Versailles or the Depression?

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NathanC
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Versailles or the Depression?

Postby NathanC » Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:29 pm

Which would you gents say contributed more to the cause of Nazism? The Treaty of Versailles, or the Great Depression?

I'm leaning more towards the Depression, for two reasons. The first and most obvious is that it happened a lot closer to the Nazi takeover of power in 1933 (4 years prior) compared to the Treaty of Versailles, which was after WW1. If it really was Versailles, then the takeover would've happened a lot sooner and closer to it, instead of Hitler et al being arrested and fading into irrelevance for about 10 years. Admittedly, though, it's not likely that the West would tolerate a resurgent Germany soon after WWI while tempers were high.

Second, however unfair the Versailles treaty may have been, the Western Powers had realized that and were actively working to alleviate its effects. The US in particular invested heavily in Germany in the 20s as part of the plan to alleviate the Versailles treaty's effects (The Dawes and Young Plans). The economy was improving in the late 20s and would've been fine, had it not been for the economic collapse of the Great depression.

Also, even without the Versailles treaty, it seems doubtful that the German economy would've been stable after the war. Gotz Aly, Richard Evans and Volker Ullrich make the point that all Germans supported the war, even the internationalist Social Democrats who approved lines of credit to Finance it. Imperial Germany basically financed the war via debt, that they hoped to cheat by winning and conquering Europe, which Hitler would repeat later on. Lastly, however "unfair" the postwar settlement was, the Brest Litovsk treaty that Germany imposed on the new USSR (which they helped put in power) was far worse, and would basically serve as the prototype for Operation Barbarossa in WW2.

Simply put, whatever the Versailles settlement was, the Allies acknowledged the problem and actively tried to fix it, to the extent of trying to appease Hitler by letting him have Austria and Czechoslovakia in the lead up to WW2. It can't be cited as the cause or used as the excuse when the problem was actively being corrected.

I would be very much interested in everyone else's perspective.

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Denying-History » Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:36 pm

The Great Depression? That was initiated by Wallstreet to crush the Soviet Union. You can trust me because a Russian told me this!
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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby iwh » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:42 pm

This going to result in a trawl of Anthony Sutton's bull crap?

:lol:
For a debunking of new boy on the block John Wear see:

https://wearswarts.wordpress.com

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Balsamo » Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:10 pm

Nathan,

I don't think it is possible to just pick up one cause. Both were essential as they respectively concerned different social classes.
The German Elite would have probably never supported Hitler without the Treaty of Versaille, while the great depression by itself could very well have brought an alliance between the SPD and the KPD to power, and left the NSDAP in the opposition.
A change within one variable would have changed the whole equation.

Although, as you pointed out, the German invented humiliating peace treaties with Brest Litovsk, it was nevertheless the first time that European Great Powers humiliated to such a degree another European Great Power (Germany would maybe made another deal with the Tzar, but by 1918 it was the Bolshevik), and even kind of cheated because Germany agreed to negotiate peace only upon Wilson's points.
The Treaty of Versaille could not be understood by the Troops, and accepted by the ruling class, especially the Prussian aristocracy which was hit the hardest. Some families lost everything. This creates a resentment that actually reached everyone in Germany, from the small peasant to the richest prince, to industrials and high economic actors.

Now of course, the great depression was essential too. But it is important to keep in mind that it hit Germany much harder because of the consequences of the Versailles treaty.
You rightly mentioned the huge debt of the German Empire due to the cost of wars, which reached an enormous 150 billions, but this debt was mainly due to the German people, while more or less the same amount of debt was added by the Treaty of Versaille, and this time the debt was external. That makes a great different. Obviously, internal debts are much more manageable than external ones. The two together made the situation impossible from the start.
The Treaty of Versaille had taken away important assets that could have helped Germany to face its economical crisis: Its colonial empire, some of its most important coal/steel producer province (Saar, Alsace, occupation of the Ruhr, a great part of Silesia, a great deal of Prussia, the port of Danzig, etc.)

Beside, one also have to look at the other treaties, the destruction of the Hapsburg empire will have a great influence on the course that would eventually lead Hitler to power, as it would create the "Volkdeutsche problem"...that is the "Anschluss", the Sudetenland crisis, and the Polish problem...which will be essential to World War II

Granted some Allies (England actually) were aware of the problems consequential to the treaty, the USA were still neutral, France acted in a very different way. Its occupation of the Ruhr managed to turn a before Francophile population into hard core ennemies. A population which would have been little sensitive to the Nazis madness had those not "liberated" the territory in 1936.

This last remark brings to another one: Even after Bismark efforts, Germany remained a very decentralized empire, for e.g the population of Stuttgart had very little point in common with the population of Saxony. The common humiliation brought by the Treaty of Versaille will be an essential step toward the reunification of Germany, and a predisposition to discourse of "Volksgemeinshaft" which will be an essential part of the Nazi rhetoric.
Something that no pure economic crisis would have been able to produce.

Just some thoughts...

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:21 pm

An alien power at the levers of government . . . Scott Smith explained this to me: the Nazis were really just a justified reaction to the way guests had taken advantage of their host.
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Denying-History » Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:30 pm

iwh wrote:This going to result in a trawl of Anthony Sutton's bull crap?

:lol:

It's pretty much the exact opposite of what Sutton claimed.
« Lies written in ink cannot disguise facts written in blood. »
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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Balsamo » Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:39 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote:An alien power at the levers of government . . . Scott Smith explained this to me: the Nazis were really just a justified reaction to the way guests had taken advantage of their host.


Well, on a serious note, this will indeed participate to a new rise of Antisemitism, if by "guests" you mean "Jews", but then it is not Antisemitism that will bring Hitler to power, is it?

What is this Sutton thing ?

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Sun Nov 05, 2017 7:17 pm

I look at it as two separate issues. Certainly without WW I and Versailles there would have been no Hitler as history knows him. Parties like NASDAP existed for years before the war, Pan-German and antisemitic. The difference after the war is these parties added the Versailles Treaty to their list of grievances (connected to the myth of being "stabbed in the back). Anton Drexler did add an original aspect by adding a worker/Socialist component. I think these parties became more popular after the war due to the war and the Versailles Treaty. What separated NASDAP from these parties was Hitler and his ability as a public speaker.


The rise of NASDAP and Hitler as a political force I link directly to the Great Depression. Before the Great Depression Hitler and these Right-Wing parties became marginalized after Weimar righted itself in the mid-1920's. The Great Depression made radical parties on the left and right more popular.

Now, this is a really general statement and not meant to cover each and every possibility (ahem, Balsamo....:lol:).

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Anomaly » Sun Nov 05, 2017 7:47 pm

Balsamo wrote: The common humiliation brought by the Treaty of Versaille will be an essential step toward the reunification of Germany, and a predisposition to discourse of "Volksgemeinshaft" which will be an essential part of the Nazi rhetoric.
Something that no pure economic crisis would have been able to produce.

Just some thoughts...


Well.. Germany was never a nation, but rather a region with shared language and culture. In order to unify and create one German nation, a foundation myth was essential. Treaty of Versailles and the Great Depression were probably catalysts giving the Nazi ideology momentum though.

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Balsamo » Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:28 pm

Jeffk 1970 wrote:I look at it as two separate issues. Certainly without WW I and Versailles there would have been no Hitler as history knows him. Parties like NASDAP existed for years before the war, Pan-German and antisemitic. The difference after the war is these parties added the Versailles Treaty to their list of grievances (connected to the myth of being "stabbed in the back). Anton Drexler did add an original aspect by adding a worker/Socialist component. I think these parties became more popular after the war due to the war and the Versailles Treaty. What separated NASDAP from these parties was Hitler and his ability as a public speaker.


The rise of NASDAP and Hitler as a political force I link directly to the Great Depression. Before the Great Depression Hitler and these Right-Wing parties became marginalized after Weimar righted itself in the mid-1920's. The Great Depression made radical parties on the left and right more popular.

Now, this is a really general statement and not meant to cover each and every possibility (ahem, Balsamo....:lol:).


;) ..ahem... :lol:

Well, the OP was which contributed most.
I stand with the Versaille Treaty for the reasons explained. What makes Hitler really different is that he was able to get support not only from the social classes affected by the economic crisis - essentially the middle class (usually the main support for such political movements) - but also from the former imperial Elite, the Prussian aristocracy - which despised him as a person but saw in this caporal a mean to repair a infamous injustice, that is the Treaty of Versaille. And that will be decisive in the end, as this aristocracy kind of controlled the Reichswehr, the future Wehrmacht, but also still a great deal of Rural Germany, and by extension, the whole upper class including industrialists.
In the end, the NSDAP prevailed because as a political party it was the richest. It attracted the miserable through its organization (at this time mainly the SA) but could also count on massive funding to maintain those structures.

At the essential point in time, it was Hindenburg who chose Hitler as chancellor, while the NSDAP never reached a majority in the polls. Those Parties who committed the mistake to support the Nazis at this point only shared their hatred of Versailles. It is the sentiment of revenge due to this treaty that made such an amazing alliance possible.


Hitler could address a crowed of angry workers in the morning, promising them what they wanted to hear, and speak to the CEO in the afternoon, reassuring them that their companies would be preserved from the communists, then the next morning he would appeal to the Prussian nationalism and promised them to give back their former glory...all this without alienating his relations with any of those different groups.
What he managed to achieve is still a kind of political mystery. But he managed to please most of his natural adversaries this way: To those who feared a social revolution, the aristocracy, he promised a new army (new careers), protected the aristocratic Estates (which almost provoked a partition within the NSDAP), to the popular class, he promised (and delivered) Jobs, decent salaries, and his Nazi welfare State, to the bosses he promised that no industry would be nationalized or sovietized...all this at the expense of the Jews of course, gladly sacrificed by all those concerned above, while himself was ready to sacrifice those among his followers who would be an obstacle...

The Nazi machine was a really sophisticated one...but i remember your ahem...
But most of the doors it managed to open would have remained closed without the treaty of Versailles, while the Great depression hit most if not all European countries, but it did not translate into a victory of far right movements everywhere.
Beyond his capacity in making good speeches - it is what's the most obvious - the real reasons behind his success were Hitler's capacity to seduce people from all social classes, because he had something to offer to all of them, adapting his language and messages accordingly, his manipulation skills.

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Balsamo » Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:30 pm

Anomaly wrote:
Balsamo wrote: The common humiliation brought by the Treaty of Versaille will be an essential step toward the reunification of Germany, and a predisposition to discourse of "Volksgemeinshaft" which will be an essential part of the Nazi rhetoric.
Something that no pure economic crisis would have been able to produce.

Just some thoughts...


Well.. Germany was never a nation, but rather a region with shared language and culture. In order to unify and create one German nation, a foundation myth was essential. Treaty of Versailles and the Great Depression were probably catalysts giving the Nazi ideology momentum though.


Start with defining what is a Nation.
The German Empire has been established in 1871 or so.
Again, things do not happen through ideology only.

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:01 pm

If we have to be serious, ok, I have to add two contradictory points (I have to admit that I'm struggling with the either/or here . . . ), first, the interwar years (well, at the time they were not yet "inter") saw various right-wing/paramilitary movements emerge and a number of right-wing authoritarian governments, fascist or not, come to power, the latter also being a trend which started before the depression (Horthy in Hungary in '20, the Fascists in Italy '21, Pilsudski Poland and Smetona Lithuania '26) - I wouldn't attribute these events to "Versailles" but would agree that more broadly the Great War and its aftermath were critical factors - OTOH, the second point is that during the depression this trend accelerated (Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Greece) and also Weimar, without its internal enemies having for a moment given up, in the mid- to late '20s stabilized only to find itself unable to cope politically with the crisis of '29.

It's also important to keep in mind that Versailles was far from the only element of the basic narrative of the Nazi party: there were the November criminals and the Dolchstoss, Red Munich and other cities - and their defense by the Freikorps, the brotherhood of the trenches, the idea of Volkisch nationalism, rotten republicanism and liberalism, youth and dynamism - all this became part of their offer to the German people . . . and, with all this, the Nazis increasingly found ways to appeal to a broad spectrum of the population and to assure business, police and security forces, and even the old aristocracy that they could bring order and break the left, even as they created and thrived on disorder.

That said, if the question is where did fascist, right-wing populist nationalist, and authoritarian movements - and Nazism - come from after the war, vs how the Nazis in particular came to power, the crisis of '14-'19 and its aftermath, of which Versailles was only a part, predating the economic crisis of '29, are critical (and not "local" to Germany). At the same time, IIRC, despite important supporters and a broad pitch, the Nazis were getting just <3-4% of the vote in '28 but by '30 almost 20%. Subtract the depression - which is hard for me to think through - and the Brüning government, Weimar doesn't fall apart in '29-'33, I don't think.
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby NathanC » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:36 am

iwh wrote:This going to result in a trawl of Anthony Sutton's bull crap?

:lol:


Who’s that?

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:41 am

I sorta struggled with this one as well. I look at it as two different events, the end of the war, Hitler’s start as a politician, what causes him to go into politics and then why he became Chancellor. Connected to that is the fall of Weimar, how it came to pass and why Hitler became attractive to the Germans. Even then, the Nazi Party was never a majority, the closest they came was 37% (which is actually pretty good, considering) but the Party itself was on the wane by January of 1933.

So, all told, the way the war ended and then the perceived injustice of the Versailles Treaty led to Hitler’s involvement in politics. The Depression itself led to the rise of radicalized politics on both the left and right, leading to Hitler appearing the most attractive alternative to those elites in power that feared the possibility of a successful Communist revolution in Germany.

Again, this is more of a general statement..... ahem, :D

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby NathanC » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:46 am

NathanC wrote:
iwh wrote:This going to result in a trawl of Anthony Sutton's bull crap?

:lol:


Who’s that?


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antony_C._Sutton

Sounds like a real nutcase. I’m not insinuating anything even close to this guy.

Although, I have read somewhere that the depression played a role in FDR normalising relations with the USSR. With the US economy collapsed, he needed the cheap raw materials from the USSR, which being cut off from the global economy remained untouched. This Sutton’s BS is a lot crazier than that though.

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby NathanC » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:03 am

Balsamo wrote:
Anomaly wrote:
Balsamo wrote: The common humiliation brought by the Treaty of Versaille will be an essential step toward the reunification of Germany, and a predisposition to discourse of "Volksgemeinshaft" which will be an essential part of the Nazi rhetoric.
Something that no pure economic crisis would have been able to produce.

Just some thoughts...


Well.. Germany was never a nation, but rather a region with shared language and culture. In order to unify and create one German nation, a foundation myth was essential. Treaty of Versailles and the Great Depression were probably catalysts giving the Nazi ideology momentum though.


Start with defining what is a Nation.
The German Empire has been established in 1871 or so.
Again, things do not happen through ideology only.


I can understand that, though I would argue that the war hysteria of WW1 played an even bigger role in “volksgemeinschaft”. Like I said, everyone supported the war, even the social democrats who were supposed to be all about “internationalism”. Even German Jews supported it since it finally gave them the opportunity to prove to their non Jewish countrymen that they were as German as the rest of them. Like you said, the German empire was only formally established in 1871, and they wanted to assert/prove themselves by crushing first the boxer rebellion in China, and later on in WW1. One of the new interesting things I’ve picked up from Volker Ullrich is how the Imperial government and the High command deliberately exacerbated tensions behind the scenes so they could have the opportunity to “test their strength” against the French, UK and the Russian Empire.

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Balmoral95 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:05 am

Jeffk 1970 wrote:I sorta struggled with this one as well. I look at it as two different events, the end of the war, Hitler’s start as a politician, what causes him to go into politics and then why he became Chancellor. Connected to that is the fall of Weimar, how it came to pass and why Hitler became attractive to the Germans. Even then, the Nazi Party was never a majority, the closest they came was 37% (which is actually pretty good, considering) but the Party itself was on the wane by January of 1933.

So, all told, the way the war ended and then the perceived injustice of the Versailles Treaty led to Hitler’s involvement in politics. The Depression itself led to the rise of radicalized politics on both the left and right, leading to Hitler appearing the most attractive alternative to those elites in power that feared the possibility of a successful Communist revolution in Germany.

Again, this is more of a general statement..... ahem, :D


Versailles required reparations and so subsequent reparations agreements derive from that. So if one considers reparations as leading to the economic crisis, it can be traced back to Versailles, and are therefore not separate events. Events separate by time but not by cause.

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:50 am

Balmoral95 wrote:
Versailles required reparations and so subsequent reparations agreements derive from that. So if one considers reparations as leading to the economic crisis, it can be traced back to Versailles, and are therefore not separate events. Events separate by time but not by cause.


I also look at loss of territory and the myth of being “stabbed in the back.”

Really, it’s all interconnected.

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Anomaly » Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:03 am

Balsamo wrote:Start with defining what is a Nation.
The German Empire has been established in 1871 or so.
Again, things do not happen through ideology only.


By nation I mean a unified and established "tribe", where shared identity is perceived by those within as well as those outside. But I am not sure if my understanding makes much sense.

See, the German Empire was a federal empire made up of several kingdoms, duchies and principalities. Although supposedly equals it was dominated by Prussia. The different states retained own governments and limited sovereignty. I was not saying things happen through ideology though. I said the foundation myth and ideology needed to create a shared identity of this recently created "nation" gave room for ideologies like Nazism to thrive.

The problematic German identity crisis have manifested itself again as the EU. A federation of countries with Germany at the center, desperately trying to create a foundation myth and shared identity to legitimize its existence. Setting the stage for totalitarian ideologies to thrive again.

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Balsamo » Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:28 pm

NathanC wrote:
Balsamo wrote:
Anomaly wrote:
Balsamo wrote: The common humiliation brought by the Treaty of Versaille will be an essential step toward the reunification of Germany, and a predisposition to discourse of "Volksgemeinshaft" which will be an essential part of the Nazi rhetoric.
Something that no pure economic crisis would have been able to produce.

Just some thoughts...


Well.. Germany was never a nation, but rather a region with shared language and culture. In order to unify and create one German nation, a foundation myth was essential. Treaty of Versailles and the Great Depression were probably catalysts giving the Nazi ideology momentum though.


Start with defining what is a Nation.
The German Empire has been established in 1871 or so.
Again, things do not happen through ideology only.


I can understand that, though I would argue that the war hysteria of WW1 played an even bigger role in “volksgemeinschaft”. Like I said, everyone supported the war, even the social democrats who were supposed to be all about “internationalism”. Even German Jews supported it since it finally gave them the opportunity to prove to their non Jewish countrymen that they were as German as the rest of them. Like you said, the German empire was only formally established in 1871, and they wanted to assert/prove themselves by crushing first the boxer rebellion in China, and later on in WW1. One of the new interesting things I’ve picked up from Volker Ullrich is how the Imperial government and the High command deliberately exacerbated tensions behind the scenes so they could have the opportunity to “test their strength” against the French, UK and the Russian Empire.


I don't want to be misunderstood here: The "Volkisch movement" did not wait for WW1 or Hitler to emerge and develop, of course. It was in the air since early XIX century, but as an ideology. Bismark and the second Reich put the idea a couple of steps further through their policies, and of course the victory of France helped a lot. But whatever the importance of the Pan-German movement, it still lacked a real catalyst, as far as Germany was concerned.

I actually understood your question as a theoretical ones. Which of the two - great depression or Treaty of Versailles - had the greatest influence on the rise of Hitler, being understood that none of the two propositions IS the answer and explains the phenomenon by itself.
On a purely theoretical level, many of the conditions that helped the rise of Nazism would not have existed without the Treaty of Versailles, while economical crisis hit all Europe with very different results.

Statmec made a point in outlining that WW1 created a "revolutionary period" that concerned the whole continent with the emergence of political extremism never seen before, but that were latent, the most important one being Socialism, or extra-parliamentary socialism, phenomenon which created "reactions", along with Nationalist renaissance in the new Nation States created by the post WW1 treaties...

By proclaiming the "right of people to self determination", by splitting the former multi-cultural empires, those treaties gave a boost to numerous Nationalisms, while by weakening the defeated Powers, it also favored Bolshevism and threat of the Soviets (it is often forgotten that former State cities like Bremen or land Bavaria were taken by German Soviets...which were fought by the Freikorps which also fought hard in the East defending the former German lands...
But as rightly pointed out by Statmec, in this turmoil, the Nazis were almost non existent. Later many members from the NSDAP would come from those Freikorps.

It is important to remember that Revolutions are essentially consequences of a Regime failure. And in this perspective too, i think that the Treaty of Versailles was more decisive because basically it made the new young democracy impossible to succeed. By imposing the harsh conditions on a very fragile Republic, contested by the Extremes, the Allies actually put oil on the fire.


I have just realized that by Great depression, you meant the 1929 crisis.
Well actually the crisis that damaged the most the new German democracy was the one that took place earlier, and the banckrupcy of the German monetary system. It is really hard to imagine the impact of such a visible failure. the value of the Mark went from like 50$ in 1918 (already devalued) to 4 trillions of dollars by the end of 1923...that is 4000 billions USD! It is almost a wonder that the Republic survived an additional 10 years actually, but this periods was enough to BURN every political party crazy enough to dare to participate to a government. And it is only THEN that the USA will change their attitude and policy ( the Dawes Plan), but it also at this time that France (and Belgium) will occupy the Ruhr!
The Great depression from the 30's was actually the "coup de grace" but was in the end much more manageable while people were literally starving in the 20's while privation started to hit Germany in 1916, and by 1930, the only Party that was spared because it never participated to any past government was the NSDAP...This is one important reason why people voted for them, much more than for its real program.

But even then, it is important to recall that even at the NSDAP peak, more than 56% of the voters DID NOT vote for it.

Now, the treaty of Versailles and its consequences, was THE ONE THING that could bring a Prussian prince and a worker form Hamburg as well as a farmer from Bavaria into an agreement. They all felt, on their respective level, the shame of the defeat and the injustice of the treaty, even liberal democrat like Stresemann did not agree with the guilt put upon Germany. This little link is what Hitler, after many struggle and a great deal of luck, manage to play with to get chosen by the Elite as well as a substantial part of the population. It was Hindenbourg who brought Hitler to power, with the support of the traditional Right. In exchange Hitler agreed to decapitate his much more leftist and revolutionary SA, purging his party from what was scaring the Elite the most.

The most extraordinary element is that the NAZIS did not even bother to abandon the Weimar Republican Constitution! The second element being that actually those 56% who did not voted for the Party actually kind of accepted it, because actually, everyone could find something that actually suits them, with a desperate thought that "it cannot be really worse than what was before." By 1933, the Weimar Republic had already abandon most of the values that should be the essence of a democracy, as shown by its acceptation of and support to the Night of the Long knives.

Time to stop... i can hear some "Ahem" in my head.

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Balsamo » Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:30 pm

Anomaly wrote:
Balsamo wrote:Start with defining what is a Nation.
The German Empire has been established in 1871 or so.
Again, things do not happen through ideology only.


By nation I mean a unified and established "tribe", where shared identity is perceived by those within as well as those outside. But I am not sure if my understanding makes much sense.

See, the German Empire was a federal empire made up of several kingdoms, duchies and principalities. Although supposedly equals it was dominated by Prussia. The different states retained own governments and limited sovereignty. I was not saying things happen through ideology though. I said the foundation myth and ideology needed to create a shared identity of this recently created "nation" gave room for ideologies like Nazism to thrive.

The problematic German identity crisis have manifested itself again as the EU. A federation of countries with Germany at the center, desperately trying to create a foundation myth and shared identity to legitimize its existence. Setting the stage for totalitarian ideologies to thrive again.


It seems that you confuse the concept of Nation with the one of Nation-State, actually.

The German Empire you describe was actually the Holy Roman Germanic Empire. It also at some point bear the name of "Nationis Teutonicae" or ( Teuton Nation), just to mention the name. You can see that this Latin word Teutonicae is an adjective that refers to the "Nation". It is important because this adjective is precisely the base of the union, and even today, the term Deutschland is based on this adjective, Deutsche meaning "German", so the proper translation in english should be "Germanland".

So yes, it was a federal empire, but an empire still where the Emperor was elector by those kingdoms, principalities and duchies, which also formed a defensive alliance. But back then, the people were not concerned.
They started to think about it actually when Napoleon invaded and dismantled the Holy Empire to replace it with a German Confederation (Confederation of the Rhine, IIRC).
After Napoleon defeat, the Empire will emerge again but under a new form: the "Germanic confederation" or in German " Deutscher Bund" (again the adjective) which will last until 1866, and was run by Austria (the biggest rival of Prussia). This rivalry will end up in a war between Prussia and Austria allied with most of those principalities. This war is known in German as "Deutscher Krieg" or "German war"...Prussia prevailed...Prussia then creates the Confederation of Northern Germany, with its kind as permanent president...and we end up a couple of years later, with the Second German Reich and with the kind of Prussia becoming "Kaiser" of this German Reich, in German " Deutsches Kaiserreich"... Its amazing success under Bismark will give birth to the "German problem" for France of course which has seen its nightmare materialized, and for England which policy had always been to prevent the continent to become a power.

Anyway.
So you can see that the adjective is there since a millennium, and is indeed the root of the German "Volkish" nationalism which would make so much trouble, as the German "people" were kind of spread across Europe which once was a Germanic Empire...And of course, to stay within the topic, among the measures imposed by the Treaty of Versailles was the exclusion of almost 8.000.000 Germans from...well what had become Germany.

Don't drag me on the EU theme, ;)

But Back to Germany, even today it is still a federal republic, more or less organized upon the same basis than in the previous forms. Bavaria is still a "Freiland" within the German federation, mostly for religious reason, that does not mean that the people in Munich don't feel themselves as Germans. This is actually the strength of the German nationalism, it did not need myths and it is still strong without any political support.

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby iwh » Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:23 pm

NathanC wrote: This Sutton’s BS is a lot crazier than that though.


The book I read many moons ago claimed that it was "Wall Street" that financed the Nazi party and knowingly helped Germany obtain the means to carry out war. He seems to make similar claims regards the financing of the new Soviet Union post 1917.
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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby NathanC » Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:16 pm

iwh wrote:
NathanC wrote: This Sutton’s BS is a lot crazier than that though.


The book I read many moons ago claimed that it was "Wall Street" that financed the Nazi party and knowingly helped Germany obtain the means to carry out war. He seems to make similar claims regards the financing of the new Soviet Union post 1917.


If I’m not mistaken, Oliver Stone recently tried to peddle that {!#%@} in a movie he was going to make before he (rightfully) got called out on it. I’ve heard the same thing attributed to Noam Chomsky too. They must’ve heard it from this Sutton.

Now I know that the US invested heavily in Germany in the 20s, as part of the plan to alleviate Versailles, but this is just really stretching it to say the least....

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby iwh » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:37 am

That's why I typed "knowingly" in bold. The reality of course is that the US invested in Germany and many other countries in the 1920s and 30s because that is how international business works. When Hitler came to power in 1933, I G Farben were extremely concerned that the antics of the Nazis might upset those members in the US branch of the company. They even hired someone to carry out a good will campaign.

Sutton implies that is big business in the form of I.G.Farben US that dictated policy in Germany, when it was actually the parent company in Germany that made the main decisions. Indeed, US companies like DuPont (IIRC) tried their hardest to get out of Nazi Germany but Hitler put a block on that by preventing foreign companies from taking their money and investments out of Germany.

Of course, Hitler had many admirers in the world of business, Henry Ford being the most well known...but that was before the war.
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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Anomaly » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:21 pm

Balsamo wrote:The German Empire you describe was actually the Holy Roman Germanic Empire. It also at some point bear the name of "Nationis Teutonicae" or ( Teuton Nation), just to mention the name. You can see that this Latin word Teutonicae is an adjective that refers to the "Nation". It is important because this adjective is precisely the base of the union, and even today, the term Deutschland is based on this adjective, Deutsche meaning "German", so the proper translation in english should be "Germanland".


No. Deutsch refers to the language shared by many Germanic "tribes. This is why they speak Dutch in the Netherlands. English and the English language are also "German". I guess it boils down to how one perceives what a nation is. Concepts have different meanings. Like Reich being translated to Empire.

What I see is a history of turmoil and conflict. This is what I meant by identity crisis. No continuity, no stability.

Versailles or the Depression? Probably both factors were influential. But I also think a German "identity crisis" made the conditions perfect for what was to come.

NY Times 1866
There is, in political geography, no Germany proper to speak of. There are Kingdoms and Grand Duchies, and Duchies and Principalities, inhabited by Germans, and each separately ruled by an independent sovereign with all the machinery of State. Yet there is a natural undercurrent tending to a national feeling and toward a union of the Germans into one great nation, ruled by one common head as a national unit.
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-fr ... 838D679FDE

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Re: Versailles or the Depression?

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Nov 22, 2017 3:27 am

An interesting - and direct - answer to the question posed by NathanC is given in an essay by Roger Griffin - the piece appeared in a journal called New Perspective in 2001 and was later reprinted in A Fascist Century (Griffin & Feldman): Griffin reminds us that before 1930-1933, despite national humiliation, Versailles, antisemitism, etc, the Nazis were unable to break out of their marginal political status, gaining, for example, just <3% of the vote by the election of 1928, as noted above.

Turning to the Depression, Griffin asks why high unemployment and Weimar's paralysis would cause Germans to embrace the NSDAP, which they'd spurned throughout the '20s. In place of a monocausal or economic explanation, Griffin describes what he calls a "sense-making crisis" which the economic crisis and political breakdown "unleashed" in Germany - the "collapse of society" at this time exploding the rather fragile "comfort" of the Weimar republic and tearing apart the "existential 'home'" it had offered to most Germans. In short, for many Germans the period 1930-1933 obliterated what faith they had in the system and their understanding of society, their expectations, that which was taken as common sense - their shared identity. Griffin's article uses insights from semiotics and social psychology - and is complex so I won't try summarizing it here, except to say that in Griffin's view the relentless "transversal" work of the Nazis throughout the 1920s created an "alternative political culture" that, when the crisis engulfed Germany, offered "a new collective identity" to many people (about 1/3 of Germans in 1933) who'd lost their sense of themselves and meaning.

In this sense, for Griffin it is not the Depression per se that led the Nazis to prevail but rather a crisis - a shock to the system, which happened to be the Depression, when the "entire socio-political system suddenly fail[ed]." In addition to destabilizing the state and institutions, the profound crisis of 1930-1933 unsettled people at the level of the psyche and made them eager for a new utopia (or, as Griffin puts it, a "new cosmology" and a "new home"). The Nazis had spent a decade developing and evangelizing this new "frame of reference" in which Aryan Germans could find rootedness, unity, purpose, and optimism, even excitement for the future.
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97


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