Volksgemeinshaft - holycrosshistory


Hitler’s Attempt to create a


(people’s community)

What were Hitler’s aims?

How far did he succeed?

Tackled in different ways

 Women

 Youth

 Christian Churches

 Outsiders (not part of National


Definition of Volksgemeinschaft

 People’s community - ideal German society

 Racially unified and hierarchically organized body

 Interests of individuals would be strictly subordinate to those of the nation, or


 The people's community would be permanently prepared for war and would accept the discipline that this required

National Community?

Eintopf and Winterhilfe show how the idea of a Volksgemeinschaft worked.

Eintopf : The ‘Volk’ eat one simpe, meal a day one Sunday a month.

 They contribute the money saved to

Winterhilfe, a welfare scheme to provide people with benefits at Winter

 9 million received payments in 1938.

 Mystic Utopia

Required that all its members be centred on the same goal, dedicated to hard work and prepared for self-sacrifice

Those who would not fit in – the ‘asocial’, the

‘workshy’, homosexuals, political opponents – and those who could not fit in – ‘aliens’, the

‘ineducable’, the ‘incurable’ – had to be excluded, even eradicated.

‘Group 1’: The Youth.

 Task 1: Read source 14.4 on page 276 and tell me what it tells us about Hitler’s attitudes to the Youth?


 Idolise the Fuhrer

 Obedience

 Physical fitness

 Sacrifice self for national good

 Contribute to the nation

 Fight (boy)

 Mother (girl)

 A timeline of Youth in Nazi Germany on page 277

How did it work?

 School

 Youth Groups (all Youth Groups except the Catholic groups protected by concordat taken over by Nazis)

 Task 2: Choose one of the sources in page 278/9. You have 5 minutes to read it and comment on what it says about

Young People in Nazi Germany


 ‘The chief purpose of the education system is to train human beings to realise that the state is more important than the individual’

What was done?

 Teachers already sympathetic to Nazi

Party (30% of teachers members by


 Pressured into joining the National

Socialist Teacher’s Youth (97% by

1937). This included training courses stressing Nazi ideology. (by 1938, 2/3 had attended).

What was done (2)

 Curriculum changed.

 Physical exercise stressed (2 hours a day)

 Nazi ideas incorporated into subjects like Biology and History

 Militarism of boys curriculum

 RE downgraded

 New textbooks


 Look at either the History curriculum on page 283, source 14.24, 14.25 or 14.26 on page 284 and write in a few sentences what it tells us about Nazi attempts to create a Volsgemeinschaft

What was done (3)

 Move away from co-educational schools.

 Girls focussed on needlework and music, language and home craft.

 By 1939, denominational schools had been abolished.

What was done (4)

 NAPOLAs (new schools to train the future Nazi elite)

 Boarding school atmosphere, many features of norma schools were abandoned.

 The Adolf Hitler schools from 1937

 These people progressed to the

‘Castles of Order’, Ordensjunkers

(1,000 or so25-30 year olds)

What was done? (5)

Few changes to Higher Education

113,000 in 1933 to 57,000 in 1939 (what does this tell you?)

University teachers influenced by Nazis too (Law for the

Restoration of the Civil Service led to 1,200 dismissals in 1933).

Made to sign a ‘Declaration of Support of Hitler and the State’.

Ideology training camp for new appointees.

Students forced to join German Students’ League (Fitness training

Eugenic ideas in medicine, law and politics.

Can you think of an adverse effect of promoting Eugenics in universities?

Did it succeed?

 The focus route on page 288 is absolutely brilliant for making an assessment on this.

My assessment:

It kinda worked, but is hard to tell. Young people generally, but not completely, conformed (to Authority, not necessarily

Nazism). The Youth groups who opposed, like the Edelweiss

Pirates, Swing Kids, were quite small in numbers (but grew suring the 1930s). Primary sources will generally show that

Young People were sold on Nazism, but there are issues with this. Modern Historians disagree, as the sources show.

Generally, the fact is that they went along with Nazism- either because they genuinely believed in it or otherwise. That so many of these former Hitler Youth members died for the

Fatherland during WW2, and that no serious opposition existed is surely evidence that the Youth policy worked as much as it could have been expected to.

Section 2: Women:

Hitler’s policy on women

"Take hold of kettle, broom and pan,

Then you’ll surely get a man!

Shop and office leave alone, Your true life work lies at home."

"In the Germanic nations there has never been anything else than equality of rights for women. Both sexes have their rights, their tasks, and these tasks were in the case of each equal in dignity and value, and therefore man and woman were on an equality."

 Hitler in 1935

"The mission of women is to be beautiful and to bring children into the world. This is not at all as.........unmodern as it sounds. The female bird pretties herself for her mate and hatches eggs for him. In exchange, the male takes care of gathering food, and stands guard and wards off the enemy."

 Joseph Goebbels, writing in 1929.

From these quotes what can we learn about policy on women?

Very specific policy:

25 points published in 1920 - disapproval of women working

Good mothers bringing up children at home while their husbands worked

1933 Law for the Encouragement of Marriage

Stated that all newly married couples would get a government loan of 1000 marks which was about 9 months average income

800,000 newly weds took up this offer

This loan was not to be simply paid back.

The birth of one child meant that 25% of the loan did not have to be paid back

Two children meant that 50% of the loan need not be paid back

Four children meant that the entire loan was cleared.

What else was done?

 Divorce became easier- why?

Organisations (Source 15B at the bottom of page 296)

Nazi policy undemining the family?

 Hitler Youth took children away from the family

 It encouraged them to challenge their family’s attitudes

 Lebensborn during WW2 (11,000 children born by SS men)

Success (for women and for


 Mixed

 Women in all jobs increased, rather than decreased (labour shortage put ideology against economic need

Mason highlights success (popularity among women)

 Widened experiences for women.

 Nazi views reinforced what other institutions had been preaching before (Catholic Church,

France abortion, sterlilisation in Scandanavia and Americas


 Choose a source on page 294: You have 5 mins to briefly summarise what it tells you about the Nazis’ relationship with women.


 Encourage birth of children: future soldiers and mothers of the Reich -


 Proposed law of 1943 - 4 children: extreme

 Female professionals sacked

 But: by 1937 skills shortage so "Duty

Year” - also marriage loans abolished

Gertrud Scholtz-Klink

Reich Women's Leader and head of the Nazi

Women's League.

Promote male superiority and the importance of childbearing.

”The mission of woman is to minister in the home and in her profession to the needs of life from the first to last moment of man's existence."

July 1934 Scholtz-Klink appointed as head of the

Women's Bureau in the German Labour Front

She now had responsibility for persuading women to work for the good of the Nazi government

In 1938 she argued that "the German woman must work and work, physically and mentally she must renounce luxury and pleasure."

Life for women


Make up, trousers, smoking, slimming

August 12th birthday of Hitler’s mother:

Motherhood Cross awarded to women who had given birth to the largest number of children

 Gold = 8; silver = 6; bronze = 4

Lebensborns buildings where selected unmarried women could go to get pregnant by a "racially pure" SS man

Identifiable - openly publicised

Women driven to join left wing groups


 For an essay either on women or on the success of the Volsgemeinschaft, the large table on page 297 and sources 15.28/15.29 on page 300 are excellent. Whole summary on page 302.

 They show a very mixed success (marriages down after 1934, births up- but average number of children down between 1933 and

1939 and more married women working outsdie the home.


 Eliminating women from workplace increased male employment (and overall unemployment)

 Birth rate rose: 1.2 million in 1934 to

1.41 million in 1939

 But: Nazi success or better economic circumstances (T.W. Mason)

 Practicalities overcame ideology: 1939

33% of work force (still banned from professions though)

Part 3: Christian Churches

 Quickly look at sources 16.1 on page

304 and source 16.8 on page 305.

 What do they suggest about Hitler and the Churches?

Hitler’s background

 Had been brought up a Catholic.

 Happy to associate Christianity with

Nazism when it suited him, and happy to be hostile when it suited him too.

 THINK: What would Christianity and

Nazism have in common?

Aims for Churches

 Wanted to replace Christianity with a new assertive Aryan faith.

 Clever enough to realise he was not in a position to immediate challenge the


 Plays the long game (timeline on page 306)

 THINK: Why might the history of Christianity go against Nazism?

 Task: You have 5 mins to look at the timeline…

The problem

 Task: Look at Sections A and B of the

‘trouble learning spot’, on page 307.

 How did religion change during Nazi


Hitler’s tactics…

 Control  Weaken  Replace (page


 Easier to control divided protestant churches than international Catholic


Protestant Churches

 3 groups emerged

 Reich church (The official umbrella organisation)

 Confessional Church (broke away from the Reich Church)

 German Christians (Racially pure

German Church)

Catholic church

 Concordat with vatican 1933

 Pope agreed to dissolution of Zentrum, recognised regime and promised not to interfere with politics. In turn, could keep control of catholic education, youth groups etc.

German Faith Movement

 Pagan group

 Wanted Germans to leave Christianity and adopt pagan rituals (SS mariages in runic carved rooms)

Part 2: Weaken.

Spoke up against Churches

Discrediting Churches for getting involved in politics.

Anti Church activities (anger at use of Gruss Gott rather than

Heil Hitler, and Bavarian flags on feast days rather than swastika)

Priests accused of sexual misbehaviour

800 Protestant Pastors arrested, and between 1/3 and ½ catholic clergy estimated to have been harassed

Show trials

Youth Groups

Pressure for parents to sent children to non denominational schools

Christian response

 Traditional narrative that Christians failed in their duty. In 1998 the Vatican officially apologised for its lack of opposition (perhaps evidence in itself of success of Nazis?)

 Catholic and protestant churches both supported the war.

Thinking exercise

 Answer the activity on page 311

 Look at source 16.15 on page 312 and answer Activity questions 1-5 (15 minutes).

German People (sources on page


Nazi success Nazi Failure

Work of the pastors has become more difficult (16.18)

Belief among people that one

‘cannot do anything’ against new party, and so give up (16.18)

Slight reduction in Church going and participation in communion


Pressure on certain groups to keep a low profile (16.18)

Removal of RE in schools was troublesome (16.18)

Catholic population in Cologne have branded together (16.16)

Apathy among rural population towards national issues (16.17)

Catholic churchgoing remains strong (16.17)

Mood is against the state and against the Party(16.17)

Church going still ‘good’ (16.18)

War has driven some families back into the arms of the church


The church has much manpower at its disposal (16.19)

Collaborate or Resist?

Collaboration Resistance

 Churches the only institution allowed with an alternative ideology



 The activities on page 314 would be great for those of you doing an essay plan on this topic- excellent historiography on it.

Part 4: Outsiders

 Mentally ill

 Jews

 Asocials

 Homosexuals

 Religious sects

 Gypsies


 A people’s community of healthy, vigorous Aryans working for the good of the nation. Those who were outsiders classified under:

 A) Ideological

 B) Biological

 C) Social

 Think: which groups are likely to come under the different headings?

Sterilisation to Euthanasia

 Compulsory sterilisation from 1933

 350,000 people sterilised in next 12 years (list on page 18.2).

 Eventually developed into murder,

‘mercy killing’.


 Unit T4 established to kill incurably ill children.

 Doctors examined children and had them assessed as + or –

 Death by starvation, lethal injection or mobile gas vans (used again during holocaust).

 Promoted through film (sources 18.3 and 18.4)