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Why did the Nazis replace the Weimar Republic?

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Introduction

Why did the Nazis replace the Weimar Republic? This question has two parts to it. Why did Weimar democracy fail and why did the Nazis, and not some other political group take power? To begin with you must look at the weaknesses in the Weimar Constitution. Although the Wall Street Crash and the death of Stresemann made the situation acute, we must look at the unpopularity of the regime before the World Depression. Long term causes of Weimar Unpopularity 1. Monarchical tradition running through many elements of German society. Field Marshall Hindenburg was elected President in 1925; despite being the most important post in the government, he was not prepared to accept it until he had gained permission from the ex-Kaiser. Many people in Germany had no desire to be governed along democratic lines. By 1920 35% of the population were supporting non-democratic parties. 2. The Republic was the product of military defeat. It was a quick-fix caused by Germany's defeat in the First World War; there was no thought and widespread consultation. 3. The Republic was immediately associated with national humiliation. Many people in Germany believed that the politicians betrayed the nation rather than the military being unable to win the war. This became widely known as the 'stab in the back theory'. 4. The Republic was associated with the hated Treaty of Versailles; the politicians were blamed for signing the treaty. Germans resented most articles but certain parts were especially hated. (a) Alcase-Lorraine going to France (b) 13% of German territory was lost (c) Most significantly the war-quilt clause; article 231 blamed Germany for the war and as a result Germany was forced to pay reparations. 5. The Constitution - Although it was very democratic, the new Constitution ensured that the country would be ruled by coalition governments. This predisposed German politics towards selfish battles of interests; it also meant that the government frequently changed hands. ...read more.

Middle

In fact, the power of the SS grew, whilst Hitler himself had little respect for the conservative attitudes held by many soldiers. But, between 1934 and 1937 the atmosphere was not tarnished by ill-feeling. November 1937, the Hossbach meeting (For more details upon this meeting - see the foreign policy section.) In November 1937 Hitler outlined at the Hossbach meeting his foreign policy aims of expansion. Blomberg and Fritsch believed that Germany was unprepared for military expansion. Their doubts convinced Hitler that the Army leaders had no guts. In February 1938, both men were forced from office after revelations about their private lives. Blomberg had just married, but it subsequently became known that his wife had a criminal record for theft and prostitution. Fritsch was falsely accused of homosexual offences - on evidence produced by Himmler. Results of this episode Provided Hitler with the perfect opportunity to subordinate the army. Post of War Minister was abolished and Hitler himself became Commander in Chief of all the armed forces. The new Commander in Chief was General Brauchitish - a compliant supporter of the new regime. The role of the Army after 1939 After 1938 the Army's ability to shape political developments had reduced. Hitler was responsible for this as he forced the military to adhere to his agenda. However, the Army remained an important body; this explains why the opponents of Nazism looked to the Army to overthrow Hitler. And they did plan to destroy Hitler. In 1938 (see notes upon German Opposition to Hitler) plans were drawn up to replace Hitler in the event of a European War. After 1942, a number of Generals took part in plans to assassinate Hitler; these culminated in the famous Bomb Plot. After this failure, the Army lost its privileged position in German Society. It has probably never recovered. The Economics of the Third Reich Introduction Before coming to power Hitler was careful not to commit himself to a specific economic policy. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, following Stalin's orders, in 1935 they began to negotiate with other Left-wing groups in an attempt to overthrow fascism. Communists maintained a working opposition to Hitler. However, they were unable to secure mass support. Amongst many Germans there remained a desperate fear of Marxism. National Conservative Opposition This was potentially the most effective resistance to Hitler. It was a group comprised of prominent individuals or notables who worked within the system to destroy Nazism. Many members of this group belonged to the German establishment. e.g. Erwin Planck - had been Papen's former state secretary Carl Goerdeler - Price Commissioner under both Papen and Hitler Although they were detached from the masses, these men had the means of destroying Hitler. Their first opportunity came in 1938; fearing that Hitler was about to launch Germany into a general European War for the sake of the Sudetenland, a number of conservatives planned (once war had started) to arrest Hitler and impose martial law. The plan was destroyed by the Munich Accord. Conservatives made frequent plans to assassinate Hitler. Paradoxically, once the tide of was turned in1942, the problems facing the opposition intensified; the Nazis had so alienated world opinion that the Allies became determined to demand unconditional surrender, and to brush aside overtures made by opposition groups. Kreisau Circle Opposition body founded in 1940. They met at Von Molthe's home and planned ways of destroying the Nazis. In January 1944 the circle was smashed and Molthe arrested. In 1945 he was executed. White Rose Group A small group of students at Munich University. They called upon the young to rise up against Hitler. Ended in failure. Stauttenberg Plot (July bomb plot) Came close to success. It, tragically failed and all the leaders were quite brutally murdered. Conclusion Many Germans took part in 'silent opposition'. This included: a) Hiding Jews b) Listening to the BBC c) Reading banned literature Such opposition, however noble, would not destroy Hitler. Although attempts to overthrow Hitler were made, the opposition failed to unit into a coherent group. ...read more.

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