Middle Secondary – a democracy Destroyed – Focus question 4: What are the key features of a democracy and how did the Nazis take them away? How is democracy in Australia protected?

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Middle Secondary – A Democracy Destroyed – Focus question 4: What are the key features of a democracy and how did the Nazis take them away? How is democracy in Australia protected?


What effect did the destruction of democracy have on the nation, and on individuals?
Assessment task

Draw up a table like the one that follows.
Principles of a democracy
Events in Nazi Germany which attacked these principles
Effect or impact of these attacks on democracy
Situation in Australia today

In the left-hand column, write in the main principles of a democracy (go back to your list in Focus question 1, Activity 1). You should have at least six principles.

Then either look at the game on the Stories of Democracy CD ROM or use the Destruction of democracy timeline to complete the second column of the table. You will complete the third and fourth columns later in this focus question.

Assessment criteria

Your work will be assessed on:
  • identifying some essential principles of democracy
  • explaining which events attacked these principles
  • explaining what this meant for people's lives
  • identifying and explaining how these principles of democracy operate in Australia.
Key events in Germany 1933-34
  1. 'Law for the Ordering of National Labour' weighted workplace relations heavily against workers and in favour of management.
  2. 'Reichstag Fire Decree' ('For the Protection of People and State') suspended civil rights. Mass arrests of Communists and other opponents of the Nazis.
Hitler shaking hands with church leaders
  1. All political parties other than the Nazi Party were banned.
  2. All soldiers had to swear an oath not to the state or the Constitution, but to Hitler personally: 'I swear by God this sacred oath, that I will render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, the Führer of the German Reich and people ... and will be ready as a brave soldier to risk my life at any time for this oath.'
  3. Books by Jews, pacifists or communists, or books which were critical of Nazi Germany, were banned and burnt publicly - about 20,000 of them in all. Possession of these books was a crime. A list of desirable and approved books was sent to libraries and bookshops.
  4. The Catholic Church made a treaty with Nazi Germany - it was allowed to remain as long as there was no political activity by church leaders.
Sign on window reads 'Germans defend yourself against Jewish atrocity propaganda. Buy only at German shops'.
  1. Hitler combined the offices of Chancellor, President and Nazi Party leader as Führer.
  2. Jews were dismissed from all jobs in the public service, including schools, universities and public hospitals.
  3. 'Law Against Overcrowding of German Schools' led to the expulsion of students defined as Jewish.
  4. Jewish businesses throughout Germany were boycotted.
  5. Laws were passed removing civil rights from Germans who were Jewish.
  6. Major rallies, parades and exhibitions were developed to promote German national pride and identity. At one exhibition, on Germany's military experience in the Great War, thousands of German boys and girls queued to see the displays of military weapons and artefacts. One explained that, up to then, Germany's recent military past had been considered shameful.

A Hitler youth poster, mid-1930s
  1. Political critics of Nazism were jailed in concentration camps.
  2. State and local governments' powers were taken away - all rule was from the national government.
  3. Trade unions were banned, replaced by the government controlled German Labour Front.
  4. Young people were forced to join Nazi youth organisations, where propaganda was forced upon them. Non-sympathetic groups were banned. The oath of the Hitler Youth was:

By 1939 over 7 million of the 8,870,000 Germans aged between 10 and 18 were in a Nazi Youth organisation.
  1. All judges had to apply the law not according to the Constitution, but according to Nationalist Socialist ideology as expressed in the party policies of the Nazis. Judges were by then an arm of the government, and not interpreters of the German Constitution.
A Nazi court 1944. Judge Friendler presiding over a treason case

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