- The title of the monarch of
Germany (derived from the Roman word ‘Caesar’). The last Kaiser of
Germany was Wilhelm II (1859 - 1941), who in 1918 fled to the village of
Doom in the Netherlands after Germany’s defeat and his abdication.
- A country NOT ruled by a
monarch. The ‘Weimar Republic’ in Germany (1919-1933) took its name
from the town where in February 1919 a constituent assembly met to draw
up a democratic constitution.
- The German Parliament – also
the name for the building. Under the Weimar republic the Reichstag was
elected by all men and women over the age of 20 – a far more democratic
government than Britain, where only women over the age for 30 were
allowed to vote.
- November Criminals: the name
given by the right-wing and nationalist parties in Germany to the
government ministers who made the Armistice and then signed the Treaty
of Versailles. Also called Volksverräter
- Literally, ‘Dagger-blow
legend’ – the belief (invented by general Hindenburg in 1919) of the
right-wing politicians that the Germany Army had only lost the First
World War because it had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by the ‘November
criminals’ – the politicians who had signed the Armistice.
- Friedrich Ebert: the first
president of the Weimar Republic. He had started life as a saddler,
but had formed a saddlers’ Trade Union, and got involved in politics.
He was a moderate Socialist (SPD).
- The Hutchinson Encyclopaedia
defines a constitution as: ‘Body of fundamental laws of a state, laying
down the system of government and defining the relations of the
legislature, executive, and judiciary to each other and to the
citizens.’ The constitution of the Weimar Republic was a
representative democracy with an elected president, and the rights of
the citizens defined by a Bill of Rights guaranteeing
equality before the law and political and religious
- Article 48
- The first great flaw in the
Weimar Constitution – it gave the President the right to make laws by
decree in an emergency. Since the voting system of proportional voting
never gave any Weimar government a sufficient majority to pass the laws
it wanted, the President ruled increasingly by decree to pass ANY law –
thus abusing the system as it was intended. It was this flaw in the
Constitution that gave Hitler the opportunity to seize power after 1933.
- Proportional representation
- A system of voting that does
not – as we have in Britain today – elect representatives for individual
‘constituencies’ by a ‘first past the post’ system, but where people in
a large region vote for the PARTY they want, and then a number of
representatives are returned to the parliament in proportion to the
number of votes cast for each party.
- Although it sounds much fairer,
in fact, the system of PR in the Weimar republic led to a succession of
weak, coalition governments, where no one party was ever big enough to
have a majority. Thus, after 14 years of political impotence, many
moderate politicians were HAPPY to support Hitler, who offered at least
a decisive government.
- General Hans von Seeckt, the right-wing leader of the
army. He was a problem to the Weimar government in that he could not
be relied upon to put down right wing rebellions and troublemakers. On
the other hand, he was useful to the government because he was very keen
to put down Communist rebellions.
- Group of Communists who –
led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Leibknecht,
rebelled in Berlin in Jan 1919. They were brutally put down by the
army and the Freikorps.
- Bands of soldiers who,
returning from the war, did not disband, but formed small paramilitary
units (= private armies). Two Freikorps units were called ‘the steel helmet’ and ‘the
emergency police’. Usually very right-wing, and implacably hostile to the
Weimar government (whom they called the ‘November Criminals’), they were
a source of terrorism and intimidation.
On the other hand, they were useful to the government because they were
very keen to put down Communist rebellions.
- Matthais Erzberger: German
politician. Starting in life as a journalist, he started a Christian
Trade Union in Mainz, and after 1903 was a Reichstag delegate for the
Catholic ‘Centre Party’. In 1918 he was the first government minister
to sign the Armistice, and in February 1919 became the minister with
special responsibility for the Armistice. In June 1919 he became
Finance Minister in the Weimar Government. When he was attacked in the
press by the journalist Karl Helferrich (‘away with Erzberger’),
Erzberger took Helferrich to court, but the case created such hostility
towards himself that he was forced to resign. On 26 August 1921,
Erzberger was shot by two former naval officers who had joined the
- Walther Rathenau: Son of a
Jewish businessman, Rathenau trained as a mechanical engineer and became
chairman of the electrics firm AEG. During the First World War he
worked for the government as head of the Raw Materials Department (KRA). As economic expert and a member of the SDP
he did not agree with the Versailles Treaty, but in 1922 he agreed to
join the government as minister of foreign affairs. In April, however,
he made the Rapallo Treaty with the Soviet Union, for which on 24 June
1922 he was shot by two young officers, who belonged to a right-wing
extremist group called the ‘organization Consul’.
- The German Social Democratic Party, which
was formed in 1875, but which soon became the biggest party in Germany. It advocated
a mixture of Marxist and other more moderate left-wing beliefs. After
1919, the more moderate members of the party agreed to join the Weimar
Government, although they lost the support of the more left-wing party
members when the government used the army to put down Communist
rebellions. Nevertheless, the Social
Democratic Party continued to be the largest party in the Reichstag
until July 1932 when the Nazis won 230 seats to the SDP’s 133.
- The main industrial area of Germany, alongside the River
Rhine in the west of the country. This was the area France invaded in
1923 when it wanted to collect reparations payments from Germany.
- When prices rise out of
control by many hundred per cent.
- A German word meaning a violent take-over of power/ a
- Black Reichswehr
- In its broadest sense, the ‘Black Reichswehr’
was any paramilitary group in Germany which opposed the government and
the Treaty of Versailles – thus it included such as the Nazi SA, and
Freikorps units such as ‘the steel helmet’ and ‘the emergency police’.
'Black' soldiers were any ex-soldiers involved in Freikorps.
- In a stricter sense, ‘Black Reichswehr’
refers to a specific Freikorps unit – amounting to 18,000 men – led by Major Bruno
Buchrucker in the Kuestrin
district of eastern Germany. At first the Weimar Army Minister denied
that a ‘Black Reich’ existed, but on 1 October 1923 Buchrucker’s Black
Reichwehr mounted the Kuestriner Putsch. Although the putsch itself
was quickly put down by Major Fedor von Bock, it caused a scandal when an
investigation in 1826 revealed that funds and arms had gone to these anti-Republican groups
from army sources – and that even some of the generals were involved.
- The German Communist party.
They wanted to bring in a Soviet-style Communist state in Germany.
After the failure of the Spartacist revolt, in 1919, only 22 Communists
were elected to the Reichstag, but the number of deputies increased
during periods of economic problem. This is important because it is
sometimes asserted that working class people voted Nazi because of the
Depression; this is not true – working class people voted Communist
(thus 101 Communist deputies were elected in November 1932, and 88 even
in March 1933). It was the votes of MIDDLE CLASS people during the
Depression which brought the Nazis to power.
- An area in central Germany
where the Communists took power and set up a ‘republican proletarian’
government during the economic disaster of hyperinflation in 1923. The
government was short-lived, and collapsed when Stresemann ordered it to
- Dr Wolfgang Kapp was a
right-wing journalist who on 13th March 1920, led a rebellion against the Treaty of
Versailles with the help of General Luttwitz and his Freikorps unit.
It took over Berlin and tried to bring back the Kaiser, but collapsed on
17th March when the workers of Berlin went on a general
- Gustav Stresemann had been a strong nationalist after
1919, but the crisis of 1923 convinced him to take a more moderate
stance. He established political stability by organising the ‘Great
Coalition’ of the SPD, the Centre Party and his own ‘German People’s
Party’ (DVP). He brought economic stability by calling off the 1923 Ruhr strike,
introducing the new Rentenmark and negotiating the Dawes Plan with
America. He introduced reforms to make life better for the working
classes – including Labour Exchanges (1927), unemployment pay and 3
million new houses were built.
- He also brought Germany back into world
politics – he started to pay reparations again, signed the Locarno
Treaty of 1925 (agreeing to the loss of Alsace-Lorraine) and negotiated
Germany’s admission to the League of Nations in 1926 – it was this last
that made him so hated by right-wing politicians.
- Charles Gates Dawes was an American politician who became
president of the League of Nations Reparations Commission in 1923.
Faced by the economic collapse of Germany, he negotiated the Dawes Plan
with Stresemann. The Plan organised a scale of annual payments taken
from German customs dues, starting at 1bn marks and rising to 2.5bn, and
also agreed the reorganisation of the German
State Bank. The main part of the plan was a loan of $200
million. The Dawes Plan got the
German economy going again,
but right-wing politicians like Hitler hated it because it agreed to pay
reparations and gave foreign banks control over the German economy.
- Locarno Pact: a number of diplomatic agreements made in
Locarno, Switzerland, in October 1925 (and formally signed in London in
December 1925). The agreements – signed by Britain, France, Belgium,
Italy, and Germany – guaranteed Germany's existing frontiers with France
and Belgium (accepting that Alsace Lorraine was part of France). The
Locarno Pact was the agreement that secured Germany’s acceptance into
the League of Nations in 1926.
- Great Coalition
- One of the ways Stresemann saved the Weimar republic in
1923 was by organising the ‘Great Coalition’ of the pro-democracy
parties – the SPD, the Centre Party, the German Democratic Party (DDP)
and his own ‘German People’s Party’ (DVP). This created a government
strong enough to pass the laws which re-established stability.
Actually, the Great Coalition only lasted 2 months before it fell apart,
and the government returned to the instability of the past. Also, in
1924, Stresemann brought in the right-wing German National People’s
Party (DNVP), which ‘let in’ right-wing politicians into the government.
- A German School of Art and Design, formed by the German
architect Walter Gropius in 1919, which tried to fuse the hitherto
separate media of ‘art’ and ‘craft’. Its most famous teacher was Paul
Klee. Students at the Bauhaus School of Art studied a stressing the
links between architecture and such crafts as stained glass, mural
decoration, metalwork, carpentry, weaving, pottery, typography, and
graphics, and fostering an understanding of materials. The Bauhaus
school led to significant developments in architecture. The Nazis
disapproved of the movement, and closed it down in 1933.
- Paul Klee: German artist who taught at the Bauhaus
school. Klee did not produce representational art – he believed that
the artist transformed the world into paintings in much the same way as
the soil produces plants. His pictures were much influenced by the art
of children and the mentally ill.
- German singer who in 1930 acted in the film Der Blaue
Engel (The Blue Angel). She was famous for her husky, sexy
voice, and her most famous song is perhaps ‘Falling in love again’.
She disapproved of the Nazis, and moved to Hollywood.
- A German artist who fought in the First World War. He
was a member of the ‘New Objectivity’ group of German painters, who
depicted their subjects in a harsh, ‘realist’ way. Many of his
paintings depicted the horror of the First World War. Because of this,
in 1933the Nazis dismissed him from his teaching post at Dresden Art
academy, and branded him a ‘decadent’. It is worth looking him up on
Google and comparing his paintings with those of approved Nazi artists
such as Adolf Wissel.
- Wall Street
- The American Stock Exchange. The collapse of share
prices in October 1929 (‘the Wall Street Crash’) and the economic crisis
this caused in America, led to the recalling of Dawes loans to Germany,
which caused the Great Depression and led to the growth in Nazi fortunes
- Anton Drexler: the original
founder of the German Workers’ Party (1919), which Hitler took over and
formed into the Nazi Party.
- The proper name for the Nazi Party was the
Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist
German Workers' Party) or NSDAP. The word Nationalsozialistische
sums up its attempted appeal both to the right-wing nationalists,
but also to the more left-wing socialists.
- Literally, ‘living space’. In 1924, Hitler expounded in
Mein Kampf his theory that the growing, superior German race had
the right to seek extra land and resources in eastern Europe, at the
expense of the inferior Slavic races, who would be the Germans’ slave
- The ownership/running of industry (especially utilities
such as electricity, telephone, railways etc) by the state. In its
early days, the Nazi Party incorporated a number of left-wing
quasi-socialist ideas into its philosophy, including the right to a job
and a decent standard of living, improvements in pension, sharing the
profits of public companies and war profiteers, and nationalisation of
public industries such as electricity and water.
- Literally, ‘Storm section’. Also known as the ‘brownshirts’.
Starting as stewards at Nazi meetings, the SA grew up into the
paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party. Their leader was Ernst Röhm.
The SA failed in the Munich Putsch of 1923, but Hitler kept them on
after 1923 to defend Nazi meetings against Communist attacks, and to
break up meetings of rival parties. When he had come to power,
however, they were an embarrassment, and Hitler had all the SA's leaders
murdered 30 June 1933 (the ‘Night of the Long Knives’) and the
organization was disbanded.
- A Nazi artist (real name was Hans Schweitzer) who
designed many Nazi propaganda posters.
- Hjalmar Schacht, Head of the Reichsbank, who organised
fund-raising parties for Hitler. After Hitler came to power, in 1933
Hitler put him in charge of the economy as Minister of Economics; under
his control, Germany restored her favourable balance of trade (ie
Germany exported more then it imported). Later, however, he was
dismissed when he tried to stop Hitler spending so much on rearmament
and questioned Hitler’s plans for ‘Autarky’. Hitler replaced him with
Goering, after which the German economy overheated; there is a theory
that Hitler HAD to go to war in 1939 to prevent Germany going into a
hyperinflationary economic crisis.
- Reinhard Schroeder of the Schroeder Bank was
another major financier of the Nazis. I was Shroder who, on Jan. 3,
1933, met Hitler and asked him to form a government.
- Irenee du Pont
- Irenee du Pont (head of
General Motors) was one of a number of Americans – others were Henry
Ford of Ford Motors, and George Bush of
the American shipping and railway company WA Harriman and Co) – who
poured money into the Nazis because they thought that Hitler was a way
to stop the advance of Russian Communism.
- Denoted Z or ZP. The German
Catholic Centre Party. Its ambivalence towards the Nazis was one of
the main factors in Hitler’s rise to power.
- Heinrich Bruning: Centre Party politicians, who became
Chancellor of Germany during the Great Depression of 1930-32. The
Centre Party did not have a majority, and he was forced to govern most
of the time by Presidential decree under Article 48. Bruning did not
have a clue how to end the depression, choosing instead to propose a law
which would INCREASE taxes, CUT unemployment pay, and CUT the wages of
civil servants and teachers (in fact, exactly the way to make the
depression worse). The outcry this law created caused the fall of his
government and the political crisis which led eventually to the
appointment of Hitler as Chancellor in 1933.
- Franz von Papen: Right-wing German politicians whom
became Chancellor in 1932. Unable to create a coalition which could
control the Reichstag – and therefore forced to rule by Presidential
decree under Article 48 – it was Papen who proposed to Hindenburg the
deal to bring Hitler into the government in January 1933. By this
agreement, Papen became Vice-Chancellor. Papen thought he could
control Hitler, but it was, in fact, Papen who became a loyal follower
of Hitler – being made envoy to Austria 1934-38 and ambassador to Turkey
- Paul von Hindenburg: leading German general during the
First World War, it was Hindenburg who invented the ‘Dolchstosslegende’
in 1919 as an attempt to avoid responsibility for Germany’s defeat. He
became President in 1925. He was right-wing in his politics – it was
Hindenburg, in 1926, who denied the war guilt clause. Unable to create
a government which commanded a majority during the 1929-32 depression,
it was Hindeburg who, with Papen, offered Hitler the post of
Chancellor. Although he despised Hitler, he approved of his right-wing
policies, and was happy for him to take dictatorial power after 1933.
- Marinus van der Lubbe was
beheaded on 10th January, 1934 for setting fire to the Reichstag
building. He was a poor Dutch bricklayer. When a fire broke out in
his local factory, he offered to confess to arson as long as no one else
was accused. He was invalided after an industrial accident to his eyes
in 1925 and never worked again – he had to live on a small invalidity
pension. In 1926 Lubbe joined the Dutch Communist Party (KPH) and
organised demonstrations and spoke at protest meetings; he was not a
half-wit as is sometimes claimed. He said he wanted to live in the
Soviet Union, but could not afford to go there and instead spent time
visiting Germany and Poland. In 1931 in Germany he spent 10 days in
jail for begging.
- In February 1933 he went back to Germany to oppose
the Nazis, openly advocating active resistance. On 27 February – after
two attempts at arson two days earlier – Lubbe was found in the burning
Reichstag building; he admitted starting the fire. As well as Lubbe,
four communists with setting fire to the Reichstag; only Lubbe was found
guilty. Adolf Hitler was furious when the rest of the defendants were
acquitted and in future all treason cases were held in a new ‘People’s
Court’ of NSDAP members.
- Fire Decree
- Properly called the Decree of the Reich President for the protection of
people and state, this
was issued by President Hindenburg (though it was really Hitler who
wrote the decree) under Article 48 of the constitution, on 28 February
1933, the day after the Reichstag fire. It abolished the Bill of
Righst and gave the Chancellor the right to
restrict people’s personal freedom, freedom of speech, including the
freedom of the press, the freedom to organize and assemble, the privacy
of letters, mail, telegraphs and telephones, and order searches and
confiscations. It was this decree that gave Hitler the right to arrest
many Communists before the March elections, and before the Enabling Act
was discussed by theReichstag.
- Enabling Act
- The Act which we call the Enabling act was actually
called the Law to remedy the
need of the people and the country. Passed
on 23 March 1933 (after all the Communist deputies had been put into
prison), it gave the Reich government the right to make laws without
going to the Reichstag – even if they were against the Constitution –
and to make treaties without asking the Reichstag to ratify them.
- A contraction of Geheime
Staatspolizei: literally, ‘secret state police’. The Gestapo was
Germany’s secret police, formed in 1933, and controlled by the SS leader
Heinrich Himmler after 1934. There was no appeal against Gestapo
authority and it had absolute power to deal with acts or individuals it
considered against the national interest. It became one of the most
feared and brutal elements of the Nazi regime.
- On 2 May 1933, Hitler banned all trade unions, and
ordered the SA to arrest all the trade unions leaders who had not fled
the country. Instead, he set up the Deutschen Arbeitsfront (German Labour Front), run by Dr
Robert Ley. This was supposed to look after the workers’ interest – it
did set up things like the KdF programme – but really it was used to
keep the workers under control for Hitler’s rich industrialist
backers. Wages fell overall in Hitler’s German, and workers were not
allowed to strike.
- 'Hummingbird’ was the codeword for the Night of the Long
Knives, 30 June 1934, when Hitler ordered the SS to kill more than 400
- Ernst Röhm was a loyal, long-term supporter of Hitler.
He took part in the Munich Putsch, and became leader of the SA. After
Hitler took power in 1933, however, relations between the two became
strained – Röhm wanted the SA to take over the position of the Army,
with himself as leader, and he also stated that he wanted a ‘Second
revolution’. Many of the SA were working class, and they believed that
the Nazis’ next step should be to destroy the rich and bring in a
Socialist-type revolution. This, of course, was the last thing Hitler
wanted. Röhm (and many SA men) were also homosexual, and some
historians suggest that the Night of the Long Knives was a ‘gay
- A meeting of SA leaders was fixed for 30th
June and Hitler had promised to attend. The night before the meeting,
just before 7am, Hitler and a number of SS men marched into the village
inn near Munich where the SA leaders were sleeping, then arrested and
executed them. Röhm himself was shot in his prison cell after he
refused to commit suicide. Röhm coined the famous phrase: ‘All
revolutions devour their own children’, which turned out to be
- Literally, ‘leader’. The
title adopted by Hitler as leader of the Nazi Party, and later – when
Hindenburg died – as leader of Germany. As Führer,
Hitler united the roles of President, Chancellor and head of the Army.
- Literally, ‘protective
squadron’: the SS – a Nazi elite corps, Hitler’s private bodyguard,
established in 1925 under Himmler. They were conditioned to see
themselves as ‘agents of light’. At its height it had half a million
members. Some of them – the Waffen SS – were army units. The special
SS Death’s Head Units ran the concentration camps.
- Death’s Head Units
- The SS units detailed to run
the concentration camps. They were infamous for their cruelty and
- Josef Goebbels: Minister of Propaganda
from 1933. Nicknames ‘the poison dwarf’, he indoctrinated germans to
love Hitler, hate Communists and Jews, and welcome war –famous Goebbels
quote sinclude: ‘It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the
formation of public opinion’, ‘We have made the Reich by propaganda’ and
‘Guns not butter’. He also built up supporters in other countries, and
masterminded Hitler’s ‘war of nerves’ foreign policy in 1933-1939.
- To brainwash by any method.
The young are the easiest to brainwash, which is why the Nazis were so
concerned to control the school curriculum, and why they placed such
emphasis on the HJ. ually, indoctrination is done
covertly. In the Hitler Youth, however, ‘indoctrination’ was used to
mean the factual learning that HJ members did about subjects such as
‘the life of the Fuhrer’, ‘the lost territories’ and ‘the five flag
- Poisonous Mushroom
- A collection of 17 short stories by the Nazi writer Ernst
Hiemer, with pictures by the Nazi artist Fips. The purpose of the
stories was to indoctrinate (brainwash) young German children to despise
and hate the Jews. In the stories, it is young German children who are
the heroes. Sometimes they are able to help and support their parents
by criticising the Jews. In the stories, Jewish people are always
presented as evil, dirty and treacherous; by contrast, the children in
the stories please their parents and teachers by hating the Jews. The
book took its title from the opening story, which compared the Jews to
poisonous mushrooms in a forest; they may not look very different from
the others, but they have the power to destroy and must be destroyed.
- On the night of 9-10 November
1938, after Herschel Grynszpan, a
17-year-old Jew living in Paris, had shot and killed von Rath, a member
of the German Embassy staff. The Gestapo were ordered to destroy
Jewish property and businesses, and to arrest 20-30,000 Jews. On
November 9, the Gestapo whipped up the mob to help SA, SS and Hitler
Youth beat and murder Jews, and wreck their homes. SS leader Reinhard
Heydrich reported 7500 businesses destroyed, 267 synagogues burned (with
177 totally destroyed) and 91 Jews killed. The night got its name for
the sparkling ‘crystals’ of broken glass in the street the morning from
the broken windows of Jewish shops.
- 1942: the meeting which agreed
the ‘final solution’ to the ‘Jewish question’ – all Jews would be gassed
in death camps.
- Shoah is the Hebrew word for
the Holocaust – the attempt by the Nazis at the genocide of the Jewish
race. The word ‘shoah’ means a calamity or catastrophe where God is not present. It was the word used
by Jews in the 1940s to describe what was happening, and it is the word
that Jewish people today prefer to use. The word Holocaust is a bible
word meaning a ‘sacrifice-by-fire’. Jewish people hate it; it is
inappropriate, because a holocaust was an offering to God, and it is
inappropriate to apply it to the Nazi genocide, which was godless.
- The motorways built – invented
– by Hitler under the public works programme. Not only did it help
unemployment by providing work immediately, but it stimulated the
economy in general by improving g transport and communications.
- Reicharbeitsdeinst: The Reich Labour Service, set up by the Nazis to reduce unemployment.
It organized public works like the autobahns and public building schemes
rose, 1932–38 from about 5 billion to 30 billion marks.). In 1935,
Hitler made it compulsory for 18-25 year-old German men to do six months
in the RAD, although the pay was poor and some young men resented it,
generally it was regarded as a rewarding experience. Unemployment fell
from nearly 6 million to virtually nothing.
- Reich Food Estate
- By the 1933 Farm
Law, farmers were assured of sales and given subsidies. The government
kept food prices at the 1928 level. But farmers were organised into
the Reich Food Estate – led by Walther Darré, the Reich Peasant Leader –
and strictly controlled (e.g., one rule stated that hens must lay 65
eggs a year).
- The Nazis believed in
Schönheit der Arbeit (‘the beauty of labour’). Through the DAF
they made people work hard, but then they encouraged them to feel proud
of their achievement. The Kraft durch Freude (‘Strength through
joy’) movement was how they rewarded people for the hard work they had
done. The government put 5 billion RM into the scheme: worker were
given day trips, trips to the cinema or theatre, or (rarely) cheap
- In Berlin,
1933–38, the KdF sponsored 134,000 events for 32 million people (2
million went on cruises & weekend trips, and 11 million on theatre
trips). It was
under the KdF initiative that Hitler made his promise that every German
family would ultimately own a Volkswagen car. The Nazis also made sure
that every German had a radio, but this was more for propaganda than a
reward for working hard.
- Hitler Jugend:
the Hitler Youth. A law of 1936 merged all German Youth Movements into
the ‘Hitler Youth Movement’. Boys aged 10-14 went to the Deutsches
Jungvolk (Young Germans), and then – aged 14-18 – into the Hitler
Jugend. HJ members did sports, military training and were
indoctrinated about Hitler and Nazism.
- Bund Deutscher Mädel:
the League of German Maidens. By the law of 1936, girls aged 10-14
went to the Jung Mädel, passing aged 14-18 into the BDM. Girls
did cleaning, craftwork, and learned about Hitler and how to be good
Nazi partners of Aryan warrior-me.
- Literally, ‘bringing
together’. In a general sense, it means the Nazi process of taking
every area of life in Germany and forcing it into line with Nazi
ideology. This included taking control of the political system, the
trade unions and the Church, uniting all youth movements into the HJ,
but also affecting the way everyone thought by means of propaganda.
- More specifically, Gleichschaltung refers to the corpus of laws which the Nazis passed to give them control
of the political system – chief among which were the Reichstag Fire
decree, the Enabling Act, the acts banning trade unions and opposition
parties, the law ratifying Hitler’s actions on the Night of the Long
Kinives, and the law making Hitler Führer.
- Precisely, there were two specific
Gleichschaltungsgesetz (Gleichschaltung laws): the first (31
March 1933) gave the local state governments the same powers as the
Enabling Act gave Hitler, and the second (7 April 1933) put a Nazi
Reichsstatthalter (proconsul) in charge of every state.
- A (supposed) parent race
believed to have come from central Asia in the 2nd century BC, and which
– according to Nazi philosophy – was the pure blood line of the German
people (which had been contaminated by inter breeding with other
races). The term Aryan derives from Sanskrit arya, originally a
name for the highest (Brahmans) caste, and later meaning 'of noble
- The Nazis held that the Aryan race represented the highest
attainment of evolution. Full citizens rights were granted only to
people could trace their ‘pure Aryan’ descent back for at least 100
years – back to 1750, if you wanted to be in the SS. The dream of
Himmler –leader of the SS – was of white-skinned, blue- eyed,
fair-haired, or pure `Nordic´ race. Ideal ‘Aryan’ boys and girls were
sent to camps to breed, like animals, and – in the countries Hitler
conquered – selective breeding programmes were set up to purify the
blood of the people (the so-called lebensborn). Nazi theories
about the Aryan race also gave them the theoretical justification to
persecuted the Jews.
- Eidelweiss Pirates
- The generic name for the unofficial youth groups – with
names such as the Navajos and the Roving Dudes – who rebelled against
the HJ movement. They hung round, drinking alcohol, dancing and
listening to jazz (which was banned music). In Cologne in
1944 a group of Eidelweiss Pirates - which had been helping army
deserters - killed the local Gestapo chief. The Nazis
rounded up the group's leaders and publicly hanged 12 of them.
- Dietrich Bonhoffer: a German Protestant theologian who
opposed Nazism. During the war he got involved in a plot to kill
Hitler, but was discovered, arrested and executed by the Nazis in
Flossenburg concentration camp.
- Literally, ‘sub-humans’. The
word applied by the Nazis to a whole range of races (eg Jews, Gypsies,
Blacks and the Slavs) as well as people with physical ‘defects’ (eg
physically disabled, deaf, blind) or of whom they disapproved (eg
beggars, homosexuals). These people they persecuted, sterilised, put
to death or used for medical experiments.