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Describe the problems faced by the Weimar Republic.
The problems faced by the Weimar Republic were present from its very inception. The Versailles Peace Treaty at the end of the First World War dispossessed Germany of its territories, its resources and its pride as a nation. In spite of the harsh terms, the Weimar Republic accepted the humiliating treaty, thereby making it unpopular amongst the German masses.
The German state was financially crippled due to overwhelming war debts which had to be paid in gold. The French occupied Germany’s chief industrial area—the Ruhr—to exact debts when the Weimar government refused to pay. The uninhibited printing of paper money caused the value of the German mark to fall considerably, thereby causing hyperinflation. When the Great Economic Depression occurred, the German economy was the worst hit because USA—which had been bailing it out of debts—discontinued its monetary support.
Democracy was a new idea in Europe, and the Weimar Republic came about to be one with huge problems during its infancy. The Weimar Republic was weak due to inherent constitutional irregularities such as proportional representation and Article 48 (which gave the President the power to impose emergency and rule by decree). The democratic parliamentary system seemed to give the people no solutions or benefits in the times of the severe economic crisis. Thus, beset with political and economic problems, the German people lost confidence in the Weimar Republic.
Discuss why Nazism became popular in Germany by 1930.
Nazism became popular in Germany by 1930 on account of various reasons. The most apparent being the Great Depression. The Weimar Republic did little to remedy the country’s economic downfall, and Hitler was presented as a saviour to the humiliated German people living in economic and political crises. Nazi propaganda stirred hopes in times when banks were shut down, unemployment reigned and destitution was a common sight. At such a time, Hitler promised jobs, restoration of national dignity and a better future. Consequently, by 1932, the Nazi Party became the largest party with 37% votes in the Reichstag.
What are the peculiar features of Nazi thinking?
The peculiar features of Nazi thinking are a belief in racial hierarchy and Lebensraum or living space. Hitler and his followers believed that Nordic German Aryans were at the top, while the jews formed the lowest rung of the racial ladder. They believed that only the strongest race would survive and rule, and for them, this race was that of the Aryans.
Regarding living space, the Nazis were of the idea that new lands must be gained for settlement, and for enhancing the material resources and power of Germany. Nazi views were largely a mouthpiece of Hitler’s own ideology.
Explain why Nazi propaganda was effective in creating a hatred for jews.
Nazi propaganda was effective in creating hatred for the jews because of two main reasons. Firstly, the Jews were stereotyped as killers of Christ. They had been barred since medieval times from ownership of land. Secondly, they were hated as usurers or money-lenders. Violence against jews, even inside their residential ghettos, was common. Hitler’s pseudo-scientific race theories made this hatred complete. His “solution” was the total elimination of all jews.
Explain what role women had in Nazi society. Return to Chapter 1 on the French Revolution. Write a paragraph comparing and contrasting the role of women in the two periods.
Role of women in Nazi society followed the rules of a largely patriarchal or male-dominated society. Hitler hailed women as “the most important citizen” in his Germany, but this was true for only Aryan women who bred pure-blood, “desirable” Aryans. Motherhood was the only goal they were taught to reach for, apart from performing the stereotypical functions of managing the household and being good wives. This was in stark contrast to the role of women in the French Revolution where women led movements and fought for rights to education and equal wages. They were allowed to form political clubs, and schooling was made compulsory for them after the French Revolution.
In what ways did the Nazi state seek to establish total control over its people?
The Nazi state sought to establish total control over its people by dubious methods of propaganda. Mass killings were termed special treatment, final solution; evacuation to disinfection areas was in reality deportation of jews to the gas chambers. The regime used language and media with careful double-meaning expertise, employing the latter for national support and international popularity. Nazi ideology was spread using images, films, radio, posters, and slogans and pamphlets. Enemies of the state were typically presented as weak and degenerate (socialists and liberals), rodents and pests (the Jews). Also, by presenting themselves as liberators and problem-solvers, the Nazis sought to win public support.