In the October of 1929, New York's Wall Street stock market went into a catastrophic crash. During the next three years, the US stock market continued to fall, with shares becoming worth 20% of the price they originally sold for. By 1933 11,000 of America's 25,000 banks failed , leading to the reduction of expenditure, demand and therefore production. Previously, Germany had been defeated in World War One and was left with a large war debt, money which the nation did not have. She looked to America for financial assistance. The USA provided Germany with two major loans: the Dawes plan in 1924, and the Young plan in 1929. Now, however, America was herself in a state of financial emergency and needed the loans repaid, something which Germany could not afford.
Gustav Stresemann was Foreign Minister of Germany and despite his desperate effort to stabilise her economy, died without succeeding in his task. In fact, Stresemann even predicted the effect that an event such as the Great Depression would have on the country:
The economic position is only flourishing on the surface. Germany is in fact dancing on a volcano. If the short-term credits are called in, a large section of our economy would collapse.
Workers all over the country found themselves out of jobs as factories went bankrupt and were forced to shut down. Unemployment rates rose in the millions each year (see Appendix A). Banks failed, savings accounts were wiped out and inflation meant families couldn't afford to buy expensive necessities. Business failures and internal conflicts led to speculation of Bolshevik takeover and terrorism, quasi-civil-war conditions such as riots, local insurrections, battles between revolutionaries and police/army and strikes led to widespread misery. Most families were affected by the unemployment rates and were fast losing faith in the ailing Weimar Republic who failed to help them out of their destitution. The people of Germany were looking for a solution, a new alternative to the stagnant government. Adolf Hitler provided such a resolution.
Born in Braunau, Austria, in 1889, the young Adolf Hitler developed into a discontented and resentful child. He was his mother's darling; however his father was a violent, spiteful, sadist alcoholic who used his belt and cane to discipline his children. It has been suggested that it was Hitler's hostility to his father that partly caused his fierce hatreds later in life. Adolf was sent to a monastery school, as his mother hoped he would become a monk, but was expelled for smoking. He was noted amongst his peers for his love of the game "Follow the Leader", in which he was always the leader. In high school, Hitler spent time in the public library reading about German history and mythology. He developed a hatred for educated people, and the only teacher he liked was Dr Leopold Poetsch, an avid Pan-Germanist, who taught him to despise the Hapsburgs and support German nationalism. Hitler's only friend was August Kubizek, his only peer that would listen to his long-winded rants.
Both Hitler's parents died by 1907 and within two years he was wandering the streets of Vienna with no money and no home. Ironically, two of his closest friends at this time were Jewish and he admired Jewish art dealers, performers and producers. Nevertheless, Vienna at that time was a centre of European anti-Semitism and the...