Life in Nazi-controlled Europe

6.1A2 USHMM 00410 Vienna boys choir, We sing for Adolf Hiltler, druing Hitler's 1st official visit Austria after Anschluss.jpg
A chilling image of how the Nazis propaganda machine worked. The Vienna boys' choir and Austrian children give the Nazi salute during Adolf Hitler's first official visit to Austria after the Anschluss, 1938.
© 2011 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

On 30 January 1933 Adolf Hitler was made Chancellor of Germany. Franz von Papen had persuaded President Hindenburg that Hitler could be kept under control. He had boasted that: “in two months, we will have pushed Hitler into a corner so that he squeaks”.

However, just 24 hours after taking office, Hitler called for new elections to be held on 5 March 1933. Very soon after Hitler persuaded President Hindenburg to give him emergency powers that took away people’s rights. On 24 March 1933, the Reichstag passed an ‘Enabling law’, giving the Nazi party the power to make laws without parliamentary approval.

The Nazis very quickly began a campaign of violence and terror against Communists and other opponents. Their campaign also involved banning opposition newspapers, leaflets and meetings. The Nazis’ campaign also involved anti-communist and antisemitic propaganda, using the radio, newspapers, leaflets, rallies and all other methods at their disposal.

These events were only a hint of things to come. Once the Nazis had developed a series of policies and measures that enabled them to consolidate power over Germany, they would seek to develop control over much of mainland Europe.


The ‘Life in Nazi-controlled Europe’ section of Holocaust Explained will help you learn about how the Nazis sought to control Germany from 1933 and later the whole of Europe. More importantly, you will learn about how the lives of millions of people across Europe were changed forever.