Nazi Germany essay questions

These Nazi Germany essay questions have been written and compiled by Alpha History authors, for use by teachers and students. They can also be used for short-answer questions and other research or revision tasks. If you would like to contribute a question to this page, please contact Alpha History.

Nazi ideology

1. Describe the life of Adolf Hitler between 1905 and 1918. How might Hitler’s experiences in this period have shaped his political views and ideas?

2. Identify and discuss five key elements of Nazi ideology. What did the Nazis believe and what were their objectives?

3. Nazism presented as a new ideology but drew heavily on traditional ideas. Identify links between Nazism and German ideas and values of the 19th century.

4. Discuss how Germany’s defeat in World War I contributed to the ideology of nationalist groups like the NSDAP.

5. With reference to primary sources, explain the relationship between the NSDAP and communism. Why were the Nazis so antagonistic towards communist and socialist parties?

6. Compare the organisation, membership and ideology of the NSDAP with another post-war nationalist group, such as the German National People’s Party (DNVP). In what ways were the Nazis different from other nationalists?

7. What were the functions of the NSDAP’s two paramilitary branches: the Sturmabteilung (SA) and the Schutzstaffel (SS).¬†Discuss the organisation, culture and ideology of these groups.

8. Hitler was inspired by fascist ideology and Mussolini’s successful ‘March on Rome’ in 1922. In what ways were German Nazism and Italian fascism both similar and different?

The Nazi rise to power

1. The German Workers’ Party (DAP) was one of many small nationalist groups in post-war Germany. What factors led to this group becoming a major political force in Germany?

2. Chart the course of Hitler’s rise in the NSDAP. Was it leadership qualities or political manipulation that allowed Hitler to gain control of the party?

3. What were the objectives of the NSDAP’s Munich putsch? Why did this putsch ultimately fail?

4. How did the NSDAP evolve and change after Hitler’s time in prison in 1924? How and why did the party change its tactics?

5. What impact did the Great Depression have on German society? How did this benefit Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP?

6. Discuss the outcomes of Hitler’s failed bid for the presidency in 1932.

7. Paul von Hindenburg was initially reluctant to appoint Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany. With reference to particular people and events, explain what changed his mind.

8. How did Germans respond to Hitler’s appointment as chancellor in January 1933?

The Nazi state

1. How did Hitler and the Nazis use the Reichstag fire of February 1933 to consolidate and extend their power over Germany?

2. Investigate how the world press responded to Hitler’s appointment as chancellor, the Reichstag fire and the Enabling Act.

3. With reference to five specific policies or events, explain how the Nazis marginalised or eliminated resistance in 1933 and 1934.

4. Explain the structure and organisation of the Nazi government. Where did real power reside in the Nazi state: with Hitler, with other leaders or elsewhere?

5. How did the Nazis attempt to resolve Germany’s economic woes? Who were the key players in Nazi economic policy?

6. Discuss the relationship between Hitler, the NSDAP and the Reichswehr or German military between 1933 and 1939. What issues or policies parties agree and disagree about?

7. What were the roles of paramilitary groups the Schutzstaffel (SS) and Sturmabteilung (SA) in the Nazi state?

8. Explain why propaganda was a critical part of the Nazi state. Who was responsible for Nazi propaganda and how did they justify it?

Life in Nazi Germany

1. Discuss how women were viewed by the Nazi regime and incorporated into Nazi society. How did German women respond to Hitler and his program for them?

2. Why did Hitler and the NSDAP place a high priority on children? Explain how children were embraced and incorporated into the Nazi movement.

3. How did work and workplaces change in Germany in the 1930s? Were German workers better or worse off under a Nazi state?

4. Referring to specific examples, explain how propaganda promoted Nazi ideas about society, family and gender.

5. Discuss how the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games was used by the Nazi regime to reinforce and promote their ideas and values.

6. The German Weimar period (1918-1933) was known for its artistic innovation and modern culture. Discuss how art and culture changed under the Nazi government.

7. Investigate the methods used by Nazi security agencies, particularly the Gestapo and the Sicherheitsdienst (SD). How did these bodies minimise and eliminate resistance and opposition?

8. Discuss how eugenics determined or influenced Nazi social policies during the 1930s. Which people or groups were most affected by eugenics-based policies?

9. It is often claimed that Hitler and the Nazis were atheists. Was this really the case? Explain Nazi attitudes toward both God and organised religion and how these attitudes were reflected in Nazi policy.

10. Anti-Semitism underpinned many Nazi actions and policies during the 1930s. Referring to specific laws and policies, explain how the Nazi regime attempted to extract German Jews from positions of influence.

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