Fascist Germany The Result Of Instability Essay

, Research Paper

The 1930s were turbulent times in Germany’s

history. World War I had left the country in shambles and, as if that weren’t

enough, the people of Germany had been humiliated and stripped of their

pride and dignity by the Allies. Germany’s dream of becoming one

of the strongest nations in the world no longer seemed to be a possibility

and this caused resentment among the German people. It was clear

that Germany needed some type of motivation to get itself back on its feet

and this came in the form of a charismatic man, Adolf Hitler. Hitler,

a man who knew what he wanted and would do anything to get it, single-handedly

transformed a weary Germany into a deadly fascist state.

In order to understand why exactly Hitler

was able to make Germany a fascist state, we must study the effects that

the end of World War I had on the country. Germany was left devastated

and vulnerable at the end of the war. The Treaty of Versailles had

left the country without a military and with a large debt that it just

couldn’t pay. Aside from that, it was forced to withdraw from its western

territory where most of its coal and steel were located. This was

a major implication for Germany because without these resources, it had

no industrial growth (steel and coal are the forces behind industry), which

meant that there was no money going into its economy. Without any

economic development there was no way that Germany would be able to get

out of debt. The Allies did not make any effort to help Germany during

this time and left Germany to fend for itself (they seemed to be aware

that this had been a mistake by the end World War II when they helped Japan

out of its economic crisis; this is an example of history influencing future


The “humiliation imposed by the victors

in the World War I, coupled with the hardship of the stagnant economy,”

created bitterness and anger in Germany (Berlet 1). This is the reason

that, when the Allies tried to establish a new government in Germany, the

German people were less than eager to embrace it.

The French Revolution was a prime example

that without a participant culture, there is no stability. Therefore,

it is no surprise that the Weimar Republic failed so miserably in Germany.

When it was introduced in 1918, it had the potential of molding Germany’s

government into a modern institution. It consisted of regular elections

(this would later be referred to as the Reichstag), a proportional representative

electoral system, and checks and balances. It was almost flawless

as a formula for creating a modern institution but it did not make Germany

stable by any means. Herein lies another lesson that many countries

have learned the hard way: a modern institution does not, in itself, guarantee

that a country will become stable. In Germany’s case, there was no

participant culture and, as a result, no trust in the government and no

efficacy. Germans believed that people within their country were

conspiring against them. They did not trust the government in the

least and because of this suspicious attitude sought a scapegoat to blame

for their suffering (the scapegoat, as we now know, would turn out to be

the Jew).

Germany was slowly falling apart and could

not handle another crisis.

Unfortunately, the Depression of 1929

was inevitable. It was also unfortunate that Keynsionism had not

yet been conceived for, if it had, Germany might not have dug itself into

a bigger hole. Because of its impoverished state and its inability

to pay its reparatory debts, Germany began to produce more and more money

until inflation was so high that its money became almost worthless (had

Keynsionism been developed Germany may not have gone into such a devastating

depression). By 1933 the economy “stood on the brink of collapse,

with an economy which should, realistically, have long since declared itself

bankrupt” (Frei 163). Now Germans felt that the so called “democratic”

system had brought them nothing but trouble and this paved the way for

Hitler and his Nationalist Socialist Party (which would later be referred

to as Hitler’s Nazi party, a party that was centered around ideological

fascism) (Berlet 1).

There is no denying that Hitler took advantage

of Germany’s instability. He appeared at a time when Germany needed

someone to give it a solution to its problems. The first action he

took was to assure the German people that they were not at fault for any

of their dilemmas. According to Hitler, there was an

internal enemy amongst them that had caused all of Germany’s powers and

was to blame. Hitler identified Germans as good and superior while he marked

the enemy as evil and inferior. This served to once again inflame

the Germans so that their nationalism was now at a maximum and also made

them more susceptible to Hitler’s charismatic personality and his ideas.

Events were now changing; Germans could now focus their attention on an

enemy they could actually attack (they didn’t trust the government but

aside from not participating, there wasn’t much else they felt they could


Once Hitler had captivated the attention

of the German people by giving them a common enemy, it was time for him

to put his plan into action. With propaganda and promises of a brighter

future, Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor in 1933. It must be

noted that Hitler won not so much because of his propaganda, he was just

beginning that phase of his plan, but because the Germans were not interested

in voting for any other political party that represented the government

they mistrusted. That’s why they opted to vote for the National Socialist

German Workers Party, which would later be known as the Nazi party (Frei

2). As soon as he was appointed, Hitler focused his attention on

reinforcing the beliefs that Germans already had. A common misconception

is that Hitler’s propaganda “implies nothing less that the art a persuasion,

which serves only to change attitudes and ideas” (Welch 5). This

is not so. He didn’t persuade the Germans that nationalism was a

solution or that democracy was a sham. The Germans, as a result of

the lack of efficacy and trust, had already formed these ideas. Hitler

was only smart enough to see that there was a way to use these ideas to

his advantage.

So what was behind Hitler’s fascist ideology?

Hitler saw that the democratic Weimar, which ceased to exist after the

Reichstat was burned down, had left the Germans in a state of bitter discontent

and decided to use that to use this information to appeal to the German

people. His political party opposed all that was represented by democracy

(this is, essentially, everything that the French Revolutionaries upheld:

liberty, equality, fraternity) (Berlet 1). Because of the problems the

Germans had under democracy, Hitler’s party, fascist or not, was more favorable.

Hitler was also able to establish a fascist state masking the dark side

of fascism: he claimed to do everything in the name of the German nation

(Berlet 1). Therefore, when he decided to suspend basic civil rights

he did so claiming that it was for the good of the nation and when the

Reich government was empowered the philosophy was that it was done so “in

order to re-establish safety and order?to the states” (Frei 37).

Even when he established concentration camps he did so while assuring the

German people that it was “legally based on the decree ‘For the Protecion

of the People and the State” (Frei 43). Had the Germans not been

so wrapped up in the euphoria that resulted from nationalism, they might

have reflected on what was happening and it would not have been so easy

for fascism to seize the state. Most Germans never complained because

the theory seemed nice: everything for the good of the country and anything

to make Germany the great nation it was destined to become.

Hitler was also successful in having the

German people trust him. There goes that word again, trust.

While the working class trusted Hitler because of his “ostensible support

for the [industry],” the elite trusted him because of the alliance they

held with the Nazi party (Berlet 1). Hitler created an illusion of

a modern institution (for a time it seemed stable because the economy rose

slowly after Hitler came to power) but he also had the trust of the people,

something the government under the Weimar Republic never had. That

is one of the most important reasons that fascism was so successful.

While Weimar was a lesson that a modern

institution is not enough to produce a stable nation, the Third Reich was

a prime example that trust in government goes a long way. Once Hitler

had gained Germany’s trust and loyalty he was able to accomplish what others

could not. With this trust Hitler “had successfully disposed of all

opposition and, moreover, had stabilized his rule in a way that?almost

no one would have believed possible” (Frei 27). The rest was just


Although the ideologies behind fascism

were murder, hatred, misery, and discord, “[Hitler] spoke of reconciliation,

introspection, coming together and revival” (Frei 52). When Hitler

spoke, he did so as if her was selling a new and improved product which,

in a way, he was. As previously stated, Hitler wasn’t introducing

ideas that Germans hadn’t already thought of. He was just making

them more appealing to Germans. Before, Germans thought of fascist

ideas but believed them to be too extreme to support. When Hitler

talked of fascism (the one he had masked as crucial to empowering Germany),

euthanasia no longer seemed wrong because it was necessary to rid the country

of the enemy. Giving up basic God given rights was not a problem

because it was all for the good of the country (sacrifice the individual’s

rights for the nation). Many reason that Germans were a cold-blooded

people who were fascist and cruel by nature. This is not so.

Most Germans were seeing fascism through rose colored glasses (indeed this

is the way Hitler wanted it) and justified the actions they were taking

with nationalistic explanations. To the typical pro-Nazi German it

was illogical to believe that what he/she was doing was wrong; after all,

it was for the good of Germany so it had to be good, right? It was,

indeed, a pleasant dream but when Germany was faced with yet another loss

after World War II, it had to face the harsh reality that it had been its

own enemy.

It is clear that fascism in Germany was

a lesson in the complexity of the modernization theory. Germany was

a reminder that you can have a good modern institution but without trust

there’s no efficacy and without these factors the formula just does not

work. Germany was left vulnerable and had to deal with its problems

the best way it could. All that was needed was a charismatic man

and good propaganda for Germany to become a fascist state. Germany

as a fascist state taught us that the success of democracy in one country

does not guarantee its success in another country. Not only were

the Germans forced to look upon their past as consequences of their actions

but so were the Allies. The events that led to Germany’s becoming

a fascist state were hard lessons for the Allies and were remembered when

Germany and Japan were defeated in World War II.

Works Cited

Berlet, Chip. “What is Fascism?”

< http://remember.org/hist.root.what.html>.

Frei, Norbert. National Socialist

Rule in Germany. Translated by Simon B. Steyne.

Massachusetts: Basil Blackwell Ltd.,


Welch, David. The Third Reich:

Politics and Propaganda. New York: Routledge, 1993.


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