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Democratic development & democratic decay

Democratic development & democratic decay

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Democratic development & democratic decay

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  1. Democratic development & democratic decay The collapse of the Weimar Republic & The Rise of Nazism

  2. 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?

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. Three periods: • 1918-1923 -- Shaky start • 1924-1929 -- Normalcy • 1929-1933 -- Great Depression and demise

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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)

  10. 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

  11. The Third Reich The Nazi Seizure of Power

  12. 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?

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 1932 Presidential election: • Hindenburg defeats Hitler 53%-37% • Brüning dismissed, • replaced by Von Papen • SPD gov’t in Prussia ousted – • Socialists fail to resist

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. The Nazi state • Partial fusion of party and state • Hitler at the centre – • remote – issuing vague directions • Numerous empires within the system, • SS • Gestapo

  27. 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?