European Conquest

by Sydney Owen

Nazi Takeover

The Nazi Party in Europe cannot be explained by one single event. A network of events led to the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party in Europe during the early 1930s and through the 1940s.

Hitler and the Nazi's Debut

After the Great War, worldwide economic depression caused many problems all over the world. The freshly defeated and embarrassed Germany was arguably hit hardest by this economic slump. Unemployment was colossal at 6 million and citizens had little confidence in their government, allowing the rise of the Nazi party and its charismatic Leader Adolf Hitler. (23)

In 1930, Chancellor Bruning cut government expenditure, wages, and unemployment pay in an effort to save Germany from an imminent downward slope in economic activity. (24) Bruning couldn't get the Reichstag to agree on any law, so he used the German Article 48 to pass the majority of the laws. (25) This angered the general population, and many workers in Germany turned to communism; this scared wealthy citizens of Germany, causing the wealthy to finance some of Hitler's campaigns. (26)

in 1928, the Nazi's had only 12 seats in the Reichstag, but by the end of July 1932 they had 230 seats and were the largest party by a vast majority. (27) The governments was in chaos in 1932 and after the dismissal of Bruning and two other chancellors, Adolf Hitler was made Chancellor of Germany in January of 1933. (28)

Nazi Takeover of Germany

The end of German democracy began on January 30th, when Hitler was elected chancellor. Guided by a racist and hateful leader, the Nazi party sought out to abolish freedoms and create a "better" German community. (29) The Third Reich quickly became a police state where any person could be arrested with no probable cause, and the lines between police brutality and political leadership blurred. (30)

Within the first few months of Hitler's leadership, he "consolidated" power and forced many organizations and groups, as well as state governments, to adopt Nazi goals and implemented new Nazi leaders in these all ready well established organizations. (31) Many work organizations were abolished, being replaced with Nazi work groups causing a drop in wages, and a rise in brutality in the work force.

On August 2nd, 1934 President Paul von Hindenburg died. Immediately after his death the Nazi powerhouse Adolf Hitler took over. (10) After the German army swore loyalty to the Nazi Party and Hitler, he officially became the Reich Chancellor, Reich President, and Fuehrer. (32)

From Germany to Europe Before the War

When Adolf Hitler became chancellor in 1933 the Treaty of Versailles had already been changed; Hitler then made it his mission to overturn the revisions to include all ethnic Germans in Europe. (33) This mission would lead to the expansion of the German Empire in Europe and lead to World War Two. After the Nazi expansion of power, the production of ammunition and arms along with the expansion of the German army to over 500,000 troops caused the violation of the Treaty of Versailles. (34)

On March 7th, 1936, Hitler ordered German armed forces to occupy the Rhineland. This land was removed from Germany by the Treaty of Locarno in 1925. Hitler's action brought disapproval from Britain and France, yet they did not react to this action. On March 12, 1938 Germany invaded Austria with the majority of the Austrians in support of this move due to the heavy use of propaganda in the area. (35) A day later, German officially absorbed Austria into their empire with a 99% approval rate from the population (not including Roma and Jews, for they weren't allowed to vote). (36)

Later in 1938 Hilter laid claim to Sudenland, an area of Czechoslovakia with an overwhelming ethnic German majority. Hitler threatened war if the area wasn't surrendered to Germany. (37) Italy, Britian, and France held a conference in Munich and decided to allow the annexation on Sudenland in exchange for a pledge of peace from Hitler. Hitler agreed to the terms. Later, in March of 1939 Hitler violated the pledge of peace by invading Bohemia and Moravia and breaking up the rest of Czechoslovakia. (38) After this Hitler invaded Lithuania and laid claim to Poland. As Hitler prepared to attack Poland in the summer of 1939, the rest of the world prepared for a war.

Occupied Europe

Most of the annexed areas in Europe where resettled by German settlers while some where served as areas for forced labor camps and concentration camps. Many of the annexed areas were used for raw materials, food, and war stocks. (39) Citizens of the annexed colonies were forced into labor for the German cause, while millions were deported to Germany as slaves for the Nazis. German annexation was harsh, especially in Poland; Germans treated the Poles solely as a source of labor, nothing else. (40) Many Poles were sent to work camps or simply killed. (41)

Annexed countries in Western Europe were treated with much more lax rules, because these countries were considered more "Germanic" than Poland and Lithuania. (42) Because the Netherlands were considered more "Germanic" they were considered as a part of Germany itself, not just a colony. Resistance movements sprung up in Europe, and small organized militia fought back against the Nazi regime unsuccessfully. (43)