The Seeds of Evil: The Rise of Hitler

The Seeds of Evil: Germany 1919 - 1933.

How successful was the German Recovery?

In terms of its impact on the political stability of Germany the moves outlined above were quite successful in the shorter term. Under the leadership of Gustav Stresemann the ‘Grand Coalition’ managed to bring the economy under control. This process, supervised by Hjalmar Schacht, the newly appointed Finance Minister, continued throughout the remainder of the 1920s until the Wall Street Crash led to further economic problems.

The political atmosphere did not change overnight though. With the economy increasingly stable and a number of extremist political groups shattered by their failings in the early 1920’s – with many of their leaders either dead or imprisoned – the opposition to the democratic government had fewer opportunities to criticise the government and less popular support. This does not mean that extremism vanished however: Hitler for example was imprisoned and writing Mein Kampf at the time. Support for parties such as the Nazi party remained and they continued to receive votes, though limited in number, in elections (statement is a general one about parties to the far right / left rather than relating just to the electoral fortunes of the NSPAD).

The ‘Grand Coalition’ did not last long. Stresemann lasted as Chancellor for only a few months before he was forced to resign as a result of protests about the way in which he had dealt with the Munich Putsch (Socialists withdrew their support for the coalition in protest at the leniency shown towards Adolf Hitler). Following this Stresemann moved to a position in the newly formed cabinet as Foreign Minister, with Hans Luther becoming Chancellor. This pattern of short lived coalitions continued throughout ‘The Golden era’ of the Weimar Republic as parties failed to find acceptable working agreements.

Society in general appears, at first glance, to have improved significantly. For example new roads, public buildings and schools were built throughout Germany in this era. Women had an increasingly important role to play in the German economy and confidence in the economy was restored.

Such was the stability of the economy by 1927 that the government felt it possible to introduce guarantees of income under welfare legislation. This image of improvements is supported by data relating to the economic recovery in general: wages rose in real terms throughout the period 1924 to 1929, the standard of living rose and the cost of living fell. All consequences of the industrial recovery triggered by the implementation of new policies and the benefits of the Dawes Plan. (Industrial output had reached its pre-war levels again by 1923 and this figure had been doubled by 1929, a useful measure of how far the economy did recover.

Negative images of this era can be found. Extremists continued to disturb meetings of opposing political groups, coalition governments were often ‘minority’ governments – meaning that the coalition itself didn’t have a majority and there were frequent changes of allegiance and political leadership during this era. It can be argued that this is far from being a stable environment, indeed it can be seen to be a government still teetering on the brink of political extinction. Little appeared to change in terms of society – there was merely a return to the traditional elites managing the economy and dominating industry. Democracy therefore, appears to still be under threat: the election of Paul von Hindenburg as President indicates that there is still some way for the republic to go. He was no great fan of democratic principles and was a known sympathiser with the Right Wing.

The Second Reich
The Founding of the Weimar Republic
The Impact of War
The Treaty of Versailles
Germany 1919 - 1923
Germany - Economic Recovery
The Early days of the Nazi Party 1919 - 1924
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Text © Schoolshistory.org.uk

Unit last updated 4th June 2004

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