World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

The Third Reich

Part 3

Social welfare
Recent research by academics such as Götz Aly has emphasized the role of the extensive Nazi social welfare programs that focused on providing employment for German citizens and insuring a minimal living standard for German citizens. Heavily focused on was the idea of a national German community or Volksgemeinschaft.
To aid the fostering of a feeling of community, the German people's labour and entertainment experiences—from festivals, to vacation trips and traveling cinemas—were all made a part of the "Strength through Joy" (Kraft durch Freude, KdF) program. Also crucial to the building of loyalty and comradeship was the implementation of the National Labour Service and the Hitler Youth Organization, with compulsory membership. In addition to this, a number of architectural projects were undertaken. KdF created the KdF-wagen, later known as the Volkswagen ("People's Car"), which was designed to be an automobile that every German citizen would be able to afford. With the outbreak of World War II the car was converted into a military vehicle and civilian production was stopped. Another national project undertaken was the construction of the Autobahn, which made it the first freeway system in the world.

The Winter Relief campaigns not only collected charity for the unfortunate, but acted as a ritual to generate public feeling. As part of the centralization of Nazi Germany, posters urged people to donate rather to give directly to beggars.

According to the research of Robert N. Proctor for his book The Nazi War on Cancer, Nazi Germany had arguably the most powerful anti-tobacco movement in the world. Anti-tobacco research received a strong backing from the government, and German scientists proved that cigarette smoke could cause cancer. German pioneering research on experimental epidemiology led to the 1939 paper by Franz H. Müller, and the 1943 paper by Eberhard Schairer and Erich Schöniger which convincingly demonstrated that tobacco smoking was a main culprit in lung cancer. The government urged German doctors to counsel patients against tobacco use.

German research on the dangers of tobacco was silenced after the war, and the dangers of tobacco had to be rediscovered by American and English scientists in the early 1950s, with a medical consensus arising in the early 1960s. German scientists also proved that asbestos was a health hazard, and in 1943—as the first nation in the world to offer such a benefit—Germany recognized the diseases caused by asbestos, e.g., lung cancer, as occupational illnesses eligible for compensation. The German asbestos-cancer research was later used by American lawyers doing battle against the Johns-Manville Corporation.

As part of the general public-health campaign in Nazi Germany, water supplies were cleaned up, lead and mercury were removed from consumer products, and women were urged to undergo regular screenings for breast cancer.
The Nazi health care system also held as a central idea the concept of Eugenics. Certain people were deemed 'genetically inferior' and were targeted for elimination from the gene pool through sterilization (Hereditary Health Courts) or wholesale murder (Action T4). Medical information professionals used new processes and technology, like punch card systems, and cost analysis, to aid in the process and calculate the 'benefit' to society of these killings.

Women's rights

Women in the Third Reich were a cornerstone of Nazi social policy; however, this meant a sharp curtailment of women's rights. The Nazis opposed the feminist movement, claiming that it had a left-wing agenda (comparable to Communism) and was bad for both women and men. The Nazi regime advocated a patriarchal society in which German women would recognize the "world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home." Hitler claimed that women taking vital jobs away from men during the Great Depression was economically bad for families in that women were paid only 66 percent of what men earned. Simultaneously with calling for women to leave work outside the home, the regime called for women to be actively supportive of the state regarding women's affairs. In 1933, Hitler appointed Gertrud Scholtz-Klink as the Reich Women's Leader, who instructed women that their primary role in society was to bear children and that women should be subservient to men, once saying "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.". The expectation even applied to Aryan women married to Jewish men—a necessary ingredient in the 1943 Rosenstrasse protest in which 1800 German women (joined by 4200 relatives) obliged the Nazi state to release their Jewish husbands. This position was so strongly held as to make it extremely difficult to recruit women for war jobs during World War II.

The Nazi regime discouraged women from seeking higher education in secondary schools, universities and colleges. The number of women allowed to enroll in universities dropped drastically under the Nazi regime, which shrank from approximately 128,000 women being enrolled in 1933 to 51,000 in 1938. Female enrollment in secondary schools dropped from 437,000 in 1926 to 205,000 in 1937. However with the requirement of men to be enlisted into the German armed forces during the war, women made up half of the enrollment in the education system by 1944.

On the other hand, the women were expected to be strong, healthy, and vital; a photograph subtitled "Future Mothers" showed teenage girls dressed for sport and bearing javelins. A sturdy peasant woman, who worked the land and bore strong children, was an ideal, contributing to praise for athletic women tanned by outdoor work. Organizations were made for the indoctrination of Nazi values to German women. Such organizations included the Jungmädel ("Young Girls") section of the Hitler Youth for girls from the age 10 to 14, the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM, "German Girls' League") for young women from 14 to 18, and the NS-Frauenschaft, a woman's organization.
The NS-Frauenschaft put out the NS-Frauen-Warte, the only approved women's magazine in Nazi Germany.

Despite its propaganda aspects, it was predominantly a woman's magazine, even including sewing patterns.
The BDM's activities encompassed physical education, including running, the long jump, somersaulting, tightrope walking, rout-marching, and swimming. Das deutsche Mädel was less adventure-oriented than the boy's Der Pimpf, but far more emphasis was laid on strong and active German women than in NS-Frauen-Warte. Also, before entering any occupation or advanced studies, the girls, like the boys in Hitler Youth, had to complete a year of land service.

Despite the somewhat official restrictions, some women forged highly visible, as well as officially praised, achievements, such as the aviatrix Hanna Reitsch and film director Leni Riefenstahl.

On the issue of sexual affairs regarding women, the Nazis differed greatly from the restrictive stances on women's role in society. The Nazi regime promoted a liberal code of conduct as regards sexual matters, and were sympathetic to women bearing children out of wedlock. The collapse of 19th century morals in Germany accelerated during the Third Reich, partly due to the Nazis, and greatly due to the effects of the war. Promiscuity increased greatly as the war progressed, with unmarried soldiers often involved intimately with several women simultaneously. Married women were often involved in multiple affairs simultaneously, with soldiers, civilians or slave labourers. "Some farm wives in Württemberg had already begun using sex as a commodity, employing carnal favours as a means of getting a full day's work from foreign labourers." Nevertheless, publically, Nazi propaganda opposed adultery and upheld the sancticity of marriage. Several films shot in this era altered their source material so that the woman, rather than the man, would suffer death for sexual transgressions, reflecting whose fault it was held to be. When attempts were made to destigmatize illegitimate births, Lebensborn homes were presented the public as for married women. Overtly anti-marriage statements, such as Himmler's statements regarding the care of the illegimate children of dead soldiers, were greeted with protests.

An example of the way in which Nazi doctrines differed from practice is that, whilst sexual relationships among campers was explicitly forbidden, boys' and girls' camps of the Hitlerjugend associations were needlessly placed close together as if to make it happen. Pregnancy (including repercussions on established marriages) often resulted when fetching members of the Bund Deutscher Mädel were assigned to duties which juxtaposed them with tempted men. Ilsa McKee noted that the lectures of Hitler Youth and the BDM on the need to produce more children produced several illegitimate children, which neither the mothers nor the possible fathers regarded as problematic.

Marriage or sexual relations between a person considered “Aryan” and one that was not were classified as Rassenschande and were forbidden and under penalty (Aryans found guilty could face incarceration in a concentration camp, while non-Aryans could face the death penalty). Pamphlets enjoined all German women to avoid sexual intercourse with all foreign workers brought to Germany as a danger to their blood.

Abortion was heavily penalized in Nazi Germany unless on the grounds of "racial health": from 1943 abortionists faced the death penalty. Display of contraceptives was not allowed, and Hitler himself described contraception as "violation of nature, as degradation of womanhood, motherhood and love."

Main articles: Art of the Third Reich and List of authors banned during the Third Reich

The regime sought to restore traditional values in German culture. The art and culture that came to define the Weimar Republic years was repressed. The visual arts were strictly monitored and traditional, focusing on exemplifying Germanic themes, racial purity, militarism, heroism, power, strength, and obedience. Modern abstract art and avant-garde art was removed from museums and put on special display as "degenerate art", where it was to be ridiculed. In one notable example, on 31 March 1937, huge crowds stood in line to view a special display of "degenerate art" in Munich. Art forms considered to be degenerate included Dada, Cubism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Impressionism, New Objectivity, and Surrealism. Literature written by Jewish, other non-Aryans, homosexual or authors opposed to the Nazis was destroyed by the regime. The most infamous destruction of literature was the book burnings by German students in 1933.

In 1933, Nazis burned works considered "un-German" in Berlin which included books by Jewish authors, political opponents, and other works which did not align with Nazi ideology.

German Nazi propaganda poster: "Danzig is German".

 Despite the official attempt to forge a pure Germanic culture, one major area of the arts, architecture, under Hitler's personal guidance, was neoclassical, a style based on architecture of ancient Rome.[163] This style stood out in stark contrast and opposition to newer, more liberal, and more popular architecture styles of the time such as Art Deco.

Various Roman buildings were examined by state architect Albert Speer for architectural designs for state buildings. Speer constructed huge and imposing structures such as in the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg and the new Reich Chancellery building in Berlin. One design that was pursued, but never built, was a gigantic version of the Pantheon in Rome, called the Volkshalle to be the semi-religious centre of Nazism in a renamed Berlin called Germania, which was to be the "world capital" (Welthauptstadt).

Also to be constructed was a Triumphal arch, several times larger than that found in Paris, which was also based upon a classical styling. Many of the designs for Germania were impractical to construct because of their size and the marshy soil underneath Berlin; later the materials that were to be used for construction were diverted to the war effort.
Cinema and media

Main articles: Cinema of Germany, List of German films 1933-1945, Nazism and cinema, Panorama (German wartime newsreel), and Propagandaministerium

The majority of German films of the period were intended principally as works of entertainment. The import of foreign films was legally restricted after 1936, and the German industry, which was effectively nationalised in 1937, had to make up for the missing foreign films (above all American productions). Entertainment also became increasingly important in the later years of World War II when the cinema provided a distraction from Allied bombing and a string of German defeats. In both 1943 and 1944 cinema admissions in Germany exceeded a billion,[ and the biggest box office hits of the war years were Die große Liebe (1942) and Wunschkonzert (1941), which both combine elements of the musical, wartime romance and patriotic propaganda, Frauen sind doch bessere Diplomaten (1941), a comic musical which was one of the earliest German films in colour, and Wiener Blut (1942), the adaptation of a Johann Strauß comic operetta. The importance of the cinema as a tool of the state, both for its propaganda value and its ability to keep the populace entertained, can be seen in the filming history of Veit Harlan's Kolberg (1945), the most expensive film of the era, for the shooting of which tens of thousands of soldiers were diverted from their military positions to appear as extras.

Despite the emigration of many film-makers and the political restrictions, the German film industry was not without technical and aesthetic innovations, the introduction of Agfacolor film production being a notable example. Technical and aesthetic achievement could also be turned to the specific ends of the Greater German Reich, most spectacularly in the work of Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935), documenting the Nuremberg Rally (1934), and Olympia (1938), documenting the 1936 Summer Olympics, pioneered techniques of camera movement and editing that have influenced many later films. Both films, particularly Triumph of the Will, remain highly controversial, as their aesthetic merit is inseparable from their propagandizing of Nationalsocialism ideals.[165] Irreplacable artists deemed fitting the National socialist ideals such as Marika Rokk and Johannes Heesters where placed on the Gottbegnadeten list by Joseph Goebbels during the war.

Starting with the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46, in which top Nazi leaders were tried for war crimes (and executed or given long prison terms), Hitler, Nazism, and (by the 1960s) the Holocaust became symbols of evil in the modern world. For the 21st century, Newman and Erber (2002) reported, "The Nazis have become one of the most widely recognized images of modern evil. Throughout most of the world today, the concept of evil can readily be evoked by displaying almost any cue reminiscent of Nazism, such as the swastika, the name of any of the principal Nazis, or their garb or affectations...." There is a high level of historical interest in the popular media as well as in academic world. Evans says it, "exerts an almost universal appeal because its murderous racism stands as a warning to the whole of humanity."