During the games, Hitler staged elaborate ceremonies, such as a parade of ethnic Germans from all over the world. During the games, the Nazis introduced Germany as a nation reborn and dealing with the Depression in much better ways than did Western democracies. In the same year, the Germans took after Hitler's role model, Benito Mussolini of Italy, in sending troops to support Spanish General Francisco Franco. Hitler moved his focus to Austria for reunification or Anschluss. Although his tactic failed, he continued to secretly work to undermine the government. He demanded from Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schushnigg to release the Nazis in Austrian prisons and to appoint Nazi officials to key positions. Schuschnigg made the Austrians decide if they wanted to reunify with Germany. Hitler instead challenged the vote, demanded and obtained the resignation of the Austrian government (MFA Productions LLC).
Hitler's foreign policy violated the Versailles Treaty (Suffolk Community College Department 2006). He withdrew Germany from the League of Nations and began to build armaments by signing the anglo-German naval Agreement in 1935. This agreement allowed Germany to build up to 50 submarines. He also supported the Nazi uprising in Austria in 1934. In 1936, his German army to the west bank of the Rhine, again in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Then he signed a pact with the Axis powers, Italy and Japan. In 1938, Hitler demanded that the Austrian government allow Austrian Nazis appointed to dominant positions in the government. When the Austrian Chancellor decided to make the Austrian people to decide on the matter through a plebiscite, Hitler ordered the occupation of Austria. He made similar moves in Czechoslovakia and Poland to free oppressed Germans. He threatened Poland. His threat on Poland was the prelude to the German invasion on September 1, 1939. In a day or two, England and France declare war against Germany and World War II started (Suffolk Community College Department).
The Nazi Party took advantage of the political confusion of the early 1930s (Sheehan 2001). Since the Party's founding in 1919 and its failed 1923 revolt, Hitler decided to acquire power by lawful means instead of by revolution. It attracted few voters when the Weimar Republic enjoyed prosperity from 1924 to 1929. But it drew the voters' attention after the Great Depression to Hitler's appealing promises of improvements to the economy. His promises included opposing the Treaty of Versailles and rebuilding Germany's military power. In 1932, the Nazi Party became the Reichstag's strongest political party. In 1932, Hitler was appointed Chancellor by Hindenburg. Upon his appointment, he altered the Constitution and built a dictatorship. He allowed only the Nazi Party to exist. This Party seized control of the country's courts, newspapers, police and schools. Its opponents were murdered, imprisoned in concentration camps, banished from Germany or beaten up by the storm troopers, the Nazi's private army. One of the factors to the success of the Nazi rule was the passive support of the German population. Most Germans approved of Nazism. Many others may have objected to some of its features, but still supported Hitler's efforts to improve the deteriorated economy and to rebuild the military. Those who opposed it mostly just remained silent. Only a few openly objected to it or resisted (Sheehan).
The members of the Nazi Party had the best advantage during the regime (Clare 2006). They had the best houses, enjoyed preferential treatment, good jobs in the government and asserted power over the people. Ordinary Germans were generally content with their lives. Many of them today can look back and recall the years before 1939 as happy. The Nazi government's economic policies provided full employment, prosperity and financial security through its work programmes and movements, such as "Strength through Joy" and the "Beauty of Work" Movement. They had fun during the "Strength through Joy" programme and the "Beauty of Work" Movement made them proud of their work. Many people also observed that poverty was non-existent at the time. Homes were safe because of the strict enforcement of law and order. Few people locked their doors in those years. The Nazi government's autobahns improved transport. Frequent ceremonies, rallies, all the color and excitement entertained them. The Nazi propaganda infused hope in the German people and its racial philosophy raised belief in the German race. The Germans came to trust Hitler, who gave them a sense of security and safety from harm. The only drawbacks were decreased wages, severe penalties for strikers, the extreme control of the workforce and the loss of personal freedoms, especially the freedom of speech (Clare).
Culture under the Nazi regime had to be German (Clare 2006). Music had to be Beethoven, Wagner or German folk songs. Actors had to be members of the Nazi Party. The people could read only books and other reading materials by approved authors (Clare).
The Nazis were anti-feminist and idealized women only as child-bearer and creators of the family (Clare 2006). Its Law for the Encouragement of Marriage provided for a loan of 1000 marks to newly-wed couples and allowed them to keep 250 marks for every child. Mothers with more than 8 children received a gold medal. Some women were, however, not too happy under the regime, which discriminated against women. Women doctors, teachers and civil servants were forced to leave their jobs. Neither were they allowed to serve in the armed even during the war (Clare).
Most young Germans were happy because the Nazi culture was vastly youth-oriented (Clare 2006). Youth activities were exciting for young boys and gave special treatment of both young men and women. Nazi programs made them feel they knew more than their parents did. Their parents, therefore, feared this power in their children and feared that they would report them to the Nazi police. Some young people were also not too happy with the Nazi regime. Some girls did not like the emphasis made on their role, which focused on children, church and cooking. Furthermore, true Aryan girls were sent to special camps to breed with select Aryan boys like animals. Towards the end of World War II, youth gangs, such as the Eidelweiss, sprang up and rejected the Nazi youth culture. In 1944, these gangs supported army deserters and even attacked the Gestapo, despite the risk of getting hanged if caught (Clare)
The Nazis inflicted fear and horror upon all its opponents (Clare 2006). Hitler banned all trade unions on May 2, 1933. He closed their offices, confiscated all their money and imprisoned their leaders. Communists were rounded up and sent to concentration camps or killed. Many Protestant pastors were also persecuted and executed. One example was Dietrich Bonhoffer. In every street block, there was a staircase ruler who monitored and reported grumblers to the police. Those accused were arrested and either murdered or imprisoned in concentration camps. Children were encouraged to report their parents if they harbored sentiments or expressed opinions against Hitler or the Nazi Party (Clare).
The Nazi regime tried to infuse their racial ideas and ideals upon the German people. It despised other groups of human beings as racially or socially inferior and considered them subhuman or untermensch (Clare 2006). It called these human beings "the germs of destruction." Among those persecuted and killed were the Jews, such as Anne Frank; gypsies; Blacks; 5,000 mentally disabled babies and 72,000 mentally ill patients; physically disabled with hereditary illnesses; deaf persons; beggars; homosexuals; prostitutes; alcoholics pacifists; criminals; and others considered anti-social. These were sterilized, used in medical experiments, killed or placed in concentration camps. In the end, the Nazis decided to undertake a final solution in the form of genocide. This was the Holocaust (Clare).
Many Germans were too scared or blind to oppose. The Nazi regime imposed Gestapo terror quite effectively among the German people (Clare 2006). Any one who spoke up against the government was killed or imprisoned in concentration camps. Yet many Germans helped hide Jews. They were aware of the injustices committed by the Nazi regime (Clare). Nevertheless, the combination of terror and contentment worked. This combination of factors and effects made Nazism a successful and effective political, economic and cultural philosophy and agenda among the passive and assenting majority of the German population.
1. Clare, John D. How Did Nazi Rule Affect Germans?. Greenfield History Site, 2006. http://www.johndclare.net
2. Kniesmeyer, J and D. Brecher. "The Racial Theories of the Nazis." Nazism and the Holocaust, p 49, 1995. http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/49.html