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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

Mein Kampf

1924 - 1929: A Golden era?

Gustav Stresemann

German Foreign Policy 1919 to 1933

Germany in the Depression

The Rise of the Nazi party

- Why did people vote for Hitler?

From Chancellor to Fuhrer

The failures of Weimar

Creating a totalitarian state

Nazi methods of control

- Organisation of the Nazi Party

- Obedience to the Fuhrer

Opposition to the Nazi's


- Nazi Ideology

The Economy under the Nazi's

- Schacht

- The 2nd 4 Year Plan

- Evaluation of the 4 Year Plan

- How successful was the policy of Autarky?

- German Labour Front

- Dr Robert Ley

Nazi Foreign Policy

- Did Hitler plan to have a Second World War?

Education in Nazi Germany

Women in Nazi Germany

The Holocaust

- The Jewish Problem in 1933

- Kristallnacht

- Anti-Jewish Legislation

- Policy 1933 - 1937

- Origins of Anti-Semitism


Did Hitler Plan the Second World War?

Linked within the debate on how consistent and clear Hitler’s aim to establish a vast empire based on racial purity is to judge whether Hitler intended (and planned) to fight another war (in order to achieve his aims).

Classic Interpretation

* Stereotype of Hitler the warmonger
* Character plotting to take over Eastern Europe and over-run Western Europe
* Opposed and thwarted by a succession of European democracies who acceded to a number of his demands for the sake of peace (appeasement).
* Accepted by many to be the official theory because “…it fits the facts…” (M.Gilbert, 1973).
* A war of this size ‘had’ to be planned – it was not possible for an event of this size to be accidental.
* Accepted teaching and theory that is still being felt today.

Revisionism (1960s onwards)

AJP Taylor dismissed the theory that Hitler was a ‘system-maker’ by arguing that it was counter productive for Hitler to want to destroy present civilization and be the master of very little that remained.
* Taylor suggests that Hitler’s foreign policy (FP) was the legacy of predecessors – they wanted to return Germany to the table of great nations.
* Predictably Taylor was criticized for his academic theory.
* Regarded as an exercise in using the same information to come up with a radically different theory.
o Taylor’s thesis, if nothing else, forced historians to consider alternative ideas and to check their ideas before considering them to be ultimate, concrete and finite.


Radical Critics

German historians from the ‘Programme School’ have been Taylor’s fiercest critics.
* The Programme thesis relies heavily on a close reading of Mein Kampf and Zweites Buch.
* They suggest (and argue) that Hitler’s FP was remarkably consistent from its initial planning (1920s, Mein Kampf and Zweites Buch) right up to its implementation in 1939.
* They point out that Hitler’s advantage was his flexible approach – sometimes described as vague as well as adaptable.
* Hugh Trevor Roper (1953) pointed out that Mein Kampf was the blueprint for Nazism although it did not contain a timetable of events nor did it declare the order they should be achieved.
* Alan Milward has argued that there was no other intention for Hitler when you consider and analyse his pre-war economic strategy.
* Hitler himself declared in Meim Kampf his distress and hatred of programmes – describing them as simple exercises in gathering power.

Hitler Himself

* Roper and Taylor come to the same conclusion that Hitler was a power-hungry opportunist who managed to exploit the conditions of the day.
* These theories discount Hitler’s will-power, determination and single-minded approach to achieving Germany’s destiny.
* The Programme school point out that there is very little value in accepting what Hitler said (almost on any occasion) to be a precise indication of his immediate intentions.


* Documentary proof and analysis is scant.
* Many wartime documents are either inaccessibly stored in vaults or have been destroyed.
* What is revealed from high-ranking Nazi diaries and evidence that is left is the consistency of movement eastward in Hitler’s FP planning.
* Moving eastward satisfied national socialists and fulfilled the aims of Nazi FP.

Summary Remarks

* Hitler was not the fantasist, crazy fanatic and pragmatist we have all come to learn and accept – he was everything, at all times, in different measures, for different moments.
* Whether for long-term or short-term goals Hitler had a vision if no written plan.
* He was not consistent in his approach but consistent in his aims.
* Central to his concerns was the purification of Germany and Germans, conquering living space in the east.
* Hitler had no blueprint and no timetable of events.

He combined consistency of aim with complete opportunism in method and tactics.


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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