The collapse of democracy 1928-1933


Impact of Depression 1929

  • October 1929 Wall street crash- the stock markert crashed and may people lost all their money in the US, this kicked of a worldwide depression.
  • Germanys economy was supported by US loans and after the crash these stopped and some banks began to demand immediate repayment. 
  • The US had a lot of German goods but as depression increased the amount of exports to US decreased, 1929-1932 61% less exports and 58% less industrial production.
  • Due to this many companies became bankrupt, ones who survived had to reduce their workforce, wages and hours. This happened in the civil service aswell
  • People withdrew all money form banks so loans weren't being repaid, after an Austrian bank collapsed in 1931 the government closed Germany's banks and stocks for 2 days for respite. 
  • Unemolyment rose by 1932 at least 1/3rd of Germans were unemployed so many became desperate. The impact of the depression hit hardest in industrial areas such as the Ruhr.
  • Farmers who hadn't succeeded in 'golden age' let alone the depression, many had to sell their farms as banks demanded loans be repayed while exports and food demand/prices reduced.
  • The Weimar Republic had a generous welfare system but it was overwhelmed by the unemployed so by 1930 they reduced spending by giving people only a fixed period of benefits 
  • Women and young people recieved less, areas dependent on 1 industry were hit the hardest.
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Social impact

  • Poverty began to rise as diseases linked to bad nutrition and living conditions increased (tuberculosis, rickets).Kids malnutrition increased so did suicide rates .
  • Many people were unable to pay rent so lots of shanty towns began to appear on edge of cities
  • As youth employment rose so did gangs in large cities as they had no hopes for the future, feared that crime was increasing and young men were joining extremist groups.
  • Theft increased and assualt and threats against the state also increased, with political violence paticularly increasing due to a deterioating political situation.
  • KPD gained protesters during this time while nazi youth and SA offered boys food and shelter and excitement of street fights. However this membership was unstable and many boys and girls had limited experience with extremist groups
  • Day centres were stablished by government and unskilled work under minimum wage was available in emergancy labour schemes  (unpopular and led to strikes 1930/32) aimed to get young people of the streets. Voluntary camps also available but had limited potential for future.
  • Female percentage of workforce increased during depression this reunited debate of whether married women should work ( right wing lodged campaign 'double earners' 1932 civil service employees that were married could be fired- 1000 women dismissed)
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Political impact

  • Caused: collapse of Grand coalition :(, extremist parties gained support, intensified violence
  • Grand coalition: broadest coalition including 5 parties from left to right, severe deficit of the state budget split the coalition (right wanted to reduce benefits, SPD wanted them to remain and raise taxes) Deadlocked on issue so 1930 Muller resigned 
  •  Heinreich Bruning(centre) was appointed by Hindenburg, influenced by Groener and Schleicher. Saw crisis as way to return authoritarian rule who Hindenburg and Bruning supported.
  • This new coalition excluded the SPD so lost Reichstag majority so after 1930 most laws were passed by decree (even before Hitler Democracy was dead)
  • Bruning decided to cut expenditure and raise taxes to reduce the depression, as he didn't have majority got Hindenburg to issue it as a decree. SPD won a motion to have the decree removed. So Bruning dissolved reichstag and called another election September 1930.
  • Extremist parties gained most support in election (except SPD) KPD= 77 seats and Nazis= 107 seats making them second largest party in recihstag their support continued to grow.
  • As Reichstag becam unmanagemable due to disruption (Nazis) it was called less and less.
  • Nazis (SA) and communists (Red Army) took battle to streets, disrupting the others meetings and marches which led to riots. It got so intense 1931 Bruning issued ban on political uniforms and Hindenburg 1932 banned the SA but it didnt stop them as membership grew as violence not controlled. 1932 400,000 members in SA. 
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Nazism support

  • Already had support from mittlestand but as showed in 1932 election their support rose a lot. 
  • They gained support from farmers as they exploited there discontent and promised them increased prices and secured imports.
  • They also gained support from the wider middle class as they feared a communist rebellion and had lost faith with the more moderate right wing parties (DVP, DNVP)
  • Did well in votes from Women and young people, their main areas of support were protestant and they didn't do as well in catholic areas. 
  • Hitler ran against Hindenburg in the 1932 presidential election and although Hindenburg won in the 2nd ballot Hitler gained 37% of the vote due to a tour around Germnay promoting himself.
  • Following this state elections were held proving the Nazi's new status. 
  • Working class primarily voted for KPD and SPD but Nazi's managed to gain some support and in 1930 they made up 27% of Nazi's total votes.
  • The Nazi party became one of the main parties during this time as they had widespread support.
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Appeal of Nazism

  • During the depression the Nazi's were able to promote a decisive and offered hope that things would change Propaganda was used lots which promoted that Hitler had the power and determination to succeed.
  • The SA helped to promote image of unity and discipline which the country needed.
  • It was clear that Hitler believed war would rebuild Germany so propaganda showed mititary virtues (courage,slef-sacrifice) the SA also was seen as a way to promote your manliness.
  • Voksgemeinschaft was key in the ideology= only aryans seen as members of the state but within that there were no social classes and all would work for the good of the nation in return they'd benefit from employment and welfare benefits. It was ultimatly backward looking ideas.
  • Hitler used the word socialism loosly and adapted his policies to his audiance (workers -> elite)Believed that Democracy had been created by betrayl and alowed the growth of communism therefore it wasn't German.
  • Hitler wanted to create a one party state (Fuhrerprinzip), He'd gained this in the party as he had ultimate control over policies and strategy.
  • Wanted to reverse TOV and create lebensraum for all German people to live in Great German Reich and provide food and raw materials needed to support.(nationalism)
  • Hitler beleieved the Jews were responsible for all Germany's problems in poropaganda they were seen as cunning and greed. Thought communism was a jewish ill and both needed to be eradicated 
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Nazi Success

  • Hitlers political skills and strategies were crucial to the success of the party as he gained them mass support. for many (not all) Hitler possessed a certain charisma.
  • He had hypnotic speeches, He was also able to play on peoples fears and convince them he had the answers. His oppurtunism to adapt speeches to the audience made him vital.
  • Propaganda made the Jews scapegoats and many believed the depression was due to Jewish capitalism. Anti-semitism was becoming expressed more freely
  • Many Germans were stilll unwilling to go along with anti semitism though but were more concerned with hardships which Nazi's promised to fix. Voted in spite of anti-semitism 
  • SA promotoed anti-semitism through chants and beating up jews but it wasn't a primary reason to join the SA.
  • Joseph Goebbels (propaganda chief) was very important in gaining support, had a newspaper, created Nazi films and published many leaflets. Marched and Rallies were important for showing strength.
  • Successfully mananged to target all groups in germany, adapting each speech and propaganda to the audience as key as it enable them to gain widespread support. 
  • Their main message across to everyone which was that weimar democracy had to go and by 1930 due to hardships and depression people were willing to believe in Nazi's.
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Appeal of Communism

  • KPD also increased support during this time making it significant in German life.
  • Due to depression forced to focus on unemployment, presented themselves as working class areas against the Nazi's some areas of cities (Berlin) fell under Communist.
  • Demaded an end to cuts on wages and welfare benefits and legalisation of abortion.
  • Ultimatly wanted to overthrow the Weimar Republic and set up a communist workers state.
  • After depression aimed to be largest party on left side, by beating the SPD who they named as social fascists and spent just as much time fighting them as they did fighting Nazi's 
  • Propaganda also helped them to gain memebrship by emphasising class struggle and smashing the capitalist system, also lots of apeals to unemployed and ones which emphasised link with USSR.
  • With its growing support the KPD was becoming strong in Germany this threatened many middle class voters and buisnesses to support Nazi's .
  • In reality KPD never gained enough support to launch a full revolution as membership turnover was very high and had limited success among women voters and in industrial areas.
  • Many members unemployed so the party had limited funds and its 2 party fight split its resources to SPD and Nazi's when they needed to be concentrated on Nazi party.
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Fall of Brunings government

  • Coalition in power from March 1930 to May 1932, 
  • He didnt have majority and was appointed as part of Hindenburg and Schleichers plan and needed their continued support to pass any laws. 
  • Schleicher had become a key political figure in Weimar and wanted a more authoritarian style government, this was his first attempt as Bruning ruled primarily through decree. 
  • Bruning planned to cut expenditure by reducing welfare benefits, civil servants and wages.
  • These just deepened the depression and by 1932 unemployment exceeded 6million
  • By spring concern that Germany was turning into chaos + may cause commmunist revolution
  • Bruning started to believe that no coalition would work without the involvement of the Nazi party but Hitler refused to enter a coalition unless he was Chancellor.
  • Schleicher couldn't agree to this but Hitler promised not to oppose new government if new reichstag election held and the SA ban lifted 
  • After Hindenburg to pass Brunings law through presidential decree (Schleichers advice) Bruning had a sealed fate so resigned, leaving Hindenburg to appoint Von Papen as Chancellor.
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Papens government and elections

  • To try to gain an authoritive rule he created a non-party political government, supported by DNVP only who gained two posts in cabinet.The rest were filled by non-members of Reichstag
  • Most of these men were the landowners and elite. Due to limited Reichstag support they mostly ruled by decree (suited authoritarian style)
  • Papen believed Communism was the biggest threat to Germany, while he looked down on Nazi's but saw them as a good allie due to mass support and sympathy for their ideaology
  • In the July 1932 election most moderate parties lost votes, while the Nazi party became the largest party followed by SPD then the KPD
  • This put Hitler in a strong position to deal with Hindenburg/Schelicher, Papen invited Hitler to join government but declined as he wanted to be chancellor. 
  • He attacked Papens government and joined with other parties to vote a lack of confidence in papens governement which was passed by a huge majority, Papen was now weak and forced Hindenburg to hold another Reichstag election
  • In November 1932 election Nazi party lost support (still No1) as middle class didn't like his dealings with Papen so returned to moderate right parties, also supported a KPD strike :(
  • Hitler had also gone through all his funds and seemed to lose his power, KPD increased votes
  • Papen lost in the new election as he seemed weak and still didn't have reichstag support, he also lost support of the army so had no option but to resign
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Backstairs intrigue

  • Around 1932 Hindenburg and his advisors made up a circle that made key political decisions- Signing of presidential decrees and appointment of chancellors (main= Kurt von Schelieicher)
  • Schleicherwanted to join the old conservatism and Nazi party to legitimise a authoritarian rule
  • Hindenburg saw Nazi's as scum so didn't want to make him Chancellor but after Papens resignation he was running out of options. He appointed Schleicher as Chancellor 
  • Schleicher had a hard job of creating a stable government as he'd alienated Papen and lost some of Hindenburgs trust due to the way he treated Papen. His best chance was to form a coaltion with the Nazi Party
  • Hitler gave the impression he'd overplayed his hand and was losing power so Schelicher believed he could use the divisions in the Party as he set up negotiations with Strasser...
  • Hitler removed Strasser and regained control, Schleichers plan failed!!!
  • He the use social policy to win more suport and gain a majority in Reichstag (cancelled cuts), however none of this worked and after asking Hindenburg to stop constitution which he refused Schleicher reisgned
  • During this Papen had been negotiationg with hitler to form a Nazi led coalition leading to Hitlers assecion to Chancellor. Hindenburg assured that Hitler wouldn't be free to rule.
  • Only 2 other Nazis in Cabinet as Papen and Hitler came to a stage of Cooperation.
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Appointment of Hitler

  • January 1933 Hindenburg invited Hitler to lead a new nationalistic coalition government, joined with DNVP, Franz Von Papen and others. He was appointed Chancellor!
  • Hindenburg and Von Papen believed he was inexperienced and could be easily manipulated.
  • Although Nazis were now the largest party in reichstag due to 1932 election, a large amount of people still voted for other parties.
  • His appointment as chancellor was due to back room deals between the 'Old Gang'
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Hitlers cabinet

  • Hitler was a minority in the cabinet with 3 out of 12 posts being held by Nazis as too reduce Hitlers influence however Hitler wanted to create a Dictatorship ASAP
  • Held a torchlight procession for his appointment showed victory of Nazi's and Hitlers triumph
  • Cabinet included 
  • Von Papen as Vice Chancellor and Minister President of Prussia (Germany's largest state)
  • Nazi Members were: Wilhelm Frick Minister of interior and Hermann Goering as Minister without portfolio ( free to involve in many policies) 
  • General Blomberg- Defense minister
  • Alfred Hugenburg - leader of DNVP made Minister of Economics 
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Use of terror

  • The SA played a key role in Hitlers accession to power, he then used state resources to expand SA and consolidate his position 
  • Due to Hitlers new power SA activities were legal and police were forbidden to intefer with SA
  • SA assaulted trade union and KPD offices plus left wing politicians. They broke up SPD and KPD meetings and even shot an SPD mayor all ignored by the police.
  • An SPD and Centre party newspapers critisised these actions so were banned
  • Many communists, socialists and trade unionists were imprisoned in makeshift CC's, with the first permanenet one being built for 5000 people in March. By July 1933 70 camps set up.

Reichstag Fire

  • Hitler persuaded Hindenburg to call a new Reichstag election in March,wanted to win a majority to strengthen his position. The campaigning intensified terror towards opponents.
  • By time of election SPD and KPD had been driven underground due to terror and intimidation
  • Febuary 1933 the Reichstag building was burnt down- a communist was charged with arson but suspected the Nazi's set up to justify new repressive measures. Nazi'd gained most from fire as it made terror a method now to crush opposition. 
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use of legal power

  • After Reichstag fire Hindenburg gave Hitler emergancy powers- ' Decree for the protection of the people and the state'
  • This suspended peoples civil and political rights given in the Weimar constitution, increased power to arrest and detain without charge. Also able to search private premises
  • Government allwed to censor publications -- Used in reality to crush opposition (mainly KPD)
  • This was backed by propaganda warniing of a bolshevik revolution so SA launched violent campaign across Germany. Arrested 10,000 communists in 2 weeks (most of leaders)
  • KPD wasn't banned but memebrship was viewed as treason, nationalists willing to give this legal sanction.
  • Impossible for the left wing to put up a side as meeting posters ripped down, while Nazi propaganda flooded Germany (TV, radio, posters)
  • Even with all this the Nazis failed to win a majority in the 1933 election, vote had increased but only to 43.9%,
  • Despite terror left wing support was strong and 64% of people voted non-Nazi parties 
  • However with the DNVP they gained a majority in the reichstag
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The end of democracy

  • The new Reichstag met 23/03 with Hitlers main aim to gain 2/3rds to pass his enabling act which gave him ultimate control for 4 years .
  • Act passed 24/03 and also given power to make treaties without Reichstag approval
  • Hitler won this as no KPD in Reichstag and DNVP on his side, he convinced Centre party he wouldn't pass anything without Hindenburg's consultation 
  • This was the final piece of the puzzle making up the Nazi dictatorship, although temporary in reality it was permanent for the Nazi regime 
  • They could now begin creating the One party State Hitler wanted 
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