The National Socialist Party came to power through a series of swift, ruthless and devastating actions which firmly established Germany as a fascist state. The centralisation of power in Germany, known as 'co-ordination' (Gleichschaltung), was initiated on the day of the election and was carried out with such clinical efficiency, that the German state was completely transformed within a matter of months.
Hitler's Gleichschaltung was extremely successful in altering the cultural and economic landscape of Germany in the years between 1933 and the commencement of the Second World War in 1939. National Socialism touched every aspect of life; youth culture, the role of women, education, the economy and the effect it had on employment, the working class, as well as religion in the domination of the Christian Church. As this essay will explain, each of these individual developments in German society, which were initiated by the Nazi regime, came together to precipitate a complete cultural transformation for the lives of German people by 1939.
Nazi Seduction of the German People
The attraction of the Third Reich was compelling for the German people and strong feelings of national pride were instilled in the mass population. Germans were moved by wave after wave of brilliantly staged nationalistic promptings in the form of spectacular public rallies and stirring speeches. The totalitarian state model, which was so important to the Nazi Party's grip on its people, was achieved through a mix of persuasion, motivation and discrimination.
Individualism was quickly replaced by a way of life steeped in collective gestures and symbols; mass rallies, uniforms, public commemorations and in particular, the gesture synonymous with the Nazi era - the 'Heil Hitler' salute. Although these public messages became tiresome to many Germans, they were a constant theme throughout the Nazi era, and were therefore inescapable. They were successful in convincing the German masses of the power of the Third Reich as an all conquering, superior phenomenon.
The mobilisation of German youth was a vital cog in the National Socialist propaganda machine. The drive towards creating a fiercely dependent and loyal German youth was formed on the basis of a rejection of the old bourgeois world in favour idealistic notions of a new and more egalitarian society.The lengths to which the Nazi's went, in order to harness the loyalty of the German youth were great and centred on the creation of a rival organisation to the formal education system called the Hitler Youth (Hitler - Jugend). When Hitler came to power in 1933, the Hitler Youth organisation had only 107,956 members. By the end of 1933 however, under the leadership of Baldur von Schirach, most youth movements were under the influence of the Nazis and the few remaining nonconformists such as Catholic organisations were feeling the Nazi influence. Two laws, which came into effect in December 1936 and March 1939 made participation in the Hitler Youth (HJ) mandatory, driving up membership of the organisation to 8,870,000 at the beginning of 1939.
The Hitler Youth indoctrinated young Germans with Nazi concepts of race, discipline and obedience. Summer camps were set up, in which political ideological teachings, physical fitness, rifle practice, endurance and team-building games were core activities. The aim was to breed a new type of German, one which was loyal to National Socialism and would thus ensure the future existence and expansion of Germany as a Nazi state.
The family was an institution of supreme importance to the Nazis, being regarded as crucial to the future success of The Third Reich. Much was done to raise the popularity of marriage and increase birth-rate, as mothers who stayed at home to bring up large families were put on a pedestal and treated with utmost respect. On 12 August - the birthday of Hitler's mother - every mother who had given birth to a large...
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