Modern World History - Schools History Project - Teachers Resources - Films


Site Search

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


Why were so many attracted to Hitler's politics?

It must not be forgotten that there was already a long history of Anti-Semitism in Germany. It was not created by the Nazis. Yet, the 2000 year old roots of Anti-Semitism found a variant strain in Germany that was based on racial as well as social resentment. By 1900 there were many specifically anti-Jewish political parties with seats in the Reichstag. They were not large in number but their ideas were almost always heard.

It is no co-incidence that the rise in German antipathy and aversion to the Jews occurred at a time of great national reconstruction and emergence after unification. In reality, we should not be surprised at all. The end of the war, 1918, saw the Jew become an easy target for the radical-right seeking an explanation of how Germany had lost the war. The Jewish community was identifiable because of its different traditions and became the target of envy for it was seen as privileged.


In 1933, the Jews comprised of less than 1% of the national population. But they composed of 16%+ of all lawyers, 10% of doctors and 5% of writers and editors. It was not unusual for the Jew to attract such disproportionate notice in Germany - even so, these figures are unusually high.

Eugenics and Biology

The late 19th Century saw an intellectual shift and attraction towards eugenics and biological classification of race. This debate was already 100 years old when Hitler adapted it into Mein Kampf.

Essentially it centred upon the theory that nations were like animals and only through struggle and fighting could they hope to survive. This 'Survival of the Fittest' had been expanded upon by the philosopher Fredrich Nizeche. He called it, 'The Theory of the Superman'. In this way, Nazism and Nazi theory was being delivered in an intellectual manner. It was seen as acceptable and respectable. As such, Nazi ideology and theory was able to permeate into the larger and broader sections of respectable German society that would have ordinarily have occurred. "....Ominously, it was particularly strongly entrenched within the academic community, thereby influencing the next generation...." (Noakes, 1983)

Anti-Semitism: Natural or Created?

In such an environment it was natural that anti-Semitism would germinate (and even take root). It was all the more effective due to the size of Hitler's personal hatred and contempt for the Jews. Without his own personal involvement, charismatic commitment and oratory skill it is questionable whether anti-Semitism would have been so central and the results would have been so dynamic and shocking as they were in 1945. That he was able to create the monster that was the Nazi state must be bound upon in the unique circumstances of 1930s Germany:

* Stab in the back
* Loss of the War
* Humiliation at Versailles
* Reparations
* Political Weakness of Weimar
* Social and economic crisis and extremism: 1919-23 and 1929-33
* Massive unemployment: 1929-33

In this atmosphere it is not unexpected to find a public lurch towards the radical answers of the right and the answers that Hitler will have had. All the more, Hitler was able to exploit latent hostility towards the Jews and turn it into a radical doctrine (set of guidelines) of hatred.

Hitler - His Appointment

The appointment of Hitler as chancellor -an open anti-Semite, rabble-rouser and vigilante (Munich Putsch, 1923) - is problematic. He gained 37% of the vote in 1933. Even more, a survey of complaints about the new regime in 193 found that over 60% did not mention anti-Semitism.

So, how did Hitler's policy develop from a simple rabble-rousing, angry message into the doctrine of a nation and an image of a people?


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






Contact - Medicine Through Time - Crime and Punishment Through Time - Schools History