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Germany during WWII

28th July 1914
1 September 1939 Germany declares war on Poland, 3 September, UK and France declare war on Germany
Dates for the onset of the two world wars?
Poland crushed by Blitzkreig. Polish materials and labour used
The Low Countries and France defeated within 6 weeks. Spain Italy and USSR friendly
Hitler prepared to invade USSR before Britain was neutralised. Thought Blitzkrieg would work. Invaded 1941, after invading Yugoslavia and Greece
France and Britain didn't take the initiative, Blitzkrieg, failed Maginot line, Germans exploited labour and resources, USSR taken by surprise by German attack
German initial WWII victories?
USA - already involved in 'Battle of the Atlantic' for shipping vs U-boats. Pearl Harbour and Hitler declared war on USA.
1932-3 Winter Turn on the Tide - failure of North African and Stalingrad offensives. Allies captured N Africa, S Italy, Ukraine. Demanded unconditional surrender
Defeat - pushed back after D Day and by the Soviets.
Stalin: "Britain gave the time, America the money, Russia the blood."
Economy not geared towards long war. Germany short of labour, gaps partially filled by forced and female labour. Deep debt of 42 billion Reichsmarks. US economy too strong. Sent tanks and planes to USSR. Russian economy, manpower and raw materials too strong
Hitler killed himself. Surrender 7-8 May
WWII German defeats?
Hitler issued war decrees in December 1939 outlining war production programmes e.g. for submarines and aircraft.
Military expenditure rose from 13% of GNP in 1913 to 47% in 1941. BUT Britain's rose from 7% to 60%!
By 1941, 55% of the workforce was involved in war related projects. 20% decline of civilian consumption
How was the economy mobilised at the onset of war?
Production low - mobilisation only allowed Germany to increase its air force by 2500 aircraft in the 2 years, whereas Britain trebled its air craft numbers to over 20 000. Only 800 more tanks for invasion of USSR than invasion of West Europe
Too early - many production plans were due to be ready by 1942-3. Chaotic government?
Chaotic government - no centrally controlled economy. Inefficiency and poor coordination. Ministry of Armaments coexisted with Economics, Finance and Labour Ministries. Gauleiter controlled local areas at the expense of the state and party plans. Financial corruption. Office of the Four Year Plan, SS and armed forces, Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe all desired control of armaments production. Armed forces influence led to quality but no quantity
Nazis vs UK, USA and USSR but Germany's armaments production lower than UK alone!
1941 Rationalisation Decree to limit waste of labour and materials
Early war economy limitations?
Speer appointed Minister of Armaments February 1942. Managed to cut through competing institutions using Hitler's authority.
Industrial self responsibility - constraints on business relaxed, Central Planning Board established April 1942 supported by committees representing different sections of economy, giving industrialists freedom but controlled by Speer. Excluded military personnel
Speer used personal influence to charm and blackmail and used Hitler's authority
Speer employed more women, used concentration camp prisoners as workers, prevented skilled workers being lost to military conscription. Could be called a technocrat
After Speer's first six months, ammunition production nearly doubled, tank production went up by a quarter and total arms production increased by over half
Whereas under 4000 tanks were produced in 1941 (before Speer), 19 000 produced in 1944
Whereas 11 000 aircraft produced in 1941 (before Speer), nearly 40 000 in 1944 (peak)
Germany had higher economic potential and could have matched the USA or the USA
Speer could not counter party Gauleiter locally. SS ran things their own way. Bombing reduced production. Conquered lands plundered but inefficiently exploited
Economic turn around?
Apprehension rather than patriotic fervour for most Germans in September 1939 but quick victories pushed economic and military doubts to one side
Enthusiasm dropped as war dragged. Klemperer wrote that someone he knew reported that people were saying "Heil Hitler" less and "Good Morning" more in 1940. Weariness became anger at the regime as propaganda and censorship couldn't disguise defeat in winter 1942-3
They even reported that 300 000 soldiers who had been captured by the Russians were dead in order to protect German national pride
The SD reported in 1943 that the war led to a loss of confidence in the state and the number of jokes told about the state and Hitler had "increased considerably since Stalingrad"
War enthusiasm in Germany?
Bombing began to hit Ruhr urban centres and Berlin regularly
24th July 1943 bombing raid killed 30 000 civilians and left 1m homeless
13-15th February 1945, 12 weeks before the end of the war, dropped nearly 4000 tons of bombs on Dresden
By 1945, 300 000 Germans killed, 800 000 wounded and 20% of all housing destroyed by bombing raids
Effects of bombing?
Euthanasia and concentration camps lowered morale
Not everyone supported Nazi anti-Semitism. Klemperer writes that people seemed indifferent publically to Kristallnacht but that a shopkeeper gave him some potatoes as a present. He encountered "much sympathy, people help me out, but fearfully of course."
People feared for their relatives. Klemperer describes a friend who would not put her mother, who had dementia, in a hospital in case the Nazis killed her
People made aware of the murder of Jews by the distribution of clothes from dead Jews through Winterhilfe and 'Jew markets', like those in Hamburg
Effects of T4, anti-Semitism and concentration camps on morale?
Rationed food, clothes, items like soap and toilet paper. Up until 1944, rations were about 10% above minimum calorific standard, so still well fed but boring and restricted diet
Higher rations for labourers. "Starvation rationing" for Jews.
Food rationing led to real shortages and real hunger by 1945. Clothes rationing ended, boots and shoes in short supply, small luxuries like magazines and sweets stopped
Under Speer, working hours increased, millions of foreign workers used under controls and non-essential businesses were closed
Living and working conditions?
Hitler opposed Speer's suggested working conscription of women to maintain morale
Contradiction of ideology and practice - needed women employment to support expansion. More and more women worked in final 2 years. Worked in arduous armistice factory jobs.
Women's wartime role?
Youth dissent increased in 1939. Regime estblished youth secret police and concentration camp.
Hitler Youth - polarised between fanatics and disaffected. Made compulsory from 1939 with more drill and discipline. Leaders conscripted so standards fell
Edelweiss Pirates - remained small. 12 publically hanged in Cologne 1944 for assassination of Gestapo officer
Youth cliques - a youth leader wrote in 1942 that cliques increased during WWII, so that a "serious risk of the political, moral and criminal breakdown of youth" existed. Gangs rounded up by Gestapo and had their heads shaved
The White Rose - leaflets distributed 1942-3 first in Munich Uni, then other towns. Condemned Nazi moral values. February 1943, the 6 leaders tortured and executed.
Youth dissent and opposition?
Army not fully coordinated until 1944. Some freedom and access to arms. Failed in its primary objective
The elites only recognised the need for resistance after 1934 and 38 developments, once it was too late. The military oath tied them to Hitler. Hitler's success convinced many elites. They lacked long term solutions and planning was inhibited by suspicion and uncertainty
Kreisau Circle - officers, aristocrats, academics and churchmen who met at Helmut von Moltke's Kriesau estate. Conservative and Christian. Discussed Germany after Hitler
Stauffenberg plot - bomb plot 20th July 1944. Civilian resistance fighters contacted dissident army officers like Tresckow to plan assassination and a PG. Tresckow said that the coup must take place even if the plot failed to prove to the world that resistance existed. Colonol von Stauffenberg placed a bomb in Hitler's briefing room. Briefcase moved before it exploded. The generals hesitated so the conspirators were arrested. 5000 resistance supporters killed by Nazis, including Stauffenberg, Tresckow, Moltke and the famous general Rommel
Opposition of the elites to the Nazis?
Despite increasing persecution of Jews etc, churches posed no threat. Stood against Nazi ideology. Church attendance increased during the war. 40% of Catholic clergy and 50% of Protestant pastors harassed by the Nazis.
e.g. Bonhoeffer's religious and political opposition aided conservative opposition. Bishop Galen of Müster's sermon against Euthanasia in 1941 was powerful enough that the Nazis did not arrest him and stopped the programme. Letters written to Nazi ministers, allied propaganda distributed leaflets of the sermon to German soldiers. T4 cancelled in 1941, having killed 75 000
A Gauleiter reported in 1943 that the churches were "one of the main pillars of negative influence upon public morale."
Church opposition and dissent?
Over half the KPD membership interned during the first year of Nazi rule. By 1935, the Gestapo infiltrated the remains of the party, leading to mass trials. Small communist cells organised by Knöckel in cities. Rote Kapelle famous network permeated government and military through aristocrat Schulz-Boysen. Transmitted information to Moscow until 1942 but all members captured and tortured.
The Communists took orders from Moscow. Compromised by the 1939-41 Nazi-Soviet Pact. Resistance remained isolated. Geared towards self preservation. No real successes
Communist opposition?
The government took more control of the press - over 80% by 1944
Internal repression worsened as the war progressed. By 1940, people were sent to prison for listening to foreign radio. By 1942, they were executing people for it
Censorship during WWII?
Hitler committed himself to extermination at an early stage of career
January 1944, Himmler stated that Hitler had given him 'a Führer order' to give priority to 'the total solution of the Jewish question.'
Hitler encouraged radicalisation from below, having always spoken of violence towards Jews
Hitler had given orders to "send death mercilessly" to Poles to create Lebensraum. If he was willing to kill Slavic peoples indiscriminately, he must have wanted Jews killed similarly
Evidence for an individualist interpretation of the holocaust?
No long term plan. Result of the chaotic nature of gvnt in Nazi Germany
Cumulative radicalisation in general
Browning - describes how one unit killed people under influence of peer pressure, cowardice, careerism and alcohol.
No clear programme until 1941. Arrangements haphazard and makeshift
No written from Hitler ordering the killing of Jews in Poland or USSR. Many Einsatzgruppen leaders pretended there was during the Nuremburg trials to save their own lives.
Wansee Conference in January 1942 by representatives of a range of Nazi organisations
Evidence for a structuralist interpretation of the Holocaust?
Invasion of Poland - conquest in Autumn 1939 meant that Germany inherited 3m Jews. War made emigration to independent nations difficult. Nazi leaders in Poland created ghettos e.g. in Krakow, Warsaw and Lublin because of strains on transport and supplies
1 September 1941, Jews forced to wear Star of David. Meanwhile, Russian Jews being killed
Heydrich moved Jews to locations round railway stations in September 1939
The Wansee Conference, 20th January 1942 - organised by Eichmann, chaired by Heydrich. Planned to gas and kill Europe's 11m Jews
Grieser, governor of Chelmno, referred to an authorisation for special treatment of 100 000 Wartheland (in Poland) Jews he had received from Himmler and killing began at Chelmno
Examples of gradualist anti-Semitic radicalisation from Nazi leaders?
Invasion of USSR - Summer 1941. Racial war by SS Einsatzgruppen. Heydrich gave orders for pogroms to be encouraged secretly and Jewish Communist Party members to be killed. Within the first few weeks of the invasion, 40 pogroms occurred and 10 000 Jews were killed by local people. 4 000 murdered on the streets of Kaunas by Lithuanian anti-Semites. Open pit executions. BUT 4 Special Units trailed behind Nazi armies, rounding up and murdering Jews. Winter 1941-2, Einsatzgruppen killed 700 000 Jews, contradicting Heydrich's orders. For example, at Luzk in Ukraine, Einsatzgruppen shot over 1000 Jews just to show the locals who the master race was. The units were ad hoc, including members of the Ordnungspolizei and recruiting local members to help them wherever they went, e.g. Lithuanians and Ukrainians.
Rozhetsky (Ukrainian eyewitness) wrote that locals would wait for their Jewish neighbours to be killed then loot the corpses. Locals realised they could profit from the murder of Jews. The poverty of the regions and easy gains encouraged their support. Economic motivation - the areas had previously been ethnically diverse and relatively stable. Not just anti-Semitism
The Nazis themselves were also motivated by plunder, collecting valuables and carefully calculating the value of goods taken from Jews at death camps
Examples of gradualist anti-Semitic radicalisation from below?
Experimentation in killing Jews occurred in Chelmno. SS troops who had used gas vans to kill disabled Poles were used to kill Jews
Haphazard implementation - 1 and a half million Jews had been murdered by mass shootings before Reinhard camps (named after Reinhard Heydrich), the pure death camps, set up. These were dismantled by the end of 1943, having killed a further 1 and a half million Jews. Over a million died in forced labour camps.
1942, concentration camps developed into mass extermination centres in Poland e.g. Auschwitz, Sobibor and Treblinka. Polish Jews transported by train in awful conditions to the gas chambers. Only 4000 of 3m Polish Jews survived the war. By 1945, 6m Jews murdered
How was the "Final Solution" implemented?
Sinti and Roma gypsies also killed. Historically viewed as outsiders - non-Christian with own customs, non-white (from India in medieval), traveller lifestyle and irregular work resented
The Central Office for the Fight against the Gypsies was established in 1929 - WEIMAR!?
By 1933, around 30 000 gypsies in Germany. Defined, like Jews, as 'infallibly of alien blood,' according to the 1935 Nuremburg laws. 1938 directive by Himmler, 'The Struggle against the Gypsy Plague,' ordering racial registration of gypsies. Gypsies deported to Poland and controlled in working camps at outbreak of war. First Gypsies (children) gassed January 1940 at Buchenwald. No systematic extermination until the end of 1942
Between 225 000 and 500 000 gypsies killed, most from south-eastern Europe
Gypsies killed in Holocaust?