Modern History: Power & Authority in the Modern World

An overview of the peace treaties which ended World War I and their consequences.

Table of Contents

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Context of the Module

  • This module focuses on how ideas have affected change over time
  • The 1919-1946 period is the period between the end of WW1 and the end of WW2
  • Many of modern history’s most significant crises occured during this period

“The European history of the twentieth century shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary men can find themselves standing over death pits with guns in their hands.”

- Timothy Snyder

Context of 1919

  • Allies had won a long, hard-fought war of attrition against the Central Powers.
  • Allied leaders under pressure from their people to punish Germany, pressure to make Germany pay for all damage caused by the war.
  • Economies were in ruin/collapse → civilians faced food/fuel shortages beyond 1918.
  • Millions of men killed/injured.
  • British Election Campaigns → politicians knew they could rely on British public’s vote if they demanded revenge on Germany.

The Paris Peace Conference

  • Meeting of the victorious Allied Powers following the end of WWI to set peace terms for the defeated Central Powers.
  • Palace of Versailles (Outside Paris)
  • January 18th , 1918 to June 1919
  • 32 Nations were represented, no one from the defeated countries invited.
  • ‘Big Four’ took charge of negotiations.
  • Five treaties drawn up:
    • Treaty of Trianon
    • Treaty of Neuilly
    • Treaty of Saint-Germain
    • Treaty of Sevres
    • Treaty of Versailles

Treaties from the Paris Peace Conference

  • Hungary lost territory to Romania and Yugoslavia.
  • Military reduced to 35,000 standing army.
  • Austria lost territory to Czechoslovakia, Poland and Italy
  • Military reduced to 35,000 standing army
  • Bulgaria lost territory to Greece.
  • 90 million pounds to pay in reparations.
  • Military reduced to 20,000 standing army.
  • Turkey lost territory to Greece
  • Turkey’s empire in the Middle East and North Africa become mandates of France and Britain, standing army limited to 50,000
  • As the result of a revolution in Turkey in 1919, the Treaty of Sevres was rejected by the new Turkish Nationalist government and Turkey entered into the Lausanne Treaty in 1923
  • This permitted Turkey to maintain a full standing army, not pay any reparations and revoked the land concession to Greece

Treaty of Versailles

  • Army reduced to 100 000 soldiers
  • No tanks or air force
  • U-boats and Navy restricted
  • The honour of the German military is destroyed
  • War Guilt Clause 231
  • Pay 6.6 billion pounds in reparations
  • Germans were forced to admit their sole responsibility for causing the war.
  • Forced to pay massive costs.
  • Economically crippled.
  • Germany lost significant territory to Poland
  • Germany give up claim to all of their overseas colonies in Europe
  • Germany is humiliated and loses many of the areas under her control
  • Forbidden to unite with Austria
  • Article 231, listed German’s responsible for the war
  • Included Kaiser Wilhelm II and his chief generals - to be arrested and tried
  • Never eventuated, Kaiser left for exile in Holland
  • Germany was made solely responsible for the war
  • Leaders were labelled as criminal
  • League of Nations was to be established
  • Germany is not admitted as a member of the League of Nations
  • Fuelled the Dolchstosslegende and the shame of the November Criminals → provided fertile propaganda for the conservative elites.
  • Kapp Putsch → attempt to overthrow the government in Berlin, showing severe political instability that plagues WR at this time and the prevalent hatred of democracy.
  • Violence from the Right.
  • Reparations → Occupation of the Ruhr → Hyperinflation
  • The TOV severely weakened the foundations of the newly born republic by forever burdening it with humiliation and continuously debilitated democracy with its long term political, social and economic repercussions, ensuring continued distaste.

The Big Three

  • Determined to protect France from future German invasion.
  • Reputation for being tough and uncompromising.
  • Wanted to cripple Germany so it couldn’t invade France.
  • Wanted Germany to break up into a collection of small states.
  • Wanted to avenge deaths of French military.
  • Became Prime Minister in 1916.
  • Understood there would need to be compromise at the Conference.
  • Occupied middle ground between Wilson & Clemenceau.
  • Wanted Germany to be justly punished.
  • Still wanted Germany & Britain to trade.
  • Believed the US could save Europe from itself.
  • Fourteen Points - January 1918
  • Wanted to punish Germany whilst creating a peaceful world.
  • Wanted self-determination for all nations - no empires.
  • Wanted to strengthen democracy.

Consequences of Post-War Treaties

  • Collapse of the Hohenzollern Empire (Germany), the Romanov Dynasty (Russia), the Habsburg Empire (Austria-Hungary) and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey).
  • Kaiser Wilhelm abdicates on the 9th November.
  • Former Russian empire separates.
  • Russia’s new title - the Soviet Union.
  • USA returns to its ‘Isolationist Foreign Policy’.
  • Japan rapidly became the dominant economic force in the Pacific region.
  • Nationalist groups from Indochina to the Middle East began to agitate for independence.
  • Anti-Semitism centred in Central and Eastern Europe began bubbling.
  • The League of Nations came into existence in 1920.
  • Due to the possibility of internal revolution, Germany was forced to accept the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Despite Versailles. Germany was potentially still the economic powerhouse of Europe.
  • France & Britain were still afraid of German invasion.

Rise of Dictatorships

The conditions that enabled dictators to rise to power in the interwar period.
  • Years before the war were viewed as an idyllic period of peace.
  • Rapid growth of population → urbanisation and technological developments.
  • Rise of Marxist ideals → desire for revolution.
  • Creation of unions that supported oppressed groups.
  • Extremist groups began rising in popularity.
  • Brought on revolution in Russia, Germany & Hungary.
  • Governments became accustomed to authoritarian powers.
  • Difficulty to separate the home front from the battlefield.
  • People had been fed hate-filled propaganda → hard to move past.
  • Brewing concepts of hatred, violence and revenge amongst nations.
  • Germany rallied against the unjust Treaty of Versailles.
  • Italy felt as though they had been ‘cheated’.
  • Japan was angered by the rejection of their racial equality clause.
  • Economic unity of the pre-war era disappeared.
  • Economic instability left nations vulnerable to the Great Depression.
  • Nations began vying for national independence from empires.
  • Lack of national identity.
  • Political parties were attributed to single sectors of society.
  • Governmental process was unstable.
  • Perception of democracy became one of instability.
  • Disunity & instability left an open window for dictators.
  • Instability of the post-war period left Europe longing for strong leaders.
  • Dictators offered simple solutions to long term issues → enticed the masses.
  • Placed themselves above the masses, e.g. Hitler as the ‘Fuhrer’, Mussolini as ‘il Duce’.
  • Played a role in undermining liberal democracy.
  • Global economic instability in the 1930’s meant that Europe needed people that would have solutions.
  • High unemployment rates needed a resolution.
  • Collapse of agriculture lowered national incomes and spending power.

An overview of the features of the dictatorships that emerged in Russia, Italy, and Japan

DEFINITIONAn authoritarian form of government characterised by a single leader or group of leaders with limited political pluralism.Comprised of censorship, extreme nationalism, state control of economy, strict discipline, rule by dictator, blind loyalty to the leader, use of violence and terror, and strong military.
  • SINGLE PARTY: A single government body that controls the entire state.
  • MEDIA CONTROL: Censorship of mass media that contradicts the idea of the government and the dictator.
  • TERROR & REPRESSION: Involves the government's use of violence in restraining the state and people within who have opposing opinions about the state they are in.
  • STATE IDEOLOGY: The idea of nationalism- Extreme opinions of pride, proudness and superiority of the state that an individual has.
  • SINGLE LEADER: A dictator who has total control over the state.
  • PLANNED MARKET: The economy of the country is controlled by the government and leads to the division of all.
  • Soviet Union
  • Fascist Party
  • Military
  • History books were written to emphasise Stalin’s role in the revolution
  • Artist endeavour had to be positive and optimistic - this was referred to as ‘socialist realism’
  • books, art, sculpture and music that were not to Stalin’s liking were banned
  • cults of personality
  • Propaganda widely used.
  • Schools, the media and the patriotic societies insisted on unquestioning loyalty to the emperor.
  • NKVD (secret police) had become a permanent part of the regime
  • labour camps (gulags) were established in the least hospitable parts of the country → Anyone suspected of anti-party behaviour or even anti-party thinking could be sent
  • Millions of people died during the course of Stalin’s dictatorship
  • Purging of the party was common and removed any possible sources of opposition
  • No opposition was permitted to the regime and most active opponents fled the country.
  • ‘Black shirts’ punished those who stood up against the regime.
  • The patriotic societies and the military came increasingly to dominate Japanese politics
  • Frequently resulted in terror and assassinations of politicians while the army allowed the trials of offenders to be used to discredit party-led governments.
  • Stalin’s Five-Year Plan
  • Collectivisation
  • Absolute control and suppression of Russian society.
  • Mussolini attempted to create a ‘Corporate state’ .
  • There was great emphasis put on mobilisation and indoctrination of young people.
  • Italy’s youth were placed into the ‘Avanguardia’ and ‘Giovani Italiane’
  • Mild on the spectrum of dictatorships
  • Settled state differences through the Lateran Accord 1929 → to appease the church and Mussolini.
  • Modernisation, westernisation, and industrialisation.
  • Traditional values of service, respect, patriotism and unquestioning obedience were promoted while western ideas were suppressed.
  • Imperial way and the controlling group → political instability
  • The control group control has increased
  • Lenin
  • Stalin
  • Mussolini
  • Emperor Hirohito
  • The Five-Year Plan ended in failure.
  • The rebellions of people refusing to take part in the collectivisation process caused many food shortages and famines across the country and resulted in deaths.
  • Unemployment was rising and inflation was out of control
  • The northern industrial regions were suffering strikes
  • The south remained mired in poverty and Mafia control
  • Corporate state to end social classes
  • Advance in economy, trade still low
  • Modernised its naval and military forces
  • Came out of the war in a good economic shape
  • However, it did not last as a post-war recession began to take hold
  • Increased issues of overpopulation, food shortages and economic stagnation

The Nazi Regime until 1939

The rise of the Nazi party and Hitler in Germany, and the collapse of the Weimar Republic.

Congenital Defects in the Weimar Republic (1918-1919)

  • The shock of defeat and deception of the German people during the war → Dolchstosslegende and November Criminals → distaste for the republic.
  • 5 January 1919 – Spartacist revolution began (Communism v. Democracy).
    • Leads to division between Ebert & Left Wing and unison between Ebert & Right Wing.
  • Ebert & Groener Pact → Ebert asks Groener (army general) to protect the republic in case of communist revolution. The Army is connected with Conservative Elites who are anti-democracy.
    • Groener sends Freikorps → brutally suppress Spartacists.
    • Divides the left wing and solidifies the power of the army and the conservative elites.
  • Constitutional Faults
    • Article 22 * Proportional Representation – any small extreme parties can get a seat in the Reichstag. * Forced to form coalition governments between Right & Left wing – this doesn’t work – leads to political instability.
    • Article 25 * President can replace the Reichstag whenever they want, 7 year term
    • Article 48 “Suicide Clause”
      • If there is a ‘state of emergency’, the President can suspend democracy for a time and rule by decree.
  • Treaty of Versailles
    • Debilitates Germany

Years of Challenge in the Weimar Republic (1920-1924)

  • Hyperinflation due to War Reparations and occupation of the Ruhr.
  • Threats from the Right Wing
    • Army becoming a state within a state.
    • Kapp Putsch
      • Right Wing uprising
      • The Army refused to suppress revolutionists as they were on the same side.
      • Ebert’s government is forced to flee.
    • Occupation of the Ruhr
      • Workers strike
      • Hyperinflation
      • Stresemann becomes chancellor and saves the republic and ends hyperinflation.
    • Munich Beer Hall Putsch

Golden Years of the Weimar Republic (1925-1929)

  • Prosperity and growth for Weimar Republic
  • Gustav Stresemann held the foreign minister position from 1923-1929.
    • Expresses a policy of fulfilment – fulfilling the Treaty of Versailles → angers the conservative elites.
    • Recovers the German economy.
      • Dawes Plan & Young Plan – both reliant on the US economy.
    • Political Stability
      • SPD dominates the Reichstag.
  • Still significant issues lying in the constitution.
  • Proportional representation made coalitions necessary.
  • Hindenburg was elected President in 1925.
  • Treaty of Locarno – Germany making friends – invited back to the international community.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic (1929-1933)

  • The Great Depression killed the Weimar Republic.
    • Stresemann’s economic plans had Germany’s money tied up in American loans.
    • Unemployment rates skyrocketed - crash in economy → 6million unemployed in 1930.
    • Wall Street Crash October 1929
    • Collapse of Danat bank.
  • Conservative manipulate the public as they are still in power due to the Ebert-Groener Pact.
  • Hindenburg advises Muller to utilise Article 48, which allows democracy to be disabled in a ‘state of emergency’.
    • Hitler was then invited to become Chancellor of Germany in 1933.
    • 1930: Muller wants to employ Unemployment Benefit Scheme and is denied employing Article 48 by Hindenburg and in turn is forced to resign. Bruning is appointed chancellor – rigid policy of deflation using Article 48 but fails to ameliorate the effects of the Great Depression.
    • 1932: Von Papen becomes chancellor (Baron’s Cabinet full of conservative elites). He fails to fix the depression and is then replaced by Von Schleicher. Von Papen goes to Hindenburg and suggests that Hitler’s party should be in power, and that Hitler will be a ‘chancellor in chains’.
    • 1933: Hitler appointed as Chancellor.

Rise of the Nazi Party

  • KAISER WILHELM: Figurehead of Germany from 1888 until his abdication in 1919. He was the last German Emperor.
  • FRIEDRICH EBERT: German politician and leader of the Socialist Democratic Party (SPD). Lead the transitional government after Kaiser Wilhelm’s abdication.
  • WILHELM GROENER: A German general and politician. Served in several governments of the Weimar Republic as minister of transportation, interior and defence.
  • GUSTAV STRESEMANN: Gustav Ernst Stresemann was a German statesman who served as Chancellor in 1923 and Foreign Minister 1923–1929, during the Weimar Republic.
  • PAUL VON HINDENBURG: Paul von Hindenburg, was a General and statesman who commanded the German military during the second half of World War I before later being elected President of the Weimar Republic in 1925.
  • EBERT-GROENER PACT 10TH NOV 1918: an agreement between the Social Democrat Friedrich Ebert, at the time the head of government of Germany, and Wilhelm Groener, Quartermaster General of the German Army. Groener assured Ebert of the loyalty of the armed forces.
  • SPARTACIST REVOLUTION 5-12TH JAN 1919: an uprising of the extreme left designed to establish a communist state in Germany and destroy the Weimar Republic.
  • KAPP PUTSCH 13-18TH MARCH 1920: an attempted coup which aimed to undo the German Revolution of 1918–1919, overthrow the Weimar Republic and establish a right-wing autocratic government in its place.
  • MUNICH BEER HALL PUTSCH 8-9TH NOV 1923: A failed takeover of the government in Bavaria, a state in southern Germany, led by Hitler and the early Nazi party → Makes Hitler famous.

The Intial Consolidation of Nazi Power (1933-1934)

Gleichschaltung: Hitler and the Nazi party successfully established a system of totalitarian control and coordination over all aspects of German society.

Reichstag Fire Decree (Feb 1933)
  • Painted as a communist-inspired arson attack.
  • Utilised Emergency Article 48 for Hitler to be able to rule by decree.
  • Hitler issued the “Law for the Protection of the People”, which severely restricted legal rights and protection for citizens and enhanced the power of the state.
  • Threat of communism inspired Nazis further and the propaganda for the 1933 elections was enormous.

    Great Depression

    • Acted as a catalyst for Hitler as the ‘saviour’ of Germany.
    • Created the political instability needed for an extremist such as Hitler to come to power.
    • Enabled the collapse of the Weimar Republic.
    • Left the German public in need of a charismatic and pragmatic leader, as found in Hitler.
Enabling Act
  • Replaced Germany’s parliamentary democracy with a dictatorship, allowing Hitler to make laws without the Reichstag.

    Editorial Law

    • Enabled Nazi censorship and propaganda.

      Law against the Establishment of Parties

      • Eliminated all oppositional parties to the Nazi regime.

        Law for the Restoration of the Civil Services

        • Permitted the dismissal of non-Aryans from government employment.

          Anti-Jewish Measures

          • Laws to forbid Jewish people from certain occupations such as law, medicine, education and journalism.
          • Eliminated Jewish people from economic life in Germany.
          • Complete exclusion and elimination of Jewish culture from Germany.
The Night of Long Knives
  • Hitler was given an ultimatum by the president to deal with Rohm and the SA or the army would take power.
  • Ernst Rohm and all the major leaders of the SA were rounded up and executed.
  • Over 400 people were killed – including Hitler’s old enemies; Gregor Strasser and General von Schleicher.
  • Confirmed Hitler’s ability to use terror tactics and deathly violence to enforce control.

    Role of the SA/SS

    • Nazis now had total control of Germany’s police forces.

      Establishment of Concentration Camps

      • March – Camps were established to hold anyone in political opposition.

The Nature of Nazi Ideology

  • The notion that German greatness and the harmony of the Volksgemeinschaft were constantly under threat from jealous, evil, racially inferior groups, in particular the Jews and Slavic peoples on Germany’s eastern borders
  • The Aryan race was superior to all other races. Slavs and Jews were subhuman or Untermensch.
  • Hitler believed that living space, or lebensraum for the German racially superior would be needed in the East of Europe at the expense of lower races.
  • Hitler’s anti-Semitism was more a product of the immediate post WWI period.
  • Notions of racial struggle and anti-Semitism became the cornerstone of Nazi ideology as it emerged in the 1920’s.
  • Lebensraum → living space in the east.
  • Survival of the fittest.
  • All humans are subject to natural selection.
  • Idea of a ‘superior’ race.
    • Aryan Race
  • Elimination of all ‘weak’ members of society, e.g. Jews, the disabled, homosexuals and other undesirables.
  • Argued that some races were inherently superior to others and would prosper at the expense of those inferior races.
  • Hitler believed that the life of the nation was one of permanent and continuing struggle for survival, in which the strongest race was destined to come out on top – so long as its purity remained intact.
  • The dominant leadership of Hitler and the notion that the will of the Fuhrer was supreme in the Nazi Party and the Nazi state.
  • Placing all authority in Hitler’s hands
  • However, this was not the reality- Hitler would make ministers in his cabinet compete for favour and deliberately ran a chaotic system.
  • People’s community.
  • The creation and protection of a harmonious national racial community.
  • All Germans should work together to reduce differences in class, wealth and standards of living.
  • In reality, Nazis had no concern for socialism or social equality.
  • Volksgemeinschaft was a central feature of propaganda to give the impression that the Nazi state was a unified society.

The Role of Prominent Individuals in Nazi Germany

ADOLF HITLER: Architect of ideology.
  • Deliberate and persistent effort to promote the Fuhrer as the heroic leader of Germany.
  • Was the work of the Nazis themselves and in particular Goebbels
  • Hitler was projected as the chosen leader and not that of just another politician
  • Goebbels focused on themes that had a natural appeal to middle class - Hitler was moderate and reasonable and a man who put national good before his own interest
  • Other themes highlighted included strength and authority
  • Reality was that he was moody, lonely, lazy, rarely showed his feelings
  • Hated regular routine and day to day details of his office
  • Constantly deferred making decisions, creating an element of chaos to gov
  • Lived an erratic lifestyle
  • Suffered from insomnia and rarely went to bed until 2am
  • Chaotic system of government.
  • Highly involved in foreign policy.
  • Assisted in the failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch
  • Played a huge role in helping to consolidate the Nazi’s rule by enlisting over 50 000 SA and SS men
  • Legitimised their violence against political opponents
  • Encouraged Hitler to purge the SA in the Night of the long knives
  • Given the task of carrying out Hitler’s economic aims, by creating the Four-Year Plan Organisation
  • Objective was to prepare Germany’s economy for potential war
  • 1937 → began his program of Aryanisation
  • He banned Jewish firms from receiving government contracts
  • Convicted of crimes against humanity during the Nuremberg war crimes and sentenced to death
  • All aspects of culture were under the control of his Reich chamber of culture
  • Created and sustained the Fuhrer myth → fashioned an image of Hitler as humble, dedicated to Germany’s people etc.
  • Encouraged the spread of anti-Semitic propaganda
  • Advocated and organised the violence against Germany’s Jews during Kristallnacht.
  • Took part in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch
  • Head of the SS
  • Formed to serve as Hitler’s personal bodyguard
  • Expanded the SS to become an elite force tasked with identifying and eliminating disloyal elements of opposition to the Nazi Party
  • Actively encouraged Hitler to purge the SA → fed him false information regarding Rohm’s ambition and alleged desire to seize power
  • Responsible for the creation of specialised combat divisions
  • Significant role in elimination opposition to Hitler and carrying out the Nazi Party’s reign of terror
  • Direct role in the attempted extermination of Europe’s Jews as part of the Final Solution
  • One of Hitler’s oldest friends
  • Played a leading role in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch
  • 1931 → Hitler appointed Rohm the Chief of Staff of the SA
  • Had opposing thoughts to Hitler in regard to next level of action
  • Rohm believed that the SA was still required to consolidate the Nazi seizure of power
  • Rohm was arrested during the Night of the Long Knives as he was believed to be a threat to the Nazi party and Hitler.

Nazi Methods of Control

  • Strong
  • Fit
  • Peoples person
  • Sacrifices for his people
  • Increasing popular support
  • Eliminated dissidence
Opposition is limited and any anti-Hitler ideas would have to be hidden in order to survive within the Nazi regime.
  • Reichstag Fire decree
  • The Enabling Act - 1933
  • Law Against the Establishment of Parties - 14 July
  • Reich Labour Law
  • Law for the Restoration of a professional civil service
  • Law against the overcrowding of German schools
  • Nuremberg Laws - 15 September 1935
    • Law for the protection of German blood and honour
    • Reich citizenship law
  • Restricting what people see, hear and say → Goebbels
  • Anything untermenschen was banned
  • Chamber of culture
  • Literature → book burning
  • Radio
  • Television and movies → only pro-Nazi
Propaganda wasn’t that necessary → maintained support rather than cultivated it. Didn’t eliminate dissidence
  • Joseph Goebbels
  • Created the Fuhrer myth
  • Speeches were broadcasted → really cheap so everyone could buy
  • Jewish and negro music banned
  • Music and movies that were enjoyable for the society, implicit so that they would approve of the regime, once in a while explicit Nazi theme
  • Movies
    • The eternal Jew → depicts Jews as rats
    • Triumph of the will
Propaganda wasn’t that necessary → maintained support rather than cultivated it.

Didn’t eliminate dissidence.

  • SA
    • Rohm
    • Brownshirts
    • Eliminated during the night of the long knives
  • SS
    • Grow after the knight of the long knives
    • Himmler
    • Take over the concentration camps (for political opposition groups)
  • Concentration camps
    • Held only for political opposition groups
    • Labour camps
    • Eventually turned into the concentration camps for Jews
  • Gestapo (secret state police)
Gestapo was not as resourceful as people thought.

Reactive rather than proactive.

  • Germans lived in real fear of arrest, interrogation and concentration camps.
  • Nazi terror was a part of everyday life and everyday work → fear is a powerful weapon of control.
  • Low level officials → checked on a group of 50 families to see that they were enthusiastic about the Nazi regime.
  • Wise for Germans to display support for the regime such as hanging Nazi flags etc.
  • Germans by settling personal scores would report anything suspicious to the authorities if anything was a possible threat.

Impact of the Nazi Regime on life in Germany

  • Goebbels took control of artistic expression → creation of the Reich Chamber of Culture
  • Artistic endeavour was suppressed
  • More traditional German styles was pursued
    • Literature was tightly controlled
    • Book burning common
    • Modernist and abstract styles were not acceptable
    • Strict controls on the theatre
    • Sculpture was expected to be heroic, and glorify the ‘Aryan’ body
    • Jazz, blues and swing music was banned due to its black influence
    • Advertising became dominated with Nazi iconography
    • Modern styles of architecture were frowned upon.
Even though there was a tight control, there was still access to other forms of expression, therefore came groups such as the ‘swing kids’.
  • Nazism looked very similar to a religion
    • Messiah - Hitler
    • Bible - Mein Kampf
    • Iconography - Swastika
  • July 1933 - Nazis signed a Concordat with the Vatican
  • Nazis did not keep their word
    • Catholic schools were being shut down
    • Catholic youth groups were removed as the Hitler Youth movement took over
  • ‘Evangelical Reich Church
  • ‘Twenty-Five Points of the German Religion’ in 1934
Church still stands as a threat of opposition.

Fail to remove it as an institution.

Overall as institutions the churches survived, despite being passive and silent about the crimes committed by the regime.

  • Mainly from the working class
  • Nazis did not trust the workers
  • Compliance of German workers was essential for the achievement of the Nazis program
  • 2 May 1933 German trade union offices were broken into by SA gangs
    • Union leaders were marched off to concentration camps
  • Workers had job security and were made to feel a part of a special community (Volksgemeinschaft)
    • However, they were no longer able to strike, wages remained low
While they did the work, the workers never liked the work or trusted the Nazis.
  • The development of young people played a key part in Nazi thinking
  • Filling the minds of the young with love for the Fuhrer
  • Racially pure
  • Develop fit and well-trained soldiers
  • First Hitler Youth group → 1922 (collapsed when Hitler was sent to prison)
  • Girls were expected to be as physically involved as the boys → capable of bearing many children
  • Young were not encouraged to think for themselves
  • Often interrupted normal schooling and were given priority
  • Boys → military or labour service
  • Girls → engage in domestic service and were encouraged to marry early
1.6 million youth had not signed up for the Hitler youth, therefore not gaining total support and participation

Opposition groups are from the youth groups

Hitler Youth was not the all-consuming success the Nazis would have liked it to be - both in terms of membership figures and attitude of the young who were members

  • Nazis tried to end the opportunities that were given to Women during the Weimar Republic
  • Hitler’s beliefs of women was a second-class status
  • He believed that a woman's world was a smaller one, restricted to her husband, children and home
  • Nazis thought women as inferior to men and to be controlled by them.
  • Encouraged women to have as many children as they could for the Reich
  • Kinder, Kirche and Kuche (children, church and children)
  • 1933 - the Law for the Encouragement of Marriage - made clear what was expected of women
  • ‘Lebensborn’
  • ‘Racially undesirable’ women were sterilised → 1934 almost 28 000 women were sterilised
  • Gradually, women were barred from being doctors, lawyers, judges and were denied any real political role at all.
As they got closer to war, 90% of women were in the workforce (didn’t want them to be, their idea of women not working failed).

Changes were short lived.

Employment rates for women remained high.

Birth rates didn’t change.

  • Physically and mentally handicapped were seen as a possibility to affect the Ryan bloodstock
  • Laws were implemented to eliminate such people totally (euthanasia)
  • Gypsies were attacked (untermenschen)
  • Jehovah's witnesses keenly persecuted
  • Mischlinge - having only one Jewish grandparent or having two who were not practicing Jews
  • Homosexuals were seen as a threat to Nazi masculinity and contrary to the Nazi ideal.

Opposition to the Nazi Regime

  • GENERAL LUDWIG BECK: Chief of the army general staff; organised other nationalists in the army to form a resistance group; during the war, would be a central figure of the July Plot of 1944.
  • DIETRICH BONHOEFFER: a pastor and theologian, spy, anti-Nazi dissident and key founding member of the Confessing Church. Was executed in 1945.
  • GEORG ELSER: a carpenter who tried to assassinate Hitler, Goring and Goebbels in Nov 1939 in a Munich Beer Hall so as to avoid the impending war. Executed by the Gestapo in 1945.
  • CLEMENS AUGUST GRAF VON GALEN: Catholic Bishop and Cardinal, risked his life to oppose the Nazi’s euthanasia policy. His sermon resulted in the public cancellation of the policy.
  • CARL GOERDELER: a liberal conservative monarchist; mayor of Leipzig; one of the main instigators of conservative opposition to Hitler. Worked with Beck to organise July Plot 1944.
  • LUDWIG MULLER: Nazi sympathiser and leader of the German Christians. In 1933 was given the title of Reich Bishop.
  • MARTIN NIEMOLLER: German nationalist and prominent Protestant pastor. Founded the Confessing Church and encouraged the precedence of Christian values over Nazi policy.
  • JOSEF ROMER: Left-leaning political activist; imprisoned from 1934-39. On release he gathered opponents and actively resisted the Nazis. He encouraged the sabotage of the war by the workers.
  • ABWEHR: the military intelligence and information section of the German Army.
  • BLASEN: anti-authority working class groups of German youth that were involved in minor criminal activities and confrontations with the Hitler Youth.
  • EDELWEISS PIRATES: A collection of smaller gangs who rejected the militarism of the Hitler Youth and would engage in confrontations with them.
  • GERMAN COMMUNIST PARTY (KPD): Founded by socialists opposed to the war, dissolved in 1933.
  • GESTAPO: Nazi secret police established by Hermann Goring in 1933.
  • HITLER YOUTH: a youth movement for young boys aged 14 and up; used by the Nazis to influence young people.
  • MEUTEN: Youth gangs from working class backgrounds; left-leaning; often attacked members of the Hitler Youth.
  • ROTE KAPELLE: a Communist spy ring that provided information to contacts in the Soviet Union. Smashed by the Gestapo in 1943.
  • SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY (SPD): a moderate political party formed in 1875; banned by the Nazis in 1933.
  • SWING MOVEMENT: Groups of upper-class youth who embraced cultural influences from Britain and America, most notably Jazz music.


  • The effectiveness of the Nazi’s terror campaign drove left-wing groups like the German Communist Party and the German Socialist Party either to flee the country or form underground networks.
    • Both groups tried to politicise Germany’s workers but repression under the Gestapo undermined the effectiveness of any opposition.
  • Youth groups such as the Edelweiss Pirates, the Blasen, the Meuten and the Swing Movement engaged in localised violence and general social deviance, which proved to be more of an annoyance than a threat to the regime.
  • Both the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church spoke out against Nazi policies that affected them or their core teachings directly but were silent in the face of the regime’s anti-Semitic actions.
  • The High Command of the German Army had the potential to overthrow Hitler.
    • However, they did not attempt to do this until the war had begun → after the war began to turn against Germany.
  • Many brave individuals stood up and opposed the Nazi regime, often losing their lives for their efforts, e.g. Josef Romer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Georg Elser.

The Search for Peace and Security in the Modern World

The ambitions of Germany in Europe and Japan in the Asia-Pacific

Germany in Europe

  • Aims:
    • Revisionism
      • Revising the Treaty of Versailles with focus on nationalism and militarism.
    • Lebensraum
      • Living space in the East
      • Enslave the Slavs
    • Reuniting Germanic speaking people.
      • Grossdeustchland
  • Actions:
    • Attempts to prevent attack from Britain, Russia etc. by making peace treaties that he doesn’t have the intention of keeping.
    • Leads to the miscalculation that Hitler was non-aggressive – policies of appeasement.
    • The actions Hitler took seemed to deviate from his core ideology, however they were merely a means to an end of achieving his aims.
  • Hitler’s ambitions were to restore German military strength, unite all Germans, achieve self-sufficiency, revise the Treaty of Versailles, unite all German speaking people (Grossdeustchland) and achieve Lebensraum.
  • Policy of appeasement: Hitler withdrew from League of Nations
    • Rearm Germany. Occupied the Rhineland, and claim Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia(to ‘free’ 3 million oppressed Germans, and use Skoda Works)
  • 23 August 1939: Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
    • Gave Germany permission to invade Poland to avoid repeat of two-front war
    • This invasion marked the beginning of WWII.

Japan in the Asia-Pacific

  • Japan fought in WWI alongside the Allies, was rewarded with a mandate of Pacific colonies - however was not considered equal to the Big Four
  • The Washington and London Naval Treaties further exacerbated resentment as it created political opposition within Japan
  • Growing belief that Japanese domination in South-East Asia was essential to self-sufficiency and security
  • September 1931: Invasion of Manchuria (China) established the puppet state of Manchukuo
    • 1937 Marco Polo Bridge incident
  • Expansion into French Indochina was met with embargoes from the US
  • In response, Japan attacked the US naval base in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii and further expanded into South-East Asia.

The intentions and authority of the League of Nations and the United Nations

League of Nations

  • Relied on the concept of collective security
  • Introduced by US President Woodrow Wilson, and stated in the TOV
  • There was still tension between countries, overpowering nationalism rather than militarism and no military force
  • US Senate rejected American membership in the League to preserve their isolationist policy
  • League failed to intervene and prevent 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria, 1935 Italian Invasion of Abyssinia and 1936 Spanish Civil War
  • Ultimately lacked authority and failed in its objectives.

United Nations

  • Moscow Declaration: concept that developed throughout the war for the Allies to establish a new international organisation of peace and security
  • Came into existence 24 October 1945, and is ultimately controlled by Britain, France, Russia, US and China.
  • Faced problems with tensions between East and West during the Cold War.
  • First 3 years, Soviet Union used its veto power 30 times.
  • Brought Arab-Israeli War to an end.
Pranav Sharma
Pranav Sharma
Site Owner

UNSW Student, site owner and developer.