The Nazi Party in Germany did not appear out of nowhere. They grew during the interwar years and had their beginning not long after the first world war and relatively soon after the signing of the treaty of Versailles. Here are some key points of that rise.
Early years of the Nazi party
The rise of the Nazi party from 1920 to 1933.
The Freikorps were an important movement that came about after the demobilisation of the Germany military after the First World War.
- They were largely made up of the officer class who had been made redundant by the treaty of Versailles. This group felt disenfranchised and were proud of their military traditions.
- As with many militaries, they liked the structure that they had been part of and liked the Kaiser and his way of running the country.
- Due to their liking of the previous system under the Kaiser, and the feeling that they wanted to feel needed again as well as wanting a strong Germany with a strong military, they hoped to return the Kaiser to power and along with it the strong military that they were part of.
The Kapp Putsch
- The Kapp Putsch happened in 1920.
- The Putsch was lead by Dr. Kapp.
- As the government, led by Ebert, was not strong enough the Putsch was unable to be put down.
- The Putsch was eventually ended by a strike from the German workers which halted production.
The Munich Putsch
- The Munich Putsch took place in November 1923.
- This was an attempted rebellion by the early nazis before the party became what we know from history today.
- There had been an economic crisis in Bavaria where the Putsch took place which had led to anger at the government.
- General Ludendorff and Hitler led the Munich beer hall Putsch. The Putsch was known as the beer hall Putsch as that is where it had started.
- Both of them were arrested when the Putsch was put down.
- Stressermann was already starting to resolve some of the issues that had led to the unrest and also to the Putsch.
- Hitler had impressed the judges when he was taken to court. Because of this, the judges gave him a light sentence as they sympathised with him.
- It was while Hitler was in prison for this Putsch that he wrote Mein Kampf which set out his ideas and also why he had come to those conclusions.
The Nazi’s 25 points
- The Nazi’s moved forward to formulate a plan of action which became their 25 point program.
- One of the chief points was the destruction fo the treaty of Versailles which was hated by a lot of Germans. It was especially hated by those who had been in the military such as Hitler and members of the various Freikorps.
- The idea of Anschluss was put forward which was a move to connect Austria and Germany and a start to bringing the Germanic peoples together as one nation.
- The 25 points proposed a strong central government. This was born out of the idea that the current German Weimar republic was weak and under it Germany was suffering. It harked back to the days under the Kaiser that were seen as a great period for Germans.
Other important points to consider.
- The Nazis had started as the German Workers Party. There was a general move across Europe for representation of workers which World War One had catalysed. This can be seen in the Russian revolution and the move for women’s rights in the UK.
- Under Hitler, it became the National Socialist workers party. This change was to reflect some of the opinions that Hitler was putting forward that had their roots in Socialism. Nazis is short for this as it is derived from the Party name, as an acronym, in German.
- They put forward nationalist views. The idea of Nationalism had been prevalent in Europe since the days of the French revolution over 100 years previously.
- They looked for scapegoats. As there was a lot of anger and they didn’t believe that Germany could have lost like it did they believed someone was to blame for the state of the country and why they lost the First World War
- They then blamed the allies, Ebert’s government, communists, and Jews.
- SA was founded as a private army under the employ of the Nazi party. They were there to give both protection and a look of professionalism.
- Hitler watched the communists to see how they worked. The communists had been quite successful in creating change. This was most apparent in Russia. The German communists were trying to use the same methods as the Russian ones had. The growth in the movement was due to Germany being in a similar position to Russia on the eve of their revolution. Hitler’s use of socialism in the party name and putting the Nazi party forward as a party for workers (as is shown by their name) show this quite clearly.
- The communists trained members young which helped keep their numbers strong it also allowed indoctrination to take place more easily. This idea would eventually become the Hitler Youth in Nazi Germany.
- The Nazi party enlarged the SA and established the SS these were Hitler’s personal troops.
- They brought in Goebbels to be the head of their propaganda arm as they saw that it would be vital if they ever wished to get into power.
- In 1925 the Nazis had a total of 32 seats which was 5% of the Reichstag seats. It was enough to have a strong presence but not enough to control the proceedings.
- In 1928 their proportion dropped by two percent because the Chancellor Stressermann had been so successful with his policies. This showed that the Nazi party was a clear reaction to the countries issues. When more centrist ideas were tried that were successful the extreme attitudes within the Nazi party were seen as likely to cause more harm than good.
- Wall street crash and death of Stressermann both hit Germany in 1929. This changed the political playing field quite dramatically.
- Germany was badly affected by the Wall street crash and following depression. This was partly due to the Germany economy only starting to recover under Stressermann’s policies.
- It had to repay loans sooner and thus became bankrupt.
- Unemployment rose as businessess didn’t have enough money to keep their employees let alone employ more due to the effects of the depression.
- Reparations payments were suspended as they simply could not be paid.
- Under the Weimar constitution, it was impossible for the government to take decisive actions. This was due to the way that they had constructed the government under proportional representation.
- The Young plan which had aided the German economy was suspended due to the great depression.
- Nazi party offered strength and the destruction of the treaty of Versailles. Many saw the current government as ineffectual and the treaty of Versailles hanging over their heads was seen as something that was crippling their country.
- Hitler’s plan was to reunite all Germans and make Germany big again with the concept that they would be stronger together.
- The Nazis offered employment in the SA. This was seen as attractive as there were few jobs around and the wearing of a uniform and being part of something bigger gave the applicants a sense of purpose.
- Not only did this give them a sense of purpose but it also b=gave them something to be proud of and that pride had taken a large hit amongst supporters of the military due to the defeat and the dismantling of the German military.
- As such there was no shortage of men in the SA ex-servicemen got jobs and felt at home.
- Due to these events, the Nazi party had risen to 107 seats and then it nearly doubled again.
- This meant that by 1932 the Nazi party had become the biggest single party in the Reichstag.
- Their main enemy was the communists. This was partly due to the communists using the same or similar methods but also as the underlying ideologies clashed completely.
- Hitler was helped because in business and industry there was fear of communism. This meant that he had the support of those who still had money and wealth and had managed to ride out the great depression.
- The middle classes supported the Nazis to stop inflation to protect what little they had left after the Great Depression.
While there are many more events that became part of the rise fo the Nazi party this article attempts to sum up the most important points that became part of the rise of the Nazi party.