The end of the Weimar Republic 1929

The end of the Republic 1929-33

Perhaps the greatest catalyst for the collapse of the Republic lies in the
Wall Street Crash, or more correctly its aftermath.

The grounds of the German recovery were overly dependent on loans from
America under the Dawes and then Young plans. However, with the Wall Street
Crash of 1929 America was forced to recall her debts, this directly led to the
deterioration of Germanyís economy and in turn party relations in the
Riechstag, this is a catastrophic event when a country is ruled by coalitions.

Following this Heinrich Bruning was appointed as Chancellor in March 1930, it
was the deterioration of the coalition system that led to Hindenburg allowing
Bruning to rule by presidential decree should he require it, this was known as
Article 48. This meant that the Riechstag had to merely tolerate his decrees and
not support them. Yet in 1930, after the Riechstag refused Bruningís emergency
measures to compensate for the failing economy, which included cutting
government spending, on things such as wages and welfare payments. This led to
an increase on imported goods especially food to help German farmers and the
buying up of company shares by the government to support deflation. Bruning,
returned the measures under Article 48 and dissolved the Riechstag and called an
election, as he believed that it would return a majority for him.

This was his first mistake, as it resulted in the Nazi party becoming the
second largest party in the Riechstag. Meaning that Bruning could now only rule
by decree, providing that the Social Democrats did not move against him. And
Bruning knew that they would not as they were fearful of a Nazi take-over.
Bruning remained in power until 1932 and by 1933 Hitler was Chancellor, yet in
the 8 months between their reigns there was still to be 2 other Chancellors, von
Papen and Schleicher. The extraordinary thing is, is that both supported Hitlerís
appointment and pushed Hindenburg into it, against his better judgement. It was
von Papenís belief that he could control Hitler like a puppet. This is an
ideal political position, as the idea is that you retain power and use somebody
else as your public face, so if things go badly your own career and reputation
remain intact.

This Puppet scenario seamed to be working when Hitler named his cabinet in
1933, as there were only 2 other Naziís within the cabinet, and with the
majority of the others being made up of conservatives who were led by von Papen
the arrangement seemed ideal for all concerned. From the exterior it must have
appeared that everything was going according to plan, and it was, Hitlerís
plan. After the failed Munich Putsch Hitler resolved to take power legally and
to achieve this he realised that the military and internal security forces
needed to be controlled. This was achieved by the appointment of his 2 Nazi
ministers to the positions of minister for the military and internal security,
usually mundane positions in peace time however essential for a coup díetat.
With the ability to rule by presidential decree and the ability to prevent
military involvement, Hitlerís consolidation was merely a formality.

Since the release of his memoirs, it has been seen that Bruning was
attempting to enforce an image on the world that Germany was incapable of
repaying the reparations in the hope of having them abolished altogether. This
was an idea shared by many industrialists who supported this action and helped
it to fulfilment. The German industrialists were in fact about the only people
to benefit in Germany from the ďslumpĒ as their massive debts were reduced
to almost nothing. Although this is also true for their capital, Germany and her
people still required many of their products. And once the slump was over they
would have made enormous profit. It is true that Germanyís production was
almost halved, but this is not unduly caused by a reduction in exports. The
massive unemployment, 6 million by the time Bruning left his position, gave the
industrialists the opportunity to lower wages even further and to break
organised labour groups and to greatly weaken the Left. They were also able to
lower wages even further as if the employee didnít agree there were plenty
willing to do the job.

What may be the most surprising is the ease at which Hitler was able to
convince the German people to embrace a totalitarian state. However this is a
lot simpler to understand when you realise that by 1932 the majority of the
electoral were voting for anti-democratic parties