USM Open Source History Text: The World at War: World History 1914-1945

The Turning of the Tide

In 1925, WWI general and anti-republican Paul von Hindenburg became the German president. Despite economic recovery and the removal of a state of acute crisis, almost all the political parties apart from the socialists and communists drifted to the right. Many of these parties represented the interests of big industry, which was pushing, successfully, for violation of the terms of the Versailles treaty and a re-militarization of Germany. This policy was, in fact, pursued by even the moderate Gustav Stresseman before his death in 1927, which is often seen as the last hope for moderate politics in Weimar. In truth, the moderate centered had already disappeared. Perhaps more accurately, it had never really existed.

The economic crises ushered in by the 1929 world economic collapse essentially completed the process of removing the republican elements from any sort of power in the Weimar government. Anti-republican forces—most on the right, but some on the left—gained in the 1932 elections while the moderates and republican socialists declined precipitously. By 1932, the Nazi Party was a force. It was not only a political force, it was a social movement. For sure, it occupied—still in 1932—the far right of the political spectrum, but it harnessed an incredible amount of zeal amount its core supporters. It was a young party, with 70% of party members under the age of 40 in 1930. It was also a militant party—from early on Hitler had built a party-based militia, his Storm Troopers (SA – Sturmabteilung) – which were perceived as a countervailing force to the rise in communist activity. And during the early 1930s there was what could be described as an active turf war happening on German streets between these anti-republican forces. The main difference was that the communists were fighting both the SA and the political establishment, while the Nazis were basically given free reign by the state powers to do what they wanted. Hitler and his men exploited this freedom to its full measure.

This page has paths:

This page references: