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The impact of the Second World War on Germany

Through the 1930s, Hitler fulfilled his promises that he would:

  • reverse the Treaty of Versailles

  • rebuild Germany’s armed forces

  • unite Germany and Austria again

  • extend German territory into Eastern Europe.

Germans did not want a second war. But the Nazis used all methods available to make the German people support the regime.

Food and clothes rationing was introduced soon after war began. Even so, it was not difficult to keep up civilian morale because the war went spectacularly well for Germany. Hitler was in control of much of the Western and Eastern Europe and supplies of luxury goods flowed into Germany from captured territories.

However, Hitler took the gamble of invading the Soviet Union. His troops were engaged in an increasingly expensive war with Russian forces, who “tore the heart out of the German army”.

Civilians found their lives increasingly disrupted. They had to cut back on heating, work longer hours and recycle their rubbish. Goebbels redoubled his censorship efforts: he tried to maintain people’s support for the war by involving them in it through asking them to make sacrifices.

Germans began to see and hear less of Hitler. His old speeches were broadcast by Goebbels, but Hitler was increasingly preoccupied with the details of the war.

The “Final Solution” began, which was to kill millions of Jewish civilians in German-occupied countries.

All economic efforts focused on armament industries. Postal services were suspended. All places of entertainment were closed, except cinemas - Goebbels used this to show the power of Hitler through propaganda.

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