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Weimar and Nazi Germany

The Weimar Constitution

The impact of the Treaty of Versailles

1919 -1923: years of crisis?

The Munich Putsch

The Origins of the Nazi Party

1924 - 1929: A Golden era?

Gustav Stresemann

German Foreign Policy 1919 to 1933

Germany in the Depression

The Rise of the Nazi party

From Chancellor to Fuhrer

The failures of Weimar

Creating a totalitarian state

Nazi methods of control

Opposition to the Nazi's

Propaganda

The Economy under the Nazi's

Nazi Foreign Policy

Education in Nazi Germany

The Holocaust

 

 

Was Hitler's Germany a Totalitarian State?

A Totalitarian state is one in which the leader, in this case Adolf Hitler, has total control of the Government and the people. In practice the term is often is used to describe a political situation where a small group of people, or one organisation, has total authority over a nation.

In Hitler's Germany there were many characteristics of a Totalitarian state. The Government ran and censored the media. All forms of communication were liable to interference from above and could, and were, heavily censored. This removes freedom of speech, therefore enabling the government to influence popular opinion via propaganda and false news messages.

Propaganda within Nazi Germany was highly effective. The Nazi's realised the importance of the Radio and newspapers as a means to communicate with the masses. they were also highly aware of the force that these media's had and the level of influence that they had over the population. carefully planned radio broadcasts, rallies and films were used to convince the public that Hitler and the party had the overwhelming support of the masses. the news was engineered to show successes brought about by the parties policies and techniques such as subliminal messaging were used to 'brainwash' the masses into a state of belief and hysteria. In effect all news, rumour and opinion within the state was produced or influenced by the Government, a classic sign of a totalitarian leader exerting his control.

Clearly not everyone is susceptible to propaganda. You cannot force somebody to listen to the radio, read newspapers or watch film shows. To combat the potential threat to the utopia that was created by Hitler by these people alternative methods of ensuring control were necessary. The secret police was publicised, it's role was to find enemies of the state. These people would quite often be publicly humiliated or even tortured. Such actions making people think twice before questioning the state. Likewise the police and Gestapo had the authority to remove people from their homes and send them, often without trial, to concentration camps. Once again this acted as a deterrent but it also ensured that the more determined opponent of the state was removed from the public domain.

In essence Germany under Hitler was a very good example of what a totalitarian state is/ was. People did not question decisions, no matter how absurd they appeared to be. It was evident that working against the party, or even being perceived as a potential threat would lead to prison or worse (the Night of the Long Knives for example). Through careful coercion, manipulation and misleading information the authorities could, and did, do as they pleased as the people either knew nothing about actions being taken or were too afraid to speak out about them.


In this unit:

Essential Revision

Key Issues:

  1. How far did Germany recover under Stresemann?
  2. How did the Nazi party develop, upto 1929?
  3. How did Hitler become Chancellor?
  4. Howdid Hitler create a dictatorship?
  5. What were the main features of Totalitarian rule?
  6. What were the benefits of Nazi rule?

Full Germany revision section

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SchoolsHistory.org.uk highly recommends these sites:

gcsehistory.org.uk - new site aiming to provide an accessible narrative for GCSE History pupils.
Schoolhistory.co.uk - fantastic range of interactive games, revision materials and links.
ActiveHistory.co.uk - outstanding use of ICT to engage pupils.
Thinkinghistory.co.uk - a brilliant range of learning activities from Ian Dawson
JohnDClare.net - simply the best for Modern World GCSE students
Historyboxes.com - make your lessons 'real' with artefacts and living history provided by experts
Schoolshistory.com - same author as this site, just put together in a slightly different way!
Medicinethroughtime.co.uk - all new resources for teachers and pupils of the SHP Medicine course
Crimeandpunishmentthroughtime.co.uk - A new site providing resources for teachers and pupils of the Crime and Punishment unit

Wallarms.com Militaria - a range of interesting pieces of militaria is available via tihs site
The Turkey Inn, Goose Eye, Oakworth - great historical public house with loads of great beer and a lovely atmosphere