State Essay, Research Paper
During the 1920’s and early 1930’s Germany was unstable socially economically and politically. The governments were more often in a state of disarray than not, the populace was disillusioned and scared, and the Great Wall Street stock market crash of 1923 saw the economy crumble before the population’s eyes. These unfavourable factors combined to create a nation of precarious stature, a country which was looking for a savior. This came in the form of fascism, an ideology in which the individual is dominated by an all-powerful state under the control of one supreme leader. The hand to lead the people of Germany out of all the problems and deceptions of these terrible times was Adolf Hitler, fascist dominator. These difficulties gave Hitler and the Nazi party the opportunity to employ their propaganda skills to capture this disenchanted nation and win their hearts, but more importantly, to manipulate their minds. By the mid 1920’s Adolf Hitler was the undisputed leader of the Nazi Party. Much of Hitler’s success as a politician during his pilgrimage to higher power in Germany was due to his powerful and dominating personality. A master orator, not only was Hitler a charismatic speaker, but his public speaking was so passionate and dynamic that the crowds would be driven wild with enthusiasm of the ideas he preached. Hitler’s devoted oratory often made vague promises while avoiding the details, by using simple catch phrases, repeated over and over. Hitler’s dominance and authoritarian nature was a much-needed change for the people of Germany, following the indecisive and so often unsuccessful muddlings of the Weimar government and its predecessors.The Spartacist rising of 1919 was an early political factor that encouraged the initial success of Hitler during the rise of fascism in Germany during the 1920’s. January 5th 1919 saw an unprepared and badly staged Spartacist putsch, where the communist’s led by ‘Red Rosa’ Luxemburg, captured the headquarters of the governments newspapers and the telegraph bureau. The Spartacist rising was easily crushed by the Freikorps. By January 15th the Spartacists were defeated completely, with one hundred (100) Spartacists having been killed, compared to only thirteen (13 ) Freikorps. Most importantly, Rosa Luxemburg and fellow Spartacist Communist leader Karl Liebknecht were murdered, stripping the communists of their leaders. Not only did the failed and fruitless rising influence people further from the communists, due to such unreliable politics, but the loss of both leaders suppressed the communist movement such that they didn’t recover. Both factors saw some support move from the communist party to the Nazi’s and Hitler. Ultimately the murders resulted in one less party to oppose the Nazis. On the 28th June 1919 two government members of Germany went to the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, to sign a document which was to become known to the German people as the “Shameful Dikat of Versailles”. The Germans named the Treaty of Versailles so for three main reasons. They felt it was too harsh, that it was a forceful ‘dictated’ peace, and most importantly, they felt they had not lost the war, and so did not deserve such severe punishment. For a nation of such strong pride and self-regard, the treaty resulted in tormented years of blame. The main parties affected being the Weimar Republic and the Socialist Politicians whom signed the dishonorable treaty.The Weimar government, established in 1919, was in difficulty from the onset. Its final acceptance of the treaty earned it unwelcome criticism from ordinary Germans who were of the opinion it should never have been signed. The famous ’stab-in-the-back’ legend began to circulate, which denied that the army had never been defeated in W.W.1, but had been betrayed by traitors such as the pacifists, gypsies, Jews, Communists and corrupt politicians. Middle class voters soon became disillusioned by the Weimar government, and turned their voting habits around towards Hitler’s Nazi Party at the expense of the National Party, the People’s Party and the Democrats. The blame cast upon the Weimar Government, also known as the “November Criminals” focused disfavor towards the new constitution, thereby allowing increased support of Hitler and the Nazi Party. Popularity for the Nazi party and the ’super man’ Hitler swelled allowing them the opportunity to encourage the marginalization of the Jews, gypsies and other minority groups. Evidently, this began to influence the German people towards the fascist way of thinking.On the 8th November 1923 Hitler and the Nazi party held the “Munich Beer-Hall Putsch” in an attempt to stage a National revolution, and seize power to rule the nation. Hitler and General Ludendorff assembled their followers, including six hundred Storm Troopers, at the Buerger-braukeller Beer hall in Munich, in an attempt to topple the Bavarian Government. They moved the Prime Minister and his officials at gunpoint to a side room where Hitler persuaded them to help overthrow of the Weimar government. Allegiance was assured, though the following day President Kahr’s pledge of support proved worthless. The following day Hitler, General Ludendorff and approximately three thousand Storm Troopers marched into Munich, yet the band was fired on by the police and broke up in the confusion. In this struggle for power, shots were fired, resulting in sixteen(16) Nazi’s and three(3) police being killed. Ludendorff was arrested, and then Hitler two (2) days later.Some believed the failed putsch was a significant downfall of Hitler that merely underscored how insubstantial and powerless the Nazis were. In actual fact it was very successful for the Nazi’s for several reasons. Firstly, the Munich Beer-Hall Putsch launched Hitler and the Nazi’s on to the National political scene, in one of the most successful acts of propaganda he could have wished for. Hitler became famous and widely known around the country. This familiarity was significant for the Nazi’s and Hitler, as public recognition was a building block for greatness to come. Finally the difficulty of the years succeeding the putsch emerged Hitler as a much strong authoritarian figure, which was exactly what the people of Germany wanted and needed. Hitler’s prisonment following the Munich Beer Hall Putsch also proved beneficial to the Nazi Party. Although the years following the failed putsch were difficult for the Nazi’s, Hitler came forth as a ‘much stronger person’. Of his five-year sentence, the nine months he served proved profitable. Not only was did he write his book “Mein Kampf”, but gave him time to come to this telling conclusion: “…Instead of working to achieve power by an armed coup we shall have to hold our noses and enter the Reichstag against the Catholic and Marxist deputies. If outvoting them takes longer than outshining them, at least the results will be guaranteed by their own Constitution! Any lawful process is slow. But sooner or later we shall have a majority – and after that Germany.” (Hitler, whilst in Landsberg Prison)This drastic strategy change aided Hitler’s rise to power largely, as the power and influence to be achieved by illegal violent uprisings and protests was minimal, whereas to play by the rules and ‘get elected’ allowed the sky to be the limit.On the 28th June 1919 two government members of Germany went to the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, to sign the document which was to become known to the German people as the “Shameful Dikat of Versailles”. The treaty required Germany to pay the Allies reparations for the damage incurred during World War I. In 1921 it was decided by a special commission that a fixed sum of 6600 million pounds was to be paid annually. The treaty also robbed Germany of 10% of its industry and 15% of their agricultural land. Such exorbitant reparations had a disturbing effect on the economy, and the Germans once again looked for a scapegoat to blame for their diminished economic situation. During its early years the Weimar Government faced many problems, which came to a head during 1923. Due to economic fragility, Germany didn’t keep up with its reparation payments, and the French were determined to make them pay. Legally, under the Treaty of Versailles, in January 1923 French and Belgium troops marched into the Ruhr valley to seize coal and raw materials for themselves as a form of reparation. The Germans reacted to the ‘Occupation of the Ruhr’ with passive resistance, involving refusal to work, since armed rebellion was not an option due to military restrictions. Germany was now losing everything the Ruhr would have normally produced, which meant Germany was becoming even poorer. To pay for the costs of Passive resistance, the government simply printed more money – a detrimental action which meant the value of money went down, and prices go up. The net result was hyperinflation. Where once the German mark was worth 4.5 to the American Dollar, by November 1923 a dollar brought 4.2 billion marks!The rate of inflation was staggering, and the economy was ruined. For many Germans hyperinflation caused more suffering than the war, which resulted in festering anger and resentfulness. The blame was not laid on the Kaiser’s war government which had started the inflation by its borrowing trend. Instead, they blamed the Weimar government, which had agreed to pay reparations under the Versailles treaty. This exasperation meant that many people were more willing to listen to extremist party’s who called for its over throw. One of the more successful was the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler.October 1929 marked a worldwide slide into the “Great Depression” due to the famous Wall Street Crash in the United States. People were cast into poverty and deep misery, and began looking for a solution, any solution. At the same time Hitler was the leader if the seventh largest Reichstag party, with little premonition of coming in power in the near future; by 1933 he was Chancellor. Hitler was ready for an economic crisis, and was opportune in his dealings at the time.The effects of the “Great Depression” were felt everywhere and even those protected felt the impact. Businessmen saw their business close as there was less money to spend and investments were withdrawn, and by 1933 over half of young German people between 16-30 were unemployed. 1930 led farmers into further debt due to the further price falls, initiated in 1925, and 40% of factory workers were sacked. It is evident that the depression deeply affected all of Germany in various ways, and this economic crisis soon led to social misery.The Depression had a positive effect on the Nazi party through a number of factors, which further weakened the already unconvincing Weimar Republic. Germany was a country judged by its economic success, therefore the Great Depression soon led to doubt of the strength and future of the country. When it became apparent that the Weimar government had little idea of how to fix the rising unemployment and growing poverty, the credibility of the country’s leaders soon came under question, and people soon looked to other parties who had answers on how to fix these problems. Adolf Hitler recognized this time as being profitable, and made sure he was known as the ‘man for the job’.Bureaucratic policies of presidential rule also influenced the failing of the Weimar government. Through the enactment of Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution presidential decree was initiated, and an 84-year-old war hero, well past his prime, began ruling with special powers. The weakness of the Weimar Republic turned many people to Hitler’s ways, due to this worrying expression of faulty politics. Finally, to the advantage of the Nazi Party, during the Great Depression extremism was on a rise. Extremist parties who claimed they could solve the problems were rife. The Nazi’s being one of the more dominant, blamed the Weimar Republic, the Treaty of Versailles, the Marxists and the Jews. They also promised to expel the ‘enemy within’ who was destroying Germany. People favoured these views in comparison to other extremist parties and the Weimar government, which aided Hitler’s rise to success by granting him the support he needed to come into power. With the careful employment of propaganda that the Nazi Party was so well known for, Hitler was portrayed as the ‘hand to lift the people of Germany out of the Great Depression’. With his powerful and dominant personality, Hitler was able to capture the discontent and fears of the nation and transform these into votes, by serving an organised and efficient contrast to the incompetent and clumsy Weimar republic figureheads. Consequently, the swing of voters to support the Nazi Party due to factors of economic instability aided Hitler’s rise to power, hence the rise of Germany towards existence as a fascist state. Hitler and the Nazi’s role as a socially recognized ‘power group’ played a large part in the establishment of Germany as a fascist state during the 1920-30’s. A very prominent factor that influenced their support during this term was the fact that the German volk wished to be dominated. This becomes apparent following a close look at the previous successful leaders of Germany. All had been militarist, authoritarian dictators, such as Kaiser Wilhelm I&II, and to a lesser extent Friedrich Ebert. Slowly, the people of Germany began looking toward the rising politician, Adolf Hitler, and the growing Nazi movement as the vehicle to hitch themselves to. He was the autocratic leader who would lead them out of these extremely unfavorable times. The German people were tired of the political disputes in Berlin. They were tired of misery, tired of suffering, tired of weakness. These were desperate times and they were willing to listen to anyone, even Adolf Hitler. He would find in this downhearted people, an audience very willing to listen. In his speeches, Hitler offered the Germans what they needed most, encouragement. He promised to bring order to the chaos, a feeling of unity to all and the chance to belong. He would make Germany strong again, end payment of war reparations to the Allies, tear up the treaty of Versailles, stamp out corruption, keep down Marxism, and deal harshly with the Jews. His chief assets were his speech making ability and a keen sense of what the people wanted to hear, as he was already looking at how he could carry his movement to the rest of Germany. This dominating approach would soon establish him in control of the country, allowing Hitler to achieve sufficient support to guide Germany towards existence as a fascist state. Although their beliefs were strong on many issues, a very significant reason why they gained such social and political power was due to their flexibility. After many electoral campaigns and carefully planned propaganda crusades the Nazis realized that it didn’t really matter what they promised, as long as people trusted them. Following his imprisonment as a repercussion of the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler had a new idea on how to topple the government and take over Germany for himself and the Nazis – He would play by the democratic rules and get elected. For example, at one time the Nazi’s spoke firmly for the nationalization of industry, yet when they realized the alarmed response from the industrialists the idea was dropped and not mentioned again. If all else failed, the Nazis simply made vague promises of how they were going to ‘make Germany great again’.Organization was also a factor in the support the Nazis gained during this period. Excellent coordination brought to the Nazi group obedience, collaboration and teamwork. They had skilled leaders at almost every level who were well trained and motivated, combining to create a strict and dominant party. The factor of strong organisation was popular among many German people, compared to the weak and insufficient muddlings of the Weimar government.Propaganda played a large part in the popularity of the Nazi party. Every trick in the book was employed to express their anti-Communist fascist stance. Their use of powerful propaganda messages further influenced hatred of the communist party, and any other potential leader, hence increasing the support of the Nazis. A Department of Public Propaganda and Enlightenment, led by a prominent figure of the Nazi Party, Doctor Joseph Goebbels, controlled all forms of media. Goebbels brilliantly organized thousands of meetings and torchlit parades, plastered posters everywhere and printed millions of copies of special editions of Nazi newspapers. Non-Nazi newspapers were taken over by a Nazi publishing company. Over two thirds of the press were under Nazi control, hence social support for the Nazis transpired.Campaigns and rallies were also staged to increase the Nazi party’s visibility and loyalty, hence lessening the allegiance towards other groups. Mass rallies held at Nuremberg annually brought together thousands of people for parades and displays in the name of Nazi ideology. Between rallies, local SA or Hitler youth groups campaigned for the support of Hitler and the Nazi party in addition.Radio stations were also brought under the control of the Nazis. By 1939 ‘the Peoples Receiver’ was sold so inexpensively that seven of every ten households owned one. This was another Nazi scheme used to communicate with the people, consequently expressing their Nazi views and compelling Germany towards becoming a fascist nation.In summary, the swing of voters to support of the Nazi Party was due to many factors. These included economic and political instability, increasing violence, and a need for an authoritarian figurehead aided Hitler’s rise to power, hence the rise of Germany towards existence as a fascist state. More specifically, the Great Depression, faulty political procedure, the weakness of the Weimar government, Nazi tactics and Hitler’s excellent leadership skills also played a large part in the shaping of Germany as a fascist nation. Once in power, Hitler was able to manipulate the minds and hearts of this disenchanted nation towards anything, once trust was gain. This is how normal people came to accept the horrific acts of manipulation, marginalization, and finally murder, which came to a rise during Hitler’s term as Furhrer of Germany, the Fascist state.