THE RISE OF HITLER AND
THE GERMAN NATIONAL SOCIALIST PARTY
The explanation of the rise of Nazism cannot be restricted to one specific time period or one specific event - the source of many Nazi ideologies are found before WW1.Many pre-war conditions(but especially the gradual 'collapse of liberalism', of which I will write later) helped to prepare the public psyche for National Socialist policies. Equally, I disagree with Historians who, for their own reasons, disregard specific events perhaps caused by their own social/political groups which inadvertently aided Hitler (I refer to Marxist historians who hold that the brief reign of the communists was an insignificant aid to the middle-class flood to Nazism, since the reactionary right had 'already decided' that fascism should be wheeled out to stop the (according to Marx) inevitable, shut-down of Capitalism). In the days following the November ceasefire, Germany was left without a leader of any description since the Kaiser had fled to Holland. Heavy industrialists like Fritz Thyssen, arrested and subjected to all kinds of humiliation by the communists in the immediate aftermath of the armistice, funded the early National Socialists partly because" the impression which those agitated days have left upon me[Thyssen]were never blotted out"(1).Indeed, many of Germany's prominent businessmen experienced the same if not worse treatment at the hands of communist 'policemen' and, as James Pool reveals (2) ,the friends of those killed were to become some of Hitler's first major financial backers. Apart from the personal humiliation which Industrialists had endured, there was also the small matter of rising costs due to the concessions ceded to the workers during the brief reign of the Communists. These included the 'eight hour day', the extension of universal suffrage to both sexes, general recognition of union agreements etc. "Every eight hour day is a nail in Germany's coffin!"Was one of their favorite laments? However, industry could not itself carry on the fight against the organized proletariat. This task it confided to the "volunteer corps" or "combat leagues", armed gangs specializing in 'Bolshevik fighting'. The early National Socialists, being one such armed gang, attracted most of the funds through both their violent 'resistance' to the Communists and the fact that a right-wing Totalitarian state would offer the industrialists a near monopoly over their domestic market, since Nazism was blaming the 1923 economic crisis on foreign capitalism and had vowed to cease the flood of importers making a killing out of the German hyper-inflation(e.g. the 'one price stores', who bought their stock in stable economies, thus being able to sell at a constant and relatively cheap Deutschmark rate). The Jews were also depicted as the enemy of German Capitalism, since major Jewish leaders (Radek, Levine, and Axelrod among others) were eminent participants in the November revolution. The Nazi antipathy towards Jewish communism was greeted warmly:" These were the men responsible for the riots and murders!", declared a bitter Thyssen (3).Of course, it was also true that the Jew proved a formidable business opponent - being a cynic, I would suggest that to have all the Jews ostracized for events which involved a minority of them was convenient to say the least! Hitler then sought to blame the Jews for the multinational capitalism which was threatening the hitherto comfortable existence of the petty bourgeois. It was already widely known, as Jeremy Noakes tells (4), that the Jewish presence in the banks and the international stock exchanges was growing disproportionately strong and the widespread barring of the Jews from the professions had caused them to be increasingly prevalent in the one industry open to them - usury. This left many who were dependent on the Jew and, against this background, stories of a Jewish conspiracy (of the kind crudely insinuated by the notorious Der Sturmer...
Bibliography: (13)Dick Geary, Who voted for the Nazis. From History Today, Oct 1998 issue.
(14)Statement published in Der Ruhrarbeiter, a Labour Front paper, (from Daniel Guerin: Fascism and BigBusiness, Pathfinder, 1939)
Please join StudyMode to read the full document