To what extent was the considerable growth of the Nazi party, between 1918 and 1933, a result of economic factors? The Weimar republic was introduced on the back of Germany’s defeat at WWI, the resignation of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the widely despised signature of the Treaty of Versailles. These conditions led to its collapse in 1933, and also the great rise in popularity for the Nazi party during this period. There is no doubt that a number of economic factors played a crucial role in the collapse of the Weimar republic and the rise of the Nazis, however, numerous other factors also played a part.
Some historians consider a lack of effective opposition a major contributing in the expansion of the Nazis. It has also been argued that the appeal of the Nazi party won them many votes. Finally, the impact of other political factors cannot be ignored when considering this issue. Economic factors were a crucial component in the collapse of the Weimar republic and therefore, the rise of the Nazi party between 1918 and 1933. According to Hugo Preuss, “Weimar was born with a curse upon it. This refers to the harsh conditions set by the Treaty of Versailles, and also the huge reparation payments of $6600 million that Germany were forced to pay as a result of their part in WW1. This was particularly difficult for Germany as their economy was weakened from funding their war effort. However John Hiden felt that other factors contributed more to the collapse of Weimar and the expansion of the Nazis. “Versailles certainly did not doom the Republic from birth. ” Another important ingredient in the rise of the Nazis was the hyper inflation of 1923. It came as a result of Germany missing one of the reparation payments.
This gave the French and the Belgians the excuse to invade the heart of the German economy, the Ruhr. To limit the benefit to the invaders, a general strike was called. However this slowed and nearly stopped their economy. More money was printed to try and solve this problem yet this only made the issue worse as it resulted in the hyper inflation of 1923. The worst hit were the middle classes who saw their savings become worthless in a very short period of time. This resulted in an increase in popularity for the Nazis as middle classes looked to extreme parties to bring stability to the German economy.
A time of economic calm followed during the “Stresemann Era”. However calm came at the cost of an over reliance on loans from abroad, especially from the USA. A further economic factor in the expansion of Hitler’s party at this time and often seen as the crucial factor in his coming to power was the Great Depression. According to Finlay Mckichan, “Hitler would almost certainly have remained on the extremist fringe of politics had it not been for the Great Depression… and the hardship it brought. ” Germany’s reliance on US loans meant that when Wall St crashed and the US demanded repayments, their economy crumbled.
This is an important factor in the rise of the Nazis as in times of economic stability, people are on the whole happy to continue to vote in the same party. However, like in Germany, when hardships occur, many look to extreme parties for a better way of life. This reasoning saw a vast growth in popularity for Hitler which culminated in his appointment as chancellor in 1933. Furthermore, the appeal of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party cannot be ignored when considering the growth of the between 1918 and 1933.
During the hard times brought upon by the Great Depression and the Hyper Inflation, the German population looked for a strong leader to bring stability. Hitler fitted this role perfectly. He was very patriotic and strived for Germany to become an industrial power once more after the upset of WW1. However, more importantly, he was an extremely talented orator. His speeches inspired many people and this saw an increase in votes for the Nazis. Furthermore, Hitler made very vague promises when campaigning. This meant that although appealing to other right wing parties, the Nazis were also seen as a viable alternative to a left wing government.
This gained support for the party and helped them to expand up to their coming to power in 1933. Hitler also made promises to working classes to provide jobs and increase their share of the national wealth. This gained additional support and votes for the NSDAP and helped their rise to power. These factors led one historian to suggest the idea that “Hitler was the Nazi party’s greatest electoral asset. Finally, an important point to consider when looking at the attractions of the Nazis is the role played by propaganda and Joseph Goebbels.
He portrayed Hitler as a deity and this image of a very powerful leader spread throughout Germany. Goebbels also spread other Nazi ideologies around the country by taking advantage of two types of growing media. The popularity of radio and cinema was rocketing at this time, and this therefore saw a great number of people exposed to attractive Nazi policies. Subsequently, many votes were gained by the Nazis. This shows that the attractiveness of Hitler’s party was one of the crucial factors in the rise of their rise to power. A number of further political factors may also have contributed to the rise of the Nazis between 1918 and 1933.
By introducing a democracy at a time when Germany was unstable having just lost WW1, the Weimar republic made maintaining power very difficult for themselves. They tried to make the country too democratic, in far too short a period of time. This was in an attempt to limit the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The majority of the population however failed to adjust and this led historians such as Ritler to say, “The rejection of democratic slogans became one of the essential conditions for the rise of Hitler’s party. ” This was therefore an important factor in their rise to power by 1933.
Proportional representation, the voting system introduced as part of the Republic’s democracy, also contributed to the growth of the Nazis. The system led to a number of weak coalition governments as no party could achieve a majority. Consequently, decision making was poor and many German’s became disillusioned at the lack of achievement from their government. A more crucial mistake leading directly to the Nazis coming to power was the appointment of Hitler as chancellor in 1933. This decision was unexpected, mostly because Hindenburg openly disliked Hitler. However, two factors are considered to have influenced his decision the most.
Franz Von Papen argued for Hitler to be appointed chancellor with himself as vice. He felt that with a cabinet full of conservatives, Hitler could be controlled and a repeat of his attempted uprising in 1923 could be avoided. Furthermore, Von Papen had been replaced as chancellor in 1932. Unhappy at this decision, formed an alliance with Hitler. Another possible reason for Hitler’s appointment as chancellor involved Hindenburg’s link to the Osthilfe allegations. This involved the president using government funds to pay for things such as gambling debts and holidays.
Hitler may have been designated the role in order to end these investigations. Whatever the reason behind the appointment, it is seen as a key factor in the Nazis gaining power in 1933. Salmon feels that “Nazism came to power as a result of a miscalculation by conservative politicians. ” Overall, although the Weimar Republic was weakened by political means, its complete collapse came as a result of economic factors. This therefore limits the influence of political factors when considering the rise of the Nazi party between 1918 and 1933.
A lack of effective opposition to the Nazi party must also be considered when looking at their growth up to 1933. The lack of cohesion between the parties opposing the Nazis made Hitler’s rise to power easier. A left wing challenge to Weimar came in 1919 with the Spartacist uprising. However, this was brutally suppressed by the Freikorps and over 700 people were killed. A year later, a challenge from the extreme right wing known as the Kapp – Luttwitz Putsch occurred. This involved the movement taking over Berlin. A general strike was called and this paralysed Berlin, forcing the Kapp government to flee.
These events ensured that cooperation between the two extremes would be impossible, and therefore that no coalition would ever form between the two. Despite the failure of the Spartacist’s uprising, the KBD still provided a significant threat to the Nazis. Be that as it may, their opposition was limited as they only targeted working class votes. Hitler’s party appealed to a much larger proportion of the German population. Therefore, a lack of effective opposition cannot be ignored when considering the growth of the Nazi party as it allowed the Nazis to become the dominant political presence in Germany.
In conclusion, a number of factors influenced the rise of the Nazis between 1918 and 1933. These components varied in their importance. A lack of effective opposition to the Nazis was important; however this ingredient was not crucial in the rise of the Nazis. The role played by political factors was even further unsubstantial as although they weakened the Weimar republic, its collapse-and therefore the rise of the Nazis to power- was brought about by other means. A much more key factor in the growth of the NSDAP was their attractiveness.
Vague policies and expert propaganda won many votes for the party and contributed greatly to their exponential growth between 1918 and 1933. However, the pivotal component in the expansion of the Nazis was economic factors. They provided the hardship which encouraged Germans to look for extreme parties for economic stability. As support fell for the Weimar republic, votes increased for the Nazis and this resulted in their appointment as the new government of Germany in 1933.
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