"TITTER YE NOT".
I just saw 2 Nazi's in a car
drive past me at 88 mph.
They are Probably going
Back to the Führer.
I set up an internet page for Chinese Nazis.
So far it's got 3 Reich's on Facebook.
Hitler and Göring are
standing on top of Berlin’s
radio tower. Hitler says he
wants to do something to
cheer up the people of Berlin.
“Why don’t you just jump?”
I recently started working in
a shop selling Nazi
The boss said to me,
"Remember, the customer is always extreme right."
NAZISM ON THE RISE
ADOLF HITLER ON A
Nazi Germany or the Third Reich (German: Drittes Reich) was
the period in the history of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it
was a dictatorship under the control of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi
Party (NSDAP). Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed
into a fascist totalitarian state which controlled nearly all aspects
of life. Nazi Germany ceased to exist after the Allied Forces
defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President of the Weimar Republic Paul von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. The Nazi Party then began to eliminate all political opposition and consolidate its power Hindenburg died on the 2nd of August 1934, and Hitler became dictator of Germany by merging the powers offices of the Chancellery and Presidency. A national referendum on the 19th of 1934 confirmed Hitler as sole Führer (leader) of Germany. All power centralised in Hitler's hands, and his word became above all laws.
The government was not a coordinated, cooperating body, but a collection of actions struggling for power and Hitler's favour. In the midst of the Great Depression , the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending and a mixed economy.
Extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of
Autobahns (high speed highways). There turn to economic stability boosted the regime's popularity.
Racism, especially anti semitism, was a central feature of the regime. The Germanic peoples (the Nordic race) were considered the purest of the Aryan race, and were therefore the master race. Millions of Jews and others deemed undesirable were persecuted and murdered in the Holocaust. Opposition to Hitler's rule was ruthlessly suppressed.
Members of the liberal socialist, and communist opposition were killed, imprisoned, or exiled. The Christian churches were also oppressed, with many leaders imprisoned. Education focused on racial biology, population policy, and fitness for military service. Career and educational opportunities for women were curtailed. Recreation and tourism were organised via the Strength Through Joy program, and the 1936 Summer Olympics showcased the Third Reich on the international stage. Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels made effective use of film, mass rallies, and Hitler's hypnotising oratory to control public opinion. The government controlled artistic expression, promoting specific art forms and banning or discouraging others.
National Socialist German
Nazi Germany made increasingly aggressive territorial demands, threatening war if they were not met. It seized Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939. Hitler made a pact with Joseph Stalin and invaded Poland in September 1939, launching World War II in Europe. In an alliance with Italy and smaller Axis powers, Germany conquered most of Europe in 1940 and threatened Great Britain. Reichs kommissariats took control of conquered areas, and a German administration was established in what was left of Poland.
Jews and others deemed undesirable were imprisoned and murdered in Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps. The implementation of the regime's racial policies culminated in the mass murder of Jews and other minorities in the Holocaust. Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the tide turned against the Third Reich, and it suffered major military defeats in 1943. Large-scale bombing of Germany escalated in 1944, and the Nazis retreated from Eastern and Southern Europe.
Following the Allied invasion of France, Germany was conquered by the Soviets from the east and the other Allied powers
from the west and surrendered within a year. Hitler's refusal to admit defeat led to massive destruction of German infrastructure and additional war related deaths in the closing months of the war. The victorious Allies initiated a policy of
denazification and put many of the surviving Nazi leadership on
trial for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials.
The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich (German
Reich) from 1933 to 1943, and Großdeutsches Reich (Greater
German Reich) from 1943 to 1945. The name Deutsches Reich
is usually translated into English as "German Empire" or
"German Reich". Modern Germans refer to the period as Zeit
des National sozialismus (National Socialist period), National
sozialistische Gewaltherrschaft (National Socialist tyranny), or
simply as das Dritte Reich (the Third Reich).
Common English terms are "Nazi Germany" and "Third Reich".
The latter, adopted by Nazi propaganda, was first used in a
1923 book by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck. The book counted
the Holy Roman Empire (962 1806) as the first Reich and the
German Empire (1871 1918) as the second. The Nazis used it
to legitimize their regime as a successor state. After they
seized power, Nazi propaganda retroactively referred to the
Weimar Republic as the Zwischenreich ("Interim Reich").
Beginning in the 1980s, German linguistic critics have questioned the uncritical adoption of the expression " Third Reich ". In 1984, German jurist Walter Mallman wrote that in the "conceptual history of political, constitutional, and legal thought" the term is "indefensible". In 1989, Dieter Gunst further noted that referring to the Hitler regime as the Third Reichs not only a "positive revaluation of National Socialism" but also a misrepresentation of history, adding that Hitler did not found a state or any "particular Reich".
The German economy suffered severe setbacks after the end of World War I, because of reparations payments required
under the Treaty of Versailles. The government printed money to make the payments and to repay the country's war debt; the resulting hyper inflation led to inflated prices for consumer goods, economic chaos, and food riots. When the government failed to make the reparations payments in January 1923, French troops occupied German industrial areas along the Ruhr. Widespread civil unrest followed.
The National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi Party) was the renamed successor of the German Workers' Party founded in 1919, one of several far right political parties active in Germany at the time. The party platform included removal of the Weimar Republic, rejection of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, radical antisemitism, and anti Bolshevism. The
promised a strong central government, increased Lebensraum (living space) for Germanic peoples, formation of a national
community based on race, and racial cleansing via the active suppression of Jews, who would be stripped of their citizenship
and civil rights. The Nazis proposed national and cultural renewal based upon the Völkisch movement.
When the stock market in the United States crashed on the 24th of October 1929, the impact in Germany was dire. Millions were thrown out of work, and several major banks collapsed. Hitler and the NSDAP prepared to take advantage of the emergency to gain support for their party. They promised to strengthen the economy and provide jobs. Many voters decided the NSDAP was capable of restoring order, quelling civil unrest, and improving Germany's international reputation. After the federal election of 1932, the Nazis were the largest party in the Reichstag, holding 230 seats with 37.4 percent of the popular vote.
Although the Nazis won the greatest share of the popular vote in the two Reichstag general elections of 1932, they did not have a majority, so Hitler led a short lived coalition government formed by the NSDAP and the German National People's Party. Under pressure from politicians, industrialists, and the business community, President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on the 30th of January 1933.
This event is known as the Machtergreifung (seizure of power). In the following months, the NSDAP used a process termed
Gleichschaltung (coordination) to rapidly bring all aspects of life under control of the party. All civilian organisations, including agricultural groups, volunteer organisations, and sports clubs, had their leadership replaced with Nazi sympathisers or party members. By June 1933, virtually the only organisations not in the control of the NSDAP were the army and the churches.
On the night of the 27th of February 1933, the Reichstag
building was set on fire; Marinus van der Lubbe a Dutch
communist, was found guilty of starting the blaze. Hitler
proclaimed that the arson marked the start of a
communist uprising. Violent suppression of communists
by the Sturmabteilung (SA) was undertaken all over the
country, and four thousand members of the Communist
Party of Germany were arrested. The Reichstag Fire
Decree, imposed of the 28thf February 1933, rescinded
most German civil liberties, including rights of assembly
and freedom of the press. The decree also allowed the
police to detain people indefinitely without charges or a
court order. The legislation was accompanied by a
propaganda blitz that led to public support for the measure.
ANOTHER BRAIN WASHING RALLY
In March 1933, the Enabling Act, an amendment to the Weimar Constitution, passed in the Reichstag by a vote of 444 to 94. This amendment allowed Hitler and his cabinet to pass laws even laws that violated the constitution without the consent of the president or the Reichstag. As the bill required a two thirds majority to pass, the Nazis used the provisions of the Reichstag Fire Decree to keep several Social Democratic deputies from attending; the Communists had already been banned. On the10th of May the government seized the assets of the Social Democrats they were banned in June. The remaining political parties were dissolved, and on the 14th of July 1933, Germany became a de facto single party state the founding of new parties was made illegal. Further elections in November
1933, 1936, and 1938 were entirely Nazi controlled and saw only the Nazis and a small number of independents elected. The regional state parliaments and the Reichsrat (federal upper house) were abolished in January 1934.
The Nazi regime abolished the symbols of the Weimar Republic, including the black, red, and gold tricolour flag, and adopted reworked imperial symbolism. The previous imperial black, white, and red tricolor was restored as one of Germany's two official flags; the second was the swastika flag of the NSDAP, which became the sole national flag in 1935. The NSDAP anthem
In this period, Germany was still need a direct economic situation; millions unemployed and the balance of trade deficit was daunting. Hitler knew that reviving the vital. In 1934, using deficit spending, public works projects were undertaken. A total of 1.7 million Germans were put to work on the projects in 1934 alone. Average wages both per a hour and per week began to rise.
The demands of the SA for more political and military power caused anxiety among military, industrial, and political leaders. In response, Hitler purged the leadership in the Night of the Long Knives, which took place from the 30th of June to the 2nd of July 1934. Hitler targeted Ernst Röhm and other SA leaders who, along with a number of Hitler's political adversaries (such as Gregor Strasser and former chancellor Kurt von Schleicher), were rounded up, arrested, and shot. On the 2nd of August 1934, President von Hindenburg died. The previous day, the cabinet had enacted the "Law Concerning the Highest State Office of the Reich", which stated that upon Hindenburg's death, the office of president would be abolished and its powers merged with those of the chancellor.
National flag of German and
marine jack of Germany (1935–45)
Mein Kampf "My Struggle"
is an autobiographical
manifesto by Adolf Hitler.
Hitler thus became head of state as well as head of government. He was formally named as Führer und Reichskanzler
(leader and chancellor). Germany was now a totalitarian state with Hitler at its head. As head of state, Hitler became Supreme Commander of the armed forces. The new law altered the traditional loyalty oath of servicemen so that they
affirmed loyalty to Hitler rather than the office of supreme commander or the state. On the 19th of August, the merger of the presidency with the chancellorship was approved by 90 per cent of the electorate in a plebiscite.
Most Germans were relieved that the conflicts and street fighting of the Weimar era had ended. They were deluged with propaganda orchestrated by Joseph Goebbels, who promised peace and plenty for all in a united, Marxist free country without the constraints of the Versailles Treaty. The first Nazi concentration camp, initially for political prisoners, was opened at Dachau in 1933. Hundreds of camps of varying size and function were created by the end of the war.
Upon seizing power, the Nazis took repressive measures against their political opposition
and rapidly began the comprehensive marginalisation of persons they considered socially
undesirable, deemed Untermenschen (sub humans). Under the guise of combating the
Communist threat, the National Socialists secured immense power. Above all, their
campaign against Jews living in Germany gained momentum.
Beginning in April 1933, scores of measures defining the status of Jews and their rights
were instituted at the regional and national level. Initiatives and legal mandates against the
Jews reached their culmination with the establishment of the Nuremberg Laws of 1935,
stripping them of their basic rights. The Nazis would take from the Jews their wealth, their
right to intermarry with non Jews, and their right to occupy many fields of labour (such as
practising law, medicine, or working as educators). They eventually declared them
undesirable to remain among German citizens and society, which over time dehumanised
the Jews; arguably, these actions desensitised Germans to the extent that it resulted in the
Holocaust. Ethnic Germans who refused to ostracise Jews or who showed any signs of
resistance to Nazi propaganda were placed under surveillance by the Gestapo, When
arrested they had their rights removed, or were sent to concentration camps.
Everyone and everything was monitored in Nazi Germany. Inaugurating and legitimising
power for the Nazis was thus accomplished by their initial revolutionary activities, then
through the improvisation and manipulation of the legal mechanisms available, through the
use of police powers by the Nazi Party (which allowed them to include and exclude from
society whomever they chose), and finally by the expansion of authority for all state and
federal institutions. As early as February 1933, Hitler announced that rearmament must be
undertaken, albeit clandestinely at first, as to do so was in violation of the Versailles Treaty. A year later he told his military leaders that 1942 was the target date for going to war in the east. He pulled Germany out of the League of Nations in 1933, claiming its disarmament clauses were unfair, as they applied only to Germany. The Saarland, which had been placed under League of Nations supervision for 15 years at the end of World War I, voted in January 1935 to become part of Germany. In March 1935 Hitler announced that the Reichswehr would be increased to 550,000 men and that he was creating an air force. Britain agreed that the Germans would be allowed to build a naval fleet with the signing of the Anglo German Naval Agreement on the 18th of June 1935.
When the Italian invasion of Ethiopia led to only mild protests by the British and French governments, on the 7th of March 1936 Hitler ordered the Reichswehr to march 3,000 troops into the demilitarised zone in the Rhineland in violation of the Versailles Treaty; an additional 30,000 troops were on standby. As the territory was part of Germany, the British and French governments did not feel that attempting to enforce the treaty was worth the risk of war. In the single party election held on the 29th of March, the NSDAP received 98.9 percent support. In 1936 Hitler signed an Anti Comintern Pact with Japan and a non aggression agreement with the Fascist Italy of Benito Mussolini, who was soon referring to a "Rome Berlin Axis".
Hitler sent air and armoured units to assist General Francisco Franco and his Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War, which broke out in July 1936. The Soviet Union sent a smaller force to assist the Republican government. Franco's Nationalists were victorious in 1939 and became an informal ally of Nazi Germany.
In February 1938, Hitler emphasised to Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg the need for Germany to secure its frontiers.
Schuschnigg scheduled a plebiscite regarding Austrian independence for the 13th of March, but Hitler demanded that it be cancelled. On the 11th of March, Hitler sent an ultimatum to Schuschnigg demanding that he hand over all power to the Austrian NSDAP or face an invasion. The Wehrmacht entered Austria the next day, to be greeted with great enthusiasm by the populace.
The Republic of Czechoslovakia was home to a substantial minority of Germans, who lived mostly in the Sudetenland.
Under pressure from separatist groups within the Sudeten German Party, the Czechoslovak government offered economic concessions to the region. Hitler decided to incorporate not just the Sudetenland but the whole of Czechoslovakian in to the
Reich. The Nazis undertook a propaganda campaign to try to drum up support for an invasion. Top leaders of the armed
forces were not in favour of the plan, as Germany was not yet ready for war.
The crisis led to war preparations by the British, the Czechoslovaks, and France (Czechoslovakia's ally). Attempting to avoid war, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain arranged a series of meetings, the result of which was the Munich Agreement, signed on the 29th of September 1938. The Czechoslovak government was forced to accept the Sudetenland annexation into Germany. Chamberlain was greeted with cheers when he landed in London bringing, he said, "peace for our time."
The agreement lasted six months before Hitler seized the rest of the Czech territory in March 1939. A puppet state was created in Slovakia.
Austrian and Czech foreign exchange reserves were soon seized by the Nazis, as were stockpiles of raw materials such as metals and complete goods such as weapons and aircraft, which were shipped to Germany. The Reichswerke Hermann Göring industrial
conglomerate took control of steel and coal production facilities in both countries.
THE CLASH ROCK AGAINST RACISM FESTIVAL
1978 POLICE AND THIEVES
In March 1939, Hitler demanded the return of the Free City of Danzig and the Polish Corridor, a strip of land that separated East Prussia
from the rest of Germany. The British announced they would come to the aid of Poland if it was attacked. Hitler, believing the British would not actually take action, ordered an invasion plan should be readied for a target date of September 1939. On the 23rd of May he described to his generals his overall plan of not only seizing the Polish Corridor but greatly expanding German territory eastward at the expense of Poland. He expected this time they would be met by force.
The Germans reaffirmed their alliance with Italy and signed a non aggression pacts with Denmark, Estonia, and Latvia. Trade links were formalised with Romania, Norway, and Sweden. Hitler's foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, arranged in negotiations with the Soviet Union a non aggression pact, the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact, which was signed in August 1939. The treaty also contained secret protocols dividing Poland and the Baltic states into German and Soviet spheres of influence.
Germany's foreign policy during the war involved the creation of allied governments under direct or indirect control from Berlin. A main goal was obtaining soldiers from the senior allies, such as Italy and Hungary, and millions of workers and ample food supplies from subservient allies such as Vichy France. By the fall of 1942, there were 24 divisions from Romania on the Eastern Front, 10 from Italy, and 10 from Hungary. When a country was no longer dependable, Germany assumed full control, as it did with France in 1942, Italy in 1943, and Hungary in 1944. Although Japan was an official powerful ally, the relationship was distant and there was little coordination or co operation. For example, Germany refused to share their formula for synthetic oil from coal until late in the war.
Germany invaded Poland on the 1st of September 1939. Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later. World War II was under way. Poland fell quickly, as the Soviets attacked from the east on the 17th of September. Reinhard Heydrich, then head of the Gestapo, ordered on the 21st of September that Jews should be rounded up and concentrated into cities with good rail links. Initially the intention was to deport the Jews to points further east, or possibly to Madagascar. Using lists prepared ahead of time, some 65,000. Polish intelligentsia, noblemen, clergy, and teachers were killed by the end of 1939 in an attempt to destroy Poland's identity as a nation. The Soviets continued to attack, advancing into Finland in the Winter War, and German forces were involved in action at sea. But little other activity occurred until May, so the period became known as the "Phoney War".
From the start of the war, a British blockade on shipments to Germany had an impact on the Reich economy. The Germans were particularly dependent on foreign supplies of oil, coal, and grain. To safeguard Swedish iron ore shipments to Germany, Hitler ordered an attack on Norway, which took place on the 9th of April 1940. Much of the country was occupied by German troops by the end of April. Also on the 9th of April, the Germans invaded and occupied Denmark.
Against the judgement of many of his senior military officers, Hitler ordered an attack on France and the Low Countries, which began in May 1940. They quickly conquered Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium, and France surrendered on the 22nd of June. The unexpectedly swift defeat of France resulted in an upswing in Hitler's popularity and a strong upsurge in war fever.
In spite of the provisions of the Hague Convention, industrial firms in the Netherlands, France, and Belgium were put to work producing war materiel for the occupying German military. Officials viewed this option as being preferable to their citizens being deported to the Reich as forced labour.
The Nazis seized from the French thousands of locomotives and rolling stock, stockpiles of weapons, and raw materials such as copper, tin, oil, and nickel. Financial demands were levied on the governments of the occupied countries as well as payments for occupation costs were received from France, Belgium, and Norway. Barriers to trade led to hoarding, black markets, and uncertainty about the future. Food supplies were precarious; production dropped in most areas of Europe, but not as much as during World War I. Greece experienced famine in the first year of occupation and the Netherlands in the last year of the war.
Has the Germans
ploughed through a region
primed for liberation,they simply
replaced one repressive
regime with another.
Hitler made peace overtures to the new British leader, Winston Churchill , and
upon their rejection he ordered a series of aerial attacks on the Royal Air Force air
bases and radar stations. However, the German Luftwaffe failed to defeat the
Royal Air Force in what became known as the Battle of Britain. By the end of
October, Hitler realised the necessary air superiority for his planned invasion of
Britain could not be achieved, and he ordered nightly air raids on British cities,
including London, Plymouth, and Coventry.
In February 1941, the German Afrika Korps arrived in Libya to aid the Italians in
the North African Campaign and attempt to contain Commonwealth forces
stationed in Egypt. On the 6th of April, Germany launched the invasion of
Yugoslavia and the battle of Greece. German efforts to secure oil included
negotiating a supply from their new ally, Romania, who signed the Tripartite Pact in
November 1940. On the 22nd of June 1941, contravening the Molotov Ribbentrop
Pact, 5.5 million Axis troops attacked the Soviet Union. In addition to Hitler's stated
purpose of acquiring Lebensraum, this large scale offensive ( code named
Operation Barbarossa ) was intended to destroy the Soviet Union and seize its
natural resources for subsequent aggression against the Western powers. The
reaction among Germans was one of surprise and trepidation. Many were concerned about how much longer the war would drag on for suspected that Germany could not win a war fought on two fronts. The invasion conquered a huge area, including the Baltic republics, Belarus and West Ukraine. After the successful Battle of Smolensk, Hitler ordered Army Group Centre to halt its advance to Moscow and temporarily divert its Panzer groups to aid in the encirclement of Leningrad and Kiev. This pause provided the Red Army with an opportunity to mobilise fresh reserves. The Moscow offensive, which resumed in October 1941, ended disastrously in December. On the 7th of December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. Four days later, Germany declared war on the United States.
Food was in short supply in the conquered areas of the Soviet Union and Poland, with rations inadequate to meet nutritional needs. The retreating armies had burned the crops, and much of the remainder was sent back to the Reich. In Germany itself, food rations had to be cut in 1942. In his role as Plenipotentiary of the Four Year Plan, Hermann Göring demanded increased shipments of grain from France and fish from Norway. The 1942 harvest was a good one, and food supplies remained adequate in Western Europe.
Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce was an organisation set up to loot artwork and cultural material from Jewish collections, libraries, and museums throughout Europe. Some 26,000 railroad cars full of art treasures, furniture, and other looted items were sent back to Germany from France alone. In addition, soldiers looted or purchased goods such as produce and clothing items which were becoming harder to obtain in Germany for shipment back home.
Hitler Youth Parade,
Nazi Germany, 1933.
Germany, and Europe as a whole, was almost totally dependent on foreign oil imports. In an attempt to resolve the persistent
shortage, Germany launched Fall Blau (Case Blue), an offensive against the Caucasian oilfields, in June 1942. The Soviets launched a counter offensive on the 19th of November and encircled the German armies, who were trapped in Stalingrad on the 23rd of November. Göring assured Hitler that the 6th Army could be supplied by air ,but this turned out to be infeasible.
Hitler's refusal to allow a retreat led to the deaths of more than 200,000 German soldiers and Romanian soldiers; of the 91,000 men who surrendered in the city on the 31st of January 1943, only 6,000 survivors returned to Germany after the war.
Soviet forces continued to push the invaders westward after the failed German offensive at the Battle of Kursk, and by the end of 1943 the Germans had lost most of their territorial gains in the east.
In Egypt, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps were defeated by British forces under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery in October 1942. Allied forces landed in Sicily in July 1943 and in Italy in September.
Meanwhile, American and British bomber fleets, based in Britain, began operations against Germany. In an effort to destroy German morale, many sorties were intentionally given civilian targets. Soon German aircraft production could not keep pace with losses, and without air cover, the Allied bombing campaign became even more devastating. By targeting oil refineries and factories, they crippled the German war effort by late 1944. On the 6th of June 1944, American, British, and Canadian forces established a western front with the D Day landings in Normandy.
On 20 July 1944, Hitler narrowly survived a bomb attack. He ordered savage reprisals, resulting in 7,000 arrests and the execution of more than 4,900 people. The failed Ardennes Offensive (16th of December 1944 to the 25th of January 1945) was the last major German campaign of the war. Soviet forces entered Germany on the 27th of January. Hitler's refusal to admit defeat and his repeated insistence that the war be fought to the last man led to unnecessary death and destruction in the closing months of the war. Through his Justice Minister, Otto Georg Thierack, he ordered that anyone who was not prepared to fight should be summarily court martialled. Thousands of people were put to death. In many areas, people looked for ways to surrender to the approaching Allies, in spite of exhortations of local leaders to continue the struggle. Hitler also ordered the intentional destruction of transport, bridges, industries, and other infrastructure, a scorched earth decree but Armaments Minister Albert Speer was able to keep this order from being fully carried out.
During the Battle of Berlin (16th of April 1945 to the 2nd of May 1945), Hitler and his staff lived in the underground Führerbunker, while the Red Army approached. On the 30th of April, when Soviet troops were one or two blocks away from the Reich Chancellery, Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide in the Führerbunker. On the 2nd of May General Helmuth Weidling unconditionally surrendered Berlin to Soviet General Vasily Chuikov. Hitler was succeeded by Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz as Reich President and Goebbels as Reich Chancellor. Goebbels and his wife Magda committed suicide the next day, after murdering their six children. On the 4th to the 8th of May 1945 most of the remaining German armed forces surrendered unconditionally. The German Instrument of Surrender was signed on the 7th of May, marking the end of World War II in Europe.
Suicide rates in Germany increased as the war drew to a close, particularly in areas where the Red Army was advancing. More than a thousand people (out of a population of around 16,000) committed suicide in Demmin on and around the 1st of May 1945 as the 65th Army of 2nd Belorussian Front first broke into a distillery and then rampaged through the town, committing mass rapes, arbitrarily executing civilians, and setting fire to buildings. High numbers of suicides took place in
many other locations, including Neubrandenburg (600 dead), Stolp in Pommern (1,000 dead), and Berlin, where at least 7,057 people committed suicide in 1945.
Estimates of the total German war dead range from 5.5 to 6.9 million persons. A study by German historian Rüdiger Overmans puts the number of German military dead and missing at 5.3 million, including 900,000 men conscripted from outside of Germany's 1937 borders, in Austria, and in east-central Europe. Overmans estimated in 2014 that in all about 353,000 civilians were killed by British and American bombing of German cities. An additional 20,000 died in the land campaign. Some 22,000 citizens died during the Battle of Berlin. Other civilian deaths include 300,000 Germans (including Jews) who were victims of Nazi political, racial, and religious persecution, and 200,000 who were murdered in the Nazi euthanasia program. Political courts called Sondergerichte sentenced some 12,000 members of the German resistance to death, and civil courts sentenced an additional 40,000 Germans. Mass rapes of German women also took place.
At the end of the war, Europe had more than 40 million refugees, its economy had collapsed, and 70 per cent of its industrial infrastructure was destroyed. Between twelve and fourteen million ethnic Germans fled or were expelled from east central Europe to Germany. During the Cold War, the West German government estimated a death toll of 2.2 million civilians due to the flight and expulsion of Germans and through forced labour in the Soviet Union. This figure remained unchallenged until the 1990s, when some historians put the death toll at 500,000 to 600,000 confirmed deaths. In 2006 the German government reaffirmed its position that 2.0 to 2.5 million deaths occurred.
The NSDAP was a far right political party which came into its own during the social
and financial upheavals that occurred with the on set of the Great Depression in
1929. 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. The ideology of Nazism 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.
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.
Others deemed unworthy of life by the Nazis included the mentally and physically
disabled, Romani people, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and social misfits.
Influenced by the Völkisch movement, the regime was against cultural modernism and supported the development of an extensive military at the expense of intellectualism. Creativity and art were stifled, except where they could serve as propaganda media. 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.
Racism and antisemitism were basic tenets of the NSDAP 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.
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, synagogues, and members of the legal profession, on the 1st of April 1933 Hitler declared a national boycott of Jewish businesses. The
Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, passed on the 7th
of April, forced all non Aryan civil servants to retire from the legal profession and civil service. Similar legislation soon deprived Jewish members of other
professions of their right to practise. On the 11th of April a decree was
promulgated that stated anyone who had even one Jewish parent or grandparent was considered non Aryan. As part of the drive to remove Jewish influence from cultural life, members of the National Socialist Student
League removed from libraries any books considered un German, and a
nationwide book burning was held on the 10th of May.
Violence and economic pressure were used by the regime to encourage Jews to voluntarily leave the country. Jewish businesses were denied access to markets, forbidden to advertise in newspapers, and deprived of access to government contracts. Citizens were harassed and subjected to violent attacks. Many towns posted signs forbidding entry to Jews.
In November 1938, a young Jewish man requested an interview with the German ambassador in Paris. He met with a legation secretary, whom he shot and killed to protest his family's treatment in Germany. This incident provided the pretext for a program the NSDAP incited against the Jews on the 9th of November 1938. 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. 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. 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 money received via insurance claims would be confiscated.
By 1939 around 250,000 of Germany's 437,000 Jews emigrated to the United States, Argentina, Great Britain, Palestine, and other countries. 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.
Like the Jews, the Romani people were subjected to persecution from the early days of the regime. As a non Aryan race, they were forbidden to marry people of German extraction. Romani were shipped to concentration camps starting in 1935 and were killed in large numbers. Action T4 was a programme of systematic murder of the physically and mentally handicapped and patients in psychiatric hospitals that mainly took place from 1939 to 1941 but continued until the end of the war. Initially the victims were shot by the Einsatzgruppen and others, but gas chambers were used by the end of 1941.
Under the provisions of a law promulgated on the 14th of July 1933, the Nazi regime carried out the compulsory sterilisation of over 400,000 individuals labelled as having hereditary defects. More than half the people sterilised 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. Mentally and physically ill people were also targeted. The majority of the victims came from disadvantaged groups such as prostitutes, the poor, the homeless, and criminals . Other groups persecuted and killed included Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, social misfits, and members of the political and religious opposition.
Female collaborators in Paris,
shaved heads and marked with swastikas.
Germany's war in the East was based on Hitler's longstanding 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 defeat Poland, the Soviet Union and remove or kill the resident Jews and Slavs in the process. After the occupation of
Poland, all Jews living in the General Government were confined to ghettos, and
those who were physically fit were required to perform compulsory labour. In 1941
Hitler decided to destroy the Polish nation completely. He planned that within 10 to
20 years the section of Poland under German occupation would be cleared of ethnic
Poles and resettled by German colonists. About 3.8 to 4 million Poles would remain
as slaves, part of a slave labour force of 14 million the Nazis intended to create
using citizens of conquered nations in the East.
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. To determine who should be killed, Himmler created the
Volksliste, a system of classification of people deemed to be of German blood. 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. The plan also included the
kidnapping of children deemed to have Aryan Nordic traits, who were presumed to be of German descent. The goal was to
implement a General plan Ost after the conquest of the Soviet Union, but when the invasion failed, Hitler had to consider other options. One suggestion was a mass forced deportation of Jews to Poland, Palestine, or Madagascar.
Somewhere around the time of the failed offensive against Moscow in December 1941, Hitler resolved that the Jews of Europe were to be exterminated immediately. Plans for the total eradication of the Jewish population of Europe—eleven million people—were formalised at the Wannsee Conference on the 20th of January 1942. Some would be worked to death and the rest would be killed in the implementation of Die Endlösung der Judenfrage (the Final Solution of the Jewish question). Initially the victims were killed with gas vans or by Einsatzgruppen firing squads, but these methods proved impracticable for an operation of this scale. By 1941, killing centres at Auschwitz concentration camp, Sobibor, Treblinka, and other Nazi extermination camps replaced Einsatzgruppen as the primary method of mass killing. The total number of Jews murdered during the war is estimated at 5.5 to six million people, including over a million children. Twelve million people were put into forced labour.
German citizens (despite much of the later denial) had access to information about what was happening, as soldiers returning from the occupied territories would report on what they had seen and done. Evans states that most German citizens disapproved of the genocide . Some Polish citizens tried to rescue or hide the remaining Jews, and members of the Polish underground got word to their government in exile in London as to what was happening.
In addition to eliminating Jews, the Nazis also 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. Together, the Hunger Plan and General plan Ost would have led to the starvation of 80 million people in the Soviet Union. These partially fulfilled plans resulted in the democidal deaths of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war.
German troops march through occupied Warsaw, Poland,
during World War II, circa 1939.
During the German occupation of Poland, 2.7 million ethnic Poles were killed by the Nazis. 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 and executed, or transported to concentration camps. During the war, Poland lost 39 to 45 per cent of its physicians and dentists, 26 to 57 percent of its lawyers, 15 to 30 percent of its teachers, 30 to 40 per cent of its scientists and university professors, and 18 to 28 percent of its clergy. Further, 43 percent of Poland's educational and research institutions and 14 percent of its museums had been destroyed.
During the war between June 1941 and January 1942, the Nazis killed an estimated 2.8 million Soviet prisoners of war. Many
starved to death while being held in open-air pens at Auschwitz and elsewhere. The Soviet Union lost 27 million people during the war; less than nine million of these were combat deaths. One in four Soviets were killed or wounded.
Antisemitic legislation passed in 1933 led to the removal all of Jewish teachers, professors, and officials from the education system. Most teachers were required to belong to the Nationalsozialistischer Lehrerbund (National Socialist Teachers League; NSLB), and university professors were required to join the National Socialist German Lecturers. 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.
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. Frequent and often contradictory directives were issued by Reich Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick, Bernhard Rust of the Reichserziehungsministerium (Ministry of Education), and various
other agencies regarding content of lessons and acceptable textbooks for use in primary and secondary schools. Books deemed unacceptable to the regime were removed from school libraries.
HOLOCAUST PHOTO: JEWISH CHILDREN
LOOK OUT FROM BEHIND A WALL OF BARBED WIRE.
Indoctrination in National Socialist thought was made compulsory in January 1934. 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 Inspectorate of Education for
secondary education. Detailed National Socialist indoctrination of future holders of the elite military rank was undertaken at Order Castles.
Primary and secondary education focused on racial biology, population policy, culture, geography, and especially physical fitness.
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. Students were
required to watch all films prepared by the school division of the Ministry Enlightenment and Propaganda.
Nazi propaganda photo:
A mother, her daughters and her
son in the uniform of the Hitler
Youth pose for the magazine "SS Leitheft February 1943.
Nazi Germany had a strong anti tobacco movement. Pioneering research by Franz
H. Müller in 1939 demonstrated a causal link between tobacco smoking and lung
cancer. The Reich Health Office took measures to try to limit smoking, including
producing lectures and pamphlets. Smoking was banned in many workplaces, on trains,
and among on duty members of the military. Government agencies also worked to
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.
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.
Medical experiments, many of them unscientific, were performed on concentration
camp inmates beginning in 1941. The most notorious doctor to perform medical
experiments was SS Hauptsturmführer Dr Josef Mengele, camp doctor at Auschwitz.
Many of his victims died or were intentionally killed. Concentration camp inmates were
made available for purchase by pharmaceutical companies for drug testing and other
Women were a cornerstone of Nazi social policy. The Nazis opposed the feminist
movement, claiming that it was the creation of Jewish intellectuals, and instead
advocated a patriarchal society in which the German woman would recognise that her
"world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home." Soon after the seizure of
power, feminist groups were shut down or incorporated into the National Socialist Women's League. This organisation coordinated groups throughout the country to promote motherhood and household activities. Courses were offered on child rearing, sewing, and cooking. The League published the NS Frauen Warte, the only NSDAP approved women's magazine in Nazi Germany. Despite some propaganda aspects, it was predominantly an ordinary woman's magazine.
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. Large families received subsidies to help with their utilities, school fees, and household 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. Removing women from the workforce did not have the intended effect of freeing up jobs for men. 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. 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. 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. Thereafter, women were funnelled into agricultural and industrial jobs. By September 1944, 14.9 million women were working in munitions production.
The Nazi regime discouraged women from seeking higher education. Nazi leaders held conservative views about women and endorsed the idea that rational and theoretical work was alien to a woman's nature since they were considered
inherently emotional and instinctive as such, engaging in academics and careerism would only "divert them from
motherhood." The number of women allowed to enrol in universities dropped drastically, as a law passed in April 1933 limited the number of females admitted to university to ten per cent of the number of male attendees. Female enrolment in secondary schools dropped from 437,000 in 1926 to 205,000 in 1937. The number of women enrolled in postsecondary 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.
In Nazi Germany
Women were expected to be strong, healthy, and vital. The sturdy peasant woman
who worked the land and bore strong children was considered ideal, and athletic women were praised for being tanned from working outdoors. Organisations were created for the indoctrination of Nazi values. From the 25th of March 1939, membership in the Hitler Youth became compulsory for all children over the age of ten.
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.
The Nazi regime promoted a liberal code of conduct regarding sexual matters, and was sympathetic to women who bore children out of wedlock. Promiscuity increased as the war progressed, with unmarried soldiers often intimately involved with several women simultaneously. The same was the case for married women, who liaised with soldiers, civilians, or slave labourers. Sex was sometimes used as a commodity to obtain, for example, better work from a foreign labourer. Pamphlets enjoined German women to avoid sexual relations with foreign workers as a danger to their blood.
With Hitler's approval, Himmler intended that the new society of the Nazi regime should de stigmatise illegitimate births, particularly of children fathered by members of the SS, who were vetted for racial purity. His hope was that each SS family would have between four and six children. The Lebensborn (Fountain of Life) association, founded by Himmler in 1935, created a series of maternity homes where single mothers could be accommodated during their pregnancies. Both parents were examined for racial suitability before acceptance. The resulting children were often adopted into SS families. The homes were also made available to the wives of SS and NSDAP members, who quickly filled over half the available spots.
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. In 1935 a law was passed allowing abortions for eugenics reasons.
Nazi society had elements supportive of animal rights, and many people were fond of zoos and wildlife. 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 had an impact on what was allowed for medical research. But the law was only loosely enforced. In spite of a ban on vivisection, the Ministry of the Interior readily handed out permits for experiments on animals.
The Reich Forestry Office, under Göring, enforced regulations that required foresters to plant a wide variety of trees to ensure suitable habitat for wildlife. A new Reich Animal Protection Act became law in 1933. The regime enacted the Reich Nature Protection Act in 1935 to protect the natural landscape from excessive economic development. The act allowed for the expropriation of privately owned land to create nature preserves and aided in long range planning. Perfunctory efforts were made to curb air pollution, but little enforcement of existing legislation was undertaken once the war began.
Poll: 31% of Americans would refuse to hide Jews from Nazis.
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. The
German Labour Front founded the Kraft durch Freude (KdF; Strength Through Joy)
organisation in 1933. In addition to taking control of tens of thousands of previously
privately run recreational clubs, it offered highly regimented holidays and
entertainment experiences such as cruises, vacation destinations, and concerts.
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 various aspects of cultural life, such as films, radio, newspapers, fine arts,
music, theatre, and literature. All 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. Radio
became very popular in Germany during the 1930s, with over 70 per cent of
households owning a receiver by 1939, more than any other country. Radio station staffs were purged of leftists and others deemed undesirable by July 1933. 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 people would not turn to foreign broadcasters for entertainment. As with other media, newspapers were controlled by the state, with the Reich Press Chamber shutting down or buying newspapers and publishing houses. By 1939 over two-thirds of the newspapers and magazines were directly owned by the Propaganda Ministry.
The NSDAP daily newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter (Ethnic Observer), was edited by Alfred Rosenberg, author of The Myth of the Twentieth Century, a book of racial theories espousing Nordic superiority. Goebbels controlled the wire services and insisted that all newspapers in Germany should only publish content favourable to the regime. His 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 very closely. Newspaper readership plummeted, partly because of the decreased quality of the content, and partly because of the surge in popularity of radio.
Authors of books left the country in droves, and some wrote material highly critical of the regime while in exile. Goebbels
recommended that the remaining authors should 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.
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. Speer constructed imposing structures such as the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg and a new Reich Chancellery building in Berlin. 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 Triumph in Paris. Neither of these structures were ever built.
The rich elite, whether Nazi
or Zionist or Communist Chinese or Hindu, tend
to favour 'Authoritarianism'.
Hitler felt that abstract, Dadaist, expressionist, and modern art were
decadent, an opinion that became the basis for policy. Many art museum
directors lost their posts in 1933 and were replaced by party members.
Some 6,500 modern works of art were removed from museums and
replaced with works chosen by a Nazi jury. 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.
Composer Richard Strauss was appointed president of the Reichs
musikkammer (Reich Music Chamber) on its founding in November 1933. As
was the case with other art forms, the Nazis ostracised musicians who were
not deemed racially acceptable, and for the most part did not approve of
music that was too modern or atonal. Jazz music was singled out as being
especially inappropriate, and foreign musicians of this genre left the country
or were expelled. 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. Movies were popular in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, with admissions of over a billion people in 1942, 1943, and 1944. By 1934 German regulations restricting currency exports made it impossible for American filmmakers to take their profits back to America, so the major film studios closed their German branches. Exports of German films plummeted, as their heavily anti semitic 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.
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 national socialist ideals.
The England team give the Nazi salute in May 1938. England won the game 6-3.
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. All but three of the defendants were found guilty; twelve were sentenced to death. The victorious Allies outlawed the NSDAP and its subsidiary organisations. The display or use of Nazi symbolism such as flags, swastikas, or greetings, is illegal in Germany and Austria.
Nazi ideology and the actions taken by the regime are almost universally regarded as gravely immoral. Hitler, Nazism, and the Holocaust have become symbols of evil in the modern world. Interest in Nazi Germany continues in the media and the academic world. Historian Sir Richard J. Evans remarks that the era "exerts an almost universal appeal because its murderous racism stands as a warning to the whole of humanity."
The Nazi era continues to inform how Germans view themselves and their country. Virtually every family suffered losses during the war or has a story to tell. For many years Germans kept quiet about their experiences and felt a sense of communal guilt, even if they were not directly involved in war crimes. Once study of Nazi Germany was introduced into the school curriculum starting in the 1970s, people began researching the experiences of family members. Study of the era and a willingness to critically examine its mistakes has led to the development of a strong democracy in today's Germany, but
with lingering undercurrents of anti semitism and neo Nazi thought.
Volkswagen was originally created in 1937 by the German Labour Front
(Deutsche Arbeitsfront). In the early 1930s, the German auto industry was still
largely composed of luxury models, and the average German could rarely
more than a motorcycle. As a result, only one German out of 50 owned a car.
Seeking a potential new market, some car makers began independent
"peoples' car" projects the Mercedes 170H, Adler AutoBahn, Steyr 55, and
Hanomag 1.3L, among others.
In 1933, with many of the above projects still in development or early stages of
production, Adolf Hitler got involved, demanding the production of a basic
vehicle capable of transporting two adults and three children at 100 km/h
(62 mph). Hitler wanted his German citizens to have the same access to a car
as the Americans. The "People's Car" would be available to citizens of the Third Reich through a savings plan at 990 Reich's mark (US $396 in 1930s dollars) about the price of a small motorcycle (the average income being around 32 RM a week). Despite heavy lobbying in favour of one of the existing projects, it soon became apparent that private industry could not turn out a car for only 990 RM. Thus, Hitler chose to sponsor an all new, state owned factory using Ferdinand Porsche's design (with some of Hitler's design constraints, including an air cooled engine so nothing could freeze). The intention was that ordinary Germans would buy the car by means of a savings scheme ("Fünf Mark die Woche musst du sparen, willst du im eigenen Wagen fahren" "Five marks a week you must put aside, if you want to drive your own car"), which around 336,000 people eventually paid into. The savings of these 336,000 people were seized by the Russians in 1945 when they captured Berlin. However, the entire project was financially unsound, and only the corruption and lack of accountability of the Nazi regime made it possible.
Prototypes of the car called the "KdF Wagen" (German:
Kraft durch Freude "strength through joy"), appeared from 1936 onwards (the first cars had been produced in Stuttgart). The car already had its distinctive round shape and air cooled, flat-four, rear-mounted engine. The VW car was just one of many KdF programs which included things such as tours and outings. The prefix Volks ("People's") was not just applied to cars, but also to other products in Germany; the "Volksempfänger" radio receiver for instance. On 28 May 1937, the Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH (sometimes abbreviated to Gezuvor) was established by the Deutsche Arbeitsfront. It was later renamed "Volkswagenwerk GmbH" on the 16th of September 1938. Erwin Komenda, the longstanding Auto Union chief designer, part of Ferdinand Porsche's hand picked team, developed the car body of the prototype, which was recognizably the Beetle known today. It was one of the first to be evolved with the aid of a wind tunnel, in use in Germany since the early 1920s. The cars were put through many rigorous tests, and achieved a record-breaking million miles of testing before being deemed finished.
The building of the new factory started on the 26th of May 1938 in the new town of KdF
Stadt (modern day Wolfsburg), which had been purpose built for the factory workers. This
factory had only produced a handful of cars by the time war started in 1939. None were
actually delivered to any holder of the completed saving stamp books, though one Type 1
Cabriolet was presented to Hitler on the 20th of April 1939 (his 50th birthday).
War meant production changed to military vehicles, the Type 82 Kübelwagon ("Bucket
car") utility vehicle (VW's most common wartime model), and the amphibious
Schwimmwagen which were used to equip the German forces. As was common with much
of the production in Nazi Germany during the war, slave labor was utilized in the
Volkswagen plant. The company would admit in 1998 that it used 15,000 slaves during the
war effort. German historians estimated that 80% of Volkswagen's wartime workforce was
slave labor. Many of the slaves were reported to have been supplied from the concentration
camps upon request from plant managers. A lawsuit was filed in 1998 by survivors for
restitution for the forced labour. Volkswagen would set up a voluntary restitution fund.
The company owes its post war existence largely to one man, British Army officer Major
Ivan Hirst, REME. In April 1945, KdF Stadt, and its heavily bombed factory were captured
by the Americans, and subsequently handed over to the British, within whose occupation
zone the town and factory fell into. The factories were placed under the control of Oldham born Hirst. At first, the plan was to use it for military vehicle maintenance, and possibly dismantled and shipped to Britain. Since it had been used for military production, and had been in Hirst's words a "political animal" rather than a commercial enterprise technically making it liable for destruction under the terms of the Potsdam Agreement the equipment was in time intended to be salvaged as war reparations (Allied dismantling policy changed in late 1946 to mid 1947, although heavy industry continued to be dismantled until 1951.) Hirst painted one of the factory's cars green and demonstrated it to British Army headquarters. Short of light transport, in September 1945 the British Army was persuaded to place a vital order for 20,000. The first few hundred cars went to personnel from the occupying forces, and to the German Post Office.
Some British Service personnel were allowed to take their Beetles back to the United Kingdom when they were demobilised, and one of the very first Beetles brought back in that way (UK registration number JLT 420) is still owned by Peter Colborne Baber, the son of the original proprietor of the UK's first official Volkswagen Importer, Colborne Garages of Ripley, Surrey.
AND ADOLF HITLERS
The Anti Nazi League (ANL) was an organisation set up in 1977 on the initiative of the Socialist Workers Party with
sponsorship from some of the UK trade unions and the endorsement of a list of prominent people to oppose the rise of far right groups in the United Kingdom. It was wound down in 1981.
It was relaunched in 1992, but merged into Unite Against Fascism in 2003. Most of the ANL's leafleting and other campaigns in the 1970s were in opposition to far right groups which it claimed were not just racist but fascist, such as the National Front, an organisation led by John Tyndall who had a long history of involvement with openly fascist and Nazi groups. The ANL also campaigned against the British Movement which was a
more openly Hitlerite group of People.
The ANL was linked to Rock Against Racism in the 1970s,
which ran two giant carnivals in 1978 involving bands such
as The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Steel Pulse, Misty in
Roots, X-Ray Spex and Tom Robinson Band, attended by
80,000 and then 100,000 supporters.
In April 1979, an ANL member, Blair Peach, was killed
following a demonstration at Southall against a National
Front election meeting. Police had sealed off the area around Southall Town Hall, and communist demonstrators trying to make their way there were blocked. In the ensuing confrontation, more than 40 people (including 21 police) were injured, and 300 were arrested. Bricks were allegedly hurled at police, who described the rioting as the most violent they had handled in London. Peach was among the demonstrators. During an incident in a side street 100 yards from the town hall, he was seriously injured and collapsed after being struck on the head, allegedly by an unauthorised weapon used by a member of the police Special Patrol Group. Peach died later in hospital.
WELLS, H. G. 20th century British writer.
"Zionism is an expression of Jewish refusal to assimilate.
If the Jews have suffered, it is because they have regarded themselves
as a chosen people."
By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda,
one can make a people
see even heaven as hell
or an extremely wretched life as paradise. --Adolf Hitler