despite some propaganda aspects, it was predominantly an ordinary woman's magazine.[367]

Women were encouraged to leave the workforce, and the creation of large families by racially suitable women was promoted through a propaganda campaign. Women received a bronze award—known as the Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter (Cross of Honour of the German Mother)—for giving birth to four children, silver for six, and gold for eight or more.[365] Large families received subsidies to help with expenses. Though the measures led to increases in the birth rate, the number of families having four or more children declined by five per cent between 1935 and 1940.[368] Removing women from the workforce did not have the intended effect of freeing up jobs for men, as women were for the most part employed as domestic servants, weavers, or in the food and drink industries—jobs that were not of interest to men.[369] Nazi philosophy prevented large numbers of women from being hired to work in munitions factories in the build-up to the war, so foreign labourers were brought in. After the war started, slave labourers were extensively used.[370] In January 1943, Hitler signed a decree requiring all women under the age of fifty to report for work assignments to help the war effort.[371] Thereafter women were funnelled into agricultural and industrial jobs, and by September 1944 14.9 million women were working in munitions production.[372]

Nazi leaders endorsed the idea that rational and theoretical work was alien to a woman's nature, and as such discouraged women from seeking higher education.[373] A law passed in April 1933 limited the number of females admitted to university to ten per cent of the number of male attendees.[374] This resulted in female enrolment in secondary schools dropping from 437,000 in 1926 to 205,000 in 1937. The number of women enrolled in post-secondary schools dropped from 128,000 in 1933 to 51,000 in 1938. However, with the requirement that men be enlisted into the armed forces during the war, women comprised half of the enrolment in the post-secondary system by 1944.[375]

Young women of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls) practising gymnastics in 1941

Women were expected to be strong, healthy, and vital.[376] The sturdy peasant woman who worked the land and bore strong children was considered ideal, and women were praised for being athletic and tanned from working outdoors.[377] Organisations were created for the indoctrination of Nazi values. From 25 March 1939 membership in the Hitler Youth was made compulsory for all children over the age of ten.[378] The Jungmädelbund (Young Girls League) section of the Hitler Youth was for girls age 10 to 14 and the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM; League of German Girls) was for young women age 14 to 18. The BDM's activities focused on physical education, with activities such as running, long jumping, somersaulting, tightrope walking, marching, and swimming.[379]

The Nazi regime promoted a liberal code of conduct regarding sexual matters and was sympathetic to women who bore children out of wedlock.[380] Promiscuity increased as the war progressed, with unmarried soldiers often intimately involved with several women simultaneously. Soldier's wives were frequently involved in extramarital relationships. Sex was sometimes used as a commodity to obtain better work from a foreign labourer.[381] Pamphlets enjoined German women to avoid sexual relations with foreign workers as a danger to their blood.[382]

With Hitler's approval, Himmler intended that the new society of the Nazi regime should destigmatise illegitimate births, particularly of children fathered by members of the SS, who were vetted for racial purity.[383] His hope was that each SS family would have between four and six children.[383] The Lebensborn (Fountain of Life) association, founded by Himmler in 1935, created a series of maternity homes to accommodate single mothers during their pregnancies.[384] Both parents were examined for racial suitability before acceptance.[384] The resulting children were often adopted into SS families.[384] The homes were also made available to the wives of SS and Nazi Party members, who quickly filled over half the available spots.[385]

Existing laws banning abortion except for medical reasons were strictly enforced by the Nazi regime. The number of abortions declined from 35,000 per year at the start of the 1930s to fewer than 2,000 per year at the end of the decade, though in 1935 a law was passed allowing abortions for eugenics reasons.[386]

Health

Statues representing the ideal body were erected in the streets of Berlin for the 1936 Summer Olympics.

Nazi Germany had a strong anti-tobacco movement, as pioneering research by Franz H. Müller in 1939 demonstrated a causal link between smoking and lung cancer.[387] The Reich Health Office took measures to try to limit smoking, including producing lectures and pamphlets.[388] Smoking was banned in many workplaces, on trains, and among on-duty members of the military.[389] Government agencies also worked to control other carcinogenic substances such as asbestos and pesticides.[390] As part of a general public health campaign, water supplies were cleaned up, lead and mercury were removed from consumer products, and women were urged to undergo regular screenings for breast cancer.[391]

Government-run health care insurance plans were available, but Jews were denied coverage starting in 1933. That same year, Jewish doctors were forbidden to treat government-insured patients. In 1937, Jewish doctors were forbidden to treat non-Jewish patients, and in 1938 their right to practice medicine was removed entirely.[392]

Medical experiments, many of them pseudoscientific, were performed on concentration camp inmates beginning in 1941.[393] The most notorious doctor to perform medical experiments was SS-Hauptsturmführer Dr. Josef Mengele, camp doctor at Auschwitz.[394] Many of his victims died or were intentionally killed.[395] Concentration camp inmates were made available for purchase by pharmaceutical companies for drug testing and other experiments.[396]

Environmentalism

Nazi society had elements supportive of animal rights and many people were fond of zoos and wildlife.[397] The government took several measures to ensure the protection of animals and the environment. In 1933, the Nazis enacted a stringent animal-protection law that affected what was allowed for medical research.[398] The law was only loosely enforced, and in spite of a ban on vivisection, the Ministry of the Interior readily handed out permits for experiments on animals.[399]

The Reich Forestry Office under Göring enforced regulations that required foresters to plant a variety of trees to ensure suitable habitat for wildlife, and a new Reich Animal Protection Act became law in 1933.[400] The regime enacted the Reich Nature Protection Act in 1935 to protect the natural landscape from excessive economic development. It allowed for the expropriation of privately owned land to create nature preserves and aided in long-range planning.[401] Perfunctory efforts were made to curb air pollution, but little enforcement of existing legislation was undertaken once the war began.[402]

Religion

When the Nazis seized power in 1933, roughly 67 per cent of the population of Germany was Protestant, 33 per cent was Roman Catholic, while Jews made up less than 1 per cent.[403][404] According to 1939 census, 54 per cent considered themselves Protestant, 40 per cent Roman Catholic, 3.5 per cent Gottgläubig (God-believing; a Nazi religious movement) and 1.5 per cent nonreligious.[1] Nazi Germany extensively employed Christian imagery and instituted a variety of new Christian holidays and celebrations, such as a massive celebration marking the 1200th anniversary of the birth of Frankish emperor Charlemagne, who Christianized neighbouring continental Germanic peoples by force during the Saxon Wars.[405] Nazi propaganda stylised Hitler as a Christ-like messiah, a "figure of redemption according to the Christian model", "who would liberate the world from the Antichrist".[406]

Under the Gleichschaltung process, Hitler attempted to create a unified Protestant Reich Church from Germany's 28 existing Protestant state churches.[407] Pro-Nazi Ludwig Müller was installed as Reich Bishop and the pro-Nazi pressure group German Christians gained control of the new church.[408] They objected to the Old Testament because of its Jewish origins and demanded that converted Jews be barred from their church.[409] Pastor Martin Niemöller responded with the formation of the Confessing Church, from which some clergymen opposed the Nazi regime.[410] When in 1935 the Confessing Church synod protested the Nazi policy on religion, 700 of their pastors were arrested.[411] Müller resigned and Hitler appointed Hanns Kerrl as Minister for Church Affairs to continue efforts to control Protestantism.[412] In 1936, a Confessing Church envoy protested to Hitler against the religious persecutions and human rights abuses.[411] Hundreds more pastors were arrested.[412] The church continued to resist and by early 1937 Hitler abandoned his hope of uniting the Protestant churches.[411] Niemöller was arrested on 1 July 1937 and spent most of the next seven years in Sachsenhausen concentration camp and Dachau.[413] Theological universities were closed and pastors and theologians of other Protestant denominations were also arrested.[411]

Prisoner barracks at Dachau Concentration Camp, where the Nazis established a dedicated clergy barracks for clerical opponents of the regime in 1940[414]

Persecution of the Catholic Church in Germany followed the Nazi takeover.[415] Hitler moved quickly to eliminate political Catholicism, rounding up functionaries of the Catholic-aligned Bavarian People's Party and Catholic Centre Party, which along with all other non-Nazi political parties ceased to exist by July.[416] The Reichskonkordat (Reich Concordat) treaty with the Vatican was signed in 1933, amid continuing harassment of the church in Germany.[312] The treaty required the regime to honour the independence of Catholic institutions and prohibited clergy from involvement in politics.[417] Hitler routinely disregarded the Concordat, closing all Catholic institutions whose functions were not strictly religious.[418] Clergy, nuns and lay leaders were targeted, with thousands of arrests over the ensuing years, often on trumped-up charges of currency smuggling or immorality.[419] Several Catholic leaders were targeted in the 1934 Night of the Long Knives assassinations.[420][421] Most Catholic youth groups refused to dissolve themselves and Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach encouraged members to attack Catholic boys in the streets.[422] Propaganda campaigns claimed the church was corrupt, restrictions were placed on public meetings and Catholic publications faced censorship. Catholic schools were required to reduce religious instruction and crucifixes were removed from state buildings.[423]

Pope Pius XI had the "Mit brennender Sorge" ("With Burning Concern") encyclical smuggled into Germany for Passion Sunday 1937 and read from every pulpit as it denounced the systematic hostility of the regime toward the church.[419][424] In response, Goebbels renewed the regime's crackdown and propaganda against Catholics. Enrolment in denominational schools dropped sharply and by 1939 all such schools were disbanded or converted to public facilities.[425] Later Catholic protests included the 22 March 1942 pastoral letter by the German bishops on "The Struggle against Christianity and the Church".[426] About 30 per cent of Catholic priests were disciplined by police during the Nazi era.[427][428] A vast security network spied on the activities of clergy and priests were frequently denounced, arrested or sent to concentration camps – many to the dedicated clergy barracks at Dachau.[429] In the areas of Poland annexed in 1939, the Nazis instigated a brutal suppression and systematic dismantling of the Catholic Church.[430][431]

Alfred Rosenberg, head of the Nazi Party Office of Foreign Affairs and Hitler's appointed cultural and educational leader for Nazi Germany, considered Catholicism to be among the Nazis' chief enemies. He planned the "extermination of the foreign Christian faiths imported into Germany", and for the Bible and Christian cross to be replaced in all churches, cathedrals, and chapels with copies of Mein Kampf and the swastika. Other sects of Christianity were also targeted, with Chief of the Nazi Party Chancellery Martin Bormann publicly proclaiming in 1941, "National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable."[432]

Resistance to the regime

General Erich Hoepner at the Volksgerichtshof in 1944

While no unified resistance movement opposing the Nazi regime existed, acts of defiance such as sabotage and labour slowdowns took place, as well as attempts to overthrow the regime or assassinate Hitler.[433] The banned Communist and Social Democratic parties set up resistance networks in the mid-1930s. These networks achieved little beyond fomenting unrest and initiating short-lived strikes.[434] Carl Friedrich Goerdeller, who initially supported Hitler, changed his mind in 1936 and was later a participant in the July 20 plot.[435][436] The Red Orchestra spy ring provided information to the Allies about Nazi war crimes, helped orchestrate escapes from Germany, and distributed leaflets. The group was detected by the Gestapo and more than 50 members were tried and executed in 1942.[437] Communist and Social Democratic resistance groups resumed activity in late 1942, but were unable to achieve much beyond distributing leaflets. The two groups saw themselves as potential rival parties in post-war Germany, and for the most part did not co-ordinate their activities.[438] The White Rose resistance group was primarily active in 1942–43, and many of its members were arrested or executed, with the final arrests taking place in 1944.[439] Another civilian resistance group, the Kreisau Circle, had some connections with the military conspirators, and many of its members were arrested after the failed 20 July plot.[440]

While civilian efforts had an impact on public opinion, the army was the only organisation with the capacity to overthrow the government.[441][442] A major plot by men in the upper echelons of the military originated in 1938. They believed Britain would go to war over Hitler's planned invasion of Czechoslovakia, and Germany would lose. The plan was to overthrow Hitler or possibly assassinate him. Participants included Generaloberst Ludwig Beck, Generaloberst Walther von Brauchitsch, Generaloberst Franz Halder, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, and Generalleutnant Erwin von Witzleben, who joined a conspiracy headed by Oberstleutnant Hans Oster and Major Helmuth Groscurth of the Abwehr. The planned coup was cancelled after the signing of the Munich Agreement in September 1938.[443] Many of the same people were involved in a coup planned for 1940, but again the participants changed their minds and backed down, partly because of the popularity of the regime after the early victories in the war.[444][445] Attempts to assassinate Hitler resumed in earnest in 1943, with Henning von Tresckow joining Oster's group and attempting to blow up Hitler's plane in 1943. Several more attempts followed before the failed 20 July 1944 plot, which was at least partly motivated by the increasing prospect of a German defeat in the war.[446][447] The plot, part of Operation Valkyrie, involved Claus von Stauffenberg planting a bomb in the conference room at Wolf's Lair at Rastenburg. Hitler, who narrowly survived, later ordered savage reprisals resulting in the execution of more than 4,900 people.[448]

Around 1940 a resistance group formed around the priest Heinrich Maier. The group passed on locations of production facilities for V-2 rockets, Tiger tanks, and aircraft to the Allies from late 1943 onwards. Allied bombers used this information to carry out air attacks. The Maier group provided information about the mass murder of Jews very early on; these reports were not initially believed by the Allies. The resistance group was uncovered and most of its members were imprisoned, tortured, or killed.[449][450]

Culture

If the experience of the Third Reich teaches us anything, it is that a love of great music, great art and great literature does not provide people with any kind of moral or political immunization against violence, atrocity, or subservience to dictatorship.

Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich (2003)

The regime promoted the concept of Volksgemeinschaft, a national German ethnic community. The goal was to build a classless society based on racial purity and the perceived need to prepare for warfare, conquest and a struggle against Marxism.[451][452] The German Labour Front founded the Kraft durch Freude (KdF; Strength Through Joy) organisation in 1933. As well as taking control of tens of thousands of privately run recreational clubs, it offered highly regimented holidays and entertainment such as cruises, vacation destinations and concerts.[453][454]

The Reichskulturkammer (Reich Chamber of Culture) was organised under the control of the Propaganda Ministry in September 1933. Sub-chambers were set up to control aspects of cultural life such as film, radio, newspapers, fine arts, music, theatre and literature. Members of these professions were required to join their respective organisation. Jews and people considered politically unreliable were prevented from working in the arts, and many emigrated. Books and scripts had to be approved by the Propaganda Ministry prior to publication. Standards deteriorated as the regime sought to use cultural outlets exclusively as propaganda media.[455]

Radio became popular in Germany during the 1930s; over 70 per cent of households owned a receiver by 1939, more than any other country. By July 1933, radio station staffs were purged of leftists and others deemed undesirable.[456] Propaganda and speeches were typical radio fare immediately after the seizure of power, but as time went on Goebbels insisted that more music be played so that listeners would not turn to foreign broadcasters for entertainment.[457]

A Nazi book burning on 10 May 1933 in Berlin, as books by Jewish and leftist authors are burned[458]

Censorship

Newspapers, like other media, were controlled by the state; the Reich Press Chamber shut down or bought newspapers and publishing houses. By 1939, over two-thirds of the newspapers and magazines were directly owned by the Propaganda Ministry.[459] The Nazi Party daily newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter ("Ethnic Observer"), was edited by Rosenberg, who also wrote The Myth of the Twentieth Century, a book of racial theories espousing Nordic superiority.[460] Goebbels controlled the wire services and insisted that all newspapers in Germany only publish content favourable to the regime. Under Goebbels, the Propaganda Ministry issued two dozen directives every week on exactly what news should be published and what angles to use; the typical newspaper followed the directives closely, especially regarding what to omit.[461] Newspaper readership plummeted, partly because of the decreased quality of the content and partly because of the surge in popularity of radio.[462] Propaganda became less effective towards the end of the war, as people were able to obtain information outside of official channels.[463]

Authors of books left the country in droves and some wrote material critical of the regime while in exile. Goebbels recommended that the remaining authors concentrate on books themed on Germanic myths and the concept of blood and soil. By the end of 1933, over a thousand books—most of them by Jewish authors or featuring Jewish characters—had been banned by the Nazi regime.[464] Nazi book burnings took place; nineteen such events were held on the night of 10 May 1933.[458] Tens of thousands of books from dozens of figures, including Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Helen Keller, Alfred Kerr, Marcel Proust, Erich Maria Remarque, Upton Sinclair, Jakob Wassermann, H. G. Wells, and Émile Zola were publicly burned. Pacifist works, and literature espousing liberal, democratic values were targeted for destruction, as well as any writings supporting the Weimar Republic or those written by Jewish authors.[465]

Architecture and art

Plans for Berlin called for the Volkshalle (People's Hall) and a triumphal arch to be built at either end of a wide boulevard.

Hitler took a personal interest in architecture and worked closely with state architects Paul Troost and Albert Speer to create public buildings in a neoclassical style based on Roman architecture.[466][467] Speer constructed imposing structures such as the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg and a new Reich Chancellery building in Berlin.[468] Hitler's plans for rebuilding Berlin included a gigantic dome based on the Pantheon in Rome and a triumphal arch more than double the height of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Neither structure was built.[469]

Hitler's belief that abstract, Dadaist, expressionist and modern art were decadent became the basis for policy.[470] Many art museum directors lost their posts in 1933 and were replaced by party members.[471] Some 6,500 modern works of art were removed from museums and replaced with works chosen by a Nazi jury.[472] Exhibitions of the rejected pieces, under titles such as "Decadence in Art", were launched in sixteen different cities by 1935. The Degenerate Art Exhibition, organised by Goebbels, ran in Munich from July to November 1937. The exhibition proved wildly popular, attracting over two million visitors.[473]

Composer Richard Strauss was appointed president of the Reichsmusikkammer (Reich Music Chamber) on its founding in November 1933.[474] As was the case with other art forms, the Nazis ostracised musicians who were deemed racially unacceptable and for the most part disapproved of music that was too modern or atonal.[475] Jazz was considered especially inappropriate and foreign jazz musicians left the country or were expelled.[476] Hitler favoured the music of Richard Wagner, especially pieces based on Germanic myths and heroic stories, and attended the Bayreuth Festival each year from 1933 to 1942.[477]

Leni Riefenstahl (behind cameraman) at the 1936 Summer Olympics

Film

Movies were popular in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, with admissions of over a billion people in 1942, 1943 and 1944.[478][479] By 1934, German regulations restricting currency exports made it impossible for US film makers to take their profits back to America, so the major film studios closed their German branches. Exports of German films plummeted, as their antisemitic content made them impossible to show in other countries. The two largest film companies, Universum Film AG and Tobis, were purchased by the Propaganda Ministry, which by 1939 was producing most German films. The productions were not always overtly propagandistic, but generally had a political subtext and followed party lines regarding themes and content. Scripts were pre-censored.[480]

Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935)—documenting the 1934 Nuremberg Rally—and Olympia (1938)—covering the 1936 Summer Olympics—pioneered techniques of camera movement and editing that influenced later films. New techniques such as telephoto lenses and cameras mounted on tracks were employed. Both films remain controversial, as their aesthetic merit is inseparable from their propagandising of Nazi ideals.[481][482]

Legacy

Defendants in the dock at the Nuremberg trials

The Allied powers organised war crimes trials, beginning with the Nuremberg trials, held from November 1945 to October 1946, of 23 top Nazi officials. They were charged with four counts—conspiracy to commit crimes, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity—in violation of international laws governing warfare.[483] All but three of the defendants were found guilty and twelve were sentenced to death.[484] Twelve Subsequent Nuremberg trials of 184 defendants were held between 1946 and 1949.[483] Between 1946 and 1949, the Allies investigated 3,887 cases, of which 489 were brought to trial. The result was convictions of 1,426 people; 297 of these were sentenced to death and 279 to life in prison, with the remainder receiving lesser sentences. About 65 per cent of the death sentences were carried out.[485] Poland was more active than other nations in investigating war crimes, for example prosecuting 673 of the total 789 Auschwitz staff brought to trial.[486]

The political programme espoused by Hitler and the Nazis brought about a world war, leaving behind a devastated and impoverished Europe. Germany itself suffered wholesale destruction, characterised as Stunde Null (Zero Hour).[487] The number of civilians killed during the Second World War was unprecedented in the history of warfare.[488] As a result, Nazi ideology and the actions taken by the regime are almost universally regarded as gravely immoral.[489] Historians, philosophers, and politicians often use the word "evil" to describe Hitler and the Nazi regime.[490] Interest in Nazi Germany continues in the media and the academic world. While Evans remarks that the era "exerts an almost universal appeal because its murderous racism stands as a warning to the whole of humanity",[491] young neo-Nazis enjoy the shock value that Nazi symbols or slogans provide.[492] The display or use of Nazi symbolism such as flags, swastikas, or greetings is illegal in Germany and Austria.[493]

Nazi Germany was succeeded by three states: West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany or "FRG"), East Germany (the German Democratic Republic or "GRD"), and Austria.[494] The process of denazification, which was initiated by the Allies as a way to remove Nazi Party members was only partially successful, as the need for experts in such fields as medicine and engineering was too great. However, expression of Nazi views was frowned upon, and those who expressed such views were frequently dismissed from their jobs.[495] From the immediate post-war period through the 1950s, people avoided talking about the Nazi regime or their own wartime experiences. While virtually every family suffered losses during the war has a story to tell, Germans kept quiet about their experiences and felt a sense of communal guilt, even if they were not directly involved in war crimes.[496]

The trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 and the broadcast of the television miniseries Holocaust in 1979 brought the process of Vergangenheitsbewältigung (coping with the past) to the forefront for many Germans.[492][496] Once study of Nazi Germany was introduced into the school curriculum starting in the 1970s, people began researching the experiences of their family members. Study of the era and a willingness to critically examine its mistakes has led to the development of a strong democracy in Germany, but with lingering undercurrents of antisemitism and neo-Nazi thought.[496]

In 2017 a Körber Foundation survey found that 40 per cent of 14-year-olds in Germany did not know what Auschwitz was.[497] The journalist Alan Posener attributed the country's "growing historical amnesia" in part to a failure by the German film and television industry to reflect the country's history accurately.[498]

See also

References

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ On 12 July 1933, Reichsinnenminister Wilhelm Frick, the Interior Minister, ordered that the Horst-Wessel-Lied be played right after the standing national anthem Das Lied der Deutschen, better known as Deutschland Über Alles.Tümmler 2010, p. 63.
  2. ^ a b Including the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the General Government
  3. ^ a b as President
  4. ^ as Führer und Reichskanzler
  5. ^ De jure since 30 April until 1 May.
  6. ^ De jure since 2 May until 23 May.
  7. ^ In 1939, before Germany acquired control of the last two regions which had been in its control before the Versailles Treaty—Alsace-Lorraine, Danzig and the Polish Corridor—its area was 633,786 square kilometres (244,706 sq mi). See Statistisches Jahrbuch 2006.
  8. ^ German: Nationalsozialistischer Staat (lit. "National Socialist State"), NS-Staat (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also Nationalsozialistisches Deutschland (lit. "National Socialist Germany")
  9. ^ German: Deutsches Reich
  10. ^ German: Großdeutsches Reich
  11. ^ German: Drittes Reich
  12. ^ German: Tausendjähriges Reich
  13. ^ According to Raeder, "Our Air Force could not be counted on to guard our transports from the British Fleets, because their operations would depend on the weather, if for no other reason. It could not be expected that even for a brief period our Air Force could make up for our lack of naval supremacy." Raeder 2001, pp. 324–325. Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz believed air superiority was not enough and admitted, "We possessed neither control of the air or the sea; nor were we in any position to gain it." Dönitz 2012, p. 114.
  14. ^ More such districts, such as the Reichskommissariat Moskowien (Moscow), Reichskommissariat Kaukasus (Caucasus) and Reichskommissariat Turkestan (Turkestan) were proposed in case these areas were brought under German rule.
  15. ^ "Nevertheless, the available evidence suggests that, on the whole, ordinary Germans did not approve. Goebbel's propaganda campaigns carried out in the second half of 1941 and again in 1943 had failed to convert them". Evans 2008, p. 561.

Citations

  1. ^ a b Ericksen & Heschel 1999, p. 10.
  2. ^ Soldaten-Atlas 1941, p. 8.
  3. ^ 1939 Census.
  4. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 5.
  5. ^ Lauryssens 1999, p. 102.
  6. ^ Childers 2017, pp. 22–23, 35, 48, 124–130, 152, 168–169, 203–204, 225–226.
  7. ^ Evans 2003, pp. 103–108.
  8. ^ Evans 2003, pp. 186–187.
  9. ^ Evans 2003, pp. 170–171.
  10. ^ Goldhagen 1996, p. 85.
  11. ^ Evans 2003, pp. 179–180.
  12. ^ a b Kershaw 2008, p. 81.
  13. ^ Evans 2003, pp. 180–181.
  14. ^ Evans 2003, pp. 181, 189.
  15. ^ Childers 2017, p. 103.
  16. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 136–137.
  17. ^ Goldhagen 1996, p. 87.
  18. ^ Evans 2003, pp. 293, 302.
  19. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 183–184.
  20. ^ Evans 2003, pp. 329–334.
  21. ^ Evans 2003, p. 354.
  22. ^ Evans 2003, p. 351.
  23. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 196.
  24. ^ Evans 2003, p. 336.
  25. ^ Evans 2003, pp. 358–359.
  26. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 201.
  27. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 199.
  28. ^ Evans 2005, pp. 109, 637.
  29. ^ McNab 2009, p. 14.
  30. ^ Bracher 1970, pp. 281–87.
  31. ^ a b Shirer 1960, p. 200.
  32. ^ Evans 2005, p. 109.
  33. ^ Koonz 2003, p. 73.
  34. ^ a b Shirer 1960, p. 202.
  35. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 268.
  36. ^ Evans 2005, p. 14.
  37. ^ Cuomo 1995, p. 231.
  38. ^ a b McNab 2009, p. 54.
  39. ^ McNab 2009, p. 56.
  40. ^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 309–314.
  41. ^ Evans 2005, pp. 31–34.
  42. ^ a b Kershaw 2008, pp. 306–313.
  43. ^ Overy 2005, p. 63.
  44. ^ Evans 2005, p. 44.
  45. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 226–227.
  46. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 317.
  47. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 230.
  48. ^ Kershaw 2001, pp. 50–59.
  49. ^ Hildebrand 1984, pp. 20–21.
  50. ^ Childers 2017, p. 248.
  51. ^ Evans 2003, p. 344.
  52. ^ Evans 2008, map, p. 366.
  53. ^ Walk 1996, pp. 1–128.
  54. ^ Friedländer 2009, pp. 44–53.
  55. ^ Childers 2017, pp. 351–356.
  56. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 209.
  57. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 209–210.
  58. ^ Evans 2005, p. 618.
  59. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 210–212.
  60. ^ Evans 2005, pp. 338–339.
  61. ^ Evans 2005, p. 623.
  62. ^ Kitchen 2006, p. 271.
  63. ^ Evans 2005, p. 629.
  64. ^ Evans 2005, p. 633.
  65. ^ a b Evans 2005, pp. 632–637.
  66. ^ Evans 2005, p. 641.
  67. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 297.
  68. ^ Steiner 2011, pp. 181–251.
  69. ^ Evans 2005, pp. 646–652.
  70. ^ Evans 2005, p. 667.
  71. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 417.
  72. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 419.
  73. ^ Evans 2005, pp. 668–669.
  74. ^ a b Evans 2005, pp. 671–674.
  75. ^ Evans 2005, pp. 679–680.
  76. ^ Evans 2005, pp. 682–683.
  77. ^ Kirschbaum 1995, p. 190.
  78. ^ Evans 2005, p. 687.
  79. ^ Mazower 2008, pp. 264–265.
  80. ^ Weinberg 2010, p. 60.
  81. ^ Evans 2005, pp. 689–690.
  82. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 486.
  83. ^ Evans 2005, p. 691.
  84. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 496.
  85. ^ Snyder 2010, p. 116.
  86. ^ Mazower 2008, chapter 9.
  87. ^ Evans 2008, p. 151.
  88. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 584.
  89. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 803.
  90. ^ Weinberg 2005, p. 414.
  91. ^ Martin 2005, pp. 279–80.
  92. ^ Evans 2005, pp. 699–701.
  93. ^ Beevor 2012, pp. 22, 27–28.
  94. ^ Beevor 2012, p. 32.
  95. ^ Longerich 2010, pp. 148–149.
  96. ^ Longerich 2010, p. 144.
  97. ^ Evans 2008, p. 15.
  98. ^ Beevor 2012, p. 40.
  99. ^ Mazower 2008, p. 260.
  100. ^ Tooze 2006, p. 332.
  101. ^ Beevor 2012, pp. 73–76.
  102. ^ Evans 2005, p. 120.
  103. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 709.
  104. ^ Beevor 2012, pp. 70–71, 79.
  105. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 715–719.
  106. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 731–738.
  107. ^ a b Shirer 1960, pp. 696–730.
  108. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 562.
  109. ^ Mazower 2008, p. 265.
  110. ^ Evans 2008, pp. 333–334.
  111. ^ Mazower 2008, p. 271.
  112. ^ Mazower 2008, pp. 272, 279.
  113. ^ a b Mazower 2008, p. 262.
  114. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 753, 774–782.
  115. ^ Kershaw 2000b, pp. 301–303, 309–310.
  116. ^ Harding 2006.
  117. ^ Evans 2008, p. 149.
  118. ^ Evans 2008, p. 153.
  119. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 815–816.
  120. ^ a b Tomasevich 1975, pp. 52–53.
  121. ^ a b Richter 1998, p. 616.
  122. ^ Clark 2012, p. 73.
  123. ^ Evans 2008, pp. 160–161.
  124. ^ Evans 2008, pp. 189–190.
  125. ^ Stolfi 1982, pp. 32–34, 36–38.
  126. ^ Stolfi 1982, pp. 45–46.
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Bibliography

External links

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