Nazi Germany or Third Reich was the name Germany was known from 1933 to 1945. It was called so because Germany was under the control of the Nazi party with the Adolf Hitler as its leader. This period had another name as well – National Socialist Period. Germany became a fascist state and the party took complete control of all aspects of life. This Nazi rule or governance came to an end with the end of the Second World War. Once Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany on January 30th 1933, he eliminated all his political opponents. When the President, Paul von Hindenburg, died in 1934, Hitler merged the offices of the Chancellery and the President, thus giving him complete control. This is was the first step towards dictatorship and first indication to what was to follow.
Features of Nazi Germany
- Racism especially anti-Semitism was the main feature of this period.
- Violation of the Treaty of Versailles.
- Hitler followed a militaristic foreign policy where he made aggressive territorial demands which led to the Second World War.
- Strongly against Bolshevism.
- Physically and mentally unhealthy people were considered unworthy of living and were put to death.
- The government and all important posts were held only by Germans.
- Top officials had to strictly adhere and promote the Nazi policies. They had to report to Hitler but had some autonomy as well.
- However the government was not very co-ordinated. It was highly disorganised.
- Hitler fostered infighting and distrust to keep his supreme power.
- There were regular courts to handle the political and criminal cases. Apart from this People’s Court was established in 1934 to deal with important political cases. More than 5000 death sentences were given by this court. It was dissolved in 1945.
- Unemployment increased. Women were taken off from work spaces. Wages dropped 25%.
- Different trade unions were abolished and one organisation The German Labour Front was created.
- Military budgeting and expenditure increased.
- Primary and Secondary education had a racial colouring in it. Right from the schools the racist theory was propagated through the curriculum. Military education was also given a lot importance in the Physical Education.
Anti-Semitism and Holocaust
The Nazi regime is mostly remembered for its racism, views on Jews and the millions of innocent people who were killed. Hitler and the Nazis believed that German were Aryans a cut above the rest. His hatred towards the Jews was on a belief that Jews were the real communists and responsible for spreading it. He also strongly believed that Jews in German were responsible for Germany’s failure in the First World War. However it must be mentioned that anti-Semitism in Germany was older than Hitler and it dates back to the 19th century. But it was Hitler who wanted to remove the Jews permanently from Germany.
Hitler hounded the Jews in Poland as well. When he defeated Poland he put millions of Jews in ghettos and those who were strong were compelled to do physical labour. The holocaust saw 5 to 6 million people dead especially Jews. They were put in concentration camps, made to work till death, mass killing through gas chambers and death by not giving food. Most Germans did not like what they were doing but did for the fear of authority and stern action. If any good had happened during Nazi regime it was completely overshadowed by the holocaust.