Nazi Germany Significant Events

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The Reinsurence Treaty: 1887 and 1890

The Reinsurence Treaty of June 18, 1887, was an attempt by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck to continue to ally with Russia after the League of the Three Emperors had broken down in the aftermath of the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War. Facing the competition between Russia and Austria-Hungary on the Balkans, Bismarck felt that this agreement was essential to prevent a Russian convergence toward France and to continue the diplomatic isolation of the French so ensuring German security against a threatening two-front war. The agreement accepted that if either were at war; the other would remain neutral, unless France or Austria were the object of attack. After the dismissal of Bismarck, his successor Leo von Caprivi felt unable to obtain success.

When in 1890 Russia asked for a renewal of the treaty, Germany refused because Wilhelm felt that his own personal relationship with the Tsar would be sufficient enough to ensure further diplomatic ties. 

The failure of this treaty is seen as one of the factors contributing to World War 1, due to Germany's increasing sense of diplomatic isolation.




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The Munich Beer Hall Putsch: Nov 1923

  • A crucial part of the Hitler and the Nazis rise to power
  • Hitler wanted to destroy the republican regime; Gustav von Kahr also wanted to create an independent Bavaria.
  • By Oct 1923 General 1923 General von Lossow (Army's commander in Bavaria) had fallen under von Kahr's influence and begun to disobey orders from the Defense Minister from Berlin. 
    • Von Kahr and von Lossow alongside Hitler and the Nazi's plotted their 'March on Berlin'
  • 8 Nov: Hitler and Nazi supported stormed into and took control of a large rally which von Kahr was addressing in one of Munich's beer halls (declaring a 'National Revolution')
  • Under pressure Kahr and Lossow agreed to proceed with the uprising; lost nerve when Seeckt commanded armed forces to resist putsch.
  • 14 Nazis killed and Hitler was arrested for treason (which was punishable by death)
    • Encouraging for Wiemar democracy
    • However Hitler was sentenced a mere 5 year sentence but was released after 10 months. 
  • Gave Hitler time to write 'Mein Kampf' and also made him think of a less violent/radical approach.
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The Schlieffen Plan: 1905

The Schlieffen Plan: Devised in 1905, it was Germany's military strategy in 1914. Its purpose was to avoid a two-front war by winning victory on the Western Front before dealing with the threat from Russian on the Eastern Front. It aimed to defeat France within sex weeks by a massive German Offensive in northern France and Belgium in order to seize Paris quickly. 

Germany's military leaders had long recognised the weakness of their position if faced by a combined attack from Russia in the east and France in the west. The Schlieffen Plan was devised in order to defeat France before Russia could mobilise; once France had been defeated, the Germans could turn east to face the Russians. The Schlieffen Plan raised a number of points. In order to advance on a broad front the plan would need to violate the neutrality of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg without regard to th possible political consequences of such actions. This was yet another indication of the dominating influence of the military in the decision making process of Imperial Germany. In addition, the plan was made at a time when Tsarist Russia has political and military difficulties and consequently it was assumed that Russian mobilisation would be slow. 

Germany demanded that Belgium allow german troops to cross their land and on 3 August 1914 declared war on France. When Belgium refused, Germany launched an invasion of Belgium on 4 August and Britain, who had an alliance with Belgium, declared war on Germany

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The First Moroccan Crisis: 1905

In March 1905 Kaiser Wilhelm made a visit to Tangier in Morocco which was, in theory, under French influence. 

  • Germans demanded conference to discuss future of Morocco, the Kaiser was hoping he could drive a wedge between France and Britain (Triple Entente) but the opposite happened.
  • Failed to prise the Russians away from their friendship with the French by the treaty of Bjorko. Also failed to create a closer bond between Berlin and St Petersburg. 
  • Entente was strengthened - Algecias act = Morocco confirmed as the French sphere. 
  • The Germans were humiliated, Friedrich von Holstein was forced to resign.
  • At the international conference held at Algeciras in 1906, the only country that supported Germany was Austria; which left Germany feeling diplomatically isolated proving to be a huge blow to German prestige. 
  • For many Germans, the fear of encirclement was real. 
  • Britain and France quickly came to believe that Germany was a threat to the balance of power in Europe and to the British empire; secret military conversations were then initiated between Britain and France.
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The Hottentot Elections: 1907

The Reichstag election of 1907 came about after the dissolution of the previous Reichstag after being voted against during the bugetary crisis of 1906. The result of the Hottentot Election was encouraging for Bulow, the number of Social Democrats seats halved and the parties of the right made some significant gains. This enabled Bulow to bring together the Conservatives and, Free Conservatives, National Liberals and Left Liberals in an Imperialist coalition dubbed the 'Bulow Bloc'. However, his coalition was very fragile and was not to last long.

  • The Kaiser had the power to dissolve the Reichstag. 
  • Support from the German public for a brutal imperialist agenda. 
  • The tensions between a left-wing Reichstag and a permanently conservative government. 
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The Daily Telegraph Affair: 1908

In an interview with a journalist, the Kaiser expressed his wishes for a closer relations with Britain. His comments attracted a lot of criticism for making such and important statement on foreign policy to the foreign press. There were demands in the Reichstag for constituional limitations to be placed on the Kaiser as a result of this affair. Following the demands of the reichstag, Bulow secured a promise from the Kaiser a promise that the terms of the constitution would be respected but the Kaiser's trust in his Chancellor (Bulow) weakened by this event, forced him to secure Bulow's resignation. Bulow's failure to stand by the Kaiser in the Daily Telegraph Affair (though supporting him previously for around a decade) underlined how vulnerable the office of the Chancellor was to the whims of the Kaiser. This event shows that the Chancellor was accountable to the Kaiser alone and not the Reichstag yet the growing belief that the Kaiser could no longer act as a authoritarian monarch illustrated a reluctance from the Reichstag to assert any authority over the Kaiser. 

  • The Reichstag and the German Press were prepared to criticise the Kaiser. 
  • The Kaiser could remove his Chancellors at any time.
  • It was not always acceptable for the Kaiser to act in an autocratic manner.
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The Second Moroccan Crisis: 1911

  • In 1909, French and German governments signed an agreement to respect each other's interests in Morocco.
  • However, in 1911 the French military intervened when disturbances arose in the town of Fez.
  • Germany complaineed at this action and went against the Algeciras act and backed their protest by sending the German gunboat Panther to moor off the Moroccan port of Agadir.
  • Germany attempted to bully France, Germany wanted the French Congo in exchange for Germany giving up all interests in Morocco.
  • The Germans failed, again, to prise the Entente apart.
  • In his 'Mansion House' speech of July 1911, the liberal chancellor of the Exchequer warned Germany against further aggression.
  • As a result of the Second Morocco Crisis, Germany gained two strips of land in the Congo but this meant they had to promise to accept French control of Morocco.
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The Zabern Affair: 1913

The position of Alsace-Lorraine has initially been designated as 'Reichdland Elsass Lothrigen' in 1871. The Treaty of Frankfurt in Oct 1872, residents of this region were given the option to emigrate or take German nationality. In Nov 1913 a young German officer called Forstner stationed in Zabern made rude remarks about the locals to his troops which was then printed in the press. The Governer of Alsace-Lorraine (Karl von Wedel) tried to have Forstner transferred but this was refused by von Reuter who later has towns people who jeered at Forstner imprisoned. Throughout the affair the Kaiser refused to see Wedel and accepted explanations of the event which underplayed incidents consequently backing the army. The Reichstag critised the conduct of the army and passed a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg who was called upon to resign; this was refused by Bethmann who was kept on by the Kaiser.

  • The Army was only accountable to the Kaiser. 
  • The Reichstag had no control over the Chancellor; the Chancellor only needed the Kaiser's support. 
  • The Reichstag could be ignored by both the Kaiser and the Army. 
  • Tensions existed within the political system, especially between the Reichstag and the Army.
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The Balkans and the Spark: 1903-1913

  • In 1903 a strongly pro-Russian dynasty came to power in Serbia = Serbia and Austrians became more hostile to each other. 
  • The Pig War was a trade war which happened when a trade agreement in 1906 was not renewed so the Austrians blocked the import of Serbian pigs.
  • Count Aehrenthal was appointed as Austria-Hungary's Foreign minister in 1906 and this was a real turning point: he annexed the regions of Bosnia and Herzegovinain 1908. 
  • The Russian Foreign minister Izvolski had attempted to trade off Russian approval for this action with Austrian recognition of Russian rights in the Dardanelles Straits.
  • In 1909, Austria-Hungary forced Serbia and Russia to recognise the annexation of Bosnia Herzegovina, it did so by threatening war against Serbia with the full support of Bulow's government. 
  • Italy attacked the Ottoman Empire in Libya in 1911. The Austrians were determined to prevent Serbia from having access to the sea and creating a greater Serbia. 
  • In November 1912, Austria demanded the creation of an independent Albania. The Serbs, supported by Russia ignored the Austrians and the Germans pressed Habsburgs to make their point. 
  • The Treaty of London in 1913 ended the first Balkans war. 
  • Germany continue to feel encircled. 
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The July Crisis: 1914

  • 23rd: Austria issued Serbia with an ultimatum. Serbia replied in conciliatory fashion but rejected the point that suggested that Austrian officials should be allowed to take part in the enquiry in Serbia about the Assassination.
  • 25th: Russia came out in favour of Serbia, bolestered by French for support.
  • 26th: The British Foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey proposed a conference to deal with the Austro-Serb issue but Austria refused to take part and declared war on Serbia two days after. 
  • 29th: Bethmann-Hollweg urged the resumption of Austro-Russian negotiations and failed to persuade the British into neutrality. Wilhelm contacted his cousin Nicholas II with th result that the Tsar downgraded an order of general mobilisation to one of partial mobilisation.
  • 30th: The Tsar changed his mind after being advised that a partial mobilisation was not possible. Russia ordered a general mobilisation despite warnings from Germany.
  • 31st: With the Russians mobilising, events were no set by the Schlieffen plan. Germany sent an ultimatum to Russia giving it 12 hours to cease war preparations on Germany's frontier. The same day, Germany refused a request to respect Belgian neutrality.
  • 1st Aug: France and Germany mobilised their troops for war, and Germany declared war on Russia.
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The July Crisis: 1914 Part Two

  • 2nd Aug: The German Armies invaded Luxembourg and demanded that Belgium should give them access through their country. This demand was refused; the British gave France assurances of support. 
  • 3rd Aug: Germany invaded Belgium and declared war on France claiming that her frontier had been violated. 
  • 4th Aug: Britain declared war on Germany in protection of Belgian neutrality as had been agreed in 1839.
  • 6th Aug: Austria declared war on Russia.
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The Blank Cheque: 1914

  • Following the Assassination, Bethmann and Wilhelm II gave their full support to Austria (become known as 'The Blank Cheque') which urged Austria to send a harshly worded ultimatum and indeed went further recommending immediate action against Serbia. 
  • This could be seen as aggressive because Germany is giving her full support to Austria Hungary to go to war; but again this could also be argued that Germany was just in support of its ally with no real aggressive intentions. 
  • The Blank Cheque was given to Austria by Germany 5 July 1914, The First World was initiated in August that same year. 
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The First Controversy: Who's to Blame?

  • Did Germany deliberately set out to wage war in 1914 in order to establish political and economic hegemony over the rest of Europe? 
  • Was Germany a victim of aggressive encirclement of the Triple Entente Powers; France, Russia and Britain?
  • Did all the Countries in Europe accidentally 'slither' into war?
  • Was Austria-Hungary to blame?
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The Treaty of Versailles: 1919

  • Germany was blamed for the war. Article 231 (War Guilt Clause) of the Treaty of Versailles stated that Germany was to blame for all the damage caused by the war. As a result Germany:
    • Had their land taken from them.
    • Had their Army and Navy also taken away from them.
    • Forced to pay reparations of 6 600 000000.
  • They found it impossible to accept Article 231 because they believed that they had fought for a defensive reason because their country had been encircled by the Allies in 1914 and so are not solely responsible for the outbreak of war. 
  • The reparations were not stated in the treaty. 
  • They had no say in the treaty and were forced to accept it. 
  • Britain wanted to break apart the German Navy and this treaty allowed them to do so

It weakened Germany economically due to the reparations. However they still had a potentially strong economy with extensive industry and resources. The German people lost faith in their government, "stab in the back" belief was used against the Weimar Republic for the acceptance and loss of the war. 

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The Spartacist Revolt: 1919

  • Armed rising in Berlin, aim of overthrowing the provisional government and creating a soviet republic. 
  • Extreme left, Spartacus league (Spatacists) led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg; Communists.
  • Occupied public buildings, called for a general strike and formed a revolutionary committee; denounced Eberts provisional government
  • They had a little chance of success:
    • Over 100 were killed
    • Liebknetcht and Luxemburg murdered
    • Little support
    • Showed no real strategy
  • The government had support of army troops and 5000 freikorps.
  • Government moved to Weimar (Too dangerous in Berlin)
  • Weimar Republic - took its name from the first meeting of the National constituent assembly at Weimar. The assembly mover there because there were still many disturbances in Berlin.
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The Kapp Putsch: 1920

  • Freikorps (ex soldiers) played a central role in the first attempt by the extreme right wing to seize power from the constitutional government. 
  • Early 1920s: unease with freikorps at demands to reduce size of the German army according to the treaty of Versailles.
  • Wolfgang Kapp encouraged 12,000 troops to march on Berlin and seize the main buildings of the capital virtually unopposed, where they installed a new government. 
  • German army showed no resistance to this putsch
    • Despite requests from Ebert and the Chancellor to put down the rebellious forces; army was not prepared to become involved with either side. 
    • Army didn't join those in the Putsch but it failed to support the government: "Troops do not fire on troops"
  • The Kapp Putsch itself demonstrates the weakness of the Weimar Republic.
  • The army leadership revealed its unreliability.
  • Those involved in the Putsch of 1920 never felt the full rigour of the law; Kapp died awaiting trial, Luttwitz was granted early retirement and only one of the 705 prosecuted was found guilty and was given only 5 years in prison. This shows instability in the Weimar Republic, even judges were biased and on side with the extreme right. 
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The Munich Beer Hall Putsch: Nov 1923

  • A crucial part of the Hitler and the Nazis rise to power
  • Hitler wanted to destroy the republican regime; Gustav von Kahr also wanted to create an independent Bavaria.
  • By Oct 1923 General 1923 General von Lossow (Army's commander in Bavaria) had fallen under von Kahr's influence and begun to disobey orders from the Defense Minister from Berlin. 
    • Von Kahr and von Lossow alongside Hitler and the Nazi's plotted their 'March on Berlin'
  • 8 Nov: Hitler and Nazi supported stormed into and took control of a large rally which von Kahr was addressing in one of Munich's beer halls (declaring a 'National Revolution')
  • Under pressure Kahr and Lossow agreed to proceed with the uprising; lost nerve when Seeckt commanded armed forces to resist putsch.
  • 14 Nazis killed and Hitler was arrested for treason (which was punishable by death)
    • Encouraging for Wiemar democracy
    • However Hitler was sentenced a mere 5 year sentence but was released after 10 months. 
  • Gave Hitler time to write 'Mein Kampf' and also made him think of a less violent/radical approach.
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The 'Stab in the Back': Germany's Defeat

  • German Army had been 'Stabbed in the back' by unpatriotic and weak politicians.
  • Germany had not been defeated on the battlefield but by pacifists and socialists who had undermined the war effort. 
    • They weakened the morale of the troops. 
    • Oct 1918, gov failed to support army/military. 
    • Unrest spread throughout Germany which led to the Nov 1918 Revolution. 
  • The New Government arranged an unnecessary armistice and accepted the humiliating Versailles Treaty peace terms. 
  • The Stab in the back was used to criticise the Weimar Republic. 
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Weimar Republic: The Golden Years?

  • Weimar Culture - State spending 33x more money on housing.
    • However may not generate money; Waste of money. 
  • 35% women had work in 1929, although the number had not increased, the type of work women were doing had increased. 
    • However, this is breaking the traditional values and expectations of women. Nazis can exploit this. 
  • Joining League of Nations 
    • However it wasnt very strong nor did it improve Germany's international relations.
  • Reich Relief Law of 1924: didn't have the money to carry this through. 
  • The Dawes Plan improves the German Economy: Money from America and changing reparation payments to a lower sum. 
    • However, they will have to pay this money back; only in the shorterm this is stablity. 
  • Weimar Culture only effected those living in towns = lack of equality. 
  • Locarno treaty cements borders set out in the treaty of Versailles
    • But in this Germany agreed that they were to blame for the war.
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The Ruhr Crisis: 1923

  • French and Belgian governements responded to German failure to pay back all reparation payments by ordering the invasion of the Ruhr. Their armies occupied factories and mines; seizing raw materials. 
  • With the support of the Government, German workers and business owners in the Ruhr followed a policy of passive resistance refusing to co-coperate with the occupying forces by going on strike. 
  • The German government supported and paid the workers on strike thus adding to government expediture; the main cause of hyperinflation is thought to have been the payments of reparations but passive resistance plays a massive role in the damaging of the German economy because the government had to reprint money. 
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Stresemann: Foreign Policy

  • Stresemann had a broad aim to restore Germany's prosperity and power, he accepted that Germany was no match to allies when it came to their military and so had no ambition when it came to their military and so had no ambition to  revise the treaty of Versailles by force. General Seeckt wanted to build Germany's military but Stresemann was not willing to agree; he believed that they should purge a pragmatic policy of co-operation with the west. Erfullungspolitik meant that Germany would comply with the Treaty of Versailles in order to improve international relation
  • Stresemann negotiated the reorganisation of reparations through the Dawes plan in 1924 and the Young plan in 1929.
  • Locarno Pact in 1925 was a series of treaties that Stresemann signed in Switzerland with Britain, France, Belgium and Italy. Stresemann accepted Germany's western borders.
  • Germany joined the League of Nations in 1926 and was given great power status on the League council with veto power. 
  • Treaty of Berlin in 1926 was signed with USSR in order to help develop good relations between the two countries with further economic and military exchanges. Put mild pressure on the west to improve its relations with Germany through fear of Germany moving closer to the USSR ( and potentially accepting communism)
  • Stresemann persuaded French to withdraw from the Ruhr during 1924-25
  • Germany signed Kellog-Briand pact in 1928 with 70 countries renouncing use of force but it had no effect. Germany secretly rearmed. 
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To what extent did the economy recover? 1924-29

  • Strengths:
    • Inflow of foreign investment: mainly USA
    • Dawes Plan: extended war reparations and reduced the amount to be payed.
    • Unemployment stayed at around 1 mil: didn't go down but it didn't go up either.
  • Weakness:
    • Industry was unsteady
    • Falling behind in the world. 
    • Higher taxes but budget deficit
    • Agriculture left depressed due to falling prices: Cheaper for the German people though
    • Unable to pay reparations
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Wall Street Crash:1929

  • The German economy was heavily dependent upon US money and therefore was greatly affected when US investment dried up and loans were recalled.
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The growth of Nazi support

  • The Depression and political crisis provided an opportunity for the Nazis
  • Members became attracted to the Nazi party organisations such as the Hitler Youth and the SA
  • Propaganda was extremely important in the success of the Nazi Party; Propaganda was tailored to different audiences in order to maximise their support. 
    • Messages about bread and work were deployed in working-class areas.
    • Messages about the Weimar Rupublic's supposedly lax moral standards were tailored to conservative mothers. 
    • Anti-semitic messages were targeted at small shop keepers. 
  • The Nazis used posters, leaflets, rallies and speeches to disseminate their propaganda as well as modern technology, such as radio and film. 
  • Goebbels cultivated an image for Hitler as Germany's heroic saviour. At a time when politicians seemed weak and ineffective this image was very appealing. This 'Hitler Myth' helped to gain support for Hitler and the Nazis. 
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Nazi Consolidation of Power

  • Positve for the Nazis:
    • Treaty of Versailles 1919
    • Spartacist Revolt 1919
    • Kapp Putsch 1920
    • Hyperinflation and Occupation of the Ruhr 1923
    • Passive Resistance 1923-24 
    • Locarno Pact
    • Treaty of Berlin 1926
    • League of Nations 1926
    • Wall Street Crash 1929 and Stresemann's death
    • Hindenburgs death, Reichstag fire and Hitler passing the enabling act 1933
  • Negative for the Nazis
    • Munich Putsch 1923
    • Stresemann becoming chancellor 1923
    • The Dawes Plan 1924
    • Allied Occupation French withdraw from the Ruhr 1924-25
    • Kellog-Briand Pact 1928
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How well organised were the Nazis?

  • Bamburg conference in Feb 1926 a new structure was introduced to the party whereby Hitler would be the undisputed leader of the party and obedience should be complete. 
  • The party would be represented in local areas called GAUs by a Gaulitier. These would be answerable to Hitler but have some freedom to develop the party to meet local needs. 
  • The SA were to be controlled much more tightly by the party leadership. Their roles were to be stewarding of meetings and training through violence still continued. 
  • In 1926 the Hitler Youth and Nazi student's associations were set up. 
  • The Nazis set up in different parts of society e.g Association of National socialist teachers, Doctors and lawyers. 
  • The Nazi party built theit support by aiming towards the more wealthier people of society and then from there they aimed to mirror what their audience wanted. They changed their ideas (flexible) in order to gain more and more support from different groups of people. Ordinary members of the party funded but also industries and factories funded the Nazi party because they needed money in order to get into the Reichstag. Elections were held less than every 4 years because there was no many coalitions leading to the party to me dissolved.
  • The Nazi party used a lot of technology such as 6,000 speakers and also set up welfare schemes to help the distressed creating a good image of the Nazi party. 
  • They referenced to themselves as a movement. NOT A PARTY. 
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