Tag Archives: Germany

Reunification of East and West Germany

The reunification of East and West Germany

On the 3rd October 1990, Germany was reunified when the territory of the communist German Democratic Republic joined with the Federal Republic of Germany to create a single, united Germany.

Cracks had begun to show in East Germany’s communist regime from the middle of 1989, which eventually led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November that year. This encouraged the ongoing Peaceful Revolution in the East, which succeeded in bringing about free elections in March the following year.

The West German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, had already called for greater cooperation between West and East in November 1989. The election of the new East German parliament – known as the Volkskammer – in March 1990 ensured that both sides now had governments that had their eye on reunification. The GDR’s economy had already begun to collapse as the structures of communist control were removed, so the replacement of the East German mark with West Germany’s Deutsche Mark as the official currency of East Germany in June ensured a secure economic framework for political union.

By the end of August the Volkskammer had passed a resolution in favour of reunification, with the German Reunification Treaty signed at the end of August. This was approved by large majorities in the legislative chambers of each country on the 20th September, and at midnight on the 3rd October the black, red and gold flag of West Germany was raised above the Brandenburg Gate which until the fall of the Berlin Wall had been inaccessible to both sides.

Known as The Day of German Unity, the 3rd October is now a public holiday in Germany.

The Nazi Party in 1922

The Rise of Hitler 1919-1929 podcast

This revision podcast is relevant to both GCSE and IGCSE Modern World History.  It is the first of two podcasts that present an explanation of the range of factors that contributed to the rise of Hitler. It goes into more detail than the briefer podcast that covers the entire 1919-1934 period. You could also download the Rise of Hitler Revision PowerPoint which complements the two podcasts.

The podcast begins in 1919 with an introduction to Hitler’s early attitudes and him taking control of the National Socialist German Workers Party (who became known as the Nazis).  An overview is then given of the actions of the SA/Stormtroopers before describing how the hyperinflation of 1922-23 led Hitler to use his violent supporters to launch the Munich (or Beer Hall) Putsch. The consequences of the Putsch are considered, which include increased publicity for the Nazis and Hitler’s imprisonment during which he wrote Mein Kampf.

The podcast then goes on to explain how, during the ‘Stresemann period’ of German history, which is described in greater detail in the Weimar Germany revision podcast, Hitler changed his tactics to use legal means in an attempt to gain political power.

          

Hindenburg and Hitler as Chancellor

The Rise of Hitler 1929-1934 podcast

This revision podcast is relevant to both GCSE and IGCSE History students studying Nazi Germany. It is the second of two podcasts that present an explanation of the range of factors that contributed to the rise of Hitler. It goes into more detail than the briefer podcast that covers the entire 1919-1934 period. You could also download the Rise of Hitler Revision PowerPoint which complements the two podcasts.

The podcast is the second of two that explore how Hitler came to power. This episode covers the period from the Wall Street Crash to Hitler’s self-appointment of the Fuhrer of Germany in 1934. Specific attention is given to:

* The effects of the Great Depression on Germany
* The Presidential election campaign of 1932
* The appointment of Hitler as Chancellor in 1933
* The Reichstag Fire and the Enabling Act
* The Night of the Long Knives
* The death of President Hindenburg

The revision guide aims to give clear examples for each of these factors, and explains how you might approach a question on them in the exam.

          

Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany

The Rise of Hitler 1919-1934

For more detail on the rise of Hitler, please see these expanded podcasts:

The rise of Hitler 1919-29

The rise of Hitler 1929-34

The podcast begins in 1919 with an introduction to Hitler’s early attitudes and him taking control of the National Socialist German Workers Party (who became known as the Nazis).  An overview is then given of the actions of the SA/Stormtroopers before describing how the hyperinflation of 1922-23 led Hitler to use his violent supporters to launch the Munich (or Beer Hall) Putsch, which resulting in Hitler’s imprisonment during which he wrote Mein Kampf.  This coincided with the ‘Stresemann Period’ of German history, which is described in greater detail in the Weimar Germany revision podcast.

The episode then goes on to explain how, following his release from prison, Hitler changed his tactics to use legal means to gain political power.  The period of the Great Depression led to increasing support for the now well-organised Nazi party which culminted with the appointment of Hitler to the position of Chancellor.  An explanation of how Hitler consolidated his power is then given – the Reichstag Fire which led to the Enabling Act; the Night of the Long Knives through which Hitler removed opponents including Ernst Rohm; and finally Hitler taking the title of Fuhrer following the death of President Hindenburg.

Download MP3

  • /
Update Required
To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.
Hindenburg and Hitler as Chancellor

Hitler’s Rise to Power

An extract from a 1980s documentary called “Hitler’s Germany” – part of the BBC’s 20th Century History series of documentary programs.  Transferred from an VHS tape, so quality is variable – but it’s watchable and well presented.

Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany

Hitler’s speech as Chancellor in 1933

Shortly after Adolf Hitler was appointed to the position of Chancellor by President Hindenberg, he made this speech to thousands of members of the Nazi Party.

Overview of the Reichstag Fire and its consequences

On the 27th February 1933, the Reichstag building in Berlin was set on fire in an arson attack. Generally accepted to have been conducted by Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe, the fire provided the new Chancellor Adolf Hitler with an opportunity to consolidate Nazi control of the German government.

Hitler had been appointed Chancellor on the 30th January, but had demanded new elections for the Reichstag. These were scheduled to take place on the 5th March, and Hitler hoped to increase the Nazi’s share of the seats in order to pass the Enabling Act and take control of political decisions for himself.

Shortly after 9pm on the evening of the 27th February, Goebbels was informed that the Reichstag was on fire. Although the blaze was extinguished before midnight, the inside of the building was destroyed. Communists were declared responsible, and van der Lubbe was arrested.

The day after the fire, Hitler persuaded President Hindenburg to pass the emergency Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State, which suspended many civil liberties and allowed the Nazis to arrest their opponents. Thousands of communists were rounded up by the SA, along with Social Democrats and liberals, and placed in so-called ‘protective custody’.

Van Der Lubbe was tried, convicted, and executed. Although there is debate over the exact circumstances of the fire, Sir Ian Kershaw says there is consensus among the vast majority of historians that he did set the fire. Whatever the circumstances, the situation was certainly exploited by the Nazis and was the first step in the creation of a single-party state.

Night of the Long Knives

The Night of the Long Knives, 30th June 1934

The 30th June 1934 saw the Nazis carry out a purge of their own party, when Hitler ordered the SS to murder leading figures of the SA or Brownshirts along with critics of the Nazi regime such as former chancellor von Schleicher. The purges actually went on throughout the weekend of the 30th June – 2nd July, even though the popular name suggests they only lasted for one night.

By the middle of 1934 Hitler was consolidating his rule over Germany but the relative autonomy of the SA within the Nazi Party was a concern. As Germany became a one-party state, the SA’s usual political targets for street violence were removed meaning that in a number of cases these representatives of the ruling party would instead intimidate civilians.

Such actions undermined the sense of order that Hitler was trying to project, and threatened to destabilise the party itself. The SA’s leader, Ernst Röhm, was a particular concern as he sought a so-called “second-revolution” to redistribute wealth within Germany in order to fulfil the socialist part of the Nationalist Socialist party’s name. Furthermore, the Reichswehr – Germany’s official army – were unhappy at Röhm’s desire to place the Reichswehr under the command of the SA.

On the morning of the 30th June, the homes of Röhm and other people who threatened Hitler’s power were broken into. While some were executed on the spot, others such as Röhm himself were held in prison for a few hours first. Hitler justified the purge in a public speech, claiming that he acted as “the supreme judge of the German people.”

Hitler becomes Fuhrer

How Hitler became Führer after Hindenburg’s death

On the 2nd August 1934, the 86 year old German Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg died of lung cancer and Adolf Hitler became both the Führer and Reich Chancellor of the German People.

The move effectively merged the offices of both the President and Chancellor into one role, and therefore completed what the Nazis referred to as Gleichschaltung (or “Co-ordination”) by establishing Hitler as both Germany’s head of state and head of government.

Interfering with the post of President was illegal under the terms of the 1933 Enabling Act, and although Hitler merging the two positions removed any political checks and balances of his personal domination of Germany, a plebiscite held 17 days later on the 19th August saw an enormous 90% of people approving of the change.

Hitler’s assumption of the role of Führer also allowed the Nazi Party to more actively pursue its promotion of the ideology of Führerprinzip. This stated that Hitler possessed absolute control over the German government. Supported by a propaganda machine that relentlessly pushed the slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer – which translates as “One People, One Empire, One Leader” – the Führerprinzip also confirmed the Nazi Party’s complete control over every element of German society. This ranged from local government to factories and even to the management and control schools, although in terms of government it sometimes meant that officials were reluctant to make decisions without Hitler’s personal input or approval. It was also used by Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials to argue that they were not guilty since they were only following orders.

Hitler becomes Fuhrer

How did Hitler consolidate his rule?

An extract from a 1980s documentary called “Hitler’s Germany” – part of the 20th Century History series of documentary programs. Transferred from an VHS tape, so quality is variable but it’s watchable and well presented.