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6. Germany Revision Notes Growing Support And Coming To Power Notes

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KAISER TO FUHRER - GROWING SUPPORT AND COMING TO POWER SECTION 6: GROWING SUPPORT AND COMING TO POWER

1. The impact of the slump 1930-32

2. Gathering the middle class vote

3. 1932 year of elections and opportunity

4. Coming to power November 1932 -January

5. Consolidating power January-March 1933

1. THE IMPACT OF THE SLUMP 1930-32 The roots of Hitler's appointment as Chancellor in January 1933 lie in the disaster of the economic crash of 1929 and the subsequent Depression. The Wall Street Crash of October and the rise in unemployment had the important effect of further polarising German politics. Germany was severely affected:
 National income shrunk by 39% between 1929 and 1932
 Industrial production declined by more than 40%
 Number of unemployed rose to around 6 million by 1932. One-third of people of working age were out of work
 Some 50,000 businesses were bankrupted
 1931 - as the German economy collapsed, a banking crisis was triggered and five major banks went bankrupt
 Homelessness and poverty increased and people's standard of living decreased: many felt insecure and desperate
 The situation in the countryside was no better than in the towns. As world demand fell further, the agricultural depression deepened, leading to widespread rural poverty. For some tenant farmers there was even the ultimate humiliation of being evicted from their homes, which had often been in their families for generations To many ordinary respectable Germans it seemed as if society itself was breaking down uncontrollably. It is not surprising that many people lost faith in the Weimar Republic, which seemed to offer no end to the misery, and began to see salvation in the solutions offered by political extremists. This was why the economic crisis in Germany quickly degenerated into a more obvious political crisis. The political impact of the Depression The economic crisis quickly became a political crisis, because a lack of confidence in democracy weakened the republic's position in its hour of need. 1

KAISER TO FUHRER - GROWING SUPPORT AND COMING TO POWER Britain, France and the USA were all well-established democracies whose citizens may have lost faith in their governments, but not in the system. These two points suggest that the Great Depression hastened the end of the Weimar Republic, because the infant democracy had become associated with economic failure.
 The Grand Coalition government led by Muller fell apart as the parties in government disagreed over the issue of unemployment benefits
 Subsequent governments were minority administrations which lacked Reichstag support. o Chancellor Bruning's government failed to get backing for its budget in July 1930. o Consequently Hindenburg dissolved the Reichstag and called a new election. o Chancellor von Papen's government lost a vote of noconfidence in 1932 o Chancellor von Schleicher's administration for only two months
 The German political system moved in a more authoritarian direction in the years before Hitler became Chancellor. o Bruning and von Papen relied extensively on emergency presidential decrees rather than on parliamentary government: there were 44 emergency decrees issued under Article 48 in 1931 compared with just five in 1930 o In July 1932, von Papen and Hindenburg also used Article 48 to seize control of regional government in Prussia, still the largest and most populous German state, whose left-wing SPD led government they objected to
 Politicians did not take effective action to deal with the Depression. o Modest reflationary measures were only started in mid1932. o German people lost faith in their political system as politicians failed to help them effectively: Bruning was labelled the 'hunger Chancellor'
 Democratic norms broke down as political violence returned to the streets of Germany. o July 1932 election campaign  461 riots in Prussia in which a number of people died. o SA responsible for much of the violence as they participated in battles against communists. 2

KAISER TO FUHRER - GROWING SUPPORT AND COMING TO POWER o Street violence added to an air of instability in Germany which served to increase people's discontent. o Political and military leaders were aware that in practice Hitler was the only person capable of controlling the SA The Depression and the economic crisis did not in themselves bring the Nazis to power. What they did was create the possibility, the opportunity and the context in which Nazi propaganda would not fall on deaf ears. The Depression polarised opinions and increased the popularity of those who It is all too easy to put Germany's economic crisis down to the Wall offered radical solutions to the economic problems. They also acted as triggers for Street Crash. It should be borne in mind that there were fundamental weaknesses in the German economy before the crash:



The balance of trade was in the red, i.e. debt The number of unemployed averaged 1.9 million in 1929 Many farmers were already in debt and had been facing falling incomes since 1927 Government finances from 1925 were continually run in deficit

The world economic crisis should therefore really be seen as the simply the final blow that wrecked the Weimar economy, not the fundamental

2. GATHERING THE MIDDLE CLASS VOTE The Depression and political crisis provided an opportunity for the Nazis. As the Depression hit, the party's electoral success increased dramatically, as did their membership, which was around 2 million by early 1933. Members were also attracted to Nazi Party organisations, such as the Hitler Youth and the SA. The Nazis new popularity put Hitler in contention for the chancellorship of Germany. Election date Percentage of the vote Number of seats

1928

2.6%

1930

18.3%

July 1932*

37.3%

12

107

230

*After these elections, the Nazi Party was the largest in the Reichstag

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