Modern History Germany 1918-1939 Essay
Modern History Germany 1918-1939
The Weimar Republic was considered weak from the post-war period until 1933. The weaknesses in the Weimar Republic were key to the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party in 1933. Many historians have criticized these weaknesses, saying that the Weimar Republic was always going to fail, due to mismanagement and the lack of experience. These weaknesses include Article 48, which helped Hitler pass the Enabling Act of 1933. The role of President Hindenburg was another weakness of the Weimar Republic as he was able to choose the Chancellor, giving Hitler and the Nazi Party more power.
The Hyperinflation Crisis of 1923 is also an example of the weak Weimar Republic. However, the weaknesses of the Weimar Republic was not the only aid to the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party, as there were many external factors, such as the Dawes Plan, linked to the Hyperinflation Crisis of 1923, which exposed Germany to the Great Depression, as well as the Treaty of Versailles, and its many points including Article 231 – the war guilt clause. Furthermore, the capitalization of these weaknesses was also a key factor to the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party in 1923.
The weaknesses in the Weimar Republic allowed for the Nazi’s to gain power through Article 48, where the President is given emergency powers to suspend the Reichstag at a moments notice. After the Reichstag Fire, Hitler convinced Hindenburg to use Article 48, giving Hitler the opportunity to pass the Enabling Act without the majority of the Reichstag’s approval, and banned the Communists. This shows that because of Article 48, Hitler was given legal means of gaining power, and without Article 48, Hitler would have never of became a Dictator of Germany with the rising power given to the Nazi Party.
The use of Article 48 also led to the creation of the Enabling Act in 1933. The Enabling Act of 1933 allowed Hitler to gain power as it gave Hitler total control of the Reichstag. Once it was passed with the help of Article 48 on Hindenburg’s account, it gave Hitler the ability of ruling for 4 years unopposed, without having to consult with the Reichstag if he wanted to pass any laws. Hitler used this act to ban all other political parties, giving him no other opponents.
Without the help of Article 48, Hitler would not have passed the Enabling Act, and would not of had full control of the Reichstag, citing the rise of power of the Nazi Party in 1933. Because Article 48 gave Hitler the possibility of passing the Enabling Act, the Weimar government is responsible for allowing Hitler to come to power, giving in to the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party in 1933. The role of Hindenburg allowed for Hitler’s rise to power and growth of the Nazi Party in 1933 because of his right to choose who would be his Chancellor.
Hindenburg chose Hitler at the suggestion of Von Papen, an ex-president, who thought that Hindenburg could control him. Hindenburg relented, eventually giving Hitler head of state. Evidently, Hindenburg could not control Hitler as Chancellor, and ended up giving Hitler more control than he should have had, accounting for Hitler’s rise to power and the growth and prominence of the Nazi Party. The historian K. J. Mason supports the observation that the role of Hindenburg made an error in choosing Hitler as chancellor.
He states that “having been given power, he now had total power… within a mere two months of his appointment as chancellor… achieved his aim, moving from the role of legal chancellor to that of legal dictator”, demonstrating that the government system of the Weimar Republic allowed an Autocrat like Hindenburg to decide on a chancellor initially destroys the Weimar Republic, citing a fatal weakness that grants Hitler and the Nazi’s more power. What this says about the Weimar Republic is that it was always faulted, giving the president as much power as possible, even giving him the option of choosing his Chancellor.
It shouldn’t have been possible for Hindenburg to choose the Chancellor, as it gave him too much power, also giving Hitler the option of more power. The Hyperinflation Crisis of 1923 accounts for the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party in 1933 as the crisis showed that the Weimar government was incapable of leading Germany. This incapability allowed for extremist parties like the Nazi’s to be considered as alternatives. This led to the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, which, evidently, illustrates that without the government mismanagement, the Beer Hall Putsch may have never happened.
This shows that because of Government mismanagement, there would not have been civil unrest, which clearly accounts for the rise in popularity and power for Hitler and the Nazi Party. The economic mismanagement of 1923 can then be seen as a predecessor to the effects of the Great Depression of 1929, linking to the Dawes Plan. This shows that the Weimar government did not learn from their mistakes, showing how weak the Weimar government was, having there been two crippling economic issues in the 14 years of the Weimar Republic.
The Dawes Plan assisted the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party in 1933 as it led to an explosion of support for the Nazi’s. The Dawes Plan brought in loans from the United States of America in order for the German republic to finance its industry, and to finance reparations, but ultimately exposed Germany to the Great Depression. Because it was through the Weimar republic that Germany was exposed to the Great Depression in 1929, there was an explosion in support for the Nazi Party, leading to its growth and rise in power.
Richard Evans supports this view, explaining how the Great Depression showed the incapability’s and failures of foreign affairs. Evans explains this through the quote: “as Germany fell deeper into depression, middle class citizens saw the Nazi party as a possible way out”, explaining how the Great Depression affected the popularity of the Nazi Party, as the civilians saw that the only way to fix Germany’s economy and falling spirit was to support the Nazi Party.
This shows that is the Dawes Plan didn’t exist, Germany wouldn’t have been exposed to the Great Depression, and there wouldn’t have been a rise in the support of the Nazi Party in 1929, and it wouldn’t be accountable for the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party in 1933. The Treaty of Versailles aided the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party in 1933 through Article 231 – the War Guilt Clause.
The war guilt clause called for reparations to be paid to France and Britain, loss of German territory, for example the Polish Corridor, which divided up Germany and East Germany (Prussia), and caused national humiliation. The Treaty of Versailles indicates that the Weimar Republic was weak as well, because a strong political system would not have accepted such a treaty. The Treaty of Versailles assisted the growth and rise to power of Hitler and the Nazi Party in 1933, as they promised to scrap the Treaty of Versailles.
The capitalization of the weaknesses in the Weimar Republic, led to the growth and rises to power of the Nazi Party in 1933, because of the Nazi’s constant exploitation of the Weimar Republic and all of its mistakes, using them to its own advantage as well as the manipulation of incidents involving the Reichstag. The Nazi’s exploited the Weimar Republic’s mistakes, using the mood of resentment and frustration of the German public toward the failing Republic, promising a revitalization of will and a new beginning for Germany.
The main incident that the Nazi’s manipulated was the Reichstag Fire, as once a Communist was found inside the wreckage, Hitler used this to his advantage and banned the communists from the Reichstag. The capitalization of the weaknesses involving the Weimar Republic and incidents involving the Reichstag as well as Nazi promises of a new beginning aided the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party in 1933. To summarize, the weaknesses of the Weimar Republic was partially responsible for the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party in 1933, although there are many external factors for the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party.
These weaknesses involve Article 48, the Enabling Act, the role of President Hindenburg, the Hyperinflation Crisis of 1923. The external factors include the Treaty of Versailles and Article 231 – the War Guilt Clause, the Dawes Plan and the Great Depression, as well as the exploitation of the Weimar Republic’s mistakes as a government and the manipulation of incidents involving the Reichstag, used to the Nazi Party’s advantage. These points ultimately led to the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party in 1933.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 13 November 2016
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