Nazim and the Rise of Hitler notes by Vibha Maam
Birth of the Weimar Republic
The First World War (1914 to 1918) was fought between Axis power (Germany, Italy, Japan) and Allies power (England, France, Russia, later then US) .
Germany was a powerful empire in the early years of the twentieth century.
Germany was initially gained by the people in France and Belgium but after entering the US in 1917 strengthened the power of Allies, won the war and defeated Germany and the central powers in November 1918.
After the abdication of the emperor of Imperial Germany, parliamentary parties took the opportunity. The National Assembly met at Weimar and established a democratic constitution with a federal structure. the German Parliament (Reichstag)’s deputies were elected by the universal votes including women.
The Weimar Republic was not welcomed by its own people largely because it had entered the peace treaty at Versailles with the Allies. It was a harsh and humiliating peace for Germany. In this treaty Germany lost:-
- Its overseas colonies
- One tenth of its population
- 13% of its territories
- 75% of its iron
- 26% of its coal
To France, Poland ,Denmark and Lithuania
The allies demilitarised Germany to weaken power.
The war guilt clause held Germany responsible for the war and all damages. Germany was forced to pay compensation amounting to 6 billion pounds.
The Allied armies also occupied the resource-rich Rhineland.
Many Germans held the new Weimar Republic responsible for not only the defeat in the war but also the disgrace at Versailles.
The Effect of First World War
- Europe turned into debtor from creditor.
- Supporters of Weimar Republic (Socialist, Catholics and Democrats) were attacked by conservative nationalists.
- Soldiers came to be above civilians.
- Popular support grew for conservative dictatorships.
- The birth of the Weimar Republic coincided with the revolutionary uprising of the Spartacist League.
- Soviets of workers and sailors were established in many cities
- German people demanded Soviet-style governance
- The anguished Spartacists founded the Communist Party of Germany.
- Communist and socialist henceforth become hostile enemies.
- Germany had fought the war largely on loans and had to pay war reparations in gold.
- In 1923, Germany refused to pay, and France occupied the leading industrial area, Ruhr, to claim their coal.
- Germany retaliated with passive resistance and printed paper currency recklessly which led to hyperinflation.
- Eventually, America intervened and bailed Germany out of the crisis by introducing Dawes Plan.
The Years of Depression
The years, between 1929 and 1932, were known as the Great Economic Depression.
The German economy was the worst hit by the economic crisis. The national income of USA fell by half because of factory shutdowns, exports fell, farmers were badly hit and speculators withdrew their money from the market. Unemployment and criminal activities spread everywhere.
The Rise of Hitler
- This crisis in the economy, polity and society formed the background to Hitler’s rise to power.
- In 1919, he joined the German Workers’ Party. he subsequently took over the organisation and renamed it the National Socialist German workers’ party. This party came to be known as the Nazi party.
- By 1932,it had become the largest party.
The Promises made by Hitler to the people of Germany
- He was a powerful speaker and had an attractive personality.
- He promised to build a strong nation.
- He announced to undo the injustice and humiliation caused by the Treaty of Versailles
- He promised to restore the dignity of the German people.
- He promised employment and secure future for the youth
- He also promised to weed out the foreign influences.
The Destruction of Democracy
- On 30 January 1933, Hitler was appointed as chancellor in the cabinet of ministers. Having acquired power, Hitler set out to dismantle the structures of democratic rule.
- Hitler gave an autocratic order and suspended civic rights.
- On 3 March 1933, the famous Enabling Act was passed. This Act established dictatorship in Germany.
- Special surveillance and security forces were created to control the society.
Hitler’s Foreign Policy
- Hitler was always in favour of an aggressive foreign policy.
- He pulled out of the League of Nations in 1933, reoccupied the Rhineland in 1936, and integrated Austria and Germany in 1938.
- In 1939, Germany invaded Poland. In September 1940, a Tripartite Pact was signed between Germany, Italy and Japan.
- He attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941.
- When Japan extended its support to Hitler and bombed the US base at Pearl Harbor, the US entered the Second World War. The war ended in 1945 with Hitler’s defeat and the US dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima in Japan.
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