Hitler’s domestic policies between 1933 + 1939 engaged widespread popularity among German people. How far would you agree?
Hitler’s domestic policies enjoyed differing levels of support. Policies such as the economy and anti-semitism may have been popular and increased Nazi support. Alteratively, they may have been unpopular and repressive.
When Hitler first came to power in 1933, the Nazi Party did not have majority support. Hitler aimed to strengthen their position further and increase support. When The Reichstag erupted into flames in February of 1933, it signalled the downfall of Germany as a democratic nation. Blamed on a Dutch Communist – van der Lubbe – it gave Hitler the justification for his Enabling Act, banning all political opposition and making the Nazis control of Germany. This was undoubtedly a popular policy as it made Hitler appear as a strong leader, a trait the Germans were clamouring for in a leader after the weekness of coalition Governments.
As Fuhrer, Hitler’s first priority was jobs, or the lack of them. German unemployment had peaked at 6 million due to the Depression devastating the economy. With innovative public works schemes such as the building of autobahns, Hitler put every German back to work. He also advocated schemes such as KdF – Strength Through Joy – which gave workers increased benefits for increased levels of production. This policy was popular and increasingly with the proletariat who had seen their country decimated by the depression.
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Hitler’s economic policy was a huge success. Linked with giving Germans jobs, Hitler aimed to make Germany self-sufficient – autarky – so they no longer relied on foreign imports. By putting people back to work and making huge public spending, inflation was bound to happen. However, Hitler kept this under control by not allowing wages to rise with prices. This may have been one unpopular aspect of Hitler’s economic policy but there were many that the people supported.
Hitler’s policy of anti-semitism was also hugely popular. Hitler had already set to work giving every German a job, however, this did not include “non-German” Jews. Forced out of the civil service and later the professions, Jews were hounded everywhere they went. Kristalnacht – the German reprisal for the murder of a German by a Jew – saw synagogues burned and looted, shops owned by Jewish families ransacked and Jews arrested en masse. Similarly with his other policy regarding religion, the Concordat with the R.C Church, this was very popular among the largely atheist German populace. However, this of course angered the German Jews and by 1939 there were few left, most had fled the country.
A Fascist state generally has many defining elements, one of which is the “police state”. Early in his reign, Hitler established this in Germany. The SA, Hitler’s thugs were the first group to be created. The SA concerned themselves with political prisoners and ran the concentration camps, such as Dachau. The SA were also most likely to arrest you if somebody was under suspicion. The SA however, came to an end not long after Hitler secured power. The Night of the Long Knives saw Ernst Rohm and many other top ranking SA members killed by Hitler’s new security team, the SA. The SA were formed by Heinrich Himmler initially as the police of one of Germany’s districts. Entry requirements stated that the applicant must be Aryan and able to prove their lineage. The SA were mostly feared for their “Death’s Head” units, who ran the death camps at Auschwitz and elsewhere. The SA were brutal and unrelentless in carrying out their tasks, working with the Gestapo to weed out enemies of the state and bring them to “justice”. The final group used for German law enforcement was again formed by Himmler, the Gestapo. The German secret police was initially to be used as Himmler’s bodyguard but were later amalgamated into the German security forces. The Gestapo were not as straightforward as the SA or SS, often tracking suspects for extended periods of time and eventually arresting them, where torturous methods would be used to extract information and used against them, where they would generally be turned over to the SS. Hitler’s use of fear and terror and the creation of a police state was most likely unpopular with the German people. Although it made Hitler appear strong, German’s negative opinions were simply repressed into the background.
Along with manipulation of the people through fear and terror, Hitler made effective use of propaganda. With Dr. Josef Goebells as Head of Propaganda, Hitler ensured that everywhere across Germany, his message could be heard. Cheap radios were mass produced and sold to the public, almost every home in Germany had a radio. When Hitler went to railles such as Nuremberg, hundreds of thousands of people would listen to him speak. New forms of media and transport meant new opportunities. Hitler had short films playing in cinemas telling of his latest policy decision and various propaganda messages. With the coming of the plane, it meant that Hitler could now travel between towns much quicker and attend various cities in a much shorter time. A large part of propaganda was anti-semitism. Posters flew up across Germany telling of “Juden” who would steal jobs from hard working Aryan Germans and take what was rightfully theirs. Propaganda was a hugely popular part of Hitler’s regime as people were enthralled by the new technology and generally agreed with the message Hitler was spreading.
Youth and education was the final major policy Hitler had to deal with. Hitler believed that if he was to build a 1000 year Reich he would have to begin with the new generation. Youth organisations such as the Hitler Youth of League of German Maidens started up and children were encouraged to take part. These schemes offered increased opportunities for children to meet with others and participate in physical activities for the boys or learning domestic skills for the girls. In the Hitler Youth however, the activities had a clearly militaristic aim. Boys were being trained as soldiers for Hitlers war to create Lebensraum for the people. Education was also touched by the Nazis. Teachers had to be a part of the Nazi Union or forced out of work. Subjects such as Mathematics were changed to suit the coming Nazi war machine, with children calculating the velocity of bombs and other information that would prove useful. Hitler’s anti-semitic propaganda was also a part of educations with Jews being ridiculed by their classmates and eventually forced out of the state schools system. Youth and education was yet another popular policy made by Hitler. The children were enthused by their respective organisations and the new curriculum.
In conclusion, it could be said that Hitler’s policies enjoyed widespread support such as his foreign policy and economic policy. However, due to a few key decisions that proved unpopular with masses such as the use of fear and terror against the population. From this, I would partially agree with the statement that Hitler’s domestic policies between 1933 + 1939 engaged widespread popularity among German people.