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Gleichschaltung (pronounced [ˈɡlaɪçʃaltʊŋ]  ( listen)), meaning "coordination", "making the same", "bringing into line", is a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control and tight coordination over all aspects of society. The historian Richard J. Evans offered the term "forcible-coordination" in his most recent work on Nazi Germany.

One goal of this policy was to eliminate individualism[citation needed] by forcing everyone to adhere to a specific doctrine and way of thinking and to control as many aspects of life as possible using an invasive police force.



The period from 1933 to around 1937 was characterized by the systematic elimination of non-Nazi organizations that could potentially influence people, such as trade unions and political parties. Those critical of Hitler's agenda, especially his close ties with industry[citation needed], were suppressed, intimidated or murdered. The regime also assailed the influence of the churches, for example by instituting the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs under Hanns Kerrl. Organizations that the administration could not eliminate, such as the education system, came under its direct control.

The Gleichschaltung also included the formation of various organisations with compulsory membership for segments of the population, in particular the youth. Boys served as apprentices in the Pimpfen ("cubs") beginning at the age of six, and at age 10, entered the Deutsches Jungvolk ("Young German Boys") and served there until entering the Hitler Youth proper at age 14. Boys remained there until age 18, at which time they entered into the Arbeitsdienst ("Labor Service") and the armed forces (Wehrmacht). Girls became part of the Jungmädel ("Young Maidens") at age 10, and at age 14 were enrolled in the Bund Deutscher Mädel ("League of German Maidens"). At 18 BDM members went generally to the eastern territory for their Pflichtdienst, or Landjahr – a year of labor on a farm. In 1936 membership of the Hitler Youth numbered just under 6 million.

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