Overview of the Specification

Unit 3 - Option D1 - From Kaiser to Fuhrer: Germnay 1900-1945

The focus of this topic is on Germany in peace and war and the tragic evolution of the culturally sophisticated and economically impressive Second Reich into the Third Reich via the Weimar Republic. The key areas of study required for Section A are summarised in the four bullet points and the two associated controversies to be examined in Section B are clearly delimited underneath in the unit content section of the specification. Collectively, they offer a framework for understanding the period as a whole.

Although the bullet points are clarified separately here, you should appreciate the possible links between them and that questions may be set which require you to draw on material from more than one bullet point, for example the birth and early development of the Nazi Party (bullet point 3) can and should be clearly related to material covered in bullet point 2.

Topic 1: The Second Reichsociety and government in Germany, c1900-19: economic expansion; political and social tensions; the impact of the First World War.

The first topic relates to imperial Germany before and during the First World War. Students should have knowledge of the constitution and the relative powers of the Kaiser, Chancellor and Reichstag and how their relationships might be illustrated through such events as the Zabern Incident. They should be aware of existing social and political divisions in the Second Reich at the beginning of the 20th century, and of the economic and social changes of the years 1900-14 and the impact of these changes on politics and political parties. German foreign policy in the years 1900-14 will be the subject of a question in section B. The reference to the impact of the First World War concerns the social and economic effects of the struggle on Germany and the changing political climate from the Burgfried of 1914 to the mounting opposition to war in 1917-18, producing increasing polarisation. Although questions will not be set on the purely military aspects of the First World War, the impact of the conflict on the domestic situation should be studied, particularly the dramatic changes of 1918.

Topic 2: The democratic experiment (Weimar Republic), 1919-29: crises and survival, 1919-24; Stresemann and recovery; the ‘Golden Years’ of the Weimar Republic; Weimar culture.

The second topic relates to the first ten years of the Weimar Republic. You should have an understanding of the new constitution and its supporters and opponents, the social, economic and political problems of 1919-23 and the stabilisation achieved in 1923-24. The reference to the ‘Golden Years’ refers to 1925-29 and students should be aware of economic, social and cultural developments in these years and in particular the roles of Stresemann and Hindenburg. Questions will not be set exclusively on foreign policy but the domestic impact of international relations should be studied.

Topic 3: The rise of the Nazis: origins to 1928; impact of the slump in town and country, 1928-33; growing support; coming to power.

The third bullet point relates to the birth and development of the Nazi Party before 1928 and the reasons for its transformation between 1928 and 1930 into a party enjoying the support of nearly one in five Germans. You should be aware of the social, economic and political developments between 1930 and 1933 which led to Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in January 1933 and the growth and consolidation of dictatorship in the first six months of that year.

Topic 4: Life in wartime Germany, 1939-45: opposition and conformity; persecution of the Jews and the development of the idea of the ‘Final Solution’; the efficiency of the war economy.

The fourth bullet point relates to the Third Reich during the Second World War. This is primarily concerned with the domestic impact of war rather than with the conduct of military operations. You should be aware of the issues of morale, the efficiency or otherwise of war production, repression of dissent and opposition and the evolution of the ‘Final Solution’.

Associated controversies (Section B)

a) To what extent was Germany responsible for the outbreak of the First World War?

The first controversy requires a study of German foreign policy c1900-1914 and the controversy surrounding Germany’s ‘war guilt.’ You should be aware of the historical debate which surrounds this issue, with some arguing that Germany deliberately sought European hegemony and sought to resolve intractable domestic tensions through an aggressive foreign policy, whilst others have argued that Germany was either the victim of an aggressive coalition or, like all the participants in the conflict, the helpless prisoner of uncontrollable circumstances.

b) How popular and efficient was the Nazi regime in the years 1933-39?
The second controversy requires a study of the nature of the Third Reich prior to the outbreak of war. You should be aware of the debates concerning the popularity of the Nazi regime, the degree of consent that it enjoyed and how far it was dependant on terror and repression. You should also address the controversy surrounding the structure and efficiency of the regime. Was it a chaotic ‘polycracy’ or a state efficiently answering to the F├╝hrer’s will? The years 1933-39 should be studied with these issues in mind.

Information taken from the Exedcel Specification September 2007 Booklet