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How Did Hindenburg Undermine German Democracy In 1925 33?

1284 words - 5 pages

Paul von Hindenburg was the second president of the Weimar Republic, who had led Germany through economic prosperity of the Golden Age under Stresemann (1924-9), but also the series of severe crisis ranging from nationwide political revolts (1919-23) to worldwide economic depression (1929), that have influenced the Reichstag as a whole. For the first five years after taking office, Hindenburg fulfilled his duties of office with considerable dignity and decorum. Nevertheless, many claim that with the election of President Hindenburg, German democracy was doomed. There is a certain degree of truth in such statement, for Hindenburg had played a considerable role in undermining the German democracy in his later presidential years, through appointing Adolf Hitler (1933) chancellor of Germany in spite of his awareness of Hitler’s dictatorial qualities, and invoking Article 48 under which the government no longer functioned democratically.Hindenburg’s biggest mistake was to make Adolf Hitler chancellor of Germany in 1933, for this meant that an era of German elections and parliamentary life had come to an end, and an era of dictatorship and terror was soon to emerge. As the following evidence proves, Hindenburg was clearly aware that giving power to Hitler would be a vital step in the downfall of the Weimar Germany. In 1932, although the number of seats for the Nazis in Reichstag fell from 230 to 197 , it still remained to be the largest Party. Von Papen therefore offered to bring Hitler into his new government by giving him the Vice-Chancellorship. However, Hitler was not tempted and reiterated his desire for the Chancellorship, and would accept nothing less as his aim was complete power, not the sharing of power. When Von Papen put these demands to Hindenburg, and offered a way for Hitler as Chancellor, Hindenburg refused, and Papen, unable to command a majority in the Reichstag had to resign. In consequence, Hitler told Hindenburg he would form a ‘presidential Cabinet, one whose powers would derive, not from the will or votes of parliament, but from the Presidency. Hindenburg could not accept these extraordinary terms and brought his negotiations with Hitler to an end, instructing his State Secretary to write to Hitler:“The President of the Reich thanks you for your willingness to become head of a presidential Cabinet. He considers, however, that he would not be doing his duty to the German people if he handed over his Presidential powers to the leader of a Party which has repeatedly emphasized its exclusiveness, and which has taken up a predominantly negative attitude. In these circumstances, the Present of the Reich cannot help fearing that a presidential Cabinet conducted by you would inevitably lead to a Party dictatorship, bringing in its train of bitter aggravation of the conflicts within the German people…”Hindenburg thus turned to a former army officer, General von Schleicher and asked him to take over the...

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