To what extent was the rise to power of the Nazis due to the Wall Street Crash?
Historian Carr writes "It is inconceivable that Hitler could have come into power had not the Weimar Republic being subject to the unprecedented strain of a world crisis", thus he thinks that the Wall Street Crash was the cause of problems in Weimar leading to the rise of the Nazis. In 1933 the Nazi party took control of Germany, installing Hitler as chancellor. Evidence would suggest that the Wall Street Crash was a major factor in the Nazi's rise to power, however there were other factors such as the fall of the Weimar Republic and the attraction of the Nazi ideal. Historian Conan Fischer says that "The worsening economic situation triggered the slide towards some form of authoritarian government". Thus he sees the economic problems in Germany as the cause for the Nazis rise to power. In the 1920's a confidential government report in said of the National socialists, "Today it is a numerically insignificant, radical, revolutionary splinter group that is incapable of exerting any noticeable influence on the great mass of the population or on the course of political developments". This shows that the party had little precedence in its early years and later events lead to its rise in popularity.
The Wall Street Crash brought mass unemployment to Germany. The phrase "When the Americans sneeze, Europe catches a cold" accurately describes the cause of the mass depression after the Wall Street crash. Germany's reparation payments from the First World War had been restructured so that they could afford to pay them. Restructuring of the Treaty of Versailles under the Dawes Plan of 1924 and The Young Plan of 1929 enabled Germany to pay reparations propped up by large loans from America. Stresseman, chancellor of Germany till his death in 1929 described Germany's situation as "Germany is in fact dancing on a volcano. If the short-term credits are called in, a large section of our economy would collapse". The crash of the American stock markets meant that they called in their loans in order to help their economy. This meant that Germany had its source of money to pay off reparations immediately removed which put it in an impossible situation. The collapse of the stock market had an impact on world trade which decreased the amount of German exports, which also hit the country, reducing income. In the winter of 1928/9 the number of homeless people in Germany went up to 1.5 million people from 600,000 and then up to 6 million on 1932. Small family business' in Germany collapsed because they had no savings and the economy collapsed. The diseases tuberculosis and pneumonia reappeared in Germany which shows the state of distress that the country was in. Infant mortality also increased during this period. The depression made the lives of the German people very hard. They looked for someone to blame and their first instinct was to blame the leaders of the country, the Weimar Republic. The people had started to doubt the ability of Weimar to lead the country forward and this made more extreme groups such as the Nazis and the Communists more plausible options for government. Fischer wrote "The worsening economic situation triggered the slide towards some form of authoritarian government", thus he sees the Wall Street Crash as a major factor in Germany's acceptance of extreme party's. Nicholls opinion is "Misery and fear of misery fed on one another, leading eventually
to an upsurge in Nazi support" which backs up this view that people supported more reactionary parties in times of hardship. The people of Germany felt hard done by and looked for solutions to their problems with a change of government. The Nazi's also played on peoples hatred towards the treaty of Versailles which was felt to be very unfair on Germany and economically crippling. No government could stop the troubles that the depression had cause and it created further chaos in the Reichstag...
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