Changing Morale

Impact of Rationing

One of the critical factors in maintaining civilian morale is the availability of vital foodstuffs and other commodities. Shortages and inadequacies of the rationing system during the First World War or one of the main causes of growing war weariness and the NAZI regime was determined not to make the same mistakes. Rationing began before the war did, and the allocation of food rations was based on age, occupation and race. Those who were employed in manual labour received more than those who had more sedentary occupations and Jews received smaller rations. On the whole, the rationing system worked efficiently and there were no serious food shortages between 1939 and 1941. After the invasion of the USSR some Russians were reduced and by the end of the war especially in the industrial cities, food supplies had become very scarce and unpredictable.

Propaganda and Indoctrination

Maintaining the morale of the Germans was a high priority for the regime. Goebbels had his sophisticated propaganda system which control the flow of information to the German people having used its secret police to monitor the public opinion.


In the first stage of the war the public mood in Germany was volatile and propaganda was not effective. Quick and easy victories in the early stages of the war were cause for celebration and Hitler was presented as a military genius responsible for these victories. At this stage, propaganda lead people feel optimistic and believe that the war would be over soon.

Spreading War

In the second phase of the war, the invasion of the USSR was presented as a crusade against Jewish bolshevism and the success of German forces enforcing the red army to retreat was a huge success. However there were reports that the public felt that the war would go on for years. NAZI propaganda downplayed the extent of Soviet success but letters home from soldiers undermined the propaganda. The hopes of a quick and easy victory war dissipated.

Turning of the Tide

In the third phase of the war rising casualty figures and letters home from soldiers awakened the civilian population to the realities of the war they were engaged in. The mood of disillusionment deepend, there was a high level of scepticism about propaganda and the defeat at Stalingrad signalled a defeat for NAZI propaganda as much as a defeat for its armed forces. It was a shock to morale because Goebbels had built up unrealistic expectations of NAZI bitterly. War weariness was evident and the Hitler myth began to lose potency. There was however, a deep well of patriotism and willingness to endure hardship to gear up for total war.

Total War

By 1943 it was clear that Germany was involved in a struggle for survival. His total war speech struck a chord with many people and his call for radical measures to mobilize the population and economy was generally welcomed. The main criticism was that these were too late. The Allied landings in Normandy on D day in 1944 was another blow to morale. By the end of August 1944 after Paris had been liberated and German forces had suffered further reverses in the east defeat began to be accepted as inevitable. The final months of the war saw growing cynicism about NAZI propaganda and the Hitler myth which Goebbels claimed as his greatest achievement crumbled away in the final months of the war.

Impact of Bombing

With an intensity of bombing on German cities by the RAF, reports on civilian morale talked about the resilience of the population that still supported the regime. As morale fell, the regime took an increasingly repressive line with anyone they considered defeatist. The pressure of the allied bombing did cause war weariness, but the workers turned up for work, and used routine to create stability.