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HI136 The History of Germany Lecture 9

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1 HI136 The History of Germany Lecture 9
The Rise of the Nazis and the Nazi Seizure of Power

2 Possible Coalitions Weimar Coalition of center-left, which was never able to constitute more than a minority govt. Center-right, also a minority coalition Great Coalition of a left-center-right majority coalition like under Stresemann in 1923 Bourgeois Coalition: center-right-far-right majority coalition

3 Who were the NSDAP? National Socialist German Worker’s Party

4 The Origins of Nazism Interwar Germany a fertile breeding ground for radical right-wing organizations. 1919: Anton Drexler founds the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Workers Party, DAP). Adolf Hitler joined the DAP in Sept. 1919, quickly rising through the ranks to become the party’s chief theorist and propaganda officer. Feb. 1920: Hitler heads a committee which draws up the Party’s ’25 Point Programme’ which remains the basis of Nazi ideology until 1945. April 1920: The DAP renamed the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party, NSDAP or Nazi for short). July 1921: Hitler ousts Drexler & is appointed Party Chairman.

5 People’s Party Boasted a wide range of support.
Actual Membership depended on the middle classes: White-collar workers 25.6 % Farmers 14.1% Small businessman & shopkeepers 8.2% Self-employed professionals 3% Teachers 1.7% Other govt. employees 6.6% Workers 28.1%

6 The Rise of Nazism 1925: Nazi party refounded with a new commitment to achieving power through legal means. 1926: The Bamberg Conference – Hitler re-established his supremacy in the Party, overcoming the challenge to his leadership from Gregor Strasser, but was forced to concede that the 25-Point Programme (with its socialist elements) remained inviolable. Establishment of new efficient Party structure and youth and women’s organisations led to a growing membership: 27,000 in 1925 increased to 108,000 in 1928. But still had little popular support – they won only 2.6% of the vote in the Reichstag elections of 1928.

7 National Socialist Ideology?
Key concepts: Race Führerprinzip Anti-Communism Nationalism Volksgemeinschaft From the 25 Point Programme (1920): Creation of a Greater Germany encompassing all ethnic Germans Revocation of Treaty of Versailles Demand for colonies (Lebensraum) Only members of the Volk can be citizens: no Jew can be a citizens & all non-citizens to be deported The primary duty of the State is to provide a livelihood for its citizens: introduction of profit sharing & extension of welfare state.

8 Source: G. Layton, Democracy and Dictatorship in Germany (2009)
Who Voted for the Nazis? Source: G. Layton, Democracy and Dictatorship in Germany (2009)

9 People’s Party Boasted a wide range of support.
Actual Membership depended on the middle classes: White-collar workers 25.6 % Farmers 14.1% Small businessman & shopkeepers 8.2% Self-employed professionals 3% Teachers 1.7% Other govt. employees 6.6% Workers 28.1%

10 Soucre: R. Overy, The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Third Reich (1996)

11 Why did people vote for the Nazis?
How did their ideas fit into right-wing, anti-Republican thought? What international factors aided their breakthrough in the polls?

12 Documentary of the 1934 Nazi Party Rally in Nuremberg
Triumph of the Will, 1935 Documentary of the 1934 Nazi Party Rally in Nuremberg dir. Leni Riefenstahl

13 The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Third Reich (1996)
The Great Depression October 1929: the Wall Street Crash led to a worldwide economic downturn. Germany was particularly hard hit – the German economy was heavily dependent on foreign loans and the banking system was geared towards short-term credit to finance long-term ventures. As foreign investment dried up and debts were called in, German firms folded and banks collapsed leading to mass unemployment. 2 million Germans out of work by the winter of Unemployment reached 3 million in 1931 & had risen to 5.1 million by Sept It peaked at 6.1 million in early 1933. This led to material hardship, but also had an important psychological effect – fear, uncertainty, loss of pride and status, feeling that the fabric of society was unravelling. The economic crisis quickly became a political crisis as the social insurance system became overloaded. Soucre: R. Overy, The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Third Reich (1996)

14 Immediate Effects in Germany
German loans by 1929 were nearly 15 billion marks. German stock exchange fell drastically Business failures multiplied Unemployment rose to three million during the course of the year. By the winter of 1932, unemployment reached six million. Germany's industry fell to less than 50% of capacity. German foreign trade fell by two-thirds between 1929 and 1932.

15 General Kurt von Schleicher
Chancellors, Heinrich Brüning (Centre Party) March 1930 – May 1932 Franz von Papen (Centre Party) June – Dec General Kurt von Schleicher (Non party) Dec – Jan. 1933

16 Article 48 Constitutional article granting the President the right to declare a state of emergency Built-in safety clause: Parliament could overturn the president’s emergency decree by mustering a majority vote

17 Paul von Hindenburg Elected president in 1925 at age of 78 after Ebert’s death Conservative candidate Had helped disseminate the “stab in the back legend” Worked to strengthen the role of the presidency

18 Crisis of Legitimacy Max Weber’s notions of traditional, rational, or charismatic legitimacy. Continued popularity of Wilhelmine elites & burden of war Compromises & economic weakness New moves to tap into charismatic appeals rather than pro-Republic sentiments Political fragmentation preceded the Nazi rise to power

19 The Final Crisis, March 1930: Hermann Müller’s Grand Coalition collapsed Hindenburg appointed Heinrich Brüning, leader of the Centre Party, Chancellor. By 1930 the Nazis were the 2nd largest party in the Reichstag. Oct. 1931: the Harzburg Front – anti-republican alliance between the Nazis, Alfred Hugenburg’s DNVP and the Stahlhelm. 1932: Hitler challenged Hindenburg for the Presidency. By May 1932: Brüning lost the support of the President and his advisors June 1932: Franz von Papen headed the right-wing ‘Cabinet of Barons’. July 1932: Preussenschlag Nov. 1932: Papen replaced by General Kurt von Schleicher. Papen entered into secret negotiations with the Nazis, big business and large landowners. Jan. 1933: Hindenburg reluctantly agreeed to dismiss Schleicher and replace him with Hitler.

20 30 January 1933

21 Hitler’s first Cabinet, 30 January 1933:
Seated (left to right): Hermann Göring, Hitler, Franz von Papen Standing (left to right): Baron Konstantin von Neurath (Foreign Minister), Günther Gereke (Commissioner for Job Creation), Count Lutz Schwerin von Krosigk (Finance Minister), Wilhelm Frick (Interior Minister), General Werner von Blomberg (Defence Minister), Alfred Hugenberg (Minister of Agriculture and Economics)


23 The Reichstag Fire 27 Feb. 1933: The Reichstag burned down.
An unemployed Dutch bricklayer named Marius van der Lubbe arrested. The Nazis claimed this was part of a Communist plot. ‘Decree for the Protection of the People and the State’: suspended civil liberties & increased the power of central government – the Nazis rounded up political opponants. Van der Lubbe & Bulgarian Communist Georgi Dimitrov put on trial for the fire. But on-going debate about who was responsible.

24 Election Results, 5 March 1933
Party Votes NSDAP 43,90% DNVP 8,00% DVP 1,10% BVP 2,70% Zentrum 11,20% Deutsche Staatspartei 0,90% SPD 18,30% KPD 12,30% Other 1,60%

25 The Enabling Law (Ermächtigungsgesetz)
Without the two-thirds majority in the Reichstag necessary to change the Constitution, Hitler proposed an ‘Enabling Law’ that would enable him the government to pass legislation without the approval of either parliament or the President. 23 March 1933: ‘Law for the Removal of Distress from People and the Reich’ Article 1: In addition to the procedure prescribed by the constitution [i.e. decision by parliament], laws of the Reich may also be enacted by the government of the Reich. This includes laws as referred to by Articles 85 sentence 2 and Article 87 of the constitution. Article 2: Laws enacted by the government of the Reich may deviate from the constitution as long as they do not affect the institutions of the Reichstag and the Reichsrat. The rights of the President remain undisturbed.

26 Gleichschaltung April 1933: Laws passed enabling Nazi-dominated State governments to pass legislation without the approval of provincial parliaments. Jan. 1934: State parliaments abolished & local government subordinated to the federal Minister of the Interior. 2 May 1933: Leading Trade Unionists arrested & workers’ organizations merged to form the Deutscher Arbeitsfront (German Labour Front, DAF). 22 June 1933: The SPD officially banned. June-July 1933: Other political parties dissolved themselves. 14 July 1933: The Nazi Party proclaimed the only legal political party in Germany.

27 The Night of the Long Knives, 30 June 1934
Pressure from the party rank-and-file (and particularly from within the SA) for a ‘second revolution’. Fears that the radicalism of the SA would bring about a military coup against the Nazis. This led to a purge of the party on 30 June 1934 – the SS carried out raids against targets across Germany. Critics of the regime such as Vice-Chancellor Papen were arrested, while old enemies such as Gregor Strasser & Gustav Ritter von Kahr were summarily executed. Over 1000 people were arrested & at least 85 killed. Ernst Röhm ( )

28 Understanding the Collapse of Weimar Democracy
Domestic Factors: Lack of popular support Constitutional flaws Role of established elites International Factors: Legacy of Versailles World economic crisis (the Great Depression) General crisis of liberal democracy

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