RIGHT-WING CRITICS OF WEIMAR • Hitler’s “National Socialist German Workers Party” (NSDAP) remained a fringe group until 1930. • The German Nationalist People’s Party (DNVP) participated in moderate parliamentary coalitions in 1925-27 but then lurched rightward again in 1928. • The 300,000-member “Stahlhelm: League of Combat Veterans” became militantly anti-republican in 1927/28. • “Conservative revolutionary” and “Young Conservative” intellectuals gained support from various magazines, youth groups, and the white-collar German Nationalist Union of Commercial Employees (DHV). • Catholic monarchists held retreats at the Benedictine Monastery of Maria Laach.
GENUINE PROBLEMS WITH THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC • The mainstream parties ignored the problem of inflation in 1919-22 until it got completely out of control. In 1924 people who had invested their life’s savings in government bonds only received 10 cents on the dollar. • The average life of a cabinet was less than one year. • Farmers suffered greatly from a collapse of world commodities prices beginning in 1926/27, but politicians representing urban consumers did not react. • The National Unemployment Insurance Act of 1927 calculated dues and benefits on the premise that there would never be more than 2 million unemployed. When unemployment soared above that level in 1929/30, the parties could not agree on any response.
The Hitlers came from the borderland between Lower Austria & Bohemia, in an Austrian Empire wracked by ethnic tension 1889: Adolf Hitler born (high school in Linz) 1908-1913: Vienna years 1913: moves to Munich
“Carriage Shafts” (Austria, 1900):“Schmul’s Patent Automobile. Cheapest operation!Completely safe!”
But Hitler displayed NO political activism or work ethic before World War I:(watercolor by Hitler, Munich, early 1914)
Adolf Hitler with two fellow dispatch runners and his dog, Foxl, in Fournes, France (1915)
Anton Drexler, founder of the German Workers’ Party, and Hitler in Bavarian costume, ca. 1920(see WRS, pp. 124-26, for their 25-Point Program)
Germany’s hyper-inflation:A small businessman picks up cash for his weekly payroll, early summer, 1923 Weighing currency to determine its value, late summer, 1923
“HITLER SPEAKS!” (postcard to commemorate a rally in Munich’s Krone Circus Hall, 1923)
Alfred Rosenberg and Adolf Hitler review marching stormtroopers in Munich, 4 November 1923
Wilhelm Frick, Ludendorff, Hitler, & Ernst Röhmat their trial for treason
Postcard of Hitler in Landsberg Prison (1924), where he dictated vol. 1 of Mein Kampf TOTAL GERMAN SALES: 1929: 23,000 1932: 80,000 1933: 1,500,000 1945: 10,000,000
Nazi propaganda exerted little appeal in the 1920s:“The Blow Must Be Felt!” and “Death to the Lie” “High Finance” = Marxism
“Free of Versailles! Away from Jewish-Socialist Serfdom! For Freedom and Fatherland!Your Slogan: German Nationalist!”(DNVP campaign poster, May 1924)
“Like a bolt of lightning, that’s how the black-white-red victory on December 7 must work” (DNVP, Dec. 1924) “Vote for Grand Admiral Tirpitz”
Count Kuno von Westarp persuaded the DNVP to enter moderate, right-of-center coalition governments in 1925 and 1927
Aristide Briand and Gustav Stresemann, who signed the Treaty of Locarno in 1925 and won the Nobel Peace Prize
The DNVP walked out of the Reich government in October 1925 to protest the Treaty of Locarno (1928 poster)
LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE RIGHT-OF-CENTER CABINET OF WILHELM MARX IN 1927 • A Work Hours’ Law to mandate a 25% bonus for all work over 8 hours (time-and-a-quarter for overtime) • Protective tariffs for German farmers and tax breaks to promote capital formation • A National Unemployment Insurance Act (calculated on the premise that unemployment would not exceed two million) But ALFRED HUGENBERG (1865-1951), owner of Germany’s largest media empire, sparked a rebellion by the DNVP rank and file against Westarp’s moderate line, and the coalition fell apart….
Lieutenant Ernst Jünger(1895-1998):Photographed soon after the war’s end with thePour le mérite(the “Blue Max”):Storm of Steel (1920) made him famous….[WRS, pp. 369-72, 375-77]
“And You?”(Stahlhelm poster, 1932):This “League of Combat Veterans” grew to about 300,000 members in the mid-1920s (see WRS, pp. 339-40)
A provincial Stahlehlm rally proclaimed in September 1928 that “We hate with all our souls the current state form, because it hinders the liberation of our enslaved Fatherland Here 50,000 attend a Berlin Stahlhelm rally to observe the 10th anniver-sary of the Versailles Treaty
The “First President” of the Stahlhelm, Franz Seldte, supported the DVP, but his “Co-President” Theodor Duesterberg, pushed for a rightist “National Front” The DNVP supported Duesterberg for President in March 1932
Emblem of the German Nationalist Union of Commercial Employees (DHV),Hamburg, 1899:“United and Strong, German to the core!” (Teutoberg Monument commemorates victory by the ancient Germans over the invading Romans in 9 A.D.)
The DHV chair Hans Bechly (left) joined the DVP, but his director of political education, Max Habermann, publicized Young Conservative and even Nazi writers By 1932 a large majority of DHV members voted Nazi, even though all DHV leaders backed Brüning
The monastery church at Maria Laach, a Benedictine Abbey restored in the 1890s. The monks yearned for a new “Holy Roman Empire.”
The monks celebrated the advent of the 3rd Reich in 1933, but when Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick visited them, he reproached them for not following German artistic models
Chancellor Papen & General Kurt von Schleicher, Sep 1932 FRANZ VON PAPEN (1879-1969) Westphalian Catholic noblemen, married to the daughter of a Saarland steel industrialist. Owned the Center Party’s Berlin newspaper. Leader of the Herrenklub, founded the League to Protect Occidental Culture. Sought to restore monarchy as Reich Chancellor, June-November 1932.
Edgar Jung (1894-1934) • Free Corps veteran • 1924: Organized the assassination of pro-French separatists in Speyer, then opened law practice in Munich • 1927: Published The Regime of the Inferior [compare WRS, pp. 352-54] • 1932: Became advisor and speechwriter for Chancellor Papen • June 1934: Shot on Hitler’s orders for writing speeches critical of Nazi lawlessness
Ernst Niekisch (1889-1967)A schoolteacher who helped to found the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919; expelled from the SPD in 1926, he founded a “National Bolshevik” movement. Frontispiece for Hitler—Germany’s Ruin (1932)
Carl Schmitt (1888-1955) 1911: Earned law doctorate at Strasbourg 1925: Excommunicated from Catholic Church 1926: Becomes professor at Berlin Commercial Academy 1929: Exalts the role of the President as “Guardian of the Constitution” 1932: Legal counsel for Reich Chancellors Papen and Schleicher 1933: Joined Nazi Party and became professor at the University of Berlin