Unter den Linden, Berlin – 1937

1919: Adolf Hitler joins the German Workers Party (led by Anton Drexler). Drexler places Hitler in charge of propaganda and political ideas.

1920: Party renames itself the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazis) and releases the “25 Point Plan”.

Highlights from the 25 Point Program (1920)

• Union of all Germans into a greater Germany

• Annul (cancel) the Treaty of Versailles

• Demand for more land (Lebensräum), primarily in the East (Poland)

• Jews have no right of citizenship

• Large industries must share their profits with the Government.

• Improve old age pensions for all Germans except Jews.

• Property can be confiscated without compensation if it is for the good of the nation.

• Freedom of religion as long as it does not endanger the position of the state. Jewish religion is opposed.

• All immigration of non-Germans to stop immediately.

• Strong centralized government and consolidation of the armed forces of the SA, the SS and the Prussian Military

The Munich Beer Hall Putsch (1923)

Hitler felt that violence was the only way to gain power. Thus, in 1923 he led the Munich Putsch, an attempt to overthrow the government of Bavaria and ultimately overthrow the Weimar government.

1923 – A good year for a Putsch because:

1. Weimar government (Stresemann) had called off passive resistance to the French occupation in the Ruhr. This was resented by many Germans.

2. Weimar government distracted by Ruhr/Hyperinflation crisis.

3. Hitler had 3000 SA members who were looking for action!

4. He also had the support of General Erich Ludendorff – a war hero from World War One.

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, the victor of the Battle of Liège and the Battle of Tannenberg. From August 1916, his appointment as Quartermaster general (German: Erster Generalquartiermeister) made him the leader (along with Paul von Hindenburg) of the German war efforts during World War I. The failure of Germany’s great Spring Offensive in 1918 in its quest for total victory was his great strategic failure and he was forced out in October 1918.[1]

After the war, Ludendorff became a prominent nationalist leader, and a promoter of the Stab-in-the-back myth, which posited that the German loss in World War I was caused by the betrayal of the German Army by Marxists, Bolsheviks, and Jews who were furthermore responsible for the disadvantageous settlement negotiated for Germany in the Treaty of Versailles. He took part in the failed Kapp Putsch (coup d’état) with Wolfgang Kapp in 1920 and the Beer Hall Putsch of Adolf Hitler in 1923, and in 1925, he ran unsuccessfully for the office of President of Germany against his former superior Hindenburg.

What happened in Munich?

Hitler and 600 SA (Stormtroopers) took over Bavarian Government buildings.

Hitler chose Bavaria because the region had a lot of right-wing groups angry at the Weimar government.

But…the army turned on the Nazis. Hitler escaped in a car…

• The Putsch failed
• 16 Nazis were killed
• Hitler and other leading Nazis were arrested and tried for treason.
• The Nazi Party was banned.
• Hitler used the publicity
surrounding his trial to draw
attention to the Nazi Party.
• Newspapers reported every word of the trial.
• The trial proved that Weimar judges favored
the Right wing: Ludendorff was freed, and Hitler was only sentenced to 5 years in prison.
The recommended sentence for treason was life.
• Hitler only served 9 months and used that time to write Mein Kampf (My Struggle)
• Hitler switched strategies, from the use of
violent force to seize power through the
democratic process.

The Putsch failed because Weimar Germany had partially recovered and stabilized since 1919. How FAR had Germany recovered by 1924?

  • Extremists losing support
  • Most working people supported Ebert’s Social Democrat Party
  • Right Wing lacked leadership
  • Kapp Putsch in 1921 showed that the working people of Berlin would rise up against the tormentors of the Weimar Republic
  • Neither the Nazis nor the Freikorps had the support of the German people.
  • Army did not trust the Nazis
  • Burned old currency and issued the Rentenmark

In what ways was the Weimar Republic still in trouble?

  • Right-Wing still represented the Weimar Government
  • “Stabbed in the Back” myth toward the signers of the Versailles Treaty
  • Reparations amount still had Germany in a state of shock
  • Loss of valuable land and colonies made business more expensive, causing anger and resentment.
  • Restrictions placed upon the German Army still angered many. Limit of 100,000 troops considered offensive and insulting.
  • Hyperinflation a result of the acceptance of the Treaty of Versailles

The Organization of the Nazi Movement – 1920-1929

 Brown shirts became the uniform, the Swastika
became the symbol of the Nazi Party.
 Local parties set up throughout Germany.
 Hitler Youth Groups established.

 Enlarged the SA (100,000 members by 1928).
 Formed the SS (Elite bodyguard/military).

 First Nazi rally held in town of Weimar.

Target Farmers, Middle Class and Business – 1924 to 1929 Class Questions for discussion:

Most Germans were workers – why not target

• Many workers supported the Social
Democratic Party (SPD) of Ebert. The SPD
supported Weimar Democracy.

• Most industrial (factory) workers were doing
well in the 1924-1929 period.

• Radical workers were more likely to support
communist parties than Right –wing parties
like the Nazis!

Why appeal to the middle class and businesses
– aren’t they usually LESS likely to support

• Middle class people had been shocked to see
their savings disappear during the
Hyperinflation crisis. They felt vulnerable.
Another economic crisis and they might seek
more radical solutions (HINT!)

• Small shop-owners lost customers to large
department stores (which were often owned
by Jews)

Why would the Nazi Party target farmers? Surely
farmers are practical people who were less likely to
be impressed by Hitler’s hysterics!

• Farm incomes had dropped. Farmers had increased
production during the war to feed soldiers but were
now producing too much.

• Farmers despised the permissive culture in Weimar
cities. The permissive sexuality, racial mixing
(German girls dancing to Black Jazz music!) and
disturbing art shocked and repelled rural Germans.

• Hitler appealed to rural values and saw the ‘Ideal’
German as a person who was “born of the land” 

• Farmers despised the permissive culture in Weimar
cities. The permissive sexuality, racial mixing
(German girls dancing to Black Jazz music!) and
disturbing art shocked and repelled rural Germans.
• Hitler appealed to rural values and saw the ‘Ideal’
German as a person who was “born of the land”

The Great Depression – 1929

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world’s economy can decline.

The Great Depression started in the United States after a major fall in stock prices that began around September 4,1929 and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday). Between 1929 and 1932, worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) fell by an estimated 15%. By comparison, worldwide GDP fell by less than 1% from 2008 to 2009 during the Great Recession. Some economies started to recover by the mid-1930s. However, in many countries the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the beginning of World War II.

The Great Depression had devastating effects in countries both rich and poor. Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25% and in some countries rose as high as 33%.

Cities around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming communities and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by about 60%. Facing plummeting demand with few alternative sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as mining and logging suffered the most.

Unemployment in Germany 1921-1939