No more than a fringe irritant on Weimar politics. How far does this description define the Nazi Party in the 1920s?

Authors Avatar by jgreen0708hotmailcouk (student)

‘No more than a fringe irritant on Weimar politics’. How far does this description define the Nazi Party in the 1920s?

In 1920, the NSDAP, which had been founded by Drexler in 1919, drew up its 25-point programme and Hitler quickly became the driving force behind the party. It has been argued that the Nazi party can be described as ‘no more than a fringe irritant on Weimar politics’ during the 1920s based on their fluctuating electoral support, internal divides, as well as being just one amongst an array of other extremist parties during this period. However, although this is true to an extent, it is also clear that after the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, the Nazi Party exploited the weaknesses of the Weimar Republic which in turn lead to electoral success. Thus, from this point on Hitler and the Nazi Party were of much more significance on Weimar politics.

At the start of the 1920s, the NSDAP was a minute force, and even Hitler described at the time that the party was operating “at a low club level form”. Under Anton Drexler’s leadership, the DAP were very much a fringe irritant contained to a beer hall, designed to air nationalist views and calls for Bavarian Independence. By 1923, the party had a membership of about 20,000 (however this was much less than the 108,000 members which the party held in 1928). Hitler enjoyed an impressive personal reputation and, as a result, Nazism successfully established an influential role on the extreme right in Bavaria. However, despite Nazi efforts, it still proved difficult to control all the radical right-wing political groups, which remained independent organisations across Germany. The Nazi Party was therefore still very much a small, noisy, fringe party, limited mainly in the Munich area of Bavaria.

Another factor suggesting that the party was insignificant was the failed Munich Putsch in 1923 and Hitler’s subsequent imprisonment. Hitler plotted to ‘March on Berlin’ and aimed to mobilise all military forces from Bavaria and seize national power. However, they had no real military backing, and the attempted take-over of Munich was easily crushed by the Bavarian police. In many respects the putsch was a farce. The Nazi Party was banned and Hitler stood trial for his part in the attempt to overthrow the Weimar democracy by force, receiving the minimum sentence of five years imprisonment. In addition to this, the NSDAP was banned from politics, thus they were not able to take part in the 1924 elections. In 1924, membership of the party declined from 6.5% of the vote in May to 3% in December, and Hitler was banned from speaking in public in Germany between until 1927. The fact that Hitler was imprisoned halted the progress of the Nazi Party at 20,000 members in Bavaria for most of 1924. The definitive factor which classes the Beer Hall Putsch as something created by a fringe irritant party was the fact that this was just another Putsch, confined to a small region with only a handful of support, emphasising the fact that the party was still working at a low level in comparison to the rest of the Weimar republic’s political system.

Join now!

Furthermore, the fact there was a 25 point programme with views of anti-Marxism and anti-Capitalism but also internal divide demonstrated that the Nazi ideas lacked coherence and were superficial and simplistic; the origins of the party ultimately lay in fringe mentality ideas.  The internal divide in 1924-25 also stood as a stammer in how influential and strong the party became. Hitler was constantly trying to keep the two sides of his party, the nationalists and socialists who were constantly in disagreement over policy, on course.

The momentum and significance of the Nazi Party was also halted by the “Golden ...

This is a preview of the whole essay