The Rise Of Nazism In Germany Essay

This essay has a total of 946 words and 6 pages.

The Rise Of Nazism In Germany

Germany's defeat in World War One created political, economic and social instability in
the Weimar Republic and led to the rise of the National Socialist German Workers' Party
(NSDAP) or Nazi party.


The First World War placed increasingly heavy strains and sacrifices on the German people.
The gap between the rich and poor widened and divisions between classes increased. It had
direct effect on the workers' living standard as earnings fell and food shortages grew.
Food was sold on the growing black market but the prices were high and the poor could not
afford to buy. This led to a crisis in the cities and as many as 700 000 died of
hypothermia and starvation in the winter of 1916-17.


In order to force the German people to bear the hardship of the war, chancellor Bethmann
Hollweg promised political reform in a speech in the


Reichstag in February 1917. This promise led to political unrest and an organised strike
of 400 000 ammunition workers in Berlin, which threatened to cripple arms production.
However, as long as the military held their dominant position and the possibility of
victory remained, the prospects of reform seemed remote. After the chancellor was forced
to resign in July 1917 military repression increased. There were severe restrictions on
the right of assembly, stricter control of meetings to discuss grievances, a return to
military service for striking workers and the banning of all anti-war material. In
September 1918 the military effort suddenly collapsed. The allied powers, in particular
President Wilson of the United States, demanded that Germany be transformed into a
democracy. On November 1918 the SPD declared the abdication of the Kaiser and the birth of
the new Weimar Republic.


On 28 June 1919 the German government signed the Treaty of Versailles imposed on it by the
victorious powers. Clause 231 blamed Germany for causing the war and vast majority of
Germans rejected this. They blamed the Weimar government for losing the war and signing
the outrageous Treaty. Linked to this was the demand for financial compensation for the
cost of the war paid to France and Britain. This shocked the Germans severely as it would
be hard to pay reparations since the war had weakened the country. Germany's army
personnel was to be reduced to 100 000 and was forbidden to produce "offensive" weapons.
There was to be no air force or submarines and the navy was to be reduced to six small
battleships and six cruisers. Perhaps the hardest condition to bear was the territorial
losses. Germany's land was reduced by 13 % and all of its colonies were confiscated.
Finally, because of French fears of another attack, German territory of Rhineland was to
be permanently demilitarised.


Political conflict also arised within the Weimar government. The Worker's Councils
Congress demanded further reforms but was rejected by the SPD. The far left-wing, called
the Spartacist League or the Communist Party, created an uprising, which was crushed by
the Free Corps - a group of former army officers who later became active Nazis. The
leaders of the rebels, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were arrested and murdered.
These factors led to a permanent split between the SPD and the USPD.


Army reductions, demanded by the Versailles Treaty, triggered the Kapp Putsch. The
extremist right group known as the National Association attempted to seize the government
using the help of the Free Corps units. The uprising was defeated due to a general strike
by the workers. The extremist right then used political assassination as a weapon to
undermine the republic.


There was also an economic instability in Germany during the 1920s. Inflation in Germany
began with the war in 1914 and remained a policy tool of the government until the currency
stabilization in November 1923. Inflation allowed the government to pay back war debts in
increasingly worthless currency and full employment and economic growth at a time when the
victorious powers were suffering war slump. Inflation and high interest rates also
attracted short-term investment. Hyperinflation in Germany led to a redistribution of
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