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1 2.16 The Depression in Europe During the First World War the USA had lent money to the Allies; after the war it continued to provide economic help to Europe. For example, between 1924 and 1932, the USA lent Germany $2,500 million; much of this went to pay reparations. With these payments, the Allies bought American goods and boosted American industry or they paid off their debts to the USA. This was a dangerous pattern. What would happen if this lending circle was broken? This is just what happened in 1929, when the USA plunged into the Depression. It could not make further loans and instead demanded repayments on its existing loans to Europe, including Germany. The fragile economies of Europe then also collapsed into Depression. Governments reduced their spending to use the money to pay back loans, for example cutting the wages of teachers and civil servants. This meant people had less money to spend and demand dropped. The USA bought less from Europe, so factories sold fewer exports. This forced factories to close or employ fewer workers, so unemployment rose. As a result people had less money to buy goods, which further reduced demand. As the Depression deepened thousands of people were forced into poverty. They needed help at a time when their governments had less money to help. SOURCE A The original caption for this photograph was: Depositors are shown in front of the Stadische Sparkasse, one of the more prominent Berlin banking houses, which is insolvent. 20 July US loans up to 1924 Loans marked * began during the war. The number given is millions of dollars. Britain* $4,277 France* $2,997 Belgium* $349 USSR* $187 Italy $1,640 Poland $160 Czechoslovakia $62 Romania $25 Yugoslavia $25 Austria $24 Estonia $14 Armenia $12 Lithuania $5 Latvia $5 Finland $4 Hungary $1 44

2 Depression in the Netherlands The Netherlands had its own economic boom from the mid 1920s and the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam added to the feeling that life was improving. But, as early as 1928, the economy began to decline and the government began to set up public work projects, such as canal maintenance, to create work for the unemployed. SOURCE B This man, who had lost his job making chocolates, advertising himself for work on the street. The Crisis Years in the Netherlands were from Because its economy was so tied to trade, the Netherlands was badly hit as European trade declined. Soon there was mass unemployment. Wage cuts meant even those who had jobs were finding it hard to live. The unions supported their members from union funds, but these eventually ran out. People were forced to claim help from the government s Poverty Fund. This provided enough money to live at no more than a very basic level to make sure that people did not claim it instead of looking for work. Those claiming it had to report for work twice a day, even though there was no work. Government officials inspected their homes, to make sure they were poor enough. The free clothing provided was all of the same reddish brown colour instantly recognisable. Crisis laws The government passed crisis laws from 1932 onwards. These laws gave subsidies to farmers, fishermen and the shipping trade. They also imposed, for the first time since the Dutch became an independent nation, restrictions on foreign traders to help traders from the Netherlands. From 1934, the government set up a large number of government work projects that occupied the unemployed and paid them a basic wage. Private help Some wealthy people in the Netherlands set up organisations to help the unemployed. For example, Princess Juliana started the National Crisis Committee in The problem was on too large a scale for such groups to be able to solve it, but they did help many individual families to survive. After 1937, the economy began to improve. But it was many years before unemployment reached the same levels as before the First World War. Strikes, riots and extremism The Netherlands had more strikes in the more prosperous years than it did in the Depression. This was because in hard times people were frightened that they might lose their jobs if they went on strike. An exception was the strike of the sailors on De Zeven Provincien, in The sailors were striking against another pay cut. The army was sent to bomb their ship. Twenty two sailors were killed and the pay cut was imposed. From 4 July to 9 July 1934, protests in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam about unemployment and the lack of government help burst into rioting. The police and the army eventually restored peace. The Depression led to a rise in the number of extreme political groups in the Netherlands. The National Socialist Party, formed in 1931, had a growing level of membership until As conditions improved, membership dropped sharply, especially as the group National Socialist party the Nazis. 45

3 2.17 Hitler comes to power After Hitler was released from prison for his part in the Munich Putsch, he reformed the Nazi Party and announced that it would take control of Germany not by force, but by standing for election to the Reichstag (parliament). This did not stop him building up a private army, the Sturmabteilung (usually called the SA or Brownshirts ) who regularly broke up meetings held by other parties. In May 1924, the Nazis won just 32 of the 615 seats in the Reichstag elections. Worse followed: in November 1924, they won 14 seats and in 1928, only 12. Then, in 1929, the Depression hit Germany. In 1928, there were 1,862,000 unemployed people in Germany. The following year the figure was 2,850,000. The economic crisis led to disagreements in the government, which was run by a coalition of several political parties. When they could not agree on policies, few steps were taken to help the people. In the 1930 election campaign, Hitler and the Nazis campaigned hard, stressing that the government was failing. They promised the Germans the two things they desperately needed: bread and work. With help from the SA, who continued to break up meetings of other political parties, the Nazis won 107 seats. They were doing better, but were still a long way from controlling the government. out words In English, out can be used as a suffix to turn what would otherwise be a phrase into a single word. For example: thinking more quickly than becomes outwitting, shooting better than them becomes outshooting them and having more votes than them becomes outvoting them. SOURCE A A Nazi election poster from The headline reads: We re building! The Nazis building blocks are work, freedom and bread. Their opponents plans include: loss of work, reduced services, lies, corruption and terror. SOURCE B Instead of working to achieve power by an armed coup, we will have to hold our noses and enter the Reichstag against Catholic and Marxist members. If outvoting them takes longer than outshooting them, at least the result will be guaranteed by their own constitution. Sooner or later, we shall have a From a letter written by Hitler to one of his supporters while he was still in prison in SOURCE C The worst winter in 100 years! But the government all misery when no heart closes itself to this cry of need! Every man must give as much as he can spare. Contributions may be given only to representatives that show a Nazi party card. From an advert appealing for donations for a Nazi soup kitchen to feed the unemployed, printed in a German local newspaper in By the end of 1932, the Nazis had given out over 12,000 dinners in Northeim. 46

4 SOURCE D Hitler entering a stadium for a Nazi rally in November Beside him are his deputy, Rudolf Hess (uniformed) and his Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels. The Nazis campaigned all over Germany for the 1932 elections Hitler spoke to huge meetings almost every day. The Nazis won 230 seats in July and 196 in the November election. Hitler stood for president in He lost to Hindenburg, but Hindenburg made Hitler chancellor soon after. In February 1933, the Reichstag was burned down. The Nazis said this was the start of a communist revolt and persuaded Hindenburg to use his emergency powers to suspend the Reichstag. Some people said the Nazis started the fire, just to push him to do this. Hindenburg was old and ill, so although he was supposed to be the one using the emergency powers, Hitler did. He banned the Communist Party and arrested opponents without then bringing them to trial, sending many of them to the newly-set-up concentration camps. He made the SA into an official auxiliary police force. In the March 1933 elections, the Nazis won 233 seats, but still did not have a majority. So Hitler formed a coalition with two smaller parties. The SA surrounded the building where the new Reichstag was to meet and arrested some of his opponents as they tried to go in. Hitler immediately proposed the Enabling Law, allowing him to rule without the Reichstag for four years. Few Reichstag members were prepared to oppose Hitler with the threat of the SA and the camps hanging over them. The law was passed by 444 votes to 94. In July 1933, Hitler used his new powers to ban all political parties except the Nazis. Hindenburg was the only person who have might stopped Hitler, but he died in August Hitler made himself president, gave himself a new title, Führer, and called his government the Third Reich. Hitler and the Nazis now had complete control of Germany. Ruling Germany Laws were made by its parliament, the Reichstag. No party had a majority in the Reichstag, so political parties formed a coalition with a majority. The chancellor was head of the government. When parties in a coalition disagreed over policies, it was hard to and the head of state was the president, who was elected by the people every seven years. He had little political power, unless coalitions broke down or there was a crisis. Then, he had the power to take control of the country until the crisis was over. 47

5 2.18 Life in Nazi Germany The Nazi state was totalitarian: it tried to control all aspects of German life. Nazi officials, police and secret police (the Gestapo) ensured that people obeyed the government; there were harsh punishments for those who did not. The Ministry of Propaganda censored books, radio programmes, plays, films, music and newspapers, and produced propaganda to ensure that only the correct message was heard. Children had to join Nazi youth groups and the Nazis changed the school curriculum so children learned only what the Nazis approved of. They sacked teachers who objected to the new curriculum, or would not join the party. SOURCE A An advert for the Volkswagen the Nazi party s affordable car. The Heading says: Save five marks a week and get your own car. The Nazis wanted people to be completely committed to Nazi ideas and policies, so they acted against other organisations which might influence people s thinking in a non-nazi way. They banned other political parties, and discouraged all religious worship. They replaced trade unions with their own union, the DAF. Nazi policies produced longer working hours and lower wages, but there were benefits. The Nazis provided healthcare, cheap holidays and free group activities for workers. Unemployment fell from 5.6 million in 1932 to 2.7 million in This was achieved by government programmes (such as building the new autobahn road system), but also by discouraging women from working and not counting unemployed women in the statistics. The Nazi curriculum learned subjects that the Nazis saw as important for one sex or the other. A typical week for a Nazi schoolgirl would be: Monday: Health biology Tuesday: Health biology Wednesday: Health biology Thursday: Eugenics Friday: Saturday: Eugenics. The school day lasted from 8.00 to with a 20-minute break, during which there were exercises and school announcements. In the afternoons, children had activities in the various Hitler youth groups. SOURCE B It has been reported that ceremony you did not raise your arm during the Horst Wessel song and the national anthem. I call your attention to the fact that by doing this you put yourself in danger of physical assault. Nor would it be possible to protect you, because you would deserve it. It is very provocative when people openly exclude themselves from our racial community by actions like yours. Heil Hitler! From a letter written in1935 by a Nazi official in Northeim, Germany to a young woman in the town. The punishment for not giving the Nazi salute was a beating. 48

6 The Nazis taught that Germans were Aryans, a pure race destined to dominate the world. They called other races, like the Slavs of Eastern Europe, slave races. They sent the mentally ill and the severely disabled to special hospitals, where many died of deliberate neglect. Gypsies and homosexuals were also targets of Nazi hatred; many were arrested and sent to concentration camps. However, the worst treatment was for Jewish people. Anti-Semitism During their rise to power, the Nazis had gained support by being anti-jewish. They blamed the Jews for most of Germany s problems (including the loss of the First World War, and the Depression). In 1934, the SA led a boycott of Jewish shops, which soon had to be marked with a yellow star or the word JUDEN. The Nuremburg Laws (1935) took away the right of Jews to vote, and to marry non-jews. They were separated from the rest of the population for example, banning them from swimming pools. In 1937, they Aryanised Jewish businesses they took them from their owners and gave them to non Jews. On 19 November 1938, the Nazis organised Kristallnacht [The Night of Broken Glass]. All over Germany, there were attacks on Jewish shops, synagogues and homes. Thousands of Jewish people were arrested and sent to concentration camps. SOURCE C It costs 4 RM a day to keep a mentally ill person. A civil servant earns 4 RM a day. There are at least 300,000 people in mental asylums at the moment. a) How much do they cost the state each day? b) How many marriage loans [money the state home] of 1,000 RM could the government pay out each day if they did not have to care for the mentally ill? From a maths textbook used in Nazi Germany. RM = Reichsmarks, the currency at the time. SOURCE D Oranienburg concentration camp in At first, the camp was mainly for political opponents of the Nazis. Later, many Jews died there. SOURCE E Ever since I was little, all I had wanted was to I felt lucky to be a mother then. I was treated as if I was special, not like my mother and auntie had been. They had never been given Written in 1997 by Anna Klein, who lived in Vienna under Nazi rule. SOURCE F Suddenly, no one would share a desk with me. I had to sit in a corner, at the back, on my own. When they had race studies, I had to stand outside, in the corridor. When I went back in, I could feel the tension. Everyone was staring, looking at me as if I was vermin. From a 1999 interview with Ursula Rosenfeld, the only Jewish child in her class in a small school in Germany. 49

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