The volksgemeinschaft was the Nazi belief in a “People’s community” consisting of physically and mentally fit German Aryans. An Aryan was someone who fitted Hitler’s beliefs of being pure blooded Germans, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Hitler had the ‘blood and soil’ ideology. They believed that the individual Germans weren’t important, everything was all for the state. They had to all pull together and rebuild Germany to how it was before the First World War, a booming economy.The first group of people Hitler targeted were the Youth.
Hitler targeted the youth, as he believed they were the future as they were the ones who would fight in the war and they could be easily influenced with the propaganda. Hitler used boys and girls of all ages as they would be obedient and as they were young they were physically fit. Hitler looked on boys and girls separately, the boys would fight, while the girls were at home bearing children. Some of the main Nazi influences on the youth were the NSF, Media, Schools and the Hitler Youth.The Nazis made it compulsory that all children joined the Hitler Youth after 1936. He organised many different activities including special camps, sport and military training. However, many children managed to avoid the meetings especially after they left school which was then the age of fourteen.
In 1932 before it became compulsory there were 107,956 members, but after 1936 when it became compulsory there were over 6 million members. Added to this, some rival groups were also set up to counteract the influence of the Hitler Youth. The main groups were the Edelweiss Pirates and Swing. The Edelweiss Pirates were boys aged 14-17 and wore a particular uniform. Many of the members were the working class trying to escape the intrusive Nazi system. They did activities like weekend camps, hikes and they sung songs about sex and food which the Nazis didn’t like.
Some of the groups were highly politicised and had links with the KPD. By 1939, they had over 2 thousand members. Swing was mainly the upper and middle class youths who were able to go to night-clubs. They rejected Hitler Youth ideals and they were generally anti-politics. Nazis tried to combat it by closing bars and making arrests but they were unsuccessful.The other way the Nazis influenced the youth was in education.
They replaced the teachers with people willing to teach about German youth education and those who were also supporters of the Nazis. All of the subjects focused entirely on Germany, some of the questions used in like maths focused on getting rid of the ‘undesirables’. “The construction of a lunatic asylum costs 6 million RDM.
How many houses at 15,000 RDM each could be built for that amount?” Everything they taught was approved personally by Hitler and told of how the Nazi party would make Germany was great again.Overall, they were politically programmed to obey the Nazis and the Hitler Youth did create enthusiasm. However, in the rural areas, there was a sharp decline in participation in the Hitler Youth as it was regarded as burdensome and they were increasingly irritated by the lack of freedom and the mindless drilling. Participation had increased with the Hitler Youth due to it becoming compulsory, but participation in the alternative youth movements was also increasing. Many people didn’t want to actually be part of the Hitler Youth which is why they became members of the alternative youth movements. However, being part of the Hitler youth was achieving the Nazi’s idea of the Volksgemeinschaft, as they were being trained to believe the same things and want to fight to win back their independence.Hitler next targeted the women as to have many physically and mentally fit German Aryans the women had to give birth to them in the first place. The Nazi believed that the women’s role was at home, caring for their husbands who had to be Aryans.
Their role was to produce many children to keep Germany going. The Nazis tried to implement their ideas in 1933 making a Law for the Reduction of Unemployment, this was to reduce unemployment for women with the introduction of policies. Marriage loans were granted to women who gave up their jobs in exchange, they were no longer allowed to work in the civil service and if the women was in a marriage that wasn’t producing children divorce was made a lot easier.
The Nazis also decided that all single or married women up to 35 must have at least 4 children. Some propaganda that the Nazis used were posters of mothers breastfeeding their child with a caption saying “Germany grows through strong mothers and healthy children”.Overall, the Nazis failed in this aspect as the number of women in jobs increased due to the economic recovery so many women went back to work for a better wage. In 1933, 34.4% of women worked, but by 1939 this had risen to 36.
7%. The experiences of the women varied dramatically according to the woman’s race and politics.As well as those that fitted into the Volksgemeinschaft, Hitler also had to deal with people that didn’t fit into the Volksgemeinschaft.
They were people who didn’t fit into the Aryan way of life they were called the Gemeinschaftsunfï¿½hig.The mentally ill was anybody who suffered from schizophrenia to hereditary epilepsy to serious physical deformities to alcoholics. They were seen as ‘burdens on the community’. The Nazis believed that sterilization was the key and it was made compulsory. In 1939, they decided that euthanasia was the answer. They were killed by starvation, a lethal injection or by gassing.The Asocials who were anybody who didn’t fit into the Volksgemeinschaft. In 1938, they were classed as vagabonds, gypsies, beggars, prostitutes etc.
The Nazis didn’t like the fact that they were unwilling to work, it was seen as an ‘offence to the community’. Some were given work, other were placed in concentration camps and made to wear a black triangle.The Nazis discriminated against the homosexuals as they felt that their behaviour deeply offended the minded Nazis. They didn’t like them due to the fact that they couldn’t have children.
They were sent to concentration camps and made to wear pink triangles. Some were castrated and used in medical experiments.Hitler also targeted the Religious sects. Hitler was fairly cautious when dealing with the main Christian churches but when it came to the minority sects who were people like Jehovah’s Witnesses he acted fiercely against them. They were disliked as they refused to join the army and swear allegiance to Germany. Other sects like Christian Scientists and Seventh Day Adventists suffered similar fates. Hitler targeted these people because they also had their own set of values and rules with many people listened to. Hitler felt that if he allowed the churches to have complete free reign, then not as many people would convert to the Nazi way of life.
The last group that Hitler targeted was the Gypsies. At first the Nazis showed them no hostility, but with their distinctive appearance and their lifestyle they became an object of suspicion in many countries. In 1939, they were sent to concentration camps and then expelled to Auschwitz in Poland where a special gypsy camp had been built for them.The last group that Hitler discriminated against were the Jews. The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 made it illegal for Jews and non-Jews to marry. There was hostility against the Jews because the Nazis believed it was their responsibility for the killing of Christ.
The Nazis were one of several parties who encouraged Anti-Semitism. In 1938 the Pogroms of Kristallnacht occurred. This is where there was symbolised radicalisation of the regime, the Nazis were free to pursue their aim of driving the Jews out of the German life. Throughout 1939, emigration was used to remove the Jewish presence from Germany.Overall, around 40,000 people were prevented from having children and they were also made anyone who fitted into the asocials group weren’t eligible for welfare benefits. Hitler wished to get ride of these groups as they didn’t fit into the Volksgemeinschaft, as they weren’t ‘pure’ like Hitler wished his society to be. Hitler was successful in destroying many of the sectors, but he wasn’t able to fulfil his dream of a unified nation.Hitler then had to do something with the church.
The church is maybe the only group who could undermine the Nazi party, as many people believe in what the churches say, so if Hitler was to completely undermine the church, then the church could tell their entire congregation not to believe anything that Hitler says and they would believe them. They didn’t want anybody to contradict their view of a Volksgemeinschaft and its ideals. The church had its own views and opinions which many people listened to, and based their life on. Hitler didn’t want this.There was a major difference between the church and the Nazis. The church advocated love and co-operation whilst the Nazis advocated hate and struggle.
Hitler wished to replace the Christian faith with an assertive Aryan faith but he knew the Church was a potential obstacle to the reordering of the German people. realised he couldn’t embark immediately on implementing his full vision so, for tactical reasons Hitler said he needed the church for ‘positive Christianity’, what Hitler would do was to gain some control and support from the Church hierarchies and then he would gradually reduce their influence.Hitler signed an agreement with the Catholic Church, it stated that Hitler would leave the Catholics alone as long as the Pope kept out of German politics.Within the Protestant Church, Hitler gave his support to the ‘German Christians’ who believed that pastors should take an oath of loyalty to Hitler and that any member of the church with Jewish ancestry should be sacked.
In the Pagan movement, Hitler set up the ‘German faith movement’ as an alternative to Christianity. The swastika replaced the cross, the bible was replaced by ‘Mein Kampf’ which was placed on the alter along with a sword. Only invited Nazis were allowed to give sermons.
Overall, the Church remained a massive obstacle in the way of the Nazi party as they were permitted to retain their own organisational autonomy. Hitler was very worried however, as they had their own views which many people listened to. Some people didn’t wish to be part of the Reich Church and broke away and formed the Confessional Church which wished to remain protestant with their own practices and beliefs.Hitler had many economic aims. He wished to tackle the Depression and restore Germany to full employment.
Economic recovery would also mean there would be more resources for Germany to use to help them re-build Germany’s military might, before territorial expansion. Hitler viewed war as inevitable, he stressed how Germany’s economy must become self-sufficient.The Nazis stimulated economic recovery by increasing public expenditure and investment and they also extended the public works schemes in 1932. People were paid by the state, which meant more private companies took on more workers. Hitler pressured some groups out of employment like the women, and then the Youth Service was taken off the unemployed register. Hjalmar Schacht was President of the Reichsbank and he directed German economic policy. He believed in steady growth and a stable currency. He promoted trade agreements with developing countries by trading manufactured goods for cheap raw materials.
He was against spending too much on rearmament before the German economy was strong enough.Hitler set up the 4 year plan. This was to speed up rearmament, to make Germany ready for war. He also wanted to make Germany self-sufficient in raw material by developing home grown substitutes. The results of this were that the German army grew massively. Hitler became more confident and started to openly break the Treaty of Versailles.Overall, employment dropped quickly from 4.8 million to half a million in 1938.
The wages rose slightly and working hours went up. There were fewer consumer goods and trade unions were replaced by the ‘Beauty of Labour’ who organised better conditions and leisure activities. The Third Reich was also good for big businesses but not so good for the smaller businesses. This all fitted into the Volksgemeinschaft because if the economy could be rebuilt, then the society would be would perfect according to Hitler.The peasants of lower class got exactly what they wished for from the Third Reich. With the peasants the independent decision making was taken away from them, their agricultural prices, production and distribution were controlled.
With the lower class, the big department stores took away the business from the small shopkeepers and they were unable to compete on equal terms.Under the Third Reich workers benefited from increased employment. Wages were frozen in 1933, which meant a demand for skilled labourers increased, they were given Christmas bonuses and insurance schemes were provided by employers. Some workers were provided with free motorcycles by their employers. Workers in armaments were better off than workers in agriculture. The workers lost their freedom, but they gained improved facilities such as better buildings. However, they also found reality worse than they expected, as there was intimidation, brutal treatment and an imprisonment of socialists and communists.
The workers were helped by a number of groups. The DAF was the German Labour front. They took over unions assets and the workers were represented in one national body.
The membership included employers and employees. They provided facilities, restored social peace and they won the workers over the Nazi way of life, this was a key means of achieving the Volksgemeinschaft. The KdF was “Strength through Joy”. They were created by the DAF to improve worker’s leisure opportunities. The Schï¿½nheit der Arbeit “Beauty through work” they were a KdF subdivision, it was believed that this was a major blow against the class system.
The last major class was the RAD. They developed from a voluntary scheme under the Weimar Republic. In 1933, a law was made that made 6 months labour service for all men aged 19-25.
This was for the working class, to educate the German Youth. Most members were employed in agriculture or in public works. This meant living in barracks away from home and they received low pay.Overall, as the Nazis controlled the whole way that the peasants farmed, many moved away from the land and to the town where higher wages could be earned. So this went against what Hitler was trying to achieve with the Volksgemeinschaft.In conclusion, the Nazis achieved some of their aims in the Volksgemeinschaft, they were able to win round some of the Youth, but due to outside influences some youths did turn away from the Nazi way of life. Some women were influenced by the Nazis but due to the economic recovery, many women went back to work.
Hitler was successful with his policy of getting rid of ‘undesirables’ as millions were killed without much rebellion. When it came to the Churches the Nazis didn’t succeed as the Churches still had a lot of influence over the Nazi party. Hitler’s economic aims were achieved as he was able to build up Germany, but maybe it was too soon to go to war as they were economically ready for that. Hitler also tried to encourage people to give donations. He felt that giving to charity would help to achieve the unified nation through learning to give.
One way he did this was send members of the Hitler Youth round people collecting donations. Hitler’s society did bring a change to German society but all the people who had been excluded from Hitler’s dreams were either forced to emigrate or were brutally murdered. Some other ways in which the Nazis used propaganda was by having complete control over the mass media, they provided political plays but many people found it a great turn-off and not many people visited the theatre. Many people didn’t want actually be part of any of the Nazi movements as they didn’t always believe in what was being said, but they were pressured into joining.So all in all, Hitler was maybe close to achieving the Volksgemeinschaft but he maybe needed more time and effort to fully achieve his desired Volksgemeinschaft.