Adolf Hitler, one of the most important figures of the 20th Century, controversial, feared, respected and hated. His influence can still be felt today in every day life and in the fields of economics, politics, science and the arts.
Hitler was one of the most popular elected leaders of all time, this is ironic, for a man who rejected democracy so vehemently. His popularity lasted almost the whole duration of the war and it helped him in that the German people supported his every action and fought for him and his ideals until the very end of his dictatorship.
The legacy of the Third Reich is varied and rich. There are good and aspects in our lives today that had their origin back then, between the years of 1933 and 1945
Sources Of Employment And Improvement Of Worker's Conditions And Other Social Programs
Unemployment problems were actively taken care of by improvements towards mass production, the start of immense construction projects, most notably, the Autobahns.
Let's take into account that at the time, heavy construction machinery was not available and it was necessary to employ hundreds of workers to build these Autobahns.
This availability of jobs, along with other measures taken by Adolf Hitler to stregthen the german economy, the standard of living increased and even though a greater control was exerted over the workers, for example, their rights to strike were taken away, overall working conditions were undeniably better, workers enjoyed a number of cultural and recreational activities, extended holidays in which the state sponsored them so that they could take recreational trips abroad through a program called "Strength Through Joy" (Kraft Durch Freude) and an annual worker's celebration day, similar to the ones today, in many countries workers know as "Labor Day".
Adolf Hitler also introduced a program that, with variations and other purposes, functions in many countries of the world, it consisted of giving extra money to families that kept children; allegedly, this served to make people have more children that in due time would enter the Army and strenghten the military force of the country.
The Women's SS Corps - Employment Program for Women
Women labor was an important issue during the Third Reich. In 1942 the SS Women's Corps was established under the direction of Heinrich Himmler. The members of this group began as staff assistants but also collaborated as nurses, telephone operators, radio operators, typists, secretaries and even drivers and helped a great deal to the war effort. Of course, the women that were accepted had to meet the regular "racial standards" and all of them had been active in the Bund Deutscher Mädchen (League of German Girls) since they were very young
Nazi nuclear scientists had projects of their own similar to the Manhattan Project's. It wasn't a matter of a race against the Jewish Science of Albert Einstein, some sources (see References) but there existed secret plans from the Nazis to build their own atomic bomb, the evidence for this is in the form of research notes of German physicist Werner Heisenberg, photos and other files now available to the public in the Munich State Museum, apparently the only reason the Germans were not able to build the bomb was the lack of plutonium supply due to the Allied bombings.
Communications Technologies And Others
A primitive form of video-conferencing was available to the public during the Third Reich, in 1937. It was an inexpensive service, using a television station, people could communicate with one another over a relatively long distance. The video quality was not high and the reception was flawed.
The Germans were also pioneers in the use and perfecting magnetic storage of sound in tapes. It is said that Adolf Hitler was enthusiastic about improving the ways in which the human voice could be recorded because he wanted the best possible quality while recording for posterity his political broadcastings. Speaking of which, in 1935, for the first time in Europe , television broadcasting took place in Berlin .
Advances In Medicine And The Biological Sciences
As an indirect result of the inhumane experiments performed on prisoners in concentration camps, a lot of actual medical and biological research was made. At the time, this research was focused on finding out the maximum resistance of a human being to cold, heat, altitude, etc, and the results were applied in the training of pilots and soldiers.
Methadone started being used during the Third Reich for pain relief, up to this day it is used as a painkiller and part of therapy for drug addicts.
In 1936, the Law of Wildlife Preservation was established by Hermann Goering, after this law, many others for other countries have been modeled
During the Third Reich the development of certain technologies was notably accelerated in all industrialized countries due to the necessity of new and better technologies to be utilized in war campaigns, later on, after the war was over, all of these technologies started to get used in every day life and were used, not for destruction but for domestic and civilian purposes.
The early recognition of the dangers of radiation, mercury, cadmium and lead. They also advised the german people to avoid the use of artificial food colorants and preservatives in foods and drinks and recommended the use of pharmaceuticals, fertilizers and cosmetics that were based on organic or natural ingredients.
The abolition of vivisection or experimentation on animals was promoted in 1933-1935, this specific law prohibited a Jewish ritual to make meat kosher in which an animal's throat is slit and let to die. The Nazis considered this practice too barbaric and the infliction of pain unnecessary and a product of ignorance.
Health Programs And Advancements
During the Third Reich, Germany prohibited the use of DDT on cultivated grounds, because Nazi scientists had discovered that it was hazardous to health and went on to produce Cyclone-B, testing it on camp prisoners and finally applying it on experimental fields before releasing it to the agricultural sector of the population.
Perhaps best known throughout the world for its superior engineering and open stretches without a speed limit, the Autobahn was Hitler's invention from his dreams about an interstate highway system. Over 2000 km were built by 1938 and today approximately 11.000 km cover Germany . True to stereotypes about German engineering and maintenance, road designs are solid without a single pothole, with 4% or lesser grades, long acceleration and deceleration lanes, gentle curves, and free-resistant surfaces. Just as Hitler insisted on having buildings and other infrastructure that would last 1000 years, the engineers of the Autobahn design things right the first time and perform critical inspection and thorough maintenance to keep the best highway system in the world at peak operational performance.
Autobahns, or "Freeways" appeared early in the 20th century, however it was during the Third Reich and under the supervision of Adolf Hitler, the construction of a massive Autobahn System began in the year of 1933.
The best possible way to bring the German people back into work is to set German economic life once more in motion through great monumental works... This is not merely the hour in which we begin the building of the greatest network of roads in the world, this hour is at the same time a milestone on the road towards the building up of the community of the German people. - Adolf Hitler
In 1933, Adolf Hitler let the public know that he had plans for the production of a compact and economical car for the people: "The People's Car" or Volkswagen, he even drew a simple sketch of the car's exterior design, [image] when Porsche heard about this, a meeting was arranged in which the mass production of this new car was discussed, this was by no means the first compact model ever designed to be popular and economic, but it was the first time that plans for mass production of it would become a reality.
Sometime also during the Third Reich, in 1939 to be exact, in an attempt to minimize the number of road accidents that befell to bicycle riders, squares and discs that reflected the light of oncoming cars were invented and made to be glued or screwed on the back of every bicycle. It was a success: today we still have those reflecting discs and squares, bands and tapes that we use in our bicycles, backpacks, clothing, headgear and even our pets.
Anti-Alcohol and Anti-Tobacco Campaigns
Germany was the first country ever to launch an important national anti-smoking compaign, culminating in 1944 with the total prohibition of smoking in public transport and government buildings.
Two very important organisms dedicated to the research of the effects of alcohol and nicotine upon human health were created during the Third Reich: in 1939, The Bureau Against Dangers of Alcohol and Tobacco and in 1942, The Institute For the Struggle Against Tobacco.
In 1937, new laws were approved against the sale of alcohol to minors, punishment for driving under the effects of alcohol and all this was actively reinforced and controlled through the application of blood tests to car drivers, and government-controlled production of mineral water whose drinking was encouraged to substitute alcohol.
The emphasis on daily exercise, health care programs in hospitals and always striving for excellence made the German people healthy as advertised during the 1936 World Olympic Games in which German played a very important role.
This was a form of compulsory social service, to maintain young people busy learning useful skills (with a good dose of political doctrine) and avoid streetwalking and loafing.
Hitler's Youth - HJ (Hitler Jugend)
Physical fitness training, Nazi doctrine, a system of awards, recreational tournaments, HJ groups produced young soldiers already well trained to begin duty in the German Army.
League of German Girls - BDM (Bund Deutscher Mädchen)
The female version of Hitler Jugend, young women belonging to these groups were taught arts and crafts, as well as prepared them for their roles of efficient housewives. This has been many times criticized and interpreted as repression upon the women, since it ruled them out of most activities other than homemaking and raising families, but one must take into consideration that in all countries of the world at this time, the traditional role of women was that of a housewife, with free thinking and the pursuit of a professional career taken into little consideration by most.
Concentration Camps, Warfare Articles, Etc.
One sad legacy is the memory of the Nazi Holocaust; immediately after the war, Allied soldiers discovered a number of concentration camps that had been used to imprison, torture and exterminate millions of people. Most of the victims had been Jewish but also Slavs, Catholics, Gypsies and several minorities had also been killed in these camps. One of the most famous of these was the one in Auschwitz , in it, an estimated 2 million people were killed.
As examples of otherell as artifacts, substances like drugs and poisons, but also fuels and pastes to use in combat, to cause greater damage and kill more people. Experimental drugs that caused suffering and death to hundreds of innocent camp prisoners. And sophisticated machines that were built with the initial purpose of massive destruction.
It's true that many of these inventions were later used in the industry, in agriculture, in domestic homes and hospitals and are now a good legacy, but it's important to keep in mind that at the time they were invented their uses were very different. All the discoveries and technological advances were accelerated with destruction purposes in mind: electronic machines that would aid in the calculations of war strategy points, the construction of rockets (that would later become the foundation of more than country's space program), radar technology, night vision technology, helicopters and many kinds of alloys and toxic substances to be used in battle.