The Fear Of Socialism And The Rise To Power Of The Nazis In Germany Between 1919 And 1933

2646 words - 11 pages

The Fear of Socialism and the Rise to Power of the Nazis in Germany between 1919 and 1933

By the end of 1918 it was clear that the axis powers had lost the
Great War. The German people were demoralised and hungry. The
nationalistic fervour with which they had greeted the start of the war
had gradually evaporated – replaced by a desire for (fair) peace with
the Allies. Kaiser Wilhelm II, who had led his people into the
debacle, was forced to abdicate. A Republic was declared on the 9th of
November and an armistice shortly followed. A democratic constitution
was signed in the city of Weimar, which leant its name to the new
republic. The nationalist and bourgeois elements in Germany, some
still hankering after the return of the Empire under the Kaiser,
critically supported the new SPD (Socialist) led Government. They, and
majority of the German people, wanted the guarantee of a fair and
reasonable peace with the Allies. The government also gave an
assurance that the revolution would go no further i.e. that it would
not take a revolutionary socialist character. The Russian Revolution
of October 1917 had sent shockwaves through the European ruling class.
All over Europe, the barbarism of the ‘Great War’ had radicalised
society. Old certainties were now questioned. Everything, it seemed,
was up for grabs.

At Versailles in May 1919, the “fair peace” that Germans had been
hoping for was not forthcoming. She lost large parts of her territory;
was burdened with Reparations – the amount of which had not been
determined – and the treaty included the infamous “war guilt” clause,
which said that Germany was wholly responsible for the war and all
damage and death thereafter. The Treaty of Versailles was roundly
detested. Right-wing parties, previously suspicious of the Republic,
became its sworn enemies. One of these parties was a new group called
the German Workers’ Party – it would later rename itself the National
Socialist Germans Workers’ Party (or Nazi Party). The party espoused a
doctrine of anti-Semitic, anti-communist nationalism. They also
attempted to appeal to the working class by using vague
anti-capitalist rhetoric. An Austrian war veteran by the name of
Adolph Hitler had joined the party in 1919 and earned himself a
reputation for his powerful oratory skills. The party at this time was
small and on the fringes. But by 1933, Hitler would be German
chancellor and the Nazi Party would be on its way to complete
domination of German society. To what extent does German ‘fear of
socialism’ explain the Nazis’ rise to power? Do other factors such as
hatred of the Treaty of Versailles, the Great depression or Nazi
ideology and propaganda offer a better explanation?

Anti-Marxism had been a staple of right-wing German political
discourse since the days of Bismarck. The Nazi party were...

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