Propaganda, Citizenship and the Nation in Weimar and Nazi Germany


This course examines the role of propaganda and citizenship in interwar Germany, looking at how these themes framed and even shaped the evolution of the nation through this critical time. We will discuss how an idealised notion of the ‘modern citizen’ was essential both to the rise of the Weimar Republic and its Nazi successor. For with the passing of the First World War Germany’s new leaders sought to establish a vision of a revolutionary remaking of the very concept of government. This was to be founded on the principle of popular citizenship, with people at the heart of that political process.

Yet from the outset too they did so in the face of multiple contestations of their vision, from both the radical extremes. These began with the Spartacist left, in the very earliest attempt to derail the democratic model before it could begin. Ultimately however it was the radical right of course which would deal the final blow, as Nazism too took its turn to define what it meant to be a ‘model German’. All these themes and more we will explore in this fascinating and very thought-provoking subject, beginning with a discussion of what we actually mean by the idea of the nation. Finally, we will end with a consideration of evolving attitudes to Germany from the wider international community, and of the impact of the Nazi legacy at home and abroad. Central to the course throughout will be the investigation of primary source materials.  

Image: 1924 DVP election campaign for the Reichstag election of December 1924. 'Berlin, Propaganda zur Reichstagswahl', Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-00886, taken from Wikimedia Commons.


Programme details

Course begins: 24th Jan 2023

Week 1:  Introduction and Overview. Key timelines: from the Weimar Republic to the establishment of Nazism. Defining Terms: what do we mean by propaganda, citizenship and the nation?

Week 2:  Origins & Roots: the Bismarckian and Imperial Legacy. The Road to World War One.

Week 3:  Birth of a Dream? The Creation of Weimar Germany. The Impact of Peacemaking

Week 4:  Years of crisis: Internal Revolts, Economic Woes and the French Threat

Week 5:  The Golden Years? Stresemann and the Revival of Hope. The Underlying Tensions.

Week 6:   The Little Drummer Boy? Hitler's Vision Takes Shape. 

Week 7:  The Legal Revolution? The Impact of Depression. The Nazi Takeover.

Week 8:  Remaking the State: The Nazification of government, society and the economy.

Week 9:  Remaking the People? Goebbels and the Role of Propaganda.

Week 10:  The Impact Abroad: International Relations and the Rise of Appeasement. Concluding Thoughts: the Legacy of Nazism


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from between January 1st and July 31st after the current academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course fee £238.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Kate Watson

Kate Watson is a Senior Associate Tutor for OUDCE, and formerly an Associate Lecturer and Moderator for the Open University. Kate’s research interests are centred on the popular experience of revolutionary politics and ideology. 

Course aims

To explore the historical nature and development of Weimar and Nazi Germany and examine its implications

Course objectives

1. To outline the historical development of Weimar and Nazi German

2. To explore the impact of that development on modern politics

3. To critically evaluate the evolving nature of interwar Germany through examination of primary and secondary materials

Teaching methods

A range of teaching and learning methods will be used during this course. These will include powerpoint presentation, tutor-led discussion, class discussion, and small group exercises on document analysis. This analysis will be mainly focussed on primary and contemporary sources, and students will be encouraged to approach these sources not as simple illustrations but rather as 'lived' records of the topic and themes under discussion. Students will also be encouraged to follow up class discussions in their own time through further analysis of documents and topics under investigation, combined with reading of a wide range of secondary follow-up texts

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to be able to:​

1. Describe how and why Weimar and Nazi Germany evolved.

2. Discuss the implications of that evolution for modern politics.

3. Be familiar with the handling of source materials and their values and limitations.


Assessment methods

All students will be provided with a course booklet at the start of the programme. This will include a general introductory source exercise of around 500 words. A choice of 2 options will then be available for the final exercises.

Option A will consist of document analysis of c1500 words in total, with students choosing 3 out of 5 exercises to be completed outside the class sessions. 

Option B will consist of an essay of c1500 words in total, based on a range of given topics, with brief outlines prepared in advance.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


Each course will close for enrolments 7 days prior to the start date to allow us to complete the course set up. We will email you at that time (7 days before the course begins) with further information and joining instructions. As always, students will want to check spam and junk folders during this period to ensure that these emails are received.

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)