Dietrich Eckart was a German journalist, playwright and politician, one of the founders of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, which evolved into the Nazi Party. He was a key influence on Adolf Hitler in the early years of the Nazi Party and was a participant in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, he died shortly after the putsch, was elevated, during the Nazi era, to the status of a major thinker and writer. Eckart was born Johann Dietrich Eckart in 1868 in Neumarkt, Upper Palatinate in the Kingdom of Bavaria, the son of royal notary and lawyer Christian Eckart and his wife Anna, a devout Catholic, his mother died. Young Dietrich was expelled from several schools. Eckart studied law at Erlangen medicine at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, was an eager member of the fencing and drinking Student Korps, but he decided in 1891 to work as a poet and journalist. Diagnosed with morphine addiction and nearly stranded, he moved to Berlin in 1899. There he wrote a number of plays autobiographical, became the protégé of Count Georg von Hülsen-Haeseler, the artistic director of the Prussian Royal Theatre.
After a duel, he was incarcerated at the Passau Oberhaus. Eckart was a successful playwright with his 1912 adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt, one of the best attended productions of the age with more than 600 performances in Berlin alone. In Eckart's version, the play became "a powerful dramatisation of nationalist and anti-semitic ideas", in which Gynt represents the superior Germanic hero, struggling against implicitly Jewish "trolls"; as Ralph M. Engelman says, "Eckart meant his adaptation of Peer Gynt to represent a racial allegory in which the trolls and Great Boyg represented what Weininger conceived to be the Jewish spirit." This success not only made Eckart wealthy, it gave him the social contacts that he used to introduce Hitler to dozens of important German citizens. These introductions proved to be pivotal in Hitler's ultimate rise to power. On, Eckart developed an ideology of a "genius superman", based on writings by the Völkisch author Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, he became fascinated by the Buddhist doctrine of Maya.
From 1907 he lived with his brother Wilhelm in the Döberitz mansion colony west of the Berlin city limits. In 1913 he married Rose Marx, an affluent widow from Bad Blankenburg, returned to Munich. After World War I, Eckart edited the antisemitic periodical Auf gut Deutsch, working with Alfred Rosenberg and Gottfried Feder. A fierce critic of the German Revolution and the Weimar Republic, he vehemently opposed the Treaty of Versailles, which he viewed as treason, was a proponent of the so-called stab-in-the-back legend, according to which the Social Democrats and Jews were to blame for Germany's defeat in the war. In January 1919, Feder, Anton Drexler and Karl Harrer founded the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, which to increase its appeal to larger segments of the population, in February 1920 changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, he was the original publisher of the party newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, wrote the lyrics of Deutschland erwache, which became an anthem of the Nazi Party.
Eckart met Adolf Hitler when Hitler gave a speech before the DAP members in 1919. Eckart was involved with the Thule Society; the Society was a secretive group of occultists who believed in the coming of a “German Messiah” who would redeem Germany after its defeat in World War I. Eckart expressed his anticipation in a poem. In the poem, Eckart refers to "the Great One," "the Nameless One," "Whom all can sense but no one saw." When Eckart met Hitler, Eckart was convinced. Eckart became Hitler's mentor, exchanging ideas with him and helping to establish theories and beliefs of the Party, it was Eckart. Between 1920 and 1923, Eckart and Rosenberg labored tirelessly in the service of Hitler and the party. Through Rosenberg, Hitler was introduced to the writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Rosenberg's inspiration. Rosenberg edited the Münchener Beobachter, a party newspaper owned by the Thule Society. Rosenberg published the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the "Beobachter." To raise funds for the Party, Eckart introduced Hitler into influential circles including to his future etiquette tutor, socialite Helene Bechstein.
In June 1921, while Hitler and Eckart were on a fundraising trip to Berlin, a mutiny broke out within the NSDAP in Munich. Members of its executive committee wanted to merge with the rival German Socialist Party. Hitler angrily tendered his resignation; the committee members realised that the resignation of their leading public figure and speaker would mean the end of the party. Eckart was asked by the Party leadership to talk with Hitler and relay the conditions in which Hitler would agree to return to the Party. Hitler announced he would rejoin on the condition that he would replace Drexler as party chairman, that the party headquarters would remain in Munich; the committee agreed, he rejoined the party on 26 July 1921. On 9 November 1923, Eckart
Enabling Act of 1933
The Enabling Act of 1933, formally titled Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich, was an amendment passed on 23 March 1933 to the Weimar Constitution that gave the German Cabinet — in effect, Chancellor Adolf Hitler — the power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag. The Enabling Act gave Hitler plenary powers and followed on the heels of the Reichstag Fire Decree, which had abolished most civil liberties and transferred state powers to the Reich government; the combined effect of the two laws was to transform Hitler's government into a legal dictatorship. The act passed in both the Reichstag and Reichsrat on 23 March 1933, was signed by President Paul von Hindenburg that day; the act stated. The law was enacted by the Reichstag, where non-Nazi members were surrounded and threatened by members of SA and SS; the Communists had been repressed and were not allowed to be present or to vote, some Social Democrats were kept away as well. In the end, most of those present voted for the act, except for the Social Democrats, who voted against it.
After being appointed chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933, Hitler asked President von Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag. A general election was scheduled for 5 March 1933. A secret meeting was held between Hitler and 20 to 25 industrialists at the official residence of Hermann Göring in the Reichstag Presidential Palace aimed at financing the election campaign of the Nazi Party; the burning of the Reichstag, depicted by the Nazis as the beginning of a communist revolution, resulted in the presidential Reichstag Fire Decree, which among other things suspended freedom of press and habeas corpus rights just five days before the election. Hitler used the decree to have the Communist Party's offices raided and its representatives arrested eliminating them as a political force. Although they received five million more votes than in the previous election, the Nazis failed to gain an absolute majority in parliament, depended on the 8% of seats won by their coalition partner, the German National People's Party, to reach 52% in total.
To free himself from this dependency, Hitler had the cabinet, in its first post-election meeting on 15 March, draw up plans for an Enabling Act which would give the cabinet legislative power for four years. The Nazis devised the Enabling Act to gain complete political power without the need of the support of a majority in the Reichstag and without the need to bargain with their coalition partners; the Enabling Act allowed the cabinet to enact legislation, including laws deviating from or altering the constitution, without the consent of the Reichstag. Because this law allowed for departures from the constitution, it was itself considered a constitutional amendment. Thus, its passage required the support of two-thirds of those deputies. A quorum of two-thirds of the entire Reichstag was required to be present in order to call up the bill; the Social Democrats and the Communists were expected to vote against the Act. The government had arrested all Communist and some Social Democrat deputies under the Reichstag Fire Decree.
The Nazis expected the parties representing the middle class, the Junkers and business interests to vote for the measure, as they had grown weary of the instability of the Weimar Republic and would not dare to resist. Hitler believed that with the Centre Party members' votes, he would get the necessary two-thirds majority. Hitler negotiated with the Centre Party's chairman, Ludwig Kaas, a Catholic priest, finalising an agreement by 22 March. Kaas agreed to support the Act in exchange for assurances of the Centre Party's continued existence, the protection of Catholics' civil and religious liberties, religious schools and the retention of civil servants affiliated with the Centre Party, it has been suggested that some members of the SPD were intimidated by the presence of the Nazi Sturmabteilung throughout the proceedings. Some historians, such as Klaus Scholder, have maintained that Hitler promised to negotiate a Reichskonkordat with the Holy See, a treaty that formalised the position of the Catholic Church in Germany on a national level.
Kaas was a close associate of Cardinal Pacelli Vatican Secretary of State. Pacelli had been pursuing a German concordat as a key policy for some years but the instability of Weimar governments as well as the enmity of some parties to such a treaty rendered the project moot; the day after the Enabling Act vote, Kaas went to Rome in order to, in his own words, "investigate the possibilities for a comprehensive understanding between church and state". However, so far no evidence for a link between the Enabling Act and the Reichskonkordat signed on 20 July 1933 has surfaced; as with most of the laws passed in the process of Gleichschaltung, the Enabling Act is quite short considering its implications. The full text, in German and English, follows: Articles 1 and 4 gave the government the right to draw up the budget and approve treaties without input from the Reichstag. Debate within the Centre Party continued until the day of the vote, 23 March 1933, with Kaas advocating voting in favour of the act, referring to an upcoming written guarantee from Hitler, while former Chancellor Heinrich Brüning called for a rejection of the Act.
The majority sided with Kaas, Brüning agreed to maintain party discipline by voting for the Act. The Reichstag, led by its President, Hermann Göring, changed its rules of procedure to make it easier to pass the bill. Under the Weimar Constitution, a quorum of two-thirds of the entire
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch known as the Munich Putsch, and, in German, as the Hitlerputsch, Hitler-Ludendorff-Putsch, Bürgerbräu-Putsch or Marsch auf die Feldherrnhalle, was a failed coup d'état by the Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler—along with Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff and other Kampfbund leaders—to seize power in Munich, which took place from 8 November to 9 November 1923. Two thousand Nazis were marching to the Feldherrnhalle, in the city center, when they were confronted by a police cordon, which resulted in the death of 16 Nazis and four police officers. Hitler, wounded during the clash, escaped immediate arrest and was spirited off to safety in the countryside. After two days, he was charged with treason; the putsch brought Hitler to the attention of the German nation and generated front-page headlines in newspapers around the world. His arrest was followed by a 24-day trial, publicised and gave him a platform to publicise his nationalist sentiment to the nation. Hitler was found guilty of treason and sentenced to five years in Landsberg Prison, where he dictated Mein Kampf to his fellow prisoners Emil Maurice and Rudolf Hess.
On 20 December 1924, having served only nine months, Hitler was released. Hitler now saw that the path to power was through legal means rather than revolution or force, accordingly changed his tactics, further developing Nazi propaganda. In the early 20th century, many of the larger cities of southern Germany had beer halls where hundreds or thousands of people would socialise in the evenings, drink beer and participate in political and social debates; such beer halls became the host of occasional political rallies. One of Munich's largest beer halls was the Bürgerbräukeller; this was the location of the Putsch. The Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, sounded the death knell of German power and prestige. Like many Germans of the period, Hitler believed that the treaty was a betrayal, with the country having been "stabbed in the back" by its own government as the German Army was popularly thought to have been undefeated in the field. Germany, it was felt, had been betrayed by civilian leaders and Marxists, who were called the "November Criminals".
Hitler remained in the army, in Munich, after World War I. He participated in various "national thinking" courses; these had been organised by the Education and Propaganda Department of the Bavarian Army, under Captain Karl Mayr, of which Hitler became an agent. Captain Mayr ordered Hitler an army lance corporal, to infiltrate the tiny Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, abbreviated DAP. Hitler joined the DAP on 12 September 1919, he soon realised that he was in agreement with many of the underlying tenets of the DAP, he rose to its top post in the ensuing chaotic political atmosphere of postwar Munich. By agreement, Hitler assumed the political leadership of a number of Bavarian "patriotic associations", called the Kampfbund; this political base extended to include about 15,000 Sturmabteilung, the paramilitary wing of the NSDAP. On 26 September 1923, following a period of turmoil and political violence, Bavarian Prime Minister Eugen von Knilling declared a state of emergency, Gustav von Kahr was appointed Staatskomissar, or state commissioner, with dictatorial powers to govern the state.
In addition to von Kahr, Bavarian state police chief Colonel Hans Ritter von Seisser and Reichswehr General Otto von Lossow formed a ruling triumvirate. Hitler announced that he would hold 14 mass meetings beginning on 27 September 1923. Afraid of the potential disruption, one of Kahr's first actions was to ban the announced meetings. Hitler was under pressure to act; the Nazis, with other leaders in the Kampfbund, felt they had to march upon Berlin and seize power or their followers would turn to the Communists. Hitler enlisted the help of World War I general Erich Ludendorff in an attempt to gain the support of Kahr and his triumvirate. However, Kahr had his own plan with Seisser and Lossow to install a nationalist dictatorship without Hitler; the attempted putsch was inspired by Benito Mussolini's successful March on Rome, from 22 to 29 October 1922. Hitler and his associates planned to use Munich as a base for a march against Germany's Weimar Republic government, but the circumstances were different from those in Italy.
Hitler came to the realisation that Kahr sought to control him and was not ready to act against the government in Berlin. Hitler wanted to seize a critical moment for successful popular support, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Hitler, along with a large detachment of SA, marched on the Bürgerbräukeller, where Kahr was making a speech in front of 3,000 people. In the cold, dark evening, 603 SA surrounded the beer hall and a machine gun was set up in the auditorium. Hitler, surrounded by his associates Hermann Göring, Alfred Rosenberg, Rudolf Hess, Ernst Hanfstaengl, Ulrich Graf, Johann Aigner, Adolf Lenk, Max Amann, Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, Wilhelm Adam, others, advanced through the crowded auditorium. Unable to be heard above the crowd, Hitler fired a shot into the ceiling and jumped on a chair yelling: "The national revolution has broken out! The hall is filled with six hundred men. Nobody is allowed to leave." He went on to state the Bavarian government was deposed and declared the formation of a new government with Ludendorff.
Hitler, accompanied by Hess and Graf, ordered the triumvirate of Kahr and Lossow into an adjoining room at gunpoint and demanded they support the putsch. Hitler demanded. Hitler had promised Los
The National Socialist German Workers' Party referred to in English as the Nazi Party, was a far-right political party in Germany, active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of National Socialism. Its precursor, the German Workers' Party, existed from 1919 to 1920; the Nazi Party emerged from the German nationalist and populist Freikorps paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post-World War I Germany. The party was created to draw workers away into völkisch nationalism. Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois, anti-capitalist rhetoric, although this was downplayed to gain the support of business leaders, in the 1930s the party's main focus shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes. Pseudo-scientific racist theories were central to Nazism, expressed in the idea of a "people's community"; the party aimed to unite "racially desirable" Germans as national comrades, while excluding those deemed either to be political dissidents, physically or intellectually inferior, or of a foreign race.
The Nazis sought to strengthen the Germanic people, the "Aryan master race", through racial purity and eugenics, broad social welfare programs, a collective subordination of individual rights, which could be sacrificed for the good of the state on behalf of the people. To protect the supposed purity and strength of the Aryan race, the Nazis sought to exterminate Jews, Romani and most other Slavs, along with the physically and mentally handicapped, they disenfranchised and segregated homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses and political opponents. The persecution reached its climax when the party-controlled German state set in motion the Final Solution–an industrial system of genocide which achieved the murder of an estimated 5.5 to 6 million Jews and millions of other targeted victims, in what has become known as the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler, the party's leader since 1921, was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg on 30 January 1933. Hitler established a totalitarian regime known as the Third Reich.
Following the defeat of the Third Reich at the conclusion of World War II in Europe, the party was "declared to be illegal" by the Allied powers, who carried out denazification in the years after the war. Nazi, the informal and derogatory term for a party member, abbreviates the party's name, was coined in analogy with Sozi, an abbreviation of Sozialdemokrat. Members of the party referred to themselves as Nationalsozialisten as Nazis; the term Parteigenosse was used among Nazis, with its corresponding feminine form Parteigenossin. The term was in use before the rise of the party as a colloquial and derogatory word for a backward peasant, an awkward and clumsy person, it derived from Ignaz, a shortened version of Ignatius, a common name in the Nazis' home region of Bavaria. Opponents seized on this, the long-existing Sozi, to attach a dismissive nickname to the National Socialists. In 1933, when Adolf Hitler assumed power in the German government, the usage of "Nazi" diminished in Germany, although Austrian anti-Nazis continued to use the term, the use of "Nazi Germany" and "Nazi regime" was popularised by anti-Nazis and German exiles abroad.
Thereafter, the term spread into other languages and was brought back to Germany after World War II. In English, the term is not considered slang, has such derivatives as Nazism and denazification; the party grew out of smaller political groups with a nationalist orientation that formed in the last years of World War I. In 1918, a league called the Freier Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden was created in Bremen, Germany. On 7 March 1918, Anton Drexler, an avid German nationalist, formed a branch of this league in Munich. Drexler was a local locksmith, a member of the militarist Fatherland Party during World War I and was bitterly opposed to the armistice of November 1918 and the revolutionary upheavals that followed. Drexler followed the views of militant nationalists of the day, such as opposing the Treaty of Versailles, having antisemitic, anti-monarchist and anti-Marxist views, as well as believing in the superiority of Germans whom they claimed to be part of the Aryan "master race".
However, he accused international capitalism of being a Jewish-dominated movement and denounced capitalists for war profiteering in World War I. Drexler saw the political violence and instability in Germany as the result of the Weimar Republic being out-of-touch with the masses the lower classes. Drexler emphasised the need for a synthesis of völkisch nationalism with a form of economic socialism, in order to create a popular nationalist-oriented workers' movement that could challenge the rise of Communism and internationalist politics; these were all well-known themes popular with various Weimar paramilitary groups such as the Freikorps. Drexler's movement received support from some influential figures. Supporter Dietrich Eckart, a well-to-do journalist, brought military figure Felix Graf von Bothmer, a prominent supporter of the concept of "national socialism", to address the movement. In 1918, Karl Harrer convinced Drexler and several others to form the Politischer Arbeiterzirkel; the members met perio
The stab-in-the-back myth was the notion believed and promulgated in right-wing circles in Germany after 1918, that the German Army did not lose World War I on the battlefield but was instead betrayed by the civilians on the home front the republicans who overthrew the Hohenzollern monarchy in the German Revolution of 1918–19. Advocates denounced the German government leaders who signed the Armistice on November 11, 1918, as the "November Criminals"; when the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, they made the legend an integral part of their official history of the 1920s, portraying the Weimar Republic as the work of the "November criminals" who stabbed the nation in the back to seize power while betraying it. The Nazi propaganda depicted Weimar as "a morass of corruption, national humiliation, ruthless persecution of the honest'national opposition'—fourteen years of rule by Jews, and'cultural Bolsheviks', who had at last been swept away by the National Socialist movement under Adolf Hitler and the victory of the'national revolution' of 1933".
Scholars inside and outside Germany unanimously reject the notion, pointing out the German army was out of reserves, was being overwhelmed by the entrance of the United States into the war, by late 1918 had lost the war militarily. To many Germans, the expression "stab in the back" was evocative of Richard Wagner's 1876 opera Götterdämmerung, in which Hagen murders his enemy Siegfried – the hero of the opera – with a spear in his back; the antisemitic instincts of the German Army were revealed well before the stab-in-the-back myth became the military's excuse for losing the war. In October 1916, in the middle of World War I, the army ordered a "Jewish census" of the troops, with the intent to show that Jews were under-represented in the Reichswehr, that they were over-represented in non-fighting positions. Instead, the census showed just the opposite, that Jews were over-represented both in the army as a whole and in fighting positions at the front; the Reichswehr suppressed the results of the census.
In the part of the war, Germany was a military dictatorship, with the Supreme High Command and General Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg as commander-in-chief advising Kaiser Wilhelm II – although Hindenburg was a figurehead, with his Chief-of-Staff, General Erich Ludendorff, in effective control of the state. After the last German offensive on the Western Front failed in 1918, OHL admitted that the war effort was doomed. In response, by autumn, OHL pressed for a rapid change to a civilian government. Ludendorff said: I have asked His Excellency to now bring those circles to power which we have to thank for coming so far. We will therefore now bring those gentlemen into the ministries, they can now make the peace. They can eat the broth which they have prepared for us! As the military situation for the Germans on the Western Front became more precarious, Prince Maximilian of Baden reached out to the American President Woodrow Wilson, indicating that Germany was willing to accept his Fourteen Points.
On November 11, 1918, the representatives of the newly formed Weimar Republic signed an armistice with the Allies which would end World War I. As the Kaiser had been forced to abdicate and the military relinquished executive power, it was the temporary "civilian government" that sued for peace—the signature on the armistice document was of Matthias Erzberger, a civilian, murdered for his alleged treason; the subsequent Treaty of Versailles led to further financial losses. The official birth of the term "stab-in-the-back" itself can be dated to the autumn of 1919, when Ludendorff was dining with the head of the British Military Mission in Berlin, British general Sir Neill Malcolm. Malcolm asked Ludendorff. Ludendorff replied with his list of excuses. Malcolm asked him: "Do you mean, that you were stabbed in the back?" Ludendorff's eyes lit up and he leapt upon the phrase like a dog on a bone. "Stabbed in the back?" he repeated. "Yes, that's it we were stabbed in the back". And thus was born a legend which has never perished.
The phrase was to Ludendorff's liking, he let it be known among the general staff that this was the "official" version, which led to it being disseminated throughout German society. It was picked up by right-wing political factions, was used by Kaiser Wilhelm II in the memoirs he wrote in the 1920s. Right-wing groups used it as a form of attack against the early Weimar Republic government, led by the Social Democratic Party, which had come to power with the abdication of the Kaiser; however the SPD furthered the myth when the party leader, Friedrich Ebert, told troops returning to Berlin that "No enemy has overcome you."Reviews in the German press that grossly misrepresented General Frederick Barton Maurice's book, The Last Four Months contributed to the creation of this myth. William Shirer writes that "Ludendorff made use of the reviews to convince Hindenburg" about the validity of the myth. In a hearing before the Committee on Inquiry of the National Assembly on November 18, 1919, a year after the war's end, Hindenburg declared, "As an English general has truly said, the German Army was'stabbed in the back'."
In 1919, Deutschvölkischer Schutz und Trutzbund leader Alfred Roth, writing under the pseudonym Otto Arnim, published the book The Jew in the Army which he said was based on evidence gathered during his participation on the Judenzählung, a military cen
Denazification was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, press, economy and politics of the National Socialist ideology. It was carried out by removing those, Nazi Party or SS members from positions of power and influence and by disbanding or rendering impotent the organizations associated with Nazism; the program of denazification was launched after the end of the Second World War and was solidified by the Potsdam Agreement. The term denazification was first coined as a legal term in 1943 in the Pentagon, intended to be applied in a narrow sense with reference to the post-war German legal system. Soon afterward, it took on the more general meaning. Soon after the program started, due to the emergence of the Cold War, the western powers and the United States in particular began to lose interest in the program, it was carried out in an lenient and lukewarm way until being abolished in 1951; the American government soon came to view the program as counterproductive. Additionally, the program was hugely unpopular in Germany and was opposed by the new West German government of Konrad Adenauer.
Denazification in Germany was attempted through a series of directives issued by the Allied Control Council, seated in Berlin, beginning in January 1946. "Denazification directives" identified specific people and groups and outlined judicial procedures and guidelines for handling them. Though all the occupying forces had agreed on the initiative, the methods used for denazification and the intensity with which they were applied differed between the occupation zones; the term "denazification" refers to the removal of the physical symbols of the Nazi regime. For example, in 1957 the West German government re-issued World War II Iron Cross medals, among other decorations, without the swastika in the center. About 8.5 million Germans, or 10% of the population, had been members of the Nazi Party. Nazi-related organizations had huge memberships, such as the German Labour Front, the National Socialist People's Welfare organization, the League of German Women, Hitler Youth, the Doctors' League, others.
It was through the Party and these organizations that the Nazi state was run, involving as many as 45 million Germans in total. In addition, Nazism found significant support among industrialists, who produced weapons or used slave labour, large landowners the Junkers in Prussia. Denazification after the surrender of Germany was thus an enormous undertaking, fraught with many difficulties; the first difficulty was the enormous number of Germans who might have to be first investigated penalized if found to have supported the Nazi state to an unacceptable degree. In the early months of denazification there was a great desire to be utterly thorough, to investigate every suspect and hold every supporter of Nazism accountable, it soon became evident, that pursuing denazification too scrupulously would make it impossible to create a functioning, economically-efficient democratic society in Germany. Enforcing the strictest sanctions against lesser offenders would prevent too many talented people from participating in the reconstruction process.
The Morgenthau Plan had recommended that the Allies create a post-war Germany with all its industrial capacity destroyed, reduced to a level of subsistence farming. As time went on, another consideration that moderated the denazification effort in the West was the concern to keep enough good will of the German population to prevent the growth of communism; the denazification process was completely disregarded by both the Soviets and the Western powers for German rocket scientists and other technical experts, who were taken out of Germany to work on projects in the victor's own country or seized in order to prevent the other side from taking them. The U. S. took 785 scientists and engineers from Germany to the United States, some of whom formed the backbone of the U. S. space program. In the case of the top-ranking Nazis, such as Göring, von Ribbentrop and Speer, the initial proposal by the British was to arrest them and shoot them, but that course of action was replaced by putting them on trial for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials in order to publicize their crimes while demonstrating that the trials and the sentences were just to the German people.
However, the legal foundations of the trials were questioned, most Germans were not convinced that the trials were anything more than "victors' justice". Many refugees from Nazism were Germans and Austrians, some had fought for Britain in the Second World War; some were transferred into the Intelligence Corps and sent back to Germany and Austria in British uniform. However, German-speakers were small in number in the British zone, hampered by the language deficit. Due to its large German-American population, the U. S. authorities were able to bring a larger number of German-speakers to the task of working in the Allied Military Government, although many were poorly trained. They were assigned to all aspects of military administration, the interrogation of POWs, collecting evidence for the War Crimes Investigation Unit and the search for war criminals; the Joint Chiefs of Staff Directive 1067 directed U. S. Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower's policy of denazification. A report of the Institute on Re-education of the Axis Countries in June 1945 recommended: "Only an inflexible long-term occupation authority will be
Artur Axmann was the German Nazi national leader of the Hitler Youth from 1940 to the war's end in 1945. He was the last living Nazi with a rank equivalent to Reichsführer. Axmann was born in Hagen, the son of an insurance clerk. In 1916, his family moved to Berlin-Wedding. Young Axmann received a scholarship to attend secondary school, he joined the Hitler Youth in November 1928, after he heard Nazi Gauleiter Joseph Goebbels speaking, became leader of the local cell in the Wedding district. He joined the National Socialist Schoolchildren's League, where he distinguished himself as an orator. In September 1931, Axmann joined the Nazi Party and the next year he was called to the NSDAP Reichsjugendführung to carry out a reorganisation of Hitler Youth factory and vocational school cells. After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, he rose to a regional leader and became Chief of the Social Office of the Reich Youth Leadership. Axmann directed the Hitler Youth in state vocational training and succeeded in raising the status of Hitler Youth agricultural work.
In November 1934, he was appointed Hitler Youth leader of Berlin and from 1936 presided at the annual Reichsberufswettkampf competitions. On 30 January 1939 he was awarded the Golden Party Badge. After World War II began, Axmann was on active service on the Western Front until May 1940. On 1 May 1940, he was appointed deputy to Nazi Reichsjugendführer Baldur von Schirach, whom he succeeded three months on 8 August 1940; as a member of the Wehrmacht 23rd Infantry Division, he was wounded on the Eastern Front in 1941, losing his right arm. In early 1943, Axmann proposed the formation of the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend to Heinrich Himmler, with servicemen drawn from the Hitler Youth. Hitler approved the plan for the combat division to be made up of Hitler Youth members born in 1926. Thereafter and training began. In the last weeks of the war in Europe, Axmann commanded units of the Hitler Youth, incorporated into the Home Guard, his units consisted of children and adolescents. They fought in the Battle of the Battle in Berlin.
During Hitler's last days in Berlin, Axmann was among those present in the Führerbunker. During that time it was announced in the German Press that Axmann had been awarded the German Order, the highest decoration that the Nazi Party could bestow on an individual for his services to the Reich, he and one other recipient, Konstantin Hierl, were the only holders of the award to survive the war and its consequences. All other recipients were either awarded it posthumously, or were killed during the war or its aftermath. On 30 April 1945, just a few hours before committing suicide, Hitler signed the order to allow a breakout. According to a report made to his Soviet captors by Obergruppenfuehrer Hans Rattenhuber, the head of Hitler's bodyguard, Axmann took the Walther PP pistol, removed from Hitler's sitting room in the Fuehrerbunker by Heinz Linge, Hitler's valet, which Hitler had used to commit suicide. On 1 May, Axmann left the Führerbunker as part of a breakout group that included Martin Bormann, Werner Naumann and SS doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger.
Attempting to break out of the Soviet encirclement, their group managed to cross the River Spree at the Weidendammer Bridge. Leaving the rest of their group, Bormann and Axmann walked along railway tracks to Lehrter railway station. Bormann and Stumpfegger followed. Axmann decided to go in the opposite direction of his two companions; when he encountered a Red Army patrol, Axmann doubled back. He saw two bodies, which he identified as Bormann and Stumpfegger, on the Invalidenstraße bridge near the railway switching yard, he did not have time to check the bodies so he did not know how they died. His statements were confirmed by the discovery of Bormann's and Stumpfegger's mortal remains in 1972. Axmann avoided capture by Soviet troops and lived under the alias of "Erich Siewert" for several months. In December 1945, Axmann was arrested in Lübeck when a Nazi underground movement which he had been organising was uncovered by a U. S. Army counterintelligence operation. In May 1949, a Nuremberg denazification court sentenced Axmann to a prison sentence of three years and three months as a'major offender'.
He was not found guilty of war crimes. On 19 August 1958, a West Berlin court fined the former Hitler Youth leader 35,000 marks, about half the value of his property in Berlin; the court found him guilty of indoctrinating German youth with National Socialism until the end of the war in Europe, but concluded he was not guilty of war crimes. After his release from custody, Axmann worked as a businessman with varying success. From 1971 he left Germany for a number of years. Axmann returned to Berlin in 1976, where he died on 24 October 1996, aged 83, his cause of death and details of his surviving family members were not disclosed. Axmann was portrayed by Harry Brooks, Jr. in the 1973 British television production The Death of Adolf Hitler. Glossary of Nazi Germany List of Nazi Party leaders and officials Angolia, John. For Führer and Fatherland: Political & Civil Awards of the Third Reich. R. James Bender Publishing. ISBN 978-0912138169. Beevor, Antony. Berlin: The Downfall 1945. Viking-Penguin. ISBN 978-0-670-03041-5.
Hamilton, Charles. Leaders & Personalities of the Third Reich, Vol. 1. San Jose, CA: R. James Bend