Life in Nazi Germany, 1933-1939

Alongside control and suppression, the Nazis tried to influence every part of German life.

The economy

Hitler claimed that he had dramatically reduced unemployment figures under the Nazis. Certainly, rearmament created jobs. But National Service meant young men were not counted as being unemployed any longer. Women and Jews were left out of the figures altogether. Therefore, we can’t be sure of how many people truly found jobs under the Nazis. However, living standards for working class Germans did not really improve and workers were expected to take part in Nazi Party schemes like Strength Through Joy, which gave them cheap holidays, in return for giving up their trade union rights.

The Nazis aspired to achieve autarky, or economic self-sufficiency, but in general the economy was geared towards preparing for a future war. As such, workers were expected to work long hours for modest pay and to toe the line.

Social policy

The Nazis’ social policies affected two groups in society the most – women and young people:

  • Women were expected to embrace a life based around the ‘3 Ks’ of Kinder, Küche, Kirche (Children, Kitchen and Church). It was their duty to produce and raise children, in order to secure the future of the Reich. They were encouraged to give up work and received loans and awards for having lots of children.
  • Young people were a particular target for the Nazis’ propaganda, as they represented the future. The school curriculum was altered to promote Nazi ideology and all young people were expected to join a Nazi youth organisation such as the Hitler Youth or the League of German Maidens.

In addition, the Nazis sought to control or limit the influence of Christianity. They set up an official state church, called the Reich Church, which adapted protestant teachings to Nazi ideology. Also, despite signing a Concordat with the Pope in 1933 in which Hitler promised to leave the Catholic Church alone if it stayed out of politics, the Nazis attempted to interfere with it and placed restrictions on worship.

Persecution

Nazi ideology centred on the belief that the Aryan of northern Europe was superior to all others and that some races were sub-human. Nazis also believed any weaknesses in the Aryan race, such as disabled people, should be weeded out to maintain racial purity. Therefore, many groups who the Nazis did not like were targeted and persecuted. This was done in many different ways; ‘euthanasia’, imprisonment in concentration camps and the loss of civil rights.

The group targeted most by this persecution were the Jews. Under the Nazis Jews in Germany had their rights gradually taken away, including their German citizenship. During World War Two, this deteriorated further and the Holocaust saw 6 million Jews from across Nazi-occupied Europe murdered.

Revision tip: Remember the different parts of this period by remembering the mnemonic: In Germany Rose (the) Nazis

1918-24Instability
1924-29Golden years
1929-33Rise of Hitler
1933-45Nazi rule