History: Hitlers rise to power 1919-1934

main events in germany that led to hitler becoming Fuhrer 1919- 1934

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  • Created by: KS
  • Created on: 16-06-12 13:50

Opposition to the weimar republic

The Weimar Republic wasn't popular due to weaknesses in the new constitution, being forced to sign Treaty of Versailles and the 'stab in the back' theory.

There were two main groups that threatened the Weimar Government:


  • they were a German Communist party led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebnect.
  • they wanted to overthrow the Republic and set up a communist government, as they did not believe that Ebert and Social Democrats would serve the interest of the German working people.
  • attmpts to seize power in Jan 1919 failed when the Freikorps, volunteer ex servicemen, shot the two leaders for 'resisting arrest'.
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The Spartacists

The Spartacists were important for two main reasons:

  • their uprising highlighted the instability of the Weimar Republic. A socialist, left-wing government had been attacked by an even more left-wing group.
  • The uprising left the new republic dependent on the support of the army, which had been needed to crush  the revolt. In return for this support, the Republic promised not to change the army leadership.
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The Kapp Putsch

The Kapp Putsch:

  • The Freikorps were strong opponent of the Republicand the Treaty of Versailles.
  • When the Treaty came into effect on 1st jan 1920, the government began to reduce the size of their army to 100,000. This cut included disbanding the Freikorps.
  • The Freikorps were furious and in March 1920, led by Dr Kapp, and extreme nationalist, they attempted to take power in Berlin.
  • The Weimar government fled to Dresden but, before leaving Berlin, called upon the trade unions of Berlin to organise a general strike in order to paralyse teh city.
  • Kapp found she couldn't rule Germany because of the chaos caused by the general strike. He had to abandon his plans and flee to Sweden.
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The Kapp Putsch was important because:

  • The Kapp Putsch showed that the republic had gained much support fromthe workers of Berlin

On the other hand.....

  • it revealed the lack of support from the army who sympathised with the aim of the putsch.
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Treaty of Versailles

Terms of Treaty of Versailles:

  • Article 231 of the Treaty said that Germany was to blame for causing the war. This was the term that the Germans most resented. To them teh war had been one of self-defence.
  • in 1921 a special commission fixed a sum of £6600 million to be paid on annual instalments. Given that the Treaty also took away from Grmany around 10% of its industry and 15% of its agricultural land.
  • The airforce had to be disbanded
  • the army was limited to 100,000 soldiers
  • the navy was limited to 15,000 sailors, only six battleships and no submarines 
  • the Rhine land would be occupied by the Allies for fifteen years, and no german troops allowed in the area.
  • germany lost 13% of it's land
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Why was 1919-23 a period of crisis for the Weimar government?

French troops seize the Ruhr: In  Jan 1923, French troops occupied the Ruhr industrial area of Germany because the German government was unable to make its first reparation payment. The Weimar Republic was powerless to do anything, although German workers in Ruhr used passive resistance to work for the French and factories came to a standstill.

Revolution in Beer Hall: In Nov 1923 Hitler and the SA raided a Beer Hall in Munich and captured two of the leaders of Bavaria. Tehy hoped to persuade them to support a Nazi takeover. The leaders escaped and the Revolution was defeated. Hitler was arrested and put on trial. He was sentenced to five years in prison but only served nine months during which he wrote 'Mein Kampf'.

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1919-23, period of crisis

The Mark is Worthless: By Nov 1923, Germany was suffering from hyperinflation. The German mark became worthless, and it cost 1.5 million for a loaf of bread. Many people lost all of their saving whilst workers and pensioners were unable to buy everyday necessities. The Weimar Republic became more unpopular than ever.

Germany recovers under Stresmann: Germany recovered from the disasters of 1923 mainly due to the leadership of Gustav Stresemann. He reduced  inflation by introducing the Rentenmark. He also reduced reparation payments through the Dawes and Young Plans and encouraged the USA to make loans to german industry. Germany was allowed to join teh League of Nations.

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What is hyperinflation?

When government prints too much paper money it then looses value very quickly causing a rapid rise in prices.

Why did it happen?

The Weimar government was short of money after WW1 and began to print more and more banknotes. The situation was worsened when the German government was unable to make its first payment in 1922. French troops occupied the Ruhr and the German government was forced to print even more notes. By Nov 1923 the German mark was worthless.

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What were the effects?

Businessmen: Many businessmen who had borrowed money from the banks were able to wipe out their debts. Others were able to take over smaller businesses that were going bankrupt.

Fixed incomes: People in fixed incomes such as pensions, found they became worthless.

Farmers: Farmers benefited from the rise in prices of food at a time when the farming industry was not doing well.

Workers: Those in employment were generally secure because wages went higher and higher. However, wage rises couldn't keep up with price rises.

Middle class: Many lost faith in the Weimar Republic and were convinced that it was unable to deal with serious economic problems.

The rich: They usually had land and possessions and were protected from the worst effects of hyperinflation.

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Munich Putsch

What happened during the Munich Putsch?

8 Nov 1923- A large meeting being addressed by Gustav von Kahr, the head of Bavarian government, in a beer hall in Munich, was suddenly interrupted by Hitler and the SA. Hitler announced that he was taking over the government of Bavaria and tried to persuade everyone to support him.

9 Nov 1923- Hitler and Ludendorff with about 3000 supporters decided to march through Munich hoping to win mass public support. As they neared the city centre, armed police blocked their way. this was folloed by a gun battle, Hitler who apparantly lost his nerve escaped in a motor car.Ludendorff, on the other hand, marched to the next square where he was arrested.

11 Nov 1923- Hitler was arrested for his part of the uprising

 Feb 1924- Hitler was put on trial for his part in the uprising. However hitler turned his trial into a praganda success, using it to attack the Weimar Republic. The trial provided Hitler with nationwide publicity. However the nazi party was banned as a result of the putsch. 

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Was the uprising a failure?

The uprising apeared to have been a disastrous and humiliating failure. Hitler had failed to win support of Kahr, Bavarian army and the police. He had run away from the gun battle of 9th Nov, but then got arrested. He was found guilty at his trial and spent nine months in prison.


There were some positive consequences for Hitler and the Nazi party, more especially from his trial. Hitler made use of his trial to attack the Weimar Republic and ensure maximum publicity for himself through Germany. In addition, the failure prompted Hitler to rethink his tactics, realising that a future armed uprising would be doomed to failure.

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Why was 1924-29 a period of recovery for Germany?

Worldwide economy- 1) Worldwide economic ricovery meant that there were new markets for German goods abroad. 2) The economy prospered and unemployment was low.

Political stability- 1) As prosperity increased support for the extremists like Communists and Nazis declined. Modern pro-Weimar parties tended to win. 2) The very able Gustav Stressmanm remained as foreign minister through the whole period.

Rentenmark- 1) Then new German currency established by Stressmann and regulated by the central bank solved the problem of hyperinflation. 2) Confidence returned to the German economy.

International Cooperation 1- 1) Stressemann knew Germany had to work with other countries. 2) Dawes Plan 1924 which made the reperation payments easier. French troops left Ruhr as a consequence. 3) Locarno Pact 1925 settled border disputes. 1925 Germany joined League of Nations- rspectability.

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International Coorperation 2- 1) in 1929 the Young Plan replaced the Dawes Plan- reperations reduced by one quarter, Germany given 58 years to pay. 2) American banks continued to loan German industry  money to help it rebuild.

Where did it all go wrong?

  • Stressemann died in Oct 1929 (most able politician of his generation)
  • Closely followed by the Wall Street Crash
  • American banks recalled their loans  to Germany
  • German economy plunged back into crisis
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How was the Nazi Party reorganised in the years 19

The Nazi Party had been banned after the Munich Putsch, but in Feb 1925 the ban liftedand Hitler relaunched the party. It was reorganised so it could appeal to electors and win seats in the Reichstag. He also turned it into a national party that was active throughout Germany not just Bavaria.

Babberg Conference- Hitler survived the threats to his leadersip of the Party from Stresser and Goebbels. They wanted the party to become more scialist in order to appeal to the working classes. Hitler was opposed to this and called a Party conference in Bamberg in Bavaria in 1926. His leadership was confirmed and Goebbels became ine of his closes supporters.

Nazi organisation- These were set up to appeal to certain interest groups including the Nazi Students' League and Womens' League. The Nazi youth movement was organised to appeal to the young.

Party rallies- In 1926 a Nazi rally was held at Weimar.

Party organisation- Hitler reorganised the party to make it more efficient and to ensure it was prepared.

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The SA- It was strengthened with more young men encouraged to join. The image was changed and focused more on discipline and order rather than violence.

Mein Kampf- Hitlers book was published in 1925 and because of the publicity from Hitler trial, it became best seller.

Propoganda- Goebbels organised the propoganda and used posters skilfully. He used Nazi newspapers and meeting to put across Nazi ideas. He discovered that the anti-Jewish message had most success among the working class, so he increased anti-Semetic propoganda.

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What effects did the depression have on Germany?

In Oct 1929, when Wall Street Crash occured America ended tehir loans to Germany and demanded the repaument of exicting loans. This badly effected Germany and further weakend the Weimar Republic and provided the Nazis with an ideal opportunity to increase their support.        Effects:                                                                                                         German businessmen- Many German business were forced to close. They were heavily dependent on loans from the USA. To make matters worse the government increased their taxes in order to pay for helping the rapidly increasing number if unemployment.

German workers- Many workers and farm labourers lost their jobs. By 1933, six million were out of work, including 40% of factory workers. At the same time the government cut the unemployment benefits to save money.

Weimar Republic- They were blames fo allowing the German economy to become too dependent on US loans.

German you people- They were badly effected, by the end of 1932, half of the young generation couldnt find jobs, including 60% of university graduates.

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Why was the Weimar weakened by the depression?

  • It lacked a strong leader to rduce teh worst effects of the depression, as Stressemen had just died
  • The depresseion highlighed the weakness of Proportional Representation as Short-lived coalitions were unable to provide solutions to major problems.
  • Brunings government induced unpopular economic policies to try and deal with the depression.
  • He remembered  the hyperinflation of 1923, so refused to print more money, instead he raised taxes, reduced wages and cut unemployment benefits. 
  • Many Germans now turned to more extreme parties such as the Communist and the Nazi party, who seemed to offer possible solutions to the depression
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Factors influencing Hitlers rise to power

Organisation- They were very well organised. They were obedient, organised and worked well as a team. In addition they were well trained and motivated.

Propaganda- Their national leaders were masters of propaganda, and they carefully trained their local groups. They new that their anti-Communist stance was very popular so their propoganda whipped up fear and hatred of the Communist.

Support for Industialists- One of their aims was to earn support of the powerful industrialist. In 1931 Hitler made a deal with other right-wing party, the Nationalists, by which the two parties agreed to co-operate.

Use of technology- Radio was used. In 1932 presidential election, while Hindenburg gave just one speech, Goebbels charted planes to fly Hitler all over Germany in order to speak to four or five massive rallies per day.

Promises to voters- Everyone seemed to hear what they wanted. Workers were promised jobs. Employers were promised restored profits. Farmers higher prices.

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Steps to dictatorship, 1932-34

1)Becoming chancellor- From 1930 Hindenburg used his emergency powers to rule without the Rechstag and in 1932 Germany had three chancellors. Eventually, however, Hindenburg had no choice but to choose Hitler as chancellor.

2) The Reichstag Fire- In Feb 1933 the Reichstag building was set on fire. A Dutch communist, Marius van der Lubbe, was accused for the crime. This gave Hitler the excuse to ban his greatest rivals, the Communist  Party.

3) The Enabling Act- This was passed in March 1933 and have Hitler the power to pass laws without the concent of the Reichstag.

4)Removal of power groups- Between May and June 1933 rival power groups were removed. Trade union leaders were arrested and the unions were merged into the German Labour Front. By July 1933 Germany was a one-party state.

5)Night of the Long Knives- Hitlers position was threatened by Rhom, teh leader of the SA, who wanted to merge with the army. In June 1934, on the Night of the Long Knives, Rhom and other SA leaders were murdered by the SS.

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6) Death of Hindenburg- In Aug 1934 Hindenburg died.

7) Hitler becomes Fuhrer- Within hours of Hindenburgs deat, Hitler had declared himself 'Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor'

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