Germany 1918-39

A modern world in depth study.


The Weimar Government

November 1918

Fredrich Ebert formed a new government but it had many weaknesses:
~Proportional representation
~Elections every four years
~The Chancellor needed a majority in the Reichstag to pass laws.
~Article 48 allowed the president to pass laws by decree.

The Armistice

11 November 1918

11th November 1918 when the central powers and the allies agreed to cease fighting.

The Spratacist revolt

january 1919

The Communist uprising of 1919 was defeated by the Weinmar Government with the help of the Freikorps

The Treaty of Versallies


The Treaty of Versailles or "the diktat" was signed. This began the doltschloss theory as many Germans resented the terms of the treaty.

Hitler Joined the DAP


Hitler joined the DAP Deutsche Arbeite Party, German workers party, led by Anton Drexler.

DAP/NSDAP membership

1919 - 1923

The Nazi party began with zero members in 1919 to having over 50'000 by 1924.

Hitler is second in command of DAP


The Kapp Putsch

March 1920

The right wing Freikorps seized power in Berlin while the army and police stood by. The Weimar government called on workers to strike and many did, so the Kapp putsch failed.

DAP change to NSDAP

August 1920

The DAP changed it's name to Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party: NSDAP or Nazi for short.

Hitler creates SA


Hitler creates the Sturmabteilung (storm troopers) as the Nazis private army (nicknamed brownshirts). They were created for security and for fighting with communists. Many right and left wing extremists had similar gangs. There were many ex-soilders in Germany at this time who were ready to join. ~Hitler put Ernst Rohm (with an umlaut) in charge of the SA.

Hitler takes control of Nazi party from Drexler


French occupation on the Ruhr

January 1923

French troops occupied the Ruhr when Germany failed to pay reparations. German workers wrecked equipment, so the French couldn't make much money. The German economy was also wrecked



The Government printed money to pay reparations, wages and so on which meant that money quickly became worthless. Living conditions declined and the middle classes lost all their savings.

The Munich Putsch


Hitler tried to take over Munich by force just as Mussolini had done. The Nazis had 55000 supporters and thought they were ready and that General Ludendorff the leader of the army would support them. The attempt failed as they failed to get support from the government, police or army. Hitler was imprisoned but his trial was a propaganda success.

Strikes called off


The unpopularity of the Weimar government increased as the strikes in the Ruhr were called off and reparations to the French began.

Introduction of Rentenmark

November 1923

Stresemann introduced new currency - Rentenmark. It stabilised the economy. The German people showed confidence in it.

Introduction of Reichsmark


Rentenmark is converted to Reichsmark which was backed with gold. It gradually restored the value of German money.

The Dawes plan


Stresemann negotiated the Dawes plan with the USA. This reorganised and reduced reparations and the French moved out of the Ruhr.

US loans

1924 - 1930

These helped to pay reparations and greatly helped German industry. However they made Germany dependent upon the US.

The Lean years

1924 - 1929

Hitler re-launched the Nazi party in 1924 and by 1929 it was very well organised but these were the difficult years for the party. The economy had improved - there was less unemployment. War hero Hindenberg was President of the republic which made it more popular and therefore the Nazis lost popularity as an extreme party.

Locarno Pact


Improved relations between Britain and France. Guaranteed borders with Belgium, France and Italy.

Germany joins the LofN


Stresemann negotiated German entry to the League of Nations. This meant that Germany was recognised as a great power once again.

The SS are created


The SS was created as an elite bodyguard for Nazi officials and the prime examples of the aryan race.

Kellog-Briand Pact


Germany was one of the 65 countries that agreed to settle disputes peacefully. This wasn't a Stresemann initiative but helped other countries trust Germany more.

1928 elections

May 1928

In the May 1928 elections the Nazis won only 12 seats in the Reichstag.

Young Plan


Set a timescale and reduced reparations. France agreed to leave the Rhineland early.

Reasons for Nazi sucess

1929 - 1933

Hitler's personal appeal and a massive publicity effort with a clear repeated message, which included: scrapping the TofV; beginning German expansion and fighting the Jews. Goebbels was very important in the propaganda effort.
The Nazis built support from some women with messaged of the key role for women in the family in Germany's future.
The Nazis promised strong leadership and protection from communists. In return big businesses such as Bosh supported the Nazis.
The Nazis promised protection from from communists.
This group was hit hard by the Great Depression, felt let down by moderate parties and likes the Nazis' anti-communist message.
The working class was the biggest group of voters. The Nazis were connected with jobs and images of a strong Germany but more workers supported the communists.
This was stronger than the communists.
Nazis offered hope and strong leadership.

The Wall Street Crash

October 1929

The Great Depression

October 1929 - 1933

A worldwide economic recession that was triggered by the Wall Street Crash.
~They had to pay back loans to the USA
~Had to pay higher taxes.
~Markets dried up as few could afford goods.
~Couldn't borrow money from the USA.
~Refused to print more money so increased taxes.
~Government made cuts in civil service jobs and unemployment benefit.
~Blamed for depending on the US.
~Divided coalition couldn't agree on how to solve problems.
~Millions of workers and laborers lost their jobs.
~Banks went bust and people lost their savings.
~Businesses collapsed as did investments.
~Many families suffered terrible poverty as men couldn't find work.
~In 1928 0.8 million Germans were unemployed, by 1932 this had risen to 6 million.

Presidential election

march 1932

Hindenberg beats Hitler in the presidential election but Hitler gains support.

Weinmar struggles

may 1932

Chancellor Bruning's popularity is very low; he depends on the presidents decree. Hindenberg makes von Papen chancellor.

July 1932 elections

July 1932

Von Papen's centre party only has 68 seats so he depends on the Presidents decree - he decides to hold Reichstag elections to gain more support but loses seats! The Nazis win 230 seats and become the largest party in the Reichstag but Hindenberg still refuses to make Hitler chancellor.

November elections 1932

november 1932

Centre party loses even more seats in another Reichstag election. The Nazis are still the largest party though they only win 196 seats this time.

Chancellor changes again

december 1932

Hindenberg is still ruling by decree. He removes Von Papen and makes von Schleider chancellor

Hitler becomes Chancellor

january 1933

Von Papen negotiates with Hitler so when von Schleicher resigns on 28 January due to lack of support, von papen persuades Hindenberg to make Hitler Chancellor. They both think that they can control Hitler.

The Reichstag fire

27 February 1933

The Reichstag building burned down. A Dutch communist Van Der Lubbe confessed. Thousands of communists were arrested. Hitler persuaded Hindenberg to declare a state of emergency and call an election. It is possible that Van Der Lubbe was framed and that the Nazis were behind it all.

March 1933 election

march 1933

The Nazis won 43.9% of the vote with 288 seats but still failed to win a majority in the Reichstag. Because of this Hitler formed a coalition with the DNVP (German National People's Party) in order to have a majority.

The Enabling act

23 march 1933

On March 23, 1933, the newly elected members of the German Parliament met in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin to consider passing Hitler's Enabling Act. If passed, it would effectively mean the end of democracy in Germany and establish the legal dictatorship of Adolf Hitler.

On the day of the vote, Nazi storm troopers gathered in a show of force around the opera house chanting, "Full powers - or else! We want the bill - or fire and murder!!" They also stood inside in the hallways, and even lined the aisles where the vote would take place, glaring menacingly at anyone who might oppose Hitler's will.

He also promised an end to unemployment and pledged to promote peace with France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. But in order to do all this, Hitler said, he first needed the Enabling Act.

A two thirds majority was needed, since the law would actually alter the German constitution. Hitler needed 31 non-Nazi votes to pass it. He got those votes from the Center Party after making a false promise to restore some basic rights already taken away by decree.

However, one man arose amid the overwhelming might. Otto Wells, leader of the Social Democrats stood up and spoke quietly to Hitler.

The vote was taken - 441 for, only 84, the Social Democrats, against. The Nazis leapt to their feet clapping, stamping and shouting, then broke into the Nazi anthem, the Hörst Wessel song.

They achieved what Hitler had wanted for years - to tear down the German Democratic Republic legally and end democracy, thus paving the way for a complete Nazi takeover of Germany.

From this day on, the Reichstag would be just a sounding board, a cheering section for Hitler's pronouncements.

Trade unions banned

may 1933

Trade unions were banned and strikes were made illegal.

Political parties were banned

July 1933

Every other political party bar the Nazis were banned

The Night of the Long Knives

30 June 1934

Ernst Rohm challenged Hitler because he wanted the Nazis to be less about big business and more about the workers. The SS got rid of this opposition: they shot Rohm and about 400 other opponents.

Hindenberg dies

August 1934

President Hindenberg died in August 1934. Hitler declared himself Fuhrer, added all the powers of the president to those of the Chancellor and made every soilder swear allegence to him. Nazi propagande secured 90% of voters agreed that Hitler should be Fuhrer.