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In Germany the Nazis came for the Communists and
I did not speak up because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for Jews and
I did not speak up because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists and
I did not speak up because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics and
I was a Protestant so I did not speak up.
Then they came for me.
By that time there was no one left to speak up for anyone.

(Martin Niemller, Lutheran Clergyman, 1945)

The Nazi Party in Power - Culture

The Third Reich used all available aesthetic means to project its image: marches, mass meetings, pageants, party rallies were organized as mass aesthetic. Visual arts, including paintings, were bestowed high social value. Hitler's artistic and political views derived in part from Hitler's failure to achieve notice as an artist. There was a direct association in Hitler's mind between his failure as architect and artist and his pursuit of political leadership.

When the Third Reich came to power, Hitler immediately turned his attention to art as a political tool. Hitler's condemnation of modern art as decadent was clearly a popular policy - an adoption of lower middle class cultural standards. The German Art Society (Deutsche Kunstgesellschaft), a culturally conservative art group active between 1920 and 1945, sought to defend pure German art. During the Weimar Republic, the Society fought degenerate modernism and by 1932 the Society has supporters in the Nazi party and other rightist organizations. The German Art Society was given a role in organizing degenerate art exhibits during the Third Reich as well as organizing pure German art shows. After 1937, the Nazis ignored the Society as old-fashioned and pressed for a more distinct art form.

The "Battle Band for German Culture", an early official Nazi group with affiliates in every important German city, dominated almost every phase of German cultural life right from the beginning of the Nazi regime. Hitler's code, "Art is sublime, a fanatical obligation", appeared over the entrance to his eight annual salons featuring Nazi painting and sculpture. The Nazi regime's earliest purges of German artistic and cultural life were implemented with the help of policy emergency powers rooted in the Reichstag Fire Decree of February 1933. The Nazi purge was driven by a highly developed anti-Jewish paranoia fueled by the success of Jews in German cultural life before 1933.

Nazi Education

During the Hitler era (1933-45), the national government reversed the tradition of provincial and local control of education and sought centralized control as part of the regime's aim to impose its political and racist ideology on society. Despite an agreement with the Vatican that theoretically guaranteed the independence of Roman Catholic schools, during the 1930s the regime considerably reduced church control of the parochial school system. Universities also lost their independence. By 1936 approximately 14 percent of all professors had been dismissed because of their political views or ethnic background. The introduction of two years of military service and six months of required labor led to a rapid decline in university enrollment. By 1939 all but six universities had closed.

Women under the Nazis

Women contributed largely to the popularization of the National Socialist movement and its leaders. Long before Hitler came to power, women filled the Berlin Sportpalast to capacity whenever the Nazis were meeting there. Like school girls who run to see their favorite movie star when he appears on the stage, the elderly women ran to the meetings where Goebbels appeared; "the Doctor," they called him affectionately. They gave him widespread publicity. Hitler and Goebbels conquered the hearts of the weaker sex certainly not with their personal charm, but with their power of speech, insolent lies, and false promises. What, exactly, were the sweet promises with which the Nazis bewitched the women? Wherein lay their magic power? They solemnly promised that when they took over the power, the women would have a marvelous life.

The new regime considerably wiped out the gains won by German women since 1918. The government's policy was the reactionary one of driving the women of the land back to the kitchen as a cure for unemployment. Women and girls were turned out of professions and industry and sent to makeshift labor camps to learn the domestic sciences and farm work. Women teachers, doctors, lawyers and civil-service employees, became scarcer every month. Women enrollment in German universities was drastically curtailed by a discriminatory quota.

Trade Unions

In their determination to remove all sources of opposition, the NSDAP leaders turned their attention to the trade unions, the churches and the Jews. In April, 1933, Hitler ordered Ley, who was then staff director of the political organisation of the NSDAP, " to take over the trade unions." Most of the trade unions of Germany were joined together in two large federations, the " Free Trade Unions " and the " Christian Trade Unions." Unions outside these two large federations contained only 15 per cent. of the total union membership. On the 21st April, 1933, Ley issued an NSDAP directive announcing a " co-ordination action" to be carried out on the 2nd May against the Free Trade Unions.

The directive ordered that SA and SS men were to be employed in the planned "occupation of trade union properties and for the taking into protective custody of personalities who come into question." At the conclusion of the action the official NSDAP press service reported that the National Socialist Factory Cells Organisation had "eliminated the old leadership of Free Trade Unions" and taken over the leadership them selves.

Similarly, on the 3rd May, 1933, the NSDAP press service announced that the Christian trade unions " have unconditionally subordinated themselves to the leadership of Adolf Hitler." In place of the trade unions the Nazi Government set up a German Labour Front (DAF), controlled by the NSDAP, and which, in practice, all workers in Germany were compelled to join. The chairmen of the unions were taken into custody and were subjected to ill-treatment, ranging from assault and battery to murder.

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