Life for the peoples of Nazi Germany cannot be simple classed as “good” or “bad”, the standard of living for somebody living in Nazi Germany (and occupied territories) was, ofcourse, a matter of class and social position.
In the post-1918 era, life in Germany had changed radically, following the armistice of 1918, the majority of Germany’s citizen’s were impoverished – the economy was all but completely destroyed. However no class was hit harder than peasant farmers – during The Great War farmers increased production greatly to feed the country and armies, when the war ended there was a vast surplus, so the farmers suffered greatly.
During the “Golden Age” of the Weimar Republic living conditions were greatly improved, lifestyles were flamboyant, and people had freedom they had never seen in Totalitarian Germany, or before the unification of Germany under Otto von Bismarck.
However, during the great depression of the early 1930’s, German people suffered greatly, for the lower and middle classes life in the new Nazi Germany would have been a vast improvement on the Weimar Republic. The Nazi’s provided jobs, food, and money for these people. When compared to conditions in the Great Depression life as extremely good.
The Nazi’s built industry, public works, etc. For people who were in need of facilities such as these, living conditions were improved.
Although the Nazi’s provided jobs for the people, Hitler ensured that there was a war economy in peacetime Germany, meaning it was centrally controlled by the Government. In order for industrialists to be successful in business, they needed the support of the Nazi’s, completely sacrificing their “better judgment” and for most people, becoming fully fledged Nazi’s.
Lower classes in peacetime Germany would have worked in factories or public works projects, money wise they would be better off than in most other industrialized countries, and greatly so when compared to pre-Nazi Germany. During the Great Depression most of the lower class would have been unemployed, so as long as the Nazi’s gave them jobs they would have better living conditions than previously.
Although economically the people of Germany were better off, the nation’s income was not used to improve the lives of ordinary Germans, roads, public buildings, etc were constructed on a vast scale, but the aims of Hitler and the Nazi’s were not to help the German people, obviously they were preparing the country for war, and therefore great sums of money were used to the military, rather than in improving the lives of German’s.
During World War II the lower classes would have been conscripted into the Army, Germany needed vast numbers of soldiers on the Eastern front. During this time slave labour took over from the workers, Jews, Slavs, and others from concentration camps replaced paid workers, it goes without saying that life for slaves was inhumane, even torturous.
Citizens of Nazi Germany were under fear of being shipped to concentration camps, murdered, and other atrocities.
The Nazi’s ruled Germany and after 1939 it’s occupied territories by fear, in much the same way as the Soviet Union. Enemies of the State – communists, and other opponents of the regime – were sent to concentration camps in the east forced into slave labour, and faced almost certain death.
No trial was given, and even if a “show trial” was performed, the judge and jury were most likely committed Nazi’s who would sentence the accused anyway.
For the ordinary German the threat of being arrested by the Gestapo or S.S. was very real, even the most trivial of things such as failing to perform the Hitler salute could result in deportation the east… Free speech was forbidden, talking badly about the Nazi’s was considered treason.
Liberties such as this were sacrificed; people of Britain and America had things far better than the German people in this aspect.
For Jews during the Holocaust, Nazi atrocities reached level’s never before seen. Former friends of Jewish families would inform the authorities and have them sent to concentration camps, and later death camps.
For the Holocaust, the Nazi’s industrialized the mass slaughter and the Jews. Although genocide and persecution of the Jews had been seen many times throughout European history, the Nazi’s killed the Jews at a rate which was not equaled or surpassed until the Rwandan massacre of the Tutsi’s.
Even firm Nazi supporters were not free from the fear of Nazi rule. Hitler often had General’s shot if they disapproved of his war strategies. During the Battle of Berlin in 1945 Hitler ordered Goering shot treason – although the order was never carried out by the Nazi’s.
Rationing was introduced in Britain in the late 1930’s, but the Nazi’s did not feel the need to ration food until later stages of the war, ofcourse as the start of the war Germany expected a lightning fast victory, which they initially achieved. Vast quantities of luxuries of all kinds were imported to the Motherland, so there was no need for Germany to ration its goods – unlike Britain they did not rely so heavily on overseas trade.
In conclusion, life in Nazi Germany was atrocious for certain aspects of society, but incredibly beneficial for others. While some aspects of life were good, others were poor. Many people wouldn’t mind giving up their freedom aslong as the Nazi’s performed for them. However many people would not give a dollar amount to the worth of their freedom, and justice, it is these people who would suffer under Nazi rule.