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Germany: Versailles to the

Outbreak of World War II
1918 1939
Advanced Higher

Autumn 2000


Versailles to the Outbreak of
World War II
1918 1939
Advanced Higher

Support Materials



Course Requirements

Using this Unit

Chronological Study



Theme 1

The Creation of the Weimar Republic

Theme 2

A Period of Relative Stability

Theme 3

The Collapse of Weimar

Theme 4

The Transformation of Post-Weimar Society



Section One


Section Two

Historiography of the Weimar Republic: 1970-2000

Section Three

Historiography of the Third Reich: 1970-2000



Section One
Section Two
Section Three
Section Four
Section Five

The Foundations of the Republic: 1918-1923

Foreign Policy: 1918-1933
Republican Stability: 1924-1929
The Collapse of the Republic: 1930-1933
Nazism in the Weimar Republic: 1918-1933

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II 1918-1939 (AH)




Section One

Politics and Economics: 1933-1939

Section Two

The Nazi Social and Racial Revolution: 1933-1939

Section Three

Hitlers Foreign Policy: 1933-1939

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II 1918-1939 (AH)



General Aims
This Advanced Higher context has to fulfil the overall aims for this level of historical
study i.e.:
to acquire depth in the knowledge and understanding of historical themes.
to develop skills of analysing issues, developments and events, drawing
conclusions and evaluating sources.
Course Content
The content to be covered is described in the following terms:
Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II
A study of the changing nature of political authority, the reasons for changes and the
consequences of the changing character of political authority, focusing on the themes
of ideology, authority and revolution.
The creation of the Weimar Republic, including: military defeat, the November
Revolution and the Treaty of Versailles; social and political instability; economic
crisis and hyper-inflation.
A period of relative stability, including: currency reform and the Dawes plan; social
welfare provision; the Stressemann era in foreign affairs.
The collapse of Weimar, including: economic depression and mass unemployment;
the weakening of democracy, Bruning to Schleicher; the rise of Nazism; Hitler and
the Nazi takeover of power.
The transformation of post-Weimar society, including: Nazi consolidation of power in
Germany; Nazi economic policy; Nazi social and racial policies; the impact of foreign
policy on domestic circumstances.
Course requirements describe the criteria that students are expected to meet as
consisting of the ability to:
handle detailed information in order to analyse events and their relationship
use this analysis to address complex historical issues including consideration of
alternative interpretations
draw a series of judgements together by structured, reasoned argument reaching
well-supported conclusions.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)

Learning Experiences
The kinds of activities expected of a student who is taking an Advanced History
course are outlined as follows:
Students should:
engage in wide-ranging, independent reading relevant to their historical studies
interpret and evaluate historical source material, relating it precisely to its
context in order to show awareness of the complexity and elusiveness of historical
become aware of different interpretations of history by different historians and the
reasons for these
record systematically information derived from a variety of sources, such as
books, notes, lectures, audio-visual materials
make use of historical terms and concepts encountered in the study of complex
primary and secondary evidence
take part in formal and informal discussion and debate based on and informed by
historical evidence and knowledge
develop the skills of extended communication for a variety of purposes including
descriptive and analytical essays or oral responses, responses to source-based
questions and a Dissertation; opportunities should be provided for revision and
redrafting of extended writing following critical review
develop individual and independent learning skills, especially those relating to the
preparation and production of a Dissertation.
It is important that the students should understand the historical themes that run
through the chosen topic and not simply learn about a series of discrete historical

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


The material in this unit is intended to support students work on this course by:
expanding the course content to provide a more detailed framework for student
providing stimulus material to encourage debate and discussion
providing source handling exercises appropriate to the course requirements
making reference to suitable texts.
Teachers may wish to:
provide an introductory lecture for an aspect of the course, this introduction to be
followed by purposeful note-taking by students investigating the relevant aspect
more fully
raise a question/problem/issue to be discussed, followed by note-taking, and
concluded with further discussion
raise an issue for students to explore, given an assigned case to argue, to be
followed by formal debate
provide stimulus materials in any appropriate form, to be followed by detailed
research of the issue through student note-making
select essay titles for collaborative planning of an essay outline
use sources for collaborative work on handling sources effectively.
It is essential that sources are used regularly and are drawn from all parts of the
Sources should include extracts from the works of historians. Where appropriate,
differing interpretations by historians should be used and the reasons for these
differences carefully considered.
Students study of historians works should include identifying and describing
historians viewpoints.
The student material which follows is structured to:
provide a framework for the course which students can use to develop more
detailed notes
raise issues to form the basis for student research and to use for discussion, debate
and essay/practice
provide a selection of primary sources
provide appropriate activities.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


18 January



Germany at war with Russia, France and Britain.


29 August

Hindenburg and Ludendorff form new Supreme

Army Command (OHL).


7 April

William II promises reform of voting system.

19 July

Peace Resolution passed by the Reichstag (SPD

Centre and left liberals).

3 March

Germany and USSR sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.


27 September

William I becomes Emperor of the German Empire

Army High Command calls for an armistice.

3 October

Request for an armistice sent to President Wilson.

4 October

Prince Max of Baden becomes Chancellor at the head

of a majority government including Socialists (SPD),
and Centre and liberal politicians.

26 October

Germany becomes a constitutional monarchy by an

Act of Parliament.

3-9 November
9 November

Revolution spreads throughout Germany.

Abdication of William II. Republic proclaimed.
Ebert becomes Chancellor in SPD-USPD Coalition.


10 November

Ebert and Groener agreement.

11 November

Armistice signed with the Allies.

5-11 January

Spartacist Rising in Berlin.

19 January

Election of National Assembly.

11 February

Ebert elected National (Reich) President.

28 June
11 August

The Treaty of Versailles signed.

Weimar Constitution comes into force.

24 February

The Nazi (NSDAP) Party founded in Munich.

13-16 June

Right-wing Kapp Putsch fails.

6 June

First elections to the Reichstag.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


24-29 January

French proposal that Germany pay reparations for the

sum of 269,000,000,000 gold marks.
(In May 1921 the figure was set at 132,000,000,000
gold marks, and for Germany to pay 26% of her
export earnings and the costs of the Allied


26 August

Erzberger murdered by right-wing extremists.

16 April

Germany and USSR sign the Treaty of Rapallo

during Genoa Conference on reparations and

24 June

Rathenau murdered by right-wing extremists.

22 November


Cuno becomes Chancellor.

11 January

French and Belgian troops enter the Ruhr.

13 January

German government under Cuno proclaims passive

resistance in the Ruhr.

July November
13 August

Hyperinflation at its peak.

Stressemann becomes Chancellor.

26 September

Stressemanns government abandons passive

resistance unconditionally in the Ruhr.

8-9 November

Hitler Putsch in Munich.

15 November

Rentenmark introduced to stabilise the currency.


29 August


28 February

Death of Ebert. Hindenburg elected President in


5-16 October

Locarno Conference.
Germany becomes a member of the League of



Reichstag accepts Dawes Plan on reparations.

16 July

Law on Labour Exchanges and Unemployment

Insurance provides progressive welfare legislation.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)




20 May

Reichstag Elections: Nazis win 12 seats.

29 June

Grand Coalition formed. SPD re-enter government.

27 August

Kellogg-Brand Pact outlaws war.

3 October

Death of Stressemann.

29 October

Crash on Wall Street Stock Exchange.

12 March

Reichstag accepts Young Plan on reparations.

29 March

Bruning appointed Chancellor following the

resignation of Muller as head of Weimars last
majority government.

14 September

Reichstag Elections: significant Nazi gains. They

become the second largest party with 107 seats.


6 July


10 April

Hindenburg re-elected President after a second ballot.

Hitler takes second place.

30 May

Von Papen appointed Chancellor.

27 July

Von Papen suspends Prussian government and

introduces direct rule in Germanys largest state.

31 July

Reichstag Elections: Nazis become the largest party

with 230 deputies.

6 Nov

Reichstag Elections: significant Nazi losses. They

remain the largest party with 196 deputies.

3 Dec

Schleicher succeeds von Papen as Chancellor.

30 Dec.

Moratorium (suspension) on reparations.

Official unemployment figure of 4,380,000.

30 January

Hitler appointed Chancellor in a coalition cabinet.

27 February

Reichstag fire.

28 February

Presidential decree suspends civil liberties.

5 March

Last Reichstag Elections. The Nazis win 288 seats

out of 647 seats.

13 March

Goebbels becomes Minister for Propaganda.

23 March

Enabling Act passed which effectively ended

parliamentary government in Germany.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



1 April

National boycott of Jewish shops.

2 May

Free trade unions dissolved.

10 May

Burning of books throughout Germany.

14 July

Nazi Party becomes the only legal political party.

14 October

Germany leaves the League of Nations.

26 January

German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact signed.

30 June



After the death of Hindenburg, Hitler becomes

President as well as Chancellor of Germany.

15 January

Plebiscite in Saar votes for reunion with Germany.

16 March

Reintroduction of conscription.

18 June
15 September

7 March



SA Chief of Staff Ernst Rohm arrested and killed

along with other colleagues in Night of the Long

Anglo-German Naval agreement signed.

Nuremberg Race Laws passed.
German troops enter the Rhineland.
Four Year Plan announced to make German economy
capable of war.

1 November

Rome-Berlin Axis announced by Mussolini.

5 November

Hossbach Memorandum records Hitlers plans for

territorial expansion.

26 November

Schacht resigns as Minister of Economics.

4 February

Resignation of leading German generals announced.

12 March

Anschluss with Austria.

30 September

Munich Agreement cedes Sudetenland to Germany.

9 November

Kristallnacht. Organised pogroms against the Jews.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


15 March

Hitler seizes Prague. This is followed by a

Franco-British guarantee to Poland on 31 March.

23 August

Nazi-Soviet Pact signed.

1 September

Germany invades Poland.

3 September

Britain and France declare war on Germany.


22 June

France signs an armistice with Germany.


22 June

Germany invades the Soviet Union.


20 January

Wansee Conference in Berlin on the Final Solution.


30 January

German Sixth Army capitulates at Stalingrad.


6 June

Allied invasion of Normandy.

20 July

Stauffenberg Bomb Plot to assassinate Hitler.


4-11 February
30 April
8 May

Big Three conference at Yalta.

Adolf Hitler commits suicide in Berlin.
Unconditional surrender of Germany to the Allies.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



This first main area of the course involves the study of the creation of the Weimar
Republic including:
military defeat
the November Revolution and the Treaty of Versailles
social and political instability
economic crisis and hyper-inflation.
This is the crucial base on which the course is built. It requires an appreciation of
military, political, social and economic matters. It needs a grasp of the wider context
surrounding events in Germany, including the attitudes of Allied leaders who shaped
the Treaty of Versailles, and events in Russia.
This section of the course therefore deals with the key concepts of:
From careful study of this theme, an understanding of the inter-action between these
concepts will be developed.
Issues for investigation/discussion
There are many questions to think about in this section e.g.
Were the circumstances in which Weimar was born a burden that was
impossible to overcome?

Was the Versailles Treaty so unfair to Germany as to leave the

Weimar Republic an impossible legacy?

Was political opinion in Germany so completely divided that uniting

behind the Weimar Government was never going to be possible?

Was the Weimar Constitution fundamentally flawed?

Did the way the war ended leave Germans with the illusion that they
had not been properly militarily defeated?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part A: Military Defeat

From August 1914, Germany had waged total war. As one historian has commented,
The amount of blood and treasure invested in the First World War made it difficult
for Germans to contemplate a future in which the German Reich was not victorious.
AJ Nicholls, Weimar and the Rise of Hitler, MacMillan, 2000
The apparently sudden coming of setbacks that threatened defeat was therefore a
profound shock that had enormous political consequences.
Notes will be required on the following dimensions:

From Success to Failure from the German Army, 1918

This involves considering:
German victory over Russia
The Treaty of Brest Litovsk
(iii) The Ludendorff Offensive in the West
Allied counter-offensives, July-August
German retreat
The collapse of Germanys allies.


Where did power lie?

This involves considering:
The character and government of Kaiser William II
The German political systems; Reichstag and Bundesrat
(iii) The power and influence of Army leaders
The main political parties, their leaders, supporters and policies.


Revolution from above?

This involves considering:
Ludendorffs views on the need for an armistice
His views on the need for a parliamentary democracy
(iii) Prince Max of Baden and the forming of a parliamentary cabinet
The request by Germany for an armistice.

Issues to discuss
Was Ludendorff simply trying to avoid being blamed for defeat?

Should the Social Democrats have agreed to enter the Government?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part B: The November Revolution

This section covers a remarkable series of events in later October and November 1918
that include Germany becoming a republic and the First World War finally coming to
an end.
The Historian, William Carr, argues that
The German Revolution, like the March Revolution in Russia, was spontaneous in its
origins. .It was also a bloodless revolution.
Notes will be required on the following aspects:

Problems of peace-making
This involves considering:
The German request for an armistice
President Wilsons demands
(iii) Ludendorffs resistance and resignation.


Constitutional monarchy is established

This involves considering:
Limitations on the Emperors powers
The establishment of government responsible to the Reichstag
(iii) Controls over the military.


Conditions in Germany
This involves considering:
The effects of the allied blockage
The shock of defeat
(iii) Evidence of differences between classes and between regions; tensions
in society
Evidence of anti-Semitism.


Naval Mutiny
This involves considering:
The mutiny in two cruisers and the reasons for this
The spread of the mutiny in Kiel
(iii) The widening of protest to include workers and soldiers in Germany
The setting up of workers and soldiers councils.


Political Revolution
This involves considering:
Different left-wing political groups
The setting up of the Bavarian Republic
(iii) The Kaisers abdication
Ebert becomes Chancellor.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



A Troubled Government
This involves considering:
The Ebert-Groener Pact
Signing the armistice
(iii) Forming a new government
Workers and Soldiers councils; the Berlin Congress
Limits on Government control of Germany.


The Far Left Fails

This involves the following:
The Spartacists, their leaders and their beliefs
How the Rising came about
(iii) Its failure; Noskes use of Freikorps, the death of their leaders
The issue of workers councils, the miners strike
Resentment at the use of controls and central planning.

Issue to debate
Eberts aim was to avoid a real social revolution in Germany.
What can be said for and against this view?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part C: The Treaty of Versailles

With the First World War over, the new Weimar Government not only had to struggle
to impose its authority in Germany, it also had to face the consequences of the peace
treaty that was being worked out by the victorious Allies. It is therefore important to
build up detailed knowledge of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the motives and
concerns of the men who created the Treaty, the reactions in Germany to the terms of
the Treaty, and the consequences for the Weimar Government of accepting the Treaty.
The war had not been fought on German soil and only months earlier German forces
had ended Russias part in the war and advanced west as far as the River Marne. It is
not surprising that defeat was difficult to accept.
Notes will be required on the following dimensions:

The peace aims of the Allies

This involves considering:
The USA, President Wilson and the 14 Points
Lloyd George, Britain, and naval and imperial and economic concerns
(iii) France and Clemenceau and French concerns for security.


The Treaty of Versailles

This involved considering:
Territorial arrangements including a ban on uniting with Austria
Military restrictions on Germany and the army of occupation in the
(iii) Financial arrangement including war guilt, reparations and overseas
Overseas arrangements including colonies and the fleet.


German Responses
This involves considering:
Popular expectations of the peace
The attitudes of leading politicians
(iii) The arguments against the Treaty
An evaluation of the justice of German complaints
The decision to sign the Treaty
Attitudes in Germany towards the Treaty
(vii) The emergence of the stab in the back view.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Issues to consider and discuss

The historian A J Nicholls states that the Versailles Treaty still left the Germans
considerably more territory than united Germany has today. How justified was
German hostility to the Treaty of Versailles?

How far is it fair to argue that The only treaty acceptable to the Germans was
one drawn up as if they had won the war?

The historian William Carr argues

What the German Nationalists could not do .was bring themselves to accept
the fact of Gemanys military defeat.
Why was it possible for them to do this?
What might be the results of such an attitude?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part D: Social and Political Instability

This part of the course deals with the years 1919-22, a time when the new Republic
struggled to become established and faced threats to its stability from both the left and
right wings. The Treaty of Versailles was signed by two ministers of the Weimar
Government on 28th June 1919; reactions to this Treaty therefore form a factor in the
problems of this period. Some historians believe the kind of political system that was
created by the new Weimar Constitution of 1919 was itself partly to blame for the
troubles that developed in the following years.
Notes will be needed on the following:

The New Constitution

This involves considering:
Elections and the drafting of the constitution
The Lnder and their powers; the Reichsrat
(iii) The President and his authority; Ebert the first President
The Reichstag; the chancellor and his responsibilities
The electoral system; peoples rights
Problems and tensions in the constitution.


Political Parties and their Policies

This involves considering:
The Social Democrats and Independent Social Democrats
The Democrats
(iii) The Peoples Party
The Centre
The National Peoples Party
The Communists.


Supporters and Opponents of the Weimar Government

This involves considering the attitudes of:
Trade Unions
The Army
(iii) The Civil Service
The Judiciary
The Educational Systems
A series of Chancellors in office
(vii) The murders of leading politicians.


The Kapp Putsch

This involves considering:
The causes of and supporters of the Putsch
The seizure of control in Berlin; army attitudes
(iii) The general strike
The end of the Putsch
Why sympathiseres were not dealt with firmly.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



The Nationalist Socialist German Works Party

This involves considering:
Drexler and the German Workers Party
Aspects of Hitlers early life shaping his beliefs
(iii) The Partys principles
The importance to Hitler of racial views
Hitlers rise in the Party and the reasons for this
To whom did the Party appeal?

Issues to discuss
Do you agree that the Weimar Constitution provided a recipe for tension,
quarrels and instability?

Why did not those wholly committed to the Republic deal more firmly with their

How true is it to state that the Army managed to become a state within a state?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part E: Economic Crisis and Hyper-inflation

1923 proved to be a very troubled year for the Republic, a year in which troubles in
Germany and foreign pressure combined to being about a major crisis. The reactions
of political parties and the Army to the crisis showed how insecure the Republics
foundations were. The crisis was weathered and brought to the fore the man who was
to be Weimars leading statesmen - Gustav Stressemann. Events included Adolf
Hitlers first bid for power.
Notes should be made on the following aspects:

Trying to meet Allied demands?

This involves considering:
The final reparations bill presented to Germany
Economic problems in Germany i.e.
- Debates
- Wartime losses
- The need to tackle post-war problems
- The difficulty of enforcing a strict taxation policy
- Signs of inflation
(iii) The Wirth Government and the policy of fulfilment
Von Seeckt and the Army policy of avoiding military restrictions
The Treaty of Rapallo and avoidance of restrictions.


The occupation of the Ruhr

This involves considering:
German inability to meet reparation demands
Poincar and the Franco-Belgian occupation
(iii) The Cuno Government and passive resistance
The use of French workers; violence, strikes and sabotage.


This involves considering:
How the Ruhr occupation worsened the state of the economy
Price rises and the fall in value of the Mark
(iii) Who benefited
Damage done to wages, savings and attitudes to the Republic.


Reactions in Germany
This involves considering:
Bavaria as a shelter for Patriotic League paramilitaries
Von Kahns policies
(iii) Army attitudes to events in Bavaria
Army intervention to remove left-wing governments in Saxony and
Stressemann, his career and personality
Stressemann resumes reparation payments
(vii) Hitlers Munich Putsch and its consequences.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Issues to consider
Why did Britain and France press so hard for reparations? Did their reasons

Should the French be blamed for their actions?

Why was Bavaria so important a centre of right-wing activity?

Why did not Hitlers failure simply make him a figure of ridicule?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



During the years 1924 to 1929, the Weimar Republic seemed to flourish. Living
standards rose, industrial production increased, exports grew. These developments
took place amid a background of international negotiations that helped to stabilise the
German economy and seemed to have sorted out the question of reparations
In foreign affairs too, Germany moved back into a world of better relations with the
countries that had so recently been her enemies. French troops left the Ruhr and
Allied troops began to leave the Rhineland. Germanys changed status was marked
by her entry into the League of Nations.
Yet all was not entirely well. Foreign money poured into Germany, attracted by high
interest rates, and might just as easily leave. Extremist political parties on left and
right continued to denounce the Republic and its policies. Those who accepted the
Weimar political system were fragmented in different political parties and did not find
it easy to co-operate with one another. The Army continued to fail to offer
enthusiastic backing for the Weimar Republic.
The concepts of ideology and authority pervade this part of the course as people with
differing political beliefs clashed and the government continued to struggle to assert
really effective and generally accepted authority.
Issues to consider / investigate / discuss

How soundly-based was Germanys economic recovery of


How ready were Germans at this time to now accept the

territorial arrangement made in the Versailles Treaty?

How secure and stable was the Weimar political system?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part A: Currency Reform and the Dawes Plan

During 1923 runaway inflation had caused great harm to many in Germany. This
problem was tackled by Stressemann when he became Chancellor in August. The
Reichstag gave him full power to try to solve the problem. The reforms that followed
worked well. In August 1924 the Reichstag accepted a plan to settle the problem of
fixing reparations repayments at a figure acceptable to Germany. These events show
how intertwined foreign and domestic policies had come to be in deciding the
effectiveness of the Weimar Governments authority.
Notes will be required on the following aspects:

Currency Reform
This involves considering:
The use of land and industrial values as a base on which to secure the
The loan provided for the Reichsbank
(iii) The creation of the Rentenbank and a new currency
Luther as Finance Minister
The importance of Schacht as Currency Commissioner.


Cutting Costs
This involves considering:
Cutting expenditure in Government
Tax increases
(iii) Restoration of confidence.


The Dawes Plan

This involves considering:
The importance of Herriot and MacDonalds elections to office
US pressure to sort out reparations
(iii) The Dawes Committee
The proposed reparation repayment system
Security for repayment from revenues: a loan from the West
German critics of the Plan
(vii) Its successful passage through the Reichstag.

What do you think .

Were the key reasons why these economic reforms were successful?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part B: Social Welfare Provision and Problems

The recovery of the mid to late 1920s allowed the Weimar Government to improve
living conditions for many people in terms of better transport, housing, schools and
hospitals. However, the opponents of the Republic continued to be very active whilst
its supports failed to combine together in reply. The tensions and differences finally
led to the end of what had been a reasonably stable Government over the issue of the
provision to be made for the unemployed.
Notes will be required on the following:

Areas of complaint
This involves considering:
Farmers and their reasons for complaint
The complaints of small businessmen, craftsmen etc.
(iii) The growth of small parties representing them
The attitude of Army, Civil Service and University
The forming of an alliance between far right parties.


Problems of Government
This involves considering:
The death of Ebert and the election of Hindenburg
The dependence of German prosperity on foreign loans
(iii) Confirmed tensions between pro-Weimar parties
The death of Stressemann.


Success and Failure

This involves considering:
The electoral achievements of moderate parties
The setting up of the Reichsbanner
(iii) The Young Plan to scale down reparations
The 1927 reform of social insurance
Opposition to this and the end of the Mller Government, 1930.

Issue to clarify
Why were pro-Weimar political parties unable to work better together? Was it
personalities or policies that separated them?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part C: The Stressemann Era in Foreign Affairs

From 1924 to 1929 Stressemann dominated German foreign policy-making. His
formidable skills brought Germany a whole range of benefits in terms of her status
and helpful to bring a reduction in her reparations bill. His death in October 1929 was
a serious blow to the Republic. Historians have been careful to point out that
Stressemann was very much a German Nationalist, however.
Notes will be required on the following aspects:

Gustav Stressemann
This involves considering:
His personality, beliefs and skills
His early career
(iii) The aims of his foreign policy.


His Circumstances
This involves considering:
British foreign policy aims
French foreign policy aims
(iii) Russian foreign policy aims
His attitude to eastern frontiers.


A Deal in the West, 1925

This involves considering:
The Geneva Protocol
Negotiations with Britain and France
(iii) The Treaty of Locarno
His attitude to eastern frontiers.


Skilful Progress
This involves considering:
The evacuation of the Ruhr
Partial evacuation of the Rhineland
(iii) Entry to the League of Nations
The Treaty of Berlin
The Kellogg Briand Pact
The evacuation of the rest of the Rhineland
(vii) The Young Plan and the removal of further Allied controls.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Issues to consider
There has been considerable debate about Stressemann, his motives, his aims, his skill
in building an image as a diplomat in search of a peaceful settlement of German
frontiers. In 1926 he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
How accurate is this image?

What can be said against it?

Does he deserve to be known as a good European?

What contacts and connections did he build up with German minorities living in
other lands?

How seriously did he regard the Treaty of Locarno? Was it just a tactic?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



The third area of the course requires the study of:
Economic depression and mass unemployment
The weakening of democracy; Bruning to Schleicher
The rise of Nazism
Hitler and the Nazi take over of power.
Between 1930 and 1933 the Weimar Republic was hit by the economic depression
that had a severed impact on many countries of the world. This section of the course
deals with the Republican Governments attempts to deal with the crisis and with the
political consequences of the events of the period. By spring of 1933, parliamentary
government had effectively ended, swept aside by the countrys recently appointed
Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, the leader of the National Socialist Party. Nazi beliefs
differed sharply from those of the parliamentary parties; Nazi strategies fed down
from the authority of their leader.
In this section of the course; therefore, the three key concepts are all central to
understanding i.e.
Issues to consider / investigate / discuss
A great deal is concentrated in this short period including:
Could the Weimar Republic have avoided the collapse of
parliamentary government?

What made it possible for Hitler to rise so rapidly to the post of


Who supported the Nazi Party?

Was it primarily the economic crisis that destroyed the Weimar


What was the role of the Army in the events of these years?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part A: Economic Depression and Mass Unemployment

The world economic crisis that developed rapidly from the collapse of the USAs
Wall Street Stock Exchange in October 1929 soon made its impact on Germany. In
March 1930 Bruning of the Centre Party had become Chancellor and for two years he
struggled no deal with the crisis that hit German farming, industry, trade and finance.
In the election that Bruning called in September 1930 pro Weimar parties did badly,
extreme parties (especially Nazis and Communists) did well. It is against this
background, and heavily dependent on President Hindenburgs support, that Bruning
tried to cope with the economic crisis.
Notes will be required on the following aspects:

World Depression
This involves considering the background to the crisis in Germany including:
Wall Street Crash and the stock market crisis
Bank failures
(iii) Crisis in farming and industries and price falls
World trade problems and increasing tariffs.


The Depression in Germany

This involves considering:
German dependence on foreign loans and the withdrawal of loans
Business failures and problems of trade
(iii) Farming crisis
Banking troubles
Rising unemployment.


Government policies under Bruning

This involves considering:
Falling government tax revenues
Government cuts and their consequences
(iii) The problem of sustaining the Marks value
Tax increases
The unsuccessful attempt at customs union with Austria.


The End of Reparations

This involves considering:
Brunings aim of ending reparations
Hoover and US readiness to end inter-allied debts
(iii) British and French responses
The virtual end of reparations.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Issues to consider / investigate / discuss

What criticisms were made in Germany of Brunings policies?

Were they justified? Should he have acted differently?

How far were Germanys deep problems, 1929 32, the result of mistaken
policies pursued 1924-1929? Was the economy in an unsound condition

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part B: The Weakening of Democracy; Bruning to Schleicher

Bruning became Chancellor in March 1930. At the end of January 1933, Adolf Hitler
became Chancellor. The period between these dates is a critical time in understanding
why the parliamentary democracy that had survived since the war finally came to an
end. Political dealing between parties took place against the background of the
economic depression and the effects that this had on Germanys voters. The 1930
election saw big gains for the extremes of left and right yet the remaining parties still
seemed to fail to collaborate to resist movements determined to end parliamentary
democracy. Running through this section is the key question of how far the Weimar
Republic brought about its own downfall. Once Hitler became chancellor the
parliamentary system was rapidly dismantled.
Notes will be needed on the following aspects:

The Bruning Government

This involves considering:
The influence of Schleicher
Brunings political beliefs, qualities, etc
(iii) Why Bruning replaced Mller
His reliance on Hindenburg
His budget proposals and clash with the Reichstag.


The 1930 Election

This involves considering:
The election results and the reasons for them
The problems facing the Socialists
(iii) How the Government survived.


The Crisis of 1932

This involves considering:
The Presidential campaign
The failure of constitutional supporters to effectively organise
(iii) Army attitudes
The fall of Bruning and appointment of von Papen
The July and November elections and the reasons for the results
Von Papens attack on the Prussian Government
(vii) The replacement of von Papen by Schleicher.

Issue to debate
What can be said for and against the view that:
The real turning point in the collapse of Weimar democracy was the fall of Bruning
not the fall of Mller?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part C: The Rise of Nazism

The rapid rise of the Nazi Party during the early 1930s to become the largest party in
the Reichstag deserves careful consideration. The character and polices of the Party,
its power structure, its methods and its leadership all require attentions.
Notes will be needed on the following aspects:

Who supported the Nazis?

There is no simple answer to this; areas of particular strength should be
considered including:
Nazi strength in the provinces
Nazi appeal to the middle classes
(iii) Nazi strength in Protestant areas
Attitudes in the Army
Where Nazi finances came from.


What were Nazi policies?

There are shifts here, but aspects to consider include:
(iii) Racialism
Hostility to Versailles
Strong government and strong leader
Ideas for reform.


What were Nazi methods?

Aspects to include:
Marches and rallies
The SA and the use of violence
(iii) Propaganda
The skilful exploiting of circumstances including the Young Plan and
the economic crisis.


Adolf Hitler
Aspects to include:
His control over the Party
His oratory
(iii) His skill as a political opportunist
Other key figures in the Party.

Issue to discuss
Was Hitlers support strongest in Protestant provincial Germany?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part D: Hitler and the Nazi Take-over of Power

Having become Chancellor, General von Schleicher lasted just two months in office.
He lacked a secure political base and had earned the enmity of von Papen. Although
it did not prove easy to persuade Hindenburg to appoint Hitler, he eventually agreed
to do so. Right wing nationalist parties celebrated believing that they had won the
ability to control Hitler. Events rapidly showed them that they were wrong.
Notes will be required on the following aspects:

The Fall of Schleicher

This involves considering:
His attempt to secure the backing of a section of the Nazis led by
His plans for reforms and the hostility they met
(iii) Von Papen and the right wing deal with Hitler
The fall of Schleicher.


Hitler arrives in office

This includes:
His appointment as Chancellor
His Cabinet
(iii) Calling an election
Using the power of the state in the campaign, including Goerings
authority in Prussia.


Democracy is Overturned
This includes:
The Reichstag Fire
The use of it to suspend basic political rights
(iii) The electoral results
The Enabling Law.

Issue to discuss
There was nothing inevitable about Nazi success.
Do you agree?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



The last main area of the course requires the study of:
Nazi consolidation of power in Germany
Nazi economic policy
Nazi social and racial policies
The impact of foreign policy on domestic circumstances.
The means used to assert power and the use made of power mean that all three key
concepts are of relevance i.e.
Issues to consider / investigate / discuss
The nature of Nazi rule and Hitlers own intentions have been the
subject of much debate among historians. As you build up notes
consider the following issues:

Is Hitlers role absolutely central to all that happened in these


What difference did Nazi rule make to the lines of ordinary


What opposition did the Nazis face inside Germany?

How do you explain the German economic recovery? Was it due

to Nazi policies?

Is it possible, in any way, to see Nazi policies as a continuation of

what had been happening before 1933?

The historian Ian Kershaw notes:

More than half a century after the destruction of the Third Reich,
leading historians are far from agreement on some of the most
fundamental problems of interpreting and explaining Nazism.
Ian Kershaw, Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives of
Interpretation, Arnold, 2000

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part A: Nazi Consolidation of Power in Germany

Once installed as Chancellor and with the powers provided by Hindenburgs
declaration of a state of emergency as well as the Enabling Law, Hitler moved swiftly
to assert full control over the political system. The death of Hindenburg enabled him
to gather in presidential power too. However, his political skills also showed
themselves in a refusal to push through too rapid a revolution; he was determined to
carry the Army and big business with them rather than alarm them by a rush of radical
measures. Those (among whom SA leaders loomed large) who did not agree with this
caution were dealt with brutally.
Notes will be required on the following:

The Elimination of Democracy

This involves considering:
The dissolution of other parties; Germany as a one party state
A one party election; the use of plebiscites
(iii) The destruction of Lnder democracy and abolition of the Reichsrat
Death of Hindenburg and Hitler as Fhrer
The Cabinet empowered to pass laws.


The Elimination of Enemies

This involves considering:
Reasons for tension between Hitler and the SA leaders
Reasons for action
(iii) The Night of the Long Knives
The elimination of other potential enemies
Why this brutality was accepted.


The Assertion of control over the Army

This involves considering:
The Army oath of loyalty to Hitler
The removal of Blomberg and other leaders
(iii) The appointment of new leaders
The absolution of the War Ministry; Hitler as Commander in Chief.


The Spread of Nazi Organisations

This involves considering:
The end of free trade unions; the Labour Front
The creation of a unified police; Himmler, Heydrich and the Gestapo
(iii) Himmler and the growth of an independent SS
The use intimidation, violence, concentration camps
Nazi organisations for the young, teachers, doctors, civil servants, etc.


This involves considering:
The importance of Goebbels
The use of the media
(iii) The use of rallies and marches.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Issues to consider
How effective was the very centralised Nazi state?

Did it work smoothly?

Did it contain rivalries, feuds, etc, and if so, was this deliberate?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part B: Nazi Economic Policy

Between 1933 and 1939 the German economy recovered, unemployment fell, public
works (like road building) were much in evidence and there were strong Nazi claims
that a major achievement had been accomplished as a result of their policies. This has
been questioned by historians and it is important to gather information not only on
what the Nazis did in terms of economic policy but also to consider whether they
were, in any way, creating original policies that actually delivered results.
Notes will be needed on the following aspects:

Tackling Unemployment
This involves considering:
The use of labour in public works
(iii) Encouraging women not to work
Manipulating statistics.


Economic Revival
This involves considering:
The rearmament programme
Subsidies to farmers
(iii) Construction work roads, houses, etc
Encouraging the motor industry
Export subsidies
World trade revival.


Economic Management
This involves considering:
Schacht and the banking system
Central control of wages and prices
(iii) Trying to make Germany more self-sufficient
Economic agreement with other countries.

Issue to investigate and discuss

How far was economic recovery a Nazi achievement?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part C: Nazi Social and Racial Policies

Nazi control over German society made it possible for an attempt to be made to reshape peoples ideas and beliefs. This involved control over the school curriculum
and over teaching staff. It also included control over what adults read and heard. The
churches, whose ministers and priests preached rather different beliefs, found this a
difficult situation and one that led to conflict. The Nazi racial views could now be
enforced in an increasingly cruel manner.
This section of the course will require notes on a number of aspects:

Serving the State

This involves considering:
Service on public works for young people
Nazi organisations for the young
(iii) Re-shaping the school curriculum
Purging the teaching profession
Nazi views on womens roles in society.


Controlling the Churches?

This involves considering:
The Nazi Concordat with the Pope
Breaking the Concordat Nazi interference in the Catholic Church
(iii) Clashes with clergy
The attempt to control the Protestant Churches
Niemoller and protest
The Confessional Church and Nazi attacks on it.


Racial Policy
This involves considering:
The nature of Nazi beliefs
Early restrictions on Jews
(iii) The Nuremberg Laws, 1935
Crystal Night
Further anti-Jewish measures.

Issue to discuss
Why was Nazi policy against Jewish people so little resisted?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Part D: The Impact of Foreign Policy on Domestic Circumstances

An overall knowledge and understanding of Nazi foreign policy up to the outbreak of
the Second World War is essential for this section but should be seen not just in its
own right but in terms of what is says about Hitler, about the nature of Nazism. This
foreign policy tackled one of Hitlers main causes the desire to end the Treaty of
Versailles and his success here helped sustain his popularity in Germany. The
needs of foreign policy affected the economy very directly.
This section of the course will require notes on several aspects:

The Main Episodes in Foreign Policy 1933-39

This involves considering:
Leaving the League and the disarmament conference
Non-aggression pact with Poland
(iii) Recovery of the Saar
Naval treaty with Britain
Occupation of the Rhineland
Deals with Italy and Japan
(vii) Union with Austria
(viii) Sudeten Crisis and Munich
Danzig, Poland and the Nazi-Soviet Pact.


The Impact of foreign Policy in Germany

This involves considering:
Its effects on employment and the economy in terms of conscription and
Effects on popular acceptance of the Nazi regime and its methods
(iii) Its effects on the Armys attitudes to Hitler
Its effects on Hitlers personal standing.

Issue to debate
The historian Tim Mason has argued that Hitler was worried by the fear that if the
period of peace and relative prosperity of the late 1930s were to continue for too
long, the German people would lose what he imagined to be their sense of aggressive
discipline, militarism and ideological fervour.
From Re-evaluating the Third Reich ed T Childers and J Caplan, 1993,
Holmes and Meier
What can be said for and against this view of Hitlers aggressive foreign policy?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



Twentieth century German history in general and the history of Germany between
1933 and 1945 specifically continue to hold a collective fascination for many people.
Indeed at school level in Scotland the Advanced Higher the German history context is
by far the most popular option. The out-pouring of literature, most notably on the
Third Reich, makes it a difficult and time consuming exercise for even the most
conscientious of classroom teachers to keep pace with and assimilate the available
Any student of the Advanced Higher German history course will quickly become
aware that in the last three decades there has been a massive outpouring of
historiographical material on Germany between 1918 and 1939. It is no longer
sufficient, if it ever was, for any student of the period to simply explain and analyse
what happened. Anyone looking at the German past must have a historiographical
understanding of what has happened in the twentieth century. Three excellent
historiograpical essays which collectively deal with the period 1918 to 1939 have
been written by Eberhard Kolb, John Hiden and John Farquharson as well as Ian
Kershaw. The historiography of the Weimar Republic is well-documented by
Eberhard Kolb (The Weimar Republic, 1990) in a book in which the author gives a
relatively up-to-date detailed explanation of the state of research on the period from
1918 to 1933. John Hiden and John Farquharson (Explaining Hitlers Germany,
1983) have written a thorough and detailed guide of what historians have said about
the Third Reich in the last fifty years. An excellent guide to recent debates on the
Third Reich is by Ian Kershaw (The Nazi Dictatorship, 1993). Even at the school
textbook level an author like Jane Jenkins (Hitler and Nazism, 1998, p.49, p.51 and
pp.100-101) makes reference to key historiographical debates and arguments.
Even with the passage of time, many books published in the last thirty years on the
Weimar Republic continue to be implicitly as well as explicitly influenced by the
darkening shadow of the Third Reich. As recently as 1993 E. J. Feuchtwanger (From
Weimar to Hitler: Germany, 1918-33, 1993), in the Preface to his general history of
the Weimar Republic, states The history of the Weimar Republic is overshadowed by
the catastrophic consequences of its collapse. Feuchtwanger goes on to admit it is
difficult to prevent the question of ultimate failure from being too dominant. And
yet it is worth remembering that, in simple arithmetic, the Weimar Republic lasted for
fifteen years whilst the Third Reich lasted for only twelve years. A wide variety of
books are available, especially in German, on the history and the historiography of the
Weimar Republic. The 1980s and 1990s saw a significant growth in the number of
English language books on the history of Germany between 1918 and 1933.
The history of the Weimar Republic can be conveniently divided into three distinct
periods. Firstly came the establishment of the Republic between 1918 and 1923. This
was a relatively neglected period of study until the late 1960s and early 1970s which
saw a growth of research on the Republics early years and re-examined the political

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


alternatives available to the revolutionary government in 1918 and 1919. Secondly

there were the mid years of the Republic between 1924 and 1928.
This was a time when Germanys new democracy enjoyed a period of relative
political stability and economic prosperity. These, the least dramatic years of the
Republic have not, historically and historiographically speaking, attracted as much
interest from historians as the other two periods. And yet the 1990s has seen a
growing level of research into this period. This research has shown that social,
economic and political conflict was much more in evidence in the so-called golden
years than had previously been thought possible. The final years of the Republic
understandably dominated and continue to dominate much post-war research.
Historians have tried to explain the long-term and immediate short-term reasons as to
why to the Weimar Republic collapsed in 1933.
The German Revolution has been the subject of much historical debate. Historians
have argued and continue to argue about the immediate post-war situation in
Germany. Historians still debate the possibility of using the term the German
Revolution about the years 1918-1919. There are those who have argued that
significant political changes had already taken place towards the end of the war and
even before 1914. Debate also continues as to whether it was feasible for major
social, economic and political changes to take place in a country that that was still
essentially conservative. Perhaps in the past historians have focused too much on
what was going on in Berlin and the other major cities and not looked enough at small
town and rural Germany. Research into the early years of the Republic produced
books in German by historians like Eberhard Kolb and Reinhard Rurup and in English
by Francis Carsten (Revolution in Central Europe, 1918-1919, 1972). The consensus
view of historians is that the social basis for change in Germany at this time was
wider than had previously been believed. Moreover the forces for change on the
extreme left were less strong than they appeared in reality, and therefore the ruling
authorities had more freedom of action than had previously been thought possible.
The timidity of the Social Democrats can be explained in terms of trusting the old
elites and distrusting the spontaneous mass movements that existed in the immediate
post-war years. Research in the last two decades has argued that the democratic
potential of the workers and soldiers councils, was decidedly contentious. Work on
the economy (G. Feldman, The Great Disorder. Politics, Economics and Society in
the German Inflation 1914-1924, 1993) and on business (H.A. Turner, German Big
Business and the Rise of Hitler, 1985) has done much to shed light on Germany in the
years after the end of the Great War. Viewed from the late 1990s, there has not yet
been published a comprehensive and wide ranging English-language history of the
November Revolution. From the East German perspective, it is significant that there
have been two detailed accounts of the German Revolution, published in 1968 (J.
Drabkin, Die Novemberrevolution 1918 in Deutschland, 1968) and 1978 (Illustrierte
Geschichte der deutschen November-revolution 1918-19, 1978). Until the late 1950s
the Marxist-Leninist line in East Germany was that the German Revolution had been
an unsuccessful proletarian revolution. However, from the late 1950s East German
historians began to view the Revolution of 1918-1919 as being by its character a
bourgeois-democratic revolution. Marxist orthodoxy argued that the masses had not
yet been sufficiently organised, and this organisation was to be provided by the
founding of the Communist Party at the beginning of 1919. (A worthwhile study of
the historiography of the German Revolution from the East German historiographical

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


perspective is provided by A. Dorpalen in German History in Marxist Perspective,

On Weimar politics there is a need to research the lines of continuity or discontinuity
between the political parties of the Wilhelmine era and those established in the
immediate post-war years in the new Weimar Republic. More research also needs to
be done on the collapse, particularly after 1928, of the party political system. It is
interesting to note that the majority of German language studies on individual parties
have tended to concentrate on the early and latter years of the Weimar Republic rather
than on its middle years. For English language instances of this see, for example, the
books by Evans on the Centre Party (The German Center Party, 1870-1933, 1981); by
Leopold in a biography on Hugenberg with reference to the Conservative Nationalists
or DNVP (Alfred Hugenberg. The Radical National Campaign against the Weimar
Republic, 1977); and by Fowler on the Communists (Communism in Germany under
the Weimar Republic, 1983). Put briefly it should be noted that there are still many
gaps in the political history of the Weimar Republic. There is a noticeable absence of
good biographies of the Republics numerous Chancellors. Regional studies of the
various parties are conspicuous by their absence. And finally there is also work to be
done on the social composition of the parties and how, if at all, that changed
composition between 1918 and 1933.
Until the 1960s political history dominated research on the Weimar Republic.
However, a symposium held in West Germany in 1973 reflected the growing interest
in the social and economic history of the Republic. Unfortunately for English
language students, few of these studies have been translated from their original
German into English. During the course of the next three decades numerous German
language studies focused on the socio-economic background to political events in
Germany between 1918 and 1933. A consensus developed amongst historians that
the formation of the Central Working Association between trade unions, employers
and government in 1918-1919, was significant as an exercise in co-operation, which,
however, had ended by 1924. Inevitably much has been written about the inflation of
1923. Early studies looked at the events surrounding the years 1922 and 1923 in
isolation. In the mid 1970s G. Feldman (The Great Disorder. Politics, Economics
and Society in the German Inflation 1914-1924, 1993) looked the origins of the
inflation back into the war years. (Coincidentally Feldman has also written
extensively about the effects of reparations on Germany.) Borchardt has looked at
length at who specifically gained by the inflation of 1923, and, how the inflated
currency of that time in the short-term directly affected the German middle classes,
and in the long-term indirectly led to the collapse of the Republic. In English
Holtfrerich (The German Inflation 1914-1923, 1986) has argued that the inflation was
inevitable. Fraenkel and others have seen the Ruhr lockout of 1928, when 250,000
workers were excluded from the workplace, as a significant turning point in the social
history of the Weimar Republic. The lockout showed that even before the Great
Depression, in the period of so-called stabilisation, the Republic was having to deal
with a potentially explosive situation between employers, trade unions and
governments. The years between 1924 and 1928 were not quite the years of
stability as they had once been perceived as labour and capital were in conflict and as
the Republic saw the break up of the party system. Research on the mid years of the
Republic, notably by Borchardt (Perspectives on Modern German Economic History
and Policy, 1991), has shown that the Republics economy did not show an upturn

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


that was suddenly reversed by the onset of the Great Depression. Put simply
Borchardt argued the Republic after 1918 was living beyond its means.
He argued, in numerous publications in the early 1980s, that the German economy
could not have, even if the Great Depression had not occurred, continued to carry on
as it was doing. Yet some German historians have questioned the premise presented
by Borchardt that economic sense lay with employers, rather than with trade unions
and the various governments, and that the pressure for higher wages was acting as a
destabilising force on the German economy in the 1920s. The 1980s and 1990s
witnessed a succession of numerous English language studies which looked at the
economic factors involved in the collapse of the Weimar Republic. In particular
Henry Ashby Turner has written extensively about the role of big business. The early
chapters of one of Turners books (German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler, 1985)
provides a detailed account of big business during the Weimar Republic, not least in
its relationship with National Socialism. Harold James (The German Slump: Politics
and Economics, 1924-1936, 1986) has also written about the linkage of politics and
economics from the mid 1920s to the mid 1930s. There is no shortage of other
English language studies recently published which look at the German economy and
the problems it had to deal with and how they impinged on the politics of the day.
See, for example the works by Abraham (The Collapse of the Weimar Republic,
1986); James (The German Slump: Politics and Economics 1924-1936, 1986);
Kershaw (Weimar: Why Did German Democracy Fail?, 1991); Kruedener (Economic
Crisis and Political Collapse, The Weimar Republic 1924-1933, 1991) and Balderston
(The Origins and Course of the German Economic Crisis, 1993).
As mentioned earlier the collapse of the Republic dominated much of the immediate
post 1945 research on the Weimar Republic. In the 1950s and 1960s the nature of
presidential government after 1930 stimulated a great deal of historical debate, most
notably between Conze and Bracher. The publication of Heinrich Brunings Memoirs
in 1970 gave credence to the view that his appointment as Chancellor in September
1930 signalled a move towards an authoritarian form of government and an end to
democracy. Various other topics relevant to this period, for example the SPDs
toleration of the Bruning cabinet and the reaction of the SPD, trade unions and also
the reaction of the Prussian government to von Papens coup detat against Prussia on
20 July 1932, remain the subject of historical debate and controversy. A number of
historians continue to be critical of the passive role played by the SPD and the
Prussian government in the early 1930s. And yet any attempt at armed resistance by
democratic forces to save the Republic might well have led to the establishment of a
right-wing authoritarian dictatorship. In the final analysis the extensive range of
research on the viability of the Weimar Republic now points the way in favour of
accepting that it was not doomed from the start and that monocausal explanations of
its collapse have been superseded, in the light of much research, by multi-causal
explanations of the Republics demise. Hitlers accession to power was not
inevitable. In the final analysis political miscalculation on the part of certain key
individuals rather than any actions on the part of Hitler led to the end of the Republic
in January 1933.
The collapse of the Republic is inevitably linked to the rise of the Nazis. The
dramatic rise of National Socialism from 1928 attracted and continues to attract much
attention from German and non-German scholars. Historians focused on specific
aspects of the Nazi Party to give a clearer picture of the Nazi movement before 1933.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


From the early 1970s numerous studies appeared which looked at the Party at a
regional level most notably Jeremy Noakes (The Nazi Party in Lower Saxony, 19211933, 1971). The 1970s and 1980s witnessed the publication of numerous books on
the organisational structure of the Party, for example on the SA by Bessel (Political
Violence and the Rise of Nazism. The Storm Troopers in Eastern Germany 1925-34,
1984) and Fischer (Stormtroopers. A Social, Economic and Ideological Analysis,
1929-35, 1983); on the SS by Koehl (The Black Corps. The Structure and Power
Struggles of the Nazi SS, 1983); on students by Giles (Students and National
Socialism in Germany, 1985); and on youth by Stachura (Nazi Youth in the Weimar
Republic, 1975). This period also witnessed a reassessment of the social basis of
National Socialism and a re-examination and reassessment of the prevailing view that
Hitler and his movement was supported by rural and small town Protestant Germans
in northern, central and eastern Germany. Childers (The Nazi Vote. The Social
Foundations of Fascism in Germany, 1919-1933, 1983) argued that the social base of
support for the Party was neither so static nor so narrow than had previously been
supposed. Hamiltons (Who Voted for Hitler?, 1982) analysis of voting patterns in
selected German cities has shown that a significant number of upper and upper middle
class voters voted for the Nazis. Even amongst the working classes, the Nazis, as
various works by Fischer have shown (for example The Rise of the Nazis, 1995),
made crucial inroads into obtaining their support at a time of high unemployment.
The relationship of big business to National Socialism was inevitably the subject of
much research in East Germany. Put simply East German historians argued that
German fascism under the Nazi take-over was an extreme form of monopoly
capitalism. By way of contrast the American historian Henry Ashby Turner (for
example in German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler, 1985) refuted the well
established view that the Nazis received a great deal of financial support from big
business. Another historian Feldman, in various German language studies published
in the 1970s and the 1980s, took issue with Turner and argued that money alone from
big business did not pave the way for the Nazi take-over in 1933. Feldman argued
that as the 1920s progressed big business moved away from supporting or having any
sympathy in favour of the Weimar Republic in favour of supporting an authoritarian
form of government.
Weimar foreign policy has been closely scrutinised by historians. Since 1945
German criticisms of the vindictive nature of the Versailles Settlement have
somewhat abated and a greater understanding of the difficulties confronting the
peacemakers in 1919 has gained greater credence. Schulz (Revolution and Peace
Treaties, 1917-1920, 1974) argued that the Great War heavily influenced the terms
agreed upon at Versailles. In a lengthy study Mayer (Politics and Diplomacy of
Peacemaking. Containment and Counter-Revolution at Versailles 1918-1919, 1967)
looked not just at the so-called German question but also at how the domestic
political circumstances of each of the powers represented at Versailles affected their
countrys specific decision-making in 1919. Mayer even went on to argue that the
desire to contain Bolshevik Russia at the end of the War was the crucial feature of
international politics at this time rather than any desire to punish Germany. There is
certainly a greater willingness on the part of historians to accept that at Versailles
Germany was treated more leniently than has been acknowledged in the past.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Indeed in a German language study Andreas Hillgruber (Grossmachtpolitik und

Militarismus im 20. Jahrhundert, 1974) has contended that because Germany was
treated leniently in 1918 and 1919 then the room for diplomatic manoeuvre on the
part of the Weimar Republic in international affairs was greater than it had been
before 1914 under William II as Emperor or even when Bismarck was Imperial
Chancellor. How the Treaty of Versailles led to the rise of the Nazis and to the
collapse of the Weimar Republic is still a matter of much debate amongst historians.
Bracher (for example in The German Dictatorship, 1971) has shown that numerous
factors led to the collapse of the Republic and that Versailles alone did not bring
about the rise of Hitler. In the final analysis few historians would argue with the view
that the Treaty of Versailles did play a role in destabilising the Weimar political
A great deal has been written on reparations. Given the complex nature of the subject
it is no surprise to note that even the experts disagree on how much the Germans
actually paid. The release of French documents in the early 1970s led to the
questioning of the long-established view that France pursued a draconian peace on
Germany. McDougall (Frances Rhineland Diplomacy 1914-1924, 1978) and others
argued that, on the contrary, immediate post-war French governments adopted a
moderate stance on the issue of reparations. Poincares occupation of the Ruhr in
1923 occurred only when all attempts at a negotiated peace had failed. However, the
theme of reparations and how it continued to affect post-war Franco-German relations
is still the subject of continuing debate. Revisionist work on post-1918 French
foreign policy by French historians like Baechler, Bariety and Jeannesson has done
much to shed new light on German politics and historical writing of the time.
The relationship between Germany and Russia in the 1920s attracted much attention
from German historians in the 1970s and the 1980s, not least because of the ongoing
relationship of East and West Germany with the Soviet Union. The Treaty of
Rapallo, signed by Germany and Russia in 1922, was viewed in the West for many
years as a Russo-German conspiracy. Original research by a number of German
historians from the 1950s through to the 1980s confirmed the view that there was no
possibility of a Russo-German conspiracy against the West, and that it suited both
Germany and Russia, as the international outcasts after 1919, to put pen to paper at
Rapallo for mutually beneficial reasons. Writing in German in 1977 Klaus
Hildebrand may be as close to the truth as any historian when he argued that a fear of
isolation propelled Germany into signing the Treaty of Rapallo.
Gustav Stressemann remains the dominant figure in German foreign policy between
1918 and 1933. Before 1970, with the obvious exception of Third Reich historians,
the great majority of works on Stressemann were highly complimentary and saw him
as a good European whilst a few saw him as a German nationalist. After 1970 a
consensus view evolved which saw him as being no different to any other European
statesman of the time. He was a realist and a nationalist who looked after the
interests of his own country in the existing diplomatic system. In other words he was
working within the European power system as it existed in the 1920s. Wishing to
ensure a restoration of an independent German foreign policy after the War,
Stressemann realised he would have to work within, however unpalatable it might be,
the parameters set by Versailles in 1919. The use of Germanys economic power was
the only possible leverage available to him in the light of a lack of military power.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


All his actions from the Dawes Plan to the Young Plan must be seen in this light.
Moreover Stressemann never forgot that he would have to satisfy French demands for
security to achieve his goals. With his death in 1929 there is no doubt that successive
Chancellors, namely Bruning, von Papen and Schleicher adopted a more assertive and
aggressive foreign policy.
Over fifty years after its collapse, the legacy of the Third Reich continues to haunt the
German people and the German historical profession. It is even debatable if they will
ever be able to master the Nazi past the so-called Vergangenheitsbewaltigung (See
Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship, 1993, p.1). Some historians believe that the
academic and intellectual tools of the historian are simply inadequate to deal with a
phenomenon that was largely irrational. They see it as impossible to give an adequate
explanation of Nazism. It is certainly true that the history of Germany between 1933
and 1939, and indeed up to 1945, is more a matter of contentious and heated debate
amongst historians than the history of Germany between 1918 and 1933.
The issue of continuity and change continues to be a dominant theme when placing
the Third Reich in a wider historical context in German history. Historians still argue
over the extent to which Hitler and his movement was the logical culmination of
German history extending back beyond the Weimar years into the nineteenth century
and even into the more distant past. A consensus view largely prevails that the rise of
Nazism can be placed in a short-term (for example the effects of World War I, the
weaknesses of the Weimar Republic, and the effects of the Great Depression) and
long-term (for example the effects of industrialisation and the political legacy of
Bismarck) context linked to the political machinations which, in December 1932 and
January 1933, brought the Chancellorship to Hitler. Disagreements continue to
manifest themselves away from this bigger picture. It is highly unlikely that the issue
of continuity and change will go away. Historians continue to be fascinated and
intrigued by this topic. This continuing fascination is discussed at some length in a
recent study by Richard Evans (Rethinking German History, 1990). The pioneering
work of Fritz Fischer (Germanys Aims in the First World War 1966 and also War of
Illusions, 1973) continues to influence German historical scholarship in the field of
continuity and change. The continuing relevance and topicality of his work was
reflected in the translation into English, by an Australian historian Roger Fletcher, of
his famous polemical essay Bundnis der Eliten (From Kaiserreich to Third Reich
Elements of Continuity in German History 1871-1945, 1986).
The place of Hitler in the history of the Third Reich continues to dominate much
historical scholarship on the period between 1933 and 1945. The question is
continually asked how important is Adolf Hitler to an understanding of the history of
the Third Reich? The last two decades of the twentieth century witnessed the debate
between the intentionalist and structuralist historians as to the central importance
or otherwise of Hitler. The intentionalists argued that as an individual Hitler was
pivotal to an understanding of the history of the Third Reich. Thus Klaus Hildebrand
argued that Hitlers pathological anti-Semitism led to the annihilation of European
Jewry because it was his ultimate intention to exterminate the Jews. (See also G. L.
Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology, 1964). In terms of foreign policy Hitlers
ideological goals, outlined in Mein Kampf and elsewhere, in the early 1920s, shaped
his actions in the 1930s and 1940s.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Rainer Zitelmann has argued that Hitler wanted to ensure that the German economy
was developed and advanced in technological and industrial terms and so he ensured
the economic revival of Germany after 1933 because of his reflationary policies.
Such views which give Hitler a determining role in the period are refuted by the
structuralists who see an undue emphasis being given in history to the role of Adolf
Hitler as an individual. Two prominent structuralists were Martin Broszat and Hans
Mommsen. As a key functionalist Martin Broszat moved away from the
Hitler-centred treatment of Nazism when looking at the nature of government in the
Third Reich. First published in German in 1969, Broszats The Hitler State looked at
the character and structure of government, policy formation and power relations in the
Third Reich. Previously Bracher had argued that Hitler had consciously and skilfully
ruled Germany by a divide and rule strategy. Broszat however argued that the
divide and rule strategy was not consciously devised by the regime, but rather was
the unwillingness of Hitler to establish an ordered system of authoritarian
government. Hans Mommsen (for example see his article in G. Hirschfelsds [ed.]
The Policies of Genocide) argued that the implementation of the Final Solution in
the war years cannot be attributable to Hitler alone but rather needs to be explained in
terms of improved bureaucratic initiatives which had their own inbuilt momentums.
On anti-Semitism some structuralists historians would argue the persecution of the
Jews leading to the Holocaust came about largely because it was driven by lowerranking officials in Nazi Germany. Structuralists never seek to deny the importance
of Hitler but they would contend that Hitler is not as important as made out by the
intentionalists. Furthermore structuralists would argue in favour of the importance
of political and administrative structures in shaping the history of Germany during the
Third Reich. These structures and institutions largely determined the history of
Germany at this time with various interest groups competing frantically for power and
influence in an anarchic manner.
An American critic of the structuralists, David Crew, has argued that their type of
history does not deal with ordinary people in their everyday lives and so can be
criticised because it depersonalises history. Another critic, the Cambridge historian
Richard Evans, has argued that the structuralists have tended to write in a political
vacuum and not given appropriate emphasis to the social and economic forces at work
in German society. Ian Kershaw (The Nazi Dictatorship, 1993) has come to the
conclusion that there are elements in the intentionalist and structuralist approaches
that can be brought together in some sort of synthesis to establish a greater
understanding of the Third Reich.
Despite the publication of biographies by non-academics like Joachim Fest (1973)
and John Toland (1977), the 1970s and 1980s witnessed a move away from writing
biographical history by professional historians. This does not necessarily mean to say
that the Hitler industry showed or shows no signs of abating. (Christian Leitz [The
Third Reich, 1999, p.2] makes reference to the fact that about 120,000 publications on
Adolf Hitler have been produced.) Such a move is in keeping with the desire of
historians to place Hitler, not least by the structuralists, in the wider context of the
history of the Third Reich. Yet curiously enough the late 1990s saw the appearance
of the first volume of a two part biography of Adolf Hitler by the essentially
structuralist British historian Ian Kershaw (Hitler 1889-1936, 1998). Kershaw was
at pains to explain how, in the context of his unique time, this obscure Austrian came
to rule over the most powerful and advanced state in Europe.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


In his Introduction Kershaw argues that the circumstances of the time involving
factors like social Darwinism, xenophobic nationalism, defeat in the Great War and
the events surrounding the history of the Weimar Republic ensured that this Austrian
drifter was catapulted to power. Even when Hitler came to power in 1933, Kershaw
sees developments in Nazi Germany, taking place in spite of Hitler (through the
actions and exertions of other leading Nazis and lesser officials and zealous
supporters throughout Germany) and not because of Hitler (who was lazy and
The 1980s saw the so-called Historians Dispute or Historikerstreit which flared up
between the distinguished historian Martin Broszat and other eminent German
historians. (Anyone wishing to study the Historikerstreit at length should consult the
edited collection of sources produced by Gates and Knowlton, Forever in the Shadow
of Hitler?) Quite apart from its content the Dispute showed how rancorous and
personally vituperative German scholarship and German historians could be. Broszat
argued it was important for the historical profession to try to understand Hitler and
Nazism and move away from the continuing demonisation of Hitler and the Third
Reich (or what Ian Kershaw has called bland moralisation). Broszat felt it was no
longer adequate or analytically sufficient to call Hitler, as William Shirer had done, as
evil and possessing a demonic personality. He argued in various German language
studies that Hitler should be brought back into mainstream history and analysed by
historians as a historical figure and phenomena. In the jargon of the time he felt it
was important to move towards the historicisation or Historisierung of Hitler. In
response, amongst others, Saul Friedlander argued that placing Nazism in the wider
context of German history would downplay the moral awfulness of regime. Secondly
the concept of historicisation was too vague and open-ended and demanded
clarification if individual actions by people during the Nazi era ranging from
normality to criminality were to have any meaning.
In the 1980s Michael Sturmer (Forever in the Shadow of Hitler?, 1993) argued that it
was important, in a domestic context of pacifism and a lack of national
self-confidence, that German historians should present their countrys history in a
positive national identity for the German people. Sturmer argued that Germanys
unique and exposed position in central Europe had largely determined her tragic
history. Therefore in a sense he felt the personal responsibility of German leaders for
both world wars was somehow diminished. At the same time Ernst Noltke attracted
enormous controversy by contending that Bolshevism in Soviet Russia and Nazism
were interrelated and that Bolshevism triggered a response in Germany which
crystallised into Nazism. Noltke went on to argue that Stalin and Pol Pot, amongst
others, should be examined in the same context as Hitler. Some critics of Noltke
interpreted this as an attempt to relativise or historicise the Nazi era and experience.
(For a sample of Noltkes writing in English see Between Myth and Revisionism?
The Third Reich in the Perspective of the 1980s, in H.W. Kochs Aspects of the Third
Reich.) Noltke argued in favour of Nazism as a bulwark and protective barrier
against Communism and the evils of Stalinism. Furthermore he contended that the
Nazi experience should be treated as dispassionately as other past historical events. In
a wider perspective he placed Nazism as the counterpoint to Soviet communism in a
European civil war between 1917 and 1945.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Critics of Noltke argued that his views were trying to rehabilitate and normalise
and relativise the Nazi past. (And yet it should be remembered that Noltke always
strenuously denied that he was trying to rehabilitate the Nazis.) Another German
historian, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, has argued that the evils of the Third Reich should be
faced and confronted so that Germany could move forwards as a liberal and
democratic State. The German past, particularly the Nazi past, was crucial in
impinging upon the politics of the present.
For decades after the Second World War many historians portrayed the Third Reich
as a ruthlessly efficient and monolithic totalitarian state. Such historians had looked
at Germany from the top down by investigating the nature of Hitlers rule and how
various institutions and organisations had been affected by National Socialist rule.
Once again Hitler and his henchmen influenced and determined much historical
writing. This image has been hard to dispel and still lingers on, at least in the mind of
the general reader. However, in the 1970s social historians began to look at history
from below and how the ordinary German people themselves had been affected in
their everyday life or Alltagsgeschichte by the Nazi regime. (Yet as long ago as
the early 1930s a leading Communist, Ernst Ottwald, wrote about the unknown
National Socialist. On this see Hiden and Farquharson, Explaining Hitlers
Germany, 1989, pp.167-68.) Major impetus to this new social history from below
was given by two massive studies taking place in Germany. In the south Martin
Broszat and other German historians were editing the Bavarian Project, whilst in the
west Lutz Niethammmer was editing the Ruhr Oral History Project. (It should,
however, be noted that the Ruhr historians still used fairly generalised top down
conceptual models.) Both research projects looked at the mundane and not so
mundane ways in which the Nazi State impinged upon and affected the lives of
individual Germans as they went about their daily business. Incidentally social
history had thereby gained a respectability and credence amongst a number of
German academics that would have been unknown and unheard of a generation earlier
when political history dominated German historical scholarship. This new
perspective of the Nazi regime from below has done much to create a newer
understanding of the Hitler State. The so-called Alltagsgeschichte has also served
the useful function of allowing younger people to understand how ordinary people
like themselves behaved during the Third Reich. It is something they can identify
with because of the personal nature of the history. This has been acknowledged by
some of the more moderate critics of the Project. However more strident critics of
Alltagsgeschichte such as E. Hennig have said that this type of history has tended to
lead to the accumulation of sterile facts describing what life was like without setting
them in an analytical or theoretical framework.
The study of anti-Semitism continues to play a prominent role in the history of the
Third Reich. It is still not easy to explain why possibly the most cultured nation in
Europe carried out the brutal and systematic annihilation of 6,000,000 Jews. It is also
not easy for the historian to use the tools of scholarship to come to an understanding
of the Holocaust and the genocidal persecution of a people. The perspective provided
by non-Jewish scholars is inevitably different from that provided by Jewish historians.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


The controversial nature of this topic and the strong feelings it arouses, not least
between Jews, was reflected in the publication of Daniel Goldhagens (Hitlers
Willing Executioners, 1996) best-selling book in the mid 1990s. (For a discussion of
the reaction to Goldhagens book see Ron Rosenbaums Explaining Hitler, 1998,
pp.337-68. The chapter in Rosenbaums book discusses the reaction to Goldhagens
book at a symposium held North America in 1996 which the author attended.)
Goldhagen claimed that the German people were aware of what was happening to the
Jews in the east. He goes on to argue that up to half a million Germans were, by the
end of the war, actively engaged in the persecution of European Jewry. Goldhagen
believes that the roots of the mass killings went back in to the nineteenth century and
was the result of an eliminationist anti-Semitism. In 1997 another prominent Jewish
historian, Saul Friedlander (Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1997) published a book in
which he referred to what could be termed redemptive anti-Semitism. The German
people were looking for a redeemer who would save them from their enemies and
in particular the Bolshevik menace. Friedlander also wrote that the German people
were a curious mix of racial and Christian anti-Semitism allied to a xenophobic
Wagnerian nationalism. Research on the persecution of the Jews in the Third Reich
has understandably concentrated on the Holocaust. (Otto Dov Kulka, Major Trends
and Tendencies of German Historiography on National Socialism and the Jewish
Question (1924-1984), Yearbook of the Leo Baeck Institute, 30, 1985; Saul
Friedlander, From Anti-Semitism to Extermination. A Historiographical Study of
Nazi Policy Towards the Jews and an Essay in Interpretation, Yad Vashem Studies,
16, 1984; M. Marrus, The History of the Holocaust. A Survey of Recent Literature,
Journal of Modern History, 59, 1987.) Anti-Semitism as a topic of study on the Third
Reich will continue to arouse controversy and heated debate.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)




Source A
On 1 October 1918 Ludendorff asks the SPD be brought into government.
I have asked His Majesty to bring those people into the government who are largely
responsible that things have turned out as they have. We shall therefore see these
gentlemen enter the ministries, and they must now make the peace which has to be
made. They must now eat the soup which they have landed us in !

Source B
Workers and soldiers
Your hour has come. Now, after long endurance and days of silence, you have set
about the task. It is not too much to say: at this time the world is watching you, and
you hold the fate of the world in your hands.
Workers and soldiers! Now that the hour has come, there can be no going back. The
same socialists who have laboured for four years in the pay of the government, who
have in recent weeks put you off with the peoples government, with parliamentary
government and other trash, are now doing everything to impair your struggle, and to
break up the movement.
(Manifesto of the Spartacus Group, 8 November 1918.)

Source C
On 9 November 1918 the SPD leader Ebert accepts the post of Chancellor.
Prince Max of Baden Has turned over to me the task of carrying on the affairs of
the Reich Chancellor. I have in mind to form a government by consent of the parties
and will give a public report on this shortly.
The new government will be a peoples government. Its goal will be to bring peace to
the German people as soon as possible, and to establish firmly the freedom which it
has achieved.
Fellow Citizens: I ask you all for your support in the heavy tasks that await us. You
know how seriously the war has threatened the sustenance of the people The
political revolution should not interfere with the feeding of the population.
(Chancellor Freidrich Eberts Manifesto, 9 November 1918)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source D
In his memoirs General Groener remembers his secret telephone conversation with
Ebert on 10 November 1918.
In the evening (10th November) I telephoned the Reich Chancellery and told Ebert
that the army put itself at the disposal of the government, that in return for this the
Field-Marshal and the officer corps expected the support of the government in the
maintenance of order and discipline in the army. The officer corps expected the
government to fight against Bolshevism and was ready for the struggle. Ebert
accepted my offer of an alliance. From then on we discussed the measures which
were necessary every evening on a secret telephone line between the Reich
Chancellery and the high command. The alliance proved successful.
We (the high command) hoped through our action to gain a share of the power in the
new State for the army and the officer corps. If we succeeded, then we would have
rescued into the new Germany the best and strongest element of old Prussia, despite
the revolution.
Source E
In Mein Kampf Hitler rails against the November Revolution and its perpetrators.
And so it had all been in vain. In vain all the sacrifices and privations; in vain the
hunger and thirst of months which were often endless; in vain the hours in which,
with mortal fear clutching at our hearts, we nevertheless did our duty; and in vain the
death of two million who died There followed terrible days and even worse nights
I knew that all was lost. Only fools, liars and criminals could hope in the mercy of
the enemy. In these nights hatred grew in me, hatred for those responsible for this
deed There is no making pacts with Jews; there can only be the hard: either or.
I, for my part, decided to go into politics.

Source F
The liberal newspaper the Frankfurter Zeitung appeals to the National Assembly on
10 February 1919.
The German National Assembly in Weimar should resolve as a matter of urgency that
a large notice be put up in every room used by the politicians and wherever the
machinery of party runs. This notice should bear the message, in letters of fire: Do
not forget: the German people has carried out a revolution!

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source G
Article 48, Weimar Constitution, 1919.
If any state does not fulfil the duties imposed upon it by the Constitution or the laws of
the Reich, the Reich President may enforce such duties with the aid of the armed
In the event that public order and security are seriously disturbed or endangered, the
Reich President may take the measures necessary for their restoration

Source H
The Constitution of 1919 included numerous basic welfare rights. Welfare provision
was a contentious issue throughout the history of the Weimar Republic.

Article 161, Weimar Constitution, 1919.

In order to maintain public health and the ability to work, to protect motherhood and
to make provision against the economic consequences of old age, infirmity and the
vicissitudes of life, the Reich will provide a comprehensive system of insurance, in
which those insured will make a vital contribution.
Article 163, Weimar Constitution, 1919.
Every German has the moral obligation, his personal freedom notwithstanding, to
exercise his mental and physical powers in a manner required by the welfare of all.
Every German shall be given the opportunity to earn his living through productive
work. If no suitable opportunity for work can be found, the means necessary for his
livelihood will be provided. Further particulars will be given in subsequent
Source I
Hugo Preuss, a prominent architect of the 1919 Constitution, expresses his concern
about how the German people will cope with the new democratic political order.
I have often listened to debates with real concern, glancing rather timidly to the
gentlemen of the Right, fearful lest they say to me: Do you hope to give a
parliamentary system to a nation like this, one that resists it with every sinew of its
body? Our people do not comprehend at all what such a system implies. One finds
suspicion everywhere; Germans cannot shake off their old political timidity and their
deference to the authoritarian state. They do not understand that the new government
must be blood of their blood, flesh of their flesh, that their trusted representatives will
have to be an integral part of it. Their constant worry is only: how can we best keep
our constituted representatives so shackled that they will be unable to do anything?
(Hugo Preuss, Staat, Recht und Freiheit [1926] as translated in Republican and
Fascist Germany, J Hilden, Longman 1996)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source J
Heinrich Stroebel, a member of the USPD, comments on the events of November
Except for a handful of political careerists and profiteers, the whole country feels
greatly depressed by the course and results of the revolution. Today, as the first
anniversary of the birth of the Republic approaches, not only are the Junkers and
upper bourgeoisie simply itching to give it a mortal blow at the first opportunity, not
only is it an object of scorn for the small man and the peasant, but it is so even for the
proletariat, which feels mocked and cheated, and considers democracy simply the
faade behind which capitalist exploitation and military despotism are carrying on
exactly as they did under the monarchy

Source K
On 13 March 1920 Wilhelm Kapp, a senior civil servant, issued a proclamation and
tried to establish a conservative regime in Berlin. His Putsch failed.
The Reich and nation are in grave danger. With terrible speed we are approaching
the complete collapse of the State and of law and order. The people are only dimly
aware of the approaching disaster. Prices are rising unchecked. Hardship is
growing. Starvation threatens. Corruption, usury, nepotism and crime are cheekily
raising their heads. The government, lacking in authority, impotent, and in league
with corruption, is incapable of overcoming the danger. Away with a government in
which Erzberger is the leading light !
We shall govern not according to theories but according to the practical needs of the
State and the nation as a whole. In the best German tradition the State must stand
above the conflict of classes and parties. We reject the granting of class-advantage
either to the Right or the Left. We recognise only German citizens
Everyone must do his duty ! The first duty of every man today is to work. Germany
must be a moral working community!

Source L
In Mein Kampf Hitler comments on the reaction of the authorities to the French
occupation of the Ruhr and the need for national renewal.
But anyone who in the spring of 1923 wanted to make Frances occupation of the
Ruhr an occasion for reviving out military implements of power had first to give the
nation its spiritual weapons, strengthen its will power, and destroy the corrupters of
this most special national strength Regardless what type of resistance was decided
on, the first requirement was always the elimination of the Marxist poison from our
national body To fight France with the deadly enemy in our ranks would have
been sheer idiocy For never in our history have we been defeated by the strength
of our foes, but always by our own vices and by the enemies in our own camp. Since
the leaders of the German state could not summon up the courage for such a heroic

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


deed, logically they could only have chosen the first course, that of doing nothing at
all and letting things slide To be sure, this so-called passive resistance as such
could not be maintained for long Hence any so-called passive resistance has an
inner meaning only if it is backed by determination to continue it if necessary in open
struggle or in undercover guerrilla warfare.
Source M
Monthly averages of Dollar Quotations for the Mark between 1914 and 1923:
July 1914


January 1919


July 1919


January 1920


July 1920


January 1921


July 1921


January 1922


July 1922


January 1923
July 1923
August 1923
September 1923
October 1923
November 15 1923


Source N
A personal recollection of the hyper-inflation of 1923.
May I give you some recollections of my own situation at that time? As soon as I
received my salary I rushed out to buy the daily necessities. My daily salary, as
editor of the periodical Soziale Praxis, was just enough to buy one loaf of bread and
a small piece of cheese or some oatmeal. On one occasion I had to refuse to give a
lecture at a Berlin city college because I could not be assured that my fee would cover
the subway fare to the classroom, and it was too far to walk. On another occasion, a
private lesson I gave to the wife of a farmer was paid somewhat better by one loaf of
bread for the hour.
(Personal memoir of Dr Freida Wunderlich, found in J W Hiden, The Weimar
Republic, 1974,p.86)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)




Conditions seemed to exist for a remodelling of Germany after the First World
War. Discuss.


Do you agree with the view that the conditions in which the Weimar democracy
was born were not all that helpful to allow it to flourish?


To what extent were the German people willing to accept the Constitution of
1919 ?


How significant were the years from 1918 to 1923 in the history of the Weimar
Republic ?

Source-based Questions

How accurate an account of the handing over of power to the civilian government
is given by Sources A C and D?


Why did General Groener telephone Ebert on 10 November 1918 as indicated in

Source D?


Explain why the architect of the German Constitution in Source I was concerned
about whether the German could cope with the new democratic order.


Do you agree with the view of Wilhelm Kapp in Source K that The Reich and
nation were in grave danger in 1920?


How representative of the German people on the occupation of the Ruhr by the
French were the views expressed by Hitler in Source L?


How convincing is the personal recollection in Source N of the hyper-inflation of

1923 ?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



Source A
We cannot sign a document which our enemies call a peace. Any government which,
by its signature, gives this work of the devil the halo of light, sooner or later will be
driven out of office.
Is this peace a surprise to us? Unfortunately, yes. No one could possibly have
believed in such cunning madness. We all expected a peace of agreement and justice.
We read about it carefully and with good faith what the false prophet across the big
pond promised to us and all the world. Now we can see how Old England and that
revenge-laden chauvinist, Clemenceau, urged on by Foch, put together a peace like
those of the old days. There is not the least trace of an understanding of the times, or
any foresight into the future. There it is - a grey, bureaucrats treaty, put together by
small, narrow-minded, hate-ridden politicians. In a few years all this wicked
bungling will be wiped away .
(Alfred von Wegerer, in Der Tag, 28 May 1919)

Source B
Articles 231 and 232 of the Peace Treaty of Versailles signed on 28 June 1919.
The Allied and Associated Governments affirm, and Germany acknowledges, that
Germany and her Allies are responsible for all the losses and damage which the
Allied and Associated Governments and their peoples have sustained as a result of the
war unleashed against them by the aggression of Germany and her Allies.
The Allied and Associated Governments demand, and Germany undertakes, that
compensation be made for all losses

Source D
In late June of 1919 Gustav Bauer, a member of the new SPD-Centrist coalition,
acknowledges German acceptance of the Treaty of Versailles.

Surrendering to superior force but without retracting its opinion regarding the
unheard-of injustice of the peace conditions the government of the German Republic
therefore declares its readiness to accept and sign the peace conditions imposed by
the Allied and Associated Governments.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source D
A Foreign Office Official comments on the new found relationship between Germany
and Russia. (The Treaty of Rapallo was signed on 16 April 1922).
Just three years have passed since the German Foreign Minister, Wather Rathenau,
and the Russian Peoples Commissar, Chicherin, concluded at Rapallo the now
famous treaty which purified the atmosphere Between Germany and Russia and
agreed on co-operation between the two peoples in the laborious business of political
and economic reconstruction. Just three years and the Rapallo-line is now surely
a basic component of the political creed of both countries. No German political party
could - in spite of criticism of and reservations about individual details - determine
upon any other policy.
(Herbert von Dirksen, May 1925, found in Hitorisches Lesebuch 1914 1933, 1968)
Source E
In September 1922 von Seeckt comments on Germanys borders in the east.
Polands existence is intolerable, incompatible with the survival of Germany. It must
disappear, and it will disappear through its own internal weakness and through
Russia - with our assistance With Poland falls one of the strongest pillars of the
Treaty of Versailles, the preponderance of France The re-establishment of the
broad common frontier between Russia and Germany is the precondition for the
regaining of strength of both countries In all these enterprises, which to a large
extent are only beginning, the participation and even the official knowledge of the
German government must be entirely excluded. The details of the negotiations must
remain in the hands of the military authorities.
Source F
Declaration of the Reparations Commission, 26 December 1922.
On 20 October 1922, the French Delegation requested the Commission to declare
Germany in default as regards her obligation to furnish timber to France during
1922. Under the above order all sawn timber should have been delivered to France
before 30 September, and the 200,000 telegraph poles before 30 November 1922. On
the latter date, the deliveries were still considerably in arrears.
Source G
From a letter by General J. H. Morgan, British Military representative on the
Inter-Allied Council, 20 February, 1925.
Everything that an ingenious brain could devise and a subtle intellect invent, down
even to giving companies of infantry of the new army the numbers and badges of the
old, has been done to ensure that, at the touch of a button, the new army shall expand
to the full stature of its predecessor. The proofs in my possession are overwhelming.
Your government tells us repeatedly that our work is done and that there is nothing
left for us to find out. They tell us the Treaty of Versailles has been loyally executed.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source H
Article 1 of the Treaty of Mutual Guarantee, Locarno, 16 October 1925.
The high contracting parties collectively and severally guarantee The
maintenance of the territorial status quo resulting from the frontiers between
Germany and Belgium, and between Germany and France, and the inviolability of the
said frontiers as fixed by or in pursuance of the Treaty of Peace signed at Versailles
on the 28th June, 1919, and also the observance of the stipulations of Article 42 and
43 of the said treaty concerning the demilitarised zone.
Source I
Gustav Stressemann outlines some of his foreign policy aims in a letter to the exCrown Prince on 7 September 1925.
In my opinion there are three great tasks that confront German foreign policy in the
more immediate future In the first place the solution of the Reparations question in a sense tolerable for
Germany, and the assurance of peace, which is an essential premise for the recovery
of our strength.
Secondly, the protection of Germans abroad, those 10 to 12 millions of our kindred
who now live under a foreign yoke in foreign lands.
The third great task is the readjustment of our eastern frontiers; the recovery of
Danzig, the Polish corridor, and a correction of the frontier in Upper Silesia ...
The most important thing for the first task of German policy mentioned above is, the
liberation of German soil from any occupying force. We must get the stranglehold off
our neck.

Source J
Germany becomes a member of the League of Nations on 8 September 1926.
More than six years have passed since the League was founded. A long period of
development was thus necessary before the general political situation made it
possible for Germany to enter the league, and even in the present year great
difficulties have had to be overcome Even before her entry, Germany tried to
promote friendly Cupertino. The action she took led to the Locarno pact and
arbitration treaties with her neighbours. The German government is resolved to
persevere with this policy and is glad to see that these ideas, which at first met with
lively opposition in Germany, are now being more and more accepted.
(The League of Nations Official Journal: Special Supplement, No. 44.)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)




Discuss the view that the German reaction to the Versailles Settlement was out of
all proportion to the terms imposed.


How valid is the view that Germany was treated leniently in the Versailles


To what extent was Weimar Foreign Policy affected by her military weakness
after 1919?


Stressemann was a great European rather than a good German. Do you agree
with this assessment of the German Foreign Minister?

Source-based Questions

How far do Sources A C reflect the views of the German people on the Treaty of


Discuss the view that Sources F and G accurately reflect the German position on


What light does Source D shed on Russo-German relations in the 1920s ?


Does Source E accurately reflect the Reichwehrs involvement in German foreign

policy and domestic policy between 1918 and 1933?


To what extent does Source I reveal Stressemann to be a good German?


Does Source H reflect the high point for international relations in Europe in the

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



Source A
A German commentator on American-German relations in 1924.
Therefore political and economic collaboration with the USA is a worthwhile goal for
Germany It will not mean much of a temporary basis. On the contrary, it will
mean striving for, and achieving, the involvement of American capital methodically
and to the greatest possible extent in Germany, in private industry in terms of loans to
national and municipal ventures. Germany must deliberately make herself a debtor
nation of the USA. By dint of the economic interest, the political interest of the USA
in Germany will also develop.
(Herbert von Dirksen, May 1925, found in Hitorisches Lesebuch 1914 1933)
Source B
Extract from the Agreement between the Reparations Commission and the German
Government (Dawes Plan) 9 August 1924.
Being desirous of carrying into effect the plan for the discharge of reparations
obligations and other pecuniary liabilities of Germany under the Treaty of Versailles
proposed to the Reparation Commission on April 9 1924, by the First Committee of
Experts appointed by the Commission which plan is referred to in this agreement as
the Experts (Dawes) Plan - and of facilitating the working of the Experts Plan
The German Government undertakes to take all appropriate measures for carrying
into effect the Experts Plan and for ensuring its permanent operation

Source C
Proclamation by Reich President Paul von Hindenburg, 12 May 1925.
I have taken my new important office. True to my oath, I shall do everything in my
power to serve the well-being of the German people, to protect the constitution and
the laws In this solemn hour I ask the entire German people to work with me. My
office and my efforts do not belong to any single class nor to any stock or confession,
nor to any party, but to all the German people My first greetings go to the entire
working population of Germany which has suffered much. It goes to our brothers
outside the German borders, who are inextricably bound together with us by ties of
blood and culture And it goes finally to our German youth, hope of our future.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source D
Speech by Wilhelm Keil to the SPD Congress in Heidelberg, 1925.
We Social Democrats feel ourselves to be the real representatives of the democratic
republic, and we must, therefore, defend it with all our might In essence, the
Social Democrats are, and remain, the advocate of the poor, the workers and the
disinherited. We must use all our power in public life to defend the vital interests of
the working people and of the innocent victims of the capitalist economy against the
patronage of property. Thus when we are in opposition, our demands must not
exceed those limits which we would have to honour if we were in power.

Source E
Dr Hjalmar Schacht, memorandum, December 1929.
The Young Plan is a treaty structure which is the only possible way to solve the
reparations question and to restore world peace. This Plan expresses the most
serious sense of moral responsibility which its authors feel not only to their own
people, but to the entire civilised world. We have a right to ask the governments not
to endanger this pacific achievement by insisting upon unilateral interests The
German people have a right to expect foreign governments to cease their efforts to
squeeze out of German industry special payments and sacrifices which go beyond the
terms of the Young Plan.

Source F
Gustav Stressemann comments on political leadership in 1929.
The supplanting of the individual by the organisation is the prime evil of modern
political life. A person is not only the representative of a professional organisation, a
local association or a mass body of one sort or another: his significance lies in
himself We must strive to achieve reform of the parliamentary system. We must
demand that the spirit of party be confined to what is vitally required for Germanys
development, that Parliament itself exert the pressure to produce a real and not
merely formal majority. But if that fails in the present situation, because of the
parties themselves, then let the cry go up, Res venit ad triaros! and let responsible
individuals find the courage to govern - that is, to assume leadership.
(From The Weimar Republic, D Peukert, Allen lane 1991)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)




Do you agree with the view that economic recovery was largely responsible for
stabilising the Weimar Republic in the mid 1920s?


Discuss the significance of the appointment of Hindenburg as President of the

Weimar Republic in 1925?


Were the Socials Democrats the real defenders of the Weimar Republic?


Is it right to say Gustav Stressemann was a republican by conviction?

Source-based Questions


Does Source A accurately reflect the importance of reparations for Germany in

the 1920s?


To what extent does Source B accurately reflect the position of the German
people on the Dawes Plan?


What light does Source C shed on the political history of the Weimar Republic?


Do you agree with Source D that the Social Democrats were right to see
themselves as the real representatives of the Weimar Republic?


Sources C and D agree on how the economic and political interests of the German
working classes were to be protected. Discuss.


In what ways are Source F critical of the Weimar parliamentary system?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



Source A
Count Harry Kessler, a friend of the murdered Rathenau, laments the death of
Stressemann on 3 October 1929 in his diaries.
At the barber about midday overheard a conversation: Stressemann is dead It is
an irreplaceable loss, whose effects cannot be predicted. That is how it is viewed
here, too The general feeling is one not only of consternation, but also of anxiety
about what will happen now. I am afraid above all that the death of Stressemann will
have very serious domestic repercussions, such as a rightward trend in the Peoples
Party, a breach in the coalition, and the facilitating of dictatorial tendencies.
The legend is born; Stressemann has become an almost mythical figure through his
sudden death He is the first to enter Valhalla as a truly European statesman.
Source B
A letter to the Army from the Minister of Defence, General Groener, 22 January
National Socialists as well as Communists aim at the destruction of the existing
system by means of violence. That means civil war The Reichswehr has to find its
way free from these extremes. It cannot entertain fantastic plans, vague hopes,
high-sounding slogans. It carries an enormous responsibility for the continuance of
the national state. It knows that its attitude in the hour of peril will decide the fate of
the nation It is the sacred task of the Wehrmacht to prevent the cleavage between
classes and parties from ever widening into suicidal civil war.
Source C
Count Harry Kessler is dismayed at the electoral success of the Nazis on 14
September 1930. (diary entry)
A black day for Germany. The Nazis have increased their representation tenfold, they
have risen from 12 to 107 seats and have thus become the second largest party in the
Reichstag. The impression abroad is bound to be catastrophic, the aftermath, both
diplomatically and financially will be dreadful. With 107 Nazis, 41 Hugenbergers,
and over 70 Communists, that is to say some 220 deputies who radically reject the
present German State and seek to overthrow it by revolutionary means, we are
confronted with a political crisis which can only be mastered by the formation of a
strong united front of all those forces which support or at least tolerate the
Republic In fact, the next move must be (if there isnt a Putsch) the formation of a
Grand Coalition between the present governing parties and the Social Democrats,
as otherwise government will simply come to a halt ...
National Socialism is the feverish symptom of the dying German petty bourgeoisie;
but this poison of its illness can bring misery to Germany and Europe for decades to
come. This class cannot be saved; but in its death-throes it can bring terrible new
suffering to Europe.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source D
The KPD observes the September 1930 Election.
While the revolutionary progress of the working-class movement increased unabated
even after the election of 14 September 1930, the bourgeoisie took a further step
along the way towards the creation of a fascist state. The Bruning Government,
which destroyed the surviving achievements of the revolution of 1918, which
dismantled the Weimar Constitution clause by clause, which eliminated the influence
of the parliament and turned itself into the executive organ of the employers frantic
offensive against the living standards of the proletariat Has become a government
for the realisation of the fascist dictatorship.
(Fascism and Democracy in the Theses of the KPD, 1931-32)
Source E
Hermann Dietrich, Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister, comments on the fall of
Bruning on 30 May 1932.
The deeper reasons for Brunings removal lie in the fact that a class of people who
had ceased to exercise any decisive influence in the state, namely the old Prussian
element, decided that they would like to rule once more This element made its first
attempts to seize power at the time of the formation of Brunings government.
Bruning was supposed to give the helm a turn to the right But events were too
strong for him so he was dismissed because he did not fulfil the gentlemens
Source F
Von Papen recollects his appointment as Chancellor in a Cabinet of Barons in May
He (Schleicher) gave me a general survey of the political situation, described the
crisis within the cabinet, and told me that it was the Presidents wish to form a
cabinet of experts, independent of the political parties. It had become technically
impossible to form a parliamentary cabinet, because no combination could command
a majority. The sole remaining constitutional solution was the formation of a
presidential cabinet by the chief of State He no longer considered it possible to
combat a party as strong as the Nazis by negative means, which had only resulted in
the steady and threatening growth of their power
Schleicher left me in no doubt that he was acting as spokesman for the army, the only
stable organisation remaining in the State, preserved intact and free of party political
strife by von Seeckt and his successors. He then turned the conversation to the
subject of who could lead the new cabinetto my amazement Schleicher now
suggested that I should take over this task myself

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


A quarter of an hour later I stood before the President You cannot possibly leave
an old man like me in the lurch Such a call, I felt transcended party obligations. I
clasped the Field Marshals hand. Schleicher, who had been waiting in the next
room, came in to offer his congratulations.
Source G
The pastoral letter of the Bishops in Prussia on the subject of the elections of 31 July,
The imminent elections of deputies to the German Reichstag are of great importance,
not only in the political context but also on account of the influence of legislators and
the Government on the promotion and protection of religious interests and the
position of the Church in the life of the nation. This lays on all Catholic Christians
the patriotic duty of exercising their vote in a manner befitting the responsibility of a
true citizen and a faithful Catholic Christian.
Vote for deputies whose character and attested attitude bear witness to their
commitment to peace and social welfare, and to the protection of confessional
schools, the Christian religion and the Catholic Church. Beware of agitators and
parties which are not worthy of the trust of the Catholic people.

Source H
Otto Meisner gives evidence to the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1946.
Schleicher came to Hindenburg with a demand for emergency powers as a
prerequisite of action against the Nazis. Furthermore, he believed it necessary to
dissolve, and even temporarily eliminate, the Reichstag, and this was to be done by
presidential decrees on the basis of Article 48 - the transformation of his government
into a military dictatorship Schleicher first made these suggestions to Hindenburg
in the middle of January 1933, but Hindenburg at once evinced grave doubts as to its
constitutionality. In the meantime von Papen had returned to Berlin, and by
arrangement with Hindenburgs son had had several interviews with the President

Source I
A Rhineland newspaper reports on the growing political crisis late January 1933.
Reich Chancellor von Schleicher today informed the Reich Presidentthat the
present national government would be unable to defend itself vis a vis the Reichstag if
it did not obtain in advance the power to dissolve parliament. Reich President von
Hindenburg stated that he could not grant this proposal because of current
conditions. Reich Chancellor von Schleicher then announced the resignation of the
government Reich President von Hindenburg summoned former Chancellor von
Papen and requested him to clarify the political situation and to suggest possible

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)




The existence of Article 48 ensured the collapse of the Weimar Republic.



Discuss the view that the old order betrayed the Weimar Republic between1930
and 1933.


Do you agree with the view that the collapse of the Weimar Republic was


The achievement of the Weimar Republic was that it lasted for fourteen years.
Do you agree with this view?

Source-based Questions

Was the death of Stressemann as described in Source A an irreplaceable loss?


What circumstances led the author of Source B to write to the Army?


How accurate is the Communist analysis of the Election of September 1930 in

Source D?


Is Source E correct in claiming the old order had ceased to exercise any decisive
influence in German political life?


What light do Sources A, D and F shed on political life in Germany in the early


How far do Sources C and F agree on the growing threat of the Nazis in the early

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



Source A
Part of the Programme of the Nazi Party, February 1920

We demand the union of all Germans in a Greater Germany on the basis of the
right of national self-determination.
We demand equality of rights for the German people in its dealing as with other
nations, and the revocation of the peace treaties of Versailles and Saint-Germain.
We demand land and territory (colonies) to feed our people and settle our surplus
Only members of the nation may be citizens of the State. Only those of German
blood, whatever their creed, may be members of the nation. Accordingly no Jew
may be a member of the nation.

Source B
The nineteen year old Hans Frank hears Hitler speak for the first time in January
I was strongly impressed straight away. It was totally different from what was
otherwise to be heard in meetings. His method was completely clear and simple. He
took the overwhelmingly dominant topic of the day, the Versailles Diktat, and posed
the question of all questions: What now German people? Whats the true situation?
What alone is now possible? He spoke for over two-and-a-half hours Everything
came from the heart, and he struck a chord with all of us He concealed nothing
of the horror, the distress, the despair facing Germany When he finished, the
applause would not die down From this evening onwards, though not a party
member, I was convinced that if one man could do it, Hitler alone would be capable
of mastering Germanys fate.
(from Hitler 1889 1936, I Kershaw, Allen Lane, 1998)
Source C
Part of Hitlers closing speech at his trial, 27 March 1924.
The fate of Germany does not lie in the choice between a Republic and a Monarchy
but in the content of the Republic or the Monarchy. What I am contending against is
not the form of a state as such, but its ignominious content. We wanted to create in
Germany the precondition which alone will make it possible for the iron grip of our
enemies to be removed from us. We wanted to create order in the state, throw out the
drones, take up the fight against international stock exchange slavery, against our
whole economy being cornered by trusts, against the politicising of the trade unions,
and above all, for the highest honour and duty which we, as Germans, know should
be once more introduced - the duty of bearing arms, military service. And now I ask
you: Is what we wanted high treason?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source D
Hitler writes in Mein Kampf about the representative individual.
When from his workshop or big factory in which he (the individual) feels very small,
he steps for the first time into a mass meeting and has thousands and thousands of
people of the same opinion around him he is swept away by three or four thousand
others into the mighty effect of suggestive intoxication and enthusiasm, when the
visible success and agreement of thousands confirm to him the rightness of the new
doctrine and for the first time arouse doubts in the truth of his previous conviction then he himself has succumbed to the magic influence of mass suggestion.
Source E
In Mein Kampf Hitler comments on the masses.
The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is
feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective
propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as
far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently
repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put
Source F
An interview with Hitler in 1924.
I noticed that he barred in particular any reminder of the putsch and any question
concerning his policy towards the Party schism I gladly eschewed the subject as
too delicate. But the lesson it taught was another matter, which Hitler himself took
up. From now on, he said, we must follow a new line of action. It is best to attempt
no large reorganisation until I am freed When I resume active work it will be
necessary to pursue a new policy. Instead of working to achieve power by armed
conspiracy, we shall have to hold our noses and enter the Reichstag against the
Catholic and Marxist deputies. If outvoting them takes longer than outshooting them,
at least the results will be guaranteed by their own Constitution!
(Reported in I Knew Hitler, Kurt Ludecke, London 1938,pp.217-218)
Source G
The growth in membership of the NSDAP.


History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source H
A National Socialist report on a meeting in Berlin in February 1927.
On the 11th of this month the Party held a public mass meeting in the Pharus (Beer)
Halls in Wedding, the real working class quarter, with the subject: The Collapse of
the Bourgeois Class State. Comrade Goebbels was the speaker When the meeting
was opened by Comrade Daluege, the SA leader, there were, as was expected,
provocative shouts of On a point of order! Within seconds both sides had picked
up chairs, beer mugs, even tables, and a savage fight began The fight was quickly
decided: the KPD left with 85 wounded On our side we counted 3 badly wounded
When the police appeared the fight was already over. Marxist terrorism had been
bloodily suppressed
(from Nazism:1919-1945 Vol I ,J Noakes and G Pridham (Eds), University of Exeter,
Source I
In 1927 Gregor Strasser explains why he became a National Socialist.
How did all those tens of thousands in all parts of Germany become National
Socialist? Perhaps I may be allowed to recall how I became one Before the war
we did not bother with politics (During the war) the best soldiers were frequently
those who had least to defend at home. He co-operated, he did his duty unfailingly
Because we had become nationalists in the trenches we could not help becoming
Socialists in the trenches Those who have fought together with us and who are
hostile towards the nation because it has not bothered with them must be emancipated
so that Germany will in future be strong and the master of her enemies.
(from Nazism:1919-1945 Vol I ,J Noakes and G Pridham (Eds), University of Exeter,
Source J
At an election meeting in March 1928 Hitler speaks on nationalism and socialism.
We can conclude that bourgeois nationalism has failed, and that the concept of
Marxist socialism has made life impossible in the long run. These old lines of
confrontation must be eradicated along with the old parties, because they are barring
the nations path into the future. We are eradicating them by releasing the two
concepts of nationalism and socialism and harnessing them for a new goal, towards
which we are working full of hope, for the highest form of socialism is burning
devotion to the nation.
(from Nazism:1919-1945 Vol I ,J Noakes and G Pridham (Eds), University of Exeter,
Source K
The Voelkischer Beobachteranalyses Election results on 31 May 1928.
The election results from the rural areas in particular have proved that with a
smaller expenditure of energy, money and time, better results can be achieved there
than in the big cities. In small towns and villages mass meetings with good speakers
are events and are often talked about for weeks, while in the big cities the effects of

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


meetings with even three or four thousand people soon disappear. Local successes in
which the National Socialists are running first or second are, surprisingly, almost
invariably the result of the activity of the branch leader or of a few energetic
Source L
A breakdown of recent research on the social structure of the membership of The Nazi
Party in various regions of Germany between 1925 and January 1933(in percentages)
is given below.



Lower &

Class &


Western Ruhr





Hanover-South Brunswick




















Posen-West Prussia










Source M
No one doubts that National Socialism owes its electoral success to the old and new
middle classes. Even if half of the young new voters since 1928 were to have voted
National Socialist, that would only be around a million votes. The rising generation,
therefore, can only partially explain the inflating of the NSDAP.
. It is not the great current of contemporary ideas which the middle classes have
allowed to carry them along - it is worry and anxiety, which oppresses them. For
years the middle class man has kept his head down or sought rescue His special
interests; he has gone with this party or that party, and it has always got worse. He
has realised the futility of his splintered parties.
(Theordore Geiger, Panic in the Middle Class, an article in the German journal, Die
Arbeit, 1930)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source N
Writing in 1934, a middle class member of the SA, reflects on how his family was
affected by the Great Depression.
I was born on 14 May 1910 in Wurselen of Catholic parents Because of the
financial crisis within my family - my father and three of my siblings had recently lost
their jobs - I had to break off my studies. During the following years I tried to obtain
a position commensurate with my education, but without success. Only some two
years after my school exams was I able to obtain work at the Goulay mine, where I
had previously worked frequently during my school holidays. Although the work has
absolutely nothing to do with my training, I am none the less happy to be able to
support my parents to a degree. My father is still unemployed and my brother only
got back to work a couple of weeks ago. What I will achieve professionally and how I
shall make use of my skills and knowledge is still not clear to me.
Source O
Albert Speer on why he joined, along with his mother, the National Socialist Party in
Here it seemed to me was hope. Here were new ideals, a new understanding, new
tasks The peril of communism which seemed inexorably on the way, could be
checked, Hitler persuaded us, and instead of hopeless unemployment, Germany could
move toward economic recovery. He had mentioned the Jewish problem only
peripherally. But such remarks did worry me although I was not an anti-Semite It
must have been during these months that my mother saw an SA parade on the streets
of Heidelberg. The sight of discipline in a time of chaos, the impression of energy in
an atmosphere of universal hopelessness, seems to have won her over also.
Source P
Address by Hitler to German industrialists, January 1932.
Unemployment is driving millions of Germans to look on Communism as the logical
theoretical counterpart of their actual economic situation. We cannot cure this state
of affairs by emergency decrees. There can only be one basic solution: a realisation
that a flourishing economic life must be protected by a flourishing, powerful state.
Today we stand at a turning-point in Germanys destiny. Either we work out a
body-politic as hard as iron from the conglomeration of parties, or Germany will fall
into final ruin.
Source Q
The Nazi Propaganda department issues a directive during the presidential election
campaign of Spring 1932.
Hitler poster. The Hitler poster depicts a fascinating Hitler head on a completely
black background. Subtitle: white on black - Hitler. In accordance with the
Fuhrers wish this poster is to be put up only during the final days (of the campaign).

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Since experience shows that during the final days there is a variety of coloured
posters, this poster with its completely black background will contrast with all the
others and will produce a tremendous effect on the masses
Source R
Extracts Goebbels Diary on the closing days of Brunings cabinet.
8 May 1932: On Saturday the delegates come and give us some information. The
Fuhrer has an important interview with Schleicher in the presence of a few gentlemen
of the Presidents immediate circle.
All goes well. The Fuhrer has spoken decisively. Brunings fall is expected shortly.
The President of the Reich will withdraw his confidence from him.
The plan is to constitute a Presidential Cabinet. The Reichstag will be dissolved.
Repressive enactments are to be cancelled. We shall be free to go ahead as we like
and mean to outdo ourselves in propaganda.
11 May 1932. The Reichstag drags on. Groeners position is shaken. The army no
longer supports him. Even those with most to with him urge his downfall.
This is the beginning; once one of these men falls, the whole Cabinet, and with it the
system, will crash. Bruning is trying to salvage what he can.
Source S
From a conversation between Hitler and Hindenburg on 13 August 1932.
The President of the Reich opened the discussion by declaring to Hitler that he was
ready to let the National Socialist Party and their leader Hitler participate in the
Reich government and would welcome their Cupertino. He then put the question to
Hitler whether he was prepared to participate in the present government of von
Papen. Herr Hitler declared that His taking part in Cupertino with the existing
government was out of the question. Considering the importance of the National
Socialist movement he must demand the full and complete leadership of government
and state for himself and his party.
Source T
Extract from a report of the Reich Minister of the Interior, summer, 1932.
Looked at politically, objectively, the result of the election is so fearful because it
seems clear that the present election will be the last normal Reichstag election for a
long time to come. The so-called race of thinkers and poets is hurrying with flags
flying towards dictatorship and thus towards a period that will totally be filled with
severe revolutionary disturbances. The elected Reichstag is totally incapable of
functioning, even if the Centre goes in with the National Socialists, which it will do
without hesitation if it seems in the interests of the party The one consolation could
be the recognition that the National Socialists have passed their peak But against
this stands the fact that the radicalism of the right has unleashed a strong radicalism
on the left. The communists have made gains almost everywhere and thus internal
political disturbances have become exceptionally bitter.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)





How important was Adolf Hitler in the rise of the Nazi Party?


Why did Hitler adopt a new political strategy after 1923?


Why did the National Socialist Party remain a fringe political party until the
Election of September 1930?


Who voted for the NSDAP?


How important was the political activism of the Nazi Party members in securing
power in January 1933?

Source-based Questions

Explain the significance of Hitlers speech to German industrialists in January

1932 in Source P?


Discuss the strategy outlined in Source S for securing power for the Nazis in
relation to events in 1932 and 1933.


In what ways do Sources B and O agree on the appeal of the Nazis?


Compare and contrast the views expressed in Sources D and E on the

representative individual and the masses.


How far do Sources F and H agree on the electoral strategies adopted by Hitler
and the Nazis after 1924?


To what extent do Sources K and L agree on who voted for the Nazis?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)




Source A
Ludendorff to Reich President Hindenburg in late January 1933.
You have delivered up our holy German Fatherland to one of the greatest
demagogues of all time. I solemnly prophesy that this accursed man will cast our
Reich into the abyss and bring our nation to inconceivable misery. Future
generations will damn you in your grave for what you have done.

Source B
Hitlers Appeal to the German People on 31 January 1933.
The task before us is the most difficult which has faced German statesmen in living
memory. But we all have unbounded confidence, for we believe in our nation and in
its eternal values. Farmers, workers, and the middle class must unite to contribute
the bricks wherewith to build the new Reich.
The National Government will therefore regard it as the first and supreme task to
restore to the German people unity of mind and will
We, men of this Government, feel responsible to German history for the reconstitution
of a proper national body so that we may finally overcome the insanity of class and
class warfare. We do not recognise classes, but only the German people, its millions
of farmers, citizens and workers who together will either overcome this time of
distress or succumb to it.
(from Nazism:1919-1945 Vol I ,J Noakes and G Pridham (Eds), University of Exeter,

Source C
Goering on 2 March 1933
My main task will be to stamp out the Communist pestilence. I am going over to the
offensive all down the line The Communists never expected 2,000 of their
top-swindlers to be sitting under lock and key just 48 hours later I dont need the
fire in the Reichstag to take action against Communism, and its no secret either that
if it had been up to Hitler and me the culprits would already be swinging from the
(The Hitler State, Martin Broszat, Longman, 1981)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source D
A Nazi theorist explains that Hitlers dictatorship is not legal.
The office of Fuhrer has developed out of the National Socialist movement. In its
origins it is not a state office. The office of Fuhrer has grown out of the movement
into the Reich The position of Fuhrer combines in itself all sovereign power of the
Reich: all public power in the state as in the movement is derived from the Fuhrers
power Fuhrer power is comprehensive and total: it unites within itself all means
of creative political activity: it embraces all spheres of national life.
(from Politics and Economics in the Nazi State, 1933-45, G Layton, Hodder and
Stoughton 1992)
Source E
Vice Chancellor von Papen on Hitlers rule in November 1933.
We, your nearest and most intimate colleagues, are still spellbound by the
unparalleled, most overwhelming recognition, a nation has ever rendered its leader.
In nine months the genius of your leadership and the ideals which you newly placed
before us have succeeded in creating, from a people internally torn and without hope,
a Reich united in hope and faith in its future. Even those who hitherto stood apart
have now unequivocally professed their loyalty to you
(from National Socialist Rule in Germany, Norbert Frei, Blackwall, 1993)
Source F
A contemporary on the responsibility for the Night of the Long Knives in June 1934.
The suppression of the Rohm revolt has been like a purifying thunderstorm. The
nightmare which has burdened the people has been followed by a liberating sign of
relief Wide sections of the population, however, have been deeply shocked by the
shooting of persons completely unconnected with the Rohm revolt. It is realised that
these were excesses, which took place without the knowledge and against the will of
the Fuehrer and leading figures.
(from National Socialist Rule in Germany, Norbert Frei, Blackwall, 1993)
Source G
Albert Speer on Hitlers lifestyle in the 1930s.
When, I would often ask myself, did he really work ? Little was left of the day; he
rose late in the morning, conducted one or two official conferences; but from the
subsequent dinner on he more or less wasted his time until the early hours of the
evening. His rare appointments in the late afternoon were imperilled by his passion
for looking at building plans. The adjutants often asked me: please dont show any
plans today In the eyes of the people Hitler was the Leader who watched over the
nation day and night. This was hardly so According to my observations, he often
allowed a problem to mature during the weeks when he seemed to be entirely taken up
with trivial matters. Then after the sudden insight, he would spend a few days of
incisive work giving final shape to his solution Once he had come to a decision, he
lapsed again into his idleness.
(from Hitler and Nazism, Jane Jenkins, Longman, 1998)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source H
Hitler speaks to Party officials on 29 April 1937.
It is always hard if someone says, only one person can command; one commands and
the rest must obey In a genuine Fuhrer State, it is now, lets say, the honour of
him who leads that he also assumes responsibility Today the people are happier in
Germany than anywhere else in the world. They only become uncertain if there is no
leadership I saw the madness of the belief that the ordinary man does not want
any leadership in the first place, I saw this never more starkly than during the war. If
a company is faced with a critical situation, the company only has one wish, that it
has a decent company commander, and then it will rely on him.
(from National Socialist Rule in Germany, Norbert Frei, Blackwall, 1993)
Source I
Memorandum on the Four Year Plan of August 1936.
I therefore draw up the following programme for a final provision of our vital
I. Parallel with the military and political rearmament and mobilisation of our
nation must go its economic rearmament and mobilisation There is only one
interest, the interest of the nation; only one view, the bringing of Germany to the
point of political and economic self-sufficiency.
II. foreign exchange must be saved in all those areas where our needs can be
satisfied by German production.
III. German fuel production must now be stepped up with the utmost speed and
brought to final completion within 18 months.
IV. The mass production of synthetic rubber must also be organised and achieved
with the same urgency.
(from Hitler and Nazism, Jane Jenkins, Longman, 1998)
Source J
Hjalmar Schacht, Economics Minister, on Hitlers view of economics.
As long as I remained in office, whether at the Reichsbank or the Ministry of
Economics, Hitler never interfered with my work. He never attempted to give me any
instructions, but let me carry out my own ideas in my own way and without criticism
However, when he realised that the moderation of my financial policy was a
stumbling block in his reckless plans (foreign policy), he began, with Goerings
connivance, to go behind my back and counter my arrangements.
(from Hitler and Nazism, Jane Jenkins, Longman, 1998)
Source K
In July 1938 an SPD analyst comments on Nazi economic policy.
Under the lash of the dictatorship, the level of economic activity has been greatly
increased. The exploitation of labour has been increased; female employment has

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


been increased despite the totally contradictory Nazi ideal of womanhood; and a
large number of Mittelstandlern (self-employed people) have been transformed into
wage-labourers despite the totally contradictory Nazi ideal of their status
(from Hitler and Nazism, Jane Jenkins, Longman, 1998)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)




What part did legality play in the consolidation of power by the Nazis between
1933 and 1934?


To what extent was the leadership principle implemented after 1933?


Was Adolf Hitler a weak dictator or master of the Third Reich?


The Nazis economic policies of 1934-1939 were the chief cause of the war that
began in September 1939. Do you agree?


To what extent did the introduction of the Four Year Plan in 1936 change the
German economy?

Source-based Questions

How accurate is Ludendorffs prophecy in Source A?


Why does Hitler make an Appeal to the German People in Source B?


Why did the author of Source E extol the virtues of Adolf Hitler?


Was the opinion expressed in Source F on the Rohm Revolt held by the majority
of the German people?


What light does Source G shed on Hitlers lifestyle?


Compare Sources E, G and H about the nature of Hitlers rule?


What light do Sources I and J shed on Hitlers economic policies?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)




Source A
The German Labour Front is set up in 1933.

The German Labour Front is the organisation for all working men, irrespective of
their economic or social standing. In it the worker shall stand alongside the
employer, no longer separated into groups and associations which serve to perpetuate
special economic or social distinctions or interests. In the German Labour Front a
persons worth will be the deciding factor, be he worker or employer
(The Hitler State, Martin Broszat, Longman, 1981)

Source B
Robert Ley on the Nazi work ethic in 1936.
There is one thing we must understand if we are to comprehend the greatness of this
time: we are not dealing with a new state system, or a new economic system
Human being are being transformed National Socialism has the power to free the
German people, the individual German, from the injuries inflicted on him which have
prevented from performing his task Of course we do not have a comfortable life.
Life on this earth is hard and must be earned through struggle, and earned every day
afresh. All we can do is to give you the strength for this struggle, to make you
inwardly strong. We can give the worker physical and spiritual health, healthy
housing, and a proper livelihood with which to maintain himself and his children.
Above all, thanks to Kraft durch Freude, we can offer him a great deal to nourish his
(Fascism, Roger Gribbon (Ed), Oxford University Press, 1995)

Source C
An interview with an unnamed member of the Nazi Party in 1936.
for five years I remained unemployed and I was broken both in body and spirit and
I learned how stupid were all my dreams in those hard days at university. I was not
wanted by Germanythen I was introduced to Hitler. You wont understand and I
cannot explain either because I dont know what happened, but life for me took on a
tremendous new significance I have committed myself, body, soul and spirit, to
this movement I can only tell you that I cannot go back. I cannot question, I am
pledged. I beg you not to try to set up conflict in my mind.
(from Hitler and Nazism, Jane Jenkins, Longman, 1998)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source D
The Nazi agricultural expert, Walter Darre, romanticises the peasantry.

At the bottom of his heart the true peasant has only a deep mostly silent contempt
for the city dweller or non-farmer The peasant directs the farm, he is the head, the
other limbs; but all together they are visible for the farm To be a peasant therefore
means to have a feeling for the organic and interplay of forces in the work as a whole.
(cited in Nazi Ideology before 1933- a Documentation, B Millar Lane and L J Rupp
(eds), Manchester 1978)

Source E
A Nazi Party statement of March 1930, possibly written by the Strasser brothers,
emphasises the peasantry will find their place within a broadly based movement.
The present distress of the farmers is part of the distress of the entire German people.
It is madness to believe that a single occupational group can exclude itself from the
German community which shares in the same fate; it is a crime to set farmers and city
dwellers against one another, for they are bound together for better or for worse.
The old ruling political parties which led our people into slavery cannot be the
leaders on the road to emancipation.
The war of liberation against our oppressors and their taskmasters can be
successfully led only by a political liberation movement which, although it fully
recognises the significance of the farmers and of agriculture for the German workers
as a whole, draws together the consciously German members of every occupation and
This political liberation movement of the German people is the National Socialist
German Workers Party.

Source F
At the Nuremberg Rally of September 1934 Hitler comments on the place of women
in Nazi society.
If one says that mans world is the State, his struggle, his readiness to devote his
powers to the service of the community, one might be tempted to say that the world of
woman is a smaller world. For her world is her husband, her family, her children
and her house. But where would the greater world be if there were no one to care for
the small world ? Providence has entrusted to women the cares of that world
which is peculiarly her own Every child that a woman brings into the world is a
battle, a battle waged for the existence of her people.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source G
A school pupil comments on life in the mid 1930s.
No one in our class ever read Mein Kampf. I myself had only used the book for
quotations. In general we didnt know much about National Socialist ideology. Even
anti-Semitism was taught rather marginally at school, for instance through Richard
Wagners essay The Jews in Music and outside school the display copies of Der
Sturmer made the idea seem questionable, if anything Nevertheless, we were
politically programmed: programmed to obey orders, to cultivate the soldierly
virtue of standing to attention and saying Yes, Sir, and to switch our minds off
when the magic word fatherland was uttered and Germanys honour and greatness
were invoked.
(from Inside Nazi Germany, D Peubert, Batsford, 1987)
Source H
A Nazi publication on youth in 1938.
The education for Germany, which is organised by the Hitler Youth itself in
accordance with the Fuhrers will that Youth must be led by youth And just as
the Hitler Youth is neither a league for pre-military training, nor a sports club, so it
has no room, either, for the cultivation of a separate youth culture in musical groups
and Hitler Youth Choirs, in literary clubs and theatrical societies. Whatever is
happening within the new German youth happens exclusively in compliance with that
great and unalterable law: the commitment to the Fuhrer is the commitment to
(from Fascism, Roger Gribbon (Ed), Oxford University Press, 1995)
Source I
On German culture in 1938.
Now, more than four years after the decisive change which German life experienced
on 30 January 1933, the criteria and principles which had to be fought for then have
penetrated the general spiritual awareness of the nation. It has long since become
self-evident to the overriding majority of the German people that the norms which
determine and shape our political life since 1933 must also, through a deep inner
necessity, affect the whole spiritual and artistic life of the present and future of our
This development, for which we must thank the cleansing of German cultural life from
all distortions alien to its nature (artfremd), a process which gathered irresistible
momentum after 1933 and is now complete
(from Fascism, Roger Gribbon (Ed), Oxford University Press, 1995)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source J
In August 1939 Goebbels speaks on the value of the radio.
Broadcasting has certain quite definite tasks to perform, particularly in view of the
times in which we are living at this moment. What is needed is not heavy, serious
programmes which, after all, only a fraction of the people can grasp: we must provide
the broad masses and millions of our people, engaged as they are in a struggle for
existence, with as much relaxation and entertainment, edification and improvement,
as possible.
(from Inside Nazi Germany, D Peubert, Batsford, 1987)
Source K
The SPD underground (SOPADE) in the 1930s observes the terror in Germany.
Terror in its all-embracing form, in its totally inhuman brutality, remains concealed
not only from those abroad; even in Germany itself there are certain circles of the
population who have no inkling of what is occurring. It is not uncommon for a
citizen who has absolutely no enthusiasm for the system but has little interest in
politics, who crosses the road to avoid a swastika flag which he would be expected to
salute, to put the following question with an undertone of accusation: Do you
personally know of anyone who is still in a concentration camp from then ? (By
then is meant the take-over in 1933.)
(from National Socialist Rule in Germany, Norbert Frei, Blackwall, 1993)

Source L
An underground Socialist (SOPADE) witnesses peasant hostility to the regime in
The peasants, to a man, are angry about the Hitler system. Market days in the towns
almost assume the character of political meetings. Only a chairman is missing.
Everything is discussed and grumbled about The gendarmes behave as though
they had not heard the market-goers. If known Nazis informers turn up, the most that
happens is that people move along a bit and talk more quietly, but the informers can
sense the mood of the peasants perfectly well. For a long while it has been impossible
to speak of the peasants fearing the Nazis. On the contrary, known Nazis avoid the
peasants, so as not to be called to account about when they finally intend to start
turning their promises into reality.
(from National Socialist Rule in Germany, Norbert Frei, Blackwall, 1993)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source M
Lloyd George in 1937 on how Hitler has regenerated Germany.
Whatever one may think of his (Hitlers) methods - and they are certainly not those of
a parliamentary country - there can be no doubt that he has achieved a marvellous
transformation in the spirit of the people, in their attitude towards each other, and in
their social and economic outlook As to his popularity, especially among the youth
of Germany, there can be no manner of doubt. The old trust him; the young idolises
him. It is not the admiration accorded to a popular leader. It is the worship of a
national hero who has saved his country from utter despondency and degradation
(from Germany: The Third Reich, G layton, Hodder and Stoughton, 1992)
Source N
In a speech in 1937 Hitler claims to have created a Volksgemeinschaft.
We in Germany have really broken with a world of prejudices. I leave myself out of
account. I, too, am a child of the people; I do not trace my line from any castle: I
come from the workshop By my side stand Germans from all walks of life who
once were workers on the land are now governing German states in the name of the
Reich It is true that men who came from the bourgeoisie and former aristocrats
have their place in this Movement We have not broken down classes in order to set
new ones in their place: we have broken down classes to make way for the German
people as a whole.
Source O
In May 1939 a local government official comments on the popularity of the regime.
There was hardly a shop window to be seen without a display of the Fuhrers portrait
and the victorious symbols of the new Reich. The numerous celebrations were very
well attended in the garrison towns the population was especially captivated by the
military parades. Everywhere was a happy celebration of people, who were not in the
slightest disturbed by the agitation incited in the nations which surround us, because
they know their fate is safe in the Fuhrers hands.
(from National Socialist Rule in Germany, Norbert Frei, Blackwall, 1993)
Source P
The Socialists (SOPADE) in exile comment on Kristallnacht in November 1938.
The brutal measures against the Jews have caused great indignation among the
population. People spoke their minds quite openly, and many Aryans were arrested
as a result. When it became known that a Jewish woman had been taken from
childbed, even a police official said that this was too much: Where is Germany
heading, if these methods are being used? As a result, he was arrested too After
the Jews, who are going to be the next victims? That is what people will be asking.
Will it be the Catholics?
(from Inside Nazi Germany, D Peubert, Batsford, 1987)

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source Q
Himmler on the Jewish question in the early 1940s.
The painful decision had to be taken, to remove this people from the face of the earth.
For the organisation that had to perform it, this was the hardest task we have ever
faced. It has been performed, I believe I may say, without our men and leaders
suffering any harm of mind or spirit That is all I wish to say about the Jewish
question. You know how things stand, and you will keep the knowledge to yourselves.

Source R
Hitler to Speer in March 1945.
If the war is to be lost, the nation will also perish. This fate is inevitable. There is no
need to consider the basis of even a most primitive existence any longer. On the
contrary it is better to destroy even that, and to destroy it ourselves. The nation has
proved itself weak, and the future belongs solely to the stronger Eastern nation.
Besides, those who remain after the battle are of little value; for the good have fallen.

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)




How successfully did the Nazi regime promote harmony and remove class
conflict in the Third Reich?


To what extent did the Nazis succeed in attracting support from German workers
in the period 1929 to 1939?


Discuss the role of women and the family in the Third Reich.


Discuss the reaction of the German people to the persecution of the Jews?


How far was resistance possible within the Third Reich, and what forms did it

Source-based Questions

How far would German workers have agreed with the views expressed in Source


Does Source C accurately reflect the popularity of the Third Reich?


What light does Source K shed on the nature of repression in Hitlers Germany?


Discuss the views on the peasantry expressed in Sources D and E?


How far do Sources F and G agree on the position of German youth in the Third


Contrast the views expressed by Hitler on the German people in Sources N and

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)



Source A
Hitler on German foreign policy in Mein Kampf.
Germany will either be a world power or there will be no Germany. And for world
power she needs magnitude which will give her the position she needs in the present
period, and life to her citizens. And so we National Socialists consciously draw up a
line beneath the foreign policy tendency of our pre-war period We stop endless
German movement to south and west, and turn our gaze towards land in the east. At
long last we break off the colonial and commercial policy of the pre-war period and
shift to the soil policy of the future.
Source B
Hitlers first major peace speech on 17 March 1933.
Speaking deliberately as a German National Socialist, I desire to declare in the name
of the national Government, and of the whole movement of national regeneration, that
we in this new Germany are filled with deep understanding for the same feelings and
opinions and for the rightful claims to life of the other nations Our boundless love
for and the loyalty to our own national traditions makes us respect the national
claims of others and makes us desire from the bottom of our hearts to live with them
in peace and friendship. We therefore have no use for the idea of Germanization.
Source C
Hitler decides to remilitarise the Rhineland in 1936.
In accordance with the fundamental right of a nation to secure its frontiers and
ensure its possibilities of defence, the German Government has today restored the full
and unrestricted sovereignty of Germany in the demilitarised zone of the Rhineland.
Source D
On 5 November 1937 Hitler allegedly outlines his foreign policy aims before the
leaders of the armed services. (The Hossbach Memorandum.)
The aim of German policy was to make secure and to preserve the racial community
(Volksmasse) and to enlarge it. It was therefore a question of space
If we did not act by 1943-5, any year could, in consequence of a lack of reserves,
produce the food crisis, to cope with the necessary foreign exchange was not
available, and this must be regarded as a warning of the regime. Besides the world
was expecting our attack and was increasing its counter measures from year to year.
It was while the rest of the world was still preparing its defences (sich abriegele) that
we were obliged to take the offensive
If the Fuhrer was still living, it was his unalterable resolve to solve Germanys
problems of space at the latest by 1943-5

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)


Source E
A Social Democrat comments on the Anschluss with Austria in March 1938.
The atmosphere was similar to that on 30th January 1933, when Hitler became Reich
Chancellor. Everyone was carried away by this atmosphere. Only gradually did
groups form here and there, and people began to discuss what had happened. You
could hear people saying that war was now on the way and they were going home to
pack and move out to the villages. But these were isolated voices. The general
opinion in the groups was: Lets face it, Hitler is a great man, he knows what he
wants and the world is scared of him. Hitlers prestige has risen enormously
again and he is practically idolised The western powers simply darent do
anything against Germany, and even if they do, Germany is strong enough to get its
own way.
(from Inside Nazi Germany, D Peubert, Batsford, 1987)
Source F
On 22 August 1939 Hitler addresses his generals.
Colonel-General von Brauchitsch has promised me to bring the war against Poland
to a close with a few weeks. Had he reported to me that he needs two years or even
only one year, I should not have given the command to march and should have allied
myself temporarily with Britain instead of Russia for we cannot conduct a long war.
To be sure a new situation has arisen. I experienced those poor worms Daladier and
Chamberlain in Munich. They will be too cowardly to attack. They wont go beyond
a blockade. Against that we have our autarchy and the Russian raw materials.
Poland will be depopulated and settled with Germans. My pact with the Poles was
merely conceived of as gaining of time. As for the rest, gentlemen, the fate of Russia
will be exactly the same as I am now going through with in the case of Poland. After
Stalins death - he is a very sick man - we will break the Soviet Union. Then there
will begin the dawn of the German rule of the earth.
Source G
Hitler threatens the Jews with annihilation in a Reichstag speech in January 1939.
Today I will once more be a prophet: If the international Jewish financiers in and
outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations into a world war, then the
result will not be the bolshevisation of the earth and thus the victory of Jewry, but the
annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe !

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)




Were there any guiding principles behind Hitlers foreign policy?


Was Hitlers foreign policy, 1933-1939, merely a continuation of that of his

Weimar predecessors?


Why did Germany find itself at war with Britain and France in September 1939?


Why was the outbreak of war in September 1939 not marked by uncontrolled
enthusiasm in Germany?


How far was Germany prepared for war in 1939?

Source-based Questions

Does Source A accurately reflect Hitlers foreign policy aspirations?


What circumstances led to Hitlers peace speech in Source B?


What light does Source C shed on Hitlers foreign policy?


Explain the significance of Source D, the Hossbach Memorandum.


How far does Source E express the views of the German people?


Why did Hitler make the speech in Source G in January 1939?


Compare the views expressed in Sources B and F on Hitlers Foreign policy?

History: Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II - 1918-1939 (AH)