Totalitarianism Countries: The Rise of National Socialism in Germany during the 1920s
Here are some developments from the 1920s that were milestones along the way:
Hitler's Munich Putsch in a Beer Hall
In the years immediately following World War I, Adolf Hitler, the future dictator of Germany, was slowly drawing himself to the attention of his contemporaries in the German city of Munich. He was a superbly gifted agitator, and he ranted along lines that found large numbers of sympathizers, such as his attacks on the post-World War I peace treaties, his virulence against Jews, and his insistence on the racial superiority of Germans. Various antigovernmental groups looked on Adolf Hitler as a talented demagogue capable of inspiring devotion. Funds began to poor in from wealthy men, especially in the military and in industry.
The party to which Hitler belonged, the National Socialist, or Nazi, Party, would have share the fate of the other splinter political parties of the time had it not been for the oratorical talents of Adolf Hitler and a small devoted band that accepted him as leader. The Nazi Party had no positive, constructive program, but with violent tactics, an absence of a clear-cut program did not hinder the progress of the party.
The National Socialist Party trained a group of hoodlums called the Storm Troops, who as early as 1922 were picking street fights with Socialists and Communists and breaking up their meetings. By September 1923, there were already around 15,000 Storm Troops in Germany. Captain Ernst Roehm, a regular army officer, was their commander. It was these Storm Troops, under the leadership of Roehm, who prepared for a Putsch against the government of Bavaria.
In the evening of November 8, 1923, the major members of the Bavarian government got together in one of Munich's big beer halls. Hitler, along with a group of Nazi ruffians, entered the hall and fired a shot while announcing a national revolution and the deposition of both the national government in Berlin and the state government of Bavaria.
Hitler was so crudely excited that he let his captive officials get away. They, in turn, declared the Nazi party illegal. Before the morn, Hitler realized his attempt to seize power had miscarried.
Nothing in the Munich Putsch in a beer hall had been properly planned, and the various conspirators did not coordinate their actions. Nobody knew who the leader was, for example. Hitler had been in contact before the Putsch with the German war hero Erich Ludendorff, who had become mentally unbalanced since the war and believed that he was supposed to lead the Putsch.
Demonstrations in Munich
The morning after the failed Munich Putsch in a beer hall, Hitler led more than 2,000 Nazis in a demonstration through the streets of Munich. At the head of the demonstration were Hitler and Erich Ludendorff, the German Chief of Staff during World War 1. Ludendorff had been a war hero and provided the Nazis with a security blanket. As long as Ludendorff was at the head of their parade, the demonstrators knew law enforcement would not shoot them down. But as they approached a wide square in downtown Munich, the police fired a round of shots that killed sixteen Nazis. The demonstrators fled, including Hitler. Only the elderly Ludendorff continued to march on. Sixteen Storm Troops died that day, all killed in a single volley from a greatly outnumbered posse of police.
The scattering of the demonstrators marked the effective end of the Beer Hall Putsch. The Nazis had suffered a major defeat.
Three days later, the police arrested a despondent Hitler hiding at the home of friends. The police took him to the prison at Landsberg where he awaited a public trial.
Historical Influence of Mein Kampf
Hitler's trial give him a propaganda opportunity as well as a jail sentence. The judges in the Hitler's case hated the Weimar Republic, so they gave Hitler all the opportunities for speechmaking that he wanted.The jail sentence provided him the opportunity to write Mein Kampf, a blueprint for what turned out to be his program for national government in Germany after 1933.
After his release from prison in 1924, Hitler spent the next ten years in the mountains above the village of Berchtesgaden. During that decade, he revised his tactics and concluded that violence would not work. Taking the "legal way" became his next line of approach. He reorganized the Nazi Party and embarked on an intensive campaign for votes. He leveraged his gift for hypnotic oratory.
The Time Was Ripe for Germany to Succumb as One of the World's Totalitarianism Countries
The year 1928 represented the height of the Weimar Republic. In elections that year, the Social Democrats won more than 9 million votes, a striking contrast to the Nazi Party, which received only 800,000.
As Germany thrived in prosperity in 1928, the Weimar regime reached new pinnacles of popularity. As 1929 opened, it appeared that the Nazi Party was doomed for failure. Then came the financial crises heard around the world. The Great Depression hit along with a psychological avalanche bearing some of the worst political ramifications the world has ever seen.
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