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Democratic development & democratic decay. The collapse of the Weimar Republic & The Rise of Nazism. Germany at war’s end. Kaiser abdicates (1918) Abortive revolution Militias, paramilitary groups active Kapp putsch Weimar Republic proclaimed, 1919 Accepts peace dictated by allies

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democratic development democratic decay

Democratic development & democratic decay

The collapse of the Weimar Republic & The Rise of Nazism

germany at war s end
Germany at war’s end
  • Kaiser abdicates (1918)
  • Abortive revolution
  • Militias, paramilitary groups active
    • Kapp putsch
  • Weimar Republic proclaimed, 1919
    • Accepts peace dictated by allies
    • Doomed from the start?
fragmented polity
Fragmented polity
  • Extreme left:
    • Communists committed to violent revolution
  • Left:
    • Social Democrats, committed to economic change, redistribution of wealth – increasingly part of system
  • Centre:
    • Christian Democrats,
  • Right:
    • Liberals
    • Conservatives
    • Nationalists
  • Extreme right: opponents of liberal democracy
bases of support
Bases of support
  • Pro-system: the ‘Weimar parties:’
    • Social Democrats (SPD)
    • Catholics (Centre Party)
    • Liberals (DVP, DP)
  • Republic opposed, at best tolerated by
    • military
    • civil service
    • Judiciary
    • upper classes
changes over time
Changes over time
  • Initially, ‘Weimar parties’ enjoy strong support;
    • But challenged from left and right: revolutionaries, free corps, militias….
  • Support narrows as early as 1920
    • Communists and independent Socialists gain on the left (20%)
    • Nationalists gain on the right (33%)
  • Further narrowing in 1925
    • Hindenburg elected president
three periods
Three periods:
  • 1918-1923 -- Shaky start
  • 1924-1929 -- Normalcy
  • 1929-1933 -- Great Depression and demise
1918 1923
Problems of revolts from right and left

Eventual suppression

1923 Ruhr crisis:

France & Belgium occupy in order to extract reparations

Workers strike – with approval of German government

Inflation and hyper-inflation: money printed to cover costs

1918-1923
reparations conundrum
Reparations conundrum
  • Dawes plan (1924):
    • Rescheduling of reparations payments – make them manageable
    • U.S. loans to Germany
      • Enable Germany to make payments to France
      • Enabling France to repay U.S.
1924 1929
1924-1929
  • Stabilization of currency
  • Attempts to make Weimar work:
    • Broader coalition: centre-right parties such as DVP join
  • Period of relative success:
    • Political stabilization
    • Accommodations reached with neighboring countries (Locarno Pact)
1929 1933
1929-1933
  • US Stock Market Crash
  • German dependence on American loans results in shutdowns, mass unemployment
  • Extreme parties – right and left – gain support
  • Inability to sustain cabinets
    • successive elections
    • presidential intervention
    • growth of support for Nazism
the third reich
The Third Reich

The Nazi Seizure of Power

how and why
How and why?
  • NSDAP as a relatively small group – one of many ‘volkish”/nationalist elements, kicking around in the early 1920s
  • How and why was it able to
    • come to power in 1933?
    • Consolidate power within six months?
    • Establish a totalitarian regime by 1936?
possible explanations
Possible explanations:
  • German culture:
    • deep-seated authoritarianism,
    • fragmentation/divisions
  • Fragility of Weimar Republic
  • Hitler’s skill/charisma
  • Use of propaganda

http://www.thecorner.org/hist/video/v_hitler.htm

hitler
Hitler
  • Disaffected Austrian, social misfit
  • Served in German army,World War I
  • Afterward, one more ex-soldier haranguing about defeat
  • Becomes leader of National Socialist Workers Party (NSDAP), a small party
ideology or weltaunshaung
Ideology or Weltaunshaung
  • Supremacy of Aryan race
  • Nationalism/Romanticism
  • Establishment of a new order
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Lebensraum:
    • Germany must expand east
  • Importance of struggle
  • Fuhrer principle
  • Vague anti-capitalism –promises of something better for everyone
1923 1925
1923-1925
  • Origins as a paramilitary group
  • 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, arrest and imprisonment as a turning point
  • From 1924-25, pursuit of legality
  • Emphasis on building up party, while propagating message
  • Organization increasingly refined, with subsections for different occupations, broader contacts with society
gaining power
Impact of depression

Divisions among parties

Collapse of SPD-led government (1928-30)

1930 election: NSDAP gains 18%,

Brüning (Centre) uses presidential emergency powers (art. 48) to govern

Gaining power
1932 presidential election
1932 Presidential election:
  • Hindenburg defeats Hitler 53%-37%
  • Brüning dismissed,
    • replaced by Von Papen
  • SPD gov’t in Prussia ousted –
  • Socialists fail to resist
1932 parliamentary elections
1932 Parliamentary Elections

First election:

  • NSDAP wins 37%
  • Nationalists, von Papen and then Schleicher, try to enlist NSDAP in a coalition
  • Hitler refuses, unwilling to be named vice-chancellor
  • 2nd election called
1932 33
1932-33

2nd 1932 election:

  • NSDAP wins 32%
  • Coalition with Hitler as chancellor, von Papen as vice-chancellor
  • Hitler assumes office Jan. 30, 1933
  • Rapidly consolidates power by successively eliminating his opponents
the third reich consolidating power
The Third Reich: Consolidating power

Dividing and ruling

  • New elections called (Nazis win 44%)
  • Reichstag fire as pretext for emergency legislation, suspending civil liberties, banning communists from new Reichstag
  • Enabling Act, 1933 transfers power to chancellor
    • Centre Party supports, lest it be banned, supplying necessary 2/3 majority
moves against other organizations
Moves against other organizations
  • Social Democrats banned
  • Unions promised freedom to pursue economic goals
    • later reorganized into comprehensive labour front
  • Centre Party disbands following concordat with Vatican, guaranteeing position of R.C. Church
  • Nationalists subsequently marginalized –
  • http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/horstwessel.html
control of government
Control of government
  • Power enhanced by creating new ministries –with Nazis in charge
  • Enabling Acts used to take control of provincial governments
  • Military and business acquiesce
  • Some objections, but Hitler placates by moving against more radical elements:
    • SA attached and destroyed during Night of Long Knives (June 20, 1934)
    • makes way for more disciplined SS
1934 35
1934-35
  • Hindenburg dies in 1934
  • Hitler as chancellor & president
    • New role of Fuhrer
    • endorsed by plebiscite:
      • 38 million for, 5 million opposed
  • Nazi penetration of government, society
    • Independent organizations merged into Nazi organizations:
    • Gleichschaltung (‘bringing things into line’) enhances control
  • Increasing use of terror by SS, Gestapo
policies and directions
Policies and directions
  • Expansive economic policy – rearmament, public works (construction of autobahns…) –
    • creates jobs,
    • reflates economy
    • generates support
  • Successive moves against Jews, minorities
    • Restrictions on numbers of Jews in professions
    • Nuremberg laws (1935) remove citizenship
    • Kristallnacht, 1938
  • Foundation laid for war
    • Rearmament in violation of Versailles, 1933
    • Attempted anschluss with Austria 1934
    • Reoccupation of Rhineland, 1936
the nazi state
The Nazi state
  • Partial fusion of party and state
  • Hitler at the centre –
    • remote – issuing vague directions
  • Numerous empires within the system,
    • SS
    • Gestapo
why was this possible
Why was this possible?
  • Mass attitudes?
  • Attitudes of elites?
    • Hindenburg, military, monarchists, others…
  • Fragmentation of Weimar society?
  • Hitler’s skill?
    • Success of divide and rule tactics?
    • Success of propaganda, big lie?
  • Cumulative radicalization?