In 1923 the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler founded a youth organisation called the Hitler Youth. Hitler realised that by controlling the youth of today he would completely control the future Nazi people.
The nature or aim of the Hitler Youth was to indoctrinate children from the age of 14-18 that Nazi beliefs were the only true ideas and would result in Germany becoming the greatest country in the world. By teaching, often done by brainwashing the children, they would become nationalists and think all other countries and its people were inferior. They did this during school, by changing the timetable and subject lessons to accommodate for Hitler’s policy towards the youth. However, he also achieved this by controlling young German lives outside school, consequently giving the parents and other influences, like Church and Youth clubs less control, with Hitler and the Nazis gaining more.
The Hitler Youth was a clever way of creating young and devoted Nazi supporters to continue and support Nazism in the future to come. Hitler designed the organisation so that it would appeal among the majority of Germany’s youth. It was attractive to many people with its regime of camps, sporting activities and marches. Most activities were designed to create fit young men and women. But Hitler’s crafty use of propaganda and posters also encouraged the youth to join his organisation.
The members of the Hitler youth were taught to hate all non ‘German’ people like Jews, Blacks, Homosexuals and Gypsies. Anyone who disagreed with this ideal would be classed as the same. The members of the Hitler Youth were also encouraged to report anyone who disagreed with Nazi views and beliefs, even their parents or teachers.
In 1936 being a member of the Hitler Youth was made compulsory, therefore increasing the total number of future supporters for Hitler and expanding the Youth organisation. The Nazi’s also controlled the school system and bombarded the children with propaganda. All subjects were taught so that they stressed Nazi beliefs. In history, students were thought to believe that the German army had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by the Weimar politicians at the end of the First World War. Biology lessons taught that Germans, as members of the Aryan race, were superior to all other races. The education of girls was more concerned with turning them into perfect mothers and housewives.
Due to the busy schedule children had little time for anything else but school and in their spare time, the Hitler Youth. This made it hard for the childrens parents to influence them as the adults were not taken in as easily as the children.
The hidden purpose for the Hitler Youth was that so Hitler would have a ready army of well trained strong soldiers and workers. And due to the BDM (League of German Girls), he would have prepared the girls for motherhood – the opportunity to give birth to future soldiers and pure blood race citizens. The other main hidden reason for the Hitler Youth was so that Hitler’s views and beliefs would live on through generations of German citizens.
Question 2: Explain the reasons for Nazi policies towards women?
The Nazis had very strong and definite views about the role of women in society. This was seen as very much in the home, as child-bearers, and supporters of their husbands. Their role was therefore different to that of men and was not viewed as being equal. As a result of these ideas, employment opportunities for women declined, and under the Nazis there were fewer women teachers, doctors and civil servants. They were banned from being judges and removed from any jury service because women were said to be incapable of thinking without emotion or logically.
The Nazis saw the role of women in playing a big part for Germany’s change and development. They wanted the women to feel useful and respected, but at the same time keep their role in society as a domestic one and let the men do all the work and become the financial supporters. Hitler wanted the German women to support him, including
his ideas and beliefs so he could control them, however not to a point where they would feel abused and used, and therefore not follow the Nazi regime. He encouraged Nazi policies towards women cleverly and carefully, to keep the women happy at the same time as him benefiting from these policies and gaining support and popularity from the general public. Therefore he introduced a series of incentives.
Many women were attracted by the Nazis because they wanted to reduce female employment in industry and commerce. Marriage loans were given to women who gave up their jobs from 1933, providing the women with a benefit to quit their work, but more importantly allowing Hitler to achieve his goal of creating pure Germans only and inferior towards other races.
Women in society played a big part in helping Hitler and were seen as important to the future of Germany. The Nazis also introduced organisation which supported the family by distributing food aid, giving meals to prolific mothers, providing maternity homes for the weeks after childbirth and running kindergartens to look after children if their mothers did work. However the Nazi government did not dare force women out of employment from 1933-1939, largely due to the war as there was a shortage of labour. Women had the advantage to employers of being cheaper, and many jobs would have been compulsory for those to attend, while most of the men were involved or fighting in World War II.
The Nazis encouraged women to have as many children as possible, by discouraging contraception. This mainly happened because Hitler was alarmed at the falling birth rate in Germany and a greater demand for future Nazis was needed fast. He awarded a golden Mother Cross to mothers with eight or more children, with silver being six children, and a bronze award for four. This made giving birth a competition for a lot of women and many saw Hitler as their idol man. The Nazi party also introduced Mother’s Day in the calendar which occurred once a year. This day made mothers feel even more special and loved, by allowing them to have a day set aside where their husbands, sons and daughters would take over the role of the women and pamper them, in contrast to what women usually did for them.
However there are always two sides to a story. Some women protested against the regime, as their role of second-class citizens. A few then joined opposition parties such as, The Communists and Social Democrats to campaign for better status. These women critized the policy towards them in three ways. First, many women would remain unfulfilled. Secondly, women were being deprived of experience which was vital to them and lastly, women had particular talents for certain types of employment which some men don’t.
But in the 1930’s women were not considered to be equal of men in most countries. Nazi beliefs about women were not necessarily unusual, just more extreme than elsewhere.
Question 3: The most important reason why there was little opposition in Germany towards the Nazi regime was its use of propaganda. Explain how far you agree with the statement?
I agree with this statement to a certain extent. However I think that the clever use of propaganda was a major factor for lack of opposition towards the Nazi regime. Although it was not the only factor.
The Weimar Republic appeared to have no idea how to solve the problems of the Depression. The Nazis on the other hand promised to solve the problems. Hitler promised most groups in Germany what they wanted. Hitler used the Jews and other sections of society as scapegoats, blaming all the problems on them. To Germans at the time Hitler made sense, he united everyone by providing explanations for Germany’s problems.
The Nazi propaganda was widespread and radical. It was heard on the radio, read in newspapers, seen on posters, in films. This was more extensive than any previous society had known. A ministry of ‘information’ was set up to provide the most effective propaganda and used professional film directors, actors and entertainers.
The propaganda was everywhere, even children were not free from it. Books of nursery rhymes encouraged children to play with guns, and enjoy fighting. Children’s’ songs were about bloodshed, violence and anti-Semitism.
Over 20,000 Jewish books were burnt for fear that they might put their ideas and ideals into the German public. Jewish art was also destroyed to be replaced by ‘healthy’ Aryan art.
Much of the propaganda was linked to the myths and legends of ancient Germany. The ideal of the Aryan race of blue eyed, blond and healthy bodies was encouraged.
However, there were other reasons why the German people allowed the Nazi regime to take effect. Firstly, there was fear and intimidation. Hitler had his Sturm Abteilung (SA) or brown shirts who intimidated his opponents and doubters by breaking into political meetings of the main opposition parties, especially the communists. Brawling would usually break out and the meetings would end in chaos. They would break up marches and gatherings of political opponents.
When the Reichstag was burnt down in 1933, Hitler used this as an opportunity to blame the communists and as result 4000 of them were arrested and taken to concentration camps. Hitler passed an act allowing him to take direct control of the key institutions and to suspend parliament. Also, all key posts in the government, the civil service and teaching could only be filled by men who swore to be good Nazis.
Secondly, the Weimar government set up after World War I had been very weak and unable to make decisions. The German people were experiencing great economic problems partly because of the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of the last war, but also because of the economic slump in 1929. When Hitler was coming to power, Germany was suffering hyperinflation and widespread unemployment. All these conditions left the German people feeling very demoralised and they were looking to strong leadership to sort out their problems.
The Weimar government was not seen as an effective Government, but Hitler’s party seemed to have the answers even though not every thing that Hitler stood for would have been welcomed. Hitler appealed to radical nationalists who opposed the soft and weak Weimar government.
Lastly, Hitler was an extremely effective orator. He appealed to many groups within Germany, such as farmers and ex-soldiers, and was very inspiring in he way that he put forward his interpretation of German history and what should be done to strengthen Germany’s position in Europe.
To conclude, propaganda was a main reason for the minimal opposition but there was also fear and intimidation of all those who opposed Hitler; a call for strong leadership and discipline; and the skills of Hitler as an effective speaker.