To what extent was the considerable growth of the Nazi party, between 1918 and 1933, a result of economic factors?
The Weimar republic was introduced on the back of Germany’s defeat at WWI, the resignation of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the widely despised signature of the Treaty of Versailles. These conditions led to its collapse in 1933, and also the great rise in popularity for the Nazi party during this period. There is no doubt that a number of economic factors played a crucial role in the collapse of the Weimar republic and the rise of the Nazis, however, numerous other factors also played a part. Some historians consider a lack of effective opposition a major contributing in the expansion of the Nazis. It has also been argued that the appeal of the Nazi party won them many votes. Finally, the impact of other political factors cannot be ignored when considering this issue.
Economic factors were a crucial component in the collapse of the Weimar republic and therefore, the rise of the Nazi party between 1918 and 1933. According to Hugo Preuss, “Weimar was born with a curse upon it.” This refers to the harsh conditions set by the Treaty of Versailles, and also the huge reparation payments of $6600 million that Germany were forced to pay as a result of their part in WW1. This was particularly difficult for Germany as their economy was weakened from funding their war effort. However John Hiden felt that other factors contributed more to the collapse of Weimar and the expansion of the Nazis. “Versailles certainly did not doom the Republic from birth.” Another important ingredient in the rise of the Nazis was the hyper inflation of 1923. It came as a result of Germany missing one of the reparation payments. This gave the French and the Belgians the excuse to invade the heart of the German economy, the Ruhr. To limit the benefit to the invaders, a general strike was called. However this slowed and nearly stopped their economy. More money was printed to try and solve this problem yet this only made the issue worse as it resulted in the hyper inflation of 1923. The worst hit were the middle classes who saw their savings become worthless in a very short period of time. This resulted in an increase in popularity for the Nazis as middle classes looked to extreme parties to bring stability to the German economy. A time of economic calm followed during the “Stresemann Era”. However calm came at the cost of an over reliance on loans from abroad, especially from the USA. A further economic factor in the expansion of Hitler’s party at this time and often seen as the crucial factor in his coming to power was the Great Depression. According to Finlay Mckichan, “Hitler would almost certainly have remained on the extremist fringe of politics had it not been for the Great Depression...and the hardship it brought.” Germany’s reliance on US loans meant that when Wall St crashed and the US demanded repayments, their economy crumbled. This is an important factor in the rise of the Nazis as in times of economic stability, people are on the whole happy to continue to vote in the same party. However, like in Germany, when hardships occur, many look to extreme parties for a better way of life. This reasoning saw a vast growth in popularity for Hitler which culminated in his appointment as chancellor in 1933.
Furthermore, the appeal of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party cannot be ignored when considering the growth of the between 1918 and 1933. During the hard times brought upon by the Great Depression and the Hyper Inflation, the German population looked for a strong leader to bring stability. Hitler fitted this role perfectly. He was very patriotic and strived for Germany to become an industrial power once more after the upset of WW1. However, more importantly, he was an extremely talented orator. His speeches inspired many people and this saw an increase in votes for the Nazis. Furthermore, Hitler made very vague promises when...
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