The Rise of Nazism
How, and why, did Democracy fail in Germany after World War One? And, how did the Nazi Party emerge victorious in 1933?
These are the perennial questions asked of Germany in the first half of the 20th century. How could a sophisticated and educated people so easily fall to the lies and horrors of Nazism?
Firstly, there was the failing economy, a hurdle that The Weimar Republic could not surmount.
Secondly, there was the fact that many ex soldiers of World War One gave the Nazis the brute force they needed on the streets of Germany.
Thirdly, there was the fact that Germany, despite Weimar, remained deeply divide, since the civil wars of 1919, between The Communist Far Left and The Fascist Far Right. Both extremes attempted coups which failed, and the irony is that the leading Party of The Far Right, The Nazis, finally gained control in 1933 by way of a democratic vote. This is arguably the first lesson the Nazis taught Liberal Democracies - their very democratic processes can lead to an extremist takeover.
Once in power Hitler was never going to acquiesce in the vote of the people. He was from the start only ever going to be removed by force; his choice to go to war inevitably meant that it was defeat in that war which would break both him and his Party. Thus once he had seized power in 1933 he began quickly to turn Germany into an absolutist autocracy forever staining German, and European history, with the blood of nations in war and in the death camps of The Shoah.
A terrible period in German, and wider European, history opens up in 1933 which is to last 12 years until Germany's total defeat and Hitler's own suicide in 1945.