Factors which led to the rise of the Nazis.
There are diverse factors that can be attributed to the rise of the Nazis to power and the demise of the Weimar Republic. Which range from economic to political, and from individuals to events both within and outside the Weimar Republic.
The first significant economic factor are the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, signed on 28th June 1919. Germany had to acknowledge from Article 231 of the Treaty (the war guilt clause) that she was responsible for the first world war. This angered the vast majority of Germans as the clause served as the legal basis to compel Germany to pay the high reparations for the conflict. Whilst the reparation costs were very high, at ‘£6600 million’ and Germany’s had still great economic potential, the reparations were seen by Germans as a never-ending punishment upon Germany and anchor on her economy and annual Government spending for its citizens. The cost of the reparations led to the hyperinflation of 1923 as Cuno’s government printed money on a tremendous scale in order to repay Germany’s war debt. Furthermore, the issue of reparations left deep seated hatred of the Weimar Republic who signed the treaty, creating problems later on for Weimar.
The hyperinflation of 1923 saw the exchange rate rise from ‘17,792 marks’, to ‘200,000 million German marks’ to the dollar in an eleven month span. By December 1923, ‘90%’ of average family expenditure was used to buy food, resulting in a massive, nation-wide crime wave of people ‘stealing to survive’. Whilst the wealthy could capitalise or survive the crisis, and the poorest, such as peasant land workers, coped as they were self-sufficient. Those who were on fixed-income, such as pensioners, suffered immensely as the real value of their money declined, and those who had savings lost out. The significant effect of the hyper-inflation was social as in the interpretation of historian Frederick Taylor, the Weimar Republic would never be forgiven by the middle classes for the hyperinflation. Whilst the hyperinflation is not as significant as the Great Depression and other factors, the fact that by 1932 the middle class formed a backbone of Nazi Party membership and were willing to embrace a thoroughly different government, certainly credits his argument.
Weimar’s solution to hyper-inflation was the Dawes plan in April 1924 which largely involved an ‘800million mark’ loan from the US to Germany and the arrangements of payment of reparations monthly over a five year period to be calculated to Germany’s ability to pay. This brought by Wilhelm Marx’s chancellorship helped stabilise Germany after the hyperinflation of the previous year. However, Germany’s economy was dangerously dependent upon the continuation of American loans. When the Wall Street Crash of October 1929 occurred, these loans ‘dried up’ and America demanded the repayment of the short-term loans. Unemployment rose to ‘5.6 million’ within 3 years as...