The abdication of the Kaiser (Emperor of Germany) creation of the new German Republic and the signing of the Armistice post W.
W.1, not only took the German troops by surprise, but filled them with a great sense of betrayal. Hitler, half-blinded and out-of-action declares,"I knew, that all was lost. Only fools, liars and criminals could hope for mercy from the enemy.
In these nights hatred grew in me, hatred for those responsible for the deed. Miserable and degenerate criminals!...My own fate became known to me.
I decided to go into Politics" iGermany had agreed to do the unthinkable; she had agreed to the full conditions of the Diktat "war guilt" clause, "The Treaty of Versailles". The referral of "Stab in the Back" and the "November Criminals" held rhetorical claims towards acts of injustice, and in turn became the sown seed of a propelling manifestation towards a work shy Adolf Hitler, into that of a professional politician. His hatred of the Weimar Republic and all that it stood for ignited a burning ambition to reclaim the glories of a past German Empire, under a 1000year reign. This essay will attempt to illustrate how in the period of 1923-33, political, social and economic developments generate into the ideal strains and resentments within society, that would therefore create opportunistic conditions for Hitler to Rise into Power by 1933, and why amongst the crises of 1923 there was not sufficient instability to launch an unknown right-wing extremist into power.The Weimar Republics infancy was just as traumatic and turbulent as its birth.
Early in 1919, as the new state was being created, it faced its first real threat, the communist inspired Sparticist rising. Then, in August 1919, even before the constitution had been formally adopted the Republic received a hammer blow, when the peace terms in the Treaty of Versailles laid full blame for the war on Germany and exacted crushing financial compensation. Virtually the whole German nation rejected it. The territorial clauses of the treaty took away many of Germany's richest lands, like the Iron ore of Alsace-Lorraine and coal from Saar and Upper Silesia. These regions were of great importance to the manufacturing industries, if Germany was to earn money for reparations, she needed to make and export her goods.
There were over 400 articles to the Treaty of Versailles; stating the importance of how Germany must remain a democracy; the scaling down of her military, and for Germany to compensate the Allies and accept full responsibility of causing war. The army was to be reduced to 100,000 men and Germany was not permitted to possess or build aeroplanes, submarines, large warships or tanks. Russia, like Germany, had also been excluded from the Treaty of Versailles and was therefore also in isolation, they made a pact with each other to sign the Treaty of Rapallo in 1922. Its out-come, Germany would help to rebuild Russian industry, and more importantly, Russia, allowed the illegal training of German troops on her soil.As the reparation payments were fixed in 1921 at ï¿½6.6 million, a figure which many Germans claimed it was beyond their power to pay, the British economist J.
M.Keynes had hindsight to say in 1919,"I believe that the campaign for securing out of Germany the General costs of War was one of the most serious acts of political unwisdom for which our statesmen have been responsible"iiThe government decided it was impossible to raise the sums required from taxation. In 1923 Germany defaulted on its reparations payment for the first time, resulting in the occupation of the Ruhr by the French. The economic consequences were catastrophic. Passive resistance in the Ruhr brought Germany's greatest industrial area to a standstill.
The government met the situation by printing more money and by November 1923, hyper-inflation left the mark worthless. The currency crisis wiped out the savings of the middle classes. The working classes were also badly affected, but landowners and industrialists profited because their debts were effectively cancelled.One of the many groups around that hated the Weimar Republic was the National Socialist German Worker's Party- the Nazi Party- Founded in 1919 with 50 members, Hitler decided to join this unknown and badly organised group. The original committee had few ambitions, with this in mind Hitler would have a chance to gain control and build up the party to his own design. If he had joined an established party, such as the Nationalists, he would probably have remained a powerless nonentity.
Having been put in charge of the party's propaganda because of his oratory skills, by 1920 the party was attracting considerable attention with the 25-point programme, drawn up in conjunction with Anton Drexler and Gottfried Feder.As the financial crises of 1923 worsened, and the hatred for the Weimar Republic grew, Hitler became inspired by Mussolini's "March on Rome" and decided to hold his own "March on Berlin". This became known as the "Munich Putsch", by believing that the Nazis were strong enough to take on the government. The attempted putsch failed, and saw to it that the Nazi Party were banned from further public address, with its leaders arrested. Hitler was put on trial; this might have been the end of his career, but despite this inglorious result, Hitler used it to his political advantage.He won the respect of many right-wing Nationalists for having had the courage to act against the government, and he turned his trial into a propaganda success both for himself and the Nazi cause.
His sentence of five years, the minimum stipulated by the Weimar constitution was actually reduced to ten months. The judiciary were anti-democratic and lenient with the right wing. Whilst in prison Hitler determines to win through legitimate electoral means and together with the re-organisation of the Nazi party and the writing of Mein Kampf, Hitler shows his aim of reinforcing the burning desire for power and how by outlining the consistent anti-Semitic and racial policies, he is revealing his plans to be at the helm of power when it comes to the resurrection of the German Empire."..
.The art of leadership consists of consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up this attention"iiiStresemann ended the campaign of passive resistance in the Ruhr and thus defused the crisis. In 1924 the Dawes plan was negotiated the annual reparation payments were scaled down and a loan was arranged to rebuild the German economy. As a result during 1924-29 Germany enjoyed a period of stability and prosperity with a stable currency, industry entered into a period of expansion and output more than doubled by 1929.
Unemployment, which reached 2 million in the winter of 1925-6, fell to 1.3 million in 1928. Living standards rose. The Young Plan (1929) reduced the annual burden of reparations by spreading payments over 59years. There were worrying features however; economic growth depended heavily on foreign investment, much of it from America.
The balance of trade remained unfavourable and unemployment was still too high. Agriculture did not share in the general prosperity, as farm prices and farm workers' living standards fell. The drop in farm prices foreshadowed an economic blizzard, which came from the Wall Street Crash in 1929. The prosperity of the 1920's rested on shallow foundations, as in the immortal words of Stresemann;"..
.Germany is in fact dancing on a volcano...
/...short term credits called in...
/...economy would collapse..
."ivThe economic problems of the Great Depression would help create an environment of opportunity for Hitler and his Nazi Party to gain real political power, as in times of crises people turn to political extremes. Hitler's release from prison in November 1924 saw the Nazi Party in disarray and only 35,000 strong in its membership, the future looked bleak. In re-organisation, the Nazi Party was to run according to the Fuhrerprinzip, there was to be no place for the discussion of differences.
The most significant development in the years before the Depression lay in the re-structuring of the Party. The whole of Germany was divided in to regions (Gaue). At the same time a number of new Nazi organisations were founded, the S.S, an elite body of black shirted guards, sworn to absolute obedience to the Fuhrer. The Hitler Youth, which attracted the support of the young, there was also the Nazi Teachers Association. With the first time voters and the gains in support from other party's membership, its own membership increased considerably.
The downside of this was reflected when, in the election of May 1928, the party won only 2.6% of the vote and a mere twelve seats in the Reichstag. It seemed that through the party's re-organisation and the policy of legality it had failed political success.The Weimar was experiencing political confusion by 1931, democracy had ceased to exist-due to the over use and abuse of Ebert's Article 48. This had led to rule by decree; in the elections of 1930 the party gained 107 seats. To establish a clear view of the period, a chronological analysis must be given.
Under President Hindenburg served, Muller; Foreign Minister, he singed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and was a staunch advocate of democracy; he had no support from the President and resigned in 1930. His was the last genuine parliamentary government. Bruning was brought in by Hindenburg to unite and appease both the left and right wing elements of government, but he was forced to resign as it didn't work. May 1932, Hindenburg appointed Von Papen as Chancellor; six months later he to was dismissed and replaced by Schleicher, who in-turn was dismissed six months after that. Smaller party's were cobbled together in an attempt at government, but failed.
In January 1933, Hindenburg finally relented and appointed the leader of the largest party in the Reichstag as Chancellor. Hitler had attained power through political manipulation and "back stairs intrigue". Von Papen, Schleicher and Hindenburg believed Hitler could be controlled, as in the words by Von Papen;"In two months, we will have pushed Hitler into a corner so hard that he will be squeaking"vHowever, within months these limitations were shown to be ineffectual and Hitler became a dictator.In conclusion, it can be stated that Hitler came to power in 1933 as opposed to 1923 because of his success in the campaign of effectiveness of the Nazi movement. The promise to restore hope and a new national community for all Germans, economic problems would be solved and the people provided with work and bread.
The needs of the true German peasant and small trader would be saved from "the clutch of Jewish money-lenders" Weak democracy would be replaced with strong leadership, which would smash communism, end Jewish influence and tear up the Treaty of Versailles. The Empire would be created and Germany would be a great nation again. Hitler was underestimated by Von Papen, Schleicher Hindenburg, as early as 1926 he had already set out his own agenda for rule; he envisaged not only new governance, but a unique political, economic and social structure for Germany. The like of which, would astonish the world.