Life in Nazi Germany | Animated History

Life in Nazi Germany | Animated History


This video is sponsored by “Brilliant”; more on that later. Hi, I’m Griffin Johnson, the Armchair Historian. Today’s video: What was life like in Nazi Germany? When one tries to imagine what life was like for the average German between the years of 1933 and 1945, what comes to mind? Many would likely envision it as a drab nightmarish totalitarian dystopia, and in many ways this was true, certainly for the sections of society that the Nazi’s firmly repressed, but how much different was life like for the Germans who lived up to Hitler standards? Before we address the life of the average citizen, we must first understand what life was like for minorities, and as can be imagined the rights of these groups were essentially eliminated, almost as soon as Hitler took power in 1933. Jewish civil servants such as teachers, professors, engineers, and administrators were excluded from government employment within the first few months of Hitler’s election. The Nazis used their newly acquired power to orchestrate what would be known as “Kristallnacht” or “Crystal Night” in which thousands of Jewish businesses, homes, and synagogues were burned or otherwise vandalized, their owners beaten and arrested. By 1941 almost all of Germany’s remaining Jewish population, which 10 years earlier had numbered over half a million, were imprisoned in concentration camps. The Nazis embarked on an ideologically-fueled campaign against virtually all minorities and marginal groups of society including gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and ethnic Slavs. One of the methods used in this campaign was forced sterilization. In the words of Richard Evans in his book “The Third Reich in Power” “In essence the Nazi regime was using Sterilization to crush those areas of society that did not conform to the Nazi ideal.” Another particular aspect of this campaign that has been written about repeatedly, is the Nazis eugenics program which sought to systematically breed out those the Nazis deemed “untermenschen” or subhuman. For example, state-appointed physicians were authorized and instructed to euthanize children that were considered, by the Nazis, to be unworthy of life. Up to one-hundred thousand Germans including twenty-thousand children were euthanized between 1939 and 1941. Now that we understand the experiences of those the Nazis persecuted, let’s examine how life was for everyday citizens. While the role of men in society under the new regime was not much different from that of the previous, one women experienced a variety of new expectations the Nazis introduced what they saw as traditional German values for women, which included modesty, dedication to Christian (in this case Nazified) values, and most importantly the production of children, which the Nazis viewed as a crucial component of their plans to expand the German nation. In fact, a civil award: a German Mother’s Cross, was established and given to women who bore at least four children. In schools, students were taught a curriculum that was designed to encourage discrimination and discourage racial mixing. To quote Richard Evans again: “Teachers and pupils greet each other at the beginning and end of every lesson with the Nazi salute.” The pupils listen to major political speeches on the radio in the school hall.” As we mentioned, the primary objective of the Nazi school system was to ensure that the party’s ideology became ingrained in the minds of students, something which was intended to produce loyal soldiers for future wars. Dating all the way back from 1922, the Hitler Youth and later on its female branch, the League of German Girls, was meant to prepare boys for military service and girls for motherhood. These organizations were incredibly popular in Germany and by 1939, over 90 percent of Germany’s children were part of the Hitler Youth. During this time, even more innocuous institutions of German society began to take a National Socialists slant, as can be seen with the positive Christianity movement, which was a state-sponsored program to unite all of Germany’s Protestant churches into one national church that would legitimize and support the Nazi agenda. Government, under the direction of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, distributed millions of inexpensive radios to the people in order to make sure that important political messages could reach them. These measures, however, often did not produce the desired effect, as most people were only interested in carrying on daily life as it had existed before. Recognizing that most of the German people could not be fully indoctrinated, the government enforced its ideal German state through legislation. For example, it was required for both men and women aged 19 to 25 to commit a six-month tour of public labor, in which they fulfilled the Nazi concept of a social labor force. Women were then allowed to return home, but men were conscripted into the Wehrmacht or German military. This provided a steady source of manpower for the ultra-militaristic Nazi state. The Nazis also introduced the “Volkswagen” or “People’s car”, which was intended to provide each German household with a vehicle, as part of Hitler’s campaign to motorize Germany. In regards to economics, the Great Depression was taking a disastrous toll on the German people before the Nazis were elected. By 1933, unemployment stood at 35 percent and inflation was rampant. Naturally, the Nazis promised to improve the state of the German economy, something which earned them many votes in the election of 1933. Their first priority was to reduce the dismal amount of unemployment in Germany by initiating large public works projects such as the construction of canals and the “Autobahn” or “Highway”. Hitler boasted his success in spite of the fact that many of the employment statistics that were used excluded significant portions of the population such as Jews and soldiers. Though the Nazis economic reforms have generally been considered effective, it took years for the unemployment rate to actually drop to stable levels. Despite promising peace, both during and after his election, Hitler would once again involve the German people in a large-scale war. As the need for resources to power the German military grew larger and larger, more countries were subjected to Hitler’s conquest, something which escalated the war onto a global scale. As the conflict raged on, it quickly became apparent to most observers, even those within Germany, that the idealistic utopia that the Nazis hoped for would never come to fruition. The sheer number of casualties that the war produced, especially on the Eastern Front was overwhelming. When defeat finally did arrive, it would take nearly a half-century before life would return to normal, as the country was divided between the Democratic West and the Communist East, until they were reunited in 1990. One of the scientists who fled Germany in the 1930’s was none other than Albert Einstein. Our sponsor for today, “Brilliant”, allows you to master the kind of problem-solving and logic that would have been familiar to Einstein himself. Jumping into science, math, and physics sounds like an extremely daunting task, especially for an armchair historian like yourself, but “Brilliant” allows you to learn these concepts through fun bite-sized problems. In all of “Brilliant’s” lessons they’re both visuals and thorough explanations. If you’re currently a student or just a lifelong learner, we highly recommend you start your free trial at “brilliant.org/armchairhistorian”. The first seventy-six users, the amount of years that Einstein was around, will get twenty percent off of their first annual subscription. So, please support our channel by signing up today. Thanks for watching! I’d like to thank the Armchair Historian team and my general staff on Patreon. If you’re interested in German history, check out our videos on the rise of Prussia and the Prussian army. We’ll see you next time next Friday with our video on communist China.

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