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The 'Golden Era' of stability in Germany, 1924-1929
The Weimar Republic (1919-1933) can be divided into 3 periods. The first, dealt with in my previous hub, is 1919-1923, the first economic and social crisis of the Weimar years. The second, 1924-1929, was a period of economic recovery and cultural renaissance, and is generally referred to as the 'Golden Era' or 'Golden Period'. The third, 1929-1933, will be explored in another hub.
The economic and cultural recovery
In 1923, Germany was on the verge of economic collapse with the intense hyperinflation that plagued the nation. In 1924 the hyperinflation was effectively brought to an end by a triad of politicians; Gustav Stresemann, the Chancellor of Germany at the time, Hjalmar Schacht, a prominent banker and economist, and Hans Luther, the Finance Minister. These three introduced the Rentenmark, a new currency based on the value of the land, which replaced the old currency and stopped the inflation. Also in 1924, the Dawes Plan was implemented in order to assist with economic stabilization. The Dawes Plan was an agreement between Germany and the USA that gave Germany massive American loans and also reduced the amount of reparations that had to be paid in each payment. This helped the economy to get back on its feet again. However, this created a growing dependence on American finance which was to prove seriously harmful in 1929 following the Wall Street Crash, making Germany one of the harder hit nations.
The period is often called the 'Golden Era' because with the economic stability came a cultural renaissance. German literature, cinema, theatre, and music boomed with creativity, and scenes such as the cabaret and jazz scenes became very popular in Germany. This cultural increase was more scene in urban areas rather than rural ones, as agriculture still suffered on an economic level to some degree. The 'Golden Era' was disliked by conservatives and reactionaries, who believed that the people of Germany were betraying traditional and national values, a view held by Hitler and most Nazis.
State of the Nazi Party
Support for extremist parties tends to be higher in times of hardship. A modern example of this would be the neo-nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece, which has experienced increased support during the current economic crisis. But the opposite holds true, and their support decreases in good times, as was the state of the Nazis in this period.
Hitler was the main driving force of the party, and it was through his oratory skills and passionate rhetorics that the Nazi Party gained significant support in their early years. However, in the beginning of the 'Golden Era', Hitler was incarcerated for the attempted Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, which meant the Nazi Party lacked and effective leadership and spokesperson. Furthermore, the Nazis extreme agenda of antisemitism and nationalism wasn't seen favourably in this period, leading to decreased support. After Hitler's imprisonment, the Nazi Party was banned, and whilst it continued to exist to a degree under a different name, it lacked organisation and cohesion.
The party also suffered financial troubles, as it was funded by its members and its local supporters, both of which were lacking, leading to a decrease in finances.
Within the framework of the party itself, there was also problems. There was infighting between the more left-wing and more right-wing of the party. The leftists, called 'Strasserists' after their leader, Gregor Strasser, had differences with Hitler and his supporters in terms of strategy and a focus on socialist ideals. The strasserist wing of the party continued to grow, and in many ways almost came a completely different form of Nazism, which wasn't good for Hitler. However, the left wing of the Nazis was effectively quelled during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934.
Whilst civilian support for the Nazis decreased, they did gain support from one group. The Freikorps, who were angry, nationalist veterans of WW1, were attracted to the party by their nationalist agenda and the promises of making Germany a great empire once again. The also saw Hitler as a relatable figure and understanding, seeing as he was also a veteran of the war. As such, the Freikorps developed into what became known as the SA (Sturmabteilung), the Nazi paramilitary organisation, also referred to as the 'brownshirts' or 'stormtroopers', who became a significant force of the Nazi party in the following years.
However, in the years following Hitler's release from prison, there were some positives for the party. Firstly, Hitler's putsch attempt and subsequent imprisonment had brought him recognition and publicity outside of Bavaria, and as such support for the Nazis began to appear in other parts of Germany. Furthermore, upon his release Hitler began to consolidate the party more under his absolute authority, and he began to strive for power by playing the 'democratic game'. He realised that revolution wouldn't get him the power he desired, and so began to obtain power through legal methods, such as elections.
- Previous hub, Germany in crisis, 1918-1923
We all know of Hitler and the Nazi Party, the appalling crimes committed by the Nazi regime, but to understand how they managed to commit those crimes one must understand how the party began.
- Next hub, The decline of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Nazi Party, 1929-1933
The final part of the Weimar Republic, this hub explains how the republic collapsed and how the Nazis rose in the crisis.