How was life under Hitler like for people who weren't in Danger of being killed?

What I’m asking is what was everday life under Hitler like for a blue-eyed, blond-haired, Caucasian, heterosexual Christian of non-Jewish descent? People who didn’t belong to any of the groups he was persecuting.

You had great opportunities to either go spend the winter in Russia or the summers in Egypt, your children could be taken away to be brainwashed in Hitler Youth camps and you could rise to the top of the Nazi party and be shot because Hitler didn’t like you anymore. But at least the trains ran on time.

I suppose that if you liked having someone tell you what to do, where to live, where you could travel, who you could marry and were a good little bureaucrat it would have been great. :rolleyes:

Not bad at all. Work, car, holidays - all you could dream of.

From the time he assumed power until the opening moves of WWII, very good in economic terms. Massive infrastructure improvements, unemployment way down, industrial production ramped up, standard of living improved for the working class. It was largely fueled by rearmament and debt float. In 1935 and 36, it was possible to refer to Germany using such terms as “Economic Miracle”, before the more sinister aspects of the Nazi regime became evident.

There’s a good reason why Fascism was attractive following the economic collapse of the early 30s. It seemed to work, in the short term, if you weren’t in a class that was getting persecuted. If a new regime delivers on getting prosperity back on its feet, it doesn’t seem that bad to have to salute it, never mind how sustainable it is, or what the regime’s ulterior motive really is.

You’ll need to add trade unionists, social democrats, socialists and communists to that list. As well as people who feel it’s legitimate to critically discuss the actions of the government, say when they’re talking to friends at work or in the shop.

But, ultimate, for the majority of Germans, things were pretty good until the war began. It was even better if you were a Nazi – and many Germans joined the party simply because of that. Nazis could do whatever they wanted with impugnity, but as long as you were Arayan and didn’t criticize, they would go for other prey.

To the OP - to what time frame are you referring, pre-war or during?

My mother (brown haired and brown eyed, btw) was a young girl in a small country town in southern Germany during the war. (Since she was 8 when Germany invaded Poland, she obviously can’t speak much personally to the pre-war years.) She doesn’t talk about the war years much, because invariably she gets very emotional. Things that she has mentioned over time -

Earlier on, they of course heard news about the war via official and unofficial (Allied) radio broadcasts. Getting caught listening to the unofficial broadcasts (i.e., being tattled on by neighbors, etc.) got you hauled away, not to be seen again.

As the war progressed and the German Army began “recruiting” older and younger men to fill the ranks, she remembers well the day her father (then a middle-aged man) was forcibly “escorted” away by soldiers in order to serve in the Wehrmacht.

She also recalls having to dive for cover in the potato fields when Allied planes flew overhead on bombing runs (see here and here for descriptive examples).

There were other privations of course, some of those coming after the war (having to use parachute material to make clothes, older sisters of her classmates prostituting themselves to American soldiers in order to get extra bread for their families), but they were a direct result of Hitler’s leadership.


The whole Aryan thing was part of Hitler’s looney Nazi mythology, courtesy Goebbels. Party hardliners may have gone for it, but not so much the average person - especially if they themselves didn’t fit the blond and blue-eyed ideal.

For those who joined the Nazi Party, I would say for many it was comparable to people in China joining the Communist Party - you’d do it for the connections and privileges you thought you might gain, especially for your family. On the other hand, doing something like sending your kids off to join the Hitler Jugend was not optional after 1936.

I wouldn’t use that word to describe the non-persecuted. An awful lot of Christians who felt obligated to stand up for their beliefs were imprisoned or killed under Hitler (as often as not by folks who considered themselves ‘Christian’, but that’s another debate).

What was his rule for Jews who converted to Christianity? One Jewish grandparent to qualify as Jewish? I think that may be it, I’m not sure.

Jewishness in Hitlers day was defined as biological imutability by most Germans. You coudn’t just “escape” Jewishness. They didn’t care what religion you were.

And while they didn’t cart off everyone with a single Jewish grandparent, half-Jews were definitely on the hit list.

Well, during the war, pretty much anybody was in danger of being killed, once the serious boming got under way.

I think that was Mussolinis claim to fame.

Just what did the Nazis do with “Aryans” who converted to Judaism? :confused:

This a factual answer?

To most people who have studied history or watched the Hitler/History channel it is. Which fact do you question? That even so called Aryans were send to Russia and Egypt to die? That Aryan children were not taken from their parents and indoctrinated in Nazi philosophy in Hitler Youth? Or that Hitler had leading Nazi’s executed for political reasons?

Perhaps you are confused by my point that a certain element of society does like being told what to do and how to think and that those people probably thought Hitler was a good thing.
Please be more specific in what it is you don’t understand please?

Attempts to quantify popular opinion in the Third Reich has been a major area of historical research in the last few decades. The broad generalisation is that domestic standards of living - and with it civilian morale - held up well into 1943-4. There are obvious exceptions in areas that are bombed and amongst families that lose sons in the fighting, but there were conversely places that remained broadly “normal” for quite some time. Thus Dresden, to take one picked over case, maintained that surface normality until the sudden devastation of February 1945.
This was very much at the expense of the conquered territories. The boyant domestic economy was dependent on the seizures made during the expansionist phase of their conquests. Indeed the usual conclusion is that the German domestic economy would have collapsed under the Nazis in the early 1940s without the war. Delaying that day of reckoning was one side-effect of their early military successes.

Bonzer makes some good points. People most like got a feeling of “normal” under the Nazism that was what somewhat warped due the conditions that they were in pre-Hitler. But ask the same German about “normal” in 1944 and again in 1954 and you would get two completely different answers. The one in 1954 wasn’t facing death or prision to question their government and it’s policies.

Umm, also people with a psychiatric diagnosis. Mental patients got the gas chamber treatment.

I don’t think gypsies did well either.