Collapse of democracy


1929: The Young Plan and The Great Depression

In June of 1929, the Young Plan was offered as an alternative to reparations, as a follow up from the Dawes Plan of 1924. It said Germany had to carry on paying reparations , but the bill was drastically reduced to £1.8 billion. It also meant that annual payment was increased and had to be paid until 1988. All responsibility for payment was placed on the German government. In exchange, the British and French troops would be removed from the Rhineland by 1930. The DNVP lauched a campaign against the plan, introducing a freedom law up for referendum.It said that the government had to reverse the war guilt to abstain from payment all together. However, despite their best efforts, it was defeated in the referendem, with only 13.8% voting in favour of it. 

In October 1929, the New York stock market crashed. This left the worl in decay, as many of the strongest economies were reliant on American markets. Germnay, in particular, was affected as they were reliant on American short term loans, from various agreements and the Dawes Plan. As America started calling in these short term loans to improve their own situation, Germnay could not afford it and fell into debt. Aside from the loans, America was Germany's largest importer as the crash meant demand declined and exports fell by 61% between 1929 and 1932In July of 1931, 5 major German banks closed down, as people began to lose all confidence in the government and withdrew their money

In 1929, Stresemann also died, a few weeks before the crash

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1930: Collapse of Grand coalition and elections

In March of 1930, Muller's Grand Coalition collapsed. The coaltion was seen as miraculous when it was formed in 1928, made up of the democratic parties of SPD, the Centre Party, and the more liberal parties pf the DDP and the DVP. However, it collapsed following the inability to come to an agreement about the economic crisis, especially between the SDP and DVP cabinet members. The DVP wanted to reduce unemployment benefit, but the SPD wanted to protect this and raise taxes instead. After Muller resigned, Bruning was appointed Chancellor by Hindenburg. This was the first of many appointments influenced by members of Hindenburg's inner circle, Groener and Schleicher. Both these men were very opposed to parliamentary democracy, and therefre, there was no surprise that the Bruning government excluded the SPD altogether. From this point onwards, no govenment had parliamentary majority, and Bruning and his successors relied heavily on the presidential decree. 

In September, there were general elections. This was an opportunity for more extreme parties to gain votes and seats, and this they did. The KPD gained 1 million extra votes with 77 seats, and the Nazis gained 6.5 million votes, 107 seats in total. This meant the Nazis became the second largest party in the Reichstag. In this election, 2/5 voted for anti democratic party, showing the growing influence of the extreme parties, and the buiding distaste towards the failure of democracy. the Reichstage became unmanagable and as a result waa not called between February 1931 and October 1931

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1932: elections and presidents

1932 was the year in which Germany faced the biggest crisis. There was a presidential election campaign in March-April in which Hitler attempted to be elected. In the first ballot, he receieved 30.1% of the vote, and in the second ballot, this increased to 36.8%. However, he was still beaten by Hindenburg. Hitler's Nazi party was the largest party, buthe refused to join a coalition unless he was made chancellor. 

In April of 1932, the SA was banned by Bruning in an attempt to reduce the threat and violence of the Nazi party.However, Bruning resigned in May after he lost Hindenburg's confidence. He had been known as the hunger chancellor, as he did nothing to help the high levels of unemployed in his country, sacrificing them in favour of demonstating the effects of the reparations (in 1932, only 618,000 were on benefits, even though unemployment was at 5 million), and was replaced by Von Papen. Papen formed his coalition in May, but it was a non party government, 2 posts were given to the DNVP, all the others went to landowners and other industrialists. In June 1932, he lifted the ban on the SA.

The July elections won Hitler the largest party with 37% of the vote, and still refused a coalition. There was a vote of no confidence in Papen won by 512 to 42. Even after a loss of 2 million votes in November, the Nazis were still the largest. Scheicher got himself elected chancellor in December 1932

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1933: Establishment of Nazi dictatorship

Schleicher was a failed chancellor as he unsuccessfully attempted to gain Nazi support. Eventually, Papen in an attempt to seek revenge against him, promised Hitler he could form a coalition with himself as chancellor; as long as there were only 2 other Nazi members in the cabinet and Papen could be the vice chancellor. This finally came true when Hindenburg refused to sign Schleichers wish to dissolve the Reichstag and he resigned on January 30th 1933. After this, Hitler was invited to form a government involving the DNVP, as promised. He appointed Wilhelm Frick as the interior minister with control over the police, and Hermna Goering as his minister of the portfolio. The non Nazi appointments were controlled by Hindenburg and Papen, including people lilke General Bloomberg. On January 30th 1933, there was Nazi torchlit procession through Berlin.

In February, a raging fire destroyed the Reichstag, a month before a March Reichstag election. It was balmed on a young Dutch communist Van der Lubbe. The Nazis used this as a claim that the communists were plotting a revolution in Germany. 

Hindenburg gave Hitler emrgency powers in order to pass the Decree for the Protection of the People and State in March 1933. This suspended civil and political rights, and meant the police had increased power to arrest and detain without charge anyone who they believed was a threat. Censorship also increased and communists and socialists were banned and arrested. Overall, 10,000 communists were arrested in tow weeks 

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1933 continued

There was also an election in March, a month after the fire. It was made virtually impossible for the left to organise their election campaign as meetings were sabotaged and posters were removed. The Nazis made good use of radio, posters and elections rallies to gain their support. It can down to the Nazis gaining 43.9% of the vote, compared to just 18% for the SPD. The Nazis still did not have a majority so had to form a coalition with the 8% DNVP to get the majority. Finally, in March of 1933, the Enabling Act was passed, enabling Hitler to make laws without reference to the President or the approval of Reichstag, for a period of 4 years. He coudl also make treaties with whoever he wanted without Reichstag approval. As this was a change to the constitution, it required a 2/3 majority. Hitler knew the SPD were a sizable minority so to get his bill passed, he used every other party. He promised the Centre Party that the interests of the Church would be protected. The voting house was swarmed with ** and SA guards. There was a 444 in favour vote, agaisnt a mere 94 against, being passed on March 24th. 

In April, there was a Law for the Restablishment of the Profesional Civil service, meaning that any one with opposing political views, including Jews, were dismissed from their jobs. The trade unions were also banned and replaced with the German Labour Front, placing them under Hitlers control, with little addition benefit. In June, all other political parties were banned, and the SPD was banned on the basis of the Reichstag Fire Decree. Finally, a concordat was signed between the Nazis and the church that banned priests being in politics 

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