January 10th, 2018
The Rise of Hitler(part-2)
At the heart of Hitler’s rise, was the development of nationalism that took place during the eighteenth and especially in the nineteenth century. Lacking a centralized state, the main driver of such nationalism was the shared language and culture (David 459). In the 19th century, the core aim of the nationalism proponents was to amalgamate the diverse minor states that existed into a single German state (David 459). With French suppression and Napoleonic wars, the clamor for such nationalism by the Germans was heightened. Such clamor was furthered by the adoption of the liberal constitution of 1849 that provided individuals the right to develop their own culture, including those individuals who were not conversant with German (Fritzsche25), thus allowing the Germans, who at the time were oppressed by the French rule, to propagate their culture. As such, in the 19th Century, the movements in support of nationalism in Germany were linked to liberalism and demands for democracy, which the rulers of existing monarchies and reactionary forces opposed vehemently (Fritzsche25). Such opposition also came from Prince Metternich a German politician and diplomat with Australian roots during the period after the congress of Vienna (Fritzsche 35). The Congress of Vienna and subsequent events however favored the development of nationalism.
The Congress of Vienna sought to resolve diverse issues resulting from the French suppression, Napoleonic wars and collapse of Roman Empire. After the congress in 1814-1815 and decades later, the founding of German nation-state in 1871, German nationalism continued to grow (Fritzsche 35-40). Such growth was furthered by Otto von Bismarck’s military triumphs and increasing influence of German science and culture by the end of the 19th century (Fritzsche 40). Such popularity of German culture and science had increasingly inculcated a perception of the German culture as being superior, especially compared to the Slavs who were their neighbors (Fritzche 40). Believers of German nationalism reviled the social democrats, left liberals, Catholics and Jews terming them the enemies of the Reich (Kershaw 135). Nationalism continued to grow during the First World War but after the war and the subsequent disappointing peace agreements, Liberalism and internationalism started to be unpopular in Germany and other European states (Kershaw 140). In the midst of these developments, a misguided type of nationalism that was based on a biological theory of Germans being superior to other races, developed, which ultimately culminated into Hitler’s National Socialism (Kershaw 150).
The Weimar government was the parliamentary republic constituted in 1919 to take the place of the imperial government in Germany (Kolb 35). It lasted for fourteen years, up to 1933, but encountered multiple problems such as high inflation rates, opposition from left and right political extremists and their forces, and antagonism from the First World War victors. The most crippling problem was the repressive terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler capitalized on these weaknesses to ascend to power. In October 1929, Weimar government was ravaged by the crash of Wall Street and the Great Depression that hit the United States. The Crash had an overwhelming impact on the economy of the United States. The Weimar government was affected by the crash because earlier in 1923, the Americans had loaned money to them to support their economy after the hyperinflation experiences. Now, the United States required back the money advanced to the Weimar republic to aid her own crumbling economy. After the Great depression, the United States ordered Germany to begin repaying the loans after ninety days (Kolb 57). Consequently, the Weimar economy collapsed hence many companies and industries could not sustain themselves and they were declared bankrupt; millions of people lost their jobs. The economic hardships that resulted caused much agony amongst the citizens motivating them to follow in the extreme German political parties – the Communist and Nazi Parties which they believed would ultimately address their predicaments effectively (Kolb 78).