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The Rise of Nazi Germany: An Interactive Lesson

Updated on June 23, 2018
ibbarkingmad profile image

Brian has a Masters of Education from Southern Utah University. He works as a behavior specialist & is training to be a behavior analyst.

A copy of the treaty that spelled the doom of repeated history.
A copy of the treaty that spelled the doom of repeated history.

Reparations, Inflation & Depression:

The end of the First World War resulted in the Treaty of Versailles (Pronounced Ver-sigh). The treaty was very unfair to the losers. So much so that president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, withdrew from the proceedings as a form of protest. Because the Austro Hungarian Empire had collapsed as a result of the war, and because Germany was the only surviving country that was on that side of the war, the treaty was forced upon Germany without any concessions to that country. There wasn't even any representation for German during the proceedings in Versailles. The treaty was presented with an ultimatum of "sign this or else..." If the German government did not sign it there would be MAJOR sanctions, occupation, and more. Effectively they were coerced into agreeing to seriously damaging debt that would hold the German economy down for decades.

The treaty forced reparations on Germany in such high amounts that it economically hurt the country drastically even before the start of the Great Depression. Among other requirements was the forced payment of Germany's gold and silver reserves to the allied nations.

As a direct result, hyperinflation hit the nation. Hyperinflation is inflation of currency that is extremely high or "out of control". Inflation is an economic term defined as the rise in the general level of prices of goods and services (such as food or electricity) in an economy over a period of time.

The impact of this sort of inflation is awful for everyone, but especially the middle class and poor. As a result of this inflation, life savings were wiped out overnight. People who would have barely enough to get by one day would have nothing or next to nothing the next. It was so bad that it would cost thousands of Marks to buy a loaf of bread.

Knowledge Check 1

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A Five Million Deutsche Mark
A Five Million Deutsche Mark
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Those are stacks of money.It literally took two or three of these bundles to buy food for a day. It was so worthless that children could play with bundles like blocks!
Those are stacks of money.
Those are stacks of money.
It literally took two or three of these bundles to buy food for a day. It was so worthless that children could play with bundles like blocks!
It literally took two or three of these bundles to buy food for a day. It was so worthless that children could play with bundles like blocks!
Hitler was viewed as a savior by many Germans and for good reason. He brought economic salvation. Sinister since he also brought other terrible things with him.
Hitler was viewed as a savior by many Germans and for good reason. He brought economic salvation. Sinister since he also brought other terrible things with him.

Adolf Hitler, the Perceived Leader & Savior:

At the end of the First World War, then called the Great War, the Kaiser's government collapsed (fun fact, Kaiser is German for Ceaser). The economic woes that followed resulted in a very unstable and ever-changing government. The lack of leadership and political infighting worsened economic situation. The government at the time was called the Weimar Republic (pronounced Vi-mar), and was a slap-dash affair that was thrown together at the end of the First World War by political and military officials who had not fleed for fear of reprisals for the war.

As a result of this instability, Hitler’s combination of political manipulation and strong leadership brought him to power. He took over the previously existing Nazi party (which stands for the National Socialist Party in German) and only used its ideas to accomplish his goals. He used popular symbols and ideas to increase the popularity and image of his party.

Here is a Suggested Project: Research the original meaning of the swastika symbol. Are there any Non-Nazi/White Supremacist groups that still use it today? You may be surprised by what you find.

The Nazi Philosophy:

Something to consider. According the the Nazi philosophy what other groups of people were considered sub-human?
Something to consider. According the the Nazi philosophy what other groups of people were considered sub-human?
A map of German occupied territories during World War Two.
A map of German occupied territories during World War Two.

“Lebensraum” or Living Space:

One of the ideas that Hitler really pushed for was that there was a need for more room for the German "race" to grow. Initially, the idea was to regain territories lost due to World War One and the extremely unfair conditions of the Treaty of Versailles. But it didn't stop there. The idea of "racial superiority" justified the German move into areas that were occupied by so-called "non-Arian" peoples. Nazi philosophy viewed such people as good servants, workers, or potential slaves for the supposedly supreme race, while other races such as the Romani (also known as Gypsies), Jews, black Africans (and other dark-skinned races), the mentally or physically disabled, Jehovah's Witnesses (and other dissenters due to religion such as Latter-day Saints or Mormons), and homosexuals were viewed as sub-human and were imprisoned, experimented on, and eventually exterminated in large numbers. This was especially horrific for the Jewish peoples. The mass extermination is known as the Holocaust.

While Hitler's government initially started out as a parliamentary democracy, it quickly evolved into a military dictatorship. Since the Weimar Republic was not a natural evolution of German politics this left a very entrenched warrior class feeling disenfranchised and frustrated. Hitler was able to use this disenfranchisement and frustration to manipulate this class into supporting him. Add to this the constant changes in the republics political structure due to a lack of stability and the German people embraced strong leadership after living in relative chaos for several decades. Hitler was able to take power completely legally.

Knowledge Check 2

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And now a ligher look at the events of the Second World War.

Comments

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  • ibbarkingmad profile imageAUTHOR

    Brian Middleton 

    5 years ago from Southern Utah

    Ausseye,

    Socialism, while present, was not the major factor in the NAZI party despite that fact the NAZI translated into English is the German National Socialist Party. The reality is that while the NAZI party did indeed to many a socialist like things, they were more Fascist in their political approach. Even that isn't fair to Fascists because the NAZI regime under Adolf Hitler was insane. Essentially anything that did not have the stamp of approval from the NAZI party was questionable at best, evil at worst. I highly recommend you read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. This book reveals a lot about what NAZI Germany was and is a great read. Since it was written shortly after the end of the war by a REAL reporter who had access to REAL documents and facts, there is no politically correct bias and lots of truth.

  • profile image

    Ausseye 

    5 years ago

    Hi Yourbarkingbrillinat:

    History has its records while we humans have our victories, humans serve humanity better than any political droll. Very few rulers have ever passed the humanity test Hitler failed I very badly, a dunce was the verdict. Mind you he was a vicious excuse for a human being. Few individual showed some courage in standing in his way, but the socialist mob we a little too naive to fathom his intent, you left them as low life in Germany nobility. Socialists were the enemy of the state and deserved what they got, swash those vermin and make them fly the country. Awesome effort but now you must go back and include socialists in your account, love you victory over word, thoughts and other peoples opinions. Some parents are true gems, damn glow in the dark they do……love your work.

  • ibbarkingmad profile imageAUTHOR

    Brian Middleton 

    7 years ago from Southern Utah

    @platinumOwl4

    I got a lot of my base information from The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by William L. Shirer (great book! See above Amazon link) and then got my additional information from extensive study on the subject. Despite the fact that the Second World War is the war that had the most impact of any war on the face of this little planet I have found that too few people actually understand the rudimentary aspects of why Hitler came to power. I feel stupid about forgetting about Blacks and I am editing the hub accordingly.

  • platinumOwl4 profile image

    platinumOwl4 

    7 years ago

    ibbarkingmad, this is an excellent hub. I was having a conversation with friends just last night on The Treaty, Homosexuality,and the 200 thousand African that people either are unaware of or refuse to discuss, who died in the showers of Nazi Germany. Again, this hub was excellent. Matter of fact American is ripe for such an occurrence. Wish I had this book in my collection.

  • gjfalcone profile image

    gjfalcone 

    7 years ago from Gilbert, Arizona

    I enjoyed you hub, it fueled a few questions I'm gonna look up. Thanks.gjf

  • ibbarkingmad profile imageAUTHOR

    Brian Middleton 

    7 years ago from Southern Utah

    This is a first attempt. I think I will try again. I think I may be able to do better now that I have given it a try. I wish there was a way for me to set the deliver of the results from the quizzes to me but as of right now that appears not to be the case.

  • profile image

    twodawgs 

    7 years ago

    Pretty neat! I was wondering if there was a way to create interactive tutorial hubs.

  • ibbarkingmad profile imageAUTHOR

    Brian Middleton 

    7 years ago from Southern Utah

    Is that good? I was thinking this would be useful as a tool for teaching when I finish my degree and start teaching (in about a year).

  • avorodisa profile image

    Anna Sidorova 

    7 years ago from Russia

    This is like reading a history book. Interesting!

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