World War II
After World War I
The First World War left Germany in ruins. People were very upset that Germany had lost the war and needed someone to blame for the defeat. As a result, there was much violence across the country in the years after the war.Many blamed the politicians who had negotiated the peace. Others merely wanted a solution to Germany's economic, political and social problems.
Nazi's gaining power
Between 1929 and 1932, support for the Nazi and Communist parties increased. The other parties were blamed for causing Germany's problems. As these parties had been unable to work together to solve country's problems, people became more afraid that the Communists may take over.
In the election of late 1932 the Nazis won 37 per cent of the vote, and became the largest single party. Hitler demanded the right to become Chancellor, but the president appointed Franz Von Papen. Von Papen was soon replaced.
Anxious to regain power, von Papen struck a deal to make Hitler Chancellor, with himself as Vice-Chancellor. The moderate parties would hold all but three of the government posts, which would go to the Nazis; one of these would be Hitler as Chancellor.
In the hope of creating a stable government, President Hindenburg agreed to the plan. So on 30 January 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.
Just 24 hours after taking office, Hitler called for new elections to be held on 5 March 1933. Very soon after Hitler persuaded President Hindenburg to give him emergency powers that took away people’s rights. On 24 March 1933, the government passed an ‘Enabling law’, giving the Nazi party the power to make laws without parliamentary approval.The Nazis very quickly began a campaign of violence and terror against Communists and other opponents. Their campaign also involved banning opposition newspapers, leaflets and meetings. These events were only a hint of things to come. Once the Nazis had developed a series of policies and measures that enabled them to consolidate power over Germany, they would seek to develop control over much of mainland Europe.
The Nazi's take control
On coming to power the Nazis quickly began to assert their dominance on and control of the people of Germany. In dealing with all forms of opposition they developed many concentration camps. The network of camps would be employed to brutally support the Nazis’ control of Germany and later many peoples and lands across Europe.Hitler and the Nazis sort to control every part of public life, including employment, education and the economy. The Nazis’ racial policies were at the centre of their ideals. The development of Germany as the master race was the focal point of their social, economic a political policies. Women had a key role in this area of Nazi policy.In defiance of the Treaty of Versailles, the Nazis also began a re-armament programme aimed at supplying tanks, aeroplanes, guns and ships for the military. These armaments would support the policy of expansionism towards the end of the 1930s.
Attacking the Jews
On March 1933 mobs of locally organised Nazis attacked Jews on the streets, beating them up and sometimes killing them. Across Germany many hundreds of Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. The attacks on Jews soon increased and become more organised.However, Hitler saw that the attacks and arrests were random and not controlled by the state. He believed that everything should be controlled by the state, especially the campaign against the Jews.During April 1933 the Nazi's began to develop antisemitic laws that would severely affect the lives of those Jews living with the German boarders. Gradually over the next ten years theses laws would affect every facet of Jewish existence with Germany and the lands that they eventually invaded and occupied.
The start of World War II
On 6 June 1944, American, British, Canadian and French forces invaded German-occupied Normandy in northern France. We now know this as D-Day. In less than a month more than 850,000 troops had landed in Normandy. The objective was to defeat Hitler’s German forces, and liberate the conquered people of Europe from the Nazi occupation.
Just a few days later, on 22 June 1944 Soviet forces began a major offensive in the East. By August 1944, they had succeeded in gaining control of Central Poland.As the Soviet army fought their way westwards they uncovered many hundreds of Nazi concentration camps.
On 23 July 1944, the Soviet army liberated the death camp of Majdanek near Lublin in Poland.The Nazis had already evacuated the majority of the prisoners to the west. However, they had not destroyed all evidence of mass murder.Knowing that the Soviet army was advancing, those prisoners who were fit enough to walk were evacuated West. Starting on foot, they were then placed on railway wagons and sent back to Germany. Thousands of people died in what became known as the 'death marches'.
On 27 January 1945 the Soviet army liberated the largest camp of all, Aushwitz. When the Soviets finally arrived they found only 7,650 people alive in Auschwitz. Many of these were young children.In the West, as the Allies fought their way towards Berlin, they uncovered many hundreds of Nazi camps. Allied broadcasters filmed the situation of the surviving inmates. When these films were shown in cinemas across Europe and the Americas the world was shocked. This was the first time that mass media was used to show the horror of genocide.
On 30 April 1945 Adolf Hitler committed suicide.
On 8 May 1945 the Nazis surrendered.