(i) On 30 January 1933, Hitler became the Chancellor in the cabinet of Germany.
(ii) A few days later, a mysterious fire broke out in the German Parliament building in February. Following this, the Fire Decree of 28 February 1933 indefinitely suspended civic rights (freedom of speech, press and assembly).
(iii) Then the Nazis killed many Communists in the concentration camps.
(iv) On 3 March 1933, the famous Enabling Act was passed; this Act established dictatorship in Germany. It gave Hitler all powers to surpass Parliament and rule by decree.
(v) All political parties and trade unions were banned except for the Nazi Party. The state controlled the economy, media, army and judiciary.
(vi) Special surveillance and security forces such as SA (Storm Troopers), the Gestapo (secret state police), the SS (the protection squads), criminal police, and the Security Service (SD) were created to control people.
(vii) People could now be detained in Gestapo torture chambers, rounded up and sent to concentration camps.
Role of women in Nazi society:
In Nazi Germany all mothers were not treated equally. Women who bore racially undesirable children were punished and those who produced racially desirable children were awarded and given best medical treatment. They were also entitled to concessions in shops and theatre and railway. To encourage women to produce many children, Honour Crosses were awarded: a bronze cross for four children, silver for six and gold for eight). ‘Aryan’ women were punished for deviating the prescribed code of conduct. ‘Aryan’ women who maintained contact with Jews, Poles and Russians were paraded through the town with shaved heads, blackened faces and placards hanging around their necks announcing ‘I have sullied the honour of the nation’. Many were jailed and lost families for this criminal offence.
Role of women in the French Revolution:
During the French Revolution, women led strikes and radical movements and fought for rights to education and equal wages. They formed political clubs and newspapers. They demanded the right to vote, to be elected to the Assembly and to hold political office. Schooling was made compulsory for them after the French Revolution.
In Nazi society women were expected to deliver babies with the so-called “pure Aryan blood” to maintain the Nazi belief in the Aryan racial superiority.
(i) Nazi propaganda effectively created a hatred for Jews through language and media with care. The Nazis coined deceptive terms to describe their various killing practices against Jews.
(ii) Mass killings were termed special treatment, final solution (for the Jews), euthanasia (for the disabled), selection and disinfections, and evacuation (deporting people to gas chambers).
(iii) The gas chambers where Jews were killed were called ‘disinfection-areas’.
(iv) Media was carefully used to popularise Nazi ideas through visual images, films, radio, posters, catchy slogans and leaflets.
(v) In posters, Jews were projected as the ‘enemies’ of Germans. They were stereotyped, mocked, abused and described as evil.
(vi) Socialists and liberals were shown as weak, degenerate and malicious foreign agents.
(vii) Propaganda films such as The Eternal Jew were made to create hatred for Jews.
(i) The Nazis believed there was no equality between people, but only a racial hierarchy.
(ii) They argued that the strongest race would survive and the weak ones would perish, and the Aryan race was the finest. It had to retain its purity, become stronger and dominate the world.
(iii) The geopolitical concept of Lebensraum (living space) was yet another peculiar feature of the Nazi ideology.
(iv) Hitler believed that new territories had to be acquired for settlement of the so-called Aryan race. It would also enhance the material resources and power of the German nation.
(i) During the years of the Great Depression between 1924 and 1928, the German economy was the worst hit by the economic crisis.
(ii) By 1932, industrial production was reduced to 40 per cent. Workers lost their jobs or were paid reduced wages. Unemployed touched an unprecedented 6 million.
(iii) It was during the Great Depression that Nazism became a mass movement.
(iv) After 1929, banks collapsed and businesses shut down; the economic crisis created deep anxieties and fears among the salaried employees and pensioners.
(v) In such a situation Nazi propaganda stirred hopes of a better future.
(vi) Hitler was a powerful orator. He promised to build a strong nation, undo the injustice of the Versailles Treaty and restore the dignity of the German people.
(vii) In 1928, the Nazi Party got no more than 2. 6 per cent votes in the Reichstag (the German parliament); however, by 1932, it had become the largest party with 37 per cent votes.
(i) After the defeat of Imperial Germany and the abdication of the emperor, a National Assembly met at Weimar and established a democratic constitution with a federal structure.
(ii) At the end of the First World War, the Weimar Republic was forced to accept the treaty terms dictated by the Allied Powers after Germany’s defeat.
(iii) The republic carried the burden of war guilt and national humiliation and financial crisis after paying huge war reparation.
(iv) The supporters (Socialists, Catholics and Democrats) of the Weimar Republic became easy targets of attack in the conservative nationalist circles.
(v) They were mockingly called the November criminals.
(vi) The birth of the Weimar Republic also coincided with the revolutionary uprising of the Spartacist League on the pattern of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
(vii) Soviets of workers and sailors were established in cities. Radical communists in Berlin demanded Soviet-style governance.
(viii) The socialists, Democrats and Catholics were opposed to this and met in Weimar to give shape to the democratic republic. However, they were crushed by the Weimar Republic with the help of a war veterans’ organisation called Free Corps.
(ix) The Spartacists later founded the Communist Party of Germany.
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