Nazi Germany and Albert Speer

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Option 21: Albert Speer 1905-1981 Principal focus: Through the study of Albert Speer, students gain an understanding of the role of this personality in a period of national or international history. Students learnt about:

1. Historical context
* Rise of the Nazi party and the personal charisma of Adolf Hitler * Development of the Nazi state after 1933
* Nazi war effort to 1945
* Nuremberg War Crimes Trial

2. Background
* Family background and education
* Introduction to Nazism and his reasons for joining the Nazi party

3. Rise to prominence
* Early work for the Nazi party
* Appointment as ‘First Architect of the Reich’
* The ‘Germania’ project and the new Reich Chancellery * Work as Armaments Minister

4. Significance and evaluation
* Relationship with Hitler
* Involvement with anti-Semitic activities in connection with the Germania project – the question of the ‘Jew-flats’ * Use and abuse of forced labour
* Knowledge of and links with the concentration camp system * Reaction to Hitler’s ‘scorched earth’ policy in 1945 * The significance of Speer’s work as Minister for Armaments and War Production to the overall German war effort * Evaluation: for example, the ‘Good Nazi’?

1. Historical Context
Rise of the Nazi party
* Signing of the armistice on 11 November, 1918 by German leaders. Germans believed the army had been “stabbed in the back” * June 1919, allied powers forced Germany to sign the Treaty of Versailles. Had to accept the War Guilt Clause and accept responsibility for the war and the destruction it caused * Republic was faced with defeat, stab in the back legend, economic collapse and political violence * January 1923: occupation of the Ruhr, the economy collapse and hyperinflation meant the German currency had no value * Mid 1920’s: republic had recovered, a new currency was established, US loans led to an economic boom, Germany’s international status returned. The depression caused economic and social catastrophe and Germany was being run by presidential decree * Hitler joined the German workers Party and became the leader by 1921, the party was renamed the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi) * November 1923 – the Beer Hall Putsch: Hitler received a 5 year prison sentence, he gained national attention and only served 9 months in prison where he wrote his autobiography “Mein Kampf”. * Once leaving prison, Hitler reorganised the Nazi party and in January 1933, a back room deal led to Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor The personal charisma of Adolf Hitler

* Unemployed saw him as the man to end the depression and who would restore economic prosperity * Germany’s middle class lost faith in the Republic and believed Hitler could restore Germany and stop them from falling into the ‘proletariat’ * Businessmen believed the Nazi party would control the unions and keep Communists out * Hitler had a personal magnetism: energetic, tension, anticipation, emotion, power and drama. Hitler understood propaganda and the need to keep it simple Development of the Nazi state after 1933

* By August 1934, Hitler’s power was absolute and gave the appearance of a totalitarian state. * Germany had only one political party, led by a charismatic dictator, with control placed on all aspects of society and propaganda attempted to convince the population of the benefits of Nazi rule. The use of the Gestapo and concentration camps was to stop opposition * Gleischaltung: ‘co-ordination’. Can be seen through the Reichstag elections, the Enabling Act (23rd March), Banning of all political parties (14th July) and the Night of the Long Knives (30th June 1934) * As the war progressed, Nazi regime became increasingly radical with law and justice disappearing and the state interfering with the economy. Anti-Semitic measures became more extreme and many Jews had been...
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