Pages 104-105 WWI caused serious food and medicine shortages because of the Allied Naval Blockade of German Ports
Food shortages led to mutiny. The USA told the Kaiser that there couldn’t be peace negotiations until Germany became more democratic. But the Kaiser refused that.
On the 28th of October there was a mutiny at the naval base at Kiel that spread very quickly to other ports. By the 9th of November Berlin was in the hands of revolutionaries, this caused the Kaiser to abdicate and so he fled to the Netherlands.
A new Provisional Government took over the leading. It was headed by Ebert, leader of the SPD. He signed armistice, and so the fighting of WWI ended on the 11th of November.
The Treaty of Versailles that followed was much harsher than expected Fourteen Points of Wilson. They could only accept or reject them. Or the war should restart. They lost all colonies, parts of European land, and the very important Rhine-area should stay demilitarised. They also had to accept the war guilt clause and pay reparations of £6600 million. Pages 106-107 The provisional government called for elections, January 1919, in Weimar. This was because of unrest in Berlin. Here a new, democratic, Constitution was drawn up. Article 48 meant that the President could declare a state of emergency and rule by issuing decrees that weren’t approved by the Reichstag
There were opponents to the Weimar Republic, the Spartacists. Ebert was forced to allow the Freikorps to crush the rising of a Bolshevik-like type of revolution by the Spartacists. The survivors of the Spartacists formed the party KPD.
The Weimar Republic also faced serious economical problems. When the German government announced that they couldn’t pay the 2nd instalment, the Ruhr was invaded by Belgian and French troops. To cope with this crisis the printed more money, but with no counter-value the money soon became worthless. This increased the hatred of middle-class people to the Weimar Republic. Pages 108-109 In September 1923 a new government was formed, headed by Stresemann because of the continuing crisis. Stresemann replace the old mark with a new currency, called Rentenmark. This was extremely unpopular with the nationalists. The Nazi Party, led by Hitler, decided to use this crisis as an opportunity to overthrow Stresemann’s government.
Hitler fought during WWI. After the war he worked as a political instructor. His main tasks were to indoctrinate new recruits against socialism and democracy and to spy on any new left-wing groups that might be set-up. In 1919 Hitler attended a meeting of DAP. He decided to join them and made moves to take control of them. He changed the name in NSDAP. He became leader of them. He set-up the SA (terrorism), to protect Nazi meetings. He blamed the Treaty of Versailles and all Germany’s economical problems on the Weimar Government, the communists and Jews. The NSDAP grew quickly in Southern Germany and had 50 000 members by 1923.
Hitler decided to organise a national revolution against the Weimar Republic because Stresemann ended passive resistance against the occupation of the Ruhr by the French in 1923. He wanted to take control of Munich and start a march in Berlin. Hitler took over a meeting in a beer hall by von Kahr, army and von Lossow and von Seisser. At first they persuaded to join the plan, but later they changed their minds. The next day the Beer Hall Putsch failed because they were blocked by the police. The fighting that followed resulted in the death of 1 policeman and 16 Nazis. Hitler fled.
Hitler was able to use his trial to attack the Weimar System. He was given 5 years prison. There he wrote “Mein Kampf” in which he wrote his plans and beliefs. In December 1924 he was released after 9 months from prison by the Bavarian authorities. Pages 110-111 By 1924 Germany was becoming more stable in political and economical circumstances. Stresemann could renegotiate with the Allies about the reparations.
Payments were limited to what Germany could afford each year. USA provided loans to restart the German economy. The Young Plan reduced the reparations to less than £2002 million. Unemployment began to fall and wages rose. Stresemann signed the Locarno Treaty, in return the Allied troops began to withdraw. In 1926 Germany persuaded the Allies to join the League of Nations. By 1929 Germany was the world’s 2nd most advanced industrial nation.
When Hitler was released from prison, Germany’s economical situation was already beginning to improve. So support for extreme groups began to decline. The Nazi Party was breaking up into various factions. So they experienced their Lean Years, in which they received little electoral support. The number of seats reduced from 32 to 14 to 12 seats.
Hitler reasserted the control over the party quickly and set up various sections, like the Hitler Youth, in order to recruit more members. In 1925 he set up the Schutz Staffel (SS). To gain more power he decided that the Nazis had to use elections. An extra boost came when newspaper-owner Alfred Hugenberg joined in a national campaign with the Nazis against Stresemann’s policies
The German economy seemed to be booming by 1929. In October 1929 Stresemann died and the stock market on the Wall Street crashed. The USA stopped further loans to Germany. The industry went soon in depression as world trade declined. Unemployment grew rapidly, by 1923 there were 6 000 000 unemployed. This was because of a vicious circle Pages 112-113 The Wall Street crash and the subsequent depression gave Hitler the chance to achieve power. Growing unemployment and poverty made it difficult for the government coalitions to agree on policies. So there were frequent changes of government. Hindenburg, president after Stresemann, increasingly used the article 48
The Nazis blamed all Germany’s problems to the Jews, the Treaty of Versailles and the Weimar Government. The violence seemed to prove that the Nazis were strong and the government weak. So they gained popularity and seats, September 1930 107 seats. The Hunger Chancellor Bruning was replaced by von Papen, whose government consisted almost completely of German aristocrats.
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