From Weimar to Nazism

Solidaire

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,738
Athens, Greece
I'd like to initiate a discussion about the Weimar Republic, the years preceding the rise of Hitler to power, and the reasons behind this.

Germany had been the epicentre of world history during the first half of the 20th century. I consider the events that took place in that country between the two world wars, rendering Germany a test tube of history, to be among the most interesting and useful in drawing valuable lessons.

The Weimar Republic was the parliamentary republic established in 1919, and lasted until its abolition by Hitler in 1933. It was born from the ashes of the defeated in WWI German Empire, and the failure of the Communists to seize power during the German Revolution of 1918-1919 (that is another interesting topic, deserving its own thread). It faced opposition, and many difficulties, which in time paved the way for Nazism and WWII. It tried to survive a cruel and punishing Treaty of Versailles, it had the misfortune to experience the maximum effects of the Great Depression of 1929, faced social and economic problems. Finally, an exhausted, impoverished and humiliated nation, fell for the demagoguery of a self-proclaimed saviour. Hitler snatched the opportunity to blame the Republic for the hardships of the people, caressed their ears with the right promises, and ended the short interim of democracy in pre-WWII Germany.
During 15 years, Germany started as an Empire, faced the prospect of becoming a Communist country, became a Republic, and then moved on to Nazism. That is a tremendous, and frightening experience.

I've read that the greatest contributing factor to Hitler's rise was the Great Depression of 1929. The German economy was devastated by it, and the social discontent, unemployment, poverty, political crisis, was the surest way to turn people to extremist solutions. Both political extremes were on the rise. Hitler was the most capable of grabbing power.
Also, the austerity program launched by Chancellor Brüning, not only didn't contain the crisis, but further exacerbated it, hitting the lower incomes tremendously.
Furthermore, such a harsh austerity program was unable to gain parliamentary majority, and Brüning was able to implement it by bypassing parliamentary majority. Ruling through presidential decree was a step away from democracy, one of the many that would follow in the face of the severe economic crisis.


"Had it not been for the economic collapse that began with the Wall Street stock market crash of October 1929, Hitler probably would not have come to power. The Great Depression hit Germany hard because the German economy's well-being depended on short-term loans from the United States. Once these loans were recalled, Germany was devastated. Unemployment went from 8.5 percent in 1929 to 14 percent in 1930, to 21.9 percent in 1931, and, at its peak, to 29.9 percent in 1932. Compounding the effects of the Depression were the drastic economic measures taken by Center Party politician Heinrich Bruening, who served as chancellor from March 1930 until the end of May 1932. Bruening's budget cuts were designed to cause so much misery that the Allies would excuse Germany from making any further reparations payments. In this at least, Bruening succeeded. United States president Herbert Hoover declared a "reparations moratorium" in 1932. In the meantime, the Depression deepened, and social discontent intensified to the point that Germany seemed on the verge of civil war.

In times of desperation, voters are ready for extreme solutions, and the NSDAP exploited the situation. Skilled Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels launched an intensive media campaign that ceaselessly expounded a few simple notions until even the dullest voter knew Hitler's basic program. The party's program was broad and general enough to appeal to many unemployed people, farmers, white-collar workers, members of the middle class who had been hurt by the Depression or had lost status since the end of World War I, and young people eager to dedicate themselves to nationalist ideals. If voters were not drawn to some aspects of the party platform, they might agree with others. Like other right-wing groups, the party blamed the Treaty of Versailles and reparations for the developing crisis. Nazi propaganda attacked the Weimar political system, the "November criminals," Marxists, internationalists, and Jews. Besides promising a solution to the economic crisis, the NSDAP offered the German people a sense of national pride and the promise of restored order.

Three elections--in September 1930, in July 1932, and in November 1932--were held between the onset of the Depression and Hitler's appointment as chancellor in January 1933. The vote shares of the SPD and the Center Party fluctuated somewhat yet remained much as they had been in 1928, when the SPD held a large plurality of 153 seats in the Reichstag and the Center Party held sixty-one, third after the DNVP's seventy-three seats. The shares of the parties of the extreme left and extreme right, the KPD and the NSDAP, respectively, increased dramatically in this period, KPD holdings almost doubling from fifty-four in 1928 to 100 in November 1932. The NSDAP's success was even greater. Beginning with twelve seats in 1928, the Nazis increased their delegation seats nearly tenfold, to 107 seats in 1930. They doubled their holdings to 230 in the summer of 1932. This made the NSDAP the largest party in the Reichstag, far surpassing the SPD with its 133 seats. The gains of the NSDAP came at the expense of the other right-wing parties.

Chancellor Bruening was unable to secure parliamentary majorities for his austerity policy, so he ruled by decree, a right given him by President Hindenburg. Head of the German army during World War I, Hindenburg had been elected president in 1925. Ruling without parliament was a major step in moving away from parliamentary democracy and had the approval of many on the right. Many historians see this development as part of a strategic plan formulated at the time by elements of the conservative establishment to abolish the republic and replace it with an authoritarian regime."


Hitler and the Rise of National Socialism: German History

Which do you think were the most important reasons for the rise of Hitler and the fall of the republic?
How much was the Treaty of Versailles to blame, and how important do you think was the role of the financial collapse due to the Great Depression?
Even within the depression, how responsible was Brüning's austerity program and the misery that it caused to Germans?
Also, are there any other particular reasons, beyond the above, that Nazism was specifically developed in Germany?
A very interesting blog entry by Avon suggested a particular success of social Darwinism in pre-war Germany. What are your thoughts?


Also, I cannot but observe certain similarities between the troubles of the Weimar Republic and the current financial crisis. A major financial collapse (starting from Wall Street), spreading all over the world; generalised austerity measures (preferred and promoted by the Germans), that worsen the crisis; widespread social unrest and political instability; concessions to democratic procedures, in order to serve financial stability; and finally, people getting disappointed by moderate politicians and turning more and more toward the extremes.
I don't think at all that a Hitler is lurking in the shadows (and certainly hope that he isn't), and I also don't expect WWIII to start any time soon. But this crisis is testing Europe, the world economy, and who knows what its effects might eventually be.
Do you think that the history of the Weimar Republic might teach us a lesson regarding our current problems?
 

Solidaire

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,738
Athens, Greece
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY6zQ3mEUj8&feature=related"]The German Revolution of 1918 - YouTube[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob8B5YNG2VE&feature=related"]Spartakist Uprising 1919 - YouTube[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18WlSbVja-g"]The Weimar Republic - 1923 - YouTube[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-ASCxuduQU&feature=related"]1923 Hyperinflation - YouTube[/ame]

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hQ-Eu93Zss&feature=related]What was life like in Weimar Germany? - YouTube[/ame]
 

Solidaire

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,738
Athens, Greece
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1V_dnRjrrg&feature=related]Make Germany Pay 1 - YouTube[/ame]

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7xXKT4u5ZQ&feature=related]Make Germany Pay 2 - YouTube[/ame]

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2whYLayXCw]The Weimar Republic - YouTube[/ame]

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44QB-HicmXM]1931 Chancellor Dr. Heinrich Brüning - YouTube[/ame]

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2YEUhHFMHY&feature=related]Rise of the Nazis - YouTube[/ame]
 

antonina

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
6,304
Warsaw, Poland
Well, Solidaire, it doesn't take the majority to create a totalitarian, aggressive government.

All it takes is a determined, tiny minority.

And the majority losing faith that democracy and democratic institutions can get the economy out of slump. Rings a bell? ;)
 
Jul 2011
2,749
In my opinion, the main reason of the fall of the republic was Hitler's genius. He was eloquent and smart, he always said, what people wanted to hear, thus he always would manage to point out on hardship in Wiemar republic. I'm sure Germany couldn't shun Hitler ascending. It ain't about pervasive indigence or the harsh terms of the Versailles treaty.
 

Solidaire

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,738
Athens, Greece
In my opinion, the main reason of the fall of the republic was Hitler's genius. He was eloquent and smart, he always said, what people wanted to hear, thus he always would manage to point out on hardship in Wiemar republic. I'm sure Germany couldn't shun Hitler ascending. It ain't about pervasive indigence or the harsh terms of the Versailles treaty.
I disagree. Hitler was a competent demagogue, but had it not been for the hardships of the German people and the shortfalls of the Weimar Republic, he would have never been voted to power.

If the Germans weren't treated that harshly after WWI and their republic was supported or at least given some air to breathe, if the Great Depression hadn't happened, and if the German politicians themselves were more competent or willing to help their own people, and to guard democracy more decisively, Hitler would have never had his chance to win the majority.
 

Solidaire

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,738
Athens, Greece
Well, Solidaire, it doesn't take the majority to create a totalitarian, aggressive government.

All it takes is a determined, tiny minority.

And the majority losing faith that democracy and democratic institutions can get the economy out of slump. Rings a bell? ;)
I think the majority hasn't lost faith in democracy because of the financial troubles. We haven't reached that point yet, have we? :zany:
 
Jul 2011
2,749
I disagree. Hitler was a competent demagogue, but had it not been for the hardships of the German people and the shortfalls of the Weimar Republic, he would have never been voted to power.

If the Germans weren't treated that harshly after WWI and their republic was supported or at least given some air to breathe, if the Great Depression hadn't happened, and if the German politicians themselves were more competent or willing to help their own people, and to guard democracy more decisively, Hitler would have never had his chance to win the majority.
Germans craved the retaliation for the defeat in WWI. They wanted the reimburse of the loss of colonies and territories. It was a peculiar historical time, when people longed for living in great countries, wanted their counties to have formidable and voracious army. And Wiemar Republic couldn't provide them with a resurgence of the German Empire, but Hitler could. Hitler offered resurgence and dominance of the German nation, not to fight indigence and poverty. Hitler set about preparing revenge for the defeat in WWI, so because
he gained majority on the election.
 
Nov 2011
4
you see solidare it's dificult to understeand i think for you ,because Hitler didn't come into power like bolsheviks via revolution and killing entire inteligence and shoting all enemy and non-enemies of state ,nor like Churchill without being voted.
Hitler was voted by germans and Hindeburg confered him the place of chancellor.
First of all,Hitler didn't abolished neither Weimer or neither parliament and Hitler didn't blame the state ,the Weimer for the problem.
Germany pre 1933 was under collapse,people are starving ,people and state are paying billions for a war that didn't started,unemployment 40%,there were every way communist and jews agitating the streets.And Hitler come and changed everything



Youre post is like ,how this could happened ?? what a disaster that Hitler come to power .


Well i am telling you that Hitler was determined, as leader of the nation, to fulfill as a national government the task which has been given to us(by people), swearing fidelity only to God, our conscience, and our Volk(people)... This the national government will regard its first and foremost duty to restore the unity of spirit and purpose of our Volk. It will preserve and defend the foundations upon which the power of our nation rests. It will take Christianity, as the basis of our collective morality, and the family as the nucleus of our Volk and state, under its firm protection.


Hitler said during a speech in Nuremberg :I say that they can be solved; there is no problem that cannot be, but faith is necessary. Think of the faith I had to have eighteen years ago, a single man on a lonely path. Yet I have come to leadership of the German people... Life is hard for many, but it is hardest if you are unhappy and have no faith. Have faith. Nothing can make me change my own belief.

And just pls remember ,in the 2,000 years of German history known to us, our people(germans) have never been more united than in Hitler time.

And the official name of Germany during Hitler was Großdeutsches Reich.
 
Last edited:
Jul 2011
2,749
you see solidare it's dificult to understeand i think for you ,because Hitler didn't come into power like bolsheviks via revolution and killing entire inteligence and shoting all enemy and non-enemies of state ,nor like Churchill without being voted.
Hitler was voted by germans and Hindeburg confered him the place of chancellor.
First of all,Hitler didn't abolished neither Weimer or neither parliament and Hitler didn't blame the state ,the Weimer for the problem.
Germany pre 1933 was under collapse,people are starving ,people and state are paying billions for a war that didn't started,unemployment 40%,there were every way communist and jews agitating the streets.And Hitler come and changed everything



Youre post is like ,how this could happened ?? what a disaster that Hitler come to power .


Well i am telling you that Hitler was determined, as leader of the nation, to fulfill as a national government the task which has been given to us(by people), swearing fidelity only to God, our conscience, and our Volk(people)... This the national government will regard its first and foremost duty to restore the unity of spirit and purpose of our Volk. It will preserve and defend the foundations upon which the power of our nation rests. It will take Christianity, as the basis of our collective morality, and the family as the nucleus of our Volk and state, under its firm protection.


Hitler said during a speech in Nuremberg :I say that they can be solved; there is no problem that cannot be, but faith is necessary. Think of the faith I had to have eighteen years ago, a single man on a lonely path. Yet I have come to leadership of the German people... Life is hard for many, but it is hardest if you are unhappy and have no faith. Have faith. Nothing can make me change my own belief.

And just pls remember ,in the 2,000 years of German history known to us, our people(germans) have never been more united than in Hitler time.

And the official name of Germany during Hitler was Großdeutsches Reich.
Are you praising Hitler?