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1.the Nazi dictatorship under Hitler (1933-1945)
Nazi Germany (n.)
Nazi Germany and the Third Reich are the common English names for Germany under the government of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Worker's Party (NSDAP), from 1933 to 1945. Third Reich (Drittes Reich) denotes the Nazi State as the historical successor to the mediæval Holy Roman Empire (962–1806) and to the modern German Empire (1871–1918). Nazi Germany had two official names, the Deutsches Reich (German Reich), from 1933 to 1943, when it became Großdeutsches Reich (Greater German Reich).
On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. Although he initially headed a coalition government, he quickly eliminated his government partners. At this time Germany's borders were still determined by the Treaty of Versailles, the peace treaty between Germany and the allied powers of the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Italy, and Japan at the end of the First World War. To the north, Germany was bounded by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea; to the east, it was divided into two and bordered Lithuania, the Free City of Danzig, Poland and Czechoslovakia; to the south, it bordered Austria and Switzerland and to the west, it touched France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Rhineland and Saarland. These borders changed after Germany regained control of the Rhineland, Saarland and the Memelland and annexed Austria, the Sudetenland and Bohemia and Moravia. Germany expanded into Greater Germany during the Second World War, which began in 1939 after Germany invaded Poland, triggering the United Kingdom and France to declare war on Germany.
Germany conquered and occupied most of Europe and Northern Africa during the Second World War. Millions of Jews and other minorities were persecuted and murdered, particularly during the Second World War, amidst the Holocaust. Despite an alliance with other nations, mainly Italy and Japan, that together formed the Axis powers, Germany had by 1945 been defeated and subsequently was occupied by the victorious Allied powers, the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, and France.
The Third Reich arose in the wake of the national shame, embarrassment, anger and resentment which resulted from the Treaty of Versailles. Versailles, a harsh treaty essentially dictated to the vanquished Germans after a brutal war, provided for:
Other conditions fostering the rise of the Third Reich include nationalism and Pan-Germanism, civil unrest attributed to Marxist groups, the worldwide economic depression of the 1930s (spurred by the Wall Street Crash of 1929), the reaction against the counter-traditionalism and liberalism of the Weimar period, and the rise of communism in Germany, as reflected by the growth of the KPD, the Communist Party of Germany. Many voters, seeking an outlet for their frustrations and an expression for their repudiation of parliamentary democracy which seemed incapable of keeping a government in power for more than a few months, began turning their support towards the far right and far left of the political spectrum, opting for extremist political parties such as the Nazi Party. The Nazis offered promises of strong authoritarian government in lieu of effete parliamentary republicanism, civil peace, radical changes to economic policy (including elimination of unemployment), restored national pride (principally through the repudiation of Versailles) and racial cleansing, implemented in part by active suppression of Jews and Marxists, all under the banner of national unity and solidarity in lieu of the partisan divisiveness of democracy and the class divisiveness of Marxism. The Nazis (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP, National Socialist German Workers' Party) promised national and cultural renewal based on volkisch traditionalism, and it proposed military rearmament, repudiation of reparations and reclamation of forfeited territory in opposition to the Treaty of Versailles; the party claimed that through Versailles and the liberal democracy of the Weimar Republic, Germany's national pride had, by the inspiration and conniving of the Jews, been deviously surrendered by the wicked and traitorous "November criminals," whose goal was to subvert and poison the German blood.. The Nazis also endorsed the Dolchstoßlegende ("Stab in the back legend") which figured prominently in their propaganda as it did in propaganda of most other nationalist-leaning parties in Germany.
From 1925 to the 1930s, the German government evolved from a democracy to a de facto conservative-nationalist authoritarian state under President and war hero Paul von Hindenburg, who opposed the liberal democratic nature of the Weimar Republic and wanted to find a way to make Germany into an authoritarian state. The natural ally of the foundation of an authoritarian state had been the German National People's Party (the Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP or "the Nationalists"), but increasingly, after 1929, more radical and younger-generation nationalists were attracted to the revolutionary nature of the National Socialist party, to challenge the rising support for communism as the German economy floundered. In addition, the middle class parties lost support as the German electorate polarized around the left and right wings, thus making majority government in a parliamentary system even more difficult.
In the German federal election, 1928, when economic conditions had improved following the end of the hyperinflation of 1922–23, the Nazis gained a meager 12 seats. In German federal election, 1930, months after the US stock market crash, they won an astonishing 107 seats, going from a splinter group that ranked ninth in the Reichstag to the second-largest parliamentary party. After the German federal election, July 1932, the Nazis were the largest party in the Reichstag, with 230 seats. Hindenburg was reluctant to give any substantial power to Hitler, but former chancellor Franz von Papen and Hitler worked out an alliance between the Nazis and the DNVP which would allow Hitler to assume the chancellorship subject to the control of the traditional conservatives and for Hindenburg to accordingly develop an authoritarian state. Hitler consistently demanded to be appointed chancellor in order for Hindenburg to receive any Nazi Party support of the cabinets appointed under his authority.
On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany by Hindenburg after attempts by General Kurt von Schleicher to form a viable government failed (the Machtergreifung). Von Schleicher was hoping he could control Hitler by becoming vice chancellor and also keeping the Nazis a minority in the cabinet. Hindenburg was put under pressure by Hitler through his son Oskar von Hindenburg, as well as intrigue from former Chancellor Franz von Papen, leader of the Catholic Centre Party, whose politics were dictated in part by his desire to combat communism. Even though the Nazis had gained the largest share of the popular vote in the two Reichstag general elections of 1932, they had no majority of their own, and just a slim majority in parliament with their Papen-proposed Nationalist DNVP-NSDAP coalition. This coalition ruled through accepted continuance of the Presidential decree, issued under Article 48 of the 1919 Weimar constitution.
The National Socialist treatment of the Jews in the early months of 1933 marked the first step in a longer-term process of removing them from German society. This plan was at the core of Adolf Hitler's "cultural revolution".
On the night of 27 February 1933, the Reichstag building was set on fire and Dutch council communist Marinus van der Lubbe was found inside the building. He was arrested and charged with starting the blaze. The event had an immediate effect on thousands of anarchists, socialists and communists throughout the Reich, many of whom were sent to the Dachau concentration camp. The unnerved public worried that the fire had been a signal meant to initiate the communist revolution, and the Nazis found the event to be of immeasurable value in getting rid of potential insurgents. The event was quickly followed by the Reichstag Fire Decree, rescinding habeas corpus and other civil liberties.
The Enabling Act was passed in March 1933, with 444 votes, to the 94 of the remaining Social Democrats. The act gave the government (and thus effectively the Nazi Party) legislative powers and also authorized it to deviate from the provisions of the constitution for four years. In effect, Hitler had seized dictatorial powers.
Over the next year, the National Socialist Party ruthlessly eliminated all opposition. The Communists had already been banned before the passage of the Enabling Act. The Social Democrats (SPD), despite efforts to appease Hitler, were banned in June. In June and July, the Nationalists (DNVP), People's Party (DVP) and State Party (DStP) were forced to disband. The remaining Catholic Centre Party, at Papen's urging, disbanded itself on 5 July 1933 after guarantees over Catholic education and youth groups. On 14 July 1933, Germany was officially declared a single-party state.
Symbols of the Weimar Republic, including the black-red-gold flag (now the present-day flag of Germany), were abolished by the new regime which adopted both new and old imperial symbolism to represent the dual nature of the imperialist-Nazi regime of 1933. The old imperial black-white-red tricolour, almost completely abandoned during the Weimar Republic, was restored as one of Germany's two officially legal national flags. The other official national flag was the swastika flag of the Nazi party. It became the sole national flag in 1935. The national anthem continued to be "Deutschland über Alles" (also known as the "Deutschlandlied") except that the Nazis customarily used just the first verse and appended to it the "Horst-Wessel-Lied" accompanied by the so-called Hitler salute.
Further consolidation of power was achieved on 30 January 1934 with the Gesetz über den Neuaufbau des Reichs (Act to rebuild the Reich). The act changed the highly decentralized federal Germany of the Weimar era into a centralized state. It disbanded state parliaments, transferring sovereign rights of the states to the Reich central government and put the state administrations under the control of the Reich administration. This process had actually begun soon after the passage of the Enabling Act, when all state governments were thrown out of office and replaced by Reich governors (German: Reichsstatthalter). Further laws ended any autonomy in local government. Mayors of cities and towns with less than 100,000 people were appointed by the governors, while the Interior Minister appointed the mayors of all cities with more than 100,000 people. In the case of Berlin and Hamburg (and after 1938, Vienna), Hitler reserved the right to personally appoint the mayors.
In the spring of 1934, only the army remained independent from Nazi control. The German Army had traditionally been separated from the government and somewhat of an entity of its own. The Nazi paramilitary SA expected top positions in the new power structure. The Reichswehr feared Röhm's ambition to absorb the army into the SA under his own leadership. Röhm also aimed to launch the socialist "second revolution" to complement the nationalist revolution which had occurred with the ascendance of Hitler. Röhm and leaders of the SA wanted the regime to follow through its promise of enacting socialist legislation for Aryan Germans.
At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense I tell you that the Nazi movement will go on for 1,000 years!… Don't forget how people laughed at me 15 years ago when I declared that one day I would govern Germany. They laugh now, just as foolishly, when I declare that I shall remain in power!—Adolf Hitler to a British correspondent in Berlin, June 1934 , 
Wanting to preserve good relations with the army, certain politicians and the major industries (who were weary of more political violence erupting from the SA), Hitler initiated the violent "Night of the Long Knives" on 30 June 1934. This was a purge of the leadership ranks of Röhm's SA as well as hard-left Nazis (Strasserists), and other political enemies, carried out by the SS and the Gestapo.
At Hindenburg's death on 2 August 1934, the Nazi-controlled Reichstag merged the offices of Reichspräsident and Reichskanzler and reinstalled Hitler with the new title Führer und Reichskanzler. Until the death of Hindenburg, the army did not follow Hitler, partly because the paramilitary SA was much larger than the German Army (limited to 100,000 by the Treaty of Versailles) and because the leaders of the SA sought to merge the army into itself and to launch the socialist "second revolution." The murder of Ernst Röhm and the leadership of the SA, assured the army of its position. Hitler further promised expansions of the German military which brought friendlier relations between him and the Reichswehr. The death of Hindenburg brought the requirement of all soldiers' to take an oath of allegiance to obey Hitler alone and not the Reich or constitution of Germany.
The Nazis thereafter proceeded to scrap their official alliance with the conservative nationalists and began to introduce Nazi ideology and Nazi symbolism into all major aspects of life in Germany. Schoolbooks were either rewritten or replaced and schoolteachers who did not support Nazification of the curriculum were fired.
The inception of the Gestapo, police acting outside of any civil authority, highlighted the Nazis' intention to use powerful, coercive means to directly control German society. An army, estimated to be of about 100,000, spies and informants operated throughout Germany, reporting to Nazi officials the activities of any critics or dissenters. Most ordinary Germans, happy with the improving economy and better standard of living, remained obedient and quiet, but many political opponents, especially communists and Marxist or international socialists, were reported by omnipresent eavesdropping spies and put in prison camps where many were tortured and killed. It is estimated that tens of thousands of political victims died or disappeared in the first few years of Nazi rule.
"Between 1933 and 1945 more than 3 million Germans had been in concentration camps or prison for political reasons" "Tens of thousands of Germans were killed for one or another form of resistance. Between 1933 and 1945, Special Courts killed 12,000 Germans, courts martial killed 25,000 German soldiers, and 'regular' justice killed 40,000 Germans. Many of these Germans were part of the government civil or military service, a circumstance which enabled them to engage in subversion and conspiracy while involved, marginally or significantly, in the government's policies."
The "Danzig crisis" peaked in early 1939, around the time that reports of controversy in the Free City of Danzig increased, the United Kingdom "guaranteed" to defend Poland's territorial integrity and the Poles rejected a series of offers by Nazi Germany regarding both the Free City of Danzig and the Polish Corridor. Then, the Germans broke off diplomatic relations. Hitler had learned that the Soviet Union was willing to sign a non-aggression pact with Germany and would support an attack on Poland. Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 and two days later, the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany. World War II was underway, but Poland fell quickly, especially after the Soviets attacked Poland on 17 September. The United Kingdom proceeded to bomb Wilhelmshaven, Cuxhaven, Heligoland and other areas. Still, aside from battles at sea, no other activity occurred. Thus, the war became known as "the Phony War".
The year 1940 began with little more than the UK dropping propaganda leaflets over Prague and Vienna but a German attack on the British High Seas fleet was followed by the British bombing the port city of Sylt. After the Altmark Incident off the coast of Norway and the discovery of the United Kingdom's plans to encircle Germany, Hitler sent troops into Denmark and Norway. This safeguarded iron ore supplies from Sweden through coastal waters. Shortly thereafter, the British and French landed in Mid- and North Norway, but the Germans de facto defeated these forces in the ensuing Norwegian campaign.
In May 1940, the Phony War ended. Against the will of his advisors, Hitler ordered an attack on France through the Low Countries. The Battle of France ended with an overwhelming German victory. However, with the British refusing Hitler's offer of peace, the war continued. Germany and Britain continued to fight at sea and in the air. However, on August 24, two off-course German bombers accidentally bombed London – against Hitler's orders, changing the course of the war. In response to the attack, the British bombed Berlin, which sent Hitler into a rage. The German leader ordered attacks on British cities, and the UK was bombed heavily during The Blitz. This change in targeting priority interfered with the Luftwaffe's objective of achieving the air superiority over Britain necessary for an invasion and allowed British air defenses to rebuild their strength and continue the fight.
Hitler hoped to break British morale and win peace. However, the British refused to back down; eventually, Hitler called off the Battle of Britain strategic bombing campaign in favor of the long-planned invasion of the Soviet Union: Operation Barbarossa. Germany and its allies invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. On the eve of the invasion, Hitler's former deputy, Rudolf Hess, attempted to negotiate terms of peace with the United Kingdom in an unofficial private meeting after crash-landing in Scotland. By contrast, Hitler had hoped that rapid success in the Soviet Union would bring Britain to the negotiating table.
Operation Barbarossa was supposed to begin earlier than it did; however, failed Italian ventures in North Africa and the Balkans concerned Hitler. In February 1941, the German Afrika Korps was sent to Libya to aid the Italians and hold the British Commonwealth forces from British-held Egypt. As the North African Campaign continued, in spite of orders to remain on the defensive, the Afrika Korps regained lost Italian territory, pushed the British back across the desert and advanced into Egypt. In April, the Germans launched the invasion of Yugoslavia to aid friendly forces and restore order in the midst of what was believed to be a British-supported coup. This was followed by the Battle of Greece, again to bail out the Italians, and the Battle of Crete. Because of the diversions in North Africa and the Balkans, the Germans were not able to launch Barbarossa until late in June. Moreover, men and material were diverted to create the "fortified Europe" that Hitler wanted before Germany focused its attention on the East.
Nevertheless, Barbarossa began with great success. Only Hitler worried that the German Army and its allies were not advancing into the Soviet Union fast enough. By December 1941, the Germans and their allies were at the gates of Moscow; to the north, troops had reached Leningrad and surrounded the city. Meanwhile, Germany and her allies controlled almost all of mainland Europe, with the exception of neutral Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Vatican City and Monaco.
On 11 December 1941, four days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Nazi Germany declared war on the United States. Not only was this a chance for Germany to strengthen its ties with Japan, but after months of anti-German hysteria in the American media and Lend-Lease aid to Britain, the leaking of Rainbow Five and the foreboding content of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor speech made it clear to Hitler that the US could not be kept neutral. Moreover, Germany's policy of appeasement towards the US, designed to keep the US out of the war, was a burden to Germany's war effort. Germany had refrained from attacking American convoys, even if they were bound for the United Kingdom or the Soviet Union. By contrast, after Germany declared war on the US, the German navy began unrestricted submarine warfare, using U-Boats to attack ships without warning.
The goal of Germany's navy, the Kriegsmarine, was to cut off Britain's supply line. Under these circumstances, one of the most famous naval battles in history took place, with the German battleship Bismarck, Germany's largest and most powerful warship, attempting to break out into the Atlantic and raid supply ships heading for Britain. Bismarck was sunk – but not before sending Britain's largest warship, the battlecruiser HMS Hood, to the depths of the ocean. German U-Boats were more successful than surface raiders like Bismarck. However, Germany failed to make submarine production a top priority early on and by the time it did, the British and their allies were developing the technology and strategies to neutralize it. Furthermore, in spite of the submarines' early success in 1941 and 1942, material shortages in Britain failed to fall to their World War I levels. The Allied victory in the Battle of the Atlantic was achieved at a huge cost: between 1939 and 1945, 3,500 Allied ships were sunk (gross tonnage 14.5 million) at a cost of 783 German U-Boats.
The persecution of minorities and "undesirables" continued both in Germany and the occupied countries. From 1941 onward, Jews were required to wear a yellow badge in public and most were transferred to ghettos, where they remained isolated from the rest of the population. In January 1942, at the Wannsee Conference and under the supervision of Reinhard Heydrich, who himself was commanded by Heinrich Himmler, a plan for the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" (Endlösung der Judenfrage) in Europe was designed. From then until the end of the war some six million Jews and many others, including homosexuals, Slavs, and political prisoners, were systematically killed. In addition, more than ten million people were put into forced labour. This genocide is called the Holocaust in English and the Shoah in Hebrew. Thousands were shipped daily to extermination camps and concentration camps.
Parallel to the Holocaust, the Nazis conducted a ruthless program of conquest and exploitation in the captured Soviet and Polish territories and their populations as part of their Generalplan Ost. According to estimates, 20 million Soviet civilians, three million non-Jewish Poles, and seven million Red Army soldiers died because of the Nazis. The Nazis' plan was to extend German Lebensraum ("living space") eastward, a foreseen consequence of the war in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, said by the Nazis to have been waged in order "to defend Western Civilization against the Bolshevism of subhumans". It is estimated that at least 51 million Slavic people were to be removed from Central and Eastern Europe in the event of a Nazi victory. Because of the many atrocities suffered under Stalin, many Ukrainians, Balts, and other nationalities fought on the side of the Germans. People in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union who fulfilled the basic racial classifications of the Aryan race or had no immediate Jewish ancestry avoided persecution and were allowed to enlist in the Waffen Schutzstaffel (Waffen-SS) divisions. The Nazi regime intended to eventually "Germanize" the racially-acceptable peoples of the occupied east.
In early 1942, the Soviet Red Army counterattacked and by the end of the winter, the Germans were no longer immediately outside Moscow. However, the Germans and their allies held a strong line and in the spring, they launched a new major offensive, driving towards the oil-rich Caucasus and the Volga River in Southern Russia. This set the stage for the showdown at Stalingrad, where Germany and its allies eventually suffered a major defeat. After winning a major tank battle at Kursk-Orel in July 1943, the Soviets began a long push west, and the Germans and their allies never regained the initiative.
In Africa, the Afrika Korps failed to break through the line at El Alamein. This affected – and was affected by – the events in Stalingrad. In November 1942, the Germans and the Italians had to retreat to Tunisia, where they engaged American and British forces that had landed in French North Africa. After initial victories, the German and Italian forces were overcome by man and material shortages. The Allies invaded Sicily and Italy next, but met fierce resistance, particularly at Anzio and Cassino, and the campaign continued from mid-1943 to nearly the end of the war.
By February 1944, with the success of Operation Bagration, the Soviet Red Army had crossed into Poland. As the Red Army neared East Prussia, German civilians began to flee from East Prussia, West Prussia and Silesia en masse, fearing persecution and atrocities by Soviet soldiers, which many were unable to escape. Then, in June 1944, the American and British forces opened up another front with the D-Day landings in France.
From 1942 onward, Western Allied bombing raids over Germany increased. There is a great deal of controversy over Allied tactics late in the war, resulting in the complete destruction of the cities of Cologne and Dresden, as well as others. More bombs were dropped on one day in each of these cities than the Germans dropped on Britain throughout the entire war, resulting in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and severe hardship and shortages for the survivors living amid the destroyed infrastructure.
Millions of German soldiers died over the course of World War II, with the current highest estimates being 5.5 million. The corpses of German soldiers became so commonplace that they stopped generating any emotion whatsoever and became an inextricable part of the European landscape, where they were often improperly buried or not buried at all.
By 1945, Soviet forces were approaching Berlin. American and British forces had taken most of western Germany and met their Soviet allies at Torgau on the Elbe on 26 April 1945 (Cohen). With Berlin under siege, Hitler and other key members of the Nazi regime were forced to live in the armoured underground Führerbunker while the upper terrain of Berlin was constantly shelled by the Red Army.
In the underground bunker Hitler grew increasingly isolated and detached from reality. Increasingly, he exhibited signs of mental illness. It was claimed that[by whom?], at a meeting with military commanders, Hitler began to consider committing suicide should Germany fail to win the war. Berlin was eventually surrounded and outward communications between Berlin and the rest of Germany were cut off. Despite the loss of many territories, Hitler did not relinquish his power or surrender.
With no communications coming from Berlin, Hermann Göring sent an ultimatum there that he would take over the Nazi regime in April if his ultimatum was not answered, which he would take as meaning that Hitler was incapacitated. Upon receiving the message, Hitler angrily ordered Göring's immediate arrest, and had a plane deliver the message to Göring in Bavaria. Later, in northern Germany, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler began communicating with the western Allies about negotiating a peace. Hitler once again reacted violently ordering Himmler's arrest and execution.
As Hitler showed no intention of surrendering, intense street fighting continued in the war-torn ruins of Berlin between remnant German army forces, Hitler Youth, and the Waffen-SS against the Red Army. This battle was known as the Battle of Berlin. The German forces by this time were severely depleted, large numbers of German children and the elderly were forced into action by the Nazis against the Red Army in the remaining pockets of territory not controlled by the Red Army in Berlin.
On 30 April 1945, as the Battle for Berlin raged and the city was being overrun by Soviet forces, Hitler committed suicide in his underground bunker. Two days later, on 2 May 1945, German General Helmuth Weidling unconditionally surrendered Berlin to the Soviet General Vasily Chuikov.
Hitler was succeeded by Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz as Reich's President and Dr. Joseph Goebbels as Reich Chancellor. No one was to replace Hitler as the Führer, a position Hitler abolished in his will. However, Goebbels committed suicide in the Fuhrerbunker a day after assuming office. The caretaker government Dönitz established near the Danish border unsuccessfully sought a separate peace with the Western Allies. On 4–8 May 1945 most of the remaining German armed forces throughout Europe surrendered unconditionally (German Instrument of Surrender, 1945). This was the end of World War II in Europe.
The war was the largest and most destructive in human history, with 60 million dead across the world, including between 9 and 11 million people who perished during the Holocaust. The Soviet Union lost around 27 million people during the war, about half of all World War II casualties. Towards the end of the war, Europe had more than 40 million refugees.
With the creation of the Allied Control Council on 5 July 1945, the four Allied powers "assume[d] supreme authority with respect to Germany" (Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany, U.S. Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series, No. 1520).
The Potsdam Conference in August 1945 created arrangements and an outline for a new government for the post-war Germany as well as war reparations and resettlement. All German annexations in Europe after 1937, such as the Sudetenland, were reversed, and in addition subject to a peace settlement Germany's eastern border was shifted westwards to the Oder-Neisse line, effectively reducing Germany in size by approximately 25% compared to its 1937 border. The territories east of the new border comprised East Prussia, Silesia, West Prussia, two-thirds of Pomerania and parts of Brandenburg. Much of these areas were agricultural, with the exception of Upper Silesia, which was the second-largest center of German heavy industry. Many smaller and large cities such as Stettin, Königsberg, Breslau, Elbing and Danzig were cleansed of their German populations and taken from Germany as well.
France took control of a large part of Germany's remaining coal deposits. Virtually all Germans in Central Europe outside of the new eastern borders of Germany and Austria were subsequently, over a period of several years, expelled, affecting about 17 million ethnic Germans. Most casualty estimates of this expulsion range between one to two million dead. The French, US and British occupation zones later became West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany), while the Soviet zone became the communist East Germany (the German Democratic Republic, excluding sections of Berlin).
The initial repressive occupation policy in Germany by the Western Allies was reversed after a few years when the Cold War made the Germans important as allies against communism. West Germany recovered economically by the 1960s, in what was called the economic miracle (German term Wirtschaftswunder), mainly due to the currency reform of 1948 which replaced the Reichsmark with the Deutsche Mark as legal tender, halting rampant inflation, but also to a minor degree helped by economic aid (in the form of loans) through the Marshall Plan which was extended to also include West Germany. West German recovery was upheld thanks to fiscal policy and intense labour, eventually leading to the influx of Gastarbeiter ("guest workers").
The Allied dismantling of West German industry was finally halted in 1951, and in 1952 West Germany joined the European Coal and Steel Community. In 1955 the military occupation of West Germany was ended. East Germany recovered at a slower pace under communism until 1990, due to reparations paid to the Soviet Union and the effects of the centrally planned economy. Germany regained full sovereignty in 1991.
After the war, surviving Nazi leaders were put on trial by an Allied tribunal at Nuremberg for crimes against humanity. A minority were sentenced to death and executed, but a number were jailed and then released by the mid-1950s due to poor health and old age, with the notable exception of Rudolf Hess, who died in Spandau Prison in 1987 while in permanent solitary confinement. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, some renewed efforts were made in West Germany to take those who were directly responsible for "crimes against humanity" to court (e.g., Auschwitz trials). However, many of the less prominent leaders continued to live well into the 1980s and 1990s.
The victorious Allies outlawed the Nazi Party, its subsidiary organizations, and most of its symbols and emblems (including the swastika in most manifestations) throughout Germany and Austria; this prohibition remains in force. The end of Nazi Germany also saw the rise in unpopularity of related aggressive manifestations of nationalism in Germany such as Pan-Germanism and the Völkisch movement which had previously been significant political ideas there, and in other parts of Europe, before the Second World War. Those that remain are largely fringe movements. In all non-fascist European countries there were legal purges to punish the members of the former Nazi and Fascist parties. Even there, however, some of the former leaders found ways to accommodate themselves under the new circumstances.
The numerous crimes committed by Nazi Germany fostered a revival of internationalism in the western and eastern blocs, resulting in the creation of the United Nations. One of the UN's first objectives was establishing a series of war crimes tribunals to try Nazi officials, called the Nuremberg Trials, in the Nazis' former political stronghold of Nuremberg, Bavaria. The first major and most well-known Nuremberg trial was officially called the Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal (IMT). This trial involved 24 key Nazi officials including Hermann Göring, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Rudolf Hess, Albert Speer, Karl Dönitz, Hans Frank and Julius Streicher. The trial found many of the accused to be guilty and 12 were sentenced to death by hanging. Many people that were hanged praised Hitler in their last seconds of life and a few officials evaded execution. Among them were Göring, who committed suicide by ingesting cyanide; Hess, (a formerly close confidant of Hitler's, sentenced to life in prison and stayed in Spandau prison until his death in 1987); Speer, (the state architect and later armaments minister who served 20 years despite his use of slave labour); Konstantin von Neurath, (a Third Reich cabinet minister who was in office before the advent of the Nazi regime); and another minister who also served in the pre-Nazi government, the economist Hjalmar Schacht.
Under the Nazi regime, administrative powers were significantly altered. The German constituent states were replaced in 1935 by local "gaus" (regional districts) led by Nazi officials who obeyed the central government's orders. This change consolidated Hitler's control over Germany and weakened the political weight of Prussia, which in the past dominated German political affairs. The central government and the gaus took over the states' powers, however Nazi officials still held leadership titles over the non-existent states, such as Hermann Göring, who was remained the Reichsstatthalter and Minister-President of Prussia until 1945, and Ludwig Siebert as Minister-President of Bavaria.
In addition to Weimar-era Germany proper, the Reich came to include, in the years leading up to the war, areas with ethnic German populations such as Austria, the Sudetenland, and the territory of Memel. Regions acquired after the outbreak of conflict include Eupen-et-Malmédy, Alsace-Lorraine, Danzig and territories of Poland. In addition, from 1939 to 1945, the Reich ruled Bohemia and Moravia as a protectorate, subjugated and annexed prior to the start of the world war. Although under German control and administration, the protectorate had its own currency.
Czech Silesia was incorporated into the province of Silesia during the same period. In 1942 Luxembourg was directly annexed into Germany. Central Poland and Polish Galicia were run by a protectorate government, called the General Government. Eventually, the Polish people were supposed to be "removed" and Poland itself populated with 5 million Germans. By late 1943, Germany not only seized Bolzano-Bozen (South Tyrol) and Istria, which had been part of Austria-Hungary before 1919, but also seized Trieste from its erstwhile ally Italy after it capitulated to the Allies.
Outside of what was directly annexed into Germany were the regional territories created in occupied lands. In many areas, occupied territories called Reichskommissariat were set up. In the occupied Soviet Union territories, these included the Reichskommissariat Ostland and Reichskommissariat Ukraine. In northern Europe, there was the Reichskommissariat Niederlande (Netherlands) and Reichskommissariat Norwegen (Norway) which were designed to foster German colonization. In 1944, a Reichskommissariat was founded in Belgium and northern France, previously known as the Military Administration of Belgium and North France, where travel restrictions were enforced in order to foster German colonization.
The Reich's borders had changed de facto well before its military defeat in May 1945, as parts of the German population fled westward from the advancing Red Army and the Western Allies pressed eastward from France. By the end of the war, a small strip of land stretching from Austria to Bohemia and Moravia — as well as a few other isolated regions — was the only area not under Allied control. Upon its defeat, some have claimed that the Reich was in a state of debellation. Occupation zones were set up and administrated by France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. The prewar German lands east of the Oder-Neisse line and Stettin and its surrounding area — nearly 25% of pre-war Germany — were set under Polish and Soviet administration but factually sundered from Germany for annexation by Poland and the Soviet Union. The millions of Germans remaining in the areas were expelled by the Allies. In Law #46 of 20 May 1947, the Allied Control Council formally proclaimed the dissolution of Prussia. Those parts of Prussia which were to the east of the Oder-Neisse Line were divided and placed under Soviet (Kaliningrad Oblast) and Polish administration by the 16 Jul to 2 Aug 1945 Potsdam Conference, pending the final Peace Treaty. By signing the Treaty of Warsaw (1970) and the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany (1990), Germany finally renounced any claims to territories lost during the Second World War.
When the Nazis came to power the most pressing issue was an unemployment rate of close to 30%. The economic policies of the Third Reich were in the beginning the brainchildren of Hjalmar Schacht, who assumed office as president of the central bank under Hitler in 1933, and became finance minister in the following year. Schacht was one of the few finance ministers to take advantage of the freedom provided by the end of the gold standard to keep interest rates low and government budget deficits high, with massive public works funded by large budget deficits. The consequence was an extremely rapid decline in unemployment--the most rapid decline in unemployment in any country during the Great Depression. Eventually, this Keynesian economic policy was supplemented by the boost to demand provided by rearmament and swelling military spending.
Hjalmar Schacht was finally replaced in 1937 by Hitler's lieutenant Hermann Goering when he resigned. Goering introduced the four year plan whose main aim was to make Germany self-sufficient to fight a war within four years. Under Goering imports were slashed. Wages and prices were controlled — under penalty of being sent to a concentration camp. Dividends were restricted to six percent on book capital. And strategic goals to be reached at all costs (much like Soviet planning) were declared: the construction of synthetic rubber plants, more steel plants, automatic textile factories.
While the strict state intervention into the economy, and the massive rearmament policy, almost led to full employment during the 1930s (statistics didn't include non-citizens or women), real wages in Germany dropped by roughly 25% between 1933 and 1938. Trade unions were abolished, as well as collective bargaining and the right to strike. The right to quit also disappeared: Labour books were introduced in 1935, and required the consent of the previous employer in order to be hired for another job. In place of ordinary profit incentive to guide investment, investment was guided through regulation to accord with needs of the State. Government financing eventually came to dominate the investment process, which the proportion of private securities issued falling from over 50% of the total in 1933 and 1934 to approximately 10% in 1935–1938. Heavy taxes on profits limited self-financing of firms. The largest firms were mostly exempt from taxes on profits, however government control of these were extensive enough to leave "only the shell of private ownership." 
Another part of the new German economy was massive rearmament, with the goal being to expand the 100,000-strong German Army into a force of millions. The Four-Year Plan was discussed in the controversial Hossbach Memorandum, which provides the "minutes" from one of Hitler's briefings.
Nevertheless, the war came and although the Four-Year Plan technically expired in 1940, Hermann Göring had built up a power base in the "Office of the Four-Year Plan" that effectively controlled all German economic and production matters by this point in time. In 1942, the growing burdens of the war and the death of Fritz Todt saw the economy move to a full war economy under Albert Speer.
The war time economy of Nazi Germany can effectively neither be described as a free market economy nor as centrally planned. In the words of Richard Overy: "The Germany economy fell between two stools. It was not enough of a command economy to do what the Soviet system could do; yet it was not capitalist enough to rely, as America did, on the recruitment of private enterprise." Use of forced labour in Nazi Germany during World War II occurred on a large scale. The Germans abducted about 12 million people from almost 20 European countries; about two thirds of whom came from Eastern Europe.
Through staffing of most government positions with Nazi Party members, by 1935 the German national government and the Nazi Party had become virtually one and the same. By 1938, through the policy of Gleichschaltung, local and state governments lost all legislative power and answered administratively to Nazi Party leaders, known as Gauleiters, who governed Gaue and Reichsgaue.
Nazi Germany was made up of various competing power structures, all trying to gain favor with the Führer, Adolf Hitler. Thus many existing laws were stricken and replaced with interpretations of what Hitler wanted. Any high party/government official could take one of Hitler's comments and turn it into a new law, of which Hitler would casually either approve or disapprove. This became known as "working towards the Führer", as the government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of individuals each trying to gain more power and influence through the Führer. This often made government very convoluted and divided, especially with Hitler's vague policy of creating similar posts with overlapping powers and authority. The process allowed the more unscrupulous and ambitious Nazis to get away with implementing the more radical and extreme elements of Hitler's ideology, such as anti-Semitism, and in doing so win political favor. Protected by Goebbels' extremely effective propaganda machine, which portrayed the government as a dedicated, dutiful and efficient outfit, the dog-eat-dog competition and chaotic legislation was allowed to escalate. Historical opinion is divided between "intentionalists", who believe that Hitler created this system as the only means of ensuring both the total loyalty and dedication of his supporters and the impossibility of a conspiracy; and "structuralists", who believe that the system evolved by itself and was a limitation on Hitler's supposedly totalitarian power.
National Socialism had some of the key ideological elements of fascism which originally developed in Italy under Benito Mussolini; however, the Nazis never officially declared themselves fascists. Both ideologies involved the political use of militarism, nationalism, anti-communism and paramilitary forces, and both intended to create a dictatorial state. The Nazis, however, were far more racially-oriented than the fascists in Italy, Portugal, and Spain. The Nazis were also intent on creating a completely totalitarian state, unlike Italian fascists who while promoting a totalitarian state, allowed a larger degree of private liberties for their citizens. These differences allowed the Italian monarchy to continue to exist and have some official powers. However the Nazis copied much of their symbolism from the Fascists in Italy, such as copying the Roman salute as the Nazi salute, use of mass rallies, both made use of uniformed paramilitaries devoted to the party (the SA in Germany and the Blackshirts in Italy), both Hitler and Mussolini were called the "Leader" (Führer in German, Duce in Italian), both were anti-Communist, both wanted an ideologically-driven state, and both advocated a middle-way between capitalism and communism, commonly known as corporatism. The party itself rejected the fascist label, claiming National Socialism was an ideology unique to Germany.
The totalitarian nature of the Nazi party was one of its principal tenets. The Nazis contended that all the great achievements in the past of the German nation and its people were associated with the ideals of National Socialism, even before the ideology officially existed. Propaganda accredited the consolidation of Nazi ideals and successes of the regime to the regime's Führer ("Leader"), Adolf Hitler, who was portrayed as the genius behind the Nazi party's success and Germany's saviour.
To secure their ability to create a totalitarian state, the Nazi party's paramilitary force, the Sturmabteilung (SA) or "Storm Detachment" used acts of violence against leftists, communist, democrats, Jews and other opposition or minority groups. The SA "storm troopers" violently clashed with the Communist Party of Germany (German Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands — KPD) which created a climate of lawlessness and fear. In the cities, people were anxious over punishment or even death, if they displayed opposition to the Nazis. Given the frustrations of the people (after World War I and during the Great Depression) it was easy for the SA to attract large numbers of alienated (and unemployed) youth and working class people for the party.
The "German problem", as it is often referred to in English scholarship, focuses on the issue of administration of Germanic regions in Northern and Central Europe, an important theme throughout German history. The "logic" of keeping Germany small worked in the favor of its principal economic rivals, and had been a driving force in the recreation of a Polish state. The goal was to create numerous counterweights in order to "balance out Germany's power".
The Nazis endorsed the concept of Großdeutschland, or Greater Germany, and believed that the incorporation of the Germanic people into one nation was a vital step towards their national success. It was the Nazis' passionate support of the Volk concept of Greater Germany that led to Germany's expansion, that gave legitimacy and the support needed for the Third Reich to proceed to conquer long-lost territories with overwhelmingly non-German population like former Prussian gains in Poland that it lost to Russia in the 1800s, or to acquire territories with German population like parts of Austria. The German concept of Lebensraum ("living space") or more specifically its need for an expanding German population was also claimed by the Nazi regime for territorial expansion.
Two important issues were administration of the Polish corridor and Danzig's incorporation into the Reich. As a further extension of racial policy, the Lebensraum program pertained to similar interests; the Nazis determined that Eastern Europe would be settled with ethnic Germans, and the Slavic population who met the Nazi racial standard would be absorbed into the Reich. Those not fitting the racial standard were to be used as cheap labour force or deported eastward.
Racialism and racism were important aspects of society within the Third Reich. The Nazis combined anti-Semitism with anti-Communist ideology, regarding the leftist-internationalist movement—as well as international market capitalism—as the work of "Conspiratorial Jewry". They referred to this so-called movement with terminology such as the "Jewish-Bolshevistic revolution of subhumans". This platform manifested itself in the displacement, internment, and systematic extermination of an estimated 11 million to 12 million people in the midst of World War II, roughly half of them being Jews targeted in what is historically remembered as the Holocaust (Shoah), 3 million ethnic Poles,and another 100,000–1,000,000 being Roma, who were murdered in the Porajmos. Other victims of Nazi persecution included communists, various political opponents, social outcasts, homosexuals, freethinkers, religious dissidents such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, the Confessing Church and Freemasons.
Foreign relations between Germany and the rest of Europe were riddled with political manuevres and opportunistic decisions. Fearing a second world war, Britain and France sought a policy of appeasement towards Germany, and refused aggressive foreign policies to satisfy the newly-powered Nazis. Hitler aims upon coming to power was threefold; destroy Versailles, re-unite lost German territories under the decrees of Versailles, and Lebensraum. It is said that Hitler eventually wanted Britain as an ally with eventual wars with the USSR, and eventually the USA. Hitler used the Appeasement policies of Britain and France to his opportunistic advantage when he announced in March 1935 that he would conscript men into his army and create the Luftwaffe; both a direct violation of Versailles. His foreign policies were designed to test the nerve of Britain and France so he could see what else he was able to get away with. His other concern was Italy, whom under Mussolini had become a similarly fascist country, but had so much internal civil disruption Hitler wanted a more stable and powerful ally.
Although Germany's relations with Italy improved with creation of the Rome-Berlin Axis, tensions remained high because the Nazis wanted Austria to be incorporated into Germany. Italy was opposed to this, as were France and Britain. In 1938, an Austrian-led Nazi coup took place in Austria and Germany sent in its troops, annexing the country. Italy and Britain no longer had common interests and, as Germany had stopped supporting the German speaking population under Italy's control in Bolzano-Bozen (South Tyrol), Italy began to gravitate towards Germany.
Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia in September 1938 came about during talks with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, in which Hitler, backed by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, demanded that the German territories be ceded. Chamberlain and Hitler came to an agreement when Hitler signed a piece of paper which said that with the annexation of the Sudetenland, Germany would proceed with no further territorial aims. Chamberlain took this to be a success in that it avoided a potential war with Germany. However, the Nazis helped to promote Slovakian dissention and declaring that the country was no more, seized control of the Czech part.
For quite some time, Germany had engaged in informal negotiations with Poland regarding the issue of territorial revision, but after the Munich Agreement and the reacquisition of Memel, the Nazis became increasingly vocal. Poland refused to allow the annexation of the Free City of Danzig.
Germany and the Soviet Union began talks over planning an invasion of Poland. In August 1939, the Molotov Pact was signed and Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to divide Poland along a mutually-agreed set boundary. The invasion was put into effect on 1 September 1939. Last-minute Polish-German diplomatic proceedings failed, and Germany invaded Poland as scheduled. Germany alleged that Polish operatives had attacked German positions, but the result was the outbreak of World War II, as Allied forces refused to accept Germany's claims on Poland and blamed Germany for the conflict.
From 1939-1940, the so-called "Phony War" occurred, as German forces made no further advances but instead, both the Axis and Allies engaged in a propaganda campaign. However in early 1940, Germany began to concern that the British intended to stop trade between Sweden and Germany by bringing Norway into an alliance against Germany, with Norway in Allied hands, the Allies would be dangerously close to German territory. In response, Germany invaded Denmark and Norway ending the Phony War (leapfrogging the British invasion troops bound towards Norway by just 24 hours). After sweeping through the Low Countries and occupying northern France, Germany allowed French nationalist and war hero Philippe Petain to form a fascist regime in southern France known as the "French State" but more commonly referred to as Vichy France named after its capital in Vichy.
In 1941, Germany's invasion of Yugoslavia resulted in that state's splintering. In spite of Hitler's earlier view of inferiority of all Slavs, he supported Mussolini's agenda of creating a fascist puppet state of Croatia, called the Independent State of Croatia. Croatia was led by the extreme nationalist Ante Pavelić a long-time Croatian exile in Rome, whose Ustashe movement formed a government in modern-day Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Ustashe were allowed to persecute Serbs, while Germany contributed to that goal in German-occupied Serbia.
From 1941 to the end of the war, Germany engaged in war with the Soviet Union in its attempt to create the Nazi colonial goal of Lebensraum "living space" for German citizens. The German occupation authorities set up occupation and colonial authorities called Reichskommissariats such as Reichskommissariat Ostland and Reichskommissariat Ukraine. The Slavic populations were to be destroyed along with Jews there to make way for German colonists.
As the fortunes of war changed, Germany was forced to occupy Italy when Mussolini was thrown out as Prime Minister by Italy's king in 1943. German forces rescued Mussolini and instructed him to establish a fascist regime in Italy called the Italian Social Republic. This was the last major foreign policy delivered. The remainder of the war saw the decline of German power and desperate attempts by Nazi officials such as Heinrich Himmler to negotiate a peace with the western Allies against the wishes of Hitler.
Most of the judicial structures and legal codes of the Weimar Republic remained in use during the Third Reich, but significant changes within the judicial codes occurred, as well as significant changes in court rulings. The Nazi party was the only legal political party in Germany; all other political parties were banned. Most human rights of the constitution of the Weimar Republic were disabled by several Reichsgesetze ("Reich's laws"). Several minorities such as the Jews, opposition politicians and prisoners of war were deprived of most of their rights and responsibilities. The Plan to pass a Volksstrafgesetzbuch ("people's code of criminal justice") arose soon after 1933, but didn't come into reality until the end of World War II.
As a new type of court, the Volksgerichtshof ("people's court") was established in 1934, only dealing with cases of political importance. From 1934-September 1944, a total of 5,375 death sentences were spoken by the court. Not included in this numbers are the death sentences from 20 July 1944-April 1945, which are estimated at 2,000. Its most prominent jurist was Roland Freisler, who headed the court from August 1942-February 1945.
The military of the Third Reich – the Wehrmacht – was the name of the unified armed forces of Germany from 1935-1945 with Heer (Army), Kriegsmarine (Navy), Luftwaffe (Air Force) and a military organization Waffen-SS (Military branch of the Schutzstaffel, which was, de facto, a fourth branch of the Wehrmacht.The German Army furthered concepts pioneered during the First World War, combining Ground and Air Force assets into combined arms teams. Coupled with traditional war fighting methods such as encirclements and the "battle of annihilation", the German military managed many lightning quick victories in the first year of the Second World War, prompting foreign journalists to create a new word for what they witnessed: Blitzkrieg. The total number of soldiers who served in the Wehrmacht during its existence from 1935-1945 is believed to approach 18.2 million.
The effects of Nazi social policy in Germany was divided between those considered to be "Aryan" and those considered "non-Aryan", Jewish, or part of other minority groups. For "Aryan" Germans, a number of social policies put through by the regime to benefit them were advanced for the time, including state opposition to the use of tobacco, an end to official stigmatization toward Aryan children who were born from parents outside of marriage, as well as giving financial assistance to Aryan German families who bore children.
The Nazi Party pursued its racial and social policies through persecution and killing of those considered social undesirables or "enemies of the Reich".
In the 1930s, plans to isolate and eventually eliminate Jews completely in Germany began with the construction of ghettos, concentration camps, and labour camps which began with the 1933 construction of the Dachau concentration camp, which Heinrich Himmler officially described as "the first concentration camp for political prisoners."
In the years following the Nazi rise to power, many Jews were encouraged to leave the country and did so. By the time the Nuremberg Laws were passed in 1935, Jews were stripped of their German citizenship and denied government employment. Most Jews employed by Germans lost their jobs at this time, which were being taken by unemployed Germans. Notably, the Nazi government attempted to send 17,000 German Jews of Polish descent back to Poland, a decision which led to the assassination of Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, a German Jew living in France. This provided the pretext for a pogrom the Nazi Party incited against the Jews on 9 November 1938, which specifically targeted Jewish businesses. The event was called Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass, literally "Crystal Night"); the euphemism was used because the numerous broken windows made the streets look as if covered with crystals. By September 1939, more than 200,000 Jews had left Germany, with the Nazi government seizing any property they left behind.
The Nazis also undertook programs targeting "weak" or "unfit" people, such as the T-4 Euthanasia Program, killing tens of thousands of disabled and sick Germans in an effort to "maintain the purity of the German Master race" (German: Herrenvolk) as described by Nazi propagandists. The techniques of mass killing developed in these efforts would later be used in the Holocaust. Under a law passed in 1933, the Nazi regime carried out the compulsory sterilization of over 400,000 individuals labeled as having hereditary defects, ranging from mental illness to alcoholism.
Another component of the Nazi programme of creating racial purity was the Lebensborn, or "Fountain of Life" programme founded in 1936. The programme was aimed at encouraging German soldiers — mainly SS — to reproduce. This included offering SS families support services (including the adoption of racially pure children into suitable SS families) and accommodating racially-valuable women, pregnant with mainly SS men's children, in care homes in Germany and throughout Occupied Europe. Lebensborn also expanded to encompass the placing of racially pure children forcibly seized from occupied countries—such as Poland—with German families.
The Nazis considered Jews, Romani people, Poles along with other Slavic people like the Russians, Ukrainians, Czechs and anyone else who was not an "Aryan" according to the contemporary Nazi race terminology to be Untermensch ("subhuman"). The Nazis rationalized that the Germans, being a super human (Übermenschlich) race, had a biological right to displace, eliminate and enslave inferiors. After the war, under the "Big Plan", Generalplan Ost foresaw the eventual expulsion of more than 50 million non-Germanized Slavs of Eastern Europe through forced migration, as well as some of the Balts, beyond the Ural Mountains and into Siberia. In their place, Germans would be settled in an extended "living space" of the 1000-Year Empire. Herbert Backe was one of the orchestrators of the Hunger Plan - the plan to starve tens of millions of Slavs in order to ensure steady food supplies for the German people and troops.
At the outset of World War II, the German authority in the General Government in occupied Poland ordered that all Jews face compulsory labour and that those who were physically incapable such as women and children were to be confined to ghettos.
To the Nazis, a number of ideas appeared on how to answer the "Jewish Question". One method was a mass forced deportation of Jews. Adolf Eichmann suggested that Jews be forced to emigrate to Palestine. Franz Rademacher made the proposal that Jews be deported to Madagascar; this proposal was supported by Himmler and was discussed by Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini but was later dismissed as impractical in 1942. The idea of continuing deportations to occupied Poland was rejected by the governor, Hans Frank, of the General Government of occupied Poland as Frank refused to accept any more deportations of Jews to the territory which already had large numbers of Jews. In 1942, at the Wannsee Conference, Nazi officials decided to eliminate the Jews altogether, as discussed the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question". Concentration camps like Auschwitz were converted and used gas chambers to kill as many Jews as possible. By 1945, a number of concentration camps had been liberated by Allied forces and they found the survivors to be severely malnourished. The Allies also found evidence that the Nazis were profiteering from the mass murder of Jews not only by confiscating their property and personal valuables but also by extracting gold fillings from the bodies of some Jews held in concentration camps.
Education under the Nazi regime focused on racial biology, population policy, culture, geography and especially physical fitness. Anti-Semitic policy led to the expulsion of Jewish teachers and professors and officials from the education system. All university professors were required to be a member of the National Socialist Association of University Lecturers in order to be able to be employed as professors.
Recent research by academics such as Götz Aly has emphasized the role of the extensive Nazi social welfare programs that focused on providing employment for German citizens and insuring a minimal living standard for German citizens. Heavily focused on was the idea of a national German community. To aid the fostering of a feeling of community, the German people's labour and entertainment experience s— from festivals, to vacation trips and traveling cinemas — were all made a part of the "Strength through Joy" (Kraft durch Freude, KdF) program. Also crucial to the building of loyalty and comradeship was the implementation of the National Labour Service and the Hitler Youth Organization, with compulsory membership. In addition to this, a number of architectural projects were undertaken. KdF created the KdF-wagen, later known as the Volkswagen ("People's Car"), which was designed to be an automobile that every German citizen would be able to afford. The KdF wagon also was created in the idea that it could be converted to a military vehicle for war. Another national project undertaken was the construction of the Autobahn, which made it the first freeway system in the world.
According to the research of Robert N. Proctor for his book The Nazi War on Cancer, Nazi Germany had arguably the most powerful anti-tobacco movement in the world. Anti-tobacco research received a strong backing from the government, and German scientists proved that cigarette smoke could cause cancer. German pioneering research on experimental epidemiology led to the 1939 paper by Franz H. Müller, and the 1943 paper by Eberhard Schairer and Erich Schöniger which convincingly demonstrated that tobacco smoking was a main culprit in lung cancer. The government urged German doctors to counsel patients against tobacco use.
German research on the dangers of tobacco was silenced after the war, and the dangers of tobacco had to be rediscovered by American and English scientists in the early 1950s, with a medical consensus arising in the early 1960s. German scientists also proved that asbestos was a health hazard, and in 1943 — as the first nation in the world to offer such a benefit — Germany recognized the diseases caused by asbestos, e.g., lung cancer, as occupational illnesses eligible for compensation. The German asbestos-cancer research was later used by American lawyers doing battle against the Johns-Manville Corporation.
As part of the general public-health campaign in Nazi Germany, water supplies were cleaned up, lead and mercury were removed from consumer products, and women were urged to undergo regular screenings for breast cancer.
The Nazis opposed women's feminist movement, claiming that it was Jewish-led, had a left-wing agenda (compared to Communism) and was bad for both women and men. The Nazi regime advocated a patriarchal society in which German women would recognize the "world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home." Hitler claimed that women taking vital jobs away from men during the Great Depression was economically bad for families in that women were paid only 66 percent of what men earned. This being said, Hitler never considered endorsing the idea of raising women's wages to avoid such a scenario again, but instead called for women to stay at home. Simultaneously with calling for women to leave work outside the home, the regime called for women to be actively supportive of the state regarding women's affairs. In 1933, Hitler appointed Gertrud Scholtz-Klink as the Reich Women's Leader, who instructed women that their primary role in society was to bear children and that women should be subservient to men, once saying "the mission of woman is to minister in the home and in her profession to the needs of life from the first to last moment of man's existence.". The expectation even applied to Aryan women married to Jewish men—a necessary ingredient in the 1943 Rosenstrasse protest in which 1800 German women (joined by 4200 relatives) obliged the Nazi state to release their Jewish husbands.
The Nazi regime discouraged women from seeking higher education in secondary schools, universities and colleges. The number of women allowed to enroll in universities dropped drastically under the Nazi regime, which shrank from approximately 128,000 women being enrolled in 1933 to 51,000 in 1938. Female enrollment in secondary schools dropped from 437,000 in 1926 to 205,000 in 1937. However with the requirement of men to be enlisted into the German armed forces during the war, women made up half of the enrollment in the education system by 1944.
Organizations were made for the indoctrination of Nazi values to German women. Such organizations included the Jungmädel ("Young Girls") section of the Hitler Youth for girls from the age 10 to 14, the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM, "German Girl's League") for young women from 14 to 18.
On the issue of sexual affairs regarding women, the Nazis differed greatly from the restrictive stances on women's role in society. The Nazi regime promoted a liberal code of conduct as regards sexual matters, and were sympathetic to women bearing children out of wedlock. The collapse of 19th century morals in Germany accelerated during the Third Reich, partly due to the Nazis, and greatly due to the effects of the war. Promiscuity increased greatly as the war progressed, with unmarried soldiers often involved intimately with several women simultaneously. Married women were often involved in multiple affairs simultaneously, with soldiers, civilians or slave labourers."Some farm wives in Württemberg had already begun using sex as a commodity, employing carnal favours as a means of getting a full day's work from foreign labourers.". Marriage or sexual relations between a person considered “Aryan” and one that was not were classified as Rassenschande were forbidden and under penalty (people found guilty could face concentration camp, while non-Aryans death penalty).
An example of the almost cynical way in which Nazi doctrines differed from practice is that, whilst sexual relationships among campers was explicitly forbidden, boys' and girls' camps of the Hitlerjugend associations were needlessly placed close together as if to make it happen. Pregnancy (including repercussions on established marriages) often resulted when fetching members of the Bund Deutscher Mädel were assigned to duties which juxtaposed them with tempted men.
Abortion was heavily penalized in Nazi Germany unless on the grounds of "racial health"; from 1943 abortionists faced the death penalty. Display of contraceptives was not allowed and Hitler himself described contraception as "violation of nature, as degradation of womanhood, motherhood and love." 
In 1935, the regime enacted the "Reich Nature Protection Act". While not a purely Nazi piece of legislation since parts of its influences pre-dated the Nazi rise to power, it nevertheless reflected Nazi ideology. The concept of the Dauerwald (best translated as the "perpetual forest") which included concepts such as forest management and protection was promoted and efforts were also made to curb air pollution.
In practice, the enacted laws and policies met resistance from various ministries that sought to undermine them, and from the priority that the war-effort took to environmental protection.
The Nazis had elements which were supportive of animal rights, zoos and wildlife, and took several measures to ensure their protection. In 1933 the regime enacted a stringent animal-protection law.Many NSDAP leaders including Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring were supporters of animal protection. Several Nazis were environmentalists (notably Rudolf Hess), and species protection and animal welfare were significant issues in the regime. Heinrich Himmler made efforts to ban the hunting of animals. Göring was an animal lover and conservationist. The current animal welfare laws in Germany are more or less modification of the laws introduced by the National Socialist regime.
The regime sought to restore traditional values in German culture. The art and culture that came to define the Weimar Republic years was repressed. The visual arts were strictly monitored and traditional, focusing on exemplifying Germanic themes, racial purity, militarism, heroism, power, strength, and obedience. Modern abstract art and avant-garde art was removed from museums and put on special display as "degenerate art", where it was to be ridiculed. In one notable example, on 31 March 1937, huge crowds stood in line to view a special display of "degenerate art" in Munich. Art forms considered to be degenerate included Dada, Cubism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Impressionism, New Objectivity, and Surrealism. Literature written by Jewish, other non-Aryans, or authors opposed to the Nazis was destroyed by the regime. The most infamous destruction of literature was the book burnings by German students in 1933.
Despite the official attempt to forge a pure Germanic culture, one major area of the arts, architecture, under Hitler's personal guidance, was neoclassical, a style based on architecture of ancient Rome. This style stood out in stark contrast and opposition to newer, more liberal, and more popular architecture styles of the time such as Art Deco. Various Roman buildings were examined by state architect Albert Speer for architectural designs for state buildings. Speer constructed huge and imposing structures such as in the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg and the new Reich Chancellery building in Berlin. One design that was pursued, but never built, was a gigantic version of the Pantheon in Rome, called the Volkshalle to be the semi-religious centre of Nazism in a renamed Berlin called Germania, which was to be the "world capital" (Welthauptstadt). Also to be constructed was a Triumphal arch several times larger than that found in Paris, which was also based upon a classical styling. Many of the designs for Germania were impractical to construct because of their size and the marshy soil underneath Berlin; materials that were to be used for construction were diverted to the war effort.
The majority of German films of the period were intended principally as works of entertainment. The import of foreign films was legally restricted after 1936 and the German industry, which was effectively nationalised in 1937, had to make up for the missing foreign films (above all American productions). Entertainment also became increasingly important in the later years of World War II when the cinema provided a distraction from Allied bombing and a string of German defeats. In both 1943 and 1944 cinema admissions in Germany exceeded a billion, and the biggest box office hits of the war years were Die große Liebe (1942) and Wunschkonzert (1941), which both combine elements of the musical, wartime romance and patriotic propaganda, Frauen sind doch bessere Diplomaten (1941), a comic musical which was one of the earliest German films in colour, and Wiener Blut (1942), the adaptation of a Johann Strauß comic operetta. The importance of the cinema as a tool of the state, both for its propaganda value and its ability to keep the populace entertained, can be seen in the filming history of Veit Harlan's Kolberg (1945), the most expensive film of the era, for the shooting of which tens of thousands of soldiers were diverted from their military positions to appear as extras.
Despite the emigration of many film-makers and the political restrictions, the German film industry was not without technical and aesthetic innovations, the introduction of Agfacolor film production being a notable example. Technical and aesthetic achievement could also be turned to the specific ends of the Greater German Reich, most spectacularly in the work of Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935), documenting the Nuremberg Rally (1934), and Olympia (1938), documenting the 1936 Summer Olympics, pioneered techniques of camera movement and editing that have influenced many later films. Both films, particularly Triumph of the Will, remain highly controversial, as their aesthetic merit is inseparable from their propagandizing of Nationalsocialism ideals.
Two major displays of Nazi German art and culture were at the 1936 Summer Olympics and at the German pavilion at the 1937 International Exposition in Paris. The 1936 Olympics was meant to display to the world the Aryan superiority of Germany to other nations. German athletes were carefully chosen not only for strength but for Aryan appearance. However, one common belief of Hitler snubbing African-American athlete Jesse Owens has recently been discovered to be technically incorrect—it was African-American athlete Cornelius Cooper Johnson who was believed to have been snubbed by Hitler, who left the medal ceremonies after awarding a German and a Finn medal. Hitler claimed it was not a snub, but that he had official business to attend to which caused him to depart. On reports that Hitler had deliberately avoided acknowledging his victories, and had refused to shake his hand, Owens recounted:
"When I passed the Chancellor he arose, waved his hand at me, and I waved back at him. I think the writers showed bad taste in criticizing the man of the hour in Germany." He also stated: "Hitler didn't snub me — it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram."
Hitler was criticized for this and the Olympic committee officials insisted that he greet each and every medalist, or none at all. Hitler did not attend any of the medal presentations which followed, including the one after Jesse Owens won his four medals, and met with German winners outside the stadium afterwards.
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I listened to women leaders of the B.D.M.—they were invariably of the plainer type and usually unmarried—lecture their young charges on the moral and patriotic duty of bearing children for Hitler's Reich—within wedlock if possible, but without it if necessary.