The Rise of the Third Reich
How is it that the German people gave Hitler and the Nazi party full power? This documentary from The History Channel looks at that question, rather than focusing on how that party grabbed power. Using words written by German people of the 1920's and 1930's, as well as home movies and documentary movies, the story of the Rise of the Third Reich is told from the perspective of the people of Germany. The main idea presented is that until 1932-33, Germans had dismissed the Nazi party as irrelevant, but that quickly events occurred where the Nazi's were ruthlessly in charge and dissent was impractical or impossible.
Following World War I there was a grand celebration of the victory over Germany. But, for Germans it was a humiliating defeat. For example the treaty ending that war was crushing, containing 440 clauses of which 414 were dedicated to punishing Germany. The victors forced Germany to become a Democracy, but the process was catastrophic. Germany's currency was worthless, struggle, anguish, and more were the norm.
There were many people claiming to be a Savior appointed by God to lead Germany out of the misery. The problem is that the German word for this Savior could only be singular, meaning there could be only one Savior. Over time that singular Savior became Adolf Hitler.
He came into national prominence with the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. Militarily it was an abysmal failure, with many followers killed and Hitler thrown into Jail. But it gave that party national visibility. The flag from that uprising, stained with blood of the killed followers, became a powerful symbol for the Nazi party going forward. They used THAT flag in later ceremonies to anoint other Nazi flags or party members, and the flag gained symbolic and propagandistic importance over the years.
By the early 1930's there were two leading parties - the Communists and the Nazi's - both promising to lead Germany to greatness. There was an election where the Communists soundly beat the Nazi's and it was thought the Nazi party was defeated and would crumble. Instead, within a year Hitler had been given the Chancelorship and would quickly cement absolute power.
Fifty-five days into his rule was the Reichstag Fire. Nobody knew who did the fire, and it didn't matter because Hitler immediately accused the Communists. That gave him the excuse to round up and kill all Communists.
Shortly afterward laws were enacted declaring that Jews were no longer citizens, that Jews and Germans could no longer intermarry or even have sex. The first Concentration camp was built - a propaganda video made it look clean and spiffy, but writings by residents of the camp told a story of routine torture and death.
Not really touched on by the video -- one flaw of this documentary is the focus on the Jewish Holocaust when in fact the same laws and programs were enacted against Gypsy's, Homosexuals and others.
Another stage was the forced sterilization of those deemed unworthy to have children. This was an attempt at genetic engineering, to lead Germany to greatness by pruning the genetic stock of all who did not fit the idealized Aryan image. The crime? Those who'd had nervous breakdowns, epilepsy, drank too much, homosexuality, physical deformities, and a few other attributes that could be ascribed to genetic defects.
Pretty soon it was unsafe to make any complaint about the ruling party. There could be informers anywhere. Absolute obedience was demanded.
The obedience oaths were to Adolf Hitler directly, not to the German state.
The Hitler Youth were formed, an organization like the Scouts but focused on indoctrinating children to be warlike and to see the State as their first priority over their family.
An example is given of a camp of female Hitler Youth located near a camp of male Hitler Youth. The girls were encouraged to frolic with the guys, and to get pregnant, with 2/3rds or more doing so. The idea was that Germany not only needed genetically pure Aryans but they needed LOTS of them.
In general Women who were deemed Aryan were told it was their duty to breed and rear the next generation of German soldiers. Young girls were encouraged to have sex with male Hitler Youth.
Unwed mothers were known as the Fuhrer's Brides
One program was called Lebensborn -- "Spring of Life". Children born to unwed mothers were encouraged to be put up for adoption. Camps were set up across Europe to house the women during their pregnancy. The children were, until the fall of Nazi Germany, positioned as the bright future of Germany. After WWII, those same children were shunned as not-to-be-trusted outgrowth's of the Nazi terror system.