Consolidation Of Power
After the death of President Von Hindenburg in August of 1934, Hitler merged the offices of president and chancellor into the office of Reichskanzler (Reichs Chancellor). He also officially dissolved the Reichstag. This effectively made Hitler the one and only Fuhrer. Now he could really begin to help his people.
He began a national healthcare system where the wealthy paid more than the middle and lower classes. Rates were also effected by how many members a family had. A family of four paid more than a single person. This system was designed to pay for itself, not make a profit.
The Hitler Youth, which was begun in 1923 was expanded and now the only authorized youth group in the Reich. Membership was not exactly mandatory, but not joining was not taken lightly by the government or the German people. In other words, unless you were handicapped in some way, all children joined. Their motto was "Blood And Honour".
Tourism and recreation were organized through the "Strength Through Joy" program where cruises and trips to resorts were subsidized by the government to help people take vacations that would otherwise be out of their price range.
Hitler also ordered all medium to large business to give their employees all designated state holidays off with pay. If it was a profession that could not close on holidays such as restaurants, movie theaters, police, medical facilities, and the like, employees were required to give them extra compensation.
The standard vacation with pay was increased to three weeks annually. Hitler believed that two weeks vacation was necessary for the mental and physical well being of the workers, but they needed a third week to piss away (not Hitler's words). You know, if you need to take a day off to go to a wedding, or fight a traffic ticket (yes there were traffic tickets in the Third Reich), and things like that.
He also granted newlyweds 1000 RM to help them get their family started.
Also, Hitler started public education programs on smoking, alcohol and drugs, and better nutrition. Hitler never smoked. He found it a disgusting habit. He also did not drink. By 1937 he became a vegetarian with one exception: Liver. It is thought that he might have suffered from an iron deficiency and liver is extremely high in iron. Hitler preferred not taking pills of any kind unless absolutely necessary.
Health, Humour, And Education
Although fond of sweets, Hitler limited his consumption to once a day - often ate during movie screenings at the Berghof, his mountain retreat. He was fond of movies - even American movies. He enjoyed comedy, and although they were Jewish, he liked the comedy of the Three Stooges. He thought Moe's impersonation of him was hilarious. Many would have us believe that he was outraged at this mockery, but he had a great sense of humour.
The public school system was also expanded and improved. Like the song says, I believe the children are the future. Hitler believed it too.
There programs to help get people back to work. Franklin Roosevelt stole his idea for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) from an earlier program created by the Reich Economic Office.
There were also training camps for those who wanted to learn a trade, or brush up on an old one. It was rather like what we know today as the Job Corps.
When Hitler took power in 1934 there were 7 million Germans out of work. By 1936 there were only one million. I'm sure many of that one million may have been unemployable because they refused to get retrained, or a they had a bad attitude, or they were bums who couldn't keep their pants up let alone keep a job. No matter how efficient a government is you're bound to find types like this in every country.
They also had a Medicare program, as well as welfare for the truly needy (not lazy bums), housing assistance, and food stamps.
Also a program similar to Social Security was established BEFORE it was in the United States.
The Soviet Union was NOT the worker's paradise that they claimed to be. Indeed, that never existed. However, the closest thing to it was The Third Reich.
The 1936 Olympics
Berlin also hosted the 1936 Olympics. Hitler did not snub African-American Gold Medal winner Jesse Owens. Hitler only attended the opening day and Owens didn't win his first medal until the second day. Indeed it was Roosevelt who did the snubbing. Owens did not receive a phone call or a telegram from the president for his victories - although every White Gold Medal winner did.
It was also during this period that the concentration camp system for political prisoners began. The first was Dachau a few miles away from Munich in 1933. On the left is a photo of the less than sinister looking main entrance. Folsom Prison in California looks more like a dungeon than did Dachau.
Folsom Prison, California
Next: The War Years on Friday.