World War II and its impacts on Germany - History Essay Example

Since 1933, Nazis had been preparing for war; when it came it wasn’t greeted enthusiastically.

Many remembered the horrors of WWI.

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First year went very well for AH.

German army swept through Eastern and Western Europe, meeting very little resistance.

First conquests quickly brought extra food and riches back to Germany.

From 1942, everything went very badly.

Nazi state began to fall apart.

WWII disrupted policies on women and the economy.

Sharpened the opposition, especially from the church; even Army leaders plotted to assassinate AH.

War slowly drained German resources, leading to shortages, illness and civilian deaths on a scale never seen before.

What was Life Like on the Home Front?

1939-41: The war goes well for Germany

September 1939 ï  Germans prepared for the first winter at war.

Rationing was introduced for food and other objects (e.g. soap)

Hot water only permitted on two days per week.

More items rationed than in Britain.

As a result of rationing, 40% Germans ate better than before the war.

The diet became increasingly monotonous:

Vegetables and black rye bread, small amounts of meat, butter and one egg a week. Adults received no milk ration; children a generous one.

Bread was sold a day old – then it took more chewing and people ate less.

November 1939 ï  clothes rationing introduced.

Some items like new shoes and winter coats were almost impossible to buy.

Alternatives to soap (liquid from stewed pine needles) and washing powder (stewed and strained ivy leaves).

Tobacco was difficult to find.

People so desperate that they would trade goods for cigarettes (e.g. farmer exchanges an egg for a cigarette).

Became a sort of substitute for money.

First year went well for Germany. As they conquered other countries, food as well as luxury goods (e.g. dresses, stockings, furs, perfumes) were imported from those countries, which could be bought on the black market if people had money. Most of the goods went to loyal or high rank Nazis.

1941-43: The tide turns against Germany

June 1941 ï  AH ordered the invasion of USSR, hoping for the same victory he had had with other countries.

Got the opposite, His army was bogged down in a four-year war.

End of 1942 ï  Germany’s was going badly.

Hospital trains brought thousands of wounded Germans home from USSR.

People got more used to seeing wounded soldiers and women in mourning.

Propaganda

Campaigns were launched to keep up morale and to encourage people to support the war effort.

Goebbels claimed that between December 1941 and January 1942 Germans gave 1.5 million furs and 67 million woolen garments to help clothe German soldiers in USSR.

Others urged people to save fuel, work harder and even to try to avoid tooth decay.

Extra food rations were given out at Christmas (1942) to keep up morale.

1943-44: Total war

By 1943 ï  clear the war wasn’t going Germany’s way.

Government began preparations for total war with every part of the society geared to the war effort (e.g. producing arms, growing food, caring for sick, fighting).

Anything that didn’t contribute was eliminated.

March 1943 ï  professional sport ended.

Magazines not to do with the war were closed down.

Non-essential businesses were closed.

Hair-dyeing and perming was banned in some places.

August 1943 ï  clothes rationing suspended; manufacture of civilian clothes ended.

Exchange centres set up instead – swapped clothes and furniture with people.

Cutbacks did not include propaganda – June 1943 Goebbels commissioned the film Kolberg costing 8.5 million marks, and included 187,000 soldiers, 6000 soldiers and 10,000 uniforms were made.

Labour shortages

Most men in German army ï  severe shortage of workers.

More women drafted into labour force.

Jews and political prisoners were worked to their deaths to supply the demands of the German war effort. Millions of foreign workers were forced to work on farms or in factories.

May 1944 ï  7 million people. French, Belgian and Dutch had some freedom. Polish and Russian were treated like slaves.

Germany had to be careful how to treat them ï  acts of kindness were punished.

Air raids

August 1940 ï  First air raid on Berlin.

1942 ï  raids more frequent and intense.

Number of doctors was decreasing (15/10,000 in 1930s ï  1/10,000 in 1941). Most had gone to help the army. Others were Jews or women.

As air raids worsened, many people were evacuated to villages or rural towns.

1944-45: Failure and defeat

July 1944 ï  Allied armies were pushing Germany back in the west and the east.

Refugees were pouring in from areas being reconquered by the enemy.

Goebbels prepared to mobilise Germany in a final effort to win the war. He ordered:

All non-German servants and all workers ï  armaments factory.

Letter boxes closed ï  to save fuel, railway and postal services.

Places of entertainment closed (except cinemas).

Age limit for compulsory labour for women raised to 50.

Volkssturm (Home Guard) formed.

Early 1945 ï  most extreme air raids began.

Dresden ï  150,000 people killed and 70% of properties destroyed in 2 nights.

Even rural towns, like Northeim, were bombed.

By end of war, almost as many German civilians had been killed as German soldiers in combat.

Nazi administration ï  couldn’t cope with scale of destruction.

Early 1945 ï  government’s plans in chaos.

Ration cards stopped ï  people relied on black market or scavenging for food.

Northeim: April 1945

When Allied and Russian troops took over towns, they met little resistance ï  drained by the war.

As tanks approached Northeim, Mayor Girmann ordered his SA militia to defend the town to the death, but went to the hills to get drunk.

SA ignored him and handed town over without a fight.

Carl Querfurt ï  brought in to head a mew emergency council for the town. He was former leader of the socialists.

Nazi flags were burnt, Nazi books were removed from the library.

Inhabitants were relieved and tried to prove they opposed Nazism the whole time.

Berlin: May 1945

Hitler, Goebbels and other Nazi leaders committed suicide.

War and Nazi Regime was over, with an appalling loss to human life and years of millions suffering.

How did the War Affect Women?

The war further complicated Nazi policies on women ï  contradiction.

As war intensified, there was more demand for women workers.

As causalities mounted, there was a greater pressure to increase birth rate.

Women were expected to work for the war effort.

Some served drinks at railway stations for evacuees.

Others did Red Cross work.

Women were also expected to have more children and conform to Nazi ideal appearance.

Rationing, bombing and absent fathers made life very difficult for mothers.

As pressure increased, so did smoking and nervous fatigue.

Many women didn’t want to have children during the war when there were already so many pressures. The risk to their children would be so great.

Nazis urged women to have children whether they were married or not.

1943 ï  Nazis tried to mobilise all women (exc. those with young children).

Three million women (17-45) were called to work, but only one million got jobs.

Many tried to avoid this call up by saying they were ill or getting pregnant deliberately.

High male casualties = Nazi leaders coming up with ideas to compensate the loss.

Assumed after war, 75% of women wouldn’t be able to marry.

AH decided that healthy men could have two wives after the war.

Did the War Increase Opposition to the Nazis?

AH was worried about the demoralising effect the war might have.

War going badly = opposition in Germany increasing

The young people:

The soldiers

Nazi Youth policy was aimed at preparing young Germans for war.

When war came Nazis had a strong army but the rest of their policy was badly harmed.

Best leaders of Hitler Youth went into army, leaving the organisation to teenagers.

Hitler Youth concentrated on military affairs.

Members got fed up of being told what to do by teenagers.

Hitler Youth became less and less attractive and many young people turned away from it. These people formed gangs (e.g. ‘Swing Youth’).

‘Swing Youth’

Middle class youths interested in singing and dancing to jazz music.

During war ï  ‘swing clubs’ popped up in most cities – members met in cafés and nightclubs.

Common greeting was ‘Heil Benny’ (band leader: Benny Goodman).

Nazis were outraged and tried to stop their behavior.

Some of the members were harshly punished.

‘Swing Youth became more popular as young people turned away from ‘Nazi Youth’

‘Edelweiss Pirates’

Edelweiss = flower of opposition adopted by many groups.

Working class youths who would go on hikes, camps and would sing.

Some of ‘Edelweiss Pirates’ got involved in direct opposition of Nazis (e.g. Cologne).

In Cologne, head of the Gestapo was murdered. Culprits were arrested and executed.

‘Edelweiss Pirates’ also became more popular as youths turned away from Nazism.

The ‘White Rose’ Group

Led by Munich students.

In war, distributed leaflets attacking the Nazi’s slaughter of the Jews and Poles. Urged Germans not to help the war effort.

1943 ï  most leaders were captured and executed.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Believed Christianity could not accept Nazi views; and that Christians had a duty to resist AH and help victims of Nazi persecution.

Early Opposition

1930s ï  consistently preached his views against Nazism.

1935 ï  campaigned against Nuremberg Laws.

Failed to get Confessional Church to oppose them (Anti-Nazi already).

1937 ï  Gestapo closed his training college and banned him from preaching.

He joins the Anwehr

Joined underground resistance with some family and secretly gathered evidence of Nazi crimes.

1939 ï  involved in Abwehr, German army counter-intelligence service, within which there was a secret group working to overthrow AH.

Help dvise the plan code – ‘Operation 7’. Aim ï  to help Jews escape the country.

Gradually he became more involved in the assassination plot.

Contacted GB government ï  asked for a negotiated peace if they overthrew AH.

GB wanted unconditional surrender ï  REFUSED.

He is arrested

Continued his resistance, until he was arrested in October 1942, after another member is interrogated and reveals names of others of the Abwehr.

Placed in solitary confinement.

Guards were forbidden to talk to him.

Concentration camp

AH became alarmed by plots to kill him.

1944 ï  transferred to concentration camp.

Even in camp he preached the word of God and resistance of Nazism.

8 April 1945 ï  put on trial in Flossenburg concentration camp; sentence was death by hanging, which was carried out the next day at dawn.

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