Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Evaluate Weimar and Nazi Germany c1919-1945

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At the end of the First World War in November 118 the Kaiser abdicated and so Germany automatically became a republic, ruled by the ministers elected into the Reichstag or parliament. The new government was led by Freidrich Ebert, the leader of the Social Democratic Party. I will evaluate how the Weimar Republic came about in this essay.

The Spartacus League were Communists, and were led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. They were opposed to the new government because they felt that the changes that Ebert made did not go far enough in the direction of workers’ power. The Spartacists tried to seize power in January 11. In Berlin the Spartacists occupied public buildings, organised a general strike and formed a revolutionary committee. The rising was defeated by a volunteer force of 4,000 ex-soldiers called the Frei corps. Both the Spartacist leaders were murdered.

In January 11 an election was held. Most votes went to the three parties which supported Ebert � the Social Democratic Party, the Centre Party and the Democrats. The new Parliament met in the town of Weimar because of the fighting in Berlin. They drew up a constitution or set of rules for governing Germany. It gave all men and women over 0 years of age the vote to both the Reichstag and the Presidency. A system of proportional representation was used to decide which parties got seats in the Reichstag. The constitution also gave people many freedoms such as free speech, freedom of religious belief, and the right to hold political meetings.

On November 11th 118 Germany signed an armistice with the Allies and the fighting stopped. Work on the peace settlement began in Paris in January 11. The Germans were not allowed to take part in the conference and the final decisions were taken by the representatives of the USA, Britain and France. Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles on June 8th 11.


The Treaty took land from Germany and gave it to nearby countries Alsace and Lorraine went to France; Eupen and Malmedy went to Belgium; northern Schleswig-Holstein went to Denmark; Hultschin went to Czechoslovakia; Eastern Upper Silesia and the Polish corridor went to Poland; and Memel land went to Lithuania. All of her overseas colonies were taken away from Germany. Anschluss or union with Austria was forbidden. The German armed forces were reduced in size and certain weapons, like the aeroplane, tank and submarine, were not allowed. Allied armies occupied the parts of Germany that were to the west of the Rhine River. German forces not allowed within 50 kilometres of the Rhine. Germany was also blamed for starting the war and causing all the Allies’ loss and damage, and was ordered to pay reparations to compensate.

The Germans hated the Treaty because

a). It was a Diktat or dictated peace;

b). They lost territory in Europe and Germany was divided by the Polish corridor;

c). They felt it was unfair to lose all of their overseas colonies;

d). They were not allowed to join with Austria if they wished to;

e). They were forced to disarm and have only inadequate armed forces;

f). They were blamed for the outbreak of the war and were expected to pay reparations.

Germany was ordered to pay £6,600m in reparations to the Allies. The Germans paid the first instalment in 11, but the following year they announced that they could not afford any payments for the next three years. The French refused to accept this and invaded the Ruhr, which was Germany’s main industrial region, to take what they were owed by force. The German government ordered the people in the Ruhr to use ‘passive resistance’ against the French and Belgium invaders. This meant refusing to co-operate or help the invaders in any way. The French responded by expelling about 150,000 people from the region when they refused to take orders. Sometimes, the French used their guns on people who refused to do what they were told.

The German government paid the wages of the people in the Ruhr, who were resisting the French and Belgian rule. The only way that the government could raise the money to do this was by printing more and more banknotes. This led to inflation, which meant that the value of money decreased and prices increased. The more money the government printed the faster prices went up, so that 1 became the year of the Hyperinflation. Such rapid price rises led to great hardship for many Germans, especially those on fixed incomes.

With Germany near to collapse, a new government was set up to overcome the crisis. It called off the passive resistance campaign in the Ruhr and replaced the worthless mark with a new currency, the Rentenmark. As a result of these two actions the French agreed to leave the Ruhr and the hyperinflation stopped. The recovery continued in 14. This was mainly due to the work of Gustav Stressemann, Germany’s Foreign Minister. He persuaded the French, British and Americans to accept lower reparations payments. By the Dawes Plan of 14, Germany agreed to pay as much as it could afford each year and the USA gave Germany a loan to get the plan started. Stressemann also improved Germany’s relations with other countries by signing the Locarno Treaties in 15. By these treaties the Germans promised never to attack France or Belgium, and to settle peacefully any disputes that might arise with the countries of Eastern Europe. As a result Germany was allowed to join the League of Nations in 16. In 1 a new reparations plan, the Young Plan, reduced Germany’s payments. Between 14 and 1 foreign banks, mainly American ones, lent large sums of money to Germany. This allowed Germany to rebuild and prosper. On October nd 1 Stressmann dies. In October 1 the Wall Street Crash led to a recession in the USA, and American banks demanded repayment of the loans they had given to Germany since 14. Many of the German companies which had borrowed money went bankrupt and workers lost their jobs. By 10 there were about million unemployed in Germany. This increased to about 6 million by 1.

Adolf Hitler was born on 0th April 188. He was an Austrian. He may have been of Jewish ancestry. His father was a customs officer. He was a failure at school. Between 108 and 11 Hitler lived in Vienna. He failed to be accepted as an art student. He refused regular work and lived off the sale of advertisements. He dwelt in slum doss-houses, side by side with down and outs of many races. In 11 he went to Munich in Bavaria. In the Great War he served as a Corporal with a German regiment. In 11 he was sent by the Army to investigate the German Workers Party in Munich. Hitler was conceited, fanatical, arrogant, ignorant, cunning, cruel, lazy and moody. But he had great will-power, deep if limited knowledge, fantastic memory and vivid imagination. Hitler had no friends. He was considered odd, but he made people take notice of him.

. The Establishment of the Nazi Party 11-1

The German Workers Party had been formed in Munich in 11. It was a small socialist but nationalist and anti-democratic party. Hitler sympathised and agreed to join its committee. He was convinced he could gain control of it. Hitler drafted out a Programme for the party. He publicised it, gave it the Swastika symbol, and renamed it the N.S.D.A.P - National Socialist or Nazi Party. He proved to be a popular speaker. His technique of speaking was based on simplicity, distortions, aggressive language and emotionalism. The effect of this was that he was chosen President of the Party in 11. Hitler believed in violence. He formed a bodyguard of toughs and ex-servicemen. They patrolled his meetings and broke up opponents meetings. They were called the S.A. - Storm Troopers (nicknamed Brownshirts). They paraded as Hitler’s private army, but were tolerated by the Army and Police in Munich. Hitler’s main lieutenants in the Nazi Party were Ernst Rohm, Hitler’s contact man with the Army; Hermann Goering, war hero and S.A. leader; and Frick, contact man with the police.

Hitler believed he could seize power in Bavaria by using the S.A. This would be by a Putsch, i.e. Coup d’etat. On 8th November 1 the Stormtroopers occupied the Beer Hall in Munich where the state Government leaders were speaking. Hitler forced them to declare that he was now in power in Bavaria. But the next day the Reich Government ordered the Bavarian Army and Police to crush Hitler’s Putsch and the S.A. were fired on and dispersed. Hitler was arrested. Hitler was tried for high treason. In March 14 he was sentenced to five years imprisonment. But he was released after months. This showed that many authorities sympathised.

In prison Hitler wrote a book called ‘Mein Kampf’ - My Struggle. It contains his views, and became the Bible of National Socialism. Hitler stated his belief in brutal domination. Those of ‘highest’ race were justified in enslaving the others. Thus the Slavs and the Negroes were inferior. The superior blood of the World was that of the ‘Aryans’. But the highest Aryans were the Germans. They were the Herrenvolk � Master Race. Germany had been baulked of winning the Great War only by a ‘stab in the back’ from the Social Democrats. But they were just dupes of Germany’s greatest enemy, the Jews. The Jews were trying to rule the world. They were behind Marxism, the League of Nations, the Treaty of Versailles, even the war itself. Germany must overthrow the Weimar Republic and smash the Jews.

The election results of the Nazis declined in 14. The Party began to split. When Hitler came out of prison, he became Fuhrer (unquestioned Leader). He said the Party’s tactics must be those of ‘legality’. 15- the Nazis had little success. But two new leaders did much to spread the movement. Gregor Strasser publicised Nazism in the Rhineland. He converted many workers and he was in charge of party organisation. Josef Goebbels, a brilliant journalist was in charge of the Party in Berlin and directed its propaganda.

In 1 Hitler concluded an alliance with Alfred Hugenberg. Hugenberg wanted the Nazis’ working class support for a campaign against the Young Plan. In return, his newspaper chain publicised Hitler’s speeches.

So, in Conclusion their were many reasons for how the Weimar Republic came about.

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