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The Treaty of Versailles and the 1921 London Schedule of Payments required Germany to pay 132 billion gold marks (US$33 billion) in reparations to cover civilian damage caused during the war. This figure was divided into three categories of bonds: A, B, and C. Of these, Germany was only required to pay towards 'A' and 'B' bonds totalling 50 billion marks (US$12.5 billion). The remaining 'C' bonds, which Germany did not have to pay, were designed to deceive the Anglo-French public into believing Germany was being heavily fined and punished for the war.
The German people saw reparations as a national humiliation; the German Government worked to undermine the validity of the Treaty of Versailles and the requirement to pay. British economist John Maynard Keynes called the treaty a Carthaginian peace that would economically destroy Germany. His arguments had a profound effect on historians, politicians, and the public at large. Despite Keynes' arguments and those by later historians supporting or reinforcing Keynes' views, the consensus of contemporary historians is that reparations were not as intolerable as the Germans or Keynes had suggested and were within Germany's capacity to pay had there been the political will to do so.
When a new currency, the Rentenmark, replaced the worthless Reichsbank marks on November 16, 1923 and 12 zeros were cut from prices, prices in the new currency remained stable. The German people regarded this stable currency as a miracle because they had heard such claims of stability before with the Notgeld (emergency money) that rapidly devalued as an additional source of inflation. The usual explanation was that the Rentenmarks were issued in a fixed amount and were backed by hard assets such as agricultural land and industrial assets, but what happened was more complex than that, as summarized in the following description.
By the early 1930s, Germany was in desperate shape. Its defeat in World War I and the harsh conditions imposed by the United States, Britain, and France in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles—including debilitating reparation payments to the victors—had left Germany humiliated and impoverished, with ruinous inflation eating away at its economy. The worldwide Depression that followed the 1929 U.S. stock market crash exacerbated the situation as banks failed, factories closed, and millions of people lost their jobs.
It all made for fertile ground for Hitler's radical nationalist ideology. The Nazis (short for National Socialists) promised to stop reparation payments, to give all Germans jobs and food, and to make them proud to be German again. And they blamed Jews for most of Germany's problems.
By 1930, when the Nazis won 18 percent of the vote, it was effectively impossible to govern Germany without Nazi support, according to Ian Kershaw, a history professor at Sheffield University in England. And that led to President Hindenburg's gamble to appoint Hitler Chancellor in January 1933.
Less than a month later, Hitler used the fire that destroyed the Reichstag, the parliament building in Berlin, as an excuse to declare a state of emergency and suspend democratic protections such as freedom of speech. (At the time, Hitler blamed the Communists, but many historians believe the Nazis set the fire themselves.) It marked, in effect, the death of German democracy and the beginning of Hitler's reign of terror.
But when Hitler emerged from jail, after a scandalously short stay of just over a year, hyperinflation had been brought under control through the introduction of the new "rentenmark." In addition, the US had pressured the allies into accepting the Dawes Plan, which reduced Germany's Treaty of Versailles burden. The carpet of social frustration had been pulled out from under Hitler's feet. In May 1928 elections, the NSDAP only managed 2.6 percent of the vote nationwide.
But Hitler and his cronies had not been wasting their time, and by the end of the decade the NSDAP was well organized and -- though small -- was no longer just a fringe party in Munich. Indeed, during the worst of the economic crisis, the Nazis even handed out propaganda at job centers and set up soup kitchens to feed the hungry.
And Hitler continued hammering away at his favorite issues. The Jews were to be blamed for Germany's plight, he said, as were the leftists. In fact, the Weimar Republic itself was nothing but a Jewish-leftist conspiracy of destruction. And he, Adolf Hitler, would save the nation.
There is no denying that Hitler was a gifted speaker. But without the fatal weaknesses in Germany's political leadership, it is difficult to see how he would have made it to the top. President von Hindenburg had never been terribly convinced that democracy was the way to go. Indeed, the World War I hero and his supporters had long yearned for a strong leader free from parliamentary meddling -- and they were especially wary of the Social Democrats, the one party that had thrown all of its support behind the Weimar democracy from the beginning.
Another way to see the results, however, is that 63.6 percent of Germans didn't cast their ballots for the NSDAP. Indeed, despite Hitler's party getting support from across the country and from a variety of different segments of society, his was still largely a protest vote -- and it would only last as long as there was something to protest. But the Depression was showing signs of bottoming out. General elections held in November that same year showed a drop in support for the Nazis to 33.1 percent. Even worse for the NSDAP, President von Hindenburg still seemed disinclined to hand over power to Hitler, even though the NSDAP had received far more votes than any other party. He said that naming Hitler chancellor was "neither compatible with his conscience nor with his obligation to the Fatherland."
Once again, luck seemed to be on Hitler's side. On February 27, less than a week before the new elections, the Reichstag, Germany's parliament building, was set ablaze. The blame was pinned on Dutch bricklayer Marinus van der Lubbe, and indeed, after decades of research into the incident, no convincing proof has been unearthed to show that he wasn't acting alone. But Hitler, Göring and Goebbels knew a propaganda godsend when they saw one. "If this fire, as I believe, is the work of the Communists, then we need to crush this murderous plague with an iron fist," Hitler told his vice chancellor, von Papen.
originally posted by: FamCore
a reply to: Krazysh0t
Krazysh0t, GREAT thread with a lot of great information. I have never delved too deep into pre WW2 history of Germany but this is very eye-opening. Thanks for putting the time and work into this thread, much appreciated S & F
originally posted by: mobiusmale
The early posters are either not getting...or preferring to ignore...your obvious attempt to draw a parallel between the rise of the Nazis and Hitler, and the current political climate in the United States.
The Republicans are not the Nazi Party, Trump is not Hitler, and Radical Islam is not Judaism.
Nice try though...