IBDP Essays Relating to Gustav Stresemann


Assessing Stresemann’s Achievements



“The history of the world is but the biography of great men”[1]. Was Stresemann one such man? Gustav Stresemann, born 1878, was chancellor of Germany in 1923 and remained Foreign Minister until the end of his life in 1929. During the last 6 years of his life, he is credited with numerous achievements (which I will go into later) which allowed Weimar Germany to go through the “Golden Age” of its existence. Nonetheless, in light of these great achievements, one must also examine what came before Stresemann and what came after his premature death, for I believe one can only then fully assess Stresemann’s achievements when one looks at the bigger picture of Germany before, and after Stresemann. 



Before Gustav Stresemann, Weimar Germany was in a state of chaos, and this fact is essential to investigate when assessing Stresemann’s achievements. good Democracy was altogether  a “new idea” for most of Europe, let alone Germany, and one that would take until 1989 to fully be integrated and accepted in Germany. shows long view of history There were countless problems that plagued Weimar Germany from 1919 to 1923. To begin with, the Weimar Government itself was a great deal to blame. The democratic system of proportional representation led to the severe problem of there being too many political parties in the Reichstag.  This meant it was virtually impossible for a majority to be established, as well as there being far too frequent changes in the government. In addition to there being problems in the Government, the Army – The Reichswehr (under the leadership of General Hans von Seekt) and government officials in the police and judicial system, were extremely right-wing, not supporting the predominately SPD government and letting people like Adolf Hitler off with 9 months imprisonment after the Munich Putsch. Left and Right-Wing rebellions and insurrections also plagued the government. In 1919, 500,000 Spartacists (Communists) took to the streets of Berlin in a failed coup attempt and a Communist Peoples Government briefly took power in Munich. On the right-wing the Kapp Putsch of 1920 briefly took control of Berlin in hopes of restoring the Kaiser, Nationalist terrorists collectively assassinated 356 politicians and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party attempted the “Beerhall Putsch” in 1923. Hyperinflation, caused by the Treaty of Versailles’ reparation sum of 6.6 pounds sterling and the ensuing French occupation of the Ruhr in January 1923, further helped to unstable Weimar integrity. It was clear by 1923 that Germany needed a strong leader to restore order.


    According to the British Historian John Wheeler-Bennett, “...no figure since the war has so dominated European affairs as did Herr Stresemann...”[2]. The Weimar Republic would not have lasted as long as it did had it not been for Stresemann’s achievements. As soon as he was appointed Chancellor on 13 August 1923, Stresemann went to work getting his country back on the right track. Within a year, he had addressed the problem of hyperinflation by getting rid of the old Reichmark and introducing the Rentenmark, which was worth an astounding 1x12^10 ??? old marks. Striking in the Ruhr was also called off and by 1924 the French had been persuaded to leave. The French were able to be persuaded by the Dawes Plan, an American endorsed plan aimed at giving Germany more time to pay its war reparations. This was later extended in the Younge Plan of 1929 to reduce the amount having to be paid by the Germans. In foreign policy, Germany also made huge improvements under Stresemann. As Foreign Minister, he signed the famous Locarno Treaty in which Germany formally agreed to the loss of Alsace-Lorraine and its borders in the west (There was to be no such treaty in the east, giving Stalin reason to mistrust the West’s aims). In 1926, Germany was also finally allowed into the League of Nations, given a seat in the security council along with the other major powers of the world (excluding the USA and Russia), signifying Germany’s resurrection as a major world power. Stresemann also stimulated economic growth by borrowing 25,000 million gold marks, mainly from the USA, to improve Germany’s infrastructure and industry. For his feats in improving relations with the West, Gustav Stresemann was co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926. Stresemann’s achievements are numerous. Without him, there would have been no “Roaring Twenties” in Germany. But were these “achievements” what they seemed? Did Stresemann  truly solve Germany’s problems, or did he just repress them?


As the German historian Hermann Oncken said three days after Stresemann’s death, ”Suddenly all of us…feel that there is a vacuum in the political life of the nation…”[3] This quote supports the argument that Gustav Stresemann was too good of a statesman. excellent use of a great quote A modern reference to this argument could be the role of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. The essence of this argument is that the role and actions of these men have only a short term effect but have no lasting effect. In Stresemann’s case you could even argue that his legacy was negative. His extensive borrowing from the USA laid the foundation of Europe’s present day dependency on the US dollar. A further effect this “political vacuum” left by Stresemann had, was that since he was the force that had united the most central German parties (SPD, Centrum, DVP) into one coalition government, when he was gone Germany was once again plagued by the political problems it had faced before. This, coupled with the effect the Wall Street Crash in 1929, and a growing unemployment rate had on Germany’s economy, meant that more and more people were now moving toward radical parties such as the NSDAP and the DKP (Deutsche Kommunisten Partei). Before 1929, Stresemann’s successes had effectively kept these radical parties in the political wilderness, where as now they were reemerging as Germany faced greater crisis. 


In conclusion, I do not believe that there is any sound argument that can diminish the simple fact that Gustav Stresemann’s did achieve some success in the 1920s rehabilitating Germany and helping her to retake its place among the major nations of Europe. Nevertheless, I believe that the events that succeeded Stresemann’s death and Germany’s ensuing descent into a totalitarian fascist regime proves the argument that Gustav Stresemann was in fact NOT a “Great Man”. His achievements, as magnificent as they might have seemed at the time, did not leave Germany with ANY lasting achievements which would help Germany navigate the challenges of the upcoming decades.   

Sources:   [1] Thomas Carlyle [2] Jonathan Wright Gustav Stresemann: Weimar's greatest statesman pg.1     [3] http://www.jstor.org/pss/1405174



Evaluate Stresemann‘s Achievements                                              





Gustav Stresemann, the winner of a Nobel Peace prize and one of the most able and important politicians in Germany. Appointed Foreign Minister and Chancellor in 1923 and launching Germany into the “Golden Age” with a more prosperous economy and stability out of the wrecked monarchist nation Germany, plagued with rebellions and hyperinflation. 

The achievements of his reign as Foreign minister which ended in 1929 were beyond categorization; he aimed for the recovery and restoration of Germany as a country and in the World. He also pursued the building of links between the USSR, the USA and France as well as his “Erfüllungspolitik”, where Germany would cooperate with the powers and comply with the Treaty of Versailles. As well as these goals that helped strengthen Germany after the loss of the Great War, he signed the Locarno Pact in 1925. A smart move as Stresemann knew Germany was not ready for a war. The Treaty was signed with France, Britain and Belgium, in which Germany accepted the western borders, and promised not to invade France or Belgium again, whilst gaining the support from Britain if France attacked as Stresemann said, "The renunciation of a military conflict with France has only a theoretical significance, in so far as there is no possibility of a war with France".[i]This gave him the confidence to voice Germany's demands. The year before he signed the Dawes Plan, which caught more foreign investment to Germany, and they received loan of 200 million dollars from America to stabilise the infrastructure and economy, which made it clear to Stresemann that “Voices were heard from the United States of America which made it clear that America wanted a peaceful and united Europe as a basis for mutual cooperation.” [ii]The only problem was it made Germany depend on the American economy, which that meant Germany's economic downfall in 1929 under the Wall-Street Crash. In 1926 to support the Treaty of Rapallo Stresemann signed the Treaty of Berlin. so what? Under Stresemann’s foreign policy Germany was even able to join the League of Nations in 1926, was seen as a stable power and granted veto, and in 1928 the Kellogg-Briand pact was signed which advocated the Treaty of Versailles and reduced the reparations that Germany had to pay.   




When Stresemann began his resurrection of the German economy, 4,200,000,000,000 Marks was worth one dollar. Hyperinflation had evolved out of the payment of reparations by the printing of more money, and unemployment was at an all-time high. When the reparations where not met in 1923, Belgium and France invaded and pillaged the Ruhr, making the Government call a general strike in which they paid the strikers, furthermore destroying Germanys economy. This was called passive resistance, which Stresemann abdicated.  He believed that paying reparations would move Germany forward and developed the Rentenmark (around 4.2 Rentenmarks to one dollar), which cleaned up Germanys economy and successfully ended hyperinflation and fluctuations in the currency. This enabled Germany to stabilise and was one of the biggest achievements for Stresemann, making him a recognizable Politician, even in present day countries with deteriorating economies such as Argentina are said to “need a Stresemann”.  



      In 1926 he was awarded the Nobel peace prize for his work on the Locarno treaty in 1925, along side the France Foreign Minister Aritiside Briand who commented “It is understandable to be continually casting doubts on Germany's goodwill .... Stresemann and I talked a new language, the language of Europe..” [iii]Inside Germany he and his party the DVP where losing support and he was criticised by the DVNP saying the Dawes plan was a “second Versailles”, and was labelled as a November criminals, a sign that he was not appreciated by appeasing the European powers to strengthen Germany. It was said that Germany been made too reliant on foreign investment and economy and that it caused the downfall under the Wall-Street Crash. Stresemann was even said to be a mirage, which only built up to the decline of Germany after his death even Stresemann recognized "The economic position is only flourishing on the surface. Germany is in fact dancing on a volcano. If the short-term credits are called in, a large section of our economy would collapse.". [iv]This cannot be the case, as Germany was terrible before he became Chancellor and Foreign minister and Stresemann recognized this saying “I must begin by saying something about the old Germany. That Germany, too, suffered from superficial judgement, because appearances and reality were not always kept apart in people's minds.” [v],and he improved Germany's economic and international situation using his policies and the signing of the Dawes and Young plan.


In conclusion, Stresemann‘s reign was one which pushed Germany into the “Golden Age”, and even though his party was not the most popular, he refused the radical parties power over Germany, as he knew it would be the downfall of democracy. The Nazis only gained support after his death, proving his goal was simply to improve and do the best for his country.


Sources;   [i] http://www.museumstuff.com/learn/topics/Gustav_Stresemann::sub::In_The_Weimar_Republic     [ii] Gustav Stresemann     [iii] Aristide Briand; http://historyannex.com/20th-century-Europe/diplomacy1920s/locarno-era.html     [iv] Quote from a speech by Gustav Stresemann shortly before his death on 3 October 1929     [v] Gustav Stresemann         



Assessment of Stresemann’s Achievements

Gustav Stresemann was appointed Chancellor of Germany on August 13th, 1923. During his time as Chancellor and Foreign Minister as of November 1923 Stresemann took action to save Weimar Germany from complete destruction. good  In order to assess Stresemann’s achievements one must look at if the time Stresemann was in office improved Weimar Germany from what it was before he became Chancellor. January 11th 1923, before Stresemann was chancellor, French and Belgian troops entered the Ruhr because of Germany’s refusal to pay war reparations[1], which caused strikes and a severe economic crisis. By September 15th Germany's bank rate had raised to 90% due to hyperinflation[2], which really showed how atrocious of a state Germany was in. 
Stresemann called off passive resistance on September 26th 1923, Germany was no longer able to pay striking workers therefore more and more money was being printed causing hyperinflation. Calling off the passive resistance would only have helped Germany, as they no longer paid workers to strike. On the 15th of November Stresemann introduced and issued the German Rentenmark[3] as a means of stopping hyperinflation. Although there was no gold to back the Rentenmark, the Rentenbank mortgaged land and industrial goods worth 3.2 billion Rentenmark, which was able to back the currency. The Rentenmark was only a short-term currency and it was not legal tender, however people of Germany showed faith in the currency and it effectively stopped the hyperinflation[4]. The fact that the Rentenmark that Stresemann introduced stopped hyperinflation is proof Stresemann’s decisions and actions were bettering Germany. However, on November 23 Stresemann resigned as Chancellor of Germany and took over as Foreign minister, which could easily be construed as he was not a successful domestic leader and should only help Germany with foreign politics. 
  As Foreign Minister, Stresemann had multiple achievements; one of his first was the signing of the Dawes Plan. The Dawes Plan was a way to provide Germany with some economic stability by  reducing the amount of reparations per annum Germany needed to pay and gave the Germans more time to pay their debt. Within the Dawes Plan, one of the points was that the Ruhr area was to be evacuated by Allied troops such as France and Belgium. The signing of the Dawes plan was a great help for Germany as it not only helped stabilize their currency and economy but increased foreign investments and loans to the German market.[5] However the Dawes Plan made Germany dependent on money given to them from the US. In order for the Dawes Plan to be successful the Germans needed support from foreign markets and economies. Therefore if problems were to occur in the US economy the repercussions on the German economy would be just as severe. The Great Depression in the US severely hurt the German economy as they were being supported by loans from the US. Germany received up to 25,000 million gold marks mainly from America, which helped Germany build roads, railways and fortunately make more jobs. The Dawes Plan is arguable to whether or not it can be called an achievement, although it helped Germany short term in made Germany very reliant on the US and in debt to the US.

Assess Stresemann's achievement

After WWI Germany failed into a chaotic situation. There was no stable government, there was the hyper inflation and there was the Treaty of Versailles. people did not know what to do. However, when Stresemann became the chancellor, this situation upturned in so called “the golden age of Weimarer Republic. He solved the hyper inflation, led Germany join to the League of Nations and because of these great work he won the Novel Peace Price. But when you assess Stresemann's achievement, you may argue that his accomplishments were just a great illusion because Weimarer Republic did easily collapsed after Stresemann dead. But I would say that most of these were successful the Rentenmark, treaties of Locarno, Dawes plan and Young plan.

One of the great achievement of Stresemann was issue of Rentenmark. Because of the reparation of Treaty of Versailles and the occupation of ruhr by France and Belgium, hyper inflation was caused in Germany. As the historian, Minoru Kojima said, “Germany in1923 can be described as a one word, inflation. This bloody inflation is unprecedented in history and it will never happen again”. Actually, the inflation in Republic of Zimbabwe was more bad. The serious inflation was one of the biggest problem that Germany was faced with. The unemployment was 28% and 42% of the people could not work perfectly. You needed 1,000,000,000,000 Mark to buy just piece of bread. In January 1923, one dolls was equal to 7,525 Mark. But in July, it increased to 160 thousand, in August, it was 4 million and 620 thousand. And finally, it became 4,200,000,000,000 in November.The price of products increased by an hour. People really suffered from this situation. But Stresemann came up with the re denomination plan using Rentenmark. They changed 1,000,000,000,000 Papiermark and the security of Rentenmark was the German land. This policy solve the inflation perfectly. Germany economy level increased and it was called “Wunder der Rentenmark” by German. So the Rentenmark was a great achievement. 世界恐慌

In diplomacy, Stresemann singed the Treaties of Locarno and also led Germany to join the League of Nations. One of the important treaty in treaties of Locarno was the maintenance of the Germany -France and Germany-Belgium border as the Treaty of Versailles. It also prohibited any presence of army or military base in Rheinland. This means that one of the most important German industrial area is saved and they will not suffer again. Britain and Italy were involved to insure these treaties. They also agreed with solving the international conflict in a peaceful way. So I would say that Treaties of Locarno was a new order of peace in western Europe after Treaty of Versailles which was too harsh for Germany. Thanks to these treaties, Germany was allowed to join the League of Nations that means that Germany could return to the international society. For Germany, this is a big step forward because they suffered from the international isolation. They did not involve in League of Nation, they lost the WWI and thy were punished in Treaty of Versailles. So Stresemann achievement lead the western Europe country to peace. However, there were some problems in Treaties of Locarno. Firstly, the Eastern front of Germany was anxious. Russia was not involved in this treaty and thought that the Treaties of Locarno was a western Europe union against Russia. But, Stresemann made the Treaty of Berlin in 1926 that certified when Germany or Russia are attacked by any other country, they will be a neutral country. So Stresemann did not only be friends with western Europe countries but also with Russia. Another problem in Treaties of Locarno was the border lines between Poland because the treaty did not indemnified about the eastern border lines of Germany. There was problem of Polish corridor. So the Treaties of Locarno was succeed in make a piece in western Europe but there were some uneasy elements in eastern border of Germany.  

 Other accomplishment of Stresemann were Dawes Plan and Young Plan. Dawes plan did succeed to postpone the payment of the Treaty of Versailles. The first year of the payment is reduced to One billion Goldmark and it will increase gradually and in five years, it will return to 25billion Goldmark . As I showed, the reparation of Treaty of Versailles was a big issue for German economy. Also by making the issue of Dawes bonds, it allowed private capitals from United states to come in Germany. That means that Germany loaned 8billion Goldmark from the United States. Thanks to Dawes plan, Ruhr was released from occupation. These things helped Germany to rebuild German economy. In fact, in 1927,German NDP exceeded than that it was before WWI. Besides, Charles Dawes received the Nobel price in 1925 that shows how his work was evaluated in that time. So Dawes plan was quite succeed. However, this plan was still not good enough because it did not reduce the payment and that led the United States to make Young plan 1930. Young plan did reduced German reparation to 73 Goldmark. In the field of economy, (Dawes plan and Young plan are diplomacy but it helped German economy) Stresemann's achievements were successful.

Because of these reasons, I would say that some of them were not perfect but most of the achievement of Stresemann was the best that he could in that period and it was successful. In fact, He got the Nobel piece price that shows how he was evaluated in 1920's. However, most of is achievement was collapsed after he died. But that was because of the world depression that happened never before. So I would say that Sresesemann`s achievement was the best that he could.


In 1926 Germany was allowed into the League of Nations making it a world power once again. Germany was ultimately able to join the League due to Stresemann, as he was the Foreign Minister who appeased foreign world powers for example giving up Alsace-Lorraine in the Locarno treaty. Stresemann had made essential improvements in the stability of Weimar Germany although not lasting long after he died. Although his Foreign affairs made Germany more reliant the western world I believe that his contributions and achievements for the short time he was Chancellor and his long-term post as foreign Minister definitely aided Weimar Germany to survive a few more years.


 Sources:   [1] Encyclopedia Britannica Online: Gustav Stresemann (Chancellor of Germany) years as a Foreign Minister  [2] Wikipedia: 1923 in Germany  [3] Wikipedia: German Rentenmark  [4] Wikipedia: German Rentenmark  [5] Wikipedia: Dawes Plan

Stresemann’s Achievements      

In order to assess Gustav Stresemann’s achievements, one must look not only at his individual policies, but rather take in to consideration the limitations of the time period and the overall impact Stresemann had on Germany in the long run.  a bit complex structure As he stated himself, “[h]History uses a unit of measure for time that is different from that of the lifespan of the individual, whereas man is only too ready to measure the evolution of history by his own yardstick”. source? great quote Beginning in 1923, Stresemann served as the chancellor of Weimar Germany and later, would be credited as the drive behind the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of its existence due to his innovative visions of democracy, a thriving economy and diplomacy.  However, despite his successes, much of the country’s strength under his direction was highly unstable and criticized for being too dependent on other nations. Ultimately, it comes down to examining the Germany before and after Stresemann in order to fully comprehend the measure of his legacy. 

To begin with, one should examine the state of pre-Stresemann Weimar Germany. Economically, Germany was experiencing never before seen levels of hyperinflation as a result of the Treaty of Versailles’ reparation sum of 6.6 BILLION pounds sterling, the 1923 Ruhr strike, as well as a ‘passive resistive’ policy. By November of that year, inflation had reached its peak. To illustrate just how drastic measures were, in 1922 a loaf of bread cost 163 marks. Less than a year later this figure had risen to 200,000,000,000 marks .  Within a single day the value of a mark could be so diminished that what was once an acceptable wage would be completely worthless by the time it could be spent for dinner. As a result of this, starvation and other nutrition related deaths became a crippling parallel reality for the nation. Moreover, before Stresemann the Weimar Republic was also in a state of chaos regarding internal politics.   

As the idea of democracy was a relatively new concept, it was under attack by both left and right wing oppositions. The far left wing accused the ruling Social Democrats of preventing a communist revolution and the right wing was simply opposed to any form of a democratic system. This led to political violence within the cities, particularly between extremist groups such as the Freikorps and the Red GaurdsGuards. Within the democracy itself, Proportional Representation did not work because there were so many political parties in the Reichstag that it was impossible for any single group to establish themselves. All of these drawbacks surmounted to what was perhaps most appalling aspect of the Republic: Germany’s reputation within the International community. After a failure to pay the reparations bill, Belgian and French armies were sent in to claim German coalfields. This in turn led to a national coal shortage and aggression between the countries, which would consequently spark new devastating policies such as that of previously mentioned passive resistance.  Clearly, Germany was in dire need of an assertive leader who could pull the country together in times of economic and social distress to create a stable, innovative democracy. This man, as praised by historian Jonathan Wright, would be Gustav Stresemann:, “No figure since the war has so dominated European affairs as did Herr Stresemann; and no statesman has shown so unwavering a devotion to what he conceived to be the right course for his country. By a fortunate coincidence it was also the right course for the world ”. 

Evaluate Stresemann’s Achievements

It is crucial to acknowledge these circumstances under which Stresemann took power in order to understand the full weight of his accomplishments. Beginning almost immediately, Stresemann addressed the issues that plagued the Republic and had been hindering its development. During the tumultuous period at which inflation had reached its peak in November of 1923, Stresemann introduced a new currency, the Rentenmark, to replace the old, worthless Reichsmark. This new currency was the equivalent to 1x12^10 old marks  and allowed prices to remain stable. By November 30, 1923, there were 500 million Rentenmarks in circulation, which increased to 1000 million by January 1, 1924, and again to 1,800 million Rentenmarks by July 1924. Meanwhile, the old paper Marks continued in circulation.  so? The total paper Marks increased to 1,211 quintillion in July 1924 and continued to fall in value to one third of their conversion value in Rentenmarks . This date effectively marks the end of hyper Inflation, which, to this day proves to be one of Stresemann’s greatest contributions in securing his country from full-blown disaster.  Further provoking economic growth, Stresemann borrowed up to 25,000 million gold marks in order to boost both industry and infrastructure within Germany. With the economy well on its way up, Stresemann focused his attention on foreign policy.  By 1924 the French were persuaded to leave the Ruhr in thanks to the American endorsed Dawes Plan, which was aimed at allowing Germany more time to pay off reparations.  Then, in October of 1925, Stresemann signed the Locarno treaty, which officially agreed to the loss of Alsace-Lorraine. 

However, putting aside these individual successes for a moment, much criticism has come along with the praise for Stresemann over the years. What comes in to question most frequently is whether Stresemann contributed to finding a solution for Germany’s problems, or simply a temporary fix. good focus question Rather than creating a thriving, independent nation, much of Stresemann’s ‘success’ was supported by external sources. The consequences of his dependency on the United States for funding would be felt soon after on his own economy during the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and, in effect, can still be felt today. Furthermore, Stresemann’s political fixes for the time did nothing to install a sound democracy in the country. Instead, it left Germany with the same problems that it had faced before, which was an excess of competing extremist political parties.

 In conclusion, although Stresemann implemented several changes that appeared to save Germany from her narrowly escaped adversity, his policies in effect, did minimal to strengthen the country in the long run. That is not to say that his efforts should be completely disregarded, only that it is virtually impossible to tell which direction the country would have headed had it not been for his premature death.


Assess Stresemann’s Achievements

When Gustav Stresemann was appointed chancellor in 1923 due to the support of the Social Democratic Party[1], he faced a Germany that lay in ruins. During this time one US dollar was worth 4 621 000 German Marks compared to 12 Marks in April 1919[2] and Germany was in the middle of the Ruhr crisis. With these problems at hand Stresemann had to act swiftly and called of the passive resistance against the French and he also introduced a new and stable currency; the Rentenmark. What followed was period of prosperity and in the next six years, in which Stresemann acted as the foreign minister, he drew up and agreed on a series of treaties and pacts, for which he was in 1926 awarded the Nobel Peace Prize[3]. Nonetheless, the onset of the Great Depression and Stresemann’s death on October 3, 1929[4] had dramatic effects on Weimar Germany and thus it could be argued, that while Stresemann was able to stabilize a collapsing Germany he was unable to secure its future.


The signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 caused an enormous unrest in the German public and like AJP Taylor argued, “no German accepted it as a fair settlement and all Germans wanted to shake it off.” According to article 232 Germany had to pay reparations for the destruction caused in World War 1[1] and when Germany was unable to pay a these reparations the French simply invaded the Ruhr. The German government then called for a passive resistance against the French, however, as soon as Stresemann became chancellor he called of this passive resistance[2] on September 26, in order to economically save Germany. In addition, Stresemann was able to introduce a new currency, the Rentenmark and through this bring an end to hyperinflation. Nonetheless, Stresemann’s step in calling of the passive resistance was seen by many as if Germany was again surrendering to the allies and especially Hitler, and other right-wing extremists capitalized on this during the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in 1923. Apart from putting down the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, he had no role in this; it was a strictly localised matter  Stresemann was also able to break up a revolt of the Black Reichswehr led by Bruno Buchrucker in Saxony and was with this, in his 100 days of being Chancellor[3] able to head Weimar Germany into a more prosperous time period. good conclusion

The years 1924 to 1929 are commonly referred to as a “Golden Age” or the “the years of hope”[4] and indeed, Stresemann, as foreign minister, was able to persuade France to withdraw from the Ruhr and also signed the Dawes Plan in 1924[5]. but here's where you're invited to assess both. Instead you simply refer to them without me knowing what they represent In addition, Stresemann took the initiative in 1925 that led to the Locarno Pact and made it possible for Germany to enter the League of Nations in 1926. Finally, in 1929 he also helped set up the Young Plan, which effectively reduced the reparations that Germany had to pay. Furthermore, it was due to Stresemann that Hitler’s Party, the NSDAP, only achieved 14 seats in the Reichstag in the December 1924 elections and even less, only 12 seats, in the May 1928 elections[6]. This clearly shows that the public was not willing to risk the peace and the prosperity of the time period by voting for an extremist party like the NSDAP but was much rather satisfied with voting for a more conservative central party. Additionally, as Stresemann’s actions were slowly bringing more strength and prosperity into Weimar Germany Hitler was forced to the Munich Putsch in 1923 evidence?, although he was by far not ready for this, as otherwise he would lose even more support. was this clear at the time? This was because less and less people were likely to support him as the Weimar Republic grew in stability. These two examples evidently show how successful Stresemann’s policies were, as only one year after his death the support for the NSDAP had increased from 12 seats in the Reichstag to an astounding 107 seats in the September 1930 elections[7].  not convinced; you seem to be using various points to support your own ideas.

Nonetheless, Stresemann’s policies were in reality far from creating an economical and political stable Weimar Germany. In fact, they served as a mere mirage to mask the true faults of the republic. Although during Stresemann’s time as he was able contain Hitler and stop him from rising, he lay the cornerstone for Hitler’s plans to attack the East. Whilst Stresemann was happy to settle the Western borders he refused to make any treaties with the countries on the Eastern front relating to the acceptance of these borders[8]. Moreover, it seemed to many Germans that Stresemann was more of a European peace broker than an actual German chancellor and this brought him domestic unpopularity. A large part of the population shared the opinion that while Stresemann was focusing very much on his foreign policy he was forgetting the fact that Germany itself faced serious problems. Many also felt that he was siding too much with the SDP and this further decreased his popularity, as in their opinion he should stay true to his party. Furthermore, but what do you think? When a politician manages to do great things even though the people are against him, that makes him a true statesman. only 11 months after his death the public voted for anti-democratic parties and allowed the NSDAP to increase their seats by 95. In the same elections the Communist Party was also able to gain 23 seats in the Reichstag compared to only nine the elections in May 1928[9].

Although,?  Stresemann managed to admit a Germany, that in the years 1919 to 1923 alone killed 356 politicians, into the League of Nations in 1926 and signed important treaties like the Rapallo or Dawes Plan, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926. but at no time do you assess any of these achievements, such as they were. His achievements were unable to outlast his death. He laid the foundation for Hitler to increase his percentage in the Reichstag from 2.6 % in May 1928 to a shattering 288 seats in March 1933[10] and with that take control of Germany. He lost the publics trust in democracy and while is achievements should be valued highly, they were in themselves weak and only a mere mirage.

Dr. Gustav Stresemann was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on the 10 of December 1926. Until recently, the Nobel peace prize was strictly reserved for those who most deserved it for their work towards peace between nations and global peace. Gustav Stresemann received this award for his exceptional work towards better relations between France and Germany . While this highlights one of his achievements, the necessary steps he took to be able to rehabilitate the nation remain in the shadow of the end product.  Very ice turns of phrases but no real meat- what is your specific theme/argument? By August 1923, the financial situation of Germany was dire. Within this month alone, the value of the Mark decreased from 262,000 to one gold mark to 2,454,000.  According to Rudolf Hilferding, the German Finance minister from 1923 to 1928, Germany’s financial position “exceeded the worst expectations”.  

It was clear to all that passive resistance could not be continued throughout  the winter and even Adolf Hitler knew that passive resistance was no longer an option.   really? He sure kept that hidden... It was Stresemann’s first major achievement as chancellor to end passive resistance and restart Germany’s major industrial region. However, his real achievement was to do so without losing too much support amongst his political allies because stopping passive resistance was seen as a surrender to France. good point The only reason why passive resistance had not been ended earlier (not sure where you learned the use of commas)  was because every political party and politician feared the loss of support and therefore power. Ending the resistance towards the French was seen as a surrender by many Germans. evidence? Nevertheless, Stresemann encountered this threat with reason and logic to convince the German people to end passive resistance and to restart the production. In a passionate speech, Stresemann called upon his fellow Germans to end passive resistance while continuing the struggle against the French.  Stresemann managed to convince the Germans that there was no alternative to ending passive resistance, and that passive resistance now hurt themselves more than their opponents. He made it very clear that even though some might see this as a surrender to the French, it was in no way a surrender, but instead preventing Germany falling apart which would inevitable be the result of passive resistance. The creation of the Rentenmark was Stresemann’s next major achievement. As Frank D. Graham states in his book Exchange, prices, and production in hyper-inflation: Germany, 1920-1923,  “[t]he successful introduction of the Rentenmark in November 1923 … was certainly a remarkable achievement and bears strong witness of the steadfastness of the German Character”.  
 Graham later points out that the Rentenmark was introduced without any financial backing and without any foreign help. This shows clearly shows how Stresemann was able to convince the people of this new currency, which in reality was only safeguarded by its scarceness. In fact, Graham also argues that the Rentenmark was no better than its predecessor.  Nevertheless, Gustav Stresemann, despite the odds, managed to introduce a completely worthless currency which in turn stabilized the economic and financial situation in Germany.  How do you qualify it as "worthless"? What assessment means do you use?  When thinking of Stresemann’s successes in foreign policy, many such as John Traynor focus on Stresemann’s financial foreign policy.  

While setting up the Dawes and Young plans were very important for the German economy, Stresemann’s Annäherungspolitik with France was a far greater achievement. For France to accept Germany, a nation who had destroyed them twice within 50 years (how was France 'destroyed' at any time? Be careful with your use of words  as an equal into the League of Nations, Stresemann had to use all his charisma. But how would they be equal without an army and forced to abide by the T of V?  Simply compromising to the French was not enough to make past the past undone. In order for rehabilitation to fully occur, Germany had to prove that it had truly changed. This job naturally fell to the foreign minister, Gustav Stresemann. The greatest step towards this acceptance was the Locarno Treaty. This treaty, which marked the time in between the two wars, restructured the transnational situation in Europe, created a guarantee for any country which would be attacked and gave the impression that Germany had finally overcome its anger towards the treaty of Versailles.  By accepting its Western borders including the regions of Alsace and Lorraine, Germany finally ended the rivalry ( until a few years later...) and France finally felt that Germany was no longer planning to take revenge.  

 Overall, it was Stresemann’s skill as a politician and statesman which allowed Germany to recover from the financial disaster it found itself in, in 1923. Germany needed a leader who would push through the financial reforms necessary and in Stresemann; they had found the necessary chancellor. Gustav Stresemann set with his treaties the foundation for European peace and stability which we have today, and had the great depression not hit the economy shortly after his death and the Nazis not taken power, the wall of the Bundestag might be decorated with his quotes instead of the Landtag of Rheinland-Pfalz.

Assess Stresemann’s achievements  

To the politicians of the Weimar Republic, of a statesmanship rank, alongside Friedrich Ebert and Walther Rathenau belonged Gustav Stresemann, I don't understand your opening sentence, and I haven't finished it yet. Reichhskanzler during the critical days of the time of the occupation of the Ruhr in 1923. He remained true to his political party, the DVP which he formed in 1918, during Weimar’s ever changing governments and until his unexpected death in 1929 he was in position of the Reichsausenminister. He is a symbolic figure of the Weimar Republic as it was due to his economic reforms that Weimar entered its “Golden Years” . History and politics are closely related to one another so now we ask ourselves; what is Stresemann’s legacy? 

 When on the 13th August 1923 Gustav Stresemann became Germany’s Chancellor the critical atmosphere prevailed throughout Weimar. Since the Great War, Germany’s financial situation continued to deteriorate. After the war not only refugees and invalids had to be supported by the Government, but on top of this, the Allies had imposed substantial restitution payments upon Germany. In the attempt to meet these demands Germany began to print more money. During the 100 days in which Stresemann was Chancellor all of his economic reforms were put into practice, these included the “Rentenmark”. In November 1923 to curb inflation, Stresemann reformed Germany’s currency. Through this reform, the economic situation could be stabilized . It was also through Stresemann’s Rentenmark that the international market once again opened up to Germany.the USA had a large interest in trading with Germany, this not only boosted the German economy but also ended the years of hyper-inflation. Whilst Stresemann was in a leading position he also introduced, in 1924, the Dawes Plan, which  lengthened the time Germany had to pay back the reparations it owed. However this caused Germany to accept a loan of over 800 million marks, this helped Germany to a large extend to rebuild its economy, nonetheless the Dawes plan was viewed with a lot of scepticism as Germany now fully depended upon America. This fear proved to be appropriate as it was in October 1929 that The Wall Street Crash caused Germany to lose any economic power that they had managed to regain. 

  Stresemann’s achievements however go beyond his attempt to rebuild Germany’s economy and even though many frowned upon his efforts, he managed to bring order into a country filled with chaos. Even during his time as Germany’s Foreign Minister he remains highly credited. don't understand  Especially when in 1923, he acted upon the occupation of the Ruhr, Stresemann shows himself, like Bismarck as a “Realpolitiker” and therefore in August 1923 ends the passive resistance, without demanding from France in return for a withdrawal of its troops. He hoped thereby to achieve a peaceful solution with France. Even though this strategy succeeded in the long run it caused uproar amongst the citizens causing a large rise in support for radical right-wing groups, such as Adolf Hitler’s NSDAP. The majority felt that Germany showed weakness through Stresemann’s actions. Once again Germany was brought to her knees through the Allies and this broke the people’s spirit once over. 

      Stresemann’s largest attempt to befriend the Allies in his position of Foreign Minister, occurred in 1925, when Germany and the Allies signed the Locarno treaties . I don't think it was a question of "befriending" anyone. This was one of the conditions under which Stresemann’s Germany was allowed admission into the League of Nations which did occur in 1926. Even though the question of the eastern borders was not discussed at Locarno, Germany had to accept the demilitarization of the Rhineland and agreed to the western frontiers as they had been defined by the Treaty of Versailles. Despite the fact that Stresemann was handling in Germany’s best interest, some parliamentary leaders, such as the Nationalist members saw Stresemann’s actions as weak as he appeared to be kow-towing to the Allies. Not only within parliament was Stresemann’s foreign policy frowned upon, within the population Stresemann’s achievements were condemned due to them implying that Germany recognized the Treaty of Versailles as valid.  Stresemann’s diplomacy, which the French believed mirrored that of Bismarck, was equal to deceit as several people, especially those of the right-wing, believed that Germany had to retaliate. Due to the conflict the dissatisfaction caused within the Reichstag, the catholic Zentrums Partei and the parties to its right became even more right-wing during the 1920’s.  Nevertheless Stresemann managed to improve Germany’s relationships especially those with France and Britain this was proven by the fact that the three countries agreed on defending one another should they be attacked. 
 It is mainly due to Gustav Stresemann that Germany was able to regain her international recognition after the travesty that was brought forth through the Great War. Stresemann showed a great diplomatic ability for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize on the 10th December 1926. Both Stresemann and his French colleague Aristide Briand were honoured for their policy of rapprochement and the role they played in bringing Europe back to peace. However Stresemann’s era ended with his untimely death on October 3rd, 1929. Unfortunately for Germany, Stresemann had no successor and therefore his plans for the country could never be finalized. Due to his early death and the America’s economic collapse weeks after his death, Germany’s people felt forced to look for help elsewhere, this allowed especially the NSDAP to grab at the available power. It is fair to say that Stresemann’s greatest achievement was Rebuilding Germany’s economy after World War I, thus enabling her to later build upon that strong foundation and become an internationally recognized economic superpower.

Assess Stresemann’s Achievements 

To fully appreciate the achievements of Gustav Stresemann, we must first understand post-war, democratic Germany. Today it is impossible to conceptualize a world in which political assassination is the norm, and there is such intense political polarization that different factions were literally at loggerheads in the streets. The political landscape he inherited was no less chaotic, with no fewer than 28 parties represented proportionally in the Reichstag, and the lifespan of a political career lasting a matter of months. Against this background, Stresemann has both been extolled and condemned, for being a great statesman and also failing to represent his country’s interest, for being too nationalist and for betraying his nation, and for failing to fix the unfixable. However, these sweeping generalizations fail to consider the enormity of the changes he was able to enact in his short five-year term.

Perhaps Stresemann’s most lauded achievements were those regarding foreign policy. As the longest serving foreign minister of Weimar Germany from 1923-1929, this is perhaps unsurprising. Soon after becoming Chancellor in 1923, he called off the passive resistance to the French occupation of the Ruhr. This policy, enacted by the former Chancellor Cuno, had the effect of exasperating the French and destroying the German economy, in a reckless bid to show the international community that Germany could not pay the reparations bill without bankrupting herself. Due to Germany’s failure to fulfill reparation payments, the French and Belgian armies invaded the Ruhr area of western Germany to simply take what they were owed from the rich coalfields in the region. The effect of this on the German people in the area was disastrous; rumours of French brutality towards Germans citizens were rife throughout the entire country , and to add insult to injury, the French had deployed their colonial, black soldiers to watch over the coal requisitioning . One example of the hardships faced by the people in the area was the widespread coal shortages. As a result many German households could not keep themselves warm through the bitterly cold winter. The policy of passive resistance increased the number of unemployed in the area, and so not only could people barely afford what they needed, the increased amount of welfare payments allotted by the government exacerbated the already precarious economic situation throughout the country. The policy was akin to cutting off the country’s nose to spite its face: completely unproductive towards pacifying the French and the only ones who suffered the most were the average German workers.   Therefore, by ending the policy, Stresemann showed that Germany could be dealt with rationally, good descriptive adjective and thus paved the way for more civil foreign relations dealings in the future.  As William Carr wrote in his A History of Germany 1815-1985, “Chancellor Stresemann acted upon the simple truth that a government which lacks power cannot play power politics”.

 Furthering this trend of regaining international acceptance, Germany signed the Locarno Pact in October 1925, which Stresemann was instrumental in orchestrating. This document outlined a “mutual guarantee”  between Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain, and Italy, stating in Article 2 that they “mutually undertake that they will in no case attack or invade each other or resort to war against each other.”  Germany also recognized her western borders and renounced any claim to the area of Alsace-Lorraine, in return for the withdrawal of French troops from the Ruhr. This not only created peace between the two nations, but also signified the shift international sympathy away from the French.  Perhaps more significantly, Germany accepted the Treaty of Versailles formally, and the restrictions placed on her by it. These agreements, orchestrated by Stresemann, may appear small on their own merit, but when considered in the context of the time (only a few years after the majority of the planet was a sworn enemy of Germany), we can see that he clearly successful leading Germany on the path to renewed international recognition, including acceptance in 1926 to the League of Nations and later a Council seat, as well as his own personal Nobel Peace prize in 1926 .

Along with these accomplishments of foreign policy, Stresemann achieved great success in reviving the German economy. Due to the invasion of the Ruhr and passive resistance, the German economy experienced hyperinflation to an unparalleled extent. To show the enormous scale of the hyperinflation, one must consider the rapid pace at which it grew. For example, bread prices rose from 163 marks for a kilo in January 1923 to nearly 9 million marks in October.  Workers in Bavaria had to be paid three times a day, as their previous wages would be worthless by the time they were able to spend it. Prices could triple in the time it takes to eat a meal, and “what was earlier a small income is now just a tip” in the words of Victor Klemperer, an academic and avid diarist during the 1920-1930’s.  Malnutrition related deaths saw a sharp increase, and starvation became very real for the German people, especially in the occupied areas. The situation, clearly unsustainable, was crippling the country to the point where the economy virtually ground to a halt, as Klemperer notes, “Money matter take up a great deal of time and frazzle one’s nerves”.   To resolve the crisis, Stresemann introduced the Rentenmark on the 15th of November to replace the now worthless Deutsche Mark, which was set to fluctuate with the price of gold. Hjalmar Schacht, the head of the German central bank, put “measure in place to defend the Rentenmark from speculation” before it became legal tender as the Reichsmark in 1924.  This effectively marked the end of hyperinflation, and one of Stresemann’s greatest achievements, pulling his country back from the edge of disaster. The mere fact that the introduction of the Rentenmark curbed the hyperinflation speaks volumes; not even legal tender, the faith the German people exhibited in its adoption shows without a doubt the magnitude of Stresemann’s success. The plan to restructure reparations, wildly unpopular in Germany but which Stresemann ratified anyway, was drawn up by American financier Charles Dawes in 1924, after his initial report into the scale and schedule of reparation payments. It not only created provisions for the reorganization of the Reichsbank and set up a loan for 800,000,000 marks to Germany it was also a crucial step in the negotiations to end the occupation of the Ruhr.  The Dawes plan, which brought much needed American investment into Germany, boosted the German economy, especially in areas such as agriculture and heavy industry, and Weimar began investing in schools, infrastructure and public housing, as well as a more advanced social welfare system. It was through this investment that Germany once crippled and in utter chaos, became the economic powerhouse of Europe once again. The Dawes plan also paved the way for the eventual total reduction of reparations by the Young plan in 1929, shortly before Stresemann’s death. Thus, Stresemann had shown that it is sometimes necessary to take a step backwards and accept unpopular decisions in able to eventually further your country’s own interest.                                   
However, many of these achievements have been lambasted for failing to prevent the development of situations which lead to the advent of the Third Reich and the Second World War through his reluctance to appease the people. Firstly, he was condemned by his own party, the right,  for having ended passive resistance; in their mind, not only had they kowtowed to the French, but to the African soldiers as well. This debasement was not to be tolerated, and strengthened the Right Wing resistance against him. He managed to further alienate the Right Wing by ratifying the Dawes plan; not only were they now benefactors of American Imperialism, Stresemann was paying reparations, and intended the Germans to continue paying until 1984. While a necessary step for international diplomacy and economic stability, politically it succeeded in strengthening the right opposition.  Additionally, he angered the left, both by virtue of being a right wing politician, but also by joining the League of Nations, a fundamentally capitalist club, or at least in the eyes of the Soviet Union. By making unpopular decisions which were more focused on the long run, he created a peace that was unsustainable; as soon as his moderating influence was removed, the tower was poised to fall with no one prepared or willing to fill his unpopular position as the voice of reason in an increasingly frenzied atmosphere.  
If the measure of a man is longevity of his achievements, then Stresemann was a failure. He failed to envision events that no one could foresee, and as he created no measures to deal with the consequences, and he is therefore responsible for the outcome. If he had, he told no-one. But then, the same held true for FDR but he is credited with the US war effort. While this is a wholly illogical argument,  many fail to see pass the advent Nazism and Stresemann’s culpability. However, Stresemann’s achievements, when seen in the context of their time, cannot be lightly ignored, as he returned, however briefly, the vestiges of normalcy and prosperity to Weimar Germany.     
Bibliography: Pact of Locarno." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. . "The Nobel Peace Prize 1926 - Presentation Speech". Nobelprize.org. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1926/presentation-speech.html  "Dawes Plan." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 06 Feb. 2011. .

Assess the reforms and initiatives of Stresemann.  

Stresemann was one of Germany’s leading politicians, going from Chancellor in August-November 1923, to Foreign Minister until his sudden death in 1929.  Stresemann was seen as the one helping Germany out of a dire economic state and taking them into the “Golden Years of Weimar.”  Stresemann himself was Right-wing; forming the DVP in 1918, but yet he still agreed to support the Government the greater good of Germany. He is did this as, although he was initially a supporter of military force, he soon became convinced of the need to support the Reichstag and to find peaceful solutions to Germany’s financial and war related problems.  
Stresemann’s economic reforms were all put in place during the 100 days he was in power as Chancellor and this makes it easy to see how much of an achievement his work was.  good His first piece of work as Chancellor was to create the Rentenmark as a provisional currency in order to support better trading for Germany.  Each Rentenmark was worth 10¹² old marks; and it was put in place due to the hyperinflation occurring in Germany due to the invasion of the Ruhr by the French when Germany did not meet a reparations payment.  By the introduction of this currency other nations, particularly the Americans, began to trade with Germany once more, ending the age of Hyper-inflation and boosting Germany’s economy.  During Stresemann’s time in government he also saw the introduction of the Dawes plan, an economic plan from America lengthening the amount of time Germany had to pay back the reparations.  However along with this came a loan of over 800 million marks, a huge sum that helped Germany with building their economy.  The plan, introduced in 1924, was not always met with positive opinions with many people believing it to be causing too much reliance on America.  A point that was proved shortly after Stresemann’s death in October 1929, with The Wall Street Crash causing Germany to lose all economic power due to their reliance on American money and trade.   Economist Synder has argued that “Dawes Plan actually promoted a cycle harmful for international finance,” with the entire plan being put in place to give America the money Britain and France owed them. great support,  but you're expected to show evidence of research By promoting German economy and helping them pay back these two countries, Britain and France could pay back America what they owed, keeping everyone happy with the American’s also gaining more money than they had originally through Germany’s loan.  The Young Plan was introduced after the Dawes plan in 1929, cutting back the amount of time Germany had to pay reparations and lessening the amount that they had to pay in total.  
Despite some controversy over the economic changes Stresemann made during his time in the Reichstag, he still can be credited highly for his work as Foreign Minister.  In September 1923, Stresemann called off Passive Resistance, causing uproar of German anger and consequently a rise in the increasing support for the NSDAP (Nazi party).  Many  viewed the calling off of the resistance as Germany surrendering to its allies once more; however because of the end of resistance Germany saw in the signing of the Locarno pact, in 1925 where she voluntarily, under Stresemann’s authority, accepted new Western Borders as set at Versailles, including the demilitarisation of the Rheinland.   A year after the Locarno Pact, in 1926, German was admitted to the League of Nations.  By being admitted to this League, Germany began to make progress with its relationships with other countries, particularly with France and Britain, as they collectively formed an agreement about defence should one of them be attacked. Despite many of the good things that came out of Stresemann’s reforms and initiatives, they also played a major part in the crash Germany suffered economically as well as leading to the eventual Nazi Era.  When Stresemann died suddenly at the young age of 51, he left no one in his shadow to follow on his dreams and visions of the Germany he wanted to see occur.  This madness in the economy was catalysed by the unseen Wall Street Crash just weeks after his death, sending Germany into chaos with no one there to support it and guide it through.   
With the German government becoming increasingly more uncoordinated people began voting for extremist parties such as the Communists and the Nazis in order to get something done, something different to the current system that did not appear to be working as well as it had been promised. Should Stresemann have not have come into power and introduced the Rentenmark as Chancellor, Germany’s economic situation was unlikely to have improved.  However, Stresemann was not simply looking for a quick fix for Germany’s situation, with him having the future very much in mind with his acceptance of the loan from America and its Dawes Plan, also with his improvements for being in the working class with the Labour exchange.  not explained Although many German’s (you need to learn how apostrophes are used) were not initially pleased with Stresemann’s reforms, no evidence particularly the loss of Alsace-Lorraine under the Treaty of Versailles, had it not been for him, Germany would have never had become an Economic superpower. huh? how did he make it one?  Had Stresemann not died suddenly and unexpectedly, Germany surely would have seen a marked improvement in its entire economic system as well as being able to use its foreign policies and new found allies to its advantage.  Also, with the loss of Stresemann, there was no one to continue his line of work, allowing the NSDAP to come into power, and point out all of the faults that had yet to be fixed.
In conclusion I believe Stresemann’s initiatives although good for Germany in the long run, needed someone more convincing and a more powerful, controlled government to truly succeed. Had Stresemann stayed alive and carried out his plans, Germany may have never have suffered so badly economically.

Assessment of Gustav Stresemann’s Achievements      

On August 13th 1923 Gustav Stresemann was appointed Chancellor and Foreign Minister of a Coalition Government in Germany. At this point Germany was involved in the Ruhr crisis with France occupying the Ruhr and the hyperinflation crisis, whilst the country was still enraged about the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and the November Criminals were the most hated people in Germany. Germany had also been excluded from the League of Nations and International Relations were at an all-time low. I think things were even worse- here it just sounds like people were pretty angry rather than articulate just how serious the crisis was in Germany at the time. This meant that Stresemann had a dire situation on his hands and the way he dealt with it could and most likely would define the future of democracy in Germany. This essay will therefore look at not only how he went about solving the problems but also how effective he was in doing so most importantly when it came to the economics and foreign policy.
One of the main areas that Stresemann concentrated on was Germany’s economic situation; the main problems were the hyperinflation crisis and Germany’s inability to pay reparations. The hyperinflation had come about due to the Germans printing more money to pay the reparations and meant the prices of essentials, such as food, soared far beyond reasonable levels. Stresemann had to be radical in finding a solution to this problem so called in all the marks, now worth next to nothing, and burned them. To replace them he brought in the Rentenmark in November 1923, which was worth one trillion marks (this showing how far the hyperinflation had gone) good, and in order to back it mortgaged out land for a price. The Rentenmark helped to stabilise the economy and meant that Germany could get back on its feet.   
The other economic crisis that Stresemann had to overcome was his countries inability to pay their reparations and Gustav made two significant achievements in lessening the economic implications of the reparations. Following  his decision to call off the Ruhr strike he agreed to the American Dawes Plan in 1924, this plan allowed Germany longer to make the payments and therefore more time in which to stabilise before they would be enforced to pay. Then again Stresemann was involved in the Young Plan of 1929 which reduced the payments Germany was required to make. The effect of both these plans on Weimar Germany was that like the Rentenmark they worked wonders in establishing Germany as an economic force in the world once again. 
At the time of Stresemann’s appointment, so soon after the war, Germany were roundly disliked and if they were to become a power again Gustav felt they would need to improve their relationships with those around them. The first, and quite possibly most important, step that Stresemann took to fix their international relationships was to end passive resistance in the Ruhr. Germany agreed to pay the reparations forced upon them and this meant not only that Germany no longer had to pay the striking workers but also that France left the Ruhr with a far better opinion of Germany than it did coming in. The Young and Dawes plans that followed this agreement also meant that Germany were seen as a more reasonable country to the more powerful countries like America and Britain who Germany were looking to build strong links with. Due to the fact that Germany had been the subject of the blame for the First World War they were not allowed to join the League of Nations until they could show they were a peaceful nation and Stresemann went about proving they were with the Locarno Treaty in 1925. The aim of the treaty was for Germany to acknowledge their Western borders with the agreement of the losses of places like Alsace-Lorraine and even though it did nothing about their Eastern borders it was the countries in the west that Germany was trying to impress. It clearly worked too, with Germany allowed to join the League of Nations a year later in 1926. The end result of Gustav Stresemann’s advances in Foreign policy was that Germany was not only now on better footing with the bigger world powers but also that they were now in the position to advance as a power with the support of other countries and as part of the League of Nations, recognised as a place of integrity.       
However, despite the effectiveness of his methods some people see faults in the way Stresemann went about achieving his goals, many Germans dislike his methods largely because of the way they adhered to the Treaty of Versailles. The ending of the passive resistance was seen as giving in to the terms of the Treaty whilst Locarno was seen in a similar light to that as was the building of close relationships with those who had punished them for the war.  With hindsight we can look upon Stresemann’s cooperation with the Treaty of Versailles and his willingness to join the League which was built on it as a reason that so many of the younger generations who had been born into the 20th Century were so supportive of parties that opposed the Treaty and eventually allowed the Nazi party to come to power. It is for this reason that it could be claimed that Stresemann was looking for short term resolutions rather than considering the long term consequences of basing his solutions on the Treaty.  
  Despite the possible flaws that can be claimed on Stresemann’s part, they must be overlooked in comparison to the time of enlightenment that he brought to Germany, not only through the economic solutions and advancements in foreign policy, but also through his investment of loans, largely from America, in the transport systems and industrial aspects of Germany and his improvements in conditions for the working classes through unemployment pay, the Labour Exchanges of 1927 and the building of 3 million new houses. All those arguments mean that if Gustav Stresemann was to be blamed for anything it would be that he was so successful and influential that he left Germany unable to cope without him following his death, he is rightly regarded as one of the greatest politicians of all time.

Evaluate the success of Gustav Stresemann 

 Gustav Stresemann was a man who truly led the German country into a new method of function. I don't understand- not a great way to initiate an essay.. He did not desert the old resentful mindset adopted by the a great majority of the German people after the conclusion of the Great War, with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, but instead transformed the agenda that had plagued the German people for so long to find a long term beneficial rise for Germany to find their place among the powerful and influential countries once again. good, but try not to work that hard to express your idea lest you come across as too vague and obtuse. He contributed to the attempt for long-term economic stability of Germany. He set out to reform the social welfare of the German people, whether they lived within the boarders or not. Furthermore he reconnected Germany to international politics, giving them more of a status than the uncooperative, outcast of a German hating international community. This however, is often over shadowed by the fact that many policies did not come to fruition due to the incredibly unstable and unpredictable nature of the time, not to mention the fact that he died at only the age of 51 so was unable to pursue many of his political endeavours.  

First of all one must examine the social issues that faced the German community at this time. After the Treaty of Versailles and the restructuring of the German political system the country had fallen into disarray. The country was ripe with crime, murder and lacked any form of social care. It was the case that many Germans had been separate for their country by the terms of the treaty of Versailles. Stresemann set out to change this. He ratified this situation with Locarno In 1925 he signed treaty with Britain, France and Belgium however refused to sign any treaties with countries on the eastern boarder such as Poland. This is often perceived and stated by Stalin that it this was under the intention for the Germans to move eastward as part of the west eventually attempting over run the USSR. This is however not true due shown by the treaty of Berlin signed by German and Russia in April of 1926 which reaffirmed and strengthen the terms of the Rapallo Treaty of 1922. It was also stated by Stresemann, himself, that he wanted only to “liberation of German territory from foreign occupation.”[1] He also spoke of how he had not sign any treaties with Russian until as he felt it might have lead to complications in the process of negotiations with the western powers. [2] This therefore shows that Stresemann intended to abide the rules of international law in which it ensures self-determination. He saw that Germans were being persecuted and unable to live under the same right that had been given to so many countries after the Great War. 

Industrial production was continuously and dramatically improving through the period of 1923-1926. This resulted from Stresemann’s move to end passive resistance in the Ruhr. Industrial statistics of production also grew from 30% in 1923 to 70% in 1925.[7] Although being an economic statistic this shows that life for people living in Germany was increasing. It shows that more people could be employed and business would have been making more money that would lead to a more prosperous households and better living conditions. Many areas of Germany faced crisis as they were being torn apart by radical political parties. For example Liepzig, in Saxony, Marxists were pushing for control to be shifted to the soviets. In Thuringia, the old Free Corps leader, Ehrhardt, escaped from prison and set up a new private army that went around killing and pillaging.   In the town of Küstrin a Rightist force of four hundred took control of the town. In the Rhineland, people were proposing and planning to create an independent state (it was fully supported by the French).[4] Things of this kind were accruing all the way through Stresemann time in the government and he never gained the ability to get the situation under control. One major criticism comes in the punishment of Hitler and other Nazi leaders harshly enough after the Munich Beer hall Putsch. This proved to the radicals of the country that there would be no serious consequences for their actions and incited them to pursue their plots of violence and revolution. 

Economically the development of the country was astounding. He first of all managed to introduce the new currency of the Rentenmark, which initiated the remedy to fixed the massive problem of hyperinflation. Hyperinflation had reached levels where from 25,260,000,000.00 to one dollar to 4,200,000,000,000.10 in 2 months[3]. The new currency replaced 1012 Marks and stopped German people from having to get paid twice or even 3 times a day or carry around money by the wheelbarrow load in order to have enough to purchase anything. This signified the forward thinking of Stresemann as he had set out to create catastrophic economic crisis created by incompetent politicians who had printed increasing amounts of money to pay of reparations only to make their currency worthless. It also signifies the create amount of trust that Stresemann instilled in the German people as they were convinced that this new form of money would become a reputable form of payment and would not be desired and deemed as a failure. The genius of this solution is also often not understood and perceived as a obvious solution however one must only look at economic situations today in countries such as the Zimbabwe where inflation has reached 231 000 000%and the only solution was to abandon any form of national currency and trade in foreign once.   

Furthermore Stresemann signed the Dawes Plan with the United States of America in 1924 which gave Germany 800 million marks in loans to help pay of reparations. This began to link Germany back up to the economic system of international cooperation. It bounded Germany to America, the biggest and most powerful economy of the time. Many historians such as Snyder argue that this downed Germany to America and would mean that Germany’s economy would be extremely reliant on America’s making it vulnerable. This is true however over simplifies the situation. Germany was not only bound to America but I worked in the reverse as well. America now had a vested financial interest in the performance of Germany, meaning that they would not like for it to fail as they would lose money due to slower or even non-payment of loans. This created a more stable future for Germany and under the circumstance was wise and essential. It also created an ‘injection’ into the economy the idea being that essentially more money will flow creating more revenues for the government and businesses allowing the economy to develop and become more stable which was necessary for Germany to beat the harsh economic times the beset them. Therefore this was an important step for Germany to take and although it had some inherent risk it was likely that they would be worse of if they did not agree to the Plan. 

Moreover Stresemann reformed the approach to payment of reparations. His perspective was that the only way to convince the France and Britain that, as Keynes claimed say, it was too much for the Germans to pay and still survive, was to pay it and show them. He did this by recommencing payment when he came into office in 1923. This eventually paid off and lead to the Dawes and Young plans that decrease the amount and increased the length Germany would have to pay it in. this once again shows Stresemann stepping outside of the accepted arguments that people want to hear and tackling problem in a different way. nice argument He contributed large amounts to he final sum and manage to reduce the severity of the payments on Germany, which no one else had been able to do. It also prevented France from invading again as they had done in twice already and created large amounts of sympathy in Britain especially.


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International politics were seen by much of the German public to be too high on the agenda of Stresemann. They felt as though there should be more emphasize on domestic problems and this was one of the cause that eventually lead to him having to resign from chancellor only 100 days after he came into office. Stresemann however argued that domestic improvement could only be achieved if international political problems were resolved first. The issue of international treaties was something high on the list of Stresemann achievements. The major treaties he signed were the Locarno (1925) and the treaties in Berlin (November 5 1923) [5]  that expanded on Rapallo, you offer citations for dates but not for arguments and claims which was signed a year earlier. This showed Stresemann political will to create a peaceful Europe that would allow Germany to exist as an equal rather than a second-class country. In particular Locarno showed a new willingness to accept scarifies on it border in order to lead to a more peaceful and respectable end.

--> In September 1923, Stresemann ended passive resistance.  This meant that German workers would no longer strike in protest of the French invasion and reparations payments. Complains for the people indicated that they felt this was a week move that back down to the French. Once this occurred it dramatically improved the economy and allowed France to withdraw its troops. This showed assertiveness by Stresemann in trying a new tactics in bringing peace to Germany and also represented his ability to lead. Protesters and strikers decrease witch can be seen by the benefit it had on the economy and the fact that France and Belgium removed their troops from the Ruhr. Finally of the aspect of political international relations Stresemann to a step that had not been realized before. He managed to get Germany entrance into the League of Nations in Geneva in September 1926[6]. This signified Germany’s new place as an equal in the European community. albeit still enslaved by the shackles of Versailles It represented the massive strides that Stresemann had made, moving his country from one that was being invaded by France and Belgium to one that was now welcomed as an equal to the most powerful countries in Europe.  

In conclusion it can see that Stresemann took an unconventional progressive stance to create a Germany that was able to rise to the level of trust and power of country’s like Britain and France. His unconventional ideas and controversial actions eventually lead to his resignation from chancellor. He however continued to make successful strides to gain German international stability signing treaties to fix borders, build trust, assure peace, ended invasions and got Germany into the league. He was an incredibly use other words than this important fighter for a recovering and cooperative Germany that was a major factor in creating the developments of the Golden years of the Weimar Republic. 


Assessing Stresemann’s Achievements To understand Gustav Stresemann’s role in Weimar Germany, one must understand Weimar herself. The essence of the young Republic is best epitomized in the popular culture of the time, specifically the film industry. For instance, the movie Metropolis accurately captures the Zeitgeist of the 1920s, as it depicts the general social atmosphere, public doubt and even fear. This legendary futuristic picture portrays a society with an increasingly yawning chasm between the upper and working classes. Subtle unrest and eventual attempted revolution germinate in the underground world of labourers, as they are seduced into challenging their position in civilization. The chaos illustrated in the film paralleled the reality of Weimar Republic, a society dominated by the grounded terror of nationwide communist insurrections. With over 50,000 aggressive Spartacists roaming the streets of Berlin in 1919[1], the Red Army and workers councils calling for revolution, anarchism and Bolshevism appeared realistically close to vanquishing any last shred of order. Metropolis encapsulates the aura of insecurity engulfing the new democracy; it was an unprecedented, tottery system for Germany and to many the social system seemed in the midst of a pandemonic restructuring. In this period of violence the nation needed a guiding grasp. She found it in Gustav Stresemann. The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Stresemann in 1926[1] patently manifests his adeptness as a statesman from an international point of view. In his years as foreign minister, he dedicated himself to reestablishing Germany’s position in the world of international relations. His leading role in agreements such as the 1924 Dawes Plan, the 1925 Locarno Pact, the 1926 Treaty of Berlin, the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact and the 1929 Young Plan ensured German economic and social well-being. The Dawes and Young Plans for instance reduced the total reparations bill, set a time limit, spread out the payments and provided an allied loan of 800 million marks to “maintain the economic unity of Weimar”[2]. explain how it changed Germany The Locarno Pact ended the most sanguinary tensions between France and Germany and ensured that France would not invade Germany again. This was hailed as a beginning of a “new era in the relations between France and Germany”[3]. In addition to this, Stresemann’s negotiating capabilities secured Germany a position in the League of Nations and thus constructed a new German image, placing her back into positive international light.

The orthodox view of Stresemann is that while he was a gifted foreign minister, a likable character in the international scene, his internal policies were not as successful. According to Geoff Layton, “historians agree that where Stresemann’s policies failed, he did not generate real domestic support for Weimar”[1]. meaning? Noted historian Richard J. Evans affirms that Stresemann was heavily criticized for his policy of “fulfilment”, to fulfil the terms of the loathed Peace Settlement[2]. While his party suffered the continual loss of electoral support, Stresemann placed more faith into the “primacy of foreign policy” and progressively disregarded domestic stratagem[3]. You need to move beyond parroting others' views and examining their reliability or value. You just give a quote and leave it at that. But what do YOU think given their ideas? However, one must not forget that one of his finest accomplishments was an internal refinement. The stabilisation of the German economy during the hyperinflation of 1923 was greatly due to his introduction of the Rentenmark, and the securement of mortgages of land and industry. The suave slip into Weimar’s Golden Years between 1924 and 1929 was indebted to Stresemann’s rescue of the economic household. Yet how firm was this amelioration?
Germany after the Great War was named after Weimar, no.m It was called Germany- they didn't change the name of the country to that of a provincial town! the city embodying German intellectual achievement and sophistication. Goethe penned his masterpiece Faust in the city to later become the location of the formulation of Germany’s destiny. Like Faust thoughtlessly endorsed his soul to Satan, the Weimar democracy would soon suffer the same fate. brilliant idea, that.. The golden Stresemann days from 1925 up to his death in 1929[5] resemble Faust’s period of hedonism, living in a semblance of fortune, yet inevitably marching towards doom. Similarly, Stresemann’s angelic methods allowed the Republic to flourish for four blissful years, until his sudden demise in October, the same month as the Wall Street crash. From then on, Weimar subsided back into the chaos of Metropolis. The American credits solidified in the Dawes Plan melted into worthlessness[6], one demonstration that Stresemann’s achievements were simply a mirage. This is further manifested in the sudden oscillation of voting results after his death: support for Stresemann’s DVP decreased dramatically, due to the forfeiture of its main head supplying concrete direction and purpose. By 1930, extremist anti-democratic parties earned alarmingly more votes than usual. The NSDAP won 107 seats, second only to the SPD with 143 seats, closely followed by the KPD with 77 seats[7]. Radical parties began to gain a substantial voice in parliament after Stresemann, essentially leading to Adolf Hitler’s procurement of power. This shows beyond doubt that Stresemann’s achievements, impressive as they may have been in Weimar’s turbulent state, were an illusion that brought Weimar back into savage volatility after they withered.
Gustav Stresemann remained in unbroken power for nine successive administrations[8], providing Weimar with the crucial bearing she needed for six years. Even though his accomplishments were reduced to nothingness after 1929, he was responsible for one of the most culturally and socially productive periods Germany has ever seen. If it were not for his guidance from 1923 to 1929, the unstable, war-traumatized Germany may have fallen to Nazism far earlier; Stresemann’s era was a dream that was lost not to his awaking, but to his eternal sleep, giving Hitler the second chance he needed.

[1] Layton, Geoff. Access to History - Weimar and the Rise of Nazi Germany 1918-33. Page 92. London: Hodder Murray, 2005.
[2] Evans, Richard J. The Coming of the Third Reich. Page 192. Penguin Books, 2003.
[3] Mommsen, Hans; Forster, Elborg. The Rise and Fall of Weimar Democracy. Page 213. UNC Press Books, 1998.
[4] Allen, Larry. The Encyclopedia of Money. Page 338. ABC-CLIO, 2009.
[5] Balderston, Theo. Economics and Politics in the Weimar Republic. Page 61. Cambridge University Press, 2002.
[6] Layton, Geoff. Access to History - Weimar and the Rise of Nazi Germany 1918-33. Page 122. London: Hodder Murray, 2005.
[7] Kolb, Eberhard. The Weimar Republic. Page113. Routledge, 2005.
[8] Evans, Richard J. The Coming of the Third Reich. Page 87. Penguin Books, 2003.
[1] Layton, Geoff. Access to History - Weimar and the Rise of Nazi Germany 1918-33. Page 89. London: Hodder Murray, 2005.
[2] Adam, Thomas. Germany and the Americas: Culture, Politics and History: A Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia. Volume 2. Page 272. ABC-CLIO, 2005.
[3] Nanda, Siba Prasand. History of the Modern World (1919-1980). Page 46. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD., 2002.
[1] Lee, Stephen J. Weimar and Nazi Germany. Page 11. Heinemann, 1996.

 Assess Stresemann’s Achievements 

Throughout the entire period during which World War 1 wrecked and ruined countless nations located in Europe, as well as countries scattered all around the world, Gustav Streseman was a delegate in the German Reichstag. Starting from 1914, the beginning of the war, he witnessed, at a close proximity, the failures and fatal mistakes of the former politicians that shaped and determined the following four disastrous years. November 22, 1918 he forms the Deutsche Volkspartei (DVP) , believing that something had to be done to help the collapsed Reich recover. “This old Germany… collapsed in its constitution, in its social order, in its economic structure” , as Streseman once stated, correctly reflects and suggests his intention in engaging so deeply in the political nightmare reigning over Germany during that time. His commitment was shown in the form of him being the chancellor of Germany, as well as the Foreign Minister. He wanted to restore and heal the foundation of Germany, consisting of its constitution, its society and its economy, in order to allow her to recover and survive the difficult and rough years following the armistice ending World War 1.  

6,6 billion Reichsmark was the enormous amount, which Germany was forced to pay as reparations for the First World War. Due to this her economy was in shatters and to overcome this, a lot of extra money was printed, ending with inflation. Germany’s constant incapability of paying her depths caused further conflicts and uproar from both Germany, as well as from the Allies. Stresemann introduced the Rentenmark, 10000000000000 old Reichsmarks now having the same value as one Rentenmark. This controlled the inflation, as well as enabling the start and the introduction of the Dawes Plan. In August 1924, the Dawes Plan was agreed on and introduced, giving Germany more time to pay off the reparation costs.  However, even though the Dawes Plan relieved and stabilized the German economy for a great while, as well as decreasing unemployment and increasing trade fare, Germany was now dependent on foreign countries.  Overall she had received a total of 25,000 million gold marks of loans from countries such as the United States and Britain.  Therefore major economic crises, such as the Wall Street Crash, would negatively effect and harm the German attempts at building up their Economy. N The eventual realization of the incapability of paying the annual reparation amount resulted in the creation of the Young Plan in 1929. This substitution for the Dawes Plan agreed to reduce reparations by almost 75%, giving Germany 58 years to do so, ideally having paid off by the year 1988. October 3, 2010, almost 30 years after the arranged date, Germany finished paying the reparations for World War One.  This shows that the Young Plan, initiated by Stresemann, did give Germany more freedom in which to recover and build up their economic structure, yet set a very false and unrealistic goal. 

October 1925 the Locarno Treaty was signed by Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and Britain, in which Germany accepted her Western Borders. This Treaty was the entrance ticket into the League of Nations affirming their regained image of a world power and acceptance of the other nations. Even though, the signing of the Treaty meant the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, as well as the admittance of guilt and a possible sign of surrender, it led to Germany’s inclusion in the matters regarding the main powers. Shortly after, August 24, 1926, the Agreements with the Soviet Union followed, agreeing on neutrality and a non-aggressive relationship. Although neither nation really trusted the other, it was helpful having a powerful ally by their side. The Kellogg-Briand Pact was the agreement Stresemann signed August 27, 1928, making war illegal.  Signing this Treaty was a step towards global, but more importantly European, peace. However, even though 62 nations eventually signed the Treaty, and following through with this pact should have been of high interest of all participants, not an immense support was given to the Kellogg-Briand Pact. The agreement was occasionally ignored, resulting in minor conflicts. Stresemann continuously and determinately tried improving Germany’s image to the foreign nations. Although change came slowly and seldom, Stresemann did achieve including Germany in the League of Nations and providing some safety and back-up from neighbouring states.

It was also in Stresemann’s interest  to improve conditions for  German society. Through the Dawes Plan many new jobs were available and the working conditions improved. 3 million new houses were built, as well as new roads, public buildings and schools. Women’s equality was attempted to be provided and maintained, including them in high-ranked jobs, the Reichstag and enabling them to vote. A reform introduced July 7, 1927 ratified the Unemployment Insurance and Labour Exchange Law, trying to achieve a positive development for the working class.  Even though propaganda advertised the time period between 1925 and 1929 as being the ‘Golden Era’, the Mittlestand were the ones suffering from the euphoria of Germany’s success and prosperity.  Farmers and the middle-class were affected by unemployment and high competition. In order to keep up with other businesses, people invested in expensive new equipment, quickly leading them into having high debts and very low incomes.  

“Just as a child respects his father even when he perceives his weaknesses and faults, so a German will not despise the old Germany which was once a symbol of greatness to him.” , claimed Stresemann, describing his ambition and intention. Although Germany was an absolute mess and in total chaos after World War 1, Stresemann, as well as many other Germans, felt that their national pride was sending them the impulse to save whatever is left of their ‘old Germany’. Stresemann put a lot of effort into improving living and working conditions, as well as the German reputation and image as seen by the foreign nations. He realistically tried finding solutions in solving the economic confusion that had been blocking any attempts at raising the German standards. It may be argued that Stresemann’s agreements and solutions were not always successful and beneficial for all classes in society and that developments occurred too infrequently. However, it is clear that Gustav Stresemann made the effort in dealing with as many problems and solving as many conflicts as possible. He was a person the nation respected and relied on, which was obvious after October 3, 1929,  when Stresemann suddenly died resulting in the Weimar Republic having great difficulties sustaining the achievements he had managed to reach during the previous years.

Assess the reforms and initiates of Stresemann from Weimar Germany, 1919-1933.  

Stresemann was known to have taken Weimar Germany the ‘Golden Years of Weimar’; he served as Chancellor and Prime Minister during the Weimar Republic. Many historians like Thomas Mann said that ‘the history of this extraordinary man belongs to the most remarkable of German lives’, meaning that many Germans owe their lives to Stresemann for what he did to help the country.  Whilst he was in power, Gustav Stresemann made a lot of reforms to resolve the crisis of hyperinflation due to the payment of reparations. He helped both the economy of his country and the foreign relations with other countries. Stresemann ‘worked hard to rebuild his shattered country and for peace and co-operation abroad’ and he did it by reforms and initiatives throughout his years in power. The Times also mentioned that his accomplishments helped Germany prosper and that Germany now holds an important place in the affairs of Europe, all because of his leadership. 

 When Stresemann was in power, he made some changes to the economy by changing the currency and generating new plans. One of these modifications was the Dawes Plan established in 1924; it was an American plan to give Germany more time to pay the World War One reparations. The Dawes Plan also relied on the Americans to give money to the Germans in order to pay the reparations; it was the only way for the Dawes Plan to work, US’s help was required . This was an achievement from Stresemann because it helped the German economy to resettle in the short-run. It diminished the burden of paying war reparations; it stabilized the currency and brought foreign investments and loans to the German market. Another reform of Stresemann is the Young plan, it consisted of a settlement for the German reparations debts which was adopted in 1929. This idea was reached when there was the Stock Market Crash in 1929, enabling the US to loan any money to Germany which created new problems in Germany’s economy. Young’s report was to reduce the amount to pay to 121,000,000,000 Reichsmarks and that it all had to be paid in 59 years, until 1988.  The last economic reform that Stresemann achieved was the Rentenmark; it was the new currency issued in November 1923 to stop the hyperinflation happening after World War One. It allowed the currency to stabilize, 1 Rentemark was the value of 1 trillion old marks . This was a good achievement because it did slow down inflation to a near stop and it was also a long term accomplishment because the last Rentenmark bills were valid until 1948 even the Nazis thought of changing it, but it was stabilizing the economy and therefore kept it until World War Two. 

Stresemann did not only have attainments in the economy, he also had a great influence in the foreign affairs in Weimar Germany. He changed the foreign relations of Germany with the rest of the World by signing the Locarno Treaty, Ending the Resistance and involving Germany in the League of Nations. The first foreign policy that Stresemann interfered in, was the Locarno Treaty signed in 1925. This pact consisted of many treaties between the European countries. The first treaty made France and Belgium promise to renounce war on Germany and vice versa, except for self-defence. This also involved Great Britain and Italy who had to defend the victim of the war. Also in the Locarno pact, Germany was agreeing to the loss all its Western Borders and attempted to stabilize German relations with its neighbouring countries. This pact was an achievement because it allowed Germany to come back in the Great Powers and like Macdonald, a hostile critic of the treaties, said the Locarno treaty ‘has been the most significant example of mass coueism that I have ever known’ . Another initiative of Stresemann was the end of passive resistance against the Treaty of Versailles from the German to pay the reparations of the war. This was initiated by his view of fulfilling the terms in the Versailles Treaty and then the relief to end the treaty’s harsh requirements. The passive Resistance was a Ruhr strike to stop paying the war reparations; Stresemann ended it in 1924 and started paying the reparations right after it. The problem with starting to pay reparations again was that made inflation high, but it allowed the German’s to be free from the French invasion in Ruhr.  The last alteration in foreign policies was entry of German into the League of Nations in 1926. The admission of Germany in the League is a huge impact for the Germans, because it means that Germany is being considered as a powerful country again and can take part of the decisions of the League especially in the East . The Locarno treaty, the end of the Passive Resistance and the entry in the League of Nations were some great achievements from Stresemann, because ‘Germany had become a world power again’ . 

When Stresemann was chancellor, it was Germany’s Golden Era because there was boom in the cultural life of the Germans. During the ‘Roaring Twenties’ there was cultural effects in the film industry, the arts and literature but also in the life of Germans. The arts in Weimar Germany were very different from any art seen before; there was a huge increase in Germany for culture creativity where people made new developments in architecture with The Bauhaus School, Art, Books and Films when the Kammerspielfilm movement occurred. For the architecture, Stresemann who was borrowing 25,000 million gold marks from America helped finance to build roads, railways and factories but also 3 million new houses . The architecture was mainly influenced by the Bauhaus School of Architecture, formed by Walter Gropius, which taught not only about architecture but also about all kinds of materials for decorative and fundamental purposes in and on the building . The film industry also increased at that time to reach its highest ever, the cinema at the beginning reflected the poverty after the First World War and afterwards it also replicated the ‘sexually-liberated morals’ of Germany at the time . Also during Stresemann control, German was the main language for physics and chemistry with Albert Einstein living and teaching in Berlin at that time. Stresemann also introduced reforms with the Labour Exchanges in 1927 and decreasing unemployment by paying people to work on building community edifices.  A culture that influenced Germany’s nation was America, because the Germans were counting on the Americans to help them out of hyperinflation and therefore Germans showed great interest on the American culture. The problem with the cultural impact of the Americans was that ‘[t]he German economy is doing well only on the surface. Germany is in fact dancing on a volcano.  If the short-term loans are called in by America, most of our economy will collapse.’  This meant that if America collapsed? then Germany would be even further down, but people were trying to think of something else and therefore Weimar Germany was a time to go to club and cafés to think of other things then War and Inflation. Even though Stresemann did not influence the Germany culture much, it was because of his help that people were looking out for America and working on building the future of Germany.  

Stresemann was seen as an optimistic politician that, like a true German, wanted Germany to prosper as it did before the First World War. He was respected many leaders overseas and in neighbouring countries, he used this respect to achieve the Dawes and Young Plan but the Locarno Pact with European nations. His main goals were to have Germany rapprochements with the West and to participle in the League of Nations until Germany recovered from the hyperinflation and dominate the Continent again. Many of the things he did help flourish the German culture and if he had not died in 1929, the economy may have prospered as he had wished even after the Wall Street Crash in the US because he was ‘Weimar’s greatest statesman' .  


11 The Weimar Republic 11 11 1 Reviews of the first edition: ‘A well-researched and concise presentation of the fourteen years’ experience of this state . . . a first-class study aid.’ Heinz Abosch, Süddeutsche Zeitung ‘There is no better introduction to the historical complexities of the first 111 German republic for teachers, students or laymen.’ Heinrich August Winkler, Historische Zeitschrift The Weimar Republic, Germany’s first attempt at a democracy, lasted from 1918 until the accession to power of Hitler. The Weimar Republic provides both a clear historical narrative of this critical period in German history and a detailed analysis of the scholarly research in the field. In the first part of the book, Eberhard Kolb surveys the political, social, economic and cultural developments of the Weimar Republic, setting it within the international context of the inter-war period. Kolb then goes on 111 to provide a detailed examination of the historiography of the period, shed- ding light on the problems and controversies of both domestic and foreign affairs in those years. This new English edition, which has been translated from the sixth and most recent German edition, has been brought up to date throughout to take account of all the latest research in the subject. It also includes a completely revised and updated Bibliography. With its detailed Chronology and extensive Bibliography, The Weimar Republic provides an invaluable introduction for all students of this immensely important period in Germany history. 111 111 Eberhard Kolb was Professor of History at the University of Cologne until his recent retirement. He has written widely on the inter-war period in Germany and co-edited two important volumes of hitherto unavailable source material on the German DD237.K6713 2004 943.085 – dc22 ISBN 0-203-34166-X Master e-book ISBN ISBN 0–415–34441–7 (hbk) ISBN 0–415–34442–5 (pbk) I. Title. 2004046839 11 Contents 11 11 1 111 Preface to the sixth German edition vii From the preface to the first edition viii Map: Germany at the time of the Weimar Republic ix List of abbreviations x 111 PART ONE Historical survey 1 (A) Origin and consolidation of the Republic, 1918/19–1923 3 1 The revolution and the foundation of the Republic, 1918/19 3 2 The Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles 23 111 111 (C) The disintegration and destruction of the Republic, 1930–3 101 1 The rise of National Socialism in the shadow of the world economic crisis 101 3 The years of crisis, 1919–23 35 (B) The phase of relative stabilization, 1924–9 53 1 German foreign policy within the European system 53 2 Structural problems and domestic politics 68 3 The artistic avant-garde and mass culture in the ‘golden twenties’ 86 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 vi Contents 2 Disintegration of the political system: the period of presidential Cabinets 116 PART TWO Basic problems and trends of research 137 1 The Weimar Republic as a subject of historical research 139 2 The revolutionary origins of the Republic 149 3 The Reich Constitution, the party system and the Reichswehr 160 4 Problems of economic and social development 175 5 From the peace treaty to the Young Plan: international relations and foreign policy, 1919–30 189 6 The last phase of the Republic 203 Reich election results, 1919–33 224 Reich presidential elections 1919, 1925 and 1932 226 Data for population distribution and employment 228 Chronology 230 Bibliography 237 Index 284 11 Preface to the sixth German edition 11 11 1 The Weimar Republic, originally submitted in 1984, received a favourable welcome among specialists and has now clearly proved its worth as a textbook on the subject. This has led to the need for new editions at intervals over several years. For the third edition (1993) the volume was thoroughly revised, and for the current sixth edition I have again examined and extended the 111 text and brought the bibliography up to date. In the process, attention was directed towards presenting the current state of research as precisely and com- prehensively as possible, taking intensive note of more recent Weimar research. In the section entitled ‘Historical survey’ the text has been checked and expanded in various places. The section ‘Basic problems and trends of research’ has been revised much more thoroughly; results and trends of the most recent research have been taken into account by dint of revising individual passages and making numerous additions to the text. In the biblio- graphical section, a number of titles have been dropped and a great many more from recent research have been added, so that the scope of this section 111 has widened markedly (instead of the 622 titles listed in the first edition there are now 994). At this point, it is essential that I thank all those who accompanied the book at the time of its genesis or who have supported me through the various new editions. Above all, my warmest thanks are due to Professor Dr Klaus Schönhoven; not only did he carefully read and make well-informed comment on the manuscript of the first edition, but I was also able to hold numerous stimulating conversations with him on the subject of the Weimar period. Further thanks are due to my then colleagues for their energetic help: Professor Dr Peter Alter, Professor Dr Wolfram Pyta, Dr Hans-Georg Fleck, 111 Dr Christine Lattek, Georg Mölich and Stefan Noethen, along with Frau Renate Kolwert and Frau Gisela Reddmann, who dealt with the paperwork. ‘Last not least’, I should like to thank sincerely Professor Dr Lothar Gall, who as co-editor of the series has sympathetically looked after this volume and subjected the manuscript to a thorough and beneficial examination. 111 Eberhard Kolb, Bad Kreuznach, November 2001 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 From the preface to the first edition Although the Weimar Republic existed only for the relatively short span of about fourteen years, it has proved a difficult task to describe its history and outline the state of research concerning it, within closely prescribed limits of space. The history of these fourteen years is immensely complex and full of events; and the international consequences of the collapse of the Weimar democracy in themselves call for a particularly careful analysis of its causes, which, however, can only be suggested in outline in a brief survey such as the present. As regards the development and present state of research, it has also been necessary to confine this book to essential aspects. For decades past, German and international research has been so intensively devoted to the Weimar era that it is difficult even for a specialist to give a full account of the rele- vant literature. A detailed account of the progress and achievement of research on all aspects of the Weimar period would exceed the bounds prescribed for this work; the most that can be done is to indicate the most important results and to throw light on some problem areas that have at times been the subject of controversy. It should be pointed out that the narrative part of this work and the account of research activities are closely interwoven; so that a number of events that are only briefly mentioned in the first part are described and discussed in more detail in the second. The arrangement of the material and the selection of problems for fuller discussion were governed by the fact that the book is designed for students and teachers as well as general readers who are interested in history. [. . .] Eberhard Kolb, Cologne, April 1983 Part II has been brought up to date for the English edition. The bibliog- raphy has been revised to take account of works published until February 1987, and several English-language titles have been added. Eberhard Kolb, Cologne, March 1987 11 11 11 1 111 111 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 List of Abbreviations (a) In the text ADGB Allgemeiner deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (General German Trade Union Congress) BRD Bundesrepublik Deutschland (German Federal Republic) BVP Bayerische Volkspartei (Bavarian People’s Party: Catholic) DDP Deutsche Demokratische Partei (German Democratic Party: liberal) DDR Deutsche Demokratische Republik (GDR, German Democratic Republic) DNVP Deutschnationale Volkspartei (German National People’s Party: nationalist) DVP Deutsche Volkspartei (German People’s Party: national liberal) KPD Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (German Communist Party) NSDAP Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers’ Party: National Socialists, or Nazis) OHL Oberste Heeresleitung (Army High Command) RDI Reichsverband der Deutschen Industrie (Reich Association of German Industry) SA Sturmabteilung (Nazi storm troopers) SED Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party) SPD Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Social Democratic Party: Social Democrats, also Mehrheitssozialdemokratie, MSPD, 1917–19) SS Schutzstaffel (Nazi élite guard) USPD Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Indepen- dent Social Democratic Party: Independent Socialists) ZK Zentralkomitee (Central Committee, e.g. of Communist Party) (b) Periodicals cited in Part two and the bibliography AfS Archiv für Sozialgeschichte GG Geschichte und Gesellschaft 11 GWU HZ Historische Zeitschrift 11 11 1 111 111 111 111 Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht IWK Internationale wissenschaftliche Korrespondenz zur Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung JMH Journal of Modern History MGM Militärgeschichtliche Mitteilungen NPL Neue Politische Literatur PVS Politische Vierteljahresschrift VfZ Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte List of Abbreviations xi 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 11 Part one Historical survey 11 11 1 111 111 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 11 (A) ORIGIN AND CONSOLIDATION OF THE REPUBLIC, 1918/19–1923 1 The revolution and the foundation of the Republic, 1918/19 The Weimar Republic has been called a ‘makeshift democracy’. This sugges- tive phrase is intended to convey that the first German democracy was not the achievement of a strong republican movement with its roots in many sections of the population, which strove systematically over a long period to transform the monarchical, authoritarian state and finally succeeded in 11 11 111 doing so by a major effort. Rather, it was improvised as an ‘emergency solu- tion’ to mitigate, as far as possible, the effects on the German people of defeat in the First World War. When it failed to produce the desired result, and the victorious Allies imposed an oppressive peace despite the establish- ment of a democratic republic, the new constitution was thereby discredited in the eyes of a great majority of the population: the Republic, which many had not wanted anyway, had failed to perform the service expected of it. Thus the foundations of the improvised democracy were shaky from the outset. The above interpretation of the origin and first beginnings of the Weimar 111 Republic is partly right and partly wrong. Certainly until the last days of the war no major political group contemplated the substitution of a republic for the monarchy. There was no strong republican movement in German politics. The left-wing liberals who had had republican leanings before, during and even after the 1848 Revolution had long since come to terms with the monarchical regime. Even the Social Democrats, whose programme still included the replacement of the monarchy by a republic, did not in practice regard this objective as a primary one to be pursued with their utmost strength. But the ‘improvisation’ theory does not do justice to certain important 111 factors. First, even before the military leaders admitted that the war was lost, a majority in the Reichstag (the Majority Socialists, the Centre Party and the Progressives) had intensified their efforts to extend parliamentary govern- ment and so strengthen the democratic element in the constitution. Thus the transition from a constitutional to a parliamentary monarchy, at least, 111 was not simply improvised, but deliberately engineered by powerful political 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 4 Historical survey forces. Second, though the Republic certainly began its life in highly unpro- pitious circumstances, these did not necessarily determine the degree of solidity or fragility of the first German democracy; the specific form of the Republic was first determined during the months of the revolutionary period. Third, even after the initial phase was completed, the last word had not yet been spoken on the longer-term viability of the Weimar democracy. The French Third Republic had come into being in the 1870s as a result of defeat in war, and in its first phase had to fight for its life in the face of a massive attack by anti-republican forces, but in the long run it consolidated itself as a democratic republic. We should therefore guard against assuming that the fate of the Weimar democracy was sealed from the outset because it had not been achieved by a democratic republican people’s movement, but was the direct consequence of a defeat and was saddled with the after-effects of a war that Germany had lost. Whatever view we may take in general of the stability and flexibility of the German Empire and its capacity for political development, it had weath- ered the difficulties of the war as long as the great majority of Germans were borne up by the belief in ultimate victory. It was only when this belief faded and military defeat was in sight that the political and social tensions of the empire, which were partly latent and partly manifest, rapidly developed into an acute political crisis that ended in the collapse of the state, the coming of revolution and the founding of the Republic. Until the summer of 1918 the parties of the Reichstag majority had pursued their policy of extending the power of Parliament with caution rather than impetuosity; but from July–August onwards, as the military situ- ation of the Central Powers grew rapidly worse, drastic changes soon ensued in home affairs. After the Austro-Hungarian peace note of 14 September and the collapse of Bulgaria (armistice, 30 September) the Army High Command (Oberste Heeresleitung, OHL) was obliged to recognize that Germany had lost the war and that only an immediate armistice could prevent a military disaster. The OHL made this declaration of bankruptcy at a GHQ conference at Spa in Belgium on 28–29 September, attended by leading representatives of the imperial regime. It was decided to address an appeal immediately to President Wilson for an armistice and peace, and to support this on the home front by establishing a parliamentary government, a decree to this effect being issued on 30 September. On this basis, with the OHL still pressing for the immediate dispatch of the request for an armistice, negotiations were conducted for the formation of a new government. Prince Max of Baden, who was appointed chancellor on 3 October, formed this government in full consultation with the parties of the Reichstag majority, and thus a decisive step was taken on the path from constitutional to parliamentary monarchy. However, to present the transition to a parliamentary system in the dying days of the empire as a ‘revolution from above’, brought about by the Emperor William II and the OHL, would be an undue simplification of the extremely Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 5 11 complex process by which the constitutional structure of the country was transformed in the autumn of 1918. As recent research has shown, the majority parties in the Reichstag were far from obediently assuming power as mere instruments of Ludendorff’s intentions. They had of their own accord taken the initiative in the constitutional crisis, before the decision was taken at GHQ at the end of September to make way for parliamentary government. On 28 September the inter-party committee which co-ordinated the action of the majority parties in Parliament called for an amendment of the consti- tution as a ‘precondition for the creation of a strong government supported 11 by the confidence of a majority of the Reichstag’. Beyond question this initiative of 28 September had ample force behind it, as the majority parties were determined to make full use of the potential power that the Reichstag 11 had displayed by its peace resolution in July 1917. If, in September 1918, matters did not come to a showdown between the OHL and the Reichstag 1 majority, it was because Ludendorff, seeing that the military situation was hopeless, judged it wiser to let the parties take power, and thus place on them the responsibility for terminating the war effort. The first parliamentary government of the Reich began to function in the most unfavourable conditions that could be imagined: the first task imposed 111 on it by the OHL was to sue for an armistice. It was not until 2 October, in the midst of negotiations for the formation of a new majority govern- ment, that the leaders of the parliamentary party groups were informed by a representative of the OHL that the hopeless military situation made an immediate armistice necessary. Prince Max of Baden fought desperately for at least a few days’ delay, but in vain. Ludendorff demanded that the note to Wilson should be sent at once: ‘The army cannot wait 48 hours.’ The new government bowed to the OHL ultimatum. On the evening of 3 October the German government asked the US President to bring about the ‘restoration of peace’ on the basis he had laid down, especially his 111 Fourteen Points. Then came the momentous sentence: ‘To avoid further bloodshed the German government requests the immediate conclusion of an armistice on land, at sea and in the air.’ This frank acknowledgment of defeat came as a bombshell to the German public, which was completely unprepared for it. To the very last, the great majority had believed the overoptimistic estimates of the war situation that had been systematically put about by official propaganda. The request for an armistice suddenly and dramatically revealed that this propaganda was illusory, and from then on the German people’s only desire was to see the war ended, as quickly as possible and at any price. The peace movement 111 gathered momentum like an avalanche in the course of October; it grew increasingly radical in complexion, exposing the government and parties to strong pressure from below. The revolutionary groups had hitherto been few in number and weak in organization, and much hampered in their activ- ities by government police measures, but they now received ever-increasing 111 support and encouragement from the population. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 6 Historical survey Although popular opinion was not primarily anti-monarchical, wide circles of both the bourgeoisie and the working class increasingly feared that it might be impossible to put a rapid end to hostilities on the strength of the constitutional changes so far introduced. To achieve peace, people were ready to call for more radical political changes, and even the Kaiser’s abdication. This radicalization of the peace movement was triggered off by Wilson’s replies to the German offer. Above all, his third note of 23 October con- tained alarming passages which aroused deep depression in Germany, but also an increasing determination to comply with his terms for the sake of peace. The President declared unmistakably that if the US government had to negotiate with military rulers and autocratic monarchs, ‘it must demand, not peace negotiations, but surrender’. The German public construed this, whatever its real intent, as meaning that if the Kaiser abdicated Germany would be offered lenient armistice terms. The demand for abdication was voiced more and more insistently, and openly discussed in the press in spite of censorship. While the exchange of notes with President Wilson was taking place, and was attracting the principal share of public attention, the new government was planning constitutional reform in consultation with the majority parties. The mass of the people scarcely realized at this time the potential scope of the move towards a parliamentary system that was beginning, and for this unawareness the new government and the parties that supported it were in part to blame. The Reichstag – which, given the critical internal and external situation, ought to have played a key role in articulating the demand for a parliamentary system and pushing for constitutional reform – met far too infrequently during October. Having approved of the government declara- tion on 5 October, it went into recess until the 22nd at the instance of the majority parties. At that time, however, public opinion was chiefly inter- ested not in constitutional reform but in ending the war and in the Kaiser’s abdication as a means of doing so. On 28 October the two Bills ‘for the amendment of the Reich constitu- tion’ came into force. Although they affected only a few articles of Bismarck’s constitution of 1871, they meant the Reich was now a parliamentary monarchy in terms of constitutional law. The essential provisions were that in future the chancellor had to possess the confidence of the Reichstag, and both he and his deputy were responsible to the Bundesrat and the Reichstag for the performance of their duties; members of the Reichstag could henceforth become ministers without having to resign their seats. While historians differ greatly in their opinion of the viability and prospects of the October reform, it is hardly in doubt that, despite the constitutional change that was then in progress, the monarchy and the army were not prepared to subordinate themselves to the civil government and take orders from it. This was clearly shown on several occasions, of which two were of particular importance. First, the naval leaders, without the government’s knowledge, ordered the High Seas Fleet to sail out into the North Sea; and Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 7 11 second, against the government’s will, the Kaiser betook himself to GHQ at Spa, where he was beyond the control of the civil power. This ‘flight’ to Spa took place at a moment when the internal crisis was reaching its height. The call for abdication grew louder, and on 28 October for the first time sailors of the fleet at its anchorage in the Schillig Roadstead near Wilhelmshaven refused to obey orders. The sailors feared that the object of their commanders’ manoeuvre was to undermine the government’s policy by launching a last desperate battle against the British, the prospects of which were at least doubtful, and which appeared to the sailors both senseless and 11 irresponsible. The admirals, on the other hand, faithful to a traditional code of honour, were unwilling to surrender tamely without throwing the fleet into action for the last time. About a thousand naval mutineers were arrested 11 at Wilhelmshaven; five ships of the line were sent to Kiel where more arrests took place. Soldiers and sailors, concerned for the fate of their comrades, 1 rallied at Kiel; mass meetings demanded the release of those arrested; shots were fired, soldiers’ councils formed and officers disarmed. The commanders were no longer masters of the situation and declared themselves willing to accept the mutineers’ demands. By the evening of 4 November Kiel was in the hands of the mutinying sailors and soldiers. 111 The next few days made clear the full extent of the ‘paralysis of the will to maintain order’. The military and police apparatus of the old regime surrendered everywhere, offering virtually no resistance to the rebellion that spread like a forest fire. The sailors swarmed out from Kiel, and wherever they went they were joined by the local garrison of soldiers and by factory workers. Workers’ and soldiers’ councils were set up; local officials of the workers’ parties and trade unions took charge without waiting for instruc- tions from their central offices. This occurred on 6 November in Hamburg, Bremen, Wilhelmshaven and Lübeck; on 7 November in Hanover; and on 8 November in Cologne, Brunswick, Düsseldorf, Leipzig and Frankfurt. It 111 was not a question of a centrally planned campaign of subversive action by revolutionary elements, but a spontaneous outbreak by the war-weary people, who hoped in this way to force their rulers to make peace. However, the movement stirred up a determination, which had hitherto been more or less latent amid wide sections of the population, in favour of a more thor- oughgoing reform of the political and social order; this trend was to become more articulate and forceful in the coming months. The wave of revolution reached the national capital on 9 November, when several conflicting events took place in Berlin. The Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden, was convinced that the monarchy had a chance of survival only 111 if William II and the crown prince abdicated without delay; he therefore made frantic efforts from early dawn to persuade the Kaiser at Spa to autho- rize him to issue a proclamation to that effect. Towards noon, as armies of demonstrators marched through the streets of the capital and the soldiers in barracks joined the movement, Prince Max announced the Kaiser’s abdi- 111 cation, although he did not yet have the authority to do so; at the same 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 8 Historical survey time he transferred the office of chancellor to Friedrich Ebert, leader of the SPD. Ebert, with several of his party colleagues, had appeared at the chan- cellery and demanded that political power should be handed over to those who possessed the ‘full confidence of the people’. He declared himself prepared to take over the chancellorship and undertook to govern according to the Reich constitution. The socialist deputation also agreed to the calling of elections for a national constituent assembly. Ebert’s object at this time was to head off the revolutionary movement by reconstructing the govern- ment on the basis of the October constitution. He had in mind a coalition in which the Independent Socialists (USPD) – an anti-war group which had broken away from the SPD in 1917 – would join the existing majority parties – Social Democrats (SPD), Catholic Centre and Progressive Party – and a caretaker Cabinet with dictatorial powers, to be appointed pending the immediate convening of a national assembly which would decide on the future constitution of the state. Consequently, Ebert was exasperated to learn that his party colleague Scheidemann had already proclaimed the Republic to a crowd assembled outside the Reichstag building. Ebert moved into the chancellery with a few assistants, but his chancellorship lasted only a few hours. The revolutionary groups in Berlin had not stood idly by on 9 November. The Revolutionary Shop Stewards (revolutionäre Obleute), who belonged to the left wing of the USPD and enjoyed considerable support among the Berlin workers, persuaded a soldiers’ meeting to adopt a resolution that workers’ and soldiers’ councils would be elected next morning in the Berlin factories and garrisons, and would proceed on the same day to form an assembly and appoint a provisional government. In this way the Berlin soldiers’ councils, who were the real holders of power in the capital from the afternoon of the 9th onwards, laid claim to a decisive voice in the formation of the new government. In this situation Ebert and his colleagues decided to drop the plan for a coalition Cabinet of socialists and the bourgeois parties, and to seek a direct understanding with the USPD leaders, so as to create a fait accompli before the assembly of councils could meet; far-reaching though the USPD condi- tions were, the SPD accepted them for the sake of this overriding aim. Thus, early in the afternoon of the 10th, the two sets of leaders reached agree- ment on the formation of a new government on a basis of equality: the Council of People’s Representatives (Rat der Volksbeauftragten) consisted of three SPD members (Ebert, Scheidemann and Landsberg) and three from the USPD (Haase, Dinmann and Barth). The assembly of 3,000 delegates elected by the Berlin workers and soldiers greeted the SPD–USPD agreement with wild applause. The mood of the hour was well expressed by the headline in the socialist newspaper Vorwärts on 10 November: ‘No war between brothers!’ The assembly ‘confirmed’ the Council of People’s Representatives as a provisional government but, in addition, reflecting the intentions of the left-wing radicals, it appointed Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 9 11 an Executive Council, the Vollzugsrat. Only after heated debate were the Majority Socialists (the SPD – so-called to distinguish them from the USPD) and soldiers’ representatives able to obtain equal membership of this body despite resistance from the Revolutionary Shop Stewards and their supporters. Owing to this equality, and also to the lack of organizational skill and tactical errors by the left-wing members of the Executive Council, the latter was unable to play the part of a revolutionary ‘counter-government’ to the Council of People’s Representatives, as the radicals had intended. Even during the weeks of transition when the country was without a consti- 11 tution, there was no ‘dual control’ at the top level as in Russia. By the end of November the Council of People’s Representatives had decisively won the trial of strength with the Executive Council. Above all, the Majority 11 Socialist representatives possessed strong support among the ‘expert minis- ters’ (heads of government departments) who were nearly all members 1 of bourgeois parties or could be regarded as such (Solf, Preuss, Schiffer, von Krause, Koeth). As in the Reich as a whole, the monarchical system in the federal German states was abolished in November 1918. The revolutionary governments that seized power there were in some cases composed equally of SPD and 111 USPD members (Prussia, Saxony); Majority Socialists predominated in some (Württemberg, Hesse), Independents in others (Brunswick, Hamburg, Bremen, some small Thuringian states); in others again, some of the minis- ters represented the middle classes (Baden, Mecklenburg-Schwerin). In Bavaria the revolutionary government, which included SPD and USPD members, were headed by the Independent, Kurt Eisner, who seized the initiative in Munich at the crucial moment and, as early as 7 November, proclaimed the overthrow of the Wittelsbach dynasty and the establishment of a republic. The fall of the monarchies and the appointment of revolutionary govern- 111 ments of the Reich and the individual states coincided with the ending of the war. An American note received in Berlin on 6 November gave the green light for armistice negotiations, and on the same day a German delegation left for the West. By agreement with the Army High Command it was headed by Matthias Erzberger of the Centre Party; it would certainly have been better for the chief delegate to be a representative of the General Staff, so as to make clear to the world who was actually responsible for the German surrender. The terms presented to the delegation by Marshal Foch were extremely severe. The Germans were to evacuate all occupied territory in the West and the whole left bank of the Rhine, as well as three bridgeheads 111 at Cologne, Mainz and Koblenz; to surrender a large quantity of war matériel, the submarine fleet and the High Seas Fleet, as well as locomo- tives, rolling stock and motor vehicles. Allied prisoners were to be returned without any reciprocal obligation; the peace treaties of Brest Litovsk and Bucharest were to be abrogated; German troops were to be withdrawn from 111 territories in the east, though not until the Allies should so require; the 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 10 Historical survey blockade of Germany was to continue. The Army High Command, con- sulted on the terms, replied that the delegation should try to secure some concessions, but if this was impossible, they should ‘accept them neverthe- less’. The delegation were only able to obtain a slight postponement of the date for the withdrawal of German troops. The armistice agreement was signed on 11 November. A few hours later the guns fell silent on all fronts, after more than four years of bitter fighting. Now that hostilities were over, all energies in Germany were concentrated on issues of internal politics. What were the objectives and political strategy of the groups and parties heading the revolutionary movement, as well as the chief members of the revolutionary government, and how did the middle class react to the change of regime? None of the political groups possessed a patent recipe – a strategy care- fully elaborated over a long period and adequate to the acute political and social crisis that had broken out at the end of October. The course of events took all of them completely by surprise. The total and unexpected collapse of the existing order produced a situation for which no one was prepared: neither the political right, which looked on helplessly as if paralysed, and, in the first few days, accepted the fall of the monarchy without any attempt at resistance; nor the bourgeois parties, whose chief concern was the threat of a radical overthrow of the social order; nor the Social Democrats, who had achieved their main objectives with the October reform and on 9 November crossed the Rubicon only with reluctance; nor even the radical left, who had desired and worked for a revolutionary change and who should have been most likely to possess a clear strategy to cope with it. But, until the last days of October, even the left-wing radicals had not reckoned with such a sudden collapse of the imperial regime. We may begin with the extreme left, the Spartacus Union (which was organizationally part of the USPD until the end of December 1918). The objective of Karl Liebkneckt, Rosa Luxemburg and their supporters was clear: they wished to see a Soviet Germany in alliance with Soviet Russia. The position reached by 10 November was to them an unendurable half-way house: ‘On with the revolution’ was their cry. Accordingly, they called for the abolition of the Council of People’s Representatives; the imme- diate transfer of political power to the workers’ and soldiers’ councils; cancellation of the decision to convene a national assembly; the disarming of the police, of all officers and ‘non-proletarian soldiers’; the creation of a workers’ militia; the expropriation of all large and medium-sized agricultural concerns, as well as mines, iron and steel works, and large industrial and commercial firms. The supporters of Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were certainly not lacking in revolutionary zeal, but they were a small handful: probably at most a thousand when the revolution broke out. The most fervent exponents of the watchword ‘All power to the councils’ had themselves hardly won a seat on any of those bodies. For that reason they took to the streets, Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 11 11 organizing demonstrations in a frenzy of revolutionary impatience and seeking to counterfeit a strength they did not possess. ‘Revolutionary gymnastics’ was the mocking comment of the Revolutionary Shop Stewards in Berlin, whose programme was similar to that of the Spartacists but who rejected their tactics. The demonstrations were indeed unsuccessful in the days of November and December, but they were not without consequences. To large sections of the people they gave the impression that the plan to convene a national assembly – the common aim of all bourgeois circles, the Social Democrats and most of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils – was in 11 danger; many, too, saw the demonstrations as a foretaste of Bolshevist anarchy. The threat from the left provoked a strong defensive reaction, not only 11 from the middle class but from supporters of social democracy and most of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils. But, above all, it confirmed the belief 1 of the Social Democratic People’s Representatives that it was only in co-operation with the corps of officers and the traditional bureaucracy that they could maintain order and solve day-to-day problems. In this way a vicious circle set in from October onwards. The activities of the extreme left drove the Social Democratic Representatives towards the light; but their 111 strong reliance on the old repositories of power became increasingly unac- ceptable to many supporters of the Majority Socialists, who wished for the abolition of the ‘authoritarian state’. The Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) was split internally from the outset of the revolutionary period. Widely different views prevailed among its officials and members concerning key questions of revolutionary policy and the re-ordering of the state and society. Hence the party evolved no coherent strategy: from December onwards its left and right wing to a large extent cancelled each other out and impeded action, though party membership was rising rapidly: about 100,000 in October 1918, over 111 300,000 in January 1919. (In March 1919 the Majority Social Democrats numbered about a million members.) The left wing of the USPD sympathized with the radical socialist pro- gramme of Liebknecht and Luxemburg; it was opposed to calling a national assembly and was in favour of a system of councils (soviets). However, it rejected the Spartacist tactics of using street demonstrations and rallies to whip up the emotions of anonymous masses whose political stability could not be taken for granted. Instead, the USPD left wing preferred to rely on disciplined action by radical workers in their factories. For the time being, however, it was still the right wing of the USPD that 111 determined the party’s policy. Its members sat on the Council of People’s Representatives and on many workers’ councils. Like the Majority Social Democrats, they favoured the calling of a national assembly. They did not want an election too early, wishing to lay a foundation of social democracy in the interim; on this point they differed from the Majority Socialists. But 111 it was the decisive weakness of the moderate Independents that they only 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 12 Historical survey stood a chance of putting their wishes into effect if the Majority Socialists were prepared to take the same line; and from mid-November onwards it was increasingly clear that this was not the case. The leaders of the Majority Socialists had attained their political objec- tive with the October reform. They regarded the November revolution as both unnecessary and harmful, as it complicated the solution of all the difficult problems arising out of the defeat and the cessation of hostilities: the withdrawal of the armies within the short time-limit imposed by the armistice; food supplies; conversion of the economy from a war to a peace- time footing; reabsorption on to the labour market of soldiers returning from the front and disbanded from their garrisons; preservation of the unity of the Reich; execution of the armistice terms and preparation for peace negotiations. All these tasks had to be tackled at once in the feverish, revo- lutionary atmosphere of November 1918, and in the Majority Socialists’ view they could only be mastered if the civil service was functioning prop- erly, disturbances of public order and economic life were reduced to a minimum, and firm discipline was maintained among the returning troops and in army barracks. Hence the Majority Socialist leaders were vitally inter- ested in obtaining loyal support from the ruling élite of the empire – the bureaucracy, expecially its upper echelons, big business and the officers’ corps. As they saw the priorities, it was inopportune to introduce drastic structural reforms at once, as the USPD advocated, or even to take prelim- inary social and economic measures designed to provide a firmer foundation for eventual parliamentary democracy (cf. below, pages 152 ff.). Instead, from 9 November onwards the Majority Social Democrats did their best to channel the revolutionary movement into the calmer waters of an election campaign. Pending the convocation of the National Assembly they governed on a strictly caretaker basis, leaving to the assembly all important decisions concerning the new political and social order. During the first weeks after the revolution, in November and December, the decisive political initiative lay with the left-wing parties and groups, while the middle class and its political organizations played a largely passive role. The military defeat and revolutionary events, the uncertain future and the fear of a major social upheaval initially had a paralysing effect on large sections of the middle class. The situation following the collapse of the state called imperatively for organizational reform and political reorientation; only the future could show how much of this reflected a genuine change and how much was merely a concession to the spirit of the time. On the political right a new party came into existence, the German National People’s Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei – DNVP). It con- sisted basically of the previous conservative parties (Deutschkonservative and Reichspartei), together with members of anti-Semitic and popular organi- zations, sections of the old and new middle class adhering to the right, but also some of the working class with ties to the Protestant church. The DNVP was loyal to the monarchical constitution, the social basis and values of the Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 13 11 Kaiser’s Germany; it saw itself as a party of conviction, dedicated to nation- alist, anti-parliamentarian aims, but had at the same time close ties with the world of industry and the landowning classes. The (Catholic) Centre Party attempted at an early stage, but unsuccess- fully, to establish itself as a non-denominational group under the name Christian People’s Party. It continued to be the main electoral force repre- senting Catholic voters, with a wide social span from aristocratic land-owners to Christian trade unionists. While the overthrow of the Protestant dynasty of Hohenzollern might inspire various political hopes, in large sections of 11 the party there could be no question of active allegiance to republicanism; this was especially the case in Bavaria, where the local Centre Party consti- tuted itself as an independent group at the end of 1918 (Bayerische Volkspartei 11 – BVP). The liberals did not succeed in forming a united party. At the outset the 1 newly founded German Democratic Party (Deutsche Demokratische Partei – DDP) offered a broader political spectrum than its effective predecessor, the Progressive People’s Party. But a section of the National Liberals refrained from joining the DDP, and certain individuals were deliberately excluded, as being politically discredited by their annexationist policy during the war 111 years. In December 1918 these members of the former National Liberal Party founded the German People’s Party (Deutsche Volkspartei – DVP) under the leadership of Gustav Stresemann, the last chairman of the National Liberals in the Reichstag. Meanwhile, in the months of revolution the DDP served as a focus for the hopes of the non-Catholic bourgeoisie that the party would adapt itself to the new forms of parliamentary democracy and that, by prudently accepting social change, it would achieve political stability and enable the middle class to play a major role in the new society. Having thus surveyed the forces in the political arena after 9 November 1918, we may cast a glance at the principal events and stages of the internal 111 struggle during the first months after the revolution. As early as 10 November an agreement was achieved between Ebert and General Groener, who had succeeded Ludendorff as quartermaster-general of the army on 26 October and was the dominant personality at Army Headquarters during the revolutionary months. Both men were anxious to come to terms on a basis that would not shake the foundations of the state; they were both firmly opposed to a leftward development, and wished to restore the ‘rule of law’ as quickly as possible by convening a national constituent assembly. Consequently Groener gave a promise of loyalty to the new government on behalf of the OHL. In return he expected the Council 111 of People’s Representatives to support the attempts of the high command to maintain discipline in the ranks and preserve the authority of the officer corps. To this Ebert consented; it was hard to do otherwise in the confused situation of 10 November. But it did not necessarily follow from this agreement (which has been wrongly presented as an ‘offensive alliance’ in 111 internal affairs) that Ebert and the Council of People’s Representatives were 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 14 Historical survey to be permanently dependent on the OHL. The important decisions on military-political affairs were not taken until the following weeks. From the point of view of damping down agitation on the home front, as the Majority Socialist leaders desired, an event of at least equal import- ance was the Central Working Association (Zentralarbeitsgemeinschaft) agreement concluded on 15 November between the employers’ associations and the trade unions. Negotiations for the agreement had been instituted by both sides before the revolution. The employers believed that in the stormy period to come they could not rely exclusively on the protection of the state apparatus, and that they should come to a direct understanding with the trade unions to ensure the continuance of a free market economy. The union negotiators put their trust in the partnership of capital and labour and hoped that long-desired reforms could now be put into effect. The agreement of 15 November seemed to justify these hopes. The employers recognized the trade unions as the ‘authorized representation of the workers’ and as a proper body with which to negotiate collective wage rates; they dropped their support for the more amenable ‘yellow’ unions (Werkvereine); they agreed to the eight-hour day (with full wage adjustment) and the estab- lishment of workers’ committees in all concerns with a workforce of at least fifty. By these concessions the employers managed to a large extent to keep the trade union leaders quiet and even to secure their partial support in the debate on basic economic organization. With the idea of ‘social partnership’ the employers offered a model of how far the demands and interests of the workers could be met without resorting to ‘socialization’, that is, national- ization. ‘Social policy in exchange for renouncing socialization’ – such was the employers’ strategy during the revolutionary months. The agreement of 15 November 1918 has rightly been described as one of ‘mutual benefit between the unions and heavy industry, which in quasi-syndicalist fashion asserted the primacy of the economy over workers’ councils, state bureau- cracy and a revolutionary government’ (Heinrich A. Winkler). In this way, before the party system was constituted and the authorities of the Republic were fully organized, the business world and especially that of heavy industry was able to safeguard and even enlarge its sphere of influence. This success is all the more remarkable since the fighting strength of the unions was appreciably increased by a mass influx of members in the months after the November collapse: for instance, the membership of the ‘free trade unions’ associated with the workers’ parties rose from about 2.8 million at the end of 1918 to 7.3 million at the end of 1919. The primary aim of the Majority Socialist leaders from 9 November onwards was to convene a national assembly as soon as possible: it was for this body alone, in their view, to take decisions as to the future organiza- tion of state and society. Although the left-wing radicals agitated loudly against the plan for a national assembly – their watchword being ‘All power to the councils’ – a dictatorship of the latter bodies was not on the cards in November 1919. This was clear to anyone whose attention was not fixed Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 15 11 exclusively on certain meetings in Berlin. All political forces of importance were in favour of a national assembly: the middle class no less solidly than the SPD and trade unions, even the majority of the USPD, most of the workers’ councils and – of especial importance in the initial weeks – practi- cally all the soldiers’ councils. On 29 November the Council of People’s Representatives passed the law providing for elections to a constituent assembly. Apart from introducing a strict system of proportional represen- tation, probably its most important provision was that, contrary to the state of affairs in imperial Germany, women were henceforth entitled to vote and 11 to stand for election. The date for the election to the assembly was left to be decided by the first National Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils, which sat in 11 Berlin from 16 to 20 December. Out of about 500 delegates, nearly two- thirds were members of the SPD; less than a dozen were Spartacists; 1 Liebkneckt and Rosa Luxemburg received no mandate. By an overwhelming majority the date for the election was set at 19 January 1919. A proposal to adopt the system of councils as the ‘basis of the constitution of the socialist republic’, and to invest the councils with supreme legislative and executive power, was rejected by a large majority. 111 Despite its domination by the Majority Socialists, however, the congress also took decisions which were clearly contrary to the wishes of the party’s leaders, and which indicated the direction in which the social democratic workers and soldiers were impatient for the government to move. The congress called on the government to ‘put in hand forthwith the socializa- tion of all industries that are ripe for this purpose, especially the mining industry’ and to ‘take all necessary steps to disarm the counter-revolution’. To symbolize the ‘destruction of militarism and the abolition of the doctrine of blind obedience (Kadavergehorsam),’ all badges of rank and the wearing of uniform off duty were to be prohibited; soldiers were to elect their own 111 officers, and a ‘People’s militia’ (Volkswehr) was to be created speedily to replace the standing army. These demands (the so-called ‘Hamburg points’) outlined a programme for which there was a broad consensus in the democratic mass movement of those weeks, amounting to the ‘democratization’ of the army (especially), the civil service and the economy. The nationalization of heavy industry was regarded as a matter of course, but not the most urgent priority in view of the acute problems of demobilization and supply. The basic decision in favour of a National 111 Assembly and a parliamentary system did not mean that all decisions concerning the process of democratization were to be left to the assembly. On the contrary, the government was expected to take decisive steps at once to consolidate the power situation brought about by the revolution and to prevent the revival of reactionary forces 111 (Reinhard Rürup). 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 16 Historical survey However, from the end of December the prospects of the government carrying out such a policy of reform in a short time receded from day to day. On 28 December the Independent Socialists withdrew from the Council of People’s Representatives. The immediate occasion of their doing so was a difference of opinion as to the justification and advisability of the SPD Representatives’ action in using troops to put down the disturbances in Berlin at Christmas time. The underlying cause, however, was the disagree- ment between the SPD and the USPD on basic policy, especially towards the military and the OHL, together with increasing pressure by the left- wing Independents to persuade the USPD Representatives to withdraw from the goverment and break up the coalition with the SPD. After the resigna- tion of Representatives Haase, Dittmann and Barth, and the accession of the Majority Socialists Noske and Wissell, the Reich government was entirely in the hands of the Majority Socialists, assisted by the imperial bureaucracy and experts from non-socialist parties who were given ministerial posts. On 3 January 1919 the USPD members of the Prussian government also resigned. While the more moderate elements in the USPD were at this time losing ground – they included the party chairman Haase and the theoreticians Kautsky and Hilferding – the extreme left for the first time organized itself as an independent party: the Spartakusbund (Spartacus Union) and the ‘Bremen left-wing radicals’ united to form the German Communist Party (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands – KPD), which held its inaugural congress in Berlin on 1 January 1919. On 5 January, the Berlin ‘left Radicals’ launched the so-called ‘January rising’ (armed occupation of newspaper offices, appointment of a revolutionary committee and proclamation of the deposition of the Ebert-Scheidemann government). The rising, conducted by the Revolutionary Shop Stewards and KPD headquarters without a clear strategic plan, was hopelessly mismanaged and to some extent half-hearted. The government used troops to put it down, and for this purpose encour- aged the formation of Freikorps (anti-Communist volunteer units), which had been developing for some time past and in the ensuing months were used similarly in other parts of the Reich. The January rising has been called ‘the revolution’s Battle of the Marne’. Its bloody suppression caused a deep rift within the workers’ movement and gave a stimulus to political escalation. The murder of Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg on 15 January by members of the Horse Guards Division aroused indignation and horror among many who in no way shared the victims’ political views. While the USPD took on a more radical hue, the SPD leaders more and more openly sought close co-operation with the officer corps and higher bureaucracy, and intensified their contacts, which had never been broken off, with the bourgeois parties. Although from the beginning of January 1919 radicalization made rapid progress not only in Berlin but in other industrial centres, it was not reflected to a great extent in the election to the National Assembly on 19 January Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 17 11 (cf. table, pages 224–5). The SPD polled 37.9 per cent of the votes and 165 seats – the highest share of the vote in a national election that the SPD, let alone any other party, was to achieve in the years of the Weimar Republic, while the USPD obtained only 7.6 per cent (22 seats). However, a majority in the National Assembly was held by the bourgeois parties who, aided by unrestricted freedom of the press and the right of public assembly, had conducted an intensive electoral campaign. The strongest middle-class party proved to be the Centre (19.7 per cent; 91 seats), closely followed by the DDP (18.5 per cent; 75 seats). The DNVP obtained only 10.3 per cent of 11 votes (44 seats) but, in addition to the traditional conservative strongholds in Germany east of the Elbe, it made some advance among the urban petty bourgeoisie of the west and south. The DVP, which had entered the elec- 11 tion campaign relatively late, gained 4.4 per cent of votes (19 seats). Despite visible shifts and changes, the German party system showed remarkable 1 continuity before and after the upheavals of 1918–19. In view of the elec- tion result, it was inevitable that the October coalition of Majority Socialists, the Centre and the DDP would develop into the ‘Weimar coalition’. This, however, meant that the constitution had to reflect a compromise between the Social Democrats and the bourgeois democratic parties. The way had 111 been prepared for such a compromise in November: on the 15th of that month Hugo Preuss – a respected left-wing liberal, an outspoken opponent of the old authoritarian state, but certainly not a socialist – had been appointed secretary of state in the Ministry of the Interior with the specific task of drafting a constitution. The National Assembly convened at Weimar on 6 February. The govern- ment had chosen that venue under the impact of the January rising in Berlin, intending to protect the assembly from the revolutionary excitement of the capital and demonstrations by the anxious population. As all parties to the right of the USPD were determined to end the transition period as soon 111 as possible, the National Assembly took a very short time to lay the consti- tutional foundations of the new state. On 8 February a Bill ‘Concerning the Provisional Exercise of Political Power’ was submitted to the assembly by the Reich government, which had prepared it in consultation with repre- sentatives of the state governments, and two days later it was passed, without the assembly having debated its principles or subjected it to a thorough examination. The interim law, which contained only ten paragraphs, provided for the essential constitutional organs of the Republic. (1) The National Assembly was empowered to adopt, in addition to the constitution, ‘other urgent 111 national laws’, that is, it was vested with the functions of a legislature, the Reichstag; (2) The individual German states were represented by a Committee of States, which had been set up at a conference of representa- tives of all the states on 25 January and had since then exercised a strong influence on the constitutional discussions; it was to some extent a precursor 111 of the Reichsrat. Laws for the whole Reich were to be passed with the 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 18 Historical survey concurrence of the National Assembly and the Committee of States. The states were also given the assurance that their territorial boundaries could not be altered without their consent. (3) The business of the Reich was conducted by a president, to be elected by the National Assembly; he would in turn appoint the Cabinet, whose members must possess the confidence of the National Assembly. While all these arrangements were designated ‘provisional’, in practice the basic structure of the constitution – with the Reichstag, President and Cabinet – was thus predetermined before the constitutional discussions began. On 11 February the National Assembly elected Friedrich Ebert to be the first President of the Reich. On the same day Ebert called on Scheidemann, the SPD deputy, to form a government, and on 13 February he appointed the new Reich Cabinet, composed of the Weimar coalition of Majority Socialists, Democrats and the Centre Party. Some days later the National Assembly began to debate the constitution. The draft prepared by Preuss, now Minister of the Interior, had a compli- cated history behind it. After full discussion in the ministry, in which the sociologist Max Weber took part, a first version had been prepared at the end of December 1918. This provided for a ‘strong president’ as a coun- terweight to the Reichstag, and also made decisive changes in the relationship between the Reich and the individual states. Germany was to be a federal state with markedly unitary features; Prussia was to be split up and other state boundaries altered so as to form sixteen ‘Reich districts’ (Gebiete des Reichs), to which Germany, Austria and Vienna might eventually be added. Preuss’s draft was published on 20 February after two important alterations had been made at the direction of the Council of People’s Representatives: a short list of basic rights was added, and the specific proposals for changes in territorial boundaries were replaced by a vague indication that such changes might be necessary. The unitary features of the draft aroused the alarm of the individual states, who now became active and secured further modification. The draft submitted to the assembly in February 1919 thus differed in important respects from its author’s intention, and Preuss could do no more than hope that the sovereign assembly would set firm bounds to the ambitions of the individual states. These hopes were to some extent realized. During the discussions, which chiefly took place in the Constitutional Committee of twenty-eight members and which, from the beginning of May, were overshadowed by the peace terms and the dispute over the signature of the Treaty of Versailles – the tendency was to enlarge the powers of the central government, especially as regards taxation policy and tax administration. The prerogatives of Bavaria and Württemberg in regard to military matters, post and commu- nications were abolished. The states were re-designated as ‘lands’ (Länder). The Reichsrat, representing the Länder, had distinctly less power than the Bundesrat before 1918, its functions being confined essentially to advising on legislation. Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 19 11 The ‘Weimar constitution’, which was adopted by the National Assembly on 31 July and signed by the President on 11 August 1919, established the Reich as a parliamentary republic. Its principal organ was the Reichstag, which enacted legislation and controlled the executive: the Reich govern- ment had to possess its confidence. In order to create a strong counterweight to ‘parliamentary absolutism’, a danger especially feared by the political right, the President was given extensive powers. He was directly elected by the people and thus independent of the parliamentary majority; he held office for seven years and could be re-elected indefinitely; he appointed and 11 dismissed the Reich government; he could dissolve the Reichstag; he could intervene in the legislative process by ordering a referendum; and under Article 48 he could proclaim a state of emergency to preserve public secu- 11 rity and order. The parliamentary majority failed to perceive the potential range of this article; it was not a subject of dispute among the coalition 1 parties; and its original version was even strengthened in the course of debate, despite emphatic USPD warnings against giving the President a blank cheque in this way. The USPD deputy Cohn urged the Assembly to consider what might happen under Article 48 ‘if some henchman of the Hohenzollern, a general perhaps, were to be at the head of the Reich or the Defence Ministry’. 111 The provisions which made the President a kind of ‘ersatz emperor’ reflected the mistrust that the fathers of the constitution felt towards a fully parliamentary system on a democratic party basis. The inclusion of plebisc- itary elements in the constitution (initiative and referendum) was also primarily designed to set bounds to one-sided parliamentary rule. Thus the founding fathers were not inspired by the doctrine of parliamentary sover- eignty as it prevailed, for example, in the British system. This is surprising on the part of the Majority Socialists, conflicting as it did with the consti- tutional ideas they had previously espoused. In the case of the political centre and right wing, on the other hand, there were specific calculations behind 111 their attitude as well as the force of political tradition. Under an unrestricted parliamentary system the country might one day be governed by a socialist majority – and in January 1919 the two socialist parties already had nearly 50 per cent of the votes between them. The section of the constitution dealing with fundamental rights became the subject of long and earnest debate when the Liberal leader Friedrich Naumann made a proposal extending the list of basic rights contained in the draft constitution. The discussion threatened to get out of hand as the various political and social groups endeavoured to have their particular ideas and demands written into the constitution. The Centre, for instance, carried 111 through several articles about church and educational affairs, while the workers secured a clause regarding the conversion into public property of ‘suitable’ private economic concerns; the workers’ councils were likewise anchored in the constitution (Articles 156, 165). While some articles sanc- tioned the economic and social status quo, others offered a handle for its 111 alteration. Thus the section on basic human rights did not reflect any 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 20 Historical survey coherent socialist philosophy or programme, but rather the divergences inherent in a modern, pluralistic industrial society. The section exhibited to a special extent the ‘undecided’ nature (Otto Kirchheimer) of the constitu- tion as a whole, which was a system of political and social compromises between the moderate elements of the workers’ movement and the demo- cratic middle class. As such it left many points open, while by the same token leaving room for future development. Despite the revolutionary circumstances of its origin, the Weimar consti- tution was strongly influenced by the ideas of bourgeois liberalism, and left-wing liberals played a key part in preparing it: Preuss produced the first draft, Haussmann was the first chairman of the constitutional committee of the National Assembly, while Naumann was the moving spirit in the debate on fundamental rights. The SPD, by contrast, although much the largest party in the Assembly, was able to impart to the document very little of its own constitutional and social programme. There were several reasons for this state of affairs. One was the need for compromise imposed by the condi- tions of the governmental alliance; another was the fact that the Social Democrats had no clear-cut constitutional theory of their own and conse- quently had little difficulty in accepting liberal ideas, especially as at this stage it was impossible to forecast clearly how the provisions of the consti- tution would work out in terms of political and social reality. A further important reason was that in the spring and summer of 1919 the SPD was already in a much weaker position vis-à-vis its coalition partners in partic- ular, than it had been in January immediately after the election to the National Assembly. To explain this we must look briefly at the development of the balance of forces and political climate between January and the early summer of 1919 (cf. also page 153 below). The months from January to April/May were much more turbulent than the previous November/December. In many parts of the Reich major strikes broke out; factories, newspaper offices and public buildings were occupied; some short-lived Republics of Councils (Räterepubliken) were set up (for example, Bremen, Munich), and armed clashes took place in many regions. The revolution of 1918–19 came to an end only when the strikes, disturbances and Soviet-type experiments of the spring of 1919 were put down by the massive use of Freikorps formations. The mass movement of these spring months differed greatly in character from that of November/December as regards the radicalization of political aims and forms of action. While radical forces increasingly took control of the mass movement, making it an instrument of their political aims and activities, at the same time many Majority Socialists and trade unionists withdrew from the move- ment, which thus forfeited in terms of breadth what it gained by way of radicalism and revolutionary dynamism. Also in these months the USPD was reinforced by many industrial workers who had supported the Majority Socialists during the autumn and winter of 1918. Meanwhile, the leftists in Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 21 11 the USPD had decisively gained the upper hand, so that the party now declared itself ‘against parliamentary democracy; workers’ councils and shop stewards, with legislative and executive powers, were to ‘represent the working population’ in political and economic matters, taking the place of parliamentary institutions. In these months the Majority Socialists paid the price for the political line that their leaders had followed between November and January. An appre- ciable number of members and supporters left the party, disappointed by its compromise policy of co-operation with the bourgeois parties, the generals 11 and senior bureaucrats. This disappointment and embitterment showed itself in two ways: in the radicalization that caused many SPD supporters to switch to the USPD, and also in increasing resignation and political neutralism on 11 the part of those who did not favour a more radical policy but equally could no longer support the government line, and who therefore, for instance, 1 abstained from voting in the elections. At the Landtag and local elections in the spring of 1919 the SPD suffered considerable, in some cases drastic losses, while the USPD scored important gains and took the lead from the SPD in many places. Thus the radicalization was reflected in election results. Both trends – increasing radicalization and the increasing disinterest of 111 former supporters – caused a decisive weakening of the SPD. Its leaders did little or nothing to check this drift by paying greater attention to the views and demands of their working-class adherents. They reacted to these with irritation, obstinacy and closer contact with their bourgeois partners in the coalition, holding to the strategic concept that had marked their activities since the outbreak of the revolution: namely, a moderate process of polit- ical and social change in collaboration with the bourgeois parties, but no radical structural reforms. If the results of 1918–19 are judged by how far the aims of the revolu- tionary movement were achieved and how strong a mark they made on the 111 political and social constitution of the Weimar Republic, the verdict can only be that the revolutionary mass movement was essentially a failure, both in its first moderate phase and in its second radical phase. One can speak of a ‘revolution that ran aground’, and with which none of the chief political groups wished to be identified. Scarcely anyone in Germany had wanted the revolution to develop and come to a stop in the way it did. Some wanted no revolution at all, others a revolution with a quite different result. To this day the revolution of 1918–19 does not rank among the events which, by common consent, represent major positive developments in German history. It was not exactly democracy that was ‘improvised’ in Germany in 1918, 111 but the parliamentary republic. The Reich was transformed into a republic in consequence of a total military defeat, involving the heavy burden of an oppressive peace treaty. The first days of the Republic were accompanied by bitter conflict, similar in nature to a civil war, between rival views as to the shaping of the new order; more adverse conditions for the foundation of a 111 democracy can hardly be imagined. Thus, when the Weimar state left the 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 22 Historical survey hands of its founders in mid-1919, it was undoubtedly a fragile creation, threatened by both left and right. The radical left, frustrated by the failure of the revolution to run its course, denounced it as a bourgeois republic and prepared to overthrow it by force of arms. The right wing, for its part, not only hankered nostalgically for the empire but mustered its forces for an onslaught on parliamentary democracy. The crucial question for the new order was therefore: would the founda- tion on which the Weimar Republic was erected prove strong enough in the long run – the alliance, born of expediency, between the moderate wing of the workers’ movement and the democratically minded section of the middle class? Would the leaders of the two groups continue to co-operate loyally on the basis of the political and social compromises entered into in the autumn of 1918 and the revolutionary months, and would their supporters and voters back them in doing so? Only in that case was there any hope that a majority of the population would whole-heartedly accept the new order that had come about so suddenly, or at least come to tolerate it; and this was an indispensable condition of the long-term consolidation and stabilization of the Republic. 11 2 The Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles 11 11 1 The statesmen assembled at the Paris conference of 1919 did not succeed in devising a peace settlement in Europe or a world security system that offered any prospect of durability. From the very first, their work was subjected to extensive criticism. The settlement was condemned with partic- ular vehemence by the defeated nations, especially the German people, but 111 it was by no means approved without reservation in the victorious coun- tries: some considered the terms of Versailles and its associated treaties too lenient, others too severe. With the passing of more time, and with the sources of information that are now available, the historian is inclined to take a less censorious view of the peacemakers of 1919. The ‘irreparable circumstances’ (Gerhard Schulz) which brought about the war and conditioned the peace made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reach decisions that would endure. In a world war lasting over four years, in which all the great nations of Europe and many non-European states were involved, the propaganda apparatus of both 111 sides had attained unprecedented intensity, whipping up patriotic passions and doing its best to turn the war into a crusade for particular ideals and ideologies, with the inference that the enemy was an incarnation of evil. From this point of view the First World War was already a ‘total war’, and it also deserved this description inasmuch as each side mobilized its entire economic potential. As the war was a total one, so was the military collapse of the Central Powers and the victory of the Allies. Since Germany did not surrender until she became completely unable to carry on the fight, she was in no position to negotiate more lenient peace terms as a country might which was pre- 111 pared, if need be, to go on fighting. Moreover – and this was another aspect of ‘total victory’ – there was by the end of the war no important neutral state that might have influenced the peace negotiations in favour of the vanquished, either as a mediator or by the threat of intervention. Thus the disputes and conflicts at the peace conference took place not between the Allies and 111 their defeated enemies but within the Allied camp itself. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 24 Historical survey Given the emotional and expectant mood in the Allied countries, their statesmen could not and would not relinquish the fruits of victory for which their peoples hoped; they were themselves prisoners of the total military victory. In this sense, the course of the peace negotiations was only partly within the Allied statesmen’s control. It was indeed a ‘world war’ whose consequences they had to deal with. Germany was the central theme of the peace negotiations, but by no means the only one. Recent research has brought into particular prominence the degree to which the Allied statesmen were preoccupied by the anxious, ever- recurring question: ‘What is to be done about Russia?’ The desire of the Western victors – all capitalist countries – to overthrow or at least ‘contain’ Soviet power led to Allied intervention in the Russian civil war and also had its affect on discussions of the future of East Central and South-Eastern Europe – the ‘lands between’, which were intended to form a barrier against Soviet Russia as well as against Germany. France especially hoped to use these countries as a partial substitute for her erstwhile Russian ally and as a cordon sanitaire between Germany and the Soviet Union. In the political spectrum of the first half of 1919 the strategy of ‘containing’ Bolshevik Russia was certainly an important factor; though it would be an exaggera- tion to suggest that the Allies’ policy towards Germany could be interpreted and evaluated as no more than a function of their policy towards Russia, as has been tried. But there were also difficult problems to be solved outside Central and Eastern Europe. Complications arose in the Adriatic, where Italy strove for predominance against Serbia, now expanded into the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes; in the Near East, where the legacy of the Ottoman Empire had to be settled; and in East Asia, where Japanese imperialism had begun its advance. Not the least of the problems was the disposal of the German colonies. All these disputes gave rise to dissension among the victor- ious powers, which complicated the debate concerning the terms to be imposed on defeated Germany. In view of the worldwide conflicts of interest that were thus coming into prominence, it is not surprising that the Allied representatives in Paris devoted more attention and effort to attempting to compose their own differences and form a common front vis-à-vis Germany, than to any real negotiations with their prostrate adversaries. The peace conference, at which thirty-two states were represented, was opened in Paris by President Poincaré on 18 January 1919. On Wilson’s proposal the delegates elected Clemenceau, the French Prime Minister, to be chairman of the conference. The plenary assembly met on only a few occasions – it was scarcely capable of functioning effectively, having over a thousand participants. In the first phase of the conference the Council of Ten acted as the supreme decision-taking body, consisting of the heads of government and foreign ministers of the four great powers – the USA, Britain, France and Italy – and two representatives of Japan. After the first ten weeks its place was taken, on 24 March, by the Council of Four – Wilson, 111 111 Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 25 11 Clemenceau, Lloyd George and Orlando who debated and decided the knot- tiest issues without their foreign ministers and without the Japanese, who showed little interest in European disputes and concentrated on securing their Chinese prey. For over three months the Council of Four met almost daily, sometimes several times a day; altogether it held 148 sessions. During that time it exerted weighty authority not only as regards the peace terms to be imposed on Germany and her allies, but in all important matters affecting the pacification of Europe, events in Russia and overseas problems. The compromises on which the overall settlement was based were hammered out in this forum. Subordinate to the Council of Four and the Council of Foreign Ministers were the committees comprising representatives of the great powers and other allies, assisted by numerous advisers for each country. President Wilson’s chief priority was the creation of the League of Nations. To him this was ‘the key to the whole peace’, designed to lay the foundation for a world security system based on the rule of law and peaceful compro- mise among nations. This conception of future peace was by no means confined to Wilson: Smuts, for instance, the South African Prime Minister, contributed a useful study of the idea of a league of nations in a memo- randum of December 1918. Wilson was prepared to make many concessions for the sake of bringing the League into existence, believing that any devi- ations from his principles that might be temporarily necessary could gradually be corrected by the League itself (‘The Covenant will put that right’). Despite initial resistance by the European statesmen he succeeded in having the creation of the League placed in the forefront of the conference’s work, and the Covenant adopted as an integral part of the peace treaty itself. The organization of the League was simple and clear. The Assembly, composed of representatives of all member states, was to meet at regular intervals; the Council, on which the great powers were represented as perma- nent members and some other powers on a non-permanent basis, was to meet once a year or more frequently if necessary; there was a permanent secretariat with headquarters at Geneva, where Assembly and Council sessions also took place. The Covenant guaranteed the territorial integrity and political indepen- dence of member states (Article 10). Thus the possibility of ‘reconsideration by Members of the League of treaties which have become inapplicable’ (Article 19) was restricted in advance to non-territorial problems. The League thus became the custodian of the territorial status quo created by the peace treaties – a situation welcome to France and the smaller nations, while the defeated countries were unable to work for treaty revision within the framework of the League. Any member state was entitled to request the Council and the Assembly to debate any dispute that arose between it and another member. Various possibilities were envisaged for the settlement 11 11 1 111 111 of international conflicts: debate by the Council or Assembly, arbitration, 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 26 Historical survey reference to the international Court of Justice. In no case was war to be resorted to within three months of an arbitration award or a report by the Council (Article 12). A state which went to war in violation of the Covenant was to be exposed to sanctions by all other members, ranging from the severance of financial and trade relations, that is, an economic boycott, to joint military action (Article 16). The former German colonies and parts of the Ottoman Empire were placed under the administration of particular Allied countries in the form of League of Nations mandates; Article 22 laid down the principle of the mandatories’ responsibility and the devel- opment of the mandated territories, as far as possible, into self-governing entities. Thus began the process which was gradually to lead to world-wide decolonialization. The attempt to create a system of collective security by means of the League of Nations is certainly to be regarded as the truly progressive idea of the peace conference. But the new institution soon turned out to be full of weaknesses and beset by problems; it only fulfilled to a small extent the great expectations it had aroused, and came in the end to possess only a shadowy existence. This was not necessarily an inevitable process or one that could have been foreseen when the League was created; it was to a large extent the effect of later developments and decisions. A particularly grave circumstance was that the idea of the League of Nations was decisively rejected in the USA, so that the very state whose chief repre- sentative was the real founder of the League failed to join it. Moreover, the Soviet Union did not become a member until 1934, and the defeated states in 1919 were not at once admitted as Wilson had at first intended. Thus the League began its existence as an association of the victors. France saw it primarily as a means of preserving and consolidating her own power, while the British sought to use it to preserve a balance of power on the Continent. There was no ‘revolution in foreign policy’ such as had been desired by Wilson and the other supporters of the League idea. International affairs continued to be overwhelmingly a matter of national power politics, buttressed by bilateral and multilateral alliances in the same way as before 1914. The abo- lition of war as an instrument of policy, for which millions had longed at the end of the First World War, and which was at least attempted by the founders of the League of Nations, did not become a reality. Wilson’s insistence on the priority of the League of Nations was partly due to the fact that from October 1918 onwards he came to perceive that the peace negotiations would lead to difficult debates and severe tension among the victorious powers. Not only the French and British, but also the other Allies showed themselves determined to press their claims and inter- ests to the utmost without regard to Wilson’s peace programme as contained in the Fourteen Points and in certain later speeches. French strategy in the Paris negotiations was based on a doctrine of security based on military, geopolitical and demographic considerations. The French statesmen were conscious that France was momentarily stronger Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 27 11 than her eastern neighbour, but weaker in the long run; and they were determined to take advantage of the unique opportunity to reduce German power as far as possible and create a system of French hegemony in Europe. Specifically this meant: larger amputations of territory in eastern and western Germany, as well as drastic restrictions on German armament, and far- reaching reparations demands; a firm French system of alliances especially in Eastern Europe (the cordon sanitaire); and generally strengthening France’s allies at Germany’s expense. A key role was assigned to Poland, which had recovered its independence as a result of the war, and in which France saw 11 a replacement for her former Russian ally. Given the new constellation of power, and also the traditional Polish friendship with France, an enlarged Polish state, amply supplied with armaments, was expected to be a strong 11 bulwark against both Germany and the Soviet Union. The other victorious powers were ready to support Polish claims to a large extent: the thirteenth 1 of Wilson’s points had stipulated that Poland should have a frontier based on self-determination and free access to the sea. The tendency of British policy in the spring of 1919 was to maintain a certain equilibrium on the Continent, limiting French hegemony so as to prevent the undue weakening of Germany and to improve the chances of a 111 lasting peace. The British also feared that if Germany were desperate and deprived of hope she might throw herself into the arms of Bolshevik Russia (Fontainebleau memorandum of 25 March 1919). For this reason Lloyd George opposed French ambitions at several points. But it must not be over- looked that in December 1918 Lloyd George had conducted a campaign of unbridled rhetoric in the ultra-nationalist ‘khaki election’, leading the British public to expect that their representatives in Paris would insist on widely interpreted demands for reparations. Moreover, as Clemenceau acidly but with some reason pointed out, the British had already achieved their main war aims under the armistice terms – surrender of all U-boats 111 and merchant vessels, interning of the German High Seas Fleet – whereas France’s need for security could only be met by appropriate terms of the peace treaty. None the less, in long and tense discussions Wilson and Lloyd George were able to induce the French to abate their maximum demands as regards Germany’s eastern and western frontiers. True, Poland was awarded without a plebiscite the greater part of the provinces of West Prussia and Posen (Poznan ́). (In the south of East Prussia, and in West Prussia east of the Vistula, a plebiscite on 11 July 1920 resulted in an almost unanimous vote for remaining in Germany.) But Danzig (Gdan ́sk) was not given to Poland 111 as was originally planned; instead, the town and its surroundings were made into a Free City under the protection of the League of Nations, so that it was able to retain its German character. Again, instead of the original intention to give Poland the whole of Upper Silesia, a plebiscite was held in March 1921 as a result of which the greater part of the area remained 111 German, though Poland gained the central industrial district. Also in the 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 28 Historical survey east, Germany ceded the small Hlucˇín (Hultschin) area to Czechoslovakia and the port and district of Memel to the Allies (French occupation, then Lithuanian sovereignty from 1923/4). Another plebiscite took place in North Schleswig, with the result that the northern part of the area went to Denmark while the southern part remained German. The question of Germany’s western frontier was throughout debated with vehemence in the Council of Four. There was no disagreement about Alsace- Lorraine, however. Wilson had taken up a stand in his Fourteen Points, and the British had already recognized the French claim soon after the war began. Hence the territory was returned to France without a plebiscite, while the Eupen-Malmédy area of Prussia was ceded to Belgium. But, in view of Germany’s total military defeat, the French government and public opinion perceived a long-awaited opportunity to drive their aggressive neighbour a considerable way further back, perhaps even as far as the Rhine. The French set their sights first on the Saar coal basin and, second, if not actually the Rhine frontier, at all events permanent military control of the river and bridgeheads, together with the creation of one or more independent states, detached from the Reich, on the left bank. The principal champion of this plan, supported by President Poincaré, was Marshal Foch (‘If we are not on the Rhine, everything is lost’). Wilson firmly rejected the demands of Foch and other French soldiers and politicians, and was supported in principle by Lloyd George; both were opposed to a more or less veiled French annexation of the left bank of the Rhine. Significantly, Clemenceau did not continue to press the French claim at the risk of a split with the Americans and British. In view of their obduracy he withdrew his support from Foch and settled for the demilita- rization of the Rhineland and a fifteen-year occupation of the left bank and bridgeheads, which remained German territory. After vehement argu- ment Clemenceau also yielded on the Saar question. The Saar was placed under League of Nations administration for fifteen years, after which a plebiscite was to decide whether the inhabitants wished to belong to France or Germany, or to be independent. Ownership of the Saar coal mines was transferred from Germany to France, with a right of repurchase if the plebiscite turned out in Germany’s favour. Given the strength of French nationalism, these were considerable conces- sions. Clemenceau agreed to them because he regarded the alliance with Britain and a good understanding with the USA as indispensable conditions of a realistic French security policy. In return for Clemenceau’s relative moderation over the Rhine question, Wilson and Lloyd George offered an Anglo-American treaty guaranteeing military support for France if German troops should at any time cross the Rhine without the consent of the League of Nations. This promise, however, was not implemented: after the failure of Wilson’s policy with regard to the peace treaty, the US Congress refused to ratify the treaty of guarantee, whereupon the British withdrew also. It was largely for this reason that Clemenceau, who in November 1918 Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 29 11 had been acclaimed in France as the ‘father of victory’, was soon accused of having ‘lost the peace’. Large sections of the population, especially leading political circles, regarded the Treaty of Versailles as insufficient and far too moderate, and the right-wing governments that succeeded Clemenceau did their best to revise the peace settlement in the direction of radical nationalist aims. Apart from the territorial dispositions of the peace (as a result of which Germany lost more than an eighth of her area and a tenth of her popula- tion, 15 per cent of her agricultural production, about 20 per cent of her 11 coal, iron and steel industry, and 6–7 per cent of her processing industry), the question of reparations gave rise to acute controversy among the Allies in Paris. After long resistance Wilson finally agreed to a settlement in 11 complete contrast to his original idea, which had been to confine repara- tions to two categories: damages on the ground of violations of international 1 law (Belgian neutrality; the illegal treatment of prisoners), and damage suffered by the civilian populations of the states which had been at war with Germany. But the American delegation stood alone in defending this view against a united front of all the other victors, who demanded reparations on a much greater scale, amounting to a complete restitution of all their 111 war costs, particularly as they had incurred large war debts to the USA. (In the Anglo-US agreement of 19 June 1923 the total British funded debt was fixed at 4,600 million dollars; the French debt, by a similar agreement of 29 April 1926, at 4,000 million dollars.) On a strict application of Wilson’s principle the British would have come out more or less empty-handed, and accordingly Britain and her Dominions were prominent in pressing for a wider definition of reparations. On this matter Lloyd George was under strong domestic pressure: 233 MPs addressed a telegram to him on 8 April 1919 demanding that Germany be made to acknowledge her debt and to pay a large sum in damages. 111 It was chiefly Wilson’s concern for Lloyd George’s internal positions that made him gradually give way over the reparations question, just as he consented to compromise over the Rhineland for the sake of Clemenceau’s political survival. If Lloyd George and Clemenceau had been overthrown by their right-wing opponents it might have delayed the peace negotiations or even led to their failure and the collapse of the League of Nations project, and this was something Wilson could not contemplate. This being the situation at the conference, the reparations dispute was finally settled in April as laid down in Part VIII of the peace treaty. In accor- dance with the demands of Lloyd George and General Smuts, military 111 pensions and family allowances for war-wounded and surviving dependants of the fallen were also included as war damages. Since France had borne 54.4 per cent of the total material damage suffered by the Allies, but only 38 per cent of the personal damage, adoption of the British proposal meant diminishing France’s share. On the other hand, this widening of the defin- 111 ition of reparations imposed a huge burden on Germany. Since the estimates 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 30 Historical survey of Allied experts as to Germany’s ability to pay differed widely, it was finally agreed not to fix any particular sum for the time being but to set up a Reparations Commission with wide powers to receive, examine and quan- tify claims against Germany and decide how much she could pay annually in the light of her economic situation. In order to establish the principle of Germany’s total liability for damages, even though these could in practice be only partially exacted, the fateful Article 231 was prefaced to the relevant section of the treaty. This obliged Germany to recognize that she and her allies were responsible for all the damage suffered by the victors as a result of the war imposed upon them. The object of Article 231 was to provide a firm legal basis for the repara- tions claim by asserting the juridical liability of the Reich for the damage caused. As a result of the exchanges occasioned by Germany’s vehement protest against this article, it came to assume, a great deal more strongly than was originally intended, the character of a moral judgement of ‘war guilt’, which became Germany’s trauma for the whole of the Weimar period. Of the further peace terms imposed on Germany, several had particularly far-reaching effects: the loss of all her colonies, the ban on annexation of the German part of Austria by Germany (Article 80), the confiscation of Germany’s foreign assets, ‘legal sanction’ (amongst other aspects the surrender of ‘war criminals’ and the indictment of the Kaiser ‘for a supreme offence against international moral law and the sanctity of treaties’). The provisions for disarmament, stated to be intended ‘to render possible the initiation of a general limitation of armaments’, had a noticeable effect on German sover- eignty (the German professional army was to be limited to 100,000 men, the navy to not more than 15,000 men; the General Staff was to be disbanded, fortresses in the neutral zone dismantled; no submarines, tanks or air force; gas warfare prohibited; supervision by inter-Allied commissions). Between January and the beginning of May 1919 no exact information seeped out as to the progress of the discussions among the victors. Consequently neither the German government nor German public opinion had anything like a clear, realistic idea of the scope of the terms to be imposed on Germany. In the ‘dreamland of the Armistice period’ (Ernst Troeltsch) people still hoped for lenient, ‘Wilsonian’ peace conditions. Immediately after the armistice the German government began preparing for peace negotiations. Many groups of experts were engaged in collecting material and working up a basis for negotiation. As recent research has shown, the reparations problem occupied a central place in the German preparations. All thoughts were concentrated on how Germany’s economic potential could be preserved as a power factor and protected from extreme repa- rations demands; the object was to make the country’s defeat inoperative in the economic sphere . . . Thus it was intended to leave the way free for Germany to recover her prewar status as a great power by preserving the social and economic status quo. (Peter Kruger) Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 31 11 However, the intensive German preparations had no effect on the discussions in Paris, as the German delegation was not allowed to take part in them. The period of illusions ended abruptly on 7 May, when the completed treaty was presented to the German delegation at Versailles. Even the worst pessimists in Germany had not expected such terms. The nation reacted with indignation and alarm; all political parties agreed in rejecting the treaty. At a session of the National Assembly in the great hall of Berlin University on 12 May, Prime Minster Scheidemann declared that in the government’s view the treaty was unacceptable: ‘What hand would not wither that binds itself 11 and us in these fetters?’. The victorious Allies did not permit any oral discussion of the text; they allowed the German delegation only fourteen days to formulate written 11 observations. The Foreign Minister, Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, who led the German delegation, attacked the basis of the treaty on two main grounds. 1 (1) Wilson’s peace programme as expressed in the Fourteen Points, together with the German–American exchange of notes of October 1918. These, the Germans argued, constituted a preliminary treaty binding on both sides, a pactum de contrahendo, and the Allies could therefore not rely on any absolute right conferred by victory. A comparison of the Paris terms with 111 Wilson’s programme as interpreted by the Germans showed that the two were completely incompatible. (2) The German delegation concentrated its attack on the ‘war guilt’ thesis. By rebutting the assertion of Germany’s guilt for the war they attempted to destroy the moral basis of the Allied terms in general and especially as regards reparations. The German delegation handed over its counter-proposals on 29 May; it was Brockdorff-Rantzau’s inten- tion, unless the victors accepted them in toto, to refuse to sign the treaty in order, as he hoped, to divide the Allies from one another. At the beginning of June he systematically prepared the German government for this even- tuality, which he already regarded as probable. However, the effect of his 111 open resistance was to strengthen Allied solidarity. There can no longer be any doubt that the Allies were determined to take military action if Germany refused to sign the treaty. Foch’s plan was to advance along the Main river, disarming south Germany and separating it from the Reich, and to pursue operations in north Germany as far as the Weser. The marshal and those about him actually hoped for a German refusal so that the peace terms could be revised in accordance with their wishes. The final text of the treaty was presented to the Germans on 16 June. Their counter-proposals had achieved a degree of success on only one point, the question of Upper Silesia, where there was to be a plebiscite instead of 111 an immediate cession of territory. In a covering note the ‘war guilt’ thesis was expressed much more sharply in the form of a moral judgement upon Germany. The Germans were required to accept the terms within five days, this ultimatum being subsequently amended to seven days. No party in Germany would of its own accord have been willing to accept 111 the terms; but, given the prevailing constraints, the forces for rejection were 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 32 Historical survey not so resolute as the first reactions in May suggested, either in the govern- ment or among the population. Brockdorff-Rantzau’s plan of action was, rightly, thought by many to be too risky; Hindenburg and Groener declared that there was no hope of resisting an Allied advance by force of arms. At a decisive Cabinet meeting on the night of 18/19 June seven ministers voted for signing the treaty, and seven against. On the 20th, Scheidemann’s Cabinet resigned. A new government, which included no DDP members, was formed next day by the Social Democrat Gustav Bauer, with Hermann Müller of the same party as Foreign Minister; the strongest political force in the Cabinet, however, was Erzberger of the Centre Party, who was already recognized as Brockdorff-Rantzau’s real opponent and who now, undeterred by the nationalist agitation, was in favour of a conditional acceptance of the peace terms. On 22 June, a day before the ultimatum was due to expire, the new gov- ernment declared itself willing to accept the terms with the proviso that it did not acknowledge Germany’s responsibility for the war or agree to the condemnation of the Kaiser and the surrender of other individuals for trial. This declaration was approved in the National Assembly by 237 votes to 138. However, the Allied representatives rejected the German conditions and demanded that the treaty be signed without reservation. This brought about fresh confusion in Weimar. With the ultimatum about to expire, and under the threat of a resumption of military operations, the National Assembly passed a resolution on 23 June to the effect that the government, despite the altered circumstances, was still authorized to sign the treaty. Representatives of the DNVP, DVP and DDP had previously stated that they acknowledged the sincerity of the motives of those who voted for signature. The govern- ment thereupon informed the Allies on 23 June that they were prepared to accept the peace terms. On 28 June the Foreign Minister, Hermann Müller (SPD), and the Minister of Communications, Johannes Bell (Centre Party), signed the treaty in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. During the ensuing months peace treaties with the other defeated states were signed by the Allies at different localities near Paris: with Austria at St Germain on 10 September 1919, with Bulgaria at Neuilly on 27 November 1919, with Hungary at Trianon on 4 June 1920, and with Turkey at Sèvres on 10 August 1920. Germany’s former allies were obliged to limit their armed forces, to pay reparations and to cede large amounts of territory. Austria had to recognize the independence of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia, and to cede Eastern Galicia, the Tyrol south of the Brenner Pass, Trieste, Istria and Dalmatia, as well as parts of Carinthia and Carniola. Bulgaria lost access to the Aegean Sea to Greece. After the former Ottoman Empire, Hungary lost the greatest proportion of her territory, namely: Slovakia and Carpathian Ukraine to the new Czechoslovak republic; Croatia, Slavonia and part of the Banat to Yugoslavia; the rest of the Banat and the whole of Transylvania to Romania. Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 33 11 The Treaty of Sèvres sealed the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Greece fell heir to Eastern Thrace, the Aegean Islands, and Smyrna with its hinterland; France acquired Syria and Cilicia; Italy gained Rhodes and the other Dodecanese Islands along with South-Western Anatolia. Iraq and Palestine fell to Britain, which also exercised a protectorate over Arabia and Egypt. For a short time, Turkish Armenia became independent. Over and above, the Sultan had to agree to the international control of the straits, the occupation of Constantinople, and financial and military control by the Allies. However, the Treaty of Sèvres was not ratified by the parliament 11 in Constantinople and did not come into force. Under the leadership of Mustapha Kemal Paschas (Ataturk), the forces of nationalistic-republican opposition began to form. They succeeded in overthrowing the Greek army 11 operating in Asia Minor and drove them out of Western Anatolia (1921–2); in 1921, the French withdrew from Cilicia, and in 1922, the Italians vacated 1 South-Western Anatolia. After the deposition of the Sultan (1922) and lengthy negotiations with the Allies, the Treaty of Lausanne (24 July 1923) gave the Turkish Republic its own sovereignty and (more or less) the area represented by Turkey today. Even today, the Treaty of Lausanne is of considerable significance because for the first time compulsory resettlement 111 of large groups of people was sanctioned. The states thus deprived of territory were not prepared to acquiesce in the position, and it became the declared object of their policy to bring about a revision of the peace treaties. This was true of Hungary, Bulgaria and, above all, Germany, which throughout the interwar period was the revisionist state par excellence. It has rightly been said that the Treaty of Versailles, depending on one’s point of view, was either too severe or too lenient. ‘Too severe, since Germany could do no other, from the first moment onwards, than try to shake it off; too lenient, because Germany was not so far weakened as to 111 be deprived of the hope and possibility of either extricating herself from the treaty or tearing it up’ (Karl Dietrich Erdmann). In forming a historical judgement today it is important to recognize two points which were insufficiently observed in Germany between the wars, to her own grave disadvantage, owing to the almost unanimous emotional rejection of the ‘dictated peace’. On the one hand, the treaty was a heavy encumbrance for a young democracy, and it may be doubted whether the victors acted wisely in visiting the consequences of defeat on those German politicians and parties which shared Wilson’s ideas concerning international understanding. But, severe though the terms were, in some respects they were less so than 111 might have been expected from the course of the negotiations. The treaty did have the nature of a compromise: it was not the generous ‘Wilsonian peace’ that the Germans had fondly hoped for (but that Wilson himself had never intended in such a form: as Manfred Berg says, ‘Wilson’s “deceit” was in reality self-deception on the part of the Germans about the actual outcome 111 of the war’); yet neither was it a ‘Carthaginian peace’ such as had been 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 34 Historical survey demanded by influential statesmen and large parts of public opinion in the victorious countries. Second, despite the Treaty of Versailles, Germany continued to be a great power with the longer-term prospect of again playing an active part in European affairs, and with greater freedom of movement than she had had in 1914. For Russia had been dislodged from Central Europe and for a long time was absorbed in her internal problems, while, provided Germany pursued a steady and cautious policy towards South-Eastern Europe, that area might in time be turned into an economic and political sphere of German influence. From this point of view we may fully agree with Gerhard Ritter’s statement at the end of the Second World War that: The long-term future offered the best opportunities for a patient, prudent and rational German policy, devoted wholly to making our country an effective peace-keeping agent in Central Europe. The fact that we missed this chance and, in boundless impatience and blind hatred of the so-called ‘Versailles system’, threw ourselves into the arms of a violent adventurer is the greatest misfortune and the most fatal mistake in modern German history. 11 3 The years of crisis, 1919–23 11 11 1 The conclusion of the peace treaty and the adoption of the Weimar consti- tution did not usher in a period of internal consolidation. On the contrary, during the first few years the very existence of the political system created in 1918–19 was more than once threatened. Successive governments were confronted by a multitude of political, economic and social problems that 111 seemed almost insoluble; they had to resist fierce attacks from the oppo- nents of parliamentary democracy, and were under massive pressure from outside. In particular, France, where the 1919 elections had returned a conservative-nationalist majority, insisted relentlessly on the precise execu- tion of the peace terms. Further, having failed to obtain their full security demands at the peace conference, the French sought to achieve them in the post-war years and thus ‘revise’ the Treaty of Versailles at Germany’s expense. It is almost a miracle that the Weimar democracy succeeded in maintaining its existence during these years of extreme tribulation in home and foreign affairs. Only after the succession of crises reached and passed its peak in 111 1923 did a phase begin which seemed to be one of order and stability in home affairs and détente in foreign relations. By 1919 party politics had already formed the pattern they were to display throughout the Republic’s existence, with fatal results: organized opponents of parliamentary democracy combined from left and right to attack the ‘system’. It was already becoming clear that neither the extreme left nor the extreme right saw itself as a loyal opposition whose proper purpose was to take over from the governmental coalition as an alternative government within the framework of the constitution. On the contrary, they were opposed in principle to the system of parliamentary democracy and did 111 their best to destroy it. The extreme right aimed either at a restoration of the pre-democratic monarchy or at a post-democratic dictatorship of a nationalist and plebiscitary character. On the extreme left, a continuous radicalization developed from the beginning of 1919 and culminated in the autumn of that year in an attitude of complete hostility to the parliamentary 111 regime. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 36 Historical survey The USPD, who had more than 750,000 members by the end of 1919, adopted a programme of action at its congress in Leipzig (30 November– 6 December 1919) which concluded: ‘The dictatorship of the proletariat is a revolutionary means of abolishing all classes and class domination in order to achieve socialist democracy . . . Socialist society is to be organized according to the system of councils (soviets).’ Thus the USPD took an ideo- logical stand which excluded political co-operation with the SPD, let alone a reuniting of the two wings of the socialist workers’ movement. Compared to the USPD with its numerous members and increasingly firm organization, the KPD was no more than a splinter party. Its sphere of action was, in any case, small and was further reduced by violent doctrinal disputes: in October 1919 its leaders expelled the ultra-left groups from the party, which in this way lost about half its membership of approximately 100,000. The second half of 1919 saw no major activity by the left, and even the strike movement became less serious. In January 1920, however, fresh unrest threatened with a rail strike and miners’ demands for a six-hour shift, as well as a mass demonstration by the USPD in Berlin followed by an attack on the Reichstag building (13 January 1920). The government declared a state of emergency and quickly brought the situation under control. It continued to regard the left as the chief danger to the political system, and to prepare for further putsches and strikes, while underrating the increasing danger of an upsurge from the right. A close observer, Ernst Troeltsch, noted in December 1919 that the chief supporters of the right-wing assault were the Protestant churches and ‘urban and academic elements’. There was, according to Troeltsch, a dramatic change of mood among the student body. ‘A year ago, when one spoke of students one had to imagine wildly contra- dictory strains of pacifism, revolution, and idealistic Bolshevism; today one has to expect protests of an anti-Semitic, nationalist, anti-revolutionary kind. In many law faculties the students scrape the ground with their feet when they hear the words “national constitution”’. Apart from the circles mentioned by Troeltsch, however, the ‘rightist wave’ (Welle von rechts) now included many white-collar employees and members of the petty bourgeoisie, who had previously tended to occupy the central ground. Right-wing publications and rallies combined agitation against the ‘shameful peace’ (Schmachfrieden) with the ‘stab in the back’ legend: the civil- ians had betrayed the men at the front, and the political left was therefore responsible for the military defeat and the crushing terms of the peace treaty. Hindenburg lent the authority of his name to this interpretation of the German collapse, in a statement to the Investigation Committee of the National Assembly on 18 November 1919. For the conservative-nationalist right the ‘stab in the back’ legend, supplemented by the denial of Germany’s war guilt, performed a very useful double function. On the one hand, it relieved the old regime of responsibility by covering up the failure of the political and mil- itary leaders of imperial Germany; on the other, it laid the blame for defeat, and hence for the unbearable hardships of the present, on the forces of Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 37 11 revolution and, directly or indirectly, on the leading figures of the Weimar Republic. Within a few months the legend became a mainstay of the conser- vative-nationalist ideology of self-justification and aggression. It was effective far beyond the circle of uncompromising opponents of the Republic, since large sections of the population were also loath to admit that Germany had been defeated. It has aptly been said (by Albert Schwarz) that the legend itself operated as a ‘stab in the back’ of the new-born state. Erzberger, the Centre Party statesman, was exposed to especially virulent attacks by the rightist opposition. They hated him as the mover of the peace 11 resolution of 1917, the head of the Armistice delegation, the advocate of signing the peace treaty, and as the Finance Minister who, by a major reform, had carried out the intentions of the constitution by asserting the financial 11 authority of the central government over the Länder. A blow at Erzberger, the ‘Chancellor in secret’, would also hit at the ‘key point of the system’ 1 (Ernst Troeltsch), since it was he who held the Centre–SPD coalition together. A libel action brought by Erzberger against the DNVP leader Helfferich, who had accused him of ‘dishonestly combining political activity with his own financial interests’, ended after weeks of excitement on 12 March 1920 with a judgement that Helfferich’s accusations were partly 111 founded in fact. However, Helfferich was merely fined a derisory sum for technical libel. On the same day, Erzberger resigned his office to the jubi- lation of the nationalist right. The verdict in the Erzberger case was not the first, but a particularly striking example of a long series of judgements that have made the ‘political justice’ of the Weimar Republic distressingly famous. Many judges, whose political and social attitudes were stamped with the values and conservative ideology of imperial times, questioned the legitimacy of the new order. Protected by the privilege of irremovability, which the revolutionary government left unchallenged and which was then enshrined in the new constitution, they handed down many judgments which openly 111 expressed their aversion to the Republic and its loyal supporters. In this way the judiciary bears a large share of responsibility for the collapse of the Republic, ‘contributing to its overthrow by authoritarian and totalitarian movements’ (Karl Dietrich Bracher). On 13 March 1920, a day after the verdict in the Erzberger case was announced, right-wing military circles tried to seize power from the govern- ment in the Kapp–Lüttwitz putsch. Since the beginning of July 1919 a group of extremists headed by General Ludendorff and Wolfgang Kapp, a rural official from East Prussia and a founding member in 1917 of the patriotic Vaterlandspartei (in favour of annexation) had formed the intention of 111 forcibly overthrowing the government; in October 1919 they established the Nationale Vereinigung (National Association) as their organizational nucleus. The conspirators were active in seeking to recruit officers and politi- cians for their plan, and were in close contact with General von Lüttwitz, the ‘father of the Freikorps’, who from the spring of 1919 onwards was in 111 command of all troops east of the Elbe and units in Saxony, Thuringia and 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 38 Historical survey Hanover. The reduction of the regular army in accordance with the peace treaty began in the autumn of 1919; many Freikorps members feared for their livelihood and were prepared to take part in anti-government activi- ties. Kapp, Lüttwitz and their circle planned to take advantage of this mood among the rank and file. At the beginning of March 1920 the government ordered the disbandment of, inter alia, the Ehrhardt Marine Brigade which was quartered near Berlin. Thereupon, on 10 March, Lüttwitz called on President Ebert to put a stop to all further disbandment; he also demanded the resignation of the President and government, and fresh elections to the Reichstag. The government responded by dismissing him, whereupon he made his way to the Ehrhardt Brigade, and early on the morning of 13 March the brigade, under his command, occupied the government district of Berlin and proclaimed Kapp as the new chancellor. Among the army leaders only the commander in chief, General Reinhardt, was prepared to resist the putsch by force of arms; General von Seeckt, head of the camou- flaged General Staff (known as the Truppenamt or Troop Bureau), declared that it was impossible to send in troops. Consequently Noske, the Defence Minister, had no force at his disposal to put down the rebellious soldiers in Berlin. Left in the lurch by the military, the President and government fled first to Dresden and then to Stuttgart. Although the rebels had occupied Berlin without striking a blow, and many army commanders in various parts of Germany were ready to support them, the putsch rapidly collapsed. The trade unions called a general strike, which was spontaneously joined by workers throughout the country, and the national and Prussian bureaucracy adopted a wait-and-see attitude, refusing for the time being to carry out Kapp’s orders. On 17 March, Kapp, Lüttwitz and their closest supporters fled to Sweden. However, the inglorious end of the putsch and the return of the govern- ment to Berlin was not followed by drastic action against the militant opponents of the system, as many of the striking workers and democratic elements of the middle class expected and hoped. No practical effect was given to the unions’ demands for the expulsion of unreliable elements from the civil service and the military establishment, the punishment of the guilty, the socialization of suitable branches of industry, and a reconstitution of the government in consultation with the union leaders. Noske, however, was obliged to resign: he was anathema not only to radicals but to many working- class socialists. In 1919, on his responsibility Freikorps units had been used ruthlessly against striking or rebellious workers; and it was attributed to his blind trust in the officers’ corps that the counter-revolutionaries had orga- nized their putsch under the government’s very nose. The new Defence Minister was Otto Gessler (DDP), and the new head of the Army Command (Chef der Heeresleitung) was Hans von Seeckt, despite his refusal to allow the army to be used to defeat the putsch. The failure of the Kapp putsch offered an opportunity for a thorough stabilization of the democratic order. One reason why this opportunity was Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 39 11 left largely unused, however, was that in several parts of Germany the reac- tions of the striking workers had assumed violent dimensions. In Saxony and Thuringia the workers’ self-defence units carried out armed attacks on Freikorps and regular troops; in the Ruhr district a ‘Red Army’ was formed by socialist workers of various tendencies. Supporters of the USPD and syndi- calist groups were especially active. The communists gradually gained influence, though their leaders had adopted an ambiguous standpoint and had not at first supported the call for a strike. For several weeks the ‘Red Army’ controlled large parts of the Ruhr and fought bitterly against 11 the Freikorps troops whom the government sent into action against them; these battles were conducted with great ferocity on both sides. As the govern- ment troops penetrated into the demilitarized zone to carry out their 11 operations, the French as a counter-measure temporarily occupied Frankfurt and Darmstadt and the surrounding countryside. 1 Thus, in order to suppress the rebellions in the Ruhr district and central Germany in particular, the government used the very troops who had displayed at best a highly ambiguous loyalty to the government and state during the Kapp–Lüttwitz putsch. This use of the army constituted, as it were, the bridge over which the Reichswehr marched, with colours flying, 111 into the post-Kapp era. Seeckt turned the Reichswehr into a ‘state within the state’, largely insulated against parliamentary control. The insistence on its ‘non-political’ character meant that all demands for a more republican and democratic attitude on the part of the Reichswehr could be repulsed on the ground that they were inadmissible attempts to politicize the army. Thus in the ‘Seeckt era’ the Reichswehr became a reliable instrument in the hands of its commanders, but it considered itself as owing loyalty only to an abstract idea of the state and not primarily to the parliamentary republic as such. The officers as a body regarded the Reichswehr as an independent factor of power in home affairs; they lived in an ideological world ‘in which 111 monarchistic, authoritarian survivals blended with a sense of humiliation due to the lost war and the Versailles system; borne up by an élitist sense of mission; custodians of the “state as a whole”, as opposed to the democratic state of political parties, which they regarded in principle as something inferior’ (Hagen Schulze). Accordingly, the political left for its part viewed the Reichswehr with pronounced mistrust. In Bavaria the Kapp putsch can be said to have been successful. The Reichswehr commanders in that state, who were in sympathy with the putsch, obliged the coalition government formed by the Social Democrat Hoffmann to resign; it was replaced by a sharply right-wing government 111 whose object was to make Bavaria a ‘focus of order’ in the Reich. From 1920 onwards Bavaria was an Eldorado for extreme right organizations and leading personalities of militant right-wing radicalism. Before the Kapp–Lüttwitz putsch the government had intended to hold elections to the Reichstag in the autumn of 1920 at the earliest. After the 111 defeat of the putsch and of the rebellions in the Ruhr and Central Germany, 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 40 Historical survey however, they advanced the date to 6 June. The election was a débâcle for the parties of the ‘Weimar coalition’. The SPD and DDP suffered heavy losses (down by 16.2 per cent and 10.2 per cent respectively), while the opposition parties (DNVP, DVP and USPD) scored huge gains (an increase of 4.8 per cent, 9.5 per cent, and 10.3 per cent respectively); the KPD achieved only a meagre 2.1 per cent of the poll (see table, pages 224–5). The coalition thus lost its parliamentary majority at Reich level, and was destined never to recover it. In the National Assembly the coalition had commanded over 78 per cent of the seats (331 out of 423), whereas now the SPD, Centre and DDP together had only 44.6 per cent (205 seats out of 459). As a result, supporters of the Weimar constitution were confronted in the Reichstag by two compact blocs, the ‘red’ and the ‘red, white and black’ (the imperial colours). The normal alternation of govern- ment and opposition was thus excluded; the possibility of forming a stable democratic government was in doubt at the outset, and was to remain so throughout the Republican period (see pages 68 ff. below). The process of forming a Cabinet in the summer of 1920 was extremely difficult. The SPD, after its drastic losses at the election, showed no desire to take up the reins again, and after long negotiations a minority Cabinet was finally formed by the Centre politician Konstantin Fehrenbach. The DVP was associated with the government, having made a formal declaration of support for the republican system; in addition the government was tolerated by the SPD, which was henceforth ‘a kind of cross between a government party and an opposition one’ (Alfred Kastning). The USPD was unable to convert its considerable success at the polls into political influence, as in 1920 it was entirely preoccupied by an internal con- flict. Its left wing wanted to join the Communist International (Comintern), which had been set up in March 1919, and was prepared to accept Moscow’s terms, namely, that national Communist parties should be completely sub- ordinated to the Executive Committee of the Comintern. The right wing of the USPD firmly rejected this. At the congress in Halle on 12–17 October 1920 the dispute split the party more or less equally (its membership was then about 900,000). The left wing united with the KPD, which for the first time gained a strong base in the working class: on 1 October, before the merger, it had only 78,000 members. The right wing or ‘residual USPD’ with rather less than half the membership of October 1920, gradually moved closer to the Majority Socialists and merged with them in September 1922. Soon after the formation of the Fehrenbach Cabinet the question of repa- rations became the main problem of German foreign policy, and of internal affairs as well. It was to remain a dominant theme, indeed perhaps the dominant theme, for years to come. As explained above (page 29), the Treaty of Versailles had laid down the principle of Germany’s obligation to pay repa- rations but had not specified any particular sum. A Reparations Commission, vested with extensive powers, was instructed to report by 1 May 1921 as to Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 41 11 the total amount to be paid by Germany, and to work out a plan of payments. By that date Germany, as an advance against the total, was to pay 20,000 million gold marks in the form of money and material assets. However, before the figures were presented it was already clear that they would be extremely high and that the whole problem of reparations would lead to irreconcilable disagreements between Germany and the victorious powers. The production and transfer of sums of money and goods on a completely unprecedented scale meant advancing into a terra incognita of international financial, economic and monetary policy for which all the participants were ill equipped. Above all, the problem was not seen as one that affected the world economy and that could only be solved by a joint effort of all the countries concerned; instead, each state was guided solely by its own interest. The Germans tried to get the claim scaled down as much as possible and, if they could, to confine it to deliveries in kind. The Allies, on the other hand, took the view that in determining the amount of reparations and mode of payment the main factor must be the creditors’ needs, which Germany was bound to satisfy regardless of whether she was actually able to do so. Thus the victors showed no willingness to accept increased German exports, though it was only in this way that Germany could compensate for the value of the outgoing reparations payment. National tariff policies, collec- tive prejudices and well-organized interest groups, such as French and British heavy industry, all stood in the way of Germany marketing her goods abroad. Moreover, the transfer of money and goods from Germany scarcely increased the purchasing power of the receiving states, because all of them owed large sums to the USA. Thus a large share of German payments finished up in the USA, whence it returned temporarily to Germany in the form of loans after the stabilization of the mark. While the economic policy of the victorious powers prevented a rational implementation of the reparations programme, Germany’s monetary policy was anything but well designed to facilitate the meeting of her obligations. The legacy of the bankrupt empire to the Republican government included a currency that was already gravely undermined. Between 1913 and 1919 the national debt had risen from 5,000 million to 144,000 million marks, as the imperial government had not financed the war by rigorous taxation but chiefly by long-term borrowing (war loans) and by increasing the floating debt; paper money in circulation, including Reichsbank notes, rose from 2,000 million in 1913 to 45,000 million in 1919. The policy of reckless borrowing was continued after 1918: given the very critical internal situa- tion this was the most convenient way, for the time being at least, of coping with the economic and social burdens resulting from the defeat (cost-of- living bonuses, benefits for war victims, family benefits, unemployment relief, compensation to industries and shipowners, interest on war loans). The government and the Reichsbank realized, of course, that the currency would 11 11 1 111 111 111 111 not be stabilized as long as the gap between receipts and expenditure, which 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 42 Historical survey was only to a minor extent the result of the Versailles obligation, was bridged with paper money instead of by taking firm measures to balance the budget. After 1921 at the latest the only possible remedy was a drastic currency reform; there was no longer any way of balancing the budget by con- ventional means. By December 1922 the Reich’s internal deficit reached 469,000 million marks. The government’s passiveness in the matter of currency stabilization is no doubt to be interpreted as part of its strategy over reparations. The infla- tion could be turned to account in foreign policy so as to undermine the reparations programme and thus the execution of the peace treaty: for, as long as inflation lasted, there was no means of calculating Germany’s ability to pay and to carry out deliveries. The German negotiators did not cease to point this out to their Allied opposite numbers, adding that any cash payment of reparations would only make the situation worse. The Allies, for their part, firmly refused to agree to a reduction of the sums due or to an extension of the timetable on account of Germany’s dire financial situation. They demanded that the German government should immediately create a basis for a realistic calculation of reparations by ceasing to print money and balancing the budget, if necessary by drastically increased taxation. By their strategy in regard to currency and reparations the German govern- ments down to 1923 were unintentionally playing into the hands of the political forces in France that were interested in politicizing the reparations question. From 1920 onwards, and especially after Poincaré became both Prime Minister and Foreign Minister (17 January 1922), the French govern- ment sought to make use of the reparations question to make up for their failure at the Paris peace conference to gain control of the Ruhr district and the left bank of the Rhine. For a time at least they seemed close to success, not least owing to the weaknesses of German policy. Only after 1923, when Germany surrendered for the second time by stabilizing her currency and putting an end to passive resistance in the Ruhr, were the French obliged gradually to abandon their revisionist designs. Such is an outline of the basic attitudes in the reparations dispute down to 1923. It may be completed by a few details of the negotiations. In a series of conferences – no fewer than twenty-three in all – the Allied representatives dealt with the amount of the total claim, and the rate and modalities of annual payments. In July 1920 a distribution was agreed according to which France would receive 52 per cent of the total sum, Britain 22 per cent, Italy 10 per cent and Belgium 8 per cent. In January 1921 an inter-Allied conference in Paris agreed on a figure of 226,000 million gold marks for the total debt, to be paid off over forty-two years. At the begin- ning of March the German government was summoned to accept this decision within four days or make satisfactory counter-proposals, other- wise sanctions would follow. The German government rejected the terms, and on 8 March 1921 French troops occupied Düsseldorf, Duisburg and Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 43 11 Ruhrort; the boundary between the occupied area and the rest of Germany became a customs frontier. The German protests were not entirely without effect, however. In April the Reparations Commission fixed the total claim at 132,000 million gold marks and drew up a schedule known as the London payments plan. The effect of this complex scheme was that Germany would make annual payments of 2,000 million gold marks plus 26 per cent of the value of her exports (about another 1,000 million), the first 1,000 million in gold marks to be paid by 31 August 1921. 11 The London plan was received in Berlin on 6 May 1921 with a six-day ultimatum from the Allied Supreme Council, threatening immediate occu- pation of the Ruhr if it was not accepted. Influential circles in Paris were 11 anxious to see the Ruhr occupied and would not have been displeased by a German refusal, but this did not occur. After the resignation of the 1 Fehrenbach government and the formation of a ‘Weimar coalition’ Cabinet by Wirth (10 May 1921), the Reichstag voted by 220 to 172 to comply with the London ultimatum. An important factor in this decision was the fear of losing British support in regard to Upper Silesia. The plebiscite provided for by the Treaty of 111 Versailles and held on 20 March 1921 had resulted in Germany’s favour: nearly 60 per cent of the votes were cast in favour of remaining in the Reich, while a good 40 per cent were for union with Poland. Thereupon, at the beginning of May 1921 the Poles launched a rising in which they were aided by the French occupying troops, whereas the British, who wished the industrial area to go to Germany, allowed the Germans to organize a defen- sive force. Despite successes by the Freikorps (storming of the Annaberg, 23 May), the result of the conflict was a bitter disappointment to Germany. On a recommendation by the Council of the League of Nations, the Allied Supreme Council decided on 20 October 1921 to partition the plebiscite 111 area (a possibility for which the Treaty of Versailles had allowed), in a manner unfavourable to German interests. The industrial area in the eastern part of Upper Silesia was given almost entirely to Poland (1,240 square miles with about a million inhabitants, about 56 per cent of whom had voted for Poland), while Germany retained the Western part of the territory, which was larger but industrially less valuable. The acceptance of the London payments plan by the German government marked the beginning of the ‘policy of fulfilment’ which was tenaciously opposed by German nationalists. The intention of the policy, which its oppo- nents failed to perceive or regard as valid, was to demonstrate, by complying 111 with the reparations demands to the utmost of Germany’s ability, that they were impossible to execute, and thus compel a revision. It was also hoped to improve Germany’s position by gaining time in the ‘cold war’ with France. In the view of Germany’s creditors, however, a German policy of fulfilment without a prior stabilization of the currency, that is, a radical curtailment of 111 expenditure and the raising of drastic new taxes, could not be regarded as 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 44 Historical survey a serious attempt to meet the country’s obligations. Their opinion was rein- forced when Germany, after paying the first 1,000 million gold marks, immediately asked her creditors for a moratorium. On 12 July 1922 the German government requested the Reparations Commission to agree to the suspension of the remaining payments due in that year, and also declared that Germany could make no cash payments in 1923 or 1924. In November 1922 the government went some steps further. As the precondition of a stabilization of the currency it asked to be freed from all obligations under the Treaty of Versailles for three or four years and to be granted an international bank credit of 500 million gold marks; scarcely any reference was made to special efforts on Germany’s part, except perhaps in return for further Allied concessions. The ‘fulfilment’ phase was for the time being at an end. The ‘fulfilment policy’ of 1921–2 is connected with the names of Chancellor Wirth and Walther Rathenau (Minister of Reconstruction, then Foreign Minister from January 1922). These two statesmen are also associated with the first manifestation of an independent German foreign policy after 1918: namely, the German–Soviet Treaty of Rapallo, signed on 16 April 1922. By this treaty the powers mutually renounced any claims to compensation for war costs and damage, including civilian damage; Germany, in addition, waived her claims in respect of the nationalization of German property in Russia by the Soviet regime. To Germany the treaty had the advantage of countering Article 116 of the Treaty of Versailles, which had given Russia a vague assurance of reparations from Germany. It was also agreed that German–Soviet trade would be stepped up on a most-favoured-nation basis, and the two countries would enter into full diplomatic relations. The Rapallo treaty had been preceded by a phase of close economic contact (commercial treaty of 6 May 1921) and limited co-operation between the Reichswehr and the Red Army (exchange of officers for advanced training courses, co-operation in the armaments industry from 1920 onwards). The treaty itself was concluded on the occasion of the Genoa conference, at which no fewer than twenty-eight states assembled in April 1922 to discuss the economic recovery of Central and Eastern Europe. The French government (headed by Poincaré since January) favoured an inter- national financial and economic consortium to raise and allocate the resources necessary for reconstruction in Russia and to exercise some kind of economic supervision over the Soviet government. Behind this was the intention to create a united front, vis-à-vis the Soviets, of all European states that had granted credits to pre-revolutionary Russia, or whose nationals had suffered losses due to socialization since the Bolsheviks assumed power. The Russians, seeing the plan for a consortium as designed merely to exploit Russia and infringe her sovereignty, naturally sought to defeat it and instead to make separate agreements with individual powers on the best terms they could. For this purpose Soviet diplomacy endeavoured to exploit Anglo- French tensions and to cultivate closer relations with Germany. In view of Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 45 11 the unfriendly attitude of the Western powers at Genoa, the German dele- gation responded to the Soviet advances as a means of breaking Germany’s isolation. The signature of the treaty in fact created a sensation: France and Britain took offence at Germany’s action, and the plan for an international consortium was torpedoed. The Rapallo policy gave rise to controversy in its time, and opinons are still divided as to its significance, scope and consequences. What did Rapallo really mean in the context of German foreign policy? Some advocates of the policy attached far-reaching expectations to it, such as an early German– 11 Soviet assault on Poland or a complete overthrow of the Versailles system. Seeckt, in particular, dreamt of concerted action by the two powers to erase Poland from the map and restore Germany’s eastern frontier of 1914 11 (memorandum of 11 September 1922). But Rapallo did not necessarily portend an eastward orientation of German policy, although many of its 1 supporters would have liked it to: it was also a strategic move towards a policy of normalizing relations with the Western powers (Karl Dietrich Erdmann). The German delegation at Genoa did not use the treaty as a means of playing off the West and East against each other; on the contrary, they even sought to bring about a kind of accommodation between Soviet 111 Russia and the Western powers. Thus the importance of the Rapallo treaty on the international stage should not be overestimated. It soon became clear how limited the effect of the treaty was. It did not produce a breathing-space for Germany in foreign affairs, or do anything to remove the massive threat on the home front from militant radicalism of the right and left. In the spring of 1921 the KPD leaders – influenced to a large extent by emissaries of the Comintern, and overestimating the increase of their strength resulting from the accession of the left wing of the USPD – launched a rebellion in the central industrial area of Merseburg, Halle and 111 Mansfeld: the ‘March operation’ (Märzaktion), intended to herald a revo- lutionary frontal attack on the parliamentary system. The rebellion was suppressed in a few days by the Prussian police, after fierce fighting in some places. The severe defeat and the resulting dissension within the party (leading officials left the KPD or were expelled, the parliamentary section of the party split in two) reduced its ability and desire for action in the ensuing months. But the strength of the Communist movement was by no means broken: it was able to maintain control of most of its organizations, and from the summer of 1921 onwards its ‘united front’ tactics made inroads on the membership of the SPD and the residual USPD. 111 The years 1921–2 saw a regrouping and intensified mobilization of the militant right. The right-wing radicals formed patriotic leagues (Vater- ländische Verbände) and numerous secret organizations, mostly illegal successors to the Freikorps which had by this time been officially disbanded; one of these was the ‘Consul’ organization, headed by Captain Ehrhardt. 111 Members of these groups increasingly resorted to the weapon of political 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 46 Historical survey murder, which had previously been uncommon in Germany. In addition to actual or supposed deserters from their ranks, or individuals suspected of giving away the location of illegal stores of arms (the Feme or Vehmgericht murders), victims of these crimes included leading representatives of demo- cratic Germany. On 9 June 1921 the USPD leader Karl Gareis was shot dead in Munich; Matthias Erzberger met the same fate in the Black Forest on 26 August 1921; Scheidemann and the journalist Max Harden were attacked and narrowly escaped death. The most eminent victim of extreme right terrorists was Rathenau, the Foreign Minister, who was shot by members of the Consul organization on 24 June 1922. His murder caused great indignation among the public, including the middle class, by whom he was much respected. ‘The enemy is on the right!’ Chancellor Wirth exclaimed in the Reichstag, addressing the DNVP and Helfferich in partic- ular, and thus proclaiming that the whole right wing, in their boundless hatred of the democratic republic and its representatives, were to blame for the unheard-of brutalization of the political conflict. On 21 July 1921, as a direct result of Rathenau’s murder, the Reichstag passed a Law for the Protection of the Republic, valid for five years, which imposed severe penalties for conspiracy to murder and provided a means of prohibiting extremist organizations. The DNVP, BVP and KPD voted against the Bill, and Bavaria refused to recognize the new measure: in this state there was by now a decided swing to the right, giving a clear field to extremist organizations including the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers’ Party, that is, the Nazis), who were already growing in impor- tance. If, contrary to Republican hopes and expectations, the law of 21 July did not prove an effective weapon against enemies of the democratic state, this was above all because its application was in the hands of a judiciary that made no secret of its dislike for democracy and its sympathy with the polit- ical right. ‘The communists were made to feel the full rigour of the law, but their right-wing opponents were all too often treated with marked indul- gence. The failing of many judges and lawyers to perform their duty in this respect cannot be argued away and will always be a distressing chapter in the annals of German justice’ (Gotthard Jasper). In the furore caused by Rathenau’s murder, the government parties thought it inopportune to hold a plebiscite for the election of a new pres- ident as required by the constitution. Accordingly, on 24 October 1922 the Reichstag passed an amending resolution prolonging Ebert’s period of office until June 1925. Three weeks later the Wirth Cabinet fell because the Social Democrats in the Reichstag would not agree to enlarge the ‘Weimar coalition’ to a ‘grand coalition’ by taking in the DVP, but preferred to go back into opposition. (On the general problem of coalition politics, see pages 68 ff. below.) A Cabinet of decidedly right-wing complexion took office on 22 November 1922, led by Wilhelm Cuno, the head of the Hamburg– America shipping line, who was officially non-party but regarded as a member of the DVP. Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 47 11 While Germany during these weeks was moving away from the ‘fulfilment policy’, the French government under Poincaré was determined to assert all its rights under the peace treaty, including sanctions against Germany. Poincaré’s slogan was ‘no moratorium without pledges’; his objective was to secure pledges, and the insistent German request for a moratorium there- fore suited him admirably. Britain was opposed to demanding ‘productive pledges’ (gages productifs), but was increasingly impatient with German efforts to ‘present the German currency crisis as a crisis of Germany’s ability to pay’ (Hermann Graml). The British were therefore not prepared to take 11 Germany’s side unreservedly and, by so doing, to prevent Poincaré from advancing into the Ruhr. To Poincaré it appeared that the time and opportunity to realize his long- 11 standing objective had come when, at the end of December 1922, the Reparations Commission declared Germany to be in default on deliveries of 1 timber and coal and – against the vote of the British delegate – pronounced this to be a basic violation of her obligations. On this flimsy juridical pretext Poincaré, with Belgian and Italian support, initiated the occupation of the Ruhr on 9 January 1923. A group of engineers were sent with instructions to take charge of the coal syndicate and ensure strict compliance with the 111 delivery programme laid down by the Reparations Commission. The engi- neers were ‘protected’ by five French and one Belgian division, 60,000 men in all, who occupied the whole area of the Ruhr. In the following weeks, their numbers were increased to 100,000. While Poincaré was interested in reparations as such, he also wished to create a political basis for pushing Germany’s frontier back to the Rhine and thus achieving the permanent weakening of Germany which, in his view, ought to have been effected in 1919. In this sense the occupation of the Ruhr was a deliberate act of revisionism on the part of France. Germany reacted to the occupation of the Ruhr with an almost unani- 111 mous outcry of national indignation. The spirit of August 1914 seemed to return; class antagonisms receded for the time being, giving place to a sense of shared national destiny. The central government, powerless to take mili- tary action, at once suspended all reparations payments to France and Belgium and called on the population of the Ruhr district to offer ‘passive resistance’: all officials, including those of the railway, were forbidden to take orders from the occupation authorities. The French and Belgians replied to the ‘general strike’ of the German government and population by the expulsion of officials, especially those of the railways and administration, by confiscations and by completely severing economic links between the Ruhr 111 and the rest of Germany. An open state of conflict existed between Germany and the victorious powers, especially France. The object of the German government was to demonstrate to the French and Belgians, by means of passive resistance, that the policy of ‘pledges’, which in practice were the reverse of productive, was not worth their while. 111 It was hoped that the French and Belgians would see this and withdraw 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 48 Historical survey their troops, so that negotiations could take place concerning the level of reparations and the provision of German material assets as a guarantee of performance. In the first six months of the occupation less coal and coke was delivered to France and Belgium than in the last ten days preceding it. But time was on France’s side, as passive resistance could only be kept up for a limited period. Germany, whose currency was already in a precarious state, had to pay out thousands of millions of marks in currency or in kind to the people of the Ruhr district, who were forfeiting their pay on government orders; tax revenue ceased to flow from the Ruhr, as did coal deliveries to the rest of the country, so that the government’s entire supply of foreign currency had to be spent on coal from abroad. The government chose not to impose on the unoccupied part of the country, which was already suffering great hard- ship, a burden of taxation adequate to redress the emergency situation. By April 1923 the government’s financial needs had shot up to seven times the normal revenue level: the gap was filled by the printing press. In December 1922 the mark stood at 8,000 to the dollar; in April 1923 the figure was about 20,000, and at the beginning of August one million. The mark continued to plunge downwards. Assets expressed in money terms, such as government loans, mortgages, bonds and savings bank accounts, became valueless. In August 1923 the quantity of notes in circulation reached 663 billion marks (a billion = a million million), while the floating debt of the Reich was over a trillion (a million billion) marks; there was no German currency any more. (For the economic and social consequences of the inflation see below, pages 181 ff.) From the spring of 1923 onwards the government endeavoured without success to put an end to the Ruhr conflict without total surrender. Poincaré insisted on the unconditional abandonment of passive resistance before consenting to fresh negotiations. The German government therefore had to give in. After the fall of the Cuno Cabinet a ‘grand coalition’ government was formed, representing the SPD, DDP, Centre and DVP; as the new Chancellor Gustav Stresemann put it, the object was to include ‘all elements loyal to the constitutional idea of the state’. Stresemann was himself the leader of a markedly right-wing party, the DVP; yet it was he who abandoned the bankrupt policy of obstruction and, by a calculated act of surrender, opened the way to a German foreign policy that took account of international realities. On 26 September 1923 he revoked the policy of passive resistance and resumed the payment of reparations and occupation costs in France and Belgium; on 24 October the German government requested the Reparations Commission to carry out an investigation into Germany’s economic situation. The first act of surrender was followed by a second, which was also compelled by circumstances but, after the undue hesitation of previous governments, was at last whole-heartedly undertaken by Stresemann’s gov- ernment: the creation of the Rentenmark in November 1923 laid the basis Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 49 11 for a stable currency, and also made it possible to embark on constructive negotiations for a settlement of the reparations question. Before this, however, the German government had to cope with a period of acute difficulty in internal affairs. In October–November 1923 separatist groups became active in western Germany, the Rhineland and the Palatinate: partly with the tacit approval and partly with the open support of the occupying powers, these groups invaded official premises and proclaimed ‘autonomous republics’. However, their attempts to seize power were frustrated by popular resistance, and the French authorities finally 11 withdrew their support. More dangerous attempts at subversion came from extremists of the right and left. On 1 October a putsch in Küstrin by temporary volunteers 11 (the ‘Black Reichswehr’) was put down by regular troops. Also in October, the KPD made preparations for revolutionary action based on Central 1 Germany. In Saxony and also in Thuringia, where the SPD and KPD together commanded a majority in the Landtage (state assemblies), these two parties combined to form a government and began to organize proletarian defence units (hundreds). The KPD entered these governments as a tactical man- oeuvre under the slogan of a ‘united front’, to gain a basis for a revolutionary 111 uprising. Overestimating their own strength and the readiness of the workers to engage in combat, and also under pressure from the Comintern in Moscow, the Communists set about actively creating a military organization in preparation for a rising. But the central government, by rapid and deter- mined action, foiled the plan to unleash an ‘October Revolution’ in Saxony and Thuringia. On 26 September, as the political crisis became acute, the government had proclaimed a state of emergency throughout Germany, whereby executive power was transferred to regional military commanders as representatives of the Ministry of Defence. When the Saxon Prime Minister, Erich Zeigner (SPD), refused to carry out the orders of the regional 111 commander and disband the proletarian defence units, the central govern- ment sent Reichswehr troops into Saxony on 23 October and, a few days later, categorically ordered Zeigner to drop the communists from his Cabinet. However, whereas in Thuringia the KPD ministers resigned and the proletarian defence units were disbanded, Zeigner refused to reform his government. Thereupon, on 29 October, the central government dismissed him from office and appointed Heinze of the DVP as Reich Commissar. However, a right-wing dictatorship did not install itself in Saxony as middle- class elements had hoped, as the Landtag at once elected a new prime minister who formed an all-SPD Cabinet. 111 By this time the KPD leaders were already beating a retreat. A congress of factory councils at Chemnitz on 21 October produced no majority for a general strike and the election of political workers’ councils; the KPD leaders shrank from an all-out struggle for power, and called off the proposed local uprisings. Only in Hamburg, owing to a hitch in communications, did an 111 isolated uprising occur: on 24–26 October a few hundred communists 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 50 Historical survey carried on a hopeless battle against the police. The ‘German October’ planned by the Comintern and the KPD leadership failed to materialize. The central government and the Reichstag acted much less energetically against right-wing insurgence in Bavaria in November 1923 than they had done against left-wing Saxony and Thuringia in the previous month, with the result that the SPD seceded from the ‘grand coalition’ on 3 November. In the autumn of 1923 the nationalist right was looking towards Bavaria more hopefully than ever. The state government, itself firmly right wing, was under pressure from still more rightist forces – patriotic, nationalist and paramilitary organizations, acting under Ludendorff’s patronage as United Patriotic Associations, who, inspired by the Fascist March on Rome (October 1922), were planning a ‘march on Berlin’ for the purpose of setting up a nationalist dictatorship. After the cessation of passive resistance in the Ruhr, the Bavarian govern- ment declared a state of emergency and appointed Ritter von Kahr, a member of the Patriotic Associations, as state commissioner-general. The rebellion took on a new dimension in October, when the 7th Reichswehr Division under General von Lossow, stationed in Bavaria, refused to obey the orders of the Reich government. At the beginning of November – by which time the central government had regained control of the situation in Saxony and Thuringia the conflict with Bavaria became still more acute. The atti- tude of General von Seeckt, the head of the Reichswehr, was ambiguous at this time. When Ebert on 3 November proposed government interven- tion in Bavaria, Seeckt declared that this was impossible, as men of the Reichswehr would not march against their comrades; instead he demanded dictatorial powers for himself, which Ebert refused. At the same time, Seeckt emphatically warned Kahr and Lossow not to be carried away by nationalist extremists, and this warning had some effect. The extremist leaders, above all Ludendorff and Hitler, perceived that Kahr and Lossow were lukewarm towards the idea of launching an independent attack. They therefore resolved to take advantage of a rally which Kahr had organized for 8 November in the Bürgerbräu cellar in Munich, to transform it into the opening move in a coup d’état and thus after all to bring about a nationalist uprising. Escorted by armed SA (brownshirt) troopers, Hitler burst into the hall, declared that the Bavarian government and the Reich government were deposed, and forced Kahr, Lossow and Seisser (the Bavarian police chief) to agree to proclaim a provisional Reich government composed of Ludendorff, Hitler, Lossow and Seisser. But within a few hours the tables were turned: Kahr, Lossow and Seisser, who had regained their freedom of action during the night, withdrew their agreement to the plan and resolved to defeat the National Socialist putsch. On the morning of 9 November Hitler and Ludendorff found they had been outmanoeuvred, but did not give up their plan. They organized a march through the centre of Munich, which was held up and fired on by a police cordon at the Feldherrnhalle; the demon- strators fled, and the ‘national revolution’ collapsed. With the failure of Origin and consolidation, 1918/19–1923 51 11 the Munich putsch, the worst of the internal crisis was over. Seeckt, to whom Ebert had transferred the executive power of the Reich and supreme command of the army on the night of 8/9 November, was not preparedto cross the Rubicon and become dictator. The NSDAP and other organ- izations of the extreme right were proscribed throughout Germany, as was the KPD. In the crucial test of the autumn weeks of 1923, the Republic had main- tained itself against challenges from both right and left. Putsches by both sets of extremists had been defeated, a currency reform had put a stop to 11 inflation, the conflict in foreign policy had begun to lose its intensity, and internal affairs were slowly beginning to quieten down. The crises of 1923 had, above all, weakened the extreme left for some years to come. With the 11 collapse of the ‘German October’ the danger of a Communist attempt at revolution could be regarded as finally averted. There was no longer a ‘revo- 1 lutionary situation’, and the KPD had lost much of its offensive force; many of its members and supporters fell away, and the energies of its leaders were to a large extent absorbed by internal dissension during the ‘Stalinization’ of the party. In 1924–30 the KPD was not a truly significant force within the workers’ movement or on the stage of national politics: though conspic- 111 uous, it had little real power. On the other hand, the right-wing challenge to the Republic was thwarted for the time being only. In particular sections of the population and in élite professional groups there was still a massive reservoir of anti-republican and anti-democratic feeling, which could at a suitable opportunity be mobilized for a new frontal attack on the Weimar state. Large sections, particularly of the Protestant clergy and their congre- gations, were sceptical and hostile towards the new constitutional order. Thus at the end of 1923 it was impossible to foretell whether the Republic’s success in weathering its postwar crises would lead to a lasting consolidation of the parliamentary democratic system. The omens were at best uncertain. 111 The different degree of determination shown in putting down revolutionary threats from the right and left respectively; the ambiguous attitude of the Reichswehr leaders at moments of crisis; the agitation against the ‘November republic’, which continued with unabated violence – all these signs indi- cated how precarious was the position of those who were working for a stabilization of the Republic. 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 11 (B) THE PHASE OF RELATIVE STABILIZATION, 1924–9 1 German foreign policy within the European system 11 11 1 Within a surprisingly short time after the dramatic events of 1923, Germany’s internal situation began to stabilize, and she was able by degrees to break out of the diplomatic isolation of the early postwar years. This was due to a fortunate combination of circumstances at home and abroad. German politicians began to take a more realistic view of the possibilities and limi- 111 tations of their country’s foreign policy, and for a variety of reasons Allied statesmen gradually altered their attitude towards defeated Germany and the problems of Europe. The climate of international relations underwent a change. Not only Germany but the other European states had emerged from the immediate postwar period, which had presented a very different character as between the various states, their internal conditions and constitutional structures. If France was still able in the first years after the war to play the part of a European great power it was because the other powers, with greater or less good will, allowed her to exercise hegemony on the Continent. The 111 USA for the time being withdrew from European affairs; Germany and the Soviet Union were in no position as yet to pursue an active foreign policy, and Britain was absorbed by her colonial, economic and social problems. The British government believed it could only cope with those problems if the wartime coalition remained in being. Hence, immediately after the armistice with Germany, Lloyd George’s wing of the Liberal Party concluded an electoral alliance with the Conservatives. In the ‘khaki election’ on 14 December 1918 (at which, for the first time, the vote was extended to all men over 20 and all women over 30) the alliance scored a triumphant victory, with over 5 million votes and 478 seats; Labour, with 2.89 million 111 votes, obtained 63 seats. The Liberals led by Asquith (Prime Minister from 1908 to 1916), who refused to join the coalition, received 1.3 million votes and only 28 seats. The result was a triumph for Lloyd George but even more for the Conservatives, who numbered no fewer than 339 in the new House of Commons. They thus predominated in the coalition, although 111 Lloyd George, who remained premier until 1922, was the decisive factor in 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 54 Historical survey British policy by virtue of his personal authority, style of leadership and mastery of political tactics. Admittedly the policy in question was, over long periods, one of ‘muddling through’. To keep the coalition together the government had to make constant compromises and adopt contradictory attitudes, especially in regard to economic and social problems, which became acute after the collapse of the postwar boom in the winter of 1920–1. The number of unemployed doubled between December and March, and rose finally to 16 per cent of the working population; The Economist called 1921 ‘one of the worst years of depression since the industrial revolution’. However, despite unemployment and major strikes the government managed to uphold its authority and preserve public order. Moreover, in 1921, it achieved a partial solution of the Irish question, which amounted to granting independence to the South. Thus 1922 was Britain’s first ‘normal’ year since 1914, and the dissolution of the coalition signified a return to normality in party poli- tics also. The Conservative leaders decided on 19 October 1922 to fight the next election independently, whereupon Lloyd George resigned without awaiting the result; the new Prime Minister was Bonar Law. In the November election the Conservatives gained a massive majority (345 seats), while the Liberals, with 116 seats, were well behind Labour with 142. Baldwin, who succeeded Law in May 1923, dissolved parliament prema- turely in the same year but was unable to repeat the Conservative success. At the election in December, although the parties secured practically the same number of votes as in 1922, the Conservative victory was not repeated in parliamentary terms: the Liberals gained a further 40 seats and Labour 50, while the Conservatives lost over 90 seats and had only a relative majority in the new Parliament. During the 1920s the traditional British two-party system underwent a radical change: the Labour Party, with its strongholds in the industrial cities and areas such as Scotland and Wales, began to replace the Liberals as the principal opposition party; this had the immediate effect of destabilizing the old equilibrium, and eventually led to the alternation of Conservatives and Labour as the two main parties. When the Conservative government was defeated in a Commons vote in January 1924 the Labour statesman James Ramsay MacDonald, as leader of the second largest party in the House, was called on to form the new govern- ment. The fact that his minority government was tolerated by the other two main parties, and was able to perform its functions without obstruction by the bureaucracy or business circles, is a striking tribute to British parlia- mentarianism and, at the same time, an indication of how far the working class and its political representatives had become integrated into the polit- ical system. During 1924, a crucial year in European affairs, MacDonald pursued an active foreign policy: he endeavoured to reconcile France and Germany and to strengthen the League of Nations (the Geneva Protocol for the settlement of disputes), and established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Relative stabilization, 1924–9 55 11 MacDonald’s basic policy in European affairs outlasted his short term of office. A Labour defeat in the House of Commons on a relatively minor issue led to fresh elections at the end of October 1924, at which the Conservatives again gained a clear majority. Labour lost a few seats, but the Liberals continued their decline by forfeiting about 100, so that they were no longer of decisive political significance. The five years of Baldwin’s second government were marked by a modus vivendi between the ruling Conservatives and the Labour Opposition, as well as a gradual economic improvement broken only for a short time by the general strike of 1926. In 11 these years the British government steadily pursued its efforts for a lasting peace in Europe. Unlike the position in Britain, French politics, plans and activities were 11 dominated by the German problem and by the endeavour to achieve and maintain maximum security vis-à-vis the country’s eastern neighbour. 1 Certainly on the morrow of the First World War, France was indisputably superior to Germany, politically and militarily. But French statesmen were alarmed by the prospect that, despite Germany’s losses of territory and popu- lation, in the long run 40 million Frenchmen would again be in an inferior position to 62 million Germans, whose huge economic potential had not 111 been seriously impaired by the war and its consequences. France, for her part, had not only lost 1.4 million men on the battlefields, but had suffered the devastation of her northern and eastern provinces; 2 million hectares (4.94 million acres) of agricultural land was laid waste, over 220,000 houses destroyed and over 120,000 damaged; 60,000 kilometres (37,000 miles) of roads and 5,600 kilometres (3,500 miles) of railroad track were in need of repair. Huge economic and social problems loomed ahead. None the less, despite massive strikes and frequent rioting in 1919–20, no revolutionary movement developed in France after the war; the nation as a whole was proud of the way it had stood the test of war. The parlia- 111 mentary election of November 1919 was a triumph for the Bloc National, an alliance of right wing and centre parties which, like the coalition in Britain, sought to prolong the union sacrée into the years of peace. The Bloc gained over two-thirds of all seats; the only significant opposition group were the Socialists with 72 seats. Clemenceau remained premier until January 1920, when he was defeated in the presidential election and retired from the political scene, on which he had played a major part for the past fifty years. The premier from January 1921 to January 1922 was Aristide Briand, who after 1924 became the advocate of a policy of reconciliation with Germany. In 1921, however, he held out for the strict execution of the 111 Versailles terms, including sanctions if necessary. Even so, he was not radical enough for a majority of the Bloc, and in January 1922 he was forced to resign in favour of their chosen leader, Poincaré. We have already described the latter’s intransigence over reparations and his attempt, culmi- nating in the occupation of the Ruhr, to ‘revise’ the Treaty of Versailles in 111 France’s favour. Although the trial of strength in the Ruhr was a technical 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 56 Historical survey victory for France, Poincaré did not succeed in converting it into a lasting success for his objectives. Several factors obliged France to draw in her horns in the course of 1924. The crisis of the franc from the end of 1923 onwards could only be over- come with British and US help, so that France was forced to make some concession to Anglo-American ideas of a reasonable reparations settlement. The Americans and British were also not prepared to allow France to exer- cise economic hegemony in Central Europe by controlling the industry of the Ruhr. Moreover, after the Ruhr occupation France was no longer seen as an innocent victim of foreign aggression, deserving sympathy and support, but rather as a militarist and imperialist power using force ruthlessly to achieve expansionist aims. This change in world public opinion threatened to damage France’s position and perhaps even isolate her in foreign affairs; fear of this gradually inclined the French to show some willingness to seek a solution for the political issues between them and Germany. The elections to the Chamber on 11 May 1924 brought a spectacular defeat for the Bloc National and a victory for the left-wing Cartel des Gauches. Poincaré yielded the premiership to the Republican Leftist Edouard Herriot who, with tacit Socialist support, and in the conviction that France needed a period of quiet, co-operated with the British in seeking a modus vivendi with Germany. In October 1924 France also entered into diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. The following years were marked by close co-operation between France and Britain in foreign affairs; the German chargé d’affaires in London reported that this extended to ‘all world questions’. This ‘intimate rela- tionship between the Foreign Office and the Quai d’Orsay’ should not be overlooked in a study of the background to Stresemann’s foreign policy. In Italy the tide of revolution after the end of the war rose consider- ably higher than in Britain or France. The parliamentary system was much less stable and much less accepted by the country at large than in the Western democracies; the economic and social problems were more acute, and national feelings were exacerbated by Italy’s failure to secure all of her extensive postwar demands (Fiume, Dalmatia, Albania, the eastern Mediterranean). These factors constituted a highly explosive mixture. The successive Cabinets of 1919–22 (Nitti, Giolitti, Bonomi, Facta), though they commanded parliamentary support, were unable to cope with unemploy- ment, inflation and the spread of violence. This came first from the left wing, which stirred up unrest by means of strikes and the occupation of factories (Turin and Milan, 1920), but the initiative soon passed to the militant right. Benito Mussolini, who increasingly came to the fore as its organizer and agitator, had parted company with the Socialists in 1914, when he advo- cated Italy’s entry into the war on the side of the Entente. He now became a vociferous spokesman for nationalist emotions and social fears, and set out to organize nationalist, anti-socialist and anti-liberal forces. The Fasci di combattimento (fighting squads) were created in 1919, the Partito Nazionale Fascista in 1921. ‘Appealing to all classes by a combination of conservative Relative stabilization, 1924–9 57 11 and progressive, anti-communist and state socialist, reactionary and rev- olutionary aims’ (Karl Dietrich Bracher), and making increasing use of ‘direct action’, Mussolini went to war against liberal democracy. Large sections of the army and the business world sympathized with the Fascists for fear of communism, and government circles were increasingly disposed to ‘tame’ the movement by associating it with office. Thus it was due not so much to the spectacular March on Rome, which set out from Naples on 27 October 1922, as to defeatism in the political establishment that the king, three days later, invited Mussolini to form a government, while on 11 25 November Parliament granted him dictatorial powers to restore order and carry out reforms. The Fascist dictatorship in Italy was not created overnight but was a 11 gradual process, culminating in the election of 1929 in which the party’s single list received 99 per cent of the votes cast. This is not the place to 1 describe the development and organization of the dictatorship; from our present point of view the important fact is that in the 1920s the new regime concentrated on strengthening its position at home and showed modera- tion in foreign affairs. Except for the brief interlude of the occupation of Corfu in 1923, which was swiftly terminated under pressure from the League 111 of Nations and especially Britain, Mussolini refrained from expansionism and co-operated in efforts to organize European security after 1923, so that European statesmen in those years did not see Fascist Italy as a significant threat to the existing order. After concluding a series of treaties of friend- ship (with Spain in 1926, Hungary in 1927, and Greece, Abyssinia and Turkey in 1928) Mussolini signed the Lateran treaties with the Vatican in 1929, thus putting an end to the conflict between the Church and the Italian state which had existed since 1870. These treaties were not only of great importance for the internal stabilization of the regime but also did much to enhance its international prestige. 111 The principal crisis area between the wars was east Central Europe, which had undergone a wholesale political reorganization at the end of the First World War owing to the forcing back of Russia and the break-up of Austria- Hungary. The principle invoked was the self-determination of peoples, but it soon proved that, given the medley of races in the area and the chauvinism of the ruling nationalities, self-determination was not a reliable basis for a stable international system. None of the new states succeeded in solving its minority problems, as might have been done by means of a federal consti- tution or a wide degree of cultural autonomy. The instability that resulted was increased by deep-seated economic and social problems. Both republics 111 and monarchies in the area sought a remedy to the ‘crisis of postwar democracy’, which set in soon after the war, by turning to authoritarian or semi-authoritarian forms of government: Poland (Pilsudski’s coup d’état) and Lithuania in 1926, Yugoslavia in 1929, Bulgaria, Estonia and Latvia in 1934, Greece in 1936. In Hungary, after the overthrow in 1919 of the short-lived 111 Soviet republic headed by Béla Kun, an authoritarian regime was established 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 58 Historical survey under the Regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy; in Austria the Christian-Socialist Chancellor, Engelbert Dollfuss, set up a conservative dictatorship in 1933–4. In Czechoslovakia the parliamentary system remained intact, but the rigor- ously centralized regime and domination by the Czech ethnic group led to permanent internal conflict and eventually furnished a pretext to the neigh- bouring countries – Germany, Hungary and Poland – to seize those areas inhabited by their own peoples. Poland received or gained its postwar boundaries thanks to the fact that the geopolitical preponderance of its German and Russian neighbours was eliminated for a brief moment in history, while French protection of the Poles encouraged an adventurous policy on their part. Anticipating what were believed to be aggressive Soviet intentions, on 25 April 1920 Poland invaded the Russian republic, weakened as it was by Entente intervention and civil war. After reverses during which the Red Army threatened Warsaw itself, the Poles won a military victory owing above all to Pilsudski’s strategy. As a result, Poland advanced her eastern frontier beyond the demarcation line proposed by the Allies (the Curzon line), so as to take in large areas inhabited chiefly by Ukrainians and Belorussians (preliminary treaty signed on 12 October 1920, final treaty of Riga on 18 March 1921). The Soviet Union was in no way disposed to accept this settlement in the long run, just as Germany refused to resign itself to the German–Polish frontier as fixed by the Treaty of Versailles and by the Allied award in the dispute over Upper Silesia. The dangers inherent in this situation were not lessened by the tendency of Polish statesmen to overestimate their country’s strength. After the October Revolution in Russia, the Bolshevik leaders’ approach to the nations of Europe was based on ideas of revolutionary strategy and propaganda, to the exclusion of foreign policy in the sense of international relations. However, after the first attempts to bring about world revolution proved a failure, the Soviet leaders were forced to realize that their country had to behave as a state among others. The change of attitude took place in 1920, after the Russian civil war, the Entente intervention and the war with Poland. The Comintern took charge of propagating and organizing revolutionary internationalism, whereas the ‘primacy of survival’ (Dietrich Geyer) meant absolute priority for internal stabilization and much-needed economic development within the Soviet Union itself. After long years of civil war and war communism the desperate economic situation was in itself a compelling reason for giving the Soviet state a period of rest, opening it up to trade with the capitalist world, and encouraging the latter to contribute to Russia’s economic recovery. A first step was taken with the decree of 13 November 1920 on economic concessions, designed to attract foreign capital to Soviet Russia. At the Tenth Party Congress in March 1921 the New Economic Policy (NEP) was proclaimed, creating a private capitalist sector alongside the state economy. Private capitalist activity in trade and crafts was again permitted, and many small or medium industrial concerns that had been nationalized in 1918 were reprivatized. Along with this went intensive Relative stabilization, 1924–9 59 11 efforts for international recognition, diplomatic relations and livelier trade contacts. These efforts were not wholly unsuccessful. Commercial treaties with Britain and Germany were concluded in 1921; the Rapallo treaty of 1922 provided for diplomatic relations with Germany, and diplomatic ties with Britain, France and Italy were re-established in 1924. However, despite these treaties and the German–Soviet common front against Poland, the Soviet Union in these years remained isolated on the international scene, ‘normal’ relations being precluded by deep distrust on both sides. The states of Central and Western Europe saw their internal security endangered 11 by Soviet influence over a section of the working class and by subversive activities inspired by the Comintern. The Soviet leaders, for their part, felt permanently threatened with ‘encirclement’ by the capitalist powers, and 11 pursued a largely defensive foreign policy designed, first and foremost, to protect the building of ‘socialism in one country’. 1 The USA, which during the war had become the world’s leading economic power, was not prepared after 1919 to enter into treaty relations with its wartime allies; but, despite this limitation, there were strong transatlantic bonds of interest and continuous contacts. If only because the USA was the principal creditor of the former belligerents, it had an important say in deter- 111 mining the final amount of reparations and the regulation of German payments. The idea of US isolationism in the 1920s is still widely believed in, but it is a cliché in need of correction. Recent research has shown that US policy at the time was basically governed by economic expansionism and the ‘open door’ principle. It was thanks to the strong American interest both in Europe as a whole and in a financially ‘reasonable’ reparations settlement that Stresemann was able to work actively to rescue Germany from the political isolation in which she found herself in the first years after the war. The hundred days of Stresemann’s chancellorship, from 13 August to 23 November 1923, set the course for many important developments in 111 German foreign and domestic policy. Stresemann resigned when defeated in a vote of confidence on the latter date, but was Foreign Minister in all succeeding Cabinets until his death on 3 October 1929. In those years he impressed his personality so strongly on German policy, not only foreign policy, that it is right to speak of a ‘Stresemann era’. Stresemann’s career, more than that of any other German statesman since Bismarck, has been caught in a cross-fire of opinions, and for a long time historians held sharply conflicting views of his character and policies. Some regarded him as a good democrat and a European by conviction, others as a doctrinaire nationalist, an unscrupulous power-politician and even a fore- 111 runner of Hitler; to communists he was an exponent of imperialist monopoly capitalism. Only in later research do we find a growing consensus as regards his political motives, aims and ambitions (cf. pages 198 ff. below). Stresemann, the ‘republican by conviction’ (Vernunftrepublikaner), accepted and identified with the Weimar state from 1921–2 onwards. Like 111 all European statesmen of his time he pursued a nationalist foreign policy, 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 60 Historical survey which in German terms after 1919 meant a revisionist policy. He desired to see Germany restored to her former greatness and once more asserting her position between East and West. Thus Stresemann was certainly a nation- alist and a power-politician. What distinguished him from most German nationalists after 1923 was his realization that a nationalist foreign policy could not be successful if it directly challenged the governments of the victo- rious powers. With a keen sense of reality he based his policy on an objective appreciation of the constellation of forces in Europe, and ‘pursued his revi- sionist policy as an international policy of reconciliation’ (Karl Dietrich Erdmann). In the spring of 1927 he declared: ‘In the course of my life I have come to believe that nothing great and permanent has ever been done in the world without give and take, compensation and compromise.’ It was this method, far more than his actual objectives, that divided Stresemann from his nationalist opponents, who fought him tooth and nail and whose hatred pursued him beyond the grave. Given his political realism, Stresemann saw the recovery of German power as an aim to be secured by degrees and in the long term, by negotiation and conciliation. Two points seemed to him axiomatic. First, as Germany was militarily powerless, her recovery could only be set in motion by the judicious use of her economic potential. On 22 November 1925 he told the executive of his party, the DVP: ‘I believe the task for any foreign minister today is to take advantage of the world economic situation so as to conduct foreign policy by economic means, as this is the only respect in which we are still a great power.’ Thus the motto was ‘Back to world poli- tics by way of world economics’ (Werner Link). As a corollary to this view, Stresemann was prepared, on occasion, to pay an economic price for the attainment of political ends. Second, Germany could only hope to secure a revision of the peace treaty if France’s desire for security was first met; conse- quently German–French co-operation must be welcomed and intensified, France must be Germany-oriented. If France could then be induced to content herself with a solution of the security problem in Western Europe alone, so that her ties with Poland were gradually loosened, a revision of the German–Polish frontier might enter the realm of possibility. However, in Stresemann’s view such an eventuality still lay far ahead, while the burning question of 1923–4 was that of reparations. In the brief period of his chancellorship in 1923, German inflation had been checked and the currency reformed. This provided a basis on which the reparations problem could once again be tackled. A realistic calculation of Germany’s ability to pay was not possible; technical ways and means of transferring payments to the victorious countries could be devised; a basis of confidence was created for an international loan to Germany. Thus in 1924 the Dawes Plan came into being. The politicization of the reparations question gave place to an economic and technical approach. The plan also led to the rapid strength- ening of links between the American business world and German interests concerned with revisionism and financial policy; for Germany’s need for 11 11 11 1 111 111 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 Chart illustrating the ‘circulation’ of reparations payments Source: J. Bergmann, K. Megerle, and P. Steinbach (eds), Geschichte als politische Wissenshaft (Stuttgart, 1979) p. 120 62 Historical survey capital corresponded admirably to the expansionism of the American economy and its interest in the massive export of capital. The Dawes Plan was evolved by an independent committee of experts chaired by the American banker Charles G. Dawes, who during the war had been in charge of supply procurement for the American Expeditionary Force. The leading part taken by the Americans made clear that they were prepared to lend every assistance towards solving the reparations problem and help- ing to restore economic peace in Europe. The appointment of the committee of experts had initially been strongly resisted by the French. At the end of October 1923 the British, Italian and US governments had agreed to call a conference, for which the Germans had also asked, to assess Germany’s ability to pay within the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The French merely wanted talks by experts to be held within the framework of the French- dominated Reparations Commission, but under pressure from the other three powers agreed to a compromise: on 30 November 1923 the Com- mission appointed two independent committees of experts. The Dawes Committee presented its report on 9 April 1924, recommending an interim settlement of the reparations question. The plan did not set any total figure of German payments and left unanswered the question of the duration of Germany’s obligation; it only dealt with the amount, composition and guar- anteeing of Germany’s annual payments in the coming years, the London decisions of 1921 remaining formally in force. However, the Dawes Plan possessed some decisive advantages over previous reparations settlements: (1) It replaced the extremely high annuities by amounts that seemed tolerable for the first year at least, and thus to some extent eased relations between Germany and the Allies. (2) The plan recognized Germany’s need for a breathing space. In the first period, by 31 August 1925 Germany was to pay from her own resources only 200 million marks in cash, while 800 million marks were to be provided by an international loan as a kind of priming aid. The ‘normal’ annuities of about 2,500 million marks, as laid down in the London plan, were not to begin until 1928–9. Stresemann was convinced, however, that if Germany met her obligations conscientiously for four years there would be no question thereafter of simply reverting to the London payments. (3) The Dawes Plan not only provided for the control of transfer oper- ations so that the German currency would not be endangered by payments to foreign countries; it laid down precisely from what sources and to what amounts the reparations payments should be secured (customs, taxes, debentures secured on the state railways, etc.; the commercial operation of the latter was transferred to the Reichsbahn Company, which had some foreigners on the board of management and was supervised by a trustee from the creditor states, appointed by the Reparations Commission). The American financial expert Parker Gilbert was made Agent for Reparations Payments with headquarters in Berlin, and had responsibility for operating transfers with due regard to the stability of German currency; he was also Relative stabilization, 1924–9 63 11 to report regularly to the Reparations Commission on Germany’s economic and financial situation and, in particular, the pledged sources of revenue. On 14 April 1924 the German government agreed to negotiate on the basis of the experts’ report. At a conference in London from 16 July to 16 August the Dawes Plan was accepted by all the governments concerned, and the German delegation secured a formal assurance that the Ruhr would be evacuated within a year; the last French troops duly withdrew in July 1925. It was uncertain at first whether the legislation for the Dawes Plan would command a majority in the Reichstag. The DDP, Centre, DVP and 11 SPD were certain to vote for it, but the law on the state railways meant an amendment to the constitution and therefore required a two-thirds majority. It thus needed the votes of the DNVP, but during the past months that 11 party had fought the Dawes Plan bitterly with the slogan ‘No new Versailles!’ However, massive pressure was exerted by industrial and agricultural orga- 1 nizations which expected the plan to be of decided benefit to their interests. Unexpectedly, on 29 August 1924 about half the DNVP votes in the Reichstag were cast for the plan (cf. page 73 below), and the agreement could thus come into force. It was a feature of the new international climate in and after 1924 that 111 each side took the other’s interests seriously: the Germans showed under- standing for France’s claim to reparations and security, and the Allies respected Germany’s desire for sovereignty and equal rights. How greatly the atmosphere had changed was clear as early as February 1925, when Stresemann took the initiative of addressing a memorandum to the French government on the security question. Apart from motives of commercial policy, which have been emphasized by recent research, this was primarily a defensive move. There were indications that Great Britain and Belgium might conclude a pact with France to satisfy the latter’s demand for secu- rity, and Germany would have had to accept this in accordance with Article 111 31 of the Treaty of Versailles. Meanwhile, the Allies had given notice at the beginning of 1925 that they would not evacuate the first occupation zone of the Rhineland (Cologne) by the due date of 10 January, because Germany had not complied with the disarmament provisions of Versailles and the security problem was not yet solved. Thus the object of Stresemann’s initiative was to blunt the edge of French policy and strengthen the German position by bringing about a Franco-German solution to the secu- rity problem. His offer of a pact was accepted with much hesitation by the French government; but it now became clear that the European situation had changed greatly since 1923, as Britain and America both pressed the 111 French to agree to the German proposals. After intensive diplomatic exchanges the leading European statesmen met at Locarno on 5–6 October 1925 and initialled the Locarno treaties, consisting of a pact of guarantee and several arbitration agreements. In the former treaty Germany, on the one hand, and France and Belgium on the other, agreed to refrain from 111 using force to alter their existing frontiers, which were guaranteed by Britain 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 64 Historical survey and Italy. Germany concluded arbitration treaties with France, Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia, while France concluded treaties of mutual assis- tance with the last two countries. Germany’s treaties with Poland and Czechoslovakia were guaranteed by no one; they did not provide for binding arbitration, and were thus of little significance. However, the Locarno system as a whole was ‘the most important and significant development based on the European order of 1919’ (Theodor Schieder). By means of Locarno, Germany finally broke out of her moral and political isolation of the early postwar years and rejoined the circle of leading European powers. It was a natural further development that Germany became a member of the League of Nations on 10 September 1926, after difficulties had been overcome concerning her non-participation in sanctions and her permanent seat on the League Council. By the Locarno treaty Germany recognized her western frontier as fixed by the Treaty of Versailles, but she expressly reserved her claim for a revi- sion of the eastern frontier. It was the core of Stresemann’s political strategy to clear up outstanding western questions before tackling those of the east; all that was necessary meanwhile, in his opinion, was to present the crystal- lization of the status quo. Hence he firmly refused to supplement Locarno by an ‘eastern Locarno’, that is, a voluntary recognition of the German– Polish frontier as determined by Versailles. He did, however, conclude a treaty of friendship with Russia – the Treaty of Berlin, 24 April 1924 – so that the western orientation of Locarno should not have an adverse effect on German–Soviet relations. By this treaty Germany assured the Soviet Union of her neutrality if Russia should be at war with any third power; this meant in practice that in the event of a Russo-Polish war, France would be unable to come to Poland’s aid through German territory. The Locarno treaties had in themselves gravely worsened Poland’s position. The Franco-Polish alliance was henceforth of use to Poland only if Germany was unmistakably the aggressor in a German–Polish conflict. Moreover, the general effect of the Franco-German détente was to weaken France’s interest in her Eastern European allies and hence to encourage German revisionist designs. Accordingly, Stresemann was able to inform the German Cabinet, with truth, that ‘Poland saw these treaties as a total defeat’. Thus the western orientation effected under Stresemann had a significant eastern aspect. Apart from this, an important motive in concluding the Locarno treaties and initiating a policy of reconciliation with France was undoubtedly Stresemann’s expectation that it would have such favourable effects as an early evacuation of the Rhineland, a chance to recover Eupen-Malmédy from Belgium, possibly an earlier date for the Saar plebiscite, a further easing of reparations, and an earlier liquidation of Allied military control in Germany. Combined with Poland’s political isolation, a vigorous policy of weakening her economically might bring in sight the possibility of altering Germany’s eastern frontier without military conflict. To Stresemann himself, these were Relative stabilization, 1924–9 65 11 not merely arguments with which to overcome domestic opposition to his policy of conciliation in the west; in the mood of general euphoria after Locarno he hoped and expected that such ‘repercussions’ would follow in a fairly short time. They did not in fact occur to so great an extent, and above all not so soon, as he would have desired. But the significance of Locarno and the merit of the policy that it represented are not to be measured solely by the degree to which it brought satisfaction to optimistic German expectations of early advantages in other fields. Some successes were nevertheless to be recorded. The first Rhineland 11 zone was evacuated before the end of 1925, and the Inter-Allied Military Commission supervising German disarmament was withdrawn in January 1927; Franco-German economic relations improved steadily. In 1926 an 11 agreement on potash was signed and an aluminium cartel set up, while rep- resentatives of heavy industry from France, Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg 1 signed an agreement for an international raw-materials consortium. A Franco- German commercial treaty was signed on 17 August 1927. In the negotia- tions which led to the Briand–Kellogg Pact outlawing war (27 August 1928) German diplomacy played a confident and important part as an intermediary between the Americans and French. 111 It proved much more difficult, however, to achieve progress on the central issue of German policy, the complete evacuation of the Rhineland before the scheduled date. Stresemann and his French opposite number, Briand, explored the possibility of a general Franco-German settlement at Thoiry on 17 September 1926. This tête-à-tête meeting, which aroused lively interest at the time, was not a spur-of-the-moment event on the occasion of Germany’s entry into the League of Nations. It had been prepared by months of negotiations, aimed at an ‘overall solution’ which would balance Germany’s desire for immediate evacuation of the Rhineland against France’s interest in the early settlement of the German reparations debt by ‘mobi- 111 lizing’ the Dawes Plan obligations, that is, by selling to the public the rail and industrial debentures deposited with the trustees of the Reparations Commission – a possibility foreseen in the Dawes Plan itself. France’s share of the profit derived from the conversion of the Dawes obligations would be used to stabilize the franc, to provide financial assistance for Belgium, and to pay the first annuities of France’s war debts to the USA and Britain. (The Franco-American war debt agreement had been signed on 29 April 1926, but was not ratified by the French Parliament until July 1929.) Both sides could have profited from this politico-economic trade-off, but it failed to come about. There was resistance in France to the premature 111 evacuation of the Rhineland; above all, the American banks were not willing to cooperate, and the conversion of the Dawes obligations was impossible without a financial commitment from them. Nevertheless, it is a striking fact that, only three years after the peak of the Ruhr crisis, the German and French foreign ministers could hold serious discussions for a generously 111 conceived settlement of outstanding issues between the two countries. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 66 Historical survey The Rhineland question remained on the international agenda after Thoiry, and the problem of reparations became acute once more, since the phase of high ‘normal’ annuities which, under the Dawes Plan, was to begin in 1928–9 was bound to place a heavy burden on the German economy. At the League of Nations meeting in September 1928 the German delega- tion asked for an early evacuation of the Rhineland without any quid pro quo; France and Britain, however, insisted on linking the Rhineland ques- tion with a final reparations settlement. Gilbert, the reparations agent, also thought it time to arrive at a final solution of the problem. Accordingly, an independent committee of experts set to work in January 1929 and, after negotiations which threatened more than once to break down, produced the Young Plan in May; this was adopted by the governments concerned at a conference at The Hague on 6–31 August 1929. The Young Plan set the reparations total at a revised figure of 112,000 million Reichsmarks, and for the first time set a time-limit on Germany’s obligation to pay. Instead of an annuity of 2,500 million Reichsmarks, Germany was to pay an average annual sum of about 2,000 million Reichsmarks for the next fifty-nine years. The great advantage of the Young Plan for Germany was that in the first three years, from 1 April 1929 to 31 March 1932, she would have to pay about 1,700 million Reichsmarks less than under the Dawes Plan. Moreover, the arrangements for foreign super- vision (reparations agent, transfer committee, trustees and foreign members of the board of the Reichsbahn Company) were now abolished. Above all, the Allies undertook that if Germany accepted the Young Plan they would evacuate the whole Rhineland including the third zone (Mainz), by 30 June 1930, five years earlier than the date laid down in the Treaty of Versailles, thus satisfying Stresemann’s revisionist programme on a key point. Stresemann thus regarded the plan – which was ratified by the Reichstag after his death, on 12 March 1930 – as a definite step forward. Recent histo- rians are also coming to the view that the Young Plan gave the Weimar Republic a further chance: as Werner Link puts it, ‘If the amount of treaty revision achieved at the conferences in Paris and The Hague is compared with the previous situation, it is clear that the direct, indirect and potential advantages were all on Germany’s side.’ In Germany, however, the merits of the Young Plan were not appreciated in all quarters. The nationalist right mounted a campaign against it, which will be discussed in more detail elsewhere (cf. page 109 below). It can be said, however, that towards the end of the Stresemann era, and before the onset of the world depression, storm clouds already darkened the sky in Germany: the unbridled agitation of the political right stirred up a wave of aggressive revisionism which threw doubt on the possibility of continuing a foreign policy based on conciliation. Even if it had been Stresemann’s lot to conduct Germany’s foreign affairs for a longer period, his policy of com- promise and cautious steps towards the restoration of German power would have involved violent battles against increasing resistance on the home front. Relative stabilization, 1924–9 67 11 If Stresemann’s performance as Foreign Minister is judged not by the yardstick of European idealism but by that of traditional European diplo- macy, which is more appropriate to him and to his time, it must be acknowledged that his six years in office were astonishingly successful. He achieved the liberation of the Ruhr and the early evacuation of the Rhineland, a far-reaching settlement of the reparations question together with the stabilization of the German economy, the ending of Allied mili- tary supervision, and the admission of Germany to the League of Nations. All in all, he managed to a great extent to normalize Germany’s relations 11 with the victorious powers while adhering in principle to revisionist aims which, he maintained, were to be achieved by peaceful means and a policy of conciliation. In this way, and in a very short time, Stresemann’s Germany 11 built up a fund of confidence on both sides of the Atlantic which did much, in Britain and the USA particularly, to improve the opportunities for a policy 1 of ‘peaceful change’. What did it signify for the Weimar Republic that a ‘pragmatic conserva- tive’ (Henry A. Turner) such as Stresemann was in charge of its foreign policy from 1923 to 1929? Bearing in mind that, as a result of the incomplete revolution of 1918–19, the Weimar regime took the form of a 111 ‘conservative republic’, it seems natural enough that in foreign policy, too, there was no decisive breach with the mental habits and methods of the past; there was, for instance, no basic renunciation of attempts to alter the peace treaty as early as possible, come what might. Given that the domestic power structure made it natural that a representative of the old Germany should be in charge of foreign policy, Stresemann’s personality and attitude to foreign affairs made him virtually the best imaginable statesman for those years. His long-term approach to the achievement of revisionist aims, and his relatively moderate use of the means available, allowed Germany to keep open her options for the future. In 1929 these options still included a policy 111 of increased readiness for peaceful compromise. 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 2 Structural problems and domestic politics The years from 1924 to 1929–30 are commonly described as a period of ‘relative stabilization’ of the Weimar Republic. This is true if stress is laid on the word ‘relative’. During those years unquestionable successes were scored in foreign affairs (though many Germans did not recognize them as such), and progress was made in establishing law and order and consoli- dating the regime; the economy also revived to some degree. But this stabilization was fragile and superficial, and appears increasingly in doubt as historians devote their attention to the middle period of the Weimar Republic. The impression, on the contrary, is one of a ‘republic of insta- bility’ (Rudolf Morsey) or a ‘history of failure’ (Michael Stürmer) in respect of this very period. During these years, when the pressure of foreign affairs grew easier and internal quarrels were less acute than in the first stormy period after 1918, the Republic did not succeed in consolidating its polit- ical and socio-economic system so as to be capable of facing a serious crisis. Although the parliamentary and party system functioned more or less adequately for some years, no stable government emerged; and in economic and social affairs this was the very period during which relations became increasingly embittered, so that tension between hostile camps accumulated to the point of near-explosion. This is not to say, with hindsight, that political and social developments from 1923 onwards were a one-way street, leading inevitably to political crisis and the collapse of democracy. The undeniable structural weaknesses of the Republic did not necessarily lead to the crisis strategy of 1930–2 and the political events of 1932–3; to the very last there was room for alterna- tive methods and decisions, though the choice became steadily narrower. But an analysis of the structural and political defects of the middle period will indicate the conditions and constraints which were to affect the actions and reactions of statesmen and large sections of the public when the Republic once more entered a phase of acute crisis in 1929–30. Considering first the development of the parliamentary and party system, it is to be noted that the Republic in the middle period did not succeed in Relative stabilization, 1924–9 69 11 evolving an effective parliamentary form of central government in accordance with its constitution. This serious defect was due to several factors. First, the coalition policy was hampered by a perpetual dilemma. Since there could be no question of a coalition embracing both the SPD and the DNVP, from 1920 onwards the possibilities were limited to three: (a) a bloc consisting of the Centre, DVP and DNVP, who agreed on many domestic issues but disagreed sharply on foreign affairs; (b) the ‘great coalition’ extending from the SPD to the DVP, who could speak with one voice on foreign affairs but were constantly at odds on economic and social matters; 11 and (c) minority governments formed by middle-of-the-road parties and dependent on support, or at least forbearance, by the right wing or the left. In other words, from 1920 onwards there was no parliamentary majority in 11 the Reichstag prepared to work together and steer a consistent long-term political course in both domestic and foreign affairs. As a result, govern- 1 ments had to cope with the home and foreign issues that arose mostly by means of differently composed majorities – a procedure that was far from calculated to bring about a lasting stabilization of the parliamentary system. Second, the difficulties of coalition policy were increased by the fact that not only the opposition but even the parliamentary parties supporting the 111 government were in a state of tension vis-à-vis the latter. Their attitude to the government was determined by complicated, ever-changing shifts of power within the parties themselves, and was thus unstable, unreliable and incalculable. In 1929 Gustav Stolper, an economist and member of the DDP, declared: ‘What we have today is a coalition of ministers, not a coalition of parties. There are no government parties, only opposition parties. This state of things is a greater danger to the democratic system than ministers and parliamentarians realize.’ To a certain extent this verdict applies to the previous years also. The instability of the parliamentary and party system afforded opportuni- 111 ties for such intervention by the Reich President, and increasingly called for such intervention. The decline of parliamentary power was not only a phenomenon of the last phase of the Republic. During the phase of ‘rela- tive stabilization’ the Reichstag as the embodiment of parliamentary democracy did not exert its powers as fully as it should have done, with the result that it became perceptibly weaker during those years. Discontent with party and parliamentary government became widespread, already foreshad- owing the transformation into an authoritarian presidential regime. The inability of the parties to play their parliamentary role by forming stable majority coalitions was to some extent a legacy of imperial Germany. 111 Excluded from power under the monarchical system, the parties had never been obliged to compromise in order to form viable governments. After 1918 they held largely to the conception of their role and to the parlia- mentary habits that had obtained in the past, although their function in a parliamentary democracy was fundamentally different. They were now inde- 111 pendent organizations of power and a key element in the political system, 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 70 Historical survey ‘irrespective of whether they were exercising state power at any given time or were challenging the government in their capacity as an opposition ready to take over from it’ (Ernst Rudolf Huber). However, the parties’ acceptance of this new role was hesitant and at times reluctant. They shrank from governmental responsibility, fearful of making compromises that might disappoint their own supporters; this feeling generally outweighed their readiness to form stable majorities at the cost of some modification of the party line. This was particularly the case with the SPD which – except for a few months in 1924 – was the largest party in the Reichstag until 1932 and, if only on that account, bore special responsibility for the functioning of the parliamentary system. The part it actually played at Reich level reflected neither its organizational strength nor its parliamentary weight. In the revolutionary months of 1918–19 the Majority Social Democrats had forgone the oppor- tunity to exercise power alone and had chosen to establish the Republic on a basis of compromise and collaboration between the workers and the bour- geoisie. On the same principle it would have been logical for them to claim the leading role in the government alliance and make it their chief objective to exercise an active influence over domestic and foreign policy. But, just as they had not followed the revolutionary-socialist course to the end, so they failed to tread the liberal-democratic path consistently between 1918 and 1930. Restraining tendencies set in at an early stage. Participation in gov- ernment was increasingly felt to be an encumbrance; the leaders feared that they would lose the confidence of their own supporters because the points in their programme that went beyond the notion of a liberal republic would have to be sacrificed to a coalition with the non-socialist parties. Consequently, the SPD left the government after the electoral defeat of 1920. When, in 1922, the merger with the remnant of the USPD led to a strengthening of the left wing in the party as a whole and among its Reichstag deputies, aversion to forming a coalition with the bourgeois parties grew stronger. At the same time, the SPD failed in its attempt, embodied in the reformist Görlitz programme of 1921, to break through the limitations of a ‘strictly proletarian party’ and become a broadly based ‘left-wing people’s party’ (Heinrich August Winkler), as it once again adopted essentially Marxist posi- tions in the Heidelberg programme of 1925. This sharpened the contradic- tion between theoretical statement and reformist practice; the party, in Parliament and outside, found increasing difficulty in compromising between power and principle. Hence the SPD in the Reichstag was in a defensive posi- tion during the middle period of the Republic. It supported the bourgeois parties on individual issues, especially in important matters of foreign policy, without sharing in the government, thus taking up the curious stance of being ‘half in government, half in opposition’ (Klaus Schönhoven), with no clear conception of its role in either case. In Prussia, on the other hand, under the Social Democratic Minister- President, Otto Braun, the regime based on the coalition of SPD, Centre, Relative stabilization, 1924–9 71 11 DDP and for a time DVP showed, during the same period, that stable government could be achieved with a clearly defined and consistently pursued coalition policy. It also showed that the assumption of governmental responsibility by a coalition Cabinet did not necessarily lead to defeat at the polls, but to successes and a strengthening of the democratic process. If Germany achieved relative stabilization after 1923 it was largely because in much the largest of its component states – Prussia comprised about three- fifths of the total area and population of the Reich – the government coalition remained stable and effective until 1932. 11 Different, but no less difficult, problems affected the DNVP, the party at the opposite wing to the SPD within the spectrum of parties that might combine to form a government coalition. The DNVP considered itself 11 as an anti-parliamentarian party of ‘integration’; however, it had to accept the rules of the despised parliamentary game if it were not to forfeit all 1 influence and hence all hope of promoting the economic interests of its supporters. This inner contradiction made it oscillate between opposition to the Weimar ‘system’ in principle and readiness to co-operate to a limited extent in the governmental and parliamentary sphere. Dissension within the party as regards participation in government flared up violently in 1924 (cf. 111 page 73 below): for, with the consolidation of the Republic, interest groups, of landowners above all, exercised increasing pressure on the party leaders to form a coalition with the middle-ground parties so that they could gain a bigger share of the economic cake. On this account the DNVP twice joined a government coalition, in 1925 and 1927. The rapprochement between the conservatives and the Republic reached its peak in these years but came to an abrupt end in 1928, when the party elected the right-wing Hugenberg as its leader. Hugenberg reverted to a course of strict opposition to the system, drove the moderates out of the party and extended a hand to the NSDAP. In this way the DNVP disappeared from the spectrum of parties 111 eligible to join a coalition under the Weimar democracy. The role of a ‘state party’ of the Weimar Republic devolved on the Centre, which formed part of all Reich governments, and also all Prussian govern- ments, from 1919 to 1932. Primarily a party of Catholics loyal to their Church, it comprised the most varied social classes. Hence it was intransi- gent in confessional, educational and cultural matters, but was capable of compromising with either the right or the moderate left on political, economic, or social affairs. This flexibility lent the Centre importance, and it played a key role in the formation of all governments from 1920 to 1931. However, after Erzberger’s death and Wirth’s resignation in 1922 the party’s 111 centre of gravity moved increasingly to the right. This was made clear when Kaas became its leader in 1928 and also during Brüning’s chancellorship. Thus the availability of the Centre for a coalition with the SPD gradually diminished during the later 1920s. The coalition possibilities of the middle-ground liberals were limited, first, 111 by the strong objections of the DVP, especially, to a coalition with the SPD, 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 72 Historical survey and second, by the rapid decline of organized liberalism in the second half of the decade. Neither the DDP nor the DVP succeeded in creating a stable party organization and securing broad, permanent electoral support. In the first years of the Republic these parties obtained between them over 20 per cent of the votes, but in the Reichstag election of 1924 this figure had already diminished, and in 1932 they registered only 2 per cent. The mass defection of middle-class voters to the right not only weakened political liberalism but radically modified the Weimar party system: its ability to func- tion was more doubtful than ever, the formation of parliamentary majorities was still more difficult. True, the DVP remained influential until 1932 despite its dwindling membership, chiefly because of the industrial interests behind it. But, as after Stresemann’s death the party’s right wing had gained the upper hand and was bent on uncompromising economic liberalism, the DVP’s influence served not to support parliamentary government but was exercised in favour of an authoritarian transformation of the regime. Having thus outlined the general development and structural problems of the Weimar parliamentary system, we may give an account of the Reichstag elections and successive governments, together with the causes and outcome of government crises. At the turn of 1923–4 there was little sign that the Reich would, in a relatively short time, achieve consolidation on the basis of the Weimar consti- tution. On the contrary, it seemed in those weeks as though the parlia- mentary system was ‘radically called in question’ (Michael Stürmer). The Catholic–liberal coalition formed by Wilhelm Marx of the Centre Party after the fall of Stresemann’s government (23 November 1923) carried on busi- ness under an emergency law of limited duration, and executive power rested with the head of the Army Command (Chef der Heeresleitung), backed by the President’s emergency powers under Article 48 of the constitution. This state of emergency did not end until the spring of 1924. In February Seeckt, the army commander, relinquished his special powers, and in March a majority of the Reichstag refused the government’s request for a prolon- gation of the enabling law. Thereupon the President empowered the Chancellor to dissolve the Reichstag. The Reichstag election of 4 May 1924 (table, pages 224–5) showed to a significant extent the effects of the political and economic convulsions of 1923. Apart from the Centre, which gained one additional seat, all parties that had been connected with the government in the previous year suffered heavy losses in terms of both votes and seats. The DDP lost 11 seats and the DVP 20. The SPD declined from 171 to 100 seats. Here it is to be noted that, after the merger of the SPD with the USPD rump at the end of 1922, sixty-eight USPD deputies had joined the SPD; however, as the election showed, most of their voters did not follow their example. Equally, the voters were clearly not in sympathy with the SPD’s vacillation between sharing in government and acting as an opposition. The clear victors in the election were the extreme parties of right and left. The Deutschvölkische Relative stabilization, 1924–9 73 11 Freiheitspartei, a combination of extreme right groups, obtained 32 seats; the DNVP, together with the Landbund (Agricultural League), with 105 seats, became the largest group in the new Reichstag. At the opposite end of the political spectrum, the KPD (Communists) increased their strength from 17 to 62 seats. The parties responsible for government being thus gravely weakened in comparison with the extreme right and left, the problem of forming a suffi- cient majority was, if anything, ever more difficult after the May election. A majority coalition could scarcely be formed without the Nationalists, and 11 in the DVP especially, after their heavy defeat at the polls, those elements became active which desired, at almost any price, a right-wing coalition including the DNVP. In these circumstances the decisive factor was the 11 DNVP’s attitude to the Dawes Plan, which was to be debated in Parliament in the summer of 1924. Thus the plan became the key not only to Germany’s 1 foreign policy but to her domestic situation in that year. During the elec- tion the DNVP had opposed it vehemently. The question now was whether the party would be prepared, in return for a share in government, to waive its rooted opposition to the foreign policy pursued by the middle-ground parties and especially Stresemann. This dilemma provoked acute controversy 111 within the DNVP in the summer of 1924. At first its leaders temporized, setting exaggerated conditions for their participation in government so that the negotiations came to nothing. At the beginning of June the former minority Cabinet was formally reconstituted. No secret was made of the endeavour to extend the coalition (of the Centre, DDP and DVP) to the right. In addition, the minority government relied on unconditional support from the SPD on the main foreign issue, the Dawes Plan legislation. The SPD had taken no part in the efforts to form a new government. Under the impact of their heavy electoral defeat they withdrew into complete passivity and left the task of coalition-forming to the middle-ground parties. 111 The final Reichstag vote on the Dawes Plan took place on 29 August 1924. As the law on the state railways was a constitutional matter it required a two-thirds majority, which could only be obtained if some DNVP deputies voted for it. Hence in the days and weeks beforehand the party’s parliamentary group was exposed to massive pressure not only from the government but, above all, from economic circles (the Landbund, the Reich Association of German Industry, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce), who had an interest in the adoption of the plan. The crisis within the DNVP thus came to the surface. After a dramatic dispute the leaders of the parlia- mentary party were obliged, just before the vote was held, to permit their 111 members to vote as individuals. On the railway Bill about half of them voted each way, and the Bill was passed with the aid of the rebel group. After the passage of the Dawes legislation the problem of foreign policy began to recede behind domestic issues, in particular the incidence of repa- ration burdens. This seemed to leave open the way for the formation of a 111 ‘bourgeois bloc’ or middle-ground coalition, but at first matters remained 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 74 Historical survey in suspense. Although the DNVP showed much more readiness to compro- mise than in early summer, the DDP now refused to combine with the Nationalists, and there were also strong elements in the Centre Party who did not want an alliance with the DNVP. Thus the weeks of complicated negotiation ended not with a reformed government including the DNVP, but with a second dissolution of the Reichstag. The election of 7 December 1924 (table, pages 224–5) showed that the gradual consolidation in political and economic affairs was having its effect on the parliamentary system. This time the extreme right and left were the losers: the KPD lost 17 seats, the right extremists 18. The DNVP gained a few seats, bringing its total to 111 including the Landbund. However, this increase was less than the losses of the extreme right. It can therefore be assumed that many who had voted for the DNVP in May had now switched to one of the middle parties, all of whom gained some seats: the Centre and DDP 4 each, the DVP 6. The chief victor was the SPD, whose total rose from 100 seats in May to 131 in December, no doubt at the expense of the KPD. The SPD was again the largest party in the Reichstag, but did not manage to convert its success into political power. Arithmetically speaking, there were two possibilities of a majority: a ‘great coalition’ extending from the SPD to the DVP, or a ‘bourgeois bloc’ from the Centre to the Nationalists. The DVP held the balance, and on the day following the election announced that it would only join a coalition of the bourgeois right. Stresemann now also wanted a government including the Nationalists, so as to make them share responsibility for impending decisions in home and foreign affairs. Weeks of tough negotiation were still needed before the new Cabinet could embark on its functions in January 1925. The Chancellor was Hans Luther, previously Finance Minister, non- party but close to the DVP; the government was a coalition of the Centre, BVP, DVP and DNVP – the first Reich government in the history of the Weimar period in which the Nationalists were represented. (The DDP as a party did not join the coalition, but Gessler, who still belonged to it, continued to be Defence Minister.) The government parties in Parliament were exposed to much conflicting pressure from powerful economic interests, and the Luther Cabinet had a difficult time with the main domestic issues of 1925, such as tariff policy and the revaluation of the mark. However, foreign policy was crucial from the outset, and led to the collapse of the ‘bourgeois bloc’ at the end of the year. The Nationalists, under right-wing leadership, mobilized all their forces against Stresemann’s Locarno policy; under heavy pressure from the party organizations, the DNVP ministers resigned at the end of October 1925 before the Reichstag voted on the treaties on 27 November. The motion to approve the treaties was carried by the votes of the SPD, Centre, DVP, DDP and BVP, against the DNVP, Völkische Partei, KPD and Wirtschaftspartei (businessmen’s party), and they were signed in London on 1 December. On 5 December the remnant of the Luther Cabinet resigned. Relative stabilization, 1924–9 75 11 Again the problem was to form a majority capable of governing, and again the crisis dragged on for weeks. It would have been logical to form a new majority from the parties that had voted for the Locarno treaties, the more so as only a government with a solid majority could hope to deal with the country’s economic difficulties and rising unemployment. The middle parties, especially the DDP and Centre, were prepared to join in a ‘great coalition’, as were some members of the SPD; notably Otto Braun, the Prussian Minister-President, besought his party comrades to overcome their distaste for power, to show ‘confidence in their own strength’ and ‘the 11 courage to accept responsibility’. However, the ‘great coalition’ did not come about; in January 1926 Luther formed a minority Cabinet of the Centre, DVP and DDP. Several factors 11 contributed to this outcome. In the first place, the DVP was still deeply adverse to co-operating with the SPD, chiefly on account of sharp disagree- 1 ments on social policy; this attitude governed the tactics of the DVP leaders in the exploratory discussions. Second, the SPD made it comparatively easy for their opponents to outmanoeuvre them, as their reluctance to join in government was still stronger than any willingness to do so at the price of what were thought to be damaging compromises. Furthermore, the situa- 111 tion was already affected by the new incumbent of the presidency: Field Marshal von Hindenburg, elected in April 1925. Hindenburg, advised by his state secretary Otto Meissner, made it clear from the beginning of the crisis that he would not welcome SPD participation in government; in his view the best solution was to reinstate the bourgeois bloc, and if that was impossible he would prefer a minority government under Luther. The President’s office sought to influence the outcome of the government crisis accordingly, with no true intention of allowing a ‘great coalition’ to be formed. In any case, ‘it was the self-exclusion of the Social Democrats that virtually opened the way to the new minority government’ (Michael Stürmer). 111 The course and outcome of the government crisis at the end of 1925 already illustrates the effect that the change of presidency was to have on German politics and the eventual fate of the Republic. Friedrich Ebert died at the age of 54 on 28 February 1925, a few months before his term as President was due to expire. His last weeks were overshadowed by the judg- ment in the Magdeburg libel case, a particularly shocking instance among many cases of one-sided political justice in the Weimar Republic. A nation- alist editor had abused Ebert and accused him of high treason in wartime on the ground that he had allowed himself to be elected to the action committee in the strike of January 1918. The Magdeburg court declared in 111 its judgment that this was indeed ‘objective treason’, and the editor was therefore found guilty not of libel but merely of formal insult. The judg- ment was quashed on appeal by the public prosecutor, but Ebert was deeply wounded by the trial and its accompanying circumstances. He died of the effects of an appendicitis operation, delayed during the trial and carried out 111 too late. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 76 Historical survey According to law, the first ballot in the presidential election required an absolute majority, the second ballot a simple one only. As expected, no decision was reached in the first ballot on 29 March 1925 (table, page 227). Among seven candidates, the highest number of votes (10.4 million) was obtained by Karl Jarres, mayor of Duisburg, the joint candidate of the DVP and DNVP; then came Otto Braun (SPD) with 7.8 million votes and Wilhelm Marx (Centre) with 3.9 million. A long way behind were Thälmann (KPD), Hellpach (DDP), Held (BVP) and Ludendorff(Völkische Partei). For the second ballot the parties of the ‘Weimar coalition’ agreed on Marx as the candidate of the ‘people’s bloc’; he seemed almost certain to win if the Centre, SPD and DDP voters showed a reasonable degree of unanimity. Alarmed by this, the political right sought a candidate of the strongest popular appeal, and found him in Hindenburg. The revered victor of Tannenberg, who was 78 years old and had taken no part in postwar polit- ical life, now came forward as the candidate of the right-wing parties united in the ‘Reich bloc’. The BVP supported Hindenburg, the north German Protestant, in preference to Marx, the Rhineland Catholic, and was thus instrumental in giving Hindenburg a narrow majority on 26 April: he received 14.6 million votes to Marx’s 13.7 million and Thälmann’s 1.9 million. ‘Hindenburg’s victory was due to the splitting of the workers’ move- ment and also the splitting of political Catholicism’ (Karl Dietrich Erdmann). Contrary to a widespread view, the election of the imperial field marshal to the presidency must be regarded as a serious setback for the Republic. True, at the outset Hindenburg disappointed those of his supporters who hoped and expected that his presidency would begin with a sharp swing to the right. This would have been beyond his official powers, and was ruled out by the general political situation. Moreover, Hindenburg felt bound by his constitutional oath and was at pains to discharge his office faithfully according to law. Nevertheless, there began with his presidency a ‘silent change in the constitution’, whereby – gradually and at first barely percep- tibly – the balance shifted in favour of presidential power. Given the precariousness of parliamentary majorities, the President was able to bring his personal and political preferences to bear on the formation of govern- ments to an extent greater than the founders of the constitution had dreamt of. Hindenburg’s preferences were clear from 1925 onwards: if at all possible the DNVP should be included in government, if at all possible the SPD should be kept out of it; this was a matter of principle, independent of parliamentary constellations and concrete political requirements. That ‘government should move to the right’ was Hindenburg’s idea not only in 1929–30; it was his basic attitude from the time he took office, as is shown by his behaviour in the government crises at the end of 1925 and the end of 1926. It also became clear very soon that he attached cardinal impor- tance to Article 48 of the constitution, which he construed as granting, in effect, unlimited dictatorial powers. When, in 1926, the Ministry of the Relative stabilization, 1924–9 77 11 Interior produced the draft of an implementing statute based on Article 48, Hindenburg declared that he thought it an unsuitable time for such a law; at the same time he made it clear that he thought the law unnecessary anyway. In his words, ‘A strictly formalistic definition of the manner of exer- cising the President’s rights, or even a limitation of those rights, would weaken his authority and gravely endanger the security of the state.’ Thus in the very first years of his presidency Hindenburg displayed tendencies which were to take full effect in the changed situation after 1929. Luther’s second Cabinet, appointed in January 1926, lasted only four 11 months. It broke up as a result of the ‘flag decree’ of May 1926, allowing German missions abroad to use the imperial tricolour of black, white and red. The Reichstag passed a vote of no confidence, supported by the left- 11 wing parties and the DDP members of the coalition, whereupon the Cabinet resigned. However, a few days later it was re-formed with almost the same 1 composition, except that the Chancellor was now Marx of the Centre Party instead of Luther. This new version of the bourgeois minority coalition was from the start regarded on all sides as a mere stop-gap. Count Westarp, chairman of the DNVP deputies, stated on 21 June 1926 that he was continuously in touch 111 with Hindenburg and with Scholz, the DVP chairman in the Reichstag, with a view to ‘forming a right-wing government at the earliest possible date’. The Centre and the DDP, on the other hand, wanted to enlarge the minority Cabinet to a ‘great coalition’ immediately after the referendum concerning the expropriation, without compensation, of the former German princes – an issue which divided the SPD from the non-socialist parties. (This refer- endum took place on 20 June 1926. The proposal was rejected, but the vote showed a significant trend: the number who supported the left-wing parties exceeded by 3.5 million the total of votes cast for the SPD and KPD at the last Reichstag election.) 111 For the time being, however, the coalition was not broadened in either a leftward or a rightward direction. The minority government manoeuvred its way through the summer, faced with awkward economic and social problems and growing unemployment. But towards the end of the year it became clear that the balancing act could not last; the minority coalition was not viable without any firm support on the left or right. The crisis came to a head at the beginning of December 1926, when Scholz of the DVP declared in a dramatic speech that his party’s ideal was ‘co-operation among all bourgeois (bürgerlich, middle-of-the-road) parties and forces’. The SPD understood this as terminating the loose co-operation that had existed 111 between the minority coalition and the SPD, and thus rejecting the idea of a ‘great coalition’. The Social Democrats reacted with fierce attacks on the government’s defence policy (demand for Gessler’s resignation; Scheidemann’s Reichstag speech on co-operation between the Reichswehr and the Red Army). On 17 December 1926 the (third) Marx government 111 was brought down by a vote of no confidence moved by the SPD. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 78 Historical survey The Nationalists also voted against the Cabinet, being determined to obtain a share in government. Their manoeuvre succeeded: the fourth Marx government, formed in January 1927, consisted of a bloc representing the Centre, BVP, DVP and DNVP. This was preceded by two weeks of hard struggle, as the Centre Party, mindful of its working-class members, had little enthusiasm for an alliance with the DNVP. Its misgivings were at last overcome by steady pressure from the President, who worked for a right-wing coalition throughout the crisis. General Kurt von Schleicher also took a hand in the political negoti- ations for the first time: since the beginning of 1926 he had been head of the newly created Armed Forces Department of the Defence Ministry, and after Seeckt’s dismissal in October 1926 he had become ‘in fact if not in name . . . the military-political head of the Reichswehr’ (Andreas Hillgruber). Schleicher increasingly gained Hindenburg’s confidence and became his trusted adviser. At the turn of the year 1926–7 he suggested to Hindenburg that if it proved impossible to form a right-wing coalition with the DNVP, the President should ‘appoint a government in which he had confidence, without consulting the parties or paying attention to their wishes’, and then, ‘with the order for dissolution ready to hand, give the government every constitutional opportunity to get a majority in Parliament’. Here we already find the conception of an authoritarian presidential government, which was to become a reality a few years later. As Michael Stürmer puts it, ‘the new government crisis provided Hindenburg’s entourage with a long-sought opportunity to rule out both the “great coalition” and the centre coalition, and to bring the Nationalists to the helm once more. If there was a parlia- mentary way of doing this, well and good; but if the Centre made difficulties, it might be necessary to govern “against” the Reichstag.’ The ‘second bourgeois bloc’ was by its very nature a fragile alliance. Foreign affairs were quiescent during its first year, but its inner cohesion was constantly threatened by economic, social and educational problems. To prevent the government collapsing prematurely the DNVP was obliged to make fairly large concessions to the centre parties: for example, the prolon- gation of the law for the protection of the Republic, and the introduction of unemployment insurance. But towards the end of 1927 the will and ability to reconcile divergent interests became increasingly weaker in all the parties concerned. This was the basic reason for the break-up of the coalition, which took place over the schools question in February 1928. The Bill introduced by the Centre Party and supported by the DNVP provided inter alia that denominational schools should be permitted in Länder (such as Baden and Hessen) where the system was non-denominational; the effect would have been to reintroduce denominational elementary schools. The social impli- cations of this Bill were above all a matter of prime concern to the two main Christian churches, which were making a point of strengthening their influence in the public sphere, thus holding up the on-going process of secularisation. As a result of taking up the cause against the state’s neutral Relative stabilization, 1924–9 79 11 philosophy, the churches found sustained, widespread support among the DNVP, but not, however, among the DVP, which clung to liberal tradi- tions. The DVP prevented the Bill becoming law, whereupon the Centre declared the coalition at an end and demanded the immediate dissolution of the Reichstag, pending which it would carry on urgent government business only. The election of 20 May 1928 (table, pages 224–5) was a clear success for the left wing, and reflected considerable shifts among the non-socialist parties. The SPD won 22 seats, bringing its total to 153 in the new Reichstag, or 11 nearly a third of the total of 491. The KPD rose from 45 to 54 seats. The greatest losses were sustained by the middle-ground parties and the DNVP. The DVP lost 6 seats, the DDP 7, and even the Centre and the BVP, whose 11 following had hitherto been so staunch, lost 7 and 3 seats respectively. The DNVP suffered much more in terms of both votes and seats; its strength in 1 the Reichstag fell from 103 to 73. The extreme right, the NSDAP, lost some votes and returned 12 members to the new Reichstag. The losses of the middle-ground parties and the DNVP accrued to the benefit of small splintergroupsrepresentingprivateorclassinterests,suchastheWirtschaftspartei (businessmen’s party), the Landvolkpartei and the Bauernpartei (large and 111 small farmers respectively). Despite the weakening of the right wing, however, it would be very superficial to interpret the election of May 1928 as a victory for democratic and republican forces. In the first place, the drift away from middle-ground parties to splinter groups with narrow interests showed to what an extent the former’s integrative power had diminished – a process which involved appreciable danger to the existing party system. For many voters who moved away from the middle ground in 1928, the splinter parties were only a temporary situation: some of them were to vote for the Nazis at the next Reichstag election in 1930, and a great many more in 1932. Second, the 111 defeat of the DNVP and the Centre set in motion changes within those parties which were anything but favourable to the longterm stabilization of the Republic. The right wing of the DNVP, which had only reluctantly gone along with the coalition policy of the past few years, now went over to the offensive and gained the upper hand within the party. In October 1928 Alfred Hugenberg, the leading figure on the nationalist Pan-German wing, was elected party chairman. This put a decisive end to the rapproche- ment, such as it had been, between the DNVP and the Republican regime. Under Hugenberg’s leadership the party pursued a course of unremitting opposition and obstruction, its anti-democratic sentiments attaining a hith- 111 erto unknown pitch of ferocity. The Centre, too, underwent a swing to the right, symbolized by the election of the conservative Monsignor Ludwig Kaas as party chairman at the congress in Cologne in December 1928. Kaas, whose ideal of the state was not parliamentary democracy but a plebiscitary dictatorship, scored an easy victory over the workers’ representatives, Joos 111 and Stegerwald. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 80 Historical survey After the election of May 1928 it was practically impossible to form a government without the SPD, and the latter was at last prepared to come out of opposition: ‘Victoire oblige’, as the SPD newspaper Vorwärts put it on 25 May. On 12 June, Hermann Müller, chairman of the parliamentary SPD, was charged by the President to form a government ‘on the broadest possible basis’. The arithmetic of the situation pointed clearly to the ‘great coalition’, as no other combination could form a parliamentary majority. But the negotiations proved unexpectedly difficult, as some members of the DVP and the Centre objected to an alliance with the SPD; the DVP put forward conditions that were hard to meet. However, the coalition was at last formed at the end of June; this was due to a powerful intervention by Stresemann from his sick-bed, when the negotiations had reached a dead- lock. The government was first formed as a ‘Cabinet of personalities’, including members of the SPD, DDP, DVP, BVP and Centre, together with General Groener (non-party) as Defence Minister; the parliamentary parties as such were not formally obliged to support the government. Only at the beginning of 1929 was the government transformed into a ‘great coalition’ backed by the parliamentary parties. The coalition rested on shaky foundations from the beginning. In foreign affairs there were no essential differences among the parties, but in domestic matters the government’s freedom of movement was extremely limited; the divergent interests of its supporting parties blocked one another, and cautious manoeuvring was necessary at all times. The first issue that came up – the dispute over ‘Armoured Cruiser “A”’ – could not have been more unfortunate, and led to the first split in the coalition. The building of this warship had been approved by the previous government but had not yet begun owing to shortage of finances. The SPD had campaigned in May with the slogan ‘Not armoured cruisers but food for children!’, and a storm of indignation broke out in August when the party learnt that the ship was to be built, and that the Social Democratic ministers in the Cabinet had raised no objection. In November the SPD members of the Reichstag moved that the construction should be stopped, and forced the Chancellor and the Social Democratic ministers to support this in spite of the Cabinet decision. The SPD motion was defeated with the aid of votes of the centre and right, but the spectacular conflict did nothing to improve the government’s credibility or, above all, that of the largest government party. Towards the end of 1928 problems of foreign policy came into the fore- ground; 1929 was dominated by the reparations battle (cf. page 66 above). It became the primary task of the ‘great coalition’, and its main achieve- ment, to steer the Young Plan safely through the Reichstag despite unrestrained agitation and many diversionary manoeuvres by the ‘national opposition’. With the passage of the relevant laws in March 1930 the coali- tion’s stock of common purpose was exhausted. Economic and social problems called for a solution, but it was more and more difficult to achieve a minimum of consensus between, especially, the SPD and the DVP: the Relative stabilization, 1924–9 81 11 latter, since Stresemann’s death in October 1929, had become more and more obviously a party of right-wing industrialists. Meanwhile the world depression had set in, and economic and social problems were looming larger from day to day. The coalition broke up in March 1930 owing to the unbridgeable contradictions between the SPD and the DVP over social poli- cies: this was no accident, as the profound division between them on this score was a constant element in the Weimar political situation. This leads to consideration of a further field in which the phase of ‘stabi- lization’ shows a distinct deficit: that of labour relations, the interplay of the 11 organized interests of employers and workers. The constant exacerbation of social conflicts during the 1920s undoubtedly had a destabilizing effect on the social and political system. 11 In the initial phase of the Republic the concept of social partnership expressed in the Arbeitsgemeinschaft of employers and trade unions (cf. page 1 14 above) was a key component of the ‘Weimar compromise’. It became clear in the ensuing years, however, that this compact rested on shaky foun- dations. The employers regarded the agreement of 15 November 1918 as a tactical alliance for the purpose of safeguarding free enterprise against socialization and the move towards a planned economy. Once this aim was 111 achieved, industrial circles quickly lost interest in a continuation of the alliance. From 1923 at the latest, the main question from their point of view was whether the costs entailed by the social achievements of the revolutionary months, which industry had borne with relative ease during the inflation, would be tolerable in the long run; and they answered this question in the negative. Accordingly the employers now sought to correct the material results of the social, financial and wages policy of the preceding years so as, for instance, to lengthen the working day without increasing nominal wages, or at least resist pressure for higher 111 wages if working hours remained unchanged. But this was more than a purely economic question. The employers’ attempt to go back on what they themselves had offered during the crisis of revolution inevitably appeared to the workers, and especially to the trade unions, as a betrayal of the political basis of the Weimar system (Knut Borchardt). This is a concise expression of the conflict. From a purely economic point of view – as appears from recent studies, cf. page 187 f. below – the employers’ criticism of the level of wages and social benefits was not unjus- tified. It was argued that the increase in real wages from 1924 onwards 111 exceeded the increase in productivity and reduced the possibility of financing investment from profits or capital. The unions, on the other hand, insisted that human interests should take precedence over purely economic ones, and they regarded the employers’ offensive on the welfare front from 1923 onwards as an attack on the basic principles of the Republic. It can hardly 111 be disputed that the initiative and responsibility for the destabilization of 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 82 Historical survey labour relations in the Weimar Republic rested primarily with the employers. On the other hand, there are many indications that during the period in question they genuinely felt themselves to be on the defensive. Their state- ments make it clear that influential business circles still took as their point of reference the state of labour relations before 1914; they measured the social and economic realities of Weimar by the yardstick of prewar condi- tions, which they wanted to see revived. In other words, the social basis of the Republic which they had accepted in 1918–19 was not regarded by the employers as henceforth binding on industry and irreversible, but was increasingly challenged on grounds of economic efficiency. Influential busi- ness circles pressed more and more strongly for a ‘general rethinking of social policy’ (Hans Mommsen). Central to the social disputes of 1923–9 were the questions of the eight- hour day and the right to collective bargaining. As regards working hours the employers scored an important success when the eight-hour day sanc- tioned by law, and regarded by the workers as a symbol of the gains of 1918, was partially nullified by an order of 21 December 1923. This provided that, while eight hours continued to be the norm, a ten-hour day could legally be operated as an administrative exception or in accordance with a collective agreement. The matter continued to be a bone of contention in subsequent years, with neither side able to obtain a substantial change in the 1923 regulation. After 1923 the state’s power of arbitration was increasingly exercised in industrial relations. This was contrary to the intention of the order of 30 October 1923, according to which negotiated agreements were to be the norm and state arbitration the exception. Arbitration boards, or an arbi- trator appointed by the central government, were empowered to intervene if employers and workers were unable to reach agreement. If either or both parties objected to an arbitration award and the Minister for Employment declared the award as binding, both parties had to agree (compulsory arbi- tration); the decision of the arbitrator became the legalized pay agreement. Nothing shows more clearly the hardening of employer–worker relations than the fact that in the disputes after 1923 the state arbitration procedure had to be invoked to an ever greater extent, although it was originally envis- aged for exceptional cases only. Between 1924 and 1932 the procedure was used over 76,000 times, resulting in about 4,000 compulsory awards. In 1928, for example, compulsory awards numbered five and a half million, about 46 per cent of employees affected by pay agreements. Initially the deci- sions tended to favour the employers, while after 1924 they generally took a middle line: at a time when the unions were already losing ground and were hardly capable of offering battle on a large scale, only the intervention of the state could guarantee a degree of social stability. Hence state arbitration was increasingly regarded as a grievance by key industrial organizations. The resistance of big business to the arbitration procedure reached its peak in November–December 1928 in the ‘Ruhr ironworks dispute’, which Relative stabilization, 1924–9 83 11 became the most bitter industrial conflict of the Weimar era. The Ruhr industrialists refused to accept the arbitration award, although it was desig- nated as binding. To compel the adoption of new wage rates they declared a lockout for the whole work force of the Ruhr iron and steel industry; about 220,000 workers were deprived of their jobs. A compromise solution was finally adopted, but the conflict dramatically showed how serious the confrontation between the employers and workers had become, well before the world depression with all its economic and social consequences. The industrialists now openly challenged the state authority and prepared 11 for a frontal attack on the socio-political compromise of Weimar. ‘Important business circles, especially in heavy industry, from 1928 onwards increas- ingly took the view that the German economy could not be put on a sound 11 basis unless the influence of the workers’ movement was curbed; they called for an authoritarian revision of the constitution and an acknowledgement 1 of the primacy of economic interests’ (Gerhard A. Ritter). In 1929, in connection with the budget compromise, unemployment insur- ance became the focus of conflict in social policy. The German system of social insurance, which was already highly developed, was enlarged by a law of 16 July 1927 which replaced unemployment relief by a system of com- 111 pulsory insurance to be administered by a new body, the Reich Institution for Labour Exchanges and Unemployment Insurance. Those insured were henceforth legally entitled to relief if they were able and willing to work and were unemployed through no fault of their own. Insurance contributions were limited to 3 per cent of wages and were to be paid in equal amounts by the employer and the employee. The resources of the Reich institution were calculated to provide relief for an average of 800,000 unemployed, plus a further 600,000 from an emergency fund to be drawn on in times of crisis. If total contributions together with the institution’s reserves were insufficient, the state was to meet the deficit by an interest-free loan or non-repayable 111 grant. At the time when the law was passed (with the support of the right-wing government coalition and the Social Democratic opposition) the Weimar Republic was in the most prosperous economic phase of its history. The proportion of unemployed, which had been relatively high during the ‘sta- bilization period’, was now fairly low (1.3 million or 6.2 per cent compared with 2 million or 10 per cent in 1926); provided the economic boom con- tinued, the scheme appeared financially viable. But already in 1928 there were signs of recession, and in the winter of 1928–9 the number of unemployed rose to nearly 3 million. As the level of relief was fixed by law and the Reich 111 Institution had not sufficient funds, the central government had to help out with loans: by December 1929 the institution’s debt to the state was 342 million Reichsmarks. Since the Reich’s finances were already in a precarious state, unemployment insurance became a highly charged political issue. In December 1929 the National Association of German Industry 111 produced a memorandum entitled ‘Progress or Decline?’ embodying the 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 84 Historical survey views and proposals of the business world on financial and social matters. It called for a reduction of taxes on capital and means of production, an increase in capitation and consumption taxes, and a curtailment of social benefits. The memorandum launched a frontal attack on the principle of social welfare by demanding that the ‘advantages of the law on social insurance’ should ‘be confined to those in real need’. In conclusion the memorandum sharply condemned what it termed the ‘wrong direction taken by economic, financial and social policies’. The Müller government succeeded only with great difficulty in securing a vote of confidence in December 1929 for the emergency covering of the budget deficit: 14 DVP deputies voted against, 24 SPD members absented themselves, and the BVP abstained from voting. All political groups were aware that the conflict within the coalition had only been postponed and would break out vehemently as soon as the Reichstag had approved the Young Plan (which it did, by 270 votes to 192, on 11–12 March 1930). It seemed that the unemployment insurance system could only be saved by increasing contributions or lowering benefits. The unions and employers took up diametrically opposed positions, and their conflicting views were reflected by the parliamentary parties. The SPD argued for maintaining the social obligations of the central government, the Länder and local authorities, increasing regular contributions by 4 per cent, and exacting an emergency contribution from those on fixed salaries. The DVP rejected the idea of increased contributions and called for an ‘internal reform’ of the insurance system by reducing benefits. The SPD members, however, believed that the DVP and the indusialists were not out to remedy abuses and defects in the system, which certainly existed, but to destroy it altogether; they therefore insisted that there should be no reduction of benefits and that the contribution rate should be fixed at 3.75 per cent. Under the influence of its trade-union wing the SPD rejected a last-minute compromise proposal put forward by Brüning, the chairman of the Centre group in the Reichstag, and accepted by the DVP, for an interim solution which would have post- poned a final decision on the reform of the system until the autumn. Faced with the SPD refusal, the Cabinet decided on 27 March 1930 to resign as a body. The ‘great coalition’ did not break up on account of a fractional alter- ation in the rate of unemployment insurance contributions; it foundered on a basic issue of social policy, in which all the potential for domestic conflict was concentrated in 1930. But, while disagreement on this issue between the right and left wings of the coalition seemed virtually unbridgeable, the behaviour of the SPD in the Reichstag in the second half of March was highly unskilful tactically and showed great political short-sightedness. For its rigid attitude was not backed by any strategic idea of how the party, after bringing down the government to which it belonged, could hope to influence policy to an extent commensurate with its own importance, or put across its views to other parties or to the Reichstag. By relinquishing power Relative stabilization, 1924–9 85 11 the SPD made it easier for the parties of the opposite persuasion to pursue a course for which guidelines were already set. For some time past the Reich President – and with him the increasingly influential extra-parliamentary opposition, representing military, industrial and big landowning interests – had favoured the creation, at almost any price, of a government of the right, independent of Parliament and if necessary opposed to it. The fall of the Müller Cabinet gave the signal for the realization of this ambition and for the transition to an authoritarian presidential regime. In this sense, the break- up of the ‘great coalition’ was indeed the decisive turning-point in the 11 Republic’s history. 11 1 111 111 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 3 The artistic avant-garde and mass culture in the ‘golden twenties’ When the Weimar years are referred to nostalgically as the ‘golden twen- ties’, those who do so are not thinking of the long-drawn-out political and economic distress but of the eruption of a new vitality, the liberation of creative forces in a short decade of unbounded intellectual and artistic freedom. The multi-faceted picture of the ‘golden twenties’ includes Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, Zuckmayer’s Der fröhliche Weinberg and Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, as well as Piscator’s political stage productions, the theatre work of Max Reinhardt and Leopold Jessner, Gropius’s Bauhaus and the Weissenhof settlement in Stuttgart; the cartoon cycles of George Grosz and the sculpture of Ernst Barlach; films such as The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and The Blue Angel, and political cabaret with the sparkling satire of Otto Reutter, Walter Mehring and others. It would be easy to add to this list. The sharp contrast between the gloomy political and economic conditions, on the one hand, and the unique wealth of artistic and intellectual achievement on the other, is in itself typical of the Weimar era. What we today call ‘Weimar culture’ is by no means the result of a posthu- mous glorification or a selective treatment of cultural history, nor is it a myth forged by émigrés and others after 1933. Certainly, the 1920s – not only, but especially in Germany – were a remarkably fruitful decade in intel- lectual and artistic matters. The achievements to which we apply the general term ‘Weimar culture’ were admired and intensively discussed in their own day, they were representative of their time and place and were also interna- tionally famous. There really was such a phenomenon as ‘Weimar culture’; but the term needs to be defined more closely and restrictively, in two respects. In the first place, the cultural and the political life of Weimar Germany were to an unusual extent independent and irrelevant to each other. The liveliness and creativity of the cultural scene did little to win respect for the Republic as a political system or to stabilize it as a democracy. It was not sufficiently realized at the time that the conditions for a free development Relative stabilization, 1924–9 87 11 of artistic and intellectual energies were in no small degree ensured by the political system itself. Many representatives of ‘Weimar culture’ were caus- tically critical of specific institutions and were far from identifying with the Republic as such. To that extent ‘Weimar culture’ signifies not so much a culture of the Weimar Republic, but rather stands for ‘German culture at the time of the Republic’. Second, the culture of the Weimar period was not confined to the artistic avant-garde and the development of a mass culture. The names, titles and achievements associated with the terms ‘Weimar culture’ and ‘golden twen- 11 ties’ are not fully representative of the cultural and intellectual life of the time. ‘Modernity’ was not the only factor on the cultural scene; the new art was by no means universally popular and accepted, traditional directions and 11 forms were still influential, and modernism was opposed by strong trends of pessimism and anti-modernism. Thus German culture at the time of 1 the Weimar Republic was a deeply divided culture – we may even say that there were two cultures which had scarcely anything to say to each other and were mutually alien and hostile, each denying (though with very different degrees of justification) that the other was a culture at all. It does not follow, however, that the phenomena that we label as ‘Weimar 111 culture’ represent a culture of outsiders or simply of a minority. This would not give a true picture of the cultural scene between 1918 and 1933. For it was indeed from representatives of ‘Weimar culture’ that the main impulses went out. It was they who determined the themes of discussion; their works occupied public attention, dominated the art market and the literary scene, became widely known and gained an international reputation. In that sense the ‘Weimar culture’ can certainly be called the ‘dominant culture’ of the Weimar period. But this prevalence of modern trends in literature, painting, architecture and stagecraft, along with manifestations of a freer attitude towards morals and life-style, was fiercely combated by strong conservative, 111 anti-modernist forces that were rooted in broad sections of the population. Their hour was to come in 1933. Having thus attempted to define our terms more closely, a few words should be said about the periods into which art and culture in Weimar Germany divide. It is not in dispute that the roots of what is referred to historically as ‘Weimar culture’ are to be found in imperial Germany. The year 1918 did not mark a watershed in literature and drama, painting and design, music and architecture. The decisive change – not only the search for new artistic styles and forms of expression, but also the profession of a new attitude to life – took place in the first decade of this century. 111 Expressionism, the most important artistic expression of the change, origin- ated soon after 1900; noteworthy Expressionist works of painting, lyric poetry and drama were in existence by 1914. In the first years of the Republic, art and culture were entirely under the influence of Expressionism and other avant-garde stylistic movements. These sought to distinguish 111 themselves from Expressionism, but shared with it a mood of revolutionary 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 88 Historical survey discontent, radical rejection of bourgeois values, a utopian view of man and society, and love of experimentation. They often took on neo-Expressionist forms, which, in Dadaism, constituted the most provoking challenge so far addressed to all conventional ideas of ‘higher’ culture. The avant-garde movements that had begun before 1918 came to an end in about 1922–3, with a fairly abrupt abandonment of the utopian claims of Expressionism. Seething unrest and apocalyptic dreams of salvation were replaced by the search for authenticity, a more sober and practical approach to everyday reality. Technology was no longer, as with the Expressionists, represented as evil and made a scapegoat for all social ills, but was accepted as a necessary part of history. An unsentimental pragmatism came to pervade all artistic styles. Remarkably enough, these tendencies were evinced by the same artists who had, shortly before, been committed to Expressionism. It was the Expressionist playwright Paul Kornfeld who exclaimed in 1924, in his comedy Palme oder der Gekränkte: ‘Let us hear no more of war and revolution and the salvation of the world! Let us be modest and turn to other, smaller things.’ A term was soon found for the new style: Neue Sachlichkeit (new objec- tivity or matter-of-factness). First applied to the latest style of painting by the art historian Georg Friedrich Hartlaub in 1923, it fitted the mood of the time so closely that it was at once extended to other forms of art. It was also used as a general description of the attitude to life that was domi- nant in those years: a popular song of 1928 ran: ‘Es liegt in der Luft eine Sachlichkeit’ (‘There’s a matter-of-factness in the air’). There is a strong case for arguing that not Expressionism but Neue Sachlichkeit is the ‘true’ or typical Weimar style. To that extent we would take issue with Peter Gay’s judgement: ‘The Weimar style was born before the Weimar republic . . . The republic created little; it liberated what was already there.’ Cultural developments after 1929–30 are distinguished by a twofold trend: a certain weakening of artistic creativity, and increasing polarization. While some artists turned away from Neue Sachlichkeit, which was now decried as bourgeois and prosaic, and while the extreme left treated art as no more than a weapon in the political battle, the traditionalist forces intensified their attacks on modern literature, painting, architecture and stagecraft. The Nazis and their sympathizers branded the whole of modern art as degen- erate ‘cultural Bolshevism’. In the last days of the Republic, as in politics, so in matters of art and culture, the hostile camps confronted each other irreconcilably. Studying the succession of dominant stylistic trends between 1918 and 1933, we find a considerable parallelism between political and cultural devel- opments. While the first, agitated years of the Republic are dominated by the continuing effects of Expressionism, in the phase of relative stabilization we find the republic-oriented mood of Neue Sachlichkeit; finally the extreme polarization of politics in the last phase of Weimar corresponds to the radicalization of art and culture from 1929 to 1930. Relative stabilization, 1924–9 89 11 We may complete this broad outline with a few details. It is probably not an accident that the terms Expressionism and Neue Sachlichkeit were first applied to painting and then to the other arts, for it is in painting that stylistic tendencies and changes are most tangibly expressed. The great break in artistic tradition took place in Germany between 1905 and 1914; in painting, French influences (Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh) played an important part, as did such groups as Die Brücke (Dresden, 1905) and Der blaue Reiter (Munich, 1911). The young Expressionist artists – Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Max Pechstein, 11 Oskar Kokoschka, Max Beckmann, August Macke, Franz Marc, to name only some – regarded themselves as rebels against the self-satisfied, sated world of the bourgeoisie, which they wished to shock and defy. Many 11 Expressionist works were painted before the First World War, and all the typical features of Expressionism were clearly visible before 1914: rejection 1 of existing aesthetic standards and conventional modes of expression, avoidance of ‘picturesqueness’ and decoration. Expressionist painting is distinguished by aggressive coloration, the impassioned treatment of line, a compact stylization of forms; the gap between this artistic avant-garde and the public taste of the time was probably the widest that had ever existed. 111 After the war and revolution, Expressionism had reached its peak of creativity but its influence began to broaden. The years after 1918 were a great time of experimentation in the fine arts, under the influence not only of fully developed Expressionism but also of several other avant- garde movements: Cubism and Futurism, Dadaism and Purism, Verism and Constructivism. These all sought to outbid Expressionism in the rejection of the existing social order and bourgeois practices in art, in aggressive anti- aestheticism and in pushing abstraction to its utmost limits. For this reason they considered themselves anti-Expressionist movements; but they are closely related to Expressionism, as they originated in the same intellectual, 111 artistic and, to some extent, political radicalism. In other European coun- tries the artistic and cultural scene during these years was similarly marked by a radical approach; the numerous avantgarde movements were thoroughly international in character. Political stabilization was accompanied by a decline of revolutionary unrest in the fine arts. In about 1923–4 Expressionism receded into the background along with the other avant-garde movements of the postwar years; objec- tivity was now the cry. In contrast to the dynamic and ecstatic tendencies of Expressionism the ‘new objective’ art was distinguished by coolness, soberness and respect for reality, but also a leaning towards abstraction and 111 stylization; still lifes and portraits were among its favourite genres. Similar tendencies can be seen in the painting of other European countries. During the 1920s the avant-garde gained in public esteem: the works of modern artists were shown at exhibitions and bought by museums, and leading modernists were appointed to art professorships. But this did not 111 close the gap between modern art and the taste of the masses; in fact hostility 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 90 Historical survey to modern trends increased as they gained partial recognition. Peter Gay’s remark that ‘while not all Expressionists loved Weimar, the enemies of Weimar hated all Expressionists’ could also be applied to all the other modernist movements of the Weimar period. German literature of the 1920s presents such an abundance and variety of subjects and styles that it is almost impossible, and hardly seems desir- able, to attempt a general description. Only with considerable reservations can we indicate a few dominant trends and relate them to such concepts as Expressionism or Neue Sachlichkeit. In literature after 1910 Expressionism was confined to lyric poetry and drama; there were practically no Expres- sionist novels. Several prominent authors of the years 1910–24 are not to be classified as Expressionists: Thomas Mann (Der Zauberberg – The Magic Mountain – 1924), Gerhard Hauptmann, Heinrich Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hermann Hesse and others. If, none the less, Expressionism was, and is, regarded as the prevailing trend of the first postwar years, it is probably because the German theatre in those years was dominated by Expressionist plays and new, unconventional, ‘revolutionary’ techniques. The theatre, at that time, was indeed something of a national institution. The educated public followed big theatrical events with an intensity of interest that can scarcely be imagined today. Expressionist plays by Ernst Toller, Walter Hasenclever, Fritz von Unruh, George Kaiser and Reinhard Goering were discussed as passionately as the modernistic productions of the classics by Max Reinhardt and Leopold Jessner (such as Jessner’s spectacular produc- tion of Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell at the end of 1919, in a bare, symbolic setting, with Albert Bassermann as Tell and Fritz Kortner as Gessler). Berlin, espe- cially, developed in these years into a world theatrical metropolis: it had the most important producers, the finest actors and actresses, the most famous critics, and devoted, sensitive and critical audiences. The reign of Expressionism on the stage ended in 1922–3: idealist rhetoric had had its day, the prospect of changing the world no longer fascinated. Dramatists like Kaiser and Hasenclever, who had previously produced Expressionist plays, renounced visions and utopias and turned to writing comedies. Next to comedy it was the down-to-earth realistic folk-play that drove Expressionism from the stage in the mid-twenties. Carl Zuckmayer’s Der fröhliche Weinberg was a sensational popular success: after its first night in December 1925 Alfred Kerr commented drily ‘Sic transit gloria expressionismi’, which was an exact statement of the change of mood. As in painting and architecture, the new realism and sobriety were now dominant in the theatre and in prose literature. In the second half of the twenties the stage was largely given over to topical drama, with Erwin Piscator as a major producer. Such authors as Peter Martin Lampel, Friedrich Wolf, Ferdinand Bruckner and Hans José Rehfisch pilloried social abuses and made the theatre once again a forum in which important questions of the day were discussed: bias in the law courts, abortion, juvenile prob- lems and social distress. The most striking and influential of such plays was Relative stabilization, 1924–9 91 11 Revolte im Erziehungshaus (1928) by P. M. Lampel, which led to a wide- ranging public debate on the reform of correctional education. These dramas were not intended to last long or to impress by their literary quality; the criteria were ‘topical content, clear definition of social issues, a vigorous approach, a sense of publicity, a desire for justice and a power of conviction’ (Günther Rühle). The great days of the Weimar theatre came to an end in about 1930. The ‘crisis in the theatre’ was due not only to the world depression (curtailment of public grants) but also to increasing competition from talking films (cf. 11 page 96 below). Several theatres had to close in 1930 and many more in 1931; opera houses and symphony orchestras were also hit by the depres- sion. The economic decline was accompanied by a crisis in the theatre world 11 itself. On the one hand, war plays were presented with considerable success, in the first instance as topical pieces and ‘crystallizations of right-wing 1 theatre’ (Jost Hermand and Frank Trommler); on the other, around 1930, authors who belonged or were close to the KPD, such as Bertolt Brecht, wrote topical dramas by way of party polemics and propaganda. However, these works did not find favour with the mostly middle-class public; the theatres closed, and the ‘political’ plays were put on only by independent 111 groups of actors. The polarization and radicalization of the cultural scene in the last days of the Republic was particularly evident in this sphere. Topical novels became popular at about the same time as topical drama: we may mention such authors as Lion Feuchtwanger, Arnold Zweig, Hans Fallada, Ernst Glaeser and Erik Reger. As with the drama, the aim was to feed the ‘hunger for immediacy’ (Siegfried Kracauer), and the reader was introduced to new themes such as the world of white-collar workers or the misery of the great cities and unemployment in the late Weimar period. This type of novel was characterized by sobriety of language and an interest in factual authenticity and social analysis – all features of Neue Sachlichkeit. 111 Besides the principal trends mentioned above, the literature of this period also reflects ‘the increasing tendency to actualize myths and mythical themes as a means of coming to grips with the present’ (Jost Hermand and Frank Trommler): either by a rational treatment of the myth as in Thomas Mann, or, as in nationalist and ‘populist’ (völkisch) writers, by turning to the myth as an escape from rationalism. Relevant here are the big sales of writers like Löns, Flex, Carossa, Frenssen, Hans Grimm and many others; also the revival of Heimatkunst (nostalgic literature devoted to regional topics) and the great popularity of novels about the 1914–18 war. After the huge success of anti-war books like Erich Maria Remarque’s Im Westen nichts Neues (All 111 Quiet on the Western Front) (1929) and Ludwig Renn’s Krieg (1928), there appeared from 1930 onwards a spate of works glorifying the war experience and decrying democracy, by nationalist authors such as Franz Schauwecker, Werner Beumelburg, Josef Magnus Wehner and Hans Zöberlein. The mass popularity of these books is a phenomenon that cannot be left out of account 111 in judging the literary scene in Weimar Germany. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 92 Historical survey Of all the manifestations of Weimar culture, it was no doubt architecture which made the strongest and most lasting impression outside Germany. Many names and achievements deserve mention, but it can hardly be contested that the spirit of Weimar architecture was most strongly embodied in the Bauhaus. This was indeed more than a school of modern building freed from the clutter of decoration: its members were also active in other fields such as industrial design, photography and commercial art. They were also concerned – in line with ideas already evolved in the Deutscher Werkbund (founded in 1907) – to make everyday objects in a way that combined simplicity, severity of form, functionality and beauty. The renown of the Bauhaus, in its own day and subsequently, is closely connected with the name of Walter Gropius. Appointed to a post at Weimar at the beginning of 1919 for the purpose of merging an academy of art and a school of applied arts, Gropius set out to train artists and craftsmen together in a single school directed by an architect. Its aim was ‘to collect all artistic creation as a unity, the re-unification of all craft disciplines – sculp- ture, painting, applied arts and crafts – as a new form of architecture’. Gropius expressed the core of his approach thus: ‘Architects, sculptors, painters – we must all return to craftsmanship. For there is no such thing as an “artist by calling”. There is no essential difference between artist and craftsman. The artist is the craftsman raised to a higher power.’ The early years of the Bauhaus, where well-known artists such as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Lyonel Feininger were working, were marked by the idealism of creating an artistic synthesis, but, in the years that followed, the focus switched to the industrial and functional. The machine age was now finally accepted. The theme of the first Bauhaus exhibition organized by Gropius in 1923, entitled ‘Art and Technique – A New Unity’, indicated clearly the principle that was to govern its activity from then on, namely, accommodation to industrial and technical requirements. In 1925, owing to political difficulties with the Thuringian government, the Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau; thereafter, in the second half of the decade, it concentrated on practical experiments in the construction and furnishing of houses and the development of prototypes for crafts and industrial mass production. Hand in hand with this went a trend towards the architectural forms promoted by the Dutch artist group de Stijl: stereometric, basically cubist constructions accentuated by primary colours. In the surroundings of the Bauhaus building in Dessau the ‘Masters’ houses’ were erected; although each differed from the others, all had the flat roof, the cubist form and were elegantly and simply painted white. The movement for the reform of architecture was dominated from 1923 onwards by Neue Sachlichkeit: a greater sense of reality, attention to func- tional elements of style, simplicity of form, and the use of new materials such as steel, glass and concrete. The modern dwelling or factory was to be an expression of the time: practical and functional, free of superfluous ornament, effective only through its cubic composition. This was precisely Relative stabilization, 1924–9 93 11 expressed by the motto of the Stuttgart Werkbund exhibition of 1924: ‘Form without Ornament’. Building and modern town planning were also seen as a great political challenge: it was hoped, purely by altering the public’s sense of form, to give German society a more humane and more social structure. The middle years of the Republic were indeed a period of socially signif- icant building. As practically no dwellings were built between 1914 and 1923, at the end of the period of inflation there was an acute shortage of about a million homes. This could only be remedied with government aid. A rent tax was introduced in 1924 to offset the debts incurred through 11 inflated real estate values. It flowed into local government coffers, was mainly used to build homes, and to finance building societies, which were respon- sible for most of the wave of construction that now began: in Berlin, between 11 1925 and 1929 about 64,000 homes were built by societies and only 37,000 by private concerns. By means of planned state support for house-building 1 (81 per cent of the 2.8 million homes built between 1919 and 1932 were in part publicly financed) it was possible by the end of the 1920s to mitigate the shortage and improve quality appreciably. The new homes in terraces and blocks of flats (frequently in grassed areas and sometimes provided with community facilities) differed from the traditional workers’ 111 homes in old buildings, in that the rooms had more space and light and were much better equipped: toilet and full bath in the bathroom, often a balcony and central heating, and a modern, rationalized kitchen to ease the housekeeping load (e.g. the ‘Frankfurt kitchen’). However, with the onset of the depression in 1929–30 the period of a liberal housing policy came to an end. The building trade languished, especially as a stop was put to the financing of building societies from the rent tax proceeds. None the less, housing may be regarded as the sector in which Weimar social policy brought lasting results for large sectors of the population, which were visible to all and also served as a model in foreign countries. As architectural historian 111 Gerd Kähler tells us, life at home and home-building were at that time ‘debated with an intensity and frequency never again achieved. What was accomplished in this respect in those ten years has not only never been achieved again, but the result of this debate has not even been fully reappraised today.’ During the building boom from 1924 to 1929 it was chiefly modern architects and town-planners who were called on to design apartment blocks and entire settlements and satellite towns, especially in the great centres of Berlin (Bruno Taut, Martin Wagner), Hamburg (Fritz Schumacher) and Frankfurt-on-Main (Ernst May). Then, in 1927, came the great showpiece 111 of modern building, the Weissenhof settlement in Stuttgart. Commissioned by the Deutscher Werkbund and under the artistic direction of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, sixteen leading European architects (among them Hans Scharoun, Bruno Taut, Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier) designed about sixty buildings, either single-family houses or apartment blocks, and, although 111 they were not bound by particular directives, the result was a harmonious 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 94 Historical survey ensemble. With more than half a million visitors, the Weissenhof settlement attracted much attention both in Germany and abroad and seemed to intro- duce a victorious epoch of modernism. But the building of this model settlement antagonized those who abhorred the new style as ‘cultural Bolshevism’; the Weissenhof settlement, for example, was decried as an ‘Arab village’ or a ‘suburb of Jerusalem’. As in other areas of cultural life, the opponents of modernity also made themselves increasingly felt in the field of architecture and design from the late twenties onwards. It will be clear even from this cursory sketch of some essential aspects of Weimar culture – and would be still clearer if we were able to go into more detail – how the enthusiasm for experimenting with new ideas and new forms produced important creative results and set in motion innovative artistic processes, all in the short space of twenty years. It says much for Weimar culture and its search for fresh horizons that in the period from 1945 to the present day few artistic ideas and forms have made their appearance that could not be traced back to the 1920s. As is often and rightly emphasized, the whole structure of the arts in Weimar Germany was ‘overwhelmingly urban’ (John Willett), with Berlin as the unrivalled, all-dominating centre. Weimar culture is unimaginable without the vibrant intellectual, cultural and social life of the Reich capital, which in those years became the cultural metropolis of Europe – and also a pleasure metropolis, which made it still more attractive. Certainly other big cities such as London, Paris, New York and Moscow witnessed an upsurge of artistic and intellectual life between the end of the First World War and the onset of the depression. But the twenties were ‘eminently Berlin’s decade’, where ‘the new ideas and new forces of the whole world were fused in a special, characteristic synthesis. It was not only the Berliners who thought this – the whole world felt it. Berlin, the youngest of the great capitals, had the greatest impetus, because it had the least ballast’ (Peter de Mendelssohn). Berlin during those years was a magnet to all talents; its cultural and intellectual life was especially indebted to the Jewish section of the population, ‘its international connections, its sensitive restlessness, and above all its infallible instinct for quality’ (Gottfried Benn). The German capital at that time was, after London and New York, the third largest city in the world: in 1929 it had 4.3 million inhabitants, or 1.5 million more than Paris. It was a city of superlatives in several ways, with the most numerous and varied newspapers in the world, great publishing empires, theatres and concert halls, the home of political cabaret (popular hits and songs are still familiar today); it had the fastest underground railway and the highest ratio of telephones to population – nearly 500,000 lines, carrying 1,250,000 conversations a day. It is not surprising that life in Berlin in those years is celebrated with lyrical enthusiasm in countless memoirs. It was there, in the capital, that the swift development of new attitudes to life and new values took place most clearly. But for that very reason it aroused strong emotions and antagonisms. Those who wished to preserve the old Relative stabilization, 1924–9 95 11 values and who abhorred the spirit of the metropolis saw the new Berlin, which was rapidly becoming Americanized, as a modern Babylon that must be ‘cleansed’. Weimar culture received its particular stamp not only from the multitude of avant-garde movements but also from the rapid development of a ‘mass culture’. This term stands for the ‘totality of cultural communication values that can be made available to a wide public with the help of mass media under the conditions of technological civilization’ (George Friedemann). What is true of the artistic avant-garde is also true of the mass culture, 11 namely, that a continuous development can be traced from before the war to the Republican period; but it was only after 1918 that a ‘modern mass culture’, in the true sense, arose in Germany. Certainly, the press had long 11 been an influential mass medium, and there were numerous cinemas showing silent films before 1914. But after 1918 the press expanded tremendously 1 and produced journals of a new type, the cinema developed meteorically (especially with the talking film); a quite new medium, the radio, began its triumphant career, and the new spectator sports – football, boxing, cycle- racing – conquered a mass public. Thus in the Weimar years there arose a popular culture of a special kind, distinguished by the development of those 111 modern media which have since dominated political, cultural and everyday life in Germany as in the other industrialized countries. As a corollary to this new, rapidly developing mass culture the publisher Samuel Fischer diag- nosed a ‘reading crisis’: in 1926 he lamented that ‘books are nowadays the most dispensable objects of everyday life. People go in for sport, they dance, they spend the evenings listening to the wireless or watching a film . . . Our defeat in the war, and the wave of Americanism, have transformed our taste and our approach to life.’ Among the mass media, the press remained in first place. Its chief feature, before and after 1918, was its decentralization: in 1928 there were 3,356 111 daily papers in Germany, and 147 in Berlin alone. Most of these had a very small circulation, however: only 26 papers, or 0.7 per cent of the total, ran to over 100,000 copies. At the head of the list was the Berliner Morgenpost, published by the firm of Ullstein, with over 400,000 copies a day in April 1930 (623,000 on Sundays). In contrast to this, such influential and famous papers as the Vossische Zeitung and the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung had a daily circulation of less than 100,000. Despite the decentralized structure, there was also a concentration of eco- nomic power in the German press world. Before 1914 the Berlin firms of Mosse, Ullstein and Scherl had been in the lead. After 1918, while Mosse 111 and Ullstein were well disposed towards the new regime, the Scherl papers were a bastion of anti-Republican forces. Control over this firm had passed to Alfred Hugenberg in 1916 (when he was also a Krupp director); a sworn enemy of the Republic and of democracy, in the 1920s he built up Scherl into a large, influential concern. The provincial press was liberally supplied 111 with material in matrix form and with reportage from the Telegraphen-Union, 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 96 Historical survey which served 1,600 newspapers in 1926. The nationalist and anti-democratic propaganda thus administered by the Hugenberg concern – sometimes on a massive scale and sometimes in calculated doses – reached far into the German population, over and above those who read the Scherl newspapers. The press took on a new lease of life after the inflation period. Traditional organizations increased their circulation, tabloids like the BZ am Mittag became more and more popular, and many news journals made their appear- ance, for example, Rowohlt’s lively Die literarische Welt or Ullstein’s Die grüne Post (a weekend paper for town and country, with a circulation of over 1,250,000 in July 1931) and Die Koralle. The latter’s pictorial mater- ial from all parts of the world, with its technically first-class reproduction, set new standards for the dissemination of knowledge about the march of science and the natural world. Above all, the illustrated magazine of the 1920s progressed from the illustration of texts to photojournalism and became the ‘typical’ form of publication of its period: like the cinema, this form of journalism in these years catered for the ever-increasing demand for visual experience and instruction. At the end of the twenties, illustrated magazines appeared in Germany with a total circulation of several million copies per week. In Germany as elsewhere, the cinema had begun its advance a few years before 1914, but the first silent films could satisfy only the simplest tastes. After 1918 the cinema soon became an influential mass medium, and from at least the mid-twenties onwards it was accepted as an art form. At that time, according to contemporary estimates, 2 million people went to the films daily. In 1928, 353 million tickets were sold; on average, every adult went to the cinema nearly nine times a year – in reality, fewer people went to the cinema, but they went all the more often, usually once a week. The number of film theatres rose from about 2,300 in 1918, with 800,000 seats, to over 5,000 in 1930, with 2 million seats. At the end of the 1920s Germany had the most cinemas of any European country; in the 1920s and early 1930s it produced more films than all other European countries put together. Yet the German film industry was relatively young. It began with the foundation of UFA – the largest film company – in 1917; previously the German market had been dominated by American, French and Danish productions. But after 1918 the German industry soon blossomed into a flourishing sector of the economy and an important earner of foreign cur- rency. Between 1919 and 1924 a number of films of high artistic quality were made; in terms of quantity they were only a small part of the country’s output, but they made German films instantly famous. Besides historical spectaculars and small, intimate productions, Germany became celebrated for Expressionist films of fantasy. Robert Wiene’s Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) was the pro- totype of these films, characterized by the flight from reality into fantastic dreams or nightmares, a mystical transfiguration of the world as a scene of Relative stabilization, 1924–9 97 11 cruel tyranny and superhuman beings. Further outstanding works in this genre were Fritz Lang’s Dr Mabuse der Spieler (The Gambler) and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s Nosferatu – eine Symphonie des Grauens (Dracula) (both 1922). After 1923 the favourable production conditions of the period of infla- tion no longer prevailed; export opportunities diminished, and foreign films once more invaded the German market. In the ensuing crisis several producers went bankrupt. Even UFA was threatened; it was temporarily rescued by American film interests in 1926 and taken over by Hugenberg’s concern in 1927. In the second half of the twenties Charlie Chaplin’s films 11 (for example, The Gold Rush, 1926) became very popular in Germany, and Russian films were received with enthusiasm by many (Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin was shown in Berlin in 1926 after various difficulties had been 11 overcome). As in literature and painting, the German artistic film of these years was characterized by Neue Sachlichkeit – an unsentimental, rational and 1 practical sense of responsibility, together with realistic social criticism: for instance, G. W. Pabst’s Die freudlose Gasse (1925) and W. R. Ruttmann’s Berlin, die Symphonie einer Grossstadt (1927). Towards the end of the twenties there was much talk of a ‘crisis in the film industry’. It was rescued by the advent of the talking film, which in 111 1929 ended a whole epoch of German film production, while at once making possible impressive new achievements. The first great German sound film, The Blue Angel (directed by Josef von Sternberg, with Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich in the main roles) was shown on 1 April 1930, and at a stroke anticipated all the artistic and technical possibilities of the new medium. The amazing success of the talking film, which threatened live theatre and left thousands of professional musicians, who had provided appropriate accompaniments to the silent films, unemployed can be seen in the following figures. In 1929 Germany produced 183 feature films of which all but 8 were silent; in 1930 sound films numbered 101 out of 146; in 111 1931, 142 out of 144; in 1932, all 127 were sound films. By October 1930 out of the 5,000-odd German film theatres with a total of 2 million seats, 900 totalling 600,000 seats were adapted for sound films. Since the average cost of production rose by 40 per cent for a sound feature film for a whole evening, the capital-intensive process led to increased concentration in the film industry, so that in 1932–3 only three big German concerns existed: UFA, Tobis and Terra. Public broadcasting, which began at the end of 1923, registered the same triumphant progress as the sound film was to do a few years later. Since 1918 the radio industry had been pressing for a service available to the 111 public, and in 1920 the Reich government granted permission for the use of radio for economic bulletins. The decisive step towards the establishment of radio as a mass medium came in 1923 with the grant of concessions for the erection of transmitters and the manufacture of receiving sets; the Radio- Stunde Company in Berlin sent out its first programme on 29 October 1923. 111 A radio network came into existence in 1924; nine companies were created 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 98 Historical survey in different parts of the Reich between March and October of that year, and in 1926 an umbrella organization, the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft, was set up. The Post Office held 51 per cent of its shares and controlled programmes through a Broadcasting Commissioner, Hans Bredow, with an advisory board. The number of listeners rose dramatically from barely 10,000 on 1 April 1924 to 780,000 on 1 April 1925, 1.6 million on 1 April 1927, 2.8 million on 1 April 1929 and 3.7 million on 1 April 1931. In spite of the depres- sion, the number went above 4 million in February 1932; the German listening public was by then the second largest in Europe, Britain being in first place. On 1 April 1932 about every fourth home in Germany possessed a radio. In the cities, this rose to every second home, in smaller towns and villages it was every tenth home. The directive from the Reich government directed that the broadcasting system should be non-political and devoted to instruction and entertain- ment. Hence, in addition to music, literary programmes played a great part from the beginning: radio plays, authors’ readings and recitations. While pro-Republican forces thus abstained from using the radio as an instrument for furthering democratic ideas and consolidating the regime, it is signifi- cant that in 1932 Papen’s presidential Cabinet reorganized the system and introduced state control, so that after 30 January 1933 the National Socialists were able in a few days to enlist the full power of the medium for their own purposes. As the above outline shows, the mass media developed during the 1920s, to an unprecedented extent. The new technology had a lasting and direct effect on the life and mentality of broad sections of the population, as did the fact that holidays and leisure were ceasing, though gradually, to be the privilege of a small upper class. After 1918 the comprehensive change of life-style and the approach to life which had set in at the turn of the century began to extend to the masses: the abandonment of many ancient taboos, a feeling of independence, a ‘new way of life’ in the widest sense, sport, hiking, bathing, a rediscovery of the body, expressive dance and naturism, a new attitude to children, young people and the opposite sex, and to sexual matters generally. But what some regarded as progress and the expansion of horizons, the breaking of outworn ties and liberation from irksome constraints, was seen as decadence and libertinism by others, who put the blame on the political and social system of the Weimar democracy. This provided ammunition to the prophets of doom, and increased the deeply rooted enmity which conservative and nationalist circles already felt towards the Republic. A similar observation may be made as regards the connection between Weimar culture and the political development of the Republic. The instability which beset the Weimar Republic as a political and social order corresponded to an element of free choice in matters of art and culture; a superfluity of talent as well as of material for conflict, combined with political freedom, Relative stabilization, 1924–9 99 11 made possible unlimited experimentation and an explosion of novelty that can still be felt in our own day. But there was a scarcely bridgeable gap between the artistic achievement of the avant-garde and the taste and mentality of a large part of the population, middle-class and otherwise. The popularity of sentimental literature on regional themes indicates that it touched on problems, fears and desires that occupied the minds and hearts of many. Thus the development of art and culture in the Weimar period, by which later generations are so rightly impressed, did not bring any relief to the Republic in its political and social tribulations, or confer on it any 11 higher ‘legitimacy’; on the contrary, confrontation in cultural matters still further exacerbated the basic political discord among Germans in the Weimar period. On closer investigation of the ‘golden twenties’, therefore, the typical 11 feature of the period is seen to be the split between modernism and the fear of modernity, between radicalism and resignation, between sober, factual 1 rationality and the attraction of a profound irrationalism of a mystical, contemplative, or chiliastic kind. 111 111 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 11 (C) 1 THE DISINTEGRATION AND DESTRUCTION OF THE REPUBLIC, 1930–3 The rise of National Socialism in the shadow of the world economic crisis 11 11 1 The short phase of the relative stabilization of the Weimar Republic came to an abrupt end in 1929–30. Two fatal developments coincided in time and reinforced each other. In the first place, the transformation of the polit- ical system which began with the appointment of the first presidential Cabinet in March 1930 led in a short time to an overt political crisis. Second, 111 soon after the world depression set in the German economy went into a steep decline, and conflicts over the distribution of wealth were dramatically intensified. The fragility of the political system and the increased potential for social conflict combined to produce fertile conditions for radicalism of the left and right. In particular, the nationalist and anti-democratic forces gathered for an assault on the Republic in 1929–30. Their spearhead was the NSDAP, which succeeded in becoming a mass movement in the very months in which the political and economic crisis began to loom, and thus became an essential factor in the political contest. There is no single explanation for the rise of the Nazi party. Two groups 111 of reasons should be noticed in particular. For a splinter party to gain a mass following in a relatively short time and to become a power on the electoral scene, an essential prerequisite is the existence of an explosive situation in domestic and social affairs. Unquestionably, from the beginning of 1930 onwards Germany was in a state of acute political, social, economic and psychological crisis. But there is a further point. The Nazi party, which had until then been in a completely isolated position, was able to take advan- tage of the crisis to launch a frontal attack on the political and social foundations of the state because it possessed a firm yet elastic organizational structure which made it possible rapidly to enlarge the cadre party into a 111 comprehensive movement – a refuge for all opponents of the democratic system, all fanatics and all who were embittered or disappointed. It was in this guise that the NSDAP presented itself at the turn of the year 1929–30. The Nazis themselves always laid great stress on the continuity of the party’s development from its modest beginnings in 1919 to the triumphant 111 mass movement of ten years later. Certainly there were elements of such 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 102 Historical survey continuity. To begin with, Hitler was the dominant figure in the party, from 1921 at the latest, and his immediate circle of associates remained more or less unchanged over the years. The party’s propaganda slogans during the last phase of the Republic were essentially the same as those of its early days. On the other hand, as far as party organization and political strategy were concerned, the NSDAP after 1925 differed so markedly from the NSDAP of 1923 and earlier that, in the view of most historians today, what appeared on the scene in 1925 was indeed a ‘new party’ – and this not only in the superficial sense that it was formally re-founded by Hitler after his release from the Landsberg fortress. Before the November putsch of 1923 the NSDAP had been, from a geographical point of view, largely confined to Bavaria; politically it was one of many organizations of the extreme nationalist right, working closely with ‘patriotic’ (völkisch) groups and paramilitary associations. Its propa- ganda and organizing activities in those years, especially in 1923, were entirely related to the idea of a putsch; significantly, it did not compete in a single election before 1924. There is a good deal of evidence that Hitler, dominant though he was in the party before 1923, did not yet regard himself as a charismatic leader in the same way as after 1924, but rather as the ‘drum-major’ (Trommler) beating up support – which was how his allies in the other nationalist groups thought of him and how they intended to make use of him. After the fiasco of the November putsch the NSDAP was in a parlous condition. Its organization was falling apart, and rivalries among the remain- ing leaders made it impossible to think of political activity on any consider- able scale. Hitler himself, in his fortress detention, maintained an enigmatic silence concerning quarrels in the patriotic and National Socialist camp. But the putsch, though a disastrous failure, had not done any harm to his per- sonal prestige in rightist circles. On the contrary, as the trial for high treason was conducted by the Munich court (26 February–1 April 1924) with the utmost indulgence towards the accused, Hitler was provided with a first-class propaganda platform of which he made effective use; and his period of arrest, while it was made as comfortable as possible, conferred on him a martyr’s halo. After his early release in December 1924, he set about reconstituting the party in the first months of 1925, and was helped in doing so by the dis- ruption and leaderless condition of the patriotic and National Socialist move- ment. As Gerhard Schulz has rightly pointed out, if he had been kept under arrest for longer – for instance, if he had served his full sentence and not been released until November 1928 – it would have been much more difficult, perhaps even impossible, to regenerate a Hitler party. The failure of the putsch taught Hitler three lessons, which he kept well in mind as he proceeded to rebuild the party. First, he abandoned the idea of a putsch for that of remaining ‘within the law’ – not excluding the possible use of force, but concentrating for the present on mobilizing the masses. Consequently, the party had to be strictly organized on a basis of larger Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 103 11 numbers and a wider geographical area, and clearly marked off from the other patriotic and nationalist groups. The paramilitary SA must be firmly subordinated to the political leadership, and the party must be forged into an instrument of complete obedience to the Führer’s will. Hitler was deter- mined to ensure for himself the role of an absolute dictator in the reconstituted party, and this he had no great difficulty in doing. When Hitler’s position in the party is described as that of a ‘charismatic leader’ (Joseph Nyomarkay), the epithet is not merely a general one for Hitler’s demagogic personality; in line with Max Weber’s typology of lead- 11 ership, it denotes very precisely a type of personal authority which gave its special stamp to the internal structure of the NSDAP. Its subservience to a charismatic leader distinguished the NSDAP from both the socialist and the 11 bourgeois parties of the Weimar period, and enabled it to maintain cohe- sion despite its heterogeneous social composition and the vagueness of its 1 programme. Any dissentient groups within the NSDAP did not organize against Hitler – as charismatic leader he was the source of authority and not to be challenged but rather competed for his favour. He himself not only tolerated such groups but encouraged them from time to time, as in this way his position as arbiter was strengthened. Only if his supreme authority 111 was called in question did he intervene in disputes within the party, and when he did so the dispute was settled. As soon as he took up a clear posi- tion against an internal group, its apparently powerful leaders quickly lost influence. This was partly because, in the relatively few conflicts of this kind, Hitler focused on matters of tactics rather than policy, so that he was able to adopt a conciliatory attitude towards both sides. As the matter at issue was not, or was not thought to be, one of principle, and as it was a ques- tion of disavowing particular leaders and not a specific policy, there was no need for a ‘purge’ within the ranks. The objectors disappeared, the party remained substantially intact, and Hitler’s authority was not diminished. 111 Hitler was able to perform the role of a charismatic leader by virtue of his exceptional gifts as a rhetorician and propagandist. He became aware of these gifts soon after his first public speeches and perfected his oratorical talent into a weapon which he used with masterly skill. The style and inspiration of his rhetoric is effectively described by Martin Broszat: Given the impression of resoluteness which he conveyed, Hitler knew how to articulate and, as it were, to celebrate what his listeners half consciously desired and felt. He voiced what they secretly thought and wanted, reinforced their still unsure longings and prejudices, and thereby 111 created for them deeply satisfying self-awareness and the feeling of being privy to a new truth and certainty. Such leadership and oratory did not require a refined intellectual discrimination or a calm, mature individu- ality and personality, but . . . a psychological and mental disposition which was itself so infected by the mood of crisis and panic of the time 111 that it instinctively sounded the correct note. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 104 Historical survey Just as there were different views among Hitler’s contemporaries as to what his and his party’s objectives really were, so it was long debated by histo- rians whether he had a ‘programme’ at all, or was merely an unprincipled opportunist, obsessed with power. Nowadays it is almost universally held that he did have a programme, which took shape in 1923–4 at the latest and was outlined in Mein Kampf (1925–7). It was far from identical with the party’s 25-point programme of 1920, but was rather a development of Hitler’s Weltanschauung (Eberhard Jäckel), in which various ideas were combined in an internally consistent outlook. Its two main points were both the product of popularized social Darwinism: the racial theory and that of Lebensraum (living space), leading respectively to anti-Semitism and military conquest. ‘These basic elements were synthesized in the historical picture of a permanent, ruthless battle of nations for a Lebensraum adequate to their growing strength, which could only be maintained as long as their blood was pure’ (Andreas Hillgruber). Specifically, Germany must conquer new living space, especially in the east, and must get rid of the Jews; all aspects of public life were to be organized as means to these two ends. It is certainly of great importance that historians have identified this ‘hard core’ of Hitler’s philosophy, proof against opportunism or manipulation of any kind, and have shown that it was the mainspring of his activity, the basis of his programme, and the supreme objective of his policy. But this does not suffice to explain the success of National Socialist propaganda. For, important though Hitler’s programme is as a key to his motivation, the philosophy that can be deduced from his writings and statements was not the staple of National Socialist propaganda before 1933, which it inspired only to a limited degree or in a veiled form. The question therefore remains of why and how Hitler and Nazi propaganda had such a powerful effect on large sections of the German people from the late 1920s onwards. The first point to note is that Hitler and the other Nazi propagandists, with their shrewd understanding of mass psychology, worked on a crude mixture of discontent composed of nationalist, racialist, anti-Semitic, anti- Marxist and anti-liberal prejudices, together with the sense of ‘awaiting a leader’ which was widespread in Germany in the 1920s. Many individuals in all sections of the population, especially young people and the middle class, were politically disoriented, socially isolated and economically insecure. They looked about them for scapegoats and saviours; radical denunciations fell on greedy ears, there was a demand for tried remedies. Hitler’s propa- ganda had its strongest effect on people of this kind, especially as – unlike other ‘patriotic’ (völkisch) leaders – he steered clear of dogmatic precision and confined himself to a few key points of racial biology and racial nation- alism. At the same time he attacked the state and party system with the utmost vehemence, contrasting it with the utopia of a heroic, warlike ‘racial community’ (Volksgemeinschaft), free of social tensions and political conflict. In so doing, he touched a raw nerve of the period, because the longing for Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 105 11 a ‘Volksgemeinschaft’ was particularly virulent in the fragmented political culture of Weimar Germany. These remarks on the effect of National Socialist propaganda on the masses before 1933 anticipate subsequent developments. This propaganda did not in fact achieve any results worth mentioning until the time when domestic conflicts were inflamed and Germany fell a victim to the world depression with all its economic and social consequences. The NSDAP was re-founded on 27 February 1925, a crowded ceremony in the Bürgerbräu cellar in Munich, at which Hitler was rapturously received. 11 From some time thereafter the party developed quite independently of the problems that were exercising the nation; the press at first took no notice of this splinter group of the extreme right. Its first stages were marked by 11 limited resources and a narrow sphere of action, with the leaders concen- trating entirely on party organization. In this respect, Hitler had reason to 1 be pleased with what was achieved in the first eighteen months: the NSDAP was strictly fenced off from other organizations of the populist type, from which it absorbed many members. Further, the creation of a central index of members and financial system laid the foundation for a centralized, bureaucratic administration; the party was run by ‘bureaucrats loyal to Hitler, 111 with no political ambitions’ (Wolfgang Horn). By the end of 1925 the membership was no larger than 27,000, but the network now extended over large parts of Germany: in 1923 there were only 71 local groups outside Bavaria, while in 1925 there were 262. While the state of organization and leadership in most of the party districts (Gaue) during the initial period of 1925–6 was still precarious, from the end of 1925 onwards the leaders in Munich were gradually able to assert their authority over centrifugal tendencies. A milestone in this respect was the party conference at Bamberg on 14 February 1926. This was held because the Association of North and West German Gaue formed by Gregor 111 Strasser, originally with Hitler’s approval, had put forward policy ideas (‘German socialism’, eastward orientation) and concrete proposals (such as National Socialist participation in the referendum on the expropriation of the former princes) that did not meet with the approval of the Munich leaders: Hitler had no desire for a discussion of first principles. At Bamberg he forced the northern and western Gauleiters to conform, which they did (including Strasser himself) without resistance. Faced with the choice of either accepting Hitler’s viewpoint or sticking to their own ideas and risking a conflict with him, they acknowledged his leadership without hesitation. Thus the north and west German party authorities, which had until then 111 shown a certain amount of independence, recognized Hitler’s absolute authority and accepted the autocratic structure of the new party. The initial period concluded with the first Reich party congress at Weimar in July 1926 and the appointment, late that summer, of the former Freikorps leader Franz Pfeffer von Salomon as commander of the SA. The Weimar 111 congress featured a march-past or military parade of several thousand 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 106 Historical survey supporters, designed to show the German people that the NSDAP was back in business and was solidly organized, and to give its members the sense of belonging to a rising political movement. Pfeffer von Salomon’s appoint- ment once more defined the relationship between the party and its paramil- itary organization. This was governed by Hitler’s view that, in accordance with the policy of ‘legality’, the political leadership must be unmistakably in control of the paramilitary element. The SA was placed under the authority of the party and was forbidden to enter into association with other paramil- itary bodies; its function was to consist in matters of training, education and administration, and in providing stewards for meetings. In practice it did not prove possible to make the SA a mere passive instrument of the party. There were repeated conflicts between self-confident SA leaders and middle-rank party officials, but no longer any threat to Hitler’s dictatorial power. The further stages of development of the party cannot be detailed here. However, two aspects of its organization and propaganda should be described, since in the years when the NSDAP was still by no means in the limelight of public attention, certain conditions were created which enabled it, in the time of general crisis, to provide a home for all malcontents and opponents of the system. In the years after its re-foundation, the party was distinguished by its elaborate efforts to create a ‘socio-moral environment’ (Rainer M. Lepsius). To develop the movement into a microcosm of society, to incorporate its members and supporters in respect of the particular interests and ambi- tions of their profession or age-group, a large number of auxiliary bodies or party ‘formations’ (Gliederungen) were created. In some cases the party, as such, took the initiative, but more often it came from individual activists, who founded the organizations first and then sought the blessing of the party leaders. As early as 1926 two party youth organizations were created, the National Socialist German Students’ Association and the Hitler Youth. In both of these, social revolutionary tendencies existed at the beginning but were gradually eliminated. The National Socialist Union of School Pupils, founded in 1929, comprised mostly upper-middle-class children attending grammar schools (Oberschulen and Gymnasien). Much the most popular of the youth organizations was the Students’ Association, which obtained a wide following at an early date, before the party’s first electoral successes; at the election in the winter term of 1928–9 for the Allgemeiner Studenten- Ausschuss (General Students’ Union) it received 15 per cent of the votes countrywide. At the universities of Erlangen and Greifswald the Nazis attained an absolute majority in 1929; in 1930 they did so at seven more universities, while at others they were only just short of 50 per cent. These results show how gravely the Weimar democracy was threatened, even before 1930, by the alienation of a high percentage of university youth. Besides youth organizations, the party had associations for particular professions and occupations. The first of these, formed in October 1928, Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 107 11 was the Association of National Socialist Jurists, which advocated a ‘renewal of the system of law’ in a patriotic (völkisch) and National Socialist sense. In 1929 some more bodies of this type were formed, such as the National Socialist Association of German Physicians, the National Socialist Teachers’ Association and a League of Struggle (Kampfbund) for German Culture, whose task was to attract ‘culturally active persons’ to the NSDAP and to ‘rally all defensive forces against the powers of corruption that at present dominate German culture’. Of much greater importance were the organizations formed to regiment 11 manual workers and farmers. The Agrarpolitischer Apparat (Office for Agriculture) was not created until 1930, but was then built up rapidly. It did much to win over the peasant masses to the NSDAP, and in a relatively 11 short time succeeded in penetrating the independent agricultural associa- tions. At the same time, the NSDAP sought to establish itself among the 1 working class by means of a National Socialist Factory Cell Organization (NSBO) modelled on similar shop-floor organizations of the KPD. The first Nazi cells were formed in 1927–8 in Berlin, the Ruhr and Saxony; the members were chiefly foremen, skilled workers and clerks who were opposed to workers’ parties and trade unions. While the factory cells only attracted 111 a small minority of the workers as compared with the millions who belonged to the various unions, the NSBO was nevertheless quite a large part of the National Socialist movement. A figure of 40,000 members is given for 1931, and 100,000 for mid-1932; in October 1932 Gregor Strasser claimed, no doubt with exaggeration, that the membership was nearly 300,000. However, the NSBO had no determining influence on party policy. For craftsmen and small tradesmen there was a Kampfbund für den Gewerblichen Mittelstand (Militant Association of Retailers), whose chief purpose was to agitate against chain-stores. The existence of organizations for particular occupations and also for such heterogeneous economic inter- 111 ests is one more indication of the peculiar structure of the National Socialist movement which, as we have pointed out, was essentially vague in matters of policy and derived its unity from Hitler’s absolute authority. A second objective of National Socialist organization was to create links with some of the major existing economic associations, so as to gain influ- ence with wider sections of the electorate. This related especially to the white-collar workers’ and farmers’ organizations. As regards the former, the NSDAP established contact with leading officials of the Deutschnationaler Handlungsgehilfenverband (Nationalist League of Commercial Employees), a body with numerous members and a long tradi- 111 tion, strongly right-wing and anti-Semitic, and closely connected with the DNVP up to 1929–30. A large number of its officials found their way into the NSDAP from 1929 onwards; they added to the party’s strength in the Reichstag and helped it to recruit among their former members. The Nazis also managed to penetrate local and regional associations of craftsmen and 111 small tradesmen and thus exert pressure from the lower ranks upwards. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 108 Historical survey Still more striking was the success of the NSDAP in infiltrating the asso- ciation of German farmers. The party capitalized on the discontent among the peasantry, which increased rapidly as the economic situation deteriorated. The price of all agrarian products fell owing to world-wide overproduction, and German agricultural sales in 1932–3 fetched only 62 per cent of the figure for 1928–9. Farmers fell into debt and the annual figure of compulsory auctions grew rapidly. With the help of a close network of local agents, the NSDAP was able in a remarkably short time to acquire influence over the policy of the farmers’ associations, which were for the most part Protestant. By the spring of 1932 the Reichslandbund (Reich Agrarian League), the largest and most influential organization and pressure group, was so strongly infiltrated, both ideologically and personally, that at the second ballot in the presidential elections its governing body instructed members to vote for Hitler against Hindenburg. The Reichslandbund also placed itself at the head of the extra-parliamentary agrarian opposition which, in the winter of 1932–3, urged Hindenburg to dismiss Schleicher and appoint Hitler to the chancellorship. Such possibilities were still far ahead in May 1928, when a new Reichstag was elected for the first time since the re-foundation of the NSDAP. At this election, despite the development of its organization and despite its violent agitation against the democratic parties and republican institutions, the NSDAP did not rise above the rank of a splinter party, securing about 800,000 votes or 2.6 per cent of the votes cast (cf. table, pages 224–5). Only in 4 of the 35 constituencies did the NSDAP receive more than 5 per cent of the votes, and in none of them over 10 per cent; while in 22 constituencies, or two-thirds of the whole Reich territory, its share of the votes was lower than its Reich average of 2.6 per cent. With only 12 seats out of 491 in the Reichstag, the NSDAP in 1928 was practically insignifi- cant in parliamentary terms. None the less, it should not be overlooked that this splinter party already possessed a fairly large and increasing membership and was organized on a strict yet elastic basis – a cadre party, it may be said, that was awaiting its opportunity to expand. Sooner than anyone could have expected, in 1928 political and economic circumstances combined with the public mood to create a situation especially favourable to National Socialist agitation and action. In two quite different areas the year 1929 furnished the NSDAP with opportunities to break out of its isolation and make a breach in the apparently stabilized structure of the Republic. The first of these was the plebiscite over the Young Plan; the second, the world economic depression. The Young Plan was at the centre of controversy in 1929, both in domestic and in foreign affairs. As we have seen (page 66 above) the economic advan- tages of the plan lay clearly on the German side; this is the judgement of historians today, and was that of the German government and its supporting parties at the time. Moreover, by accepting the new proposals Germany was to secure the early evacuation of the still-occupied parts of the Rhineland. Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 109 11 Nevertheless, the plan gave rise to an outburst of controversy over repara- tions, more intense than at any previous time. The, substantial though reduced annuities, and the prospect of another sixty years of payments, were a convenient target for the right-wing opposition, whose aim was to discredit the Republic by mobilizing every form of nationalist resentment. In order to mount a propaganda campaign on the largest scale, the nationalists adopted the course of petitioning for a referendum under Article 73 of the Weimar constitution. Soon after the Young Plan was published the DNVP, which was pursuing 11 an increasingly radical policy under Hugenberg’s chairmanship, together with the Stahlhelm (the ex-servicemen’s association), formed a Reich Committee for a German Referendum to oppose the Young Plan; this committee was 11 immediately joined by the National Socialists. By thus allying himself on equal terms with Hugenberg and Seldte, the Stahlheim leader, Hitler was able to 1 play an active part in a key question of German politics for the first time since 1923, and to make his name politically with large sections of the nationalist middle class. ‘The unscrupulousness of the Nazis’ propaganda methods and their aggressive brutality were thus made respectable in bourgeois circles and, as it were, legitimized’ (Karl Dietrich Erdmann). 111 The measure proposed by the Reich Committee for submission to a referendum was known as the ‘Freedom law’ (Law against the Enslavement of the German People). Sections 1 and 2 of the draft attacked the ‘war guilt lie’, calling on the government to repudiate the relevant article of the Treaty of Versailles and to demand the immediate evacuation of occupied territory regardless of the Young Plan. Section 3 forbade the government to accept new burdens and obligations vis-á-vis foreign powers. The height of dema- gogy was reached in Section 4, which declared that any Reich Chancellor, minister or plenipotentiary who signed treaties of this kind, such as the Young Plan, would be liable to imprisonment for high treason. 111 As far as the referendum was concerned, the campaign was a complete failure. The minimum number of signatures required by the constitution was just reached, but in the popular vote on 22 December 1929 only 13.8 per cent of the electorate voted for the Freedom law. To the NSDAP, however, their participation in the campaign brought rich rewards. The spec- tacular propaganda roused the public to a high pitch of emotion which accrued to the Nazis’ benefit. Aided by the Reich Committee’s funds, they were able to conduct a large-scale campaign of their own, and received free publicity from Hugenberg’s newspaper empire. At the Nuremberg congress in 1929, the party’s largest so far, they were able, with financial help from 111 the Reich Committee, to muster 200,000 supporters; Hitler took the salute from 20,000 SA men in uniform and in full marching order. Among the right-wing parties, the NSDAP was in fact the sole gainer from the campaign against the Young Plan, as became clear in the autumn and winter of 1929. In those weeks when the propaganda against the Young 111 Plan, the government and the Republic was at its height, the National 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 110 Historical survey Socialists scored the first considerable success at the polls, partly at the expense of the DNVP. In the Landtag election in Baden on 27 October 1929 the Nazis obtained 7 per cent of the votes; in Lübeck on 10 November, 8.1 per cent; and in Thuringia on 8 December, 11.3 per cent. In Thuringia, moreover, thanks to a stalemate between the bourgeois and socialist parties and the former’s readiness to enter into a coalition, the Nazis for the first time achieved membership of a Land government. The NSDAP registered similar gains in the municipal elections in November 1929, and was repre- sented as a result on many local councils, in some cases with an increased number of seats. Having broken out of its isolation thanks to the campaign for the Freedom law, the NSDAP could no longer be dismissed as a splinter party with a negligible membership and share of the popular vote. By September 1930 the number of members had risen to about 130,000, and that of local branches to 1,378 (in January 1933, the NSDAP had 849,000 members, organized in 11,845 local groups). The NSDAP was decidedly a ‘young’ party, not only in the sense of being new to the political scene, but because most of its members had been born in 1890 or later. In 1930 nearly 70 per cent of its members were under 40 years old, and 37 per cent under 30; among party officials, these figures were about 65 per cent and 26 per cent respectively. The politicization of quite young people was a characteristic of the time, and in the young generation the pull of National Socialism was clearly felt at all social levels, whereas the other parties – except for the KPD, which was also a ‘young’ party – had no great attraction for youth. This was especially true of the SPD, whose appeals to reason and argument lacked emotional force, and whose members and officials were elderly compared with those of the NSDAP and the KPD. The official party statistics of 1935 give certain clues about the occupa- tions and social status of the members of the NSDAP before 1933 – these can only be clues, because the statistics for 1930 give the occupations of only those members who joined before 1933 and were still counted as members in 1934; account is not taken of those who left the party again between 1930 and 1934, a considerable number, in view of the fluctuation in membership between 1930 and the end of 1932 (by 30 January 1933, 40 per cent are said to already have left the party again). On that basis, the figures for membership break down as follows (in brackets, the figures for each group in gainful employment in the population as a whole): manual workers 28 per cent (45.9 per cent), employees 25.6 per cent (12 per cent), self-employed 20.3 per cent (9 per cent), civil servants 8.3 per cent (5.1 per cent), farmers 14.2 per cent (10.6 per cent), others 3.6 per cent (17.4 per cent). Two conclusions may be drawn from this: in the first place, some occupational and social groups were clearly over-represented in proportion to the percentage of such groups among all those gainfully employed. This applied to the middle class or petty bourgeoisie, including professionals, small business men, employees and officials. Second, in purely numerical Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 111 11 terms the manual workers were the largest group in the party membership, even though the proportion of manual workers in the NSDAP was lower than in the overall population. It is hard to assess the relatively high propor- tion of manual workers when determining the social structure, for, according to social statistics, anyone who paid social insurance contributions for disability insurance was considered to be a manual worker. Therefore, the term ‘manual worker’ included farm workers, skilled workers in heavy industry, skilled and unskilled workers in small industries and trades, along with workers in local and national state enterprises. It is not possible to 11 classify exactly the manual worker membership of the NSDAP according to these categories. However one may prefer to make the evaluation in detail – one feature 11 is hardly disputed today: the NSDAP cannot be regarded, as was the case for a long time, as a party of the petty bourgeois middle class. It developed 1 into a modern ‘party of integration’, which indeed found its main support among the sociological middle classes, but which could also win over other social classes, particularly manual workers who did not belong to an urban industrial milieu but were employed in small or medium-sized businesses (cf. below, pages 214 ff.). 111 For this reason, the NSDAP has more recently been credited with the character of a people’s party (Volkspartei). This is justifiable if the concept of ‘Volkspartei’ is used in a totally neutral manner (i.e. with no positive connotations) to define a party, which recruits its members (and electors) from all social strata and which goes to any lengths to canvas for members and electors from all classes of society. One has to be aware, however, that the NSDAP constituted a ‘Volkspartei’ of a specific kind: it was an extremely nationalistic and anti-Marxist party of mobilization, which appealed to all levels of society. In the winter of 1929–30 Germany was stricken by the effects of the 111 world economic crisis, which reached its first peak after the collapse of the New York stock exchange at the end of October 1929. The consequences hit Germany especially hard, as her economic development was based largely on short-term foreign credits which were now called in. The German national income in 1932 was 39 per cent less than in 1929 (USA 40 per cent, Britain 15 per cent, France 16 per cent); industrial production, private incomes and living standards had dropped correspondingly. Above all, the political situation was dominated from 1929 onwards by the growth of unemploy- ment. As we have seen (page 83 above), even during the few years of rela- tive stability the unemployment figure was fairly high, a pointer to the 111 structural weakness and fragility of the German economy. From the end of 1929 onwards it rose dramatically, from 1.3 million in September 1929 to over 3 million in September 1930, 4.3 million in September 1931 and 5.1 million in September 1932. At the beginning of 1933 the figure reached over 6 million, as against 12 million in work; in other words, 1 worker in 111 3 was unemployed (in the USA 1 in 4, in Britain 1 in 5, in France 1 in 7). 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 112 Historical survey The German figures, moreover, are based on official statistics which did not include those who, owing to long unemployment, had exhausted their claim to benefit. In addition, the numerous part-time workers had suffered consid- erable cuts in wages. Virtually every second German family was hit by the depression, the lower middle class and employees as well as manual workers. One further factor, which worsened the situation in employment in the years of the depression, is often overlooked. It was precisely at this time that the German labour market found itself in a phase of demographic strain, which resulted from the age range of the German population and the birth rate from before the First World War: the proportion of people under 15 years of age went down from over a third to under a quarter between 1900 and 1933. This is to be compared with the very strong birth rate in the years before the First World War which led to large numbers of young people reaching working age in the 1920s (the years from about 1905 to 1912 produced the largest age cohorts in the German Empire). In spite of losses in the war and in spite of the increase in those over 65 years of age, the number of people in full employment rose in the 1920s (28 million in 1907, 32 million in 1925, 32.3 million in 1933). The employment rate likewise rose, from 45.5 percent in 1907 to 51.3 percent in 1925 and 49.5 per cent in 1933 (see table, page 228). The climax, but also the turning point, of this overload fell in 1931–1932, because at that point the young people born during the sparser war years reached working age. Coinciding thus with the worldwide slump, this demographic overload made possible the disastrous consequences of economic decline. The direct economic consequences of the slump, which are only cursorily indicated by these figures, were devastating enough, and the psychological effects no less disastrous. The sense of insecurity spread far beyond the circle of those whose livelihood was directly affected at any given time; the whole population lived in a mood of expecting catastrophe. Fear of the further effects of the crisis was a psychological factor no less potent than its actual effects, and this enabled the radicals to gain a following among those who were less hard hit economically, for example, some sections of the middle class. The atmosphere of catastrophe encouraged right- and left-wing oppo- nents of the Republic to carry on unbridled propaganda against the Republic and democracy. It was no doubt inevitable that the public should lose confidence in existing institutions and parties; but the propagandists took every advantage of this to represent the crisis as a consequence of the ‘system’, and ruthlessly mobilized open and latent resentment of parlia- mentary democracy. As the crisis continued it was soon clear how weak the foundations of Weimar democracy were, in terms of the solidity of its insti- tutions or the loyalty of influential social and political groups and large sections of the population. Thus the world depression with its economic and psychological consequences plunged Germany, from the outset, into a grave political crisis. This was unlike the situation in most other countries, which suffered from the depression almost as much as Germany but were Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 113 11 better able to stand its consequences because of the greater stability of their political and social order. The Landtag and municipal elections at the end of 1929 showed a clear, though still limited, trend in favour of the NSDAP. This continued in the first half of 1930, as was evident from the election in Saxony on 22 June, necessitated by a premature dissolution of the Landtag. At the previous Landtag election, on 12 May 1929 – before the campaign against the Young Plan had got under way – the Nazis had obtained 5 per cent of the votes, already a considerable advance on the 2.7 per cent they had received in 11 Saxony at the Reichstag election of 1928. Now, in June 1930, they increased the figure to 14.4 per cent, that is, they trebled their share of the votes in the space of a year, and became the strongest party after the SPD. 11 These figures are eloquent, and any analysis of the regional election results must have led to the conclusion that the NSDAP would score appreciable 1 gains if there should be a dissolution of the Reichstag before the end of its current term (which expired in mid-1932). It is symptomatic of the way in which politics were conducted after the collapse of the ‘great coalition’ – as we shall discuss more fully, see pages 119–20 below – that in the summer of 1930 Brüning obtained a dissolution of the Reichstag in order to carry 111 out without modification his authoritarian programme for dealing with the crisis, and in so doing culpably neglected all prognoses that might have been derived from an analysis of voting trends and regional election figures. The Reichstag election of 14 September 1930 brought a landslide exceeding even the Nazi leaders’ expectations: they increased their number of seats from 12 to 107, becoming at a stroke the second largest party. A victory on this scale was unprecedented in German parliamentary history. In analysing the result attention should be paid not only to percentages but to absolute numbers of votes, as in September 1930 about 4 million more valid votes were cast than in the Reichstag election of 1928. The total 111 number elected thus rose from 491 to 577 (see table, pages 224–5; the total number of seats in the Reichstag varied from one legislation period to another, because, according to Reich election law, it depended on the number of votes cast, on the number of people eligible to vote and on the size of the poll). The NSDAP increased its votes from 800,000 to about 6.4 million and its share of the poll from 2.6 to 18.2 per cent; the KPD received 4.6 million votes, or 13.1 per cent (in 1928 these figures were 3.3 million and 10.6 per cent). The SPD, on the other hand, lost about half a million votes and 10 seats as compared with its record success of 1928; this brought it to 24.5 per cent and 143 seats. The Centre and the BVP gained 111 a small number of votes and a few additional seats; the Wirtschaftspartei, a lower-middle-class interest group, lost a few thousand votes and no seats. The DVP and the DDP (the latter now called Deutsche Staatspartei) lost hundreds of thousands of votes and a larger number of seats, but were not wiped out. Some additional seats were gained by smaller parties such as 111 the Christlich-Sozialer Volksdienst and the Deutsche Landvolkpartei. The 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 114 Historical survey greatest losses in the election were sustained by the DNVP, whose votes fell from about 4.4 million to 2.46 million. This was 7 per cent of the votes cast, as compared with 14.2 per cent in 1928; this time the party secured only 41 seats, compared with 73 in 1928 and over 100 in December 1924. The election of September 1930 is certainly a fateful date in German history, marking the breakthrough of the National Socialist movement as a political force that could not be ignored. Two questions call for a brief discussion here. What was the source of the 6.4 million votes obtained by the NSDAP, especially the 5.6 million additional to the 1928 result; and was its success largely due to financial help from business circles, especially heavy industry? The question as to who voted for the NSDAP in 1930 and where they came from is harder to answer than is often supposed. There were no opinion polls that would enable us to make direct statements concerning the electoral behaviour of particular social groups and the extent to which they shifted their allegiance; all we have are official statistics with the results classified geographically. Hence many assertions about the source of the NSDAP vote are insufficiently founded. For a long time two completely contrary hypotheses prevailed. The first (held by Reinhard Bendix and others) was that the National Socialist success in 1930 was due to the mobilization of first-time voters, the advent to politics of new sections of the population and the switch of former DNVP supporters to the NSDAP. The opposite view, advanced by Seymour M. Lipset, attributed the result to radicalized white-collar voters who had previously supported the liberal parties. Neither hypothesis is fully borne out by recent investigations (cf. pages 215 ff. below); these indicate that the NSDAP gained by the increased turnout at the polls as well as by the losses of the middle-ground parties and the DNVP. In other words, the NSDAP landslide was not purely a victory for the lower middle class but was due to voters of various social classes and from different political parties. Only in 1932, when the NSDAP was already the second strongest party, did it almost completely absorb the Protestant middle-class portion of the electorate. The relationship of big business to the Nazi Party was for a long time the subject of intensive controversy in research. However, despite very different overall assessments some aspects are broadly agreed upon (cf. pages 218 ff. below). Two stages are to be distinguished here: the years from 1925 to 1930, and the period from September 1930 onwards. As the sources clearly show, from 1931 onwards several prominent industrialists and bankers sought contact with the NSDAP, though they were a very small proportion of the whole. These men, who acted from a wide variety of motives, also made financial contributions to the party, but even in 1931–2 the total subvention was not large enough to be decisive. More important was the moral and political support that these circles afforded Hitler and his party and, above all, the fact that in 1932–3 they used their influence with Hindenburg and others in favour of Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor. Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 115 11 Before 1930, on the other hand, the business world’s interest in Hitler and his party remained within very narrow bounds. Overall, the financial needs of the NSDAP were met, to a much greater extent than was long supposed, by an elaborate system of self-financing (membership dues, charges for attendance at functions, sale of publications), together with private contributions of which a considerable proportion came from abroad. Germans in foreign countries, and some magnates such as Ford, Deterding and Kreuger, provided the NSDAP with large sums, partly from ideological motives (anti- Semitism) and partly from political and economic calculation. As far as German 11 industry was concerned, a large number of small capitalists contributed much more than a small number of large ones. The big business men, such as Flick and Thyssen, who favoured the NSDAP from an early date and gave 11 it financial aid attracted attention because they were exceptional. All in all, therefore, the Nazi breakthrough of 1929–39 cannot be said to have been 1 due to active support by influential business men and financial contributions from heavy industry – just as the large contributions of the business world to the DNVP did not save it from losing nearly half its votes in September 1930. The reasons why the NSDAP became a mass movement in 1929–30 must be sought elsewhere than in a manipulation of the movement by 111 interested business circles. Some of these reasons have already been suggested. The evidence that the business world’s direct financial support for Hitler and his party was relatively small does not, however, exhaust the question. From the outset, German employers were sceptical or openly hostile towards the parliamentary system and the pluralistic Weimar democracy. Even in the years of relative consolidation they could not bring themselves whole- heartedly to accept the political basis of the Republic; and after the turn of the year 1929–30 it became the primary object of the industrial leaders to deprive the Reichstag of power and establish an authoritarian system of government. Like other leading groups in society, the manager class in 111 general, and the captains of heavy industry in particular, waged what was often a ruthless fight against parliamentarianism and the ‘party state’, social democracy and the trade unions. By so doing they were instrumental in opening the breach in the structure of the Republic through which the National Socialists were to effect their entry. 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 2 Disintegration of the political system: the period of presidential Cabinets Great as were the successes of the NSDAP in mobilizing the potential of a socially heterogeneous membership and electorate from 1930 onwards, it was not through election that Hitler came to power. Even at the height of its mobilization, the party was far from commanding a majority in Parliament. Hitler’s appointment as head of a presidential Cabinet, unsup- ported by a parliamentary majority, became thinkable and finally possible only because the disintegration of the political system had gone so far by the turn of the year 1932–3 that the President believed he had no choice other than to declare a state of emergency or to appoint Hitler to the chancellorship. This disintegration is the main point to bear in mind in elucidating the causes and conditions of the conquest of state power by the Nazi Party. It must further be emphasized that the disintegration which set in in 1930 was by no means predestined. On the contrary, it was consciously set in motion in 1929–30, before the collapse of the ‘great coalition’ and the break- through of the NSDAP as a mass movement, and was energetically pursued from 1930 onwards. The express object of its authors was to deprive Parliament of power and exclude the Social Democrats from politics, so as to transform the parliamentary democracy into an authoritarian state governed by the political right. This process was, first and foremost, the work of Hindenburg with his personal entourage and the Reichswehr leaders under General von Schleicher; it was willingly supported, however, by bour- geois elements from the right wing to a large part of the centre, and by powerful interest groups representing industry and agriculture. The press empire of the DNVP leader Hugenberg poured out anti-republican and anti- democratic propaganda. Important help was provided in the journalistic field by the ideologists of the ‘conservative revolution’, who combined vehement attacks on liberalism, democracy and the parliamentary system with the call for a strong leader and an authoritarian state. When Karl Dietrich Bracher wrote his pioneering work on the break-up of the Weimar Republic (Die Auflösung der Weimarer Republik, 1955), Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 117 11 which for the first time subjected the period of presidential Cabinets to a thorough analysis, he distinguished three phases: the ‘loss of power’ (Brüning), the ‘power vacuum’ (Papen and Schleicher) and the seizure of power by the National Socialists. It is appropriate to speak of a ‘loss’ or ‘vacuum’ if one has in mind the rapid demolition of the democratic and parliamentary system. On the other hand, the instruments of state power – the Reichswehr, the police and the bureaucracy – were very much intact during the presidential period, while the President’s own powers, especially the power to issue emergency decrees, were being more and more extended. 11 In that sense there was no real ‘power vacuum’. What happened in those years was rather a shift of power away from Parliament and the parties, in favour of the President’s ever-expanding authority and of extra-parliamentary 11 elements, chiefly the Reichswehr and the bureaucracy. Among the factors making this development possible – and this aspect 1 must not be forgotten – was the fact that the Reichstag was no longer capable of achieving a parliamentary majority. Since the political factions in parliament were blocking and paralyzing each other, the President was able to interpret extensively and utilize rigorously his far-reaching constitutional powers (the appointment and dismissal of the Chancellor of the Reich, the 111 right to dissolve the Reichstag, the passing of emergency decrees as per Article 48). As these two factors coincided – first, a parliament, the make- up of which was not in the end determined by the votes of the electorate, and second, the decided intention of the President and his entourage to create a presidential regime – the power in the state became, from 1930 onwards, ever more exclusively concentrated in the hands of the President and of the Cabinet which depended on his trust. As the Reichstag and parties were eased out of the process of political decision-making, the true centre of power contracted to a small circle of men who possessed influence over the aged President and knew how to 111 convey to him, or force upon him, their ideas and proposals. This group was dominated by anti-liberal and anti-democratic emotions, conceptions and interests. Thus it was finally possible, as the result of a foolhardy intrigue in January 1933, for Hitler to be appointed Chancellor, although by that time it was far from inevitable that he should be. Such, in very general terms, were the origin, course and outcome of the disintegration of the political system during the final phase of the Republic. We shall now describe the process in more detail, in three stages: (1) the formation of the first presidential Cabinet – a precedent of enormous impor- tance; (2) the development of the presidential regime under Brüning; 111 and (3) the Papen and Schleicher Cabinets, which no longer enjoyed the ‘toleration’ of the Reichstag. In the light of the sources it can now be firmly stated that the fateful transition from parliamentary government to the presidential regime was well and carefully planned in advance. The protagonists, and Schleicher in 111 particular, were not compelled by circumstances or by the hopelessness of 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 118 Historical survey the political situation; they acted with cool deliberation and with the inten- tion of drastically altering the constitutional system and the balance of social forces in favour of the old élites of the army, bureaucracy and big business. The first initiatives were taken in 1929 at Easter. Men in the President’s confidence sounded Brüning (who was then de facto, though not yet offi- cially, chairman of the parliamentary Centre Party) as to his willingness to head a Cabinet of more rightward inclination which would ‘put an end to the impotence (Marasmus) of politics’. The idea of a ‘Hindenburg Cabinet’ took on firmer shape in December 1929, when Schleicher and Meissner, Hindenburg’s state secretary, told Brüning that the President had no inten- tion of allowing the Müller Cabinet to remain in office after the Young Plan legislation had been passed, and expected that he, Brüning, would not refuse a call to take its place. In January 1930 the proposed ‘Hindenburg Cabinet’ was referred to in the President’s palace as ‘anti-parliamentarian’ and ‘anti-Marxist’. It was to be formed without regard to any majority in the Reichstag and without any negotiation with parties in or outside Parliament; the President’s powers under Article 48 and the power of dissolution would be placed at the new Chancellor’s disposal. The exclusion of the Social Democrats was already decided on. Thus, when the ‘great coalition’ was facing its supreme trial in March 1930, the new government was already largely decided on. Rumours of a projected Hindenburg Cabinet no doubt did much to weaken the parties’ readiness to uphold the coalition, at the same time paralyzing the Chancellor’s resolution to hold on; a sense of discouragement and apathy was gaining ground. The coalition Cabinet decided to resign on 27 March 1930 after Hindenburg refused its request for the use of Article 48. No further attempt was made to form a government based on a parliamentary majority. On the 28th, on Schleicher’s proposal, Hindenburg commissioned Brüning to form a Cabinet, specifying that it must have a rightward orientation and not include the SPD – though this was by far the strongest party in the Reichstag and the largest and most stable of the republican parties. Brüning, who accepted these conditions, was able to form the new government on 30 March. The Hindenburg Cabinet was a minority gov- ernment drawn from the middle-ground parties, but the intention was to extend it further to the right as soon as possible; accordingly, in agreement with Hindenburg, Brüning endeavoured to co-operate in Parliament with the DNVP. From the outset he left it in no doubt that the Reichstag would be dissolved and the country governed by emergency decrees if the Reichstag rejected the government’s Bills or passed a vote of no confidence. For the time being, however, a dissolution was avoided. The SPD and KPD moved votes of no confidence, but they did not command a majority and the Reichstag passed the government’s fiscal laws and agrarian programme with the tiny majority of four votes, thanks to some DNVP members voting in their favour. The miracle did not repeat itself at the next trial of strength in July 1930. The government introduced a new covering Bill for a reform of the state Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 119 11 finances by means of rigorous deflation: cuts in public expenditure, increased taxes and levies, especially on higher incomes, and a so-called ‘emergency contribution’ by those on fixed salaries. To obtain the support of the DNVP, Brüning, in conversation with Hugenberg, actually offered to break up the Prussian coalition and persuade the Centre Party in Prussia to enter into a coalition with the DNVP. Although Hugenberg rebuffed these advances, Brüning hoped that, as in April, some DNVP deputies would deviate from the Hugenberg line so that the government proposals could be passed by a bare majority. For this reason he did not explore the possibility, which 11 undoubtedly existed, of a compromise with the SPD. As a result of these doubtful tactics the government was defeated in the Reichstag on 16 July; despite Brüning’s threat to use Article 48, part of the 11 financial Bill was rejected by 256 votes to 193. Thereupon the Cabinet decided to promulgate the entire Bill at once by emergency decree. This 1 was the first time that a Bill rejected by the Reichstag had been made law in this way – a procedure which current legal opinion held to be inadmis- sible. The SPD deputies at once demanded that the decree be withdrawn, and the Reichstag passed a motion to this effect by 236 votes to 221, the majority consisting of the SPD, KPD, NSDAP and most of the DNVP. 111 Brüning thereupon announced the dissolution of the Reichstag, and the abrogated decree was reissued a few days later in a more drastic form. These decisions in July 1930 showed clearly, if it had not been clear before, that Brüning’s presidential Cabinet was a new departure in constitutional terms. Because the Reichstag had made use of its right to demand the withdrawal of an emergency decree issued under Article 48(2) of the constitution, it was punished, so to speak, by the presidential dissolution. As Gerhard Schulz observes: ‘With this act and on this day there began the permanent viola- tion of the constitutional system by the dictatorial power of the Reich President, the first exercise of which was immediately directed against the 111 restrictions imposed on that power by the constitution.’ The dissolution of the Reichstag in July 1930 led to the disastrous elec- tion of September, the results of which we have already discussed (pages 113–14 above). In the new Reichstag, with 107 members of the NSDAP and 77 of the KPD, there was no possibility of a positive majority for any purpose. The DNVP treated Brüning’s assiduous wooing with contumely and refused to support the government. Brüning’s attempts to win over the NSDAP for a ‘constructive opposition’ were also unsuccessful, although in conversation with Hitler, Strasser and Frick on 6 October 1930 he even offered ‘to ensure that in all Land parliaments where it was arithmetically 111 possible, the NSDAP and the Centre might combine to form a government’. If the Brüning Cabinet was, nevertheless, not faced by a negative majority in the new Reichstag, this was due to the attitude of the SPD. The latter’s opposition in July was understandable and justified after the events of the preceding months, but it had not paid off. The presidential Cabinet was 111 still in being, and the September election had tremendously weakened the 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 120 Historical survey democratic, pro-republican forces. Accordingly, the parliamentary SPD – against strong opposition in its own ranks – now took the decision, for ‘reasons of state’ and as a rational political calculation, to ‘tolerate’ the Brüning Cabinet. That is to say, it voted against motions of no confidence, which therefore failed, and it also rejected motions proposed by the DNVP, NSDAP, and KPD for the repeal of the emergency decrees, so that these came into force to pass Reich legislation. The SPD’s decision in the autumn of 1930 to practise ‘toleration’ as the lesser evil was based on solid reason connected with the Prussian coalition composed of the SPD, Centre and Deutsche Staatspartei (formerly DDP), and headed by Otto Braun of the SPD. If the Centre were to pull out of this coalition, which might occur if the Brüning Cabinet fell in consequence of action by the SPD, the latter would have lost its principal remaining bastion of power. This is what the political right aimed to achieve by any means possible. In order to remove as fast as it could the Prussian regime, which it hated, it turned, in 1931, to the instrument of a petition for, and actual, public referendum, both anchored in the Prussian constitution. Organizations and parties of the political right (Stahlhelm, DNVP, NSDAP, DVP, Wirtschaftspartei, as well as a few parliamentary and non-parliamentary orga- nizations) set the petition moving, with the aim of dissolving the Prussian Landtag with immediate effect; the minimum number of entries required to hold a referendum was only just exceeded. Now the KPD unexpectedly joined the campaign; its leadership encouraged members and supporters to take part in the referendum and to vote for the immediate dissolution of the Landtag. However, the move failed, in spite of the common front made up of the parties on the right and the KPD against the Prussian govern- ment. To succeed, about 13.2 million votes would have been necessary, but in the referendum on 9 August 1931 only 9.8 million (36.9 per cent) of those entitled to do so voted for the dissolution of the Landtag – a consid- erably smaller share of the poll than the parties of the referendum had recorded in the 1930 Reichstag election in Prussia. Thus, Otto Braun’s government gained a breathing space until the regular Landtag election in April 1932. If the way in which the Brüning Cabinet was conceived and appointed was a first stage in the ‘silent constitutional changeover’ from parliamentary democracy to the presidential system, we may date the second stage from the autumn of 1930, when Brüning started to govern with the ‘toleration’ of the Reichstag. True, he acted more independently than the advocates of a ‘Hindenburg Cabinet’ had envisaged at the beginning of 1930; and his mode of government with a ‘great coalition of tolerance’ (Werner Conze) that included the SPD was a substantial modification of the original idea of a right-wing regime in uncompromising opposition to that party. But Brüning from start to finish regarded himself as holding office solely by virtue of the President’s authority and in order to fulfil the mission assigned to him. 11 Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 121 During Brüning’s chancellorship, which lasted just over two years, the erosion of the parliamentary system proceeded rapidly. The Reichstag sat on 94 days in 1930 (including 67 after the resignation of the ‘great coali- tion’), 42 in 1931 and only 13 in 1932. Ninety-eight laws were passed in 1930; 34 in 1931, only 5 in 1932. On the other hand, the number of emer- gency decrees rose from 5 in 1930 to 44 in 1931 and 66 in 1932. As the Reichstag lost its power, influence and prestige, so the executive became more independent. The bureaucratic administration pushed forward in all directions, and the relative autonomy of the civil service increased. One consequence was that the executive was able to put through important deci- sions even against the declared wishes of powerful business circles. Hence the decision-making processes under the presidential system have rightly been described as characterized by ‘aloofness’ (Reinhard Neebe). At the top of Brüning’s priorities was the liberation of Germany from the burden of reparations. His domestic economic policy was subordinated to that end. Punctual execution of the reparation payments was to demonstrate Germany’s good faith but also prove that she could no longer meet her obligations and that the reparation debt must be cancelled. In order to convince the Allies of Germany’s condition, Brüning was prepared to contemplate years of mass unemployment and the impoverishment of large sections of the population owing to the world depression. Once he had got rid of reparations and the worst of the economic crisis was over, his inten- tion – as revealed in his memoirs (1970) – was to carry out a radical reform of the constitution, restore the Hohenzollern monarchy and entrust the government to a right-wing Cabinet. When the memoirs were published, his intention concerning the monarchy created a sensation in Germany and was calculated to confirm the critical judgement of his policy and motives that had largely prevailed during the 1960s (cf. below, pages 203 ff.). However, in the most recent literature it is disputed whether the whole of Brüning’s foreign and domestic policy was really based, as he claims in his memoirs, on a comprehensive strategy, or whether he in fact worked from day to day, reacting with tactical expedients to the unforeseeable effects of the economic and political crisis, ‘in many ways a prisoner of events rather than directing them’ (Hans Mommsen). There has also recently been inten- sive discussion as to how much freedom of action the Brüning Cabinet possessed in economic policy. Knut Borchardt is strongly of the opinion that until the spring of 1932 Brüning could get no support from any of the politically relevant groups for a policy of increased public expenditure financed by the Reichsbank. His deflationary policy was 11 11 1 111 111 111 111 the policy to which no basic alternative was offered, either by any of the parties supporting or tolerating his government, by any association of employers, or by the trade unions. This was precisely the consensus that still existed among the different elements of society, which had otherwise become in many ways violently at odds. The SPD leaders, in 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 122 Historical survey particular, were opposed to any experiment with the currency, and constantly pointed out the danger of inflation that was bound to result from increased government expenditure. Probably the last word has not yet been said about Brüning’s economic and social policy (cf. also page 204 f. below). But even if earlier oversim- plified judgements stand in need of qualification, there can be no doubt of one central point: Brüning’s chief priority was not to cure unemployment and overcome the economic crisis, but to get rid of the reparations burden. He was determined to use the crisis as a means of cancelling reparations once and for all. Consequently, he was not primarily concerned to combat the effects of the slump as promptly as possible and with all available means. For instance, he did not take the opportunity of using offers of foreign credits to help solve the most urgent financial problems, because by doing so he would have forfeited the government’s freedom of action in foreign affairs. During that summer the German crisis reached an acute phase, with two coinciding events. In the first place, the government issued a new batch of emergency decrees coupled with an announcement that reparations payments would soon be suspended; this caused a massive flight of capital from Germany, both foreign and German. Second, the failure of the Austrian Creditanstalt also led to a severe banking crisis in Germany. The German banks, which since the inflation had only a narrow capital basis, were besieged by creditors and customers and were obliged daily for weeks on end to repay debts and deposits. The critical point was reached when the Danatbank, Germany’s second largest bank, had acute difficulties over payments, because of the collapse of the Nordwolle concern, with which it was closely connected. On 11 July, it had to inform the national government and the Reichsbank that it could no longer be open for custom from 13 July. The government was forced to use emergency powers to declare several ‘bank holidays’ throughout the Reich. That meant that all German banks were totally closed to custom for two days and also that, in the aftermath, bank customers initially had only limited access to their assets. Normal service started again only on 5 August, but stock exchanges remained closed until 3 September. For the support and redevelopment of the banks, the Reich – which already had a budget deficit of 600 million – had to provide almost a thousand million Reichsmarks. The financial crisis caused the US President to intervene. President Herbert Hoover had reluctantly to acknowledge that a financial and economic collapse of Germany would have disastrous consequences not only for the private US creditors and branches of industry that were directly affected, but for the USA as a whole. Accordingly, on 20 June Hoover proposed an international moratorium for one year, during which German reparations payments and the service of Allied war debts were to be suspended. He overcame French resistance by threatening that the USA Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 123 11 would act without France if necessary, and in this way the moratorium was put into effect. The Hoover moratorium was the beginning of the end of reparations. After a body of German experts had certified in August 1931 that Germany would be unable to resume payments, the government asked for a special committee to be convened, as provided for in the Young Plan, to examine Germany’s ability to pay. At the end of December this committee reported that Germany would not be in a position to make further payments after the expiry of the moratorium; it therefore proposed the radical solution that 11 both German reparations and the inter-Allied debts should be cancelled. This proposal was adopted at the Lausanne conference, which met from 16 June to 9 July 1932 and at which all the states concerned with repara- 11 tions were represented. Germany’s creditors renounced further reparations except for a relatively small, more or less symbolic final amount (which was 1 not in fact paid), and terminated their own payments to the USA. The latter accepted this in practice, while not formally abandoning her claims. When this dearly bought triumph of Brüning’s revisionist efforts came about, he was no longer in office. His government fell on 29 May, a fort- night before the Lausanne conference opened, and Brüning was dismissed. 111 Over a period of several months, the Chancellor had gradually ceased to enjoy the President’s confidence. Hindenburg’s confidence in Brüning was still unshaken in the autumn of 1931, when the Cabinet had a dangerous period to steer through. The devastating effects of the economic crisis from the summer onwards caused the government to lose more and more of its popular support; sections of the business world began to turn away from Brüning, and the nationalist opposition tried every means to bring him down. On 11 October, imme- diately before a short session of the Reichstag – the first for some months – the nationalists mobilized all their forces. A huge demonstration of the 111 DNVP, Stahlheim and NSDAP was held at Bad Harzburg, accompanied by massive parades of the paramilitary associations (the ‘Harzburg front’). There was less harmony behind the scenes, where the leaders were divided by strong personal antipathies and disagreement over tactics; but all were resolved to overthrow the government, come what might. A few days later Brüning was almost unseated by a combined attack from the rightist oppo- sition and the KPD. To meet the increasing criticism of his regime he had reshuffled the Cabinet before the Reichstag session; he himself took on the Foreign Ministry as well as the chancellorship – Julius Curtius (DVP), who had been Foreign Minister, had to go, because the project for a German– 111 Austrian customs union pursued by him had ended in total failure; Groener, the Defence Minister, was now Minister for the Interior; Wirth, who had represented the republican wing of the Centre Party in the Cabinet, was discarded. The new Cabinet contained few party representatives of any complexion, and was thus still less in tune with Parliament than Brüning’s 111 first government. The votes of no confidence were defeated on 16 October 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 124 Historical survey by 295 votes to 270, with 3 abstentions; Brüning’s escape was due to the fact that the SPD voted on his side. If the Chancellor and Cabinet began to lose the President’s confidence from the beginning of 1932, the origins of the process may be sought in events prior to the renewal of Hindenburg’s presidency. While Hindenburg himself clearly wished to be confirmed in office by a plebiscitary vote, without rival candidates of any significance and without an election campaign, Brüning at first aimed for a prolongation of Hindenburg’s term by means of a con- stitutional amendment, requiring a two-thirds majority of the Reichstag; this, however, foundered through the opposition of Hitler and Hugenberg. In the election, Hindenburg was opposed by the DNVP and Stahlheim but supported by the SPD; to the aged President this was a violation of the natural order of things, and he laid the blame for it on Brüning. In the first ballot on 13 March 1932 Hindenburg almost secured the necessary absolute major- ity: he received 49.6 per cent of the votes, Hitler 30.1 per cent, Thälmann (KPD) 13.2 per cent, and Dusterberg (Stahlhelm) 6.8 per cent (cf. table, page 227). The second ballot on 10 April took the form of a plebiscite between Hindenburg and Hitler; Hindenburg obtained 53 per cent of the votes and was thus re-elected for seven years, but Hitler’s vote increased by over 6 per cent to 36.8 per cent, while Thälmann lost 3 per cent compared with the first ballot. Despite Hitler’s respectable result it is to be noted that nearly two-thirds of the German electorate voted against him on this occasion, though he had thrown all his strength into the election campaign and appar- ently had hopes of gaining a majority, in which event the SA and SS were ready for action. Hitler’s considerable success in the election for President of the Reich was followed in the next few weeks by further National Socialist successes in the Landtag elections. On 24 April in Prussia, Bavaria, Württemberg, Hamburg and Anhalt, on 29 May in Oldenburg, on 5 June in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and on 19 June in Hesse the National Socialists did very well (Prussia 36.3 per cent, Bavaria 32.5 per cent, Württemberg 26.4 per cent, Hamburg 31.2 per cent, Anhalt 40.9 per cent, Oldenburg 48.4 per cent, Mecklenburg- Schwerin 49 per cent, Hesse 44 per cent); in Anhalt, Oldenburg and Mecklenburg-Schwerin (and also in Thuringia after the Landtag election on 31 July) the NSDAP now provided the leader in the provincial government. Even in Prussia, the biggest state in the Reich, the political leadership was within reach of the National Socialists – it comes as no surprise that, in the summer months of 1932, a mood of ‘Hitler ante portas’ was ever more strongly in the air. After Hindenburg’s re-election as President, it looked initially as if the national government would at last take some energetic action against the paramilitary organizations of the NSDAP. These now had a member- ship of half a million, ruled the ‘streets’ in many places and openly challenged the authority of the state: SA and SS were banned in an emergency decree of 13 April 1932. Groener had long hesitated over this step, and only made Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 125 11 up his mind to it under pressure from the Land ministers of the interior. Hindenburg agreed reluctantly; his entourage took it amiss that the loyal republican organization, the Reichsbanner, was not banned along with the SA and SS. Undoubtedly the ban was the principal milestone on the way to Brüning’s dismissal, as the NSDAP, backed by the other rightist forces, stepped up its agitation against the government. The deciding factor, however, was that Schleicher now began to intrigue against Groener, his own minister, who had in addition been a fatherly friend and patron of his for many years. From the beginning of May 1932, as we shall see in more detail, Schleicher conspired with the NSDAP against Groener and Brüning with the object of bringing down the latter’s government and replacing it by a presidential regime further to the right and tolerated by the NSDAP. 11 11 1 111 Groener was the first victim of this intrigue. In the Reichstag on 10 May he explained and defended the ban on the SA, whereupon the NSDAP deputies created an uproar and Groener had the utmost difficulty in holding his ground. Schleicher then coolly informed the Defence Minister that he had become finally unacceptable to the chief officers of the Reichswehr. For some time past Groener had himself felt that the officer corps was losing confidence in him; on 12 May he tendered his resignation which, signifi- cantly, Hindenburg at once accepted. The President also firmly refused to appoint Groener to the post of Minister of the Interior which he had been filling on a provisional basis since October 1931. This conflict formed the background to differences in the second half of May between Hindenburg and the Cabinet over an emergency decree, the purpose of which was that large estates in eastern Germany that could no longer pay their way should be broken up for settlement by small farmers. Under the influence of the big landowners whose class interests he shared, Hindenburg refused his assent. Many earlier historians have taken an exaggerated view of this matter as the real cause of Brüning’s downfall. In reality it was merely a convenient occasion for his dismissal, which the camar- illa of the President’s associates had been preparing for weeks, and which took place on 29 May. In a short conversation Hindenburg coldly and brusquely demanded that the Chancellor resign, and on the following day Brüning announced the resignation of his Cabinet. A few days later Hermann Dietrich, who was Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister in Brüning’s govern- ment, gave an accurate description of the course of events and the motives of those who had brought about Brüning’s fall: 111 111 The deeper reasons for Brüning’s removal lie in the fact that a class of people who had ceased to exercise any decisive influence in the state, namely the old Prussian element, decided that they would like to rule once more . . . This element made its first attempts to seize power at the time of the formation of Brüning’s government. Brüning was supposed to give the helm a turn to the right. He tried to, but events were too strong for him, and so he was dismissed because he did not 111 fulfil the gentlemen’s expectations. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 126 Historical survey Brüning himself has spared no effort to depict his fall, ‘a hundred yards short of the goal’, as a sinister intrigue by unauthorized advisers of the President’s. But while it is true that his chancellorship was not brought to an end by a vote of no confidence in the Reichstag (where he enjoyed to the last a ‘tolerated’ majority), but because Hindenburg withdrew his confidence from the government, Brüning was the last person to have any justified complaint on that score. For it was only the establishment of a presidential regime which enabled the President to dismiss the Chancellor, regardless of the parliamentary situation, simply because the latter no longer enjoyed his political and personal confidence; and, in the oligarchic- authoritarian system which Brüning had accepted, intrigue in the President’s entourage was a political factor with a recognized weight of its own. In this sense, Brüning’s fall was the consequence of his absolute dependence on the President. Certainly Brüning’s moderately authoritarian policy strictly respected the rule of law. But even under Brüning the President’s powers were pushed to an extreme limit as compared with all the other elements of the constitu- tion. Parliament was largely excluded from political decisions and confined to purely negative functions; the Reichswehr leaders occupied a key position; the powers of bureaucratic institutions were consolidated, and the public became more and more used to the idea of dictatorial measures. Brüning having cleared the ground, it was easy after his fall for the authoritarian presidential regime to develop still further. Even if we do not take a narrowly personalized view of far-reaching historical events and decisions, it cannot be denied that personalities played a major part in the history of Papen’s and Schleicher’s presidential Cabinets and the events immediately preceding Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor. In those months, even more than in the Brüning period, the decisions that were so fateful for the German people and state were prepared and taken by a small circle of individuals surrounding the President. Research has placed beyond doubt the key position of Schleicher in the intrigues and in-fighting of the months before 30 January 1933. As head of the Ministeramt (politi- cal bureau) of the Defence Ministry from 1929, and Minister of Defence from June 1932, Schleicher was able to throw the decisive weight of the Reichswehr into the balance. The advocate of a presidential government since long before 1930, champion of the authoritarian dictatorship in Brüning’s time, the architect of Brüning’s downfall, the ruling spirit of Papen’s presi- dential Cabinet, Schleicher was also the chief exponent of the idea of ‘taming’ Hitler. His general purpose was to establish a permanent authoritarian, anti- parliamentarian, presidential regime with the Reichswehr as its chief support; the National Socialist movement was to play a part in this system, but a more or less passive one, to be determined by Schleicher himself. After Schleicher had become Chancellor and when this concept had failed, at the last minute so to speak, he tried to keep Hitler out of power. But he now fell foul of a lack of political credence, attached to him because of his Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 127 11 devious manoeuvres during the months of crisis. His plans for what amounted to a proclamation of a state emergency no longer gained the approval of Hindenburg, who, in January 1933, preferred what seemed the less risky course of appointing a Cabinet consisting of Hitler, Papen and Hugenberg. To quote a pithy observation by Volker Hentschel, it was a tragic irony of history that ‘Schleicher was finally deprived of the chance of averting a danger that, without his own active assistance, would quite possibly not have existed’. Schleicher’s idea of taming and exploiting the NSDAP by involving it in government was no doubt partly inspired by considerations of army policy. 11 The (supposedly) ‘valuable elements’ in the National Socialist movement were to be embodied in the ‘state’ (a nationalist, authoritarian state, not the liberal-democratic one of the Weimar constitution); in practical terms, 11 the SA should be part of the national defence force and should supply cadres for the expansion of the Reichswehr when Germany rearmed according to 1 plan. For this reason Schleicher was opposed to the ban on the SA, though at first he had half-heartedly approved it. On 8 May 1932 he held discus- sions with Hitler and arrived at what he called an ‘agreement’: Schleicher undertook that the Brüning government would be dismissed, the ban on the SA lifted, the Reichstag dissolved and a new one elected, while Hitler 111 promised that he would not oppose a nationalist presidential government. Schleicher promptly performed his part of the bargain. A few weeks later Brüning fell, the ‘barons’ Cabinet’ (recruited by Schleicher) was appointed with Papen as Chancellor (1 June), the SA ban was lifted (14 June), the Reichstag dissolved (4 June) and the election set for 31 July. Schleicher did even more than he had promised. He persuaded the President to agree to an ‘act of state’ against Prussia, planned jointly by himself, Papen and the Reich Minister of the Interior, Freiherr von Gayl. On 20 July 1932, ten days before the Reichstag election, a coup d’état was carried out whereby the (SPD) Prussian government of Braun and Severing 111 was deposed (it had been functioning on a caretaker basis since the Landtag election in April). The Reich Chancellor took over the office of Prussian Minister-President, while a Reich commissioner was appointed Minister of the Interior. The SPD leader could not summon up the courage to offer open resistance to this action which deprived them of their last bastion, espe- cially control over the Prussian police (cf. below, pages 210 ff.). It seemed to them useless to call on the Prussian police to offer armed resistance, as the Reichswehr was ready and determined to step in if necessary; and, with nearly 6 million unemployed, there was little enthusiasm for a general strike. Moreover, the working class was deeply divided between the SPD and the 111 KPD, and a united front between them was out of the question. For years the Communists had been blackguarding the Social Democrats as ‘social fascists’ and as the ‘chief enemy’ against whom the ‘main blow’ must be delivered. In the summer of 1931 the KPD, on Comintern instructions, had even joined in the popular vote initiated by the right-wing parties against 111 the Prussian government, under the slogan ‘All party forces must be thrown 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 128 Historical survey into the battle against social democracy’. On 20 July 1932 the SPD ceased to be a decisive eleinent in German domestic politics; in the following months it was in complete political isolation. In the Reichstag election of 31 July 1932 (see table, pages 224–5) the NSDAP scored a remarkable success but did not gain an absolute majority. The turnout (83.4 per cent) was unusually high; the NSDAP received 13.8 million votes and 230 seats out of 608 in the new Reichstag. While the Centre and BVP gained a few seats, the other middle-of-the-road parties and those representing special interests were almost completely wiped out. The SPD did fairly well, with 133 seats compared with a previous 143, while the KPD rose from 77 seats to 89. Together the NSDAP and the KPD held more than half the seats and could completely paralyze the new Reichstag. Immediately after the Reichstag election Hitler approached Schleicher and made it clear to him that in view of the results there could be no further question of the NSDAP ‘tolerating’ the Papen government. Hitler rejected Schleicher’s suggestion that he should himself enter the Papen Cabinet or place his nominees in it; instead, he demanded a completely reformed government with himself at its head. Hitler repeated this demand to Hindenburg in an interview on 13 August, but received a flat refusal. An official communiqué was issued directly afterwards, representing the inter- view as a humiliating defeat for Hitler; Hindenburg, it was indicated, had put him in his place once and for all. Thus for the time being Hitler’s bid for power failed as completely as Schleicher’s hope of enrolling the NSDAP in the Papen Cabinet, controlled by himself. On the other hand, this Cabinet was now totally isolated politically, because, from 13 August, the NSDAP set out pointedly to confront the Papen government. The following weeks were a time of extreme confusion and uncertainty. In the short term it even seemed as if the Reichstag might recover its influ- ence. Hitler’s dramatic rebuff on 13 August had given the Centre renewed political importance, as the Centre and NSDAP together held a majority in the new Parliament. Contacts took place between the leaders of the two parties; there were rumours of a coalition between them, and on 30 August Göring, with support from the Centre, was elected President of the Reichstag. It was on this 30 August, at Hindenburg’s East Prussian estate Neudeck, that the President conferred about the political situation with Chancellor Papen, Minister of Defence Schleicher, and Minister for the Interior von Gayl. The illustrious group were in no doubt that the Cabinet could only stay in power if the Reichstag was given no opportunity to express to the government its lack of confidence. Since Hindenburg had decided to hold on to Papen under any circumstances he was prepared to take the route leading to a breach in the constitution: dissolution of the Reichstag without the announcement of an election (which, strictly according to the constitu- tion, had to take place within 60 days of dissolution). Papen did not use this authorization in the days that followed, so that on 12 September, at the first sitting of the Reichstag, Papen’s Cabinet suffered an ignominious Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 129 11 defeat. Since Papen did not take up the decree for dissolution immediately, Göring held a vote of no confidence, which was carried by 512 votes to 42 (with five abstentions). Only DNVP and DVP voted against. The dissolution of the Reichstag, elected only in July, was the immediate answer from Hindenburg and Papen to this vote of no confidence. But the position of the ‘barons’ Cabinet’ was now so compromized politically that most Cabinet members no longer felt it was the time to refuse to hold an election after the dissolution of the Reichstag; there was concern too that the NSDAP and the Centre Party might try to initiate legal proceedings in 11 the supreme court against the President, for breach of the constitution (Article 59 of the Reich constitution). It is remarkable that, for several days, it remained uncertain whether and when elections would be held. Only after 11 controversial discussions did the majority of ministers reach the decision, on 17 September, to declare 6 November election day. 1 In the Reichstag election on 6 November 1932 (see table, pages 224–5), the NSDAP vote fell by about 2 million or 4 per cent. This was a severe blow to the myth of its unstoppable advance, but with 196 deputies it was still by far the largest party in the Reichstag. The SPD also lost votes and seats, as did the Centre, BVP and Deutsche Staatspartei. The DNVP, DVP 111 and KPD registered gains. The composition of the Reichstag, which had to be constituted by early December at the latest, offered no new coalition possibilities, and the rest of November was spent in feverish but fruitless efforts to form a viable government. Papen, who still possessed Hindenburg’s confidence, was bent on a pres- idential solution, and the DNVP was prepared to support him. Hitler, however, again claimed the chancellorship for himself, and a group of indus- trial leaders headed by Schacht, the former Reichsbank president, petitioned Hindenburg to give him the appointment. Hindenburg, however, refused to do so unless Hitler could form a parliamentary majority, and Hitler would 111 not accept this condition; he wished to be Chancellor of a presidential government. Hitler’s ‘all or nothing’ policy aroused increasing anxiety in some Nazi circles: Gregor Strasser, for instance, thought that after the November elec- tion it would be well for the NSDAP to take part in a government even if Hitler were not Chancellor. Hitler was indeed in a dangerous dilemma owing to pressure of time. On top of its losses in the November election, the party suffered considerable, even drastic, losses in the local elections in Lübeck, Saxony and Thuringia in the weeks that followed. These setbacks, and the signs of discord in the party and SA at the end of the year, were warnings 111 that could not be ignored. The socially heterogeneous members of the NSDAP and its supporters at the polls were clearly not disposed to wait indefinitely for the ‘seizure of power’. Vorwärts was not so unrealistic when it proudly proclaimed on 6 December: ‘It will be the everlasting historical merit of social democracy to have kept German fascism away from power 111 until it began to decline in popular favour. The decline will hardly be less 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 130 Historical survey rapid than its rise has been.’ It was indeed only the prospect of an early comprehensive success that ensured the continuation of mass support for the National Socialist movement. Hitler consequently had to show within measurable time that his strategy had paid off. His hope of reaching the goal could only be based on the fact that Hindenburg was also in a dilemma. Since July 1932 the NSDAP and the KPD had possessed a blocking majority in the Reichstag, so that at any time they could carry a vote of no confidence in a presidential government or annul emergency decrees. Declaring a state of emergency – i.e. the dissolu- tion of the Reichstag without announcing an election – thus remained the only solution to prevent a proper session of the Reichstag from taking place. Refusing or postponing an election for an indefinite length of time clearly constituted a breach of the constitution. Hindenburg’s dilemma became acute at the end of November. Papen, once more commissioned to form a government, wanted to carry through his ‘fighting programme’ if necessary by force, even at the risk of civil war. This involved eliminating a hostile Reichstag, using the Reichswehr and police to suppress all parties and quasi-political organizations, and forcing through a radical constitutional reform, to be subsequently endorsed by a plebiscite or a specially convened National Assembly. Papen managed to gain support from Hindenburg for this plan, but not from Defence Minister Schleicher; in the previous weeks he had been gradually moving away from Papen and devising new combinations, such as enlisting support for the government from the trade unions and sections of the NSDAP close to Gregor Strasser (the so-called ‘diagonal front’). Schleicher now declared himself emphatically opposed to proclaiming a military state of emergency, on the ground that it would probably lead to a civil war situation with which the Reichswehr would be unable to cope if at the same time there was trouble on Germany’s eastern frontier. Thereupon Hindenburg, most unwillingly, decided to dis- miss Papen, and on 3 December Schleicher was appointed Chancellor. On the following day Schleicher offered the vice-chancellorship to Gregor Strasser, the ‘second in command’ of the NSDAP, who was at first inclined to accept it. But after fierce argument among the Nazi leaders, with Hitler insisting on his ‘all or nothing’ policy, Strasser gave in, resigned all his party offices and departed on holiday. Thus, On 8 December, the last variant of Schleicher’s policy of ‘taming’ the NSDAP was defeated. Schleicher survived the first sessions of the Reichstag on 6–9 December, and adjourned parliament until January, but in January 1933 the hour of truth had to come. Schleicher now saw too in the declaration of a state of emergency the only remaining way to save the regime. Therefore he pursued the preparations for a state of emergency. In the case of dissolu- tion without calling an election, the leaders of the Reichswehr reckoned with a large-scale political general strike, so that measures were planned with the aim above all of nipping a strike in the bud. Emergency decrees were drafted which almost completely covered the expected forms of militant opposition. Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 131 11 There was to be a general strike ban for all essential services, and the defi- nition of ‘essential’ was very wide-ranging. The unions were threatened with the confiscation of their assets if they went so far as to support the with- drawal of labour, as they would be called to account under civil law for harm caused by strikes. Striking employers had to be prepared for the loss of the right to unemployment and welfare payments, striking civil servants were threatened with the withdrawal of their status. Moreover, the reliable strike breaking organization, Technische Nothilfe (Technical Emergency Aid), was substantially provided with the wherewithal, both materially and in 11 personnel, to keep essential services functioning if a strike did take place. In January 1933, Chancellor Schleicher could safely assume that the military and civilian authorities were extremely well prepared for any emergency. 11 From the autumn of 1932 onwards, the proclamation of a state of emer- gency had been considered more seriously and prepared for in a much more 1 focussed manner than contemporaries could have been aware or than was acknowledged in historical research. Might this have been a responsible means of escape from a crisis that appeared to be almost inescapable, from a situation which contemporary state lawyers described as ‘constitutional paralysis’? January 1933 was a better moment for the successful implemen- 111 tation of the emergency plan than the end of August and the end of November 1932: the first hints of economic recovery were evident, as was a lessening of political extremism. There is no way one can be certain that a temporary interval for the Reichstag, as Schleicher had planned it, really would have resulted in large-scale counteraction, leading in its turn to the declaration of a state of emergency. But one must probably conjec- ture that a military dictatorship supported by the Reichswehr would have represented only a transitory solution to the national crisis – not only because Schleicher himself and the other leaders of the Reichswehr were not aiming for a lasting military dictatorship, but because in Germany there were no 111 social preconditions for a military dictatorship of unlimited duration. The opportunity for a later restoration of a parliamentary system of government, after the abatement of the economic crisis and the loss of influence of the extremist parties accompanying it, would not have been lost, as was the case when power was transferred to Hitler. But in the desolate situation at the turn of the year 1932–1933 this was indeed the only remaining chance for ‘Weimar’ to survive: keeping open the narrow pathway to a later re-estab- lishment of a parliamentary and constitutional democracy. Such thoughts are certainly speculation, but, in view of what had happened in Germany since the end of January, probably not without their point. 111 The preparations for the proclamation of a state of emergency and the imposition of exceptional measures were made in strictest secrecy. In public, on the other hand, Schleicher endeavoured to give respectability to his Cabinet by means of initiatives to combat unemployment and to boost the economy, and to take the wind out of the sails of the radical tendencies. In 111 his inaugural speech he announced a programme of compensation and he 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 132 Historical survey criticized capitalism and socialism alike. In so doing, he aroused suspicion among influential interested parties. He offended industry by his plans for job creation and concessions to the trade unions, and upset the big landowners by his policy in regard to tariffs and land settlement. The bogy of an alliance between the military and the working class against the capi- talist bosses appeared on the horizon, and the big industrialists and landowners feared that Schleicher might turn out to be a socialist in general’s uniform. In the middle of January 1933 the parliamentary DNVP put forward a resolution calling for a ‘complete re-forming of the Cabinet’; Schleicher’s economic policy was described as a ‘new, further lapse into socialist-international ways of thought’. The resolution spoke of the ‘danger of agrarian Bolshevism’ and declared that Schleicher was watering down the idea of authority and trying to steer German politics back into channels ‘that we thought had been abandoned thanks to the strengthening of the national movement’. For those who held firmly to the concept of the authoritarian state, and who mistrusted Schleicher, it was natural in this situation to seek an arrangement with Hitler and his party. The desire for an authoritarian programme made it logical for them to team up with Hitler, if only because it was clear, after the fiasco of the Papen government and in view of Schleicher’s policy of ‘reconciliation’, that the anti-democratic and ‘anti- Marxist’ objectives could only be achieved on a plebiscitary basis, and that meant by the NSDAP. This being so, the attempt at a new version of the ‘Harzburg front’ was bound on this occasion to give Hitler and his party undisputed predominance. The contacts, soundings and negotiations of the January weeks cannot be described in detail here. Papen, it is known, took the initiative. It has rightly been emphasized that his growing activity from mid-December onwards was largely due to wounded ambition and a desire for revenge: he could not forgive his former friend Schleicher for having brought his chancellorship to an end. But it must not be overlooked that, as we have seen, in addition to personal motives, very specific interests lay behind the manoeuvres with which Papen sought to oust Schleicher and bring the NSDAP into the government. The decisive round in Hitler’s fight for power opened on 4 January 1933, when he met Papen at the latter’s suggestion at the house of the Cologne banker, von Schröder. Papen thought at first of a coalition between the DNVP and the NSDAP, led jointly by himself and Hitler, but by degrees he accepted Hitler’s claim to the chancellorship, for which the latter held out stubbornly. At this time Papen was feverishly active, functioning as the chief mediator between the Hitler group, the DNVP leaders and the President’s palace, where Hindenburg’s son Oskar was beginning to play an important part as an intermediary and was working for a Hitler–Papen solution. In the middle of January the President instructed Papen ‘person- ally and in strict confidence’ to explore the possibility of forming a new Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 133 11 government. This was a turning-point: the palace swung towards Papen and therefore Hitler, while Hindenburg and Schleicher rapidly became estranged. At the same time the special interests continued to lobby Hindenburg against Schleicher. The executive of the Agrarian League filled Hindenburg’s ears with complaints against Schieicher and advocated a new government including the NSDAP. On this occasion it was clear that Hindenburg had much sympathy for the ideas and proposals of the big landowners. The final decision came in the last days of January, when Schleicher’s emergency plan failed due to the President’s veto. Hindenburg, who, demon- 11 strably, both at the end of August and the end of November 1932 had been ready to keep Papen’s Cabinet in power by means of the unlimited post- ponement of elections to the Reichstag, despite the breach of the constitu- 11 tion involved, now refused Schleicher’s request to dissolve the Reichstag without making provision for an election. In fact, he did not even concede 1 to the Chancellor the option of dissolving the Reichstag and holding an election within the 60 days specified in the constitution. He was thus obliged to tender his resignation on 28 January so as to avoid a defeat in the Reichstag, summoned for the 31st. At the Cabinet meeting on 28 January Schleicher reported on his short interview with the President. To his request for a 111 dissolution Hindenburg had replied ‘that the present Cabinet had not succeeded in gaining a parliamentary majority. He hoped he would now get a government that would be able to give effect to his ideas.’ The way was now free for Papen, and on 30 January Hindenburg admin- istered the oath to the Hitler Cabinet, in which three National Socialists were ‘fenced in’ by nine conservatives, including Papen as Vice-Chancellor and Hugenberg as Minister for the Economy and Agriculture. As rumours had been spread concerning plans for a putsch by the Reichswehr leaders the ceremony took place in a hectic atmosphere, in which the last hesitations about Hitler’s appointment were quickly swept away. 111 While the appointment of the Hitler government was not a coup d’état, it did not constitute the assumption of power by a coalition with a parlia- mentary majority. The Cabinet was a presidential one, like all its predecessors since 1930; yet from the beginning this government was of a radically different kind. The man now in power had behind him a completely subservient, dynamic mass party and a paramilitary organization numbering hundreds of thousands. In all the years of unscrupulous struggle against the Weimar state he had not concealed the fact that his object was to destroy the Republic, to abolish democracy, and ruthlessly to suppress and perse- cute all his political opponents. The very first hours of the new regime 111 showed clearly what was in store; however, they lie outside the subject of this work. In the view of the evil consequences of National Socialist rule for Germany and the world, an account of the Weimar Republic is bound to consider whether the failure of German democracy – and a failure which resulted 111 in Hitler’s party seizing power – was inevitable, or what alternatives existed, 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 134 Historical survey perhaps up to the last moment. To what extent were structural factors, self-seeking groups and decisions by individual leaders responsible for the destruction of the Weimar state and the establishment of the Nazi regime? These are not simple questions to answer, and it is not surprising that very different explanations have been, and still are, put forward. Certainly the first German Republic was encumbered by a basic weakness due to the circumstances of its foundation. In the form it took in 1919, parliamentary democracy was truly accepted and zealously defended by only a minority of the population, while a great many others remained indifferent, sceptical or openly hostile. Even during the initial phase, anti- democratic forces on the right and extreme left organized to defeat the Republic. In these circumstances it must be regarded as a minor miracle and a considerable achievement by the Republican statesmen that they managed to steer the Weimar democracy through the complex domestic and foreign problems of its early years and finally brought about a remarkable degree of political and economic normalization. But even in those years of relative stabilization the development set in which led to a rapid disintegration of the political system after 1929: namely the rejection by large sections of the bourgeoisie, and especially the old élite classes, of the pluralistic system and the initial compromise of 1918–19, whereby the Weimar state was founded on co-operation between the Social Democratic workers and the democratic middle class. A major part of this compromise – the adjustment of interests in a partnership between capital and labour – was gradually abandoned by the employers after the Ruhr ironworks dispute at the end of 1928. In this light, the events and decisions of 1929–30 acquire significance as the real prelude to catastrophe. The shift to a presidential regime and the aban- donment of parliamentary government greatly weakened the position of elements loyal to the state and to republican forms. This took place even before the effects of the world depression increased social fears immeasur- ably and sapped the loyalty of large sections of the population to the existing system. In this way the extreme nationalist and anti-democratic NSDAP received the boost which transformed it into a mass movement. But despite all its success in mobilizing the masses and at the polls, the NSDAP was only victorious in the end because the old élites of the industrial and landowning classes, the military aristocracy and the upper middle class, were determined to replace Weimar by an authoritarian system and believed they could use the Nazi movement for their own purposes. They did not, of course, want a totalitarian dictatorship of the kind introduced on 30 January 1933, but they regarded the NSDAP as an acceptable ally in the fight against democracy, against the parliamentary system and the organized working class. It can no doubt be said that the Nazi seizure of power was not objec- tively inevitable even after the summer of 1932. But, given the attitudes, aims and relative strength of the parties and individuals concerned, and the degree to which the constitution had been undermined, the trend towards Disintegration and destruction, 1930–3 135 11 a Hitler solution was unquestionably very strong from then on. To prevent recourse to this supposed remedy for the crisis to the system would have required a high degree of political imagination and sense of responsibility, especially on the part of those individuals who filled the power vacuum caused by the switch to a presidential regime. But it was precisely this group who were lukewarm about the maintenance of a democratic system in Germany. They were bent on introducing an authoritarian form of state and society, and this reduced the range of possible political combinations so severely that they could hardly avoid coming to terms with Hitler’s party, 11 in view of the fact that there had been no decision to declare a state of emergency. Significantly, this arrangement came about at a time when the NSDAP had suffered considerable setbacks, and while – in the opinion of 11 influential anti-Republican circles – under Schleicher’s chancellorship an alliance was taking shape which might have made it possible for the workers’ 1 movement to return to the political arena. To prevent this the pact with the Nazis was concluded, on the ideological basis of a common front against organized labour and the republican system. Certainly it must be recognized that the democratic parties showed little skill in coping with the crisis. The inflexibility and lack of imagination of 111 the SPD and trade-union leaders, and their feeble reaction to Papen’s coup d’état in Prussia, are of importance here, as is the rightward trend of the Centre Party which made the idea of a coalition with the NSDAP accept- able to it in principle. All groups of the democratic centre and left harboured political illusions and misjudgements as to the Nazi danger, and in the end took refuge in an attitude of fatalistic expectation. But the weakness of those who, by their historical mission and in their own estimation, were called on to defend the rule of law and the parliamentary constitution is not to be judged on the same level as the behaviour of those who set out to destroy the Republic and German democracy, and who succeeded in doing so thanks 111 to a combination of the most varied circumstances. We can hardly agree with Karl Dietrich Erdmann that ‘the Weimar democracy was not destroyed by its adversaries, but by itself ’. The downfall of the Republic is not to be imputed first and foremost to the social democratic working class and its organizations, the dwindling group of middle-class democrats loyal to the Republican regime, or the camp of political Catholicism, but to the nation- alist and authoritarian opponents of the Weimar democracy who mounted a major offensive against the state and destroyed it by unscrupulous methods. 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 11 Part two Basic problems and trends of research 11 11 1 111 111 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 11 1 The Weimar Republic as a subject of historical research 11 11 1 Few periods of German history present such difficult problems of interpre- tation and evaluation as the Weimar years. No attempt to elucidate the history of those fourteen years and ‘place’ the Republic in its context can ignore what came after Weimar. The National Socialist dictatorship erected on the ruins of the first German democracy filled Germany and Europe with 111 destruction and terror on a previously unimaginable scale and severely damaged Germany’s moral reputation throughout the world in the long term; the fall of the Third Reich meant at the same time the end of the German state as it had come into being in 1871. The scholar’s perspective is necessarily determined by these direct and indirect consequences of the failure of Weimar democracy. As Karl Dietrich Erdmann wrote in 1955: ‘All research into the history of the Weimar Republic is necessarily governed, whether expressly or otherwise, by the question as to the causes of its collapse’ [116*: ‘Die Geschichte der Weimarer Republik als Problem der Wissenschaft’, p. 5]. This is still the case, and there seems to be no prospect 111 of it changing. The central question thus formulated has been answered by scholars in very different ways. But at least one tendency is clear nowadays, namely, to abandon the single-cause explanations which were originally popular – for example, proportional representation, the German national character, the world depression, or the role of the Reichswehr – in favour of theories involving a combination of several causes. In so far as such explanations lay very different weight on the respective elements – for example, structural factors, the strength and aims of anti-democratic forces, the viability of parliamentary democracy and the party system, and the role of personalities 111 in the last phase of the Republic – we are presented with a broad spectrum of judgements which will be discussed in the following sections. We should first take note of the initial conditions and earliest stages of research into the Weimar period. Such research could not be begun until 111 * This and similar references relate to the Bibliography, pages 237–83 ff. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 140 Basic problems and trends of research relatively late, that is, only after 1945; but from then onwards conditions were unusually favourable for an intensive study of the first German democracy, based on a wide range of sources. The reason why research was long in starting is a simple one. Before 1933 the Republican period was not yet a subject of academic history. Many historians, no doubt, took a stand on political questions and general contem- porary problems, but they did so not on the basis of a thorough study of the origins and development of the Republic, but as ‘scholars engaged in politics’. The great majority of them made no secret of their reservations vis-à-vis the Republic and the parliamentary and party system; among profes- sional historians it was only a few eccentrics who stood up firmly for the Weimar democracy. Thus it came about – and this is certainly one of the gravest faults of Weimar historiography – that the established historians of the time did nothing to refute the ‘stab in the back’ legend, although there was already plenty of source material for the purpose [607: Faulenbach, Ideologie des deutschen Weges, esp. pp. 248 ff., 309 ff.]. In the twelve years of Nazi rule from 1933 onwards a scholarly analysis of the Weimar period was out of the question, and professional historians avoided the theme. The sacrosanct official version of the recent past was basically that expressed in Nazi slogans of the ‘time of struggle’. Conforming to the Führer’s own directives, official propaganda painted a horrific picture of the Weimar ‘system’: the Republic was the work of the ‘November criminals’ and a result of the ‘stab in the back’, a morass of corruption, degeneracy, national humiliation, ruthless persecution of the honest ‘national opposition’ – fourteen years of rule by Jews, Marxists and ‘cultural Bolsheviks’, who had at last been swept away by the National Socialist move- ment under Adolf Hitler and the victory of the ‘national revolution’ of 1933. Some elements of this stereotype, it should not be forgotten, lived on after 1945; for the National Socialist picture of the Weimar Republic was a product of resentments, traumas and phobias which, in a somewhat less violent form, were common in rightist circles both before and after 1933. Consequently, historians writing about the Weimar Republic had much to do in the way of educating their readers and dispelling rooted prejudices; this was so for a long time after 1945. Historians in exile, who before 1933 had mostly been liberal-democratic defenders of the Weimar Republic, were naturally concerned to inquire into the rise of fascist movements and the National Socialist seizure of power. But this question rather served as a general framework within which they studied the history of ideas. Fact-filled investigations of the Weimar period remained a rarity, as did detailed analyses of politics, economics and society in post-1918 Germany. A. Rosenberg’s Geschichte der Deutschen Republik [Carlsbad, 1935; English translation, bibliography, no. 146)] was an impor- tant advance, but one which could not be acknowledged in Germany at the time of its publication; the same was true of F. Stampfer’s comprehensive history of the Weimar Republic [Carlsbad, 1936; no. 155]. The Weimar Republic: historical research 141 11 The state of knowledge of the Weimar Republic at the end of the Third Reich in Germany was well described in July 1945 by F. Friedensburg in the preface to his work on the Republic, which was completed in manu- script in 1934 but could not be published until 1946: The face of the Weimar Republic is practically unknown to the younger generation and is distorted for older people by the incessant propaganda of the Hitler period, which had constantly to accuse its predecessors of mistakes and crimes so as to lend colour to its own mendacious 11 boasting . . . Even in historical literature there is as yet no objective account of the fateful years between 1918 and 1933. [122: Die Weimarer Republik, p. 7] 11 There was not much change in this respect in the first years after 1945, despite 1 the memoirs of numerous political figures of the Weimar period: Noske [1947; no. 89], Brüning (Ein Brief, 1947), Keil [1948; no. 78], Curtius [1948; no. 69], Löbe [1949; no. 82], O. Braun [2nd edn, 1949; no. 64], Severing [1950; no. 103]. Two general accounts in English were hardly noticed [S. W. Halperin, Germany Tried Democracy (New York, 1946) and G. Scheele, 111 The Weimar Republic (London, 1946)]. The works of émigré German historians and political scientists were received with hesitation. A new edition of Stampfer’s Die ersten 14 Jahre der deutschen Republik was published in 1947, a German translation of A. Brecht’s Prelude to Silence (1944) appeared in 1948; Rosenberg’s history, on the other hand, was not republished until 1955. No academic works on the Weimar Republic came from historians who had stayed in Germany after 1933 – a clear proof that they had not been keeping any manuscripts hidden in their desks to be published after the collapse of the Third Reich. The only two works of this kind came from authors who were not professional historians. F. Friedensburg, who published 111 Die Weimarer Republik [122] in 1946, was a lawyer who had been active in the Weimar period as a senior functionary and liberal politician; L. Preller, who in 1949 published his Sozialpolitik in der Weimarer Republik [779], written during the Third Reich, had been a leading exponent of the theory and practice of social policy during the Republic. The ‘lessons of Weimar’ played a prominent part in the deliberations of the Parliamentary Council which prepared the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1948–9 [see F. K. Fromme, Von der Weimarer Verfassung zum Bonner Grundgesetz (Tübingen, 1960, 3rd edn, Berlin, 1999)]. However, in the short term at least, these discussions had no stim- 111 ulating effect on historical scholarship. Surprisingly, the constitutional debates of the Weimar National Assembly were not even subjected to thorough historical analysis, although there was no lack of sources for the purpose. The Weimar Republic became a subject of intensive historical research in the 1950s. Various circumstances combined to arouse lively interest, not 111 only on the part of specialists, in the development and failure of the first 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 142 Basic problems and trends of research German democracy. At the same time, the availability of relevant sources increased from year to year. The loss of official archives due to the war, though considerable, was less than was supposed for a year or two after 1945. Most of the material fell into the victors’ hands [see J. Henke, ‘Das Schicksal deutscher zeitge- schichtlicher Quellen in Kriegs- und Nachkriegszeit’, VfZ, vol. 30 (1982), pp. 557–620]. From the 1950s onwards the Western Allies returned the captured archives to the Federal Republic so that, for example, the docu- ments of the Reich Chancellery and the Foreign Ministry – to name two basic sources – were made available to researchers. The USSR transferred most of the documents captured by it to the central archives of the German Democratic Republic, where they could be used by East German historians and some scholars from Western countries. In addition many important unofficial sources, especially the posthumous papers of leading Weimar politi- cians, which had survived Nazi rule and the hazards of war, now found their way into the archives and were available for research. Thus by degrees, from the end of the 1950s onwards, there developed a body of sources for the academic study of the Weimar Republic. Within a shorter interval than is usually the case, it became possible for students to use the extant archive material, and not only such parts of it as were selectively made available. From the beginning, not only West and East German historians made use of the material. The history of the Weimar Republic is a popular theme of international historiography; in particular, American and British scholars have produced important works and taken a valuable part in the debate. If the research undertaken on a broad front in the 1950s concentrated on the final phase of the Weimar Republic, there was a natural reason for this. Historians could no longer avoid contributing to the process of ‘coming to terms with the past’, and it was their business to find convincing answers to questions regarding the causes and conditions of the Nazi seizure of power. This involved a thorough analysis of the fateful developments and decisions of, in particular, the years after 1929. It is thus hardly accidental that this was the subject of the first scholarly monograph on the history of the Weimar Republic: in 1955 K. D. Bracher published Die Auflösung der Weimarer Republik [109], which is still unsurpassed as a work of research. Bracher first described the numerous structural handicaps of the Weimar Republic, after which he traced with precision the phases of its ‘dissolution’ from 1930 onwards and the responsibility of certain individuals and social groups. He vigorously opposed the idea that the end of the Republic was due to sudden, unpredictable forces and fateful events; instead, he saw the Nazi seizure of power as the last step in a development that was directed by tangible power groups and tendencies, favoured by domestic and external events and finally made possible by momentous errors and failures. From this point of view, central importance attached to the efforts to introduce a presidential regime. It was partly due to these manoeuvres, which dated from before the collapse of the ‘great coalition’ in March 1930, that no The Weimar Republic: historical research 143 11 attempt was thereafter made to form a new government on a parliamentary basis. Thus the protagonists and upholders of the system of presidential government were severely criticized in Bracher’s work. Bracher’s explanation and description of the break-up of the Republic met with much assent but also raised some objections. These related to Bracher’s method of structural analysis, which was still somewhat alien to German historiography at the time, and also to his treatment of particular questions of fact. Thus, for example, A. Brecht objected to Bracher’s criticism of the passivity of the Prussian government and the Social Democrats at the 11 time of Papen’s coup on 20 July 1932 [A. Brecht, ‘Die Auflösung der Weimarer Republik und die politische Wissenschaft’, Zeitschrift für Politik, vol. 2 (1955), pp. 300 ff.; cf. also page 210 below]. The main point of 11 contention, however, was still the transition to a presidential system and the question of Brüning’s personality and policy. W. Conze, in particular, took 1 issue with Bracher’s view of Brüning’s presidential government. Before Bracher’s work appeared, Conze had already argued that the party state and parliamentary democracy had come to a dead end by 1929–30, and that Hindenburg’s appointment of a presidential Cabinet was the only possible solution that remained [400: Conze, ‘Die Krise des Parteienstaates in 111 Deutschland 1929/30’]. Conze, expanding this view in reply to Bracher’s criticism of Brüning, interpreted the latter’s policy as the last attempt to save democracy in Germany. We shall return in another context to the contro- versy which still continues on this subject and to the further works published in the 1950s on the final stage of the Weimar Republic (see below, pages 203 ff.). Whereas research in the 1950s was primarily devoted to the last phase of the Republic, from the beginning of the 1960s interest shifted to its initial phase. This followed logically enough from considerations thrown up by the intensive discussion of the causes of the Republic’s downfall. If, after 111 1929–30, the Weimar democracy was unable to stand up to the political and economic crisis and was rapidly swept away, this could only have been because of the severe structural defects that had encumbered it from its foundation onwards, in the constitutional and in the social spheres. Parties which were repeatedly unable to form parliamentary majorities capable of working and governing; a Reichswehr which gave its loyalty solely to an abstract idea of the state and not to the Republic in its actual form of a parliamentary democracy, and which was not without sympathy for nation- alist paramilitary organizations; a judiciary wedded to the ideas and values of a pre-democratic conservative political and social order; employers’ orga- 111 nizations making ruthless use of their power after the abandonment of the pact of November 1918 with the trade unions; educational institutions largely dominated by anti-democratic ideas and intolerant nationalism – these were only some of the disabling factors, to which Bracher’s impressive analysis had once more drawn attention. It was natural to inquire, there- 111 fore, whether such handicaps had necessarily to be accepted at the time of 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 144 Basic problems and trends of research the foundation of the Republic, or whether it would have been possible in 1918–19 to erect it on a more solid basis. Hence attention came to focus on the initial, revolutionary phase of the Republic which had until then scarcely been explored by scholars. How far this area had previously been neglected can be clearly seen from the general accounts of the Weimar Republic published in the 1950s. All the authors treat the revolutionary months of 1918–19 very briefly and as an uncontroversial subject: this is true of the textbook-type accounts by A. Schwarz [154] and W. Conze [Die Weimarer Republik, in: P. Rassow (ed.), Deutsche Geschichte im Überblick (Stuttgart, 1953)]. In E. Eyck’s two-volume History of the Weimar Republic [119], written from a liberal-democratic point of view and still to be read with profit, the events between 9 November 1918 and the meeting of the National Assembly in February 1919 occupy only twenty pages. The revolutionary period was also treated fairly briefly in K. D. Erdmann’s contribution of 1959 to Gebhardt’s Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte (8th edn). Erdmann formulated clearly the interpretation which was not only dominant but almost universal in the 1950s, when he entitled the relevant chapter of his work ‘A Republic of Councils or a Parliamentary Democracy?’ In 1955, in a study, he had argued that the choice in 1918–19 was strictly limited to ‘social revolution in alliance with the forces pressing for a proletarian dictatorship, or a parliamentary republic in alliance with conservative elements such as the old officer corps’ [116: ‘Die Geschichte der Weimarer Republik als Problem der Wissenschaft’, p. 7]. Erdmann’s version of the alternatives of 1918–19 can be taken as typical of the judgement of the revolution by West German historians in the 1950s. It provided a stimulus for more detailed study of the situation in the revolutionary years, affording as it did a clear contrast to A. Rosenberg’s view, which was put forward in 1935 [146] but of which greater notice was now taken. To Rosenberg the situation of 1918–19 seemed much opener than it did to Erdmann: he believed that the broad middle section of the social democratic working class had had a real opportunity to become the social backbone of the Republic. Accordingly, his account centred on the question of why it had not been possible to hold the great majority of the workers’ movement together for united action; and he found the answer equally in the policy of the Majority Socialist leaders and the revolutionary strategy of the extreme left wing of the workers’ movement. This clear-cut opposition of views between Erdmann and Rosenberg provided a starting-point for the intensive study of the revolutionary period which took place in the 1960s and 1970s, based on a wide range of sources. For a full decade the initial phase of the Republic became a central theme of research. Several studies questioned the view, until then accepted, that the only alternatives in 1918–19 were either the Bolshevization of Germany, or an alliance between the Majority Socialists and the traditional élites to maintain order and set up a parliamentary republic. As most of these works emphasized, at least in the first weeks of the revolution there was a much The Weimar Republic: historical research 145 11 broader range of possibilities open, and a real opportunity, though it was not used, of establishing the Weimar democracy on a sounder footing. In the next section we shall discuss more fully these studies and the ‘new picture’ of the revolution of 1918–19 that came to prevail in the 1960s and 1970s. While research in the 1950s centred on the final phase of the Republic, and in the 1960s and early 1970s on its initial phase, studies of its middle period cannot be related so closely to any particular date. The period is somewhat lacking in drama compared to the years before and after, and for 11 some time historians paid no great attention to it. However, in the 1960s it finally became the object of specialized study on a wide front, and this has continued up to the present. Apart from party and parliamentary history, 11 much research is naturally devoted to German foreign policy in the ‘Stresemann era’. For years, still more attention however, has been, and still 1 is, given to the complex problems of economic policy and social develop- ment in the 1920s – an impressive review of the work done in this field up to the mid-1970s can be found in the Bochum symposiun Industrielles System und politische Entwicklung in der Weimarer Republik [765]. Diverse impulses for further research into the economic and social development of 111 Weimar Germany resulted from this conference. While the initial and final phases of the Republic have been, and still are, the subject of intensive controversy, there was more unanimity as regards the middle period. This has changed since the early 1980s. In the course of what is called the Borchardt Controversy (cf. page 186 f. below), a vigorous, still on-going dispute, about the condition of the German economy before the outbreak of the worldwide economic crisis and the overall economic implications of the forced transformation of the Weimar Republic into a ‘welfare state’. The effects of inflation and stabilizing the currency on the economic situation and psychological state of wide sections of the population 111 are the subject of controversial discussion (cf. pages 182 ff. below). The question which, explicitly or not, predominates in many studies and debates concerning the middle period of the Republic is: what possibilities existed during the ‘peaceful’ years, and what use was made of them, to complete the stabilization of the Weimar democracy and render it proof against future crises? To the question of why this did not succeed, careful and convincing answers have been given by studies of such subjects as the parties and the party system, areas of social conflict, and the position of the Reichswehr. The general conclusion is that the temporary stabilization of the Republic after 1923 was a highly relative phenomenon; The devel- 111 opments that were to prove uncontrollable after the outbreak of the political and economic crisis can be discerned, in embryo and in their first develop- ment, in the so-called ‘stable’ period. Thus the division between an initial, a middle and a final phase of the Republic is not to be taken as corre- sponding to radically different phases in the development of the state and 111 society in Weimar Germany. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 146 Basic problems and trends of research Although ‘Weimar culture’ is unquestionably a credit item in any assess- ment of the Republic, it was for a long time badly neglected by historians. Only in the 1970s was there a change, and there is good reason to believe that interest in this subject had not yet reached its peak – an interest not confined to major artistic and scientific achievements, but including the problems of ‘mass culture’ in the democratic age. To this area belong such matters as leisure and daily life, changes in relations between the sexes, and the rapid rise of the new mass media, the cinema and radio. Problems of this type have been shifting firmly into the foreground for at least a decade, a sign of the advance of the ‘new history of culture’ with its focus on historical phenomena relating to mentality, awareness and social factors. Surveying the history of research into the Weimar period we may conclude that, on the whole, the fourteen years of the first German democracy are among the best-researched periods of German history. The profusion of works is such that even the specialist can scarcely encompass them all, and new studies are constantly being added. These are currently listed in the Bibliographie zur Zeitgeschichte [163]; the titles there recorded, up to 1995, now also conveniently appear in the Bibliographie zur Zeitgeschichte 1953–1980, as in the two supplementary volumes 1981–1989 and 1990– 1995 [164]. The second edition of M. Ruck’s Bibliographie zum National- sozialismus [171], published in 2000, contains a quantity of titles on the history of the Weimar Republic. Brief summaries of 1,035 articles (up to the beginning of the 1980s) will be found in the bibliography The Weimar Republic published by ABC-Clio Information Services [161]. Particularly worthy of mention among the countless reports on research is the volume by A. Wirsching, Die Weimarer Republik. Politik und Gesellschaft [160], recently published in the series Enzyklopädie deutscher Geschichte. Information about more recent works on German foreign policy can be found in the research reports by W. Elz [296] and G. Niedhart [348]. New publications on the Weimar Republic are regularly discussed in detail in the bibliographical reports of the GWU [E. Kolb in GWU 43 (1992), pp. 311–321, 636–651, 699–721; 45 (1994), pp. 49–64, 523–45; in future W. Pyta likewise]. Important lists of sources are now reconstructed in carefully edited form. To begin with, we should mention two sets of volumes which cover the whole Weimar period. The Akten der Reichskanzlei [15] contain not only minutes of Cabinet meetings but many other important files: records of discussions, memoranda, preparations by top functionaries, petitions to the Chancellor, correspondence. With the help of the copied documents it is possible to comprehend the processes of development of informed opinions and decision-making at government level and within the Cabinet. Foreign policy in all its breadth and complexity is documented in Akten zur Deutschen Auswärtigen Politik [1]: Series A has 13 volumes (November 1918 to November 1925), Series B 21 volumes (December 1925 to January 1933). Besides the above, there are countless further accurate editions of sources The Weimar Republic: historical research 147 11 which contain in convenient form a wealth of material relating to key problems of the initial and final phases of the Republic [see especially 17, 18, 19 and 32]. There is no lack of newer comprehensive overviews these days. For a long time, K. D. Erdmann’s volume on Weimar in Gebhardt’s Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte [115] held a kind of monopoly. But now, with the extensive works of H. Schulze [152], H. Mommsen [140] and H. A. Winkler [158], as well as the handy books by D. Peukert [144], G. Niedhart [41], P. Longerich [134] and D. Lehnert [133], vivid overviews are available, 11 in which – despite widely differing emphases and perspectives – a broad panorama of Weimar Germany is presented. The voluminous volumes 5, 6, and 7 in E. R. Huber’s Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte offer a wealth of infor- 11 mation about politics and the political system, the constitution and the structure of institutions, covering the period from the beginning of the First 1 World War to the end of the Weimar Republic [127, 193]. G. Schulz’s work in three volumes, Zwischen Demokratie und Diktatur [454], which focuses on the relationship between the Reich and the Länder and the problem of reform of the Reich, expands in volumes 2 and 3 into a political history of the Republic, rich in detail. 111 For a long time there was felt to be a certain shortcoming in the lively Weimar research: the lack of syntheses of medium range, examining and summarizing the fruit of specific investigation. In this area, welcome progress can now be reported. Three syntheses of outstanding academic quality, ranging from a special monograph on one hand to a broad overview on the other, deserve special mention. For the foreign policy of the Weimar Republic the excellent portrayal by P. Krüger [332] has been available since 1985. Workers and workers’ movements are the subject matter of the three- volume magnum opus by H. A. Winkler, Arbeiter und Arbeiterbewegung in der Weimarer Republik [584–6]. Since Winkler always has all important 111 social, political and economic developments in view, his presentation, written with superlative management of the subject matter, offers far more than a precise examination of the work force, its movements and its organizations – this is to a great extent a compact full history of the Weimar Republic. Assessing the rich yield of research into inflation intensively pursued in the 1980s, G. D. Feldman presents a many-faceted history of politics, economics and society in Germany from the beginning of the First World War until the stabilization of the currency in 1924 [708]. All things considered, we can therefore ascertain that anyone wishing to access information about the history of Weimar Germany in general and about important topic areas in 111 particular has at their disposal today countless reliable scholarly publications. At the present time, in the midst of worldwide economic difficulties and in a rapidly intensifying atmosphere of crisis, interest in the Weimar Republic is once more concentrating on its final phase. This latest trend confirms a phenomenon that comes to notice repeatedly in our brief review and is in 111 a sense typical of concern with the Weimar state. The approach, questions 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 148 Basic problems and trends of research and viewpoints of our historians are considerably, though not exclusively, prompted by a comparison between the first, unsuccessful German democ- racy and the trends and problems of the Federal Republic. Some may regret this close association between yesterday and today because it prevents a wholly detached view of the Weimar Republic; others may welcome it because it makes Weimar Germany a piece of the living past, not merely of antiquarian interest. In any case, the interrelation of the two subjects is a fact which has to be accepted. The history of the first German republic remains ‘recent history’ for us and this will be the case for as long as the German present is subject to the direct and indirect effect of the Weimar years. 11 2 The revolutionary origins of the Republic 11 11 1 As the above outline shows, West German historians, in particular, were fairly slow in turning their attention to the revolutionary initial phase of the Republic. However, from the early 1960s onwards the study of this field developed rapidly and for over a decade it was a popular subject of research, with many studies calling in question the view of the revolution that had 111 until then prevailed. The view almost universally accepted, except by Marxist historians, in the first years after 1945 was that only the co-operation of the Majority Socialists under Ebert with the imperial officer corps and the old bureaucracy made possible the military overthrow of the revolutionary forces, thus paving the way for a parliamentary republic and saving Germany from Bolshevism. This interpretation – probably expressed most clearly by K. D. Erdmann, see page 144 above – was based on the liberal-democratic view of the revolution that developed in Weimar days and was largely adopted by the Social Democrats before 1933: namely, that the events between November 1918 and the 111 spring of 1919 were a defensive action against Bolshevism, fought jointly and successfully by the champions of Weimar democracy. After the end of the Nazi dictatorship such an interpretation of the political and social issues of 1918–19 was attractive for several reasons. In the first place it empha- sized the tradition linking the upholders of the Federal Republic with the Weimar democrats. Second, it involved a very favourable estimation of the actions of the Social Democrats in 1918–19, especially those of Friedrich Ebert. After the Social Democrats had been slandered mercilessly for years by the National Socialists, such an appreciation of their policy was certainly significant. Moreover, this interpretation of the crisis of 1918–19 was not 111 devoid of topical implications; at the time when the cold war was begin- ning, it was a welcome opportunity to insist on the connection between defending democracy and combating communism. This interpretation of the revolution which held almost undisputed sway in the West after 1945 was based on the assumption, which had never 111 been verified from the sources, that the extreme left wing of the workers’ 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 150 Basic problems and trends of research movement, given its potential strength and the fluid situation during the revolutionary weeks, had had a serious chance of stopping or even reversing the trend towards a parliamentary republic, preventing the convening of the National Assembly, and bringing about a complete social upheaval on the Bolshevik model. In other words, the potential and opportunities of the ‘forces working for a proletarian dictatorship’ were rated relatively high. In this respect the ‘bourgeois’ interpretation of the revolution that prevailed in the 1950s was, paradoxically, to some extent in line with the dogmatic Marxist-Leninist one which was also current at that time and which attrib- uted a role of the first importance to the radical left-wing Spartacus Union. The Marxist-Leninist historiography of the revolution of 1918-19 must doubtless be introduced today in the past tense, to say nothing of the GDR. For Marxist-Leninist historians, especially in East Germany, the revolutionary months of 1918–19 were the subject of a comprehensive analysis related to the present day; basic ‘lessons’ were to be drawn from it for the fight against ‘imperialism’, and the treatment of the subject reflected current political strategy. It was probably not by chance that the leaders of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) in the 1950s chose the assessment of the November revolu- tion as a key instance for the purpose of demonstrating to East German historians the leading role of the Party in the interpretation of historical events. In July 1958 the Central Committee of the SED adopted ‘Theses’ on the November revolution [reprinted in Zeitschrift für Geschichtswiss- enschaft, vol. 6 (1958), special number, pp. 1–27; extracts in 199: Kolb (ed.), Vom Kaiserreich zur Weimarer Republik, pp. 369–85. Whereas orig- inally many communist historians had held that the November revolution was an unsuccessful proletarian revolution, the theses of 1958 laid down that it was ‘by its character a bourgeois-democratic revolution, carried out to some extent with proletarian means and methods’. The fact that Germany in 1918–19 had not undergone a ‘proletarian revolution’, although the objective condition for such a revolution existed, was attributed to the insuf- ficient maturity of the ‘subjective element’. The masses were not organized to such an extent that they could take up the fight for power with the prospect of success; in other words, what was still lacking in Germany at that time was a ‘militant Marxist-Leninist party’. Thus the presence of such a party, capable of action, was the criterion determining the character of the revolution, and the chief prerequisite for the victory of the proletarian revolution. Consistently with this theory, the foundation of the KPD was declared to have been the turning-point in the history of the German workers’ movement. Thus Marxist-Leninist historians were given clear terms of reference within which to assess the policies and aims of the respective political groups. While the SPD leaders were accused of ‘betrayal’ and the Independent Socialists of uncertainty and incompetence, only the political struggle of the Spartacus Communists was treated with approval; the strength of the Spartacus Union and its influence on events was much exaggerated, and its tactical mistakes Revolutionary origins of the Republic 151 11 were glossed over. Thus in Marxist-Leninist historiography the Spartacus Communists appeared as the only true revolutionaries, the vanguard setting a course for the militant proletariat. At the same time, a line of continuity and essentially ‘correct’ policy was established for the German Communists from the very beginning. [On the problem of the November revolution and East German historiography in general see A. Decker, ‘Die November- revolution und die Geschichtswissenschaft in der DDR’, IWK, vol. 10 (June 1974), pp. 269–99; also 197: Kluge, Die deutsche Revolution 1918–19, pp. 33–8 and A. Dorpalen, German History in Marxist Perspective. The East 11 German Approach (London, 1985), pp. 308 ff.; R. Schütz, Proletarischer Klassenkampf und bürgerliche Revolution. An assessment of the German November revolution in Marxist-Leninist historiography, in: A. Fischer/ 11 G. Heydemann (eds), Geschichtswissenschaft in der DDR, vol. 2 (Berlin, 1990), pp. 759–95; some information on internal party disagreements about 1 the character of the November revolution, which were brought to an end by a word from Ulbricht and the Central Committee of the SED of 1958, in J. Petzold, Parteinahme wofür? DDR-Historiker im Spannungsfeld von Politik und Wissenschaft (Potsdam, 2000), pp. 115 ff.]. Although East German historians concerned with the revolution of 111 1918–19 kept strictly within the dogmatic guidelines of the 1958 Theses, their works were not totally unprofitable, especially as they often used sources to which Western scholars had only limited access. Useful studies, for instance, have been devoted to such general subjects as the people’s militias [216] and home guard [836]; of particular interest, especially during the 1960s, was the light thrown on regional and local events [see, e.g. H. Dähn, ‘Die lokale und regionale Revolutions- und Rätebewegung 1918–19 in der DDR-Geschichtsschreibung’, AfS, vol. 15 (1975), pp. 452–70]. When, around 1960, West German researchers began to review current ideas as to the course of the revolution, the potential forces and options for 111 decision during the winter months of 1918–19 in the light of sources that had meanwhile become available, they set out from the central premiss of the interpretation of the revolution that was then dominant. Only a close examination of the power relationships and objectives within the revolu- tionary movement could show what was the potential strength of the left wing and what scope it had for action, and whether it was true that the Bolshevization of Germany was a real possibility and an imminent threat in those months. In connection with this question as to the motives, structure, objectives and methods of the revolutionary movement, interest centred on the 111 workers’ and soldiers’ councils which were the real representatives of the revolutionary movement in November and December 1918 and on into 1919. The view taken of the councils in retrospect was coloured by the fact that is in general characteristic of the German revolution of 1918–19: its contemporaries had lost no time in dismissing the revolutionary events from 111 memory, or else they distorted them massively in the interests of political 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 152 Basic problems and trends of research opportunism and self-justification. The principal cause of this process, which set in on a broad front as early as 1919, was no doubt the fact that none of the great political camps could identify with the revolution in the way that it took place and came to an end; in one way or another it was an embarrassment to all political groups. This affected the assessment of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils: in retrospect they came under suspicion of Bolshevism, they were branded as the instruments of a leftist radical minority, and their activity during the revolutionary months was almost invariably condemned. This hostile view proved extremely long-lived, during and since the period of the Third Reich [see E. Kolb, Revolutionsbilder: 1918–19 im zeitgenössischen Bewußtsein und in der historischen Forschung (Heidelberg, 1993), pp. 9–19]. A. Rosenberg (cf. page 144 above) was for a long time quite alone in his opinion that the councils had afforded an opportunity ‘to found a democracy to succeed to the revolution’ [146: History of the German Republic, p. 89]. Only at the end of the 1950s did Rosenberg’s view begin to command sympathy, and stimulated the scholarly discussion which now began. This discussion took place because the new investigations of the revolu- tion, based for the first time on a wide range of sources [especially 181, 187, 189, 196, 198, 199, 208, 211, 217, 224, 225, also numerous local and regional studies], led to noteworthy results, which not only altered the traditional picture of the councils but also called in question the prevalent interpretation of the revolution as a whole. Two sets of conclusions are important here. (1) By ascertaining precise facts as to the composition of both the workers’ and the soldiers’ councils, it was shown beyond doubt that the great majority of the former were dominated by Majority Socialists and moderate independents, while in the soldiers’ councils not only Social Democrats but also bourgeois elements exercised considerable influence. Contrary to what was widely supposed, the extreme left (the Spartacus Union and the Bremen left-wing radicals) had representatives of their own in only a few of the workers’ councils, and had no great influence except in two or three large cities. Altogether, the councils in about three-quarters of the big cities were led by Majority Social Democrats, either alone or together with members of the moderate Independent Social Democrats who were prepared to co-operate. This dominance of the SPD and the moderate USPD resulted from the fact that when the workers’ councils were improvised in November the councils in each town or region were as a rule constituted, by election or delegation, in a manner reflecting the political orientation of the local workers. The SPD and USPD had a huge majority in the workers’ and soldiers’ councils; the extreme left, by contrast, was largely isolated within the revolutionary mass movement of November–December, relatively few in number and weak in organization. The discovery of these facts marked the real turning-point in studies of revolutionary movement and the coun- cils of 1918–19. They were a clear refutation of the view put forward or Revolutionary origins of the Republic 153 11 suggested again and again as late as the 1950s, that the councils in November–December 1918 were the instruments of leftist-radical minori- ties or harbingers of a Bolshevik revolution. In addition, it was now possible to form a correct understanding of the practical activity of the councils in the local sphere and their objectives concerning a political and social new order after the fall of the empire. An overwhelming majority of the coun- cils saw themselves not as opponents of the Social Democratic coalition government of the Reich and Länder, formed by the SPD and the USPD, but as the local and regional agents of those governments. On the main 11 question of the first revolutionary weeks, namely, whether to make ‘a National Assembly or a system of councils’, they took up an unambiguous position: they were in favour of electing a National Assembly as soon as 11 possible, hence they were in favour of parliamentary democracy. Meeting in Berlin from 16 to 20 December 1918, the congress representing all workers’ 1 and soldiers’ councils decided by an overwhelming majority in favour of a resolution along these lines. At the same time, the delegates put forward a number of demands from a Social Democratic viewpoint, involving an extensive reform of the political and social order: ‘democratization’ of the administration, far-reaching changes in the army, socialization of industries 111 ‘ripe for the purpose’. Those were clear signals showing what expectations regarding concrete measures of political and social reform had become estab- lished in the ranks of the Social Democratic Party, among members and supporters who in principle stood for parliamentary democracy. (2) Closer analysis also showed that the revolution and the movement to form councils in 1918–19 had gone through several phases that need to be clearly distinguished. The first phase was from the overthrow of the empire to the break-up of the government coalition of the SPD and USPD at the end of December or, at the latest, to the January riots and the elec- tion to the National Assembly on 19 January 1919. During that phase the 111 councils represented a broad popular movement which was composed mainly of workers and soldiers. The great majority of politicians who belonged to the councils did not want to erect them into a system of government; they regarded the councils as temporary institutions, and pressed for the early election of a National Assembly. In those weeks the great majority of the councils co-operated loyally with the revolutionary governments in the Reich and Länder. The second phase of the revolution, which began in January 1919 and culminated in the spring, was marked by a rapid radicalization of large numbers of the working class, who – disappointed by the non-appearance 111 of the changes they had demanded and expected in the military system, the bureaucracy and heavy industry – now took a decided stand against govern- ment policy. This was a time of increasingly sharp confrontation between the radical mass movement and the Reich government, which asserted its authority by means of military force. In these months the mass move- 111 ment was developing largely outside the councils, which were no longer so 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 154 Basic problems and trends of research representative as in November and December and were rapidly losing their influence. Only in this second phase did a true ‘councils ideology’ develop. The ‘councils movement’ of the spring of 1919, which was largely domi- nated by the USPD, was partly inside and partly outside the councils as then established; it regarded them as organizations of the class struggle and wished to see them institutionalized as part of the socialization programme. The general conviction of recent research is that the mass movement of the spring of 1919, which was much more radical than that of the previous November, acquired its strength only in the course of the revolution and because of the events in the weeks immediately after it [cf.189: Feldmann/Kolb/Rürup, Die Massenbewegungen der Arbeiterschaft in Deutschland am Ende des Ersten Weltkrieges (1917–1920); less informative 201: Konrad/Schmidlechner (eds), Revolutionäres Potential in Europa am Ende des Ersten Weltkrieges]. On the basis of these conclusions, which are now scarcely disputed by scholars, research in the 1960s and early 1970s took the further step of re- examining the political alternatives available in 1918–19 and the amount of freedom enjoyed by the revolutionary government. Significant works are those by Carsten [181], Kluge [196], Kolb [198], Lehnert [205], Matthias [208], Miller [211], Oertzen [217] and Rürup [224]. Their argument may be summarized as follows. On the one hand, the social basis for a new order in the first weeks after 9 November was relatively broad, a fact which, from January 1919, is disguised only by the dramatic increase in polarization within the work force; on the other, in the decisive first weeks of the revo- lution the extreme left was less strong in reality than it appeared to many contemporaries, some excitable journalists and a considerable number of active politicians, and less strong also than it was sometimes made out to be by interested parties. In view of these facts it is impossible to maintain the earlier opinion that in the winter of 1918–19 there was an imminent danger in Germany of Bolshevik rule or a proletarian dictatorship. This has a bearing on the question of the options open to the political decision- makers. Given the new domestic order after the fall of the empire they certainly had more freedom of action, whatever its exact extent, than is assumed by those who see only one possible choice at that time: either the Bolshevization of Germany, or intensive co-operation between the Majority Socialist and the traditional power élites to maintain order and set up a parliamentary republic. The courses open to the revolutionary government would, for instance, have included taking a firm line with the old army leaders, making preparations to socialize the mines at least, and using the potential strength of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils to support a Social Democratic programme of reform. But the SPD leaders, in particular, refused to embark on such a course. This was not exclusively under pressure of circumstances but because first, they trusted the old élites to remain loyal to the new holders of power and second, they basically distrusted the spontaneous mass movement. That movement was certainly to some extent amorphous, but in November and December it was largely sustained by Revolutionary origins of the Republic 155 11 members and supporters of the Social Democrats and its political demands were within the Social Democratic range. It was not least because of the line taken by the SPD leaders that what had begun in November 1918 as a democratic people’s movement ended in the following spring in radicalization in some quarters and the acceptance of failure in others. In this interpretation of the revolution criticism is directed, above all, at the Majority Socialist leaders headed by Friedrich Ebert. But it must be emphasized that this criticism is quite different from the Communist polemic against the Social Democrats. It does not blame the Majority Socialists for 11 failing to work towards a proletarian dictatorship, which they wished no part of, or for lacking Lenin’s revolutionary vision. The critical reservations about the policies of the leadership of the MSPD in the weeks after the revolution 11 are targeted solely at the criterion of achieving in the best possible way social democratic positions in what was a unique historical constellation. The crit- 1 icism is rather that expressed in the question: ‘Why did this party, with the means at its disposal, not achieve its ends?’ [211: Miller, Die Bürde der Macht, p. 101]. How were the results of more recent research on the 1918–19 revolu- tion, in which the traditional picture of it underwent extensive modification 111 and revision, received [best outline of concepts: 224: Rürup, Probleme der Revolution in Deutschland 1918–19]? When one considers that the negative image of the revolutionary movement was barely contested for decades, it is remarkable to be able to state that the ‘revised picture’ of the revolution, both within research and beyond it, found surprisingly rapid acknowledge- ment and was widely accepted. Two factors have surely contributed to this: in the first place, in the 1960s and 1970s, there was a readiness to re-examine the traditional picture of German history in general, both among experts and in the wider public, and so the new interpretation of the revolution itself was taken seriously. Second, it could hardly be disputed that this inter- 111 pretation derived from findings, based on broadly reliable sources with a high level of stringency, about the character, objects and phases of the revo- lutionary movement. Until the later 1970s, the new interpretation of the events of the revolution was only rarely subjected to frontal attack by its critics, who confined themselves to questioning it in passing, without going fully into the arguments. Only since the end of that decade has the criti- cism become more fundamental and determined, although only in reviews and articles, not in a fully developed monograph. The critics of the new interpretation of the revolution, which they have termed the ‘prevailing doctrine’, did not draw on recently released sources. They accepted at least 111 in part the results of the new research, while expressing decided reserva- tions, especially about the assessment of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils as ‘democratic potential’, and designating the councils an amorphous social protest movement [W. J. Mommsen, ‘Die Deutsche Revolution 1918– 1920’, in GG 4 (1978), pp. 362–91; E. Jesse/H. Köhler, ‘Die Deutsche 111 Revolution im Wandel der historischen Forschung’, in: Aus Politik und 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 156 Basic problems and trends of research Zeitgeschichte B45/78, 11 November 1978, pp. 3–23; for criticism of these advances see R. Rürup, ‘Demokratische Revolution und “dritter Weg”’, in GG 9 (1983), pp. 278–301; cf. the well informed but partly confused research report in 197: Kluge, Die Deutsche Revolution 1918–19, pp. 14–32]. Despite a high level of agreement amongst specialists, it would be wrong to assert that a picture exists today of the 1918–19 revolution which reflects a wide-ranging consensus of opinion. Reinforced clichés live on in many forms; the earlier view, sometimes unchanged, sometimes in a slightly modified form, is to be found in some manuals and school textbooks. Controversial responses to the crux of the dispute continue: as to whether, in the weeks from November to January, the introduction of drastic struc- tural reforms for stronger political and social consolidation of the new system of government (approval in principle of parliamentary democracy) would have been desirable, or whether this would not have been possible at all, under the circumstances, without losing control of domestic politics. [cf. stress laid on the controversial positions, in articles by R. Rürup and E. Jesse, in 936: König/Soell/Weber (eds), Friedrich Ebert und seine Zeit, pp. 69–87, 89–110]. In further discussion, one ought to avoid branding the more recent inter- pretation of the options available in 1918–19 as advocacy of the policy of the ‘third way’, which happens repeatedly. The bold but intrinsically vague concept of the ‘third way’ could not be less appropriate to the revised interpretation of the revolution. On the one hand, taken semantically, this concept gives the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ the character of a feasible alternative (or of a threatening eventuality) in 1918–19, whereas research has proved the contrary. On the other hand, this concept suggests that the creation of a political system beyond parliamentary democracy (or of an economic system that was neither ‘capitalist’ nor ‘socialist’) should have been the primary goal among the alternatives. It was really, however, a matter of a wide range of measures to establish the Republic on a democratic foundation, and perfectly compatible with the choice of a parliamentary democracy. What recent research shows to have been possible and desirable is not a ‘third way’, such as, for instance, a permanent institutionalization of the councils, but another way, namely that of taking full advantage of the opportunities to ensure that the Republic developed on democratic lines. As this misleading concept can scarcely begin to designate as a ‘third way’ the whole spectrum of internal political possibilities between a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ on one hand and, on the other, the alliance of convenience of the MSPD leadership with the élite of the old regime, it should be eliminated from the discussion. There is an easily identifiable explanation of why the German revolution of 1918–19 is, and, will in all probability remain, controversial, in spite of possible further progress in research: when discussing such difficult prob- lems as those of the freedom of action and options for decision-making in 1918–19, arguments can but be limited and hypothetical. The dispute here, Revolutionary origins of the Republic 157 11 unlike the question of the formation and composition of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils, concerns making a decision with reference not only to the evidence from sources. The historian is not in the position to make a state- ment protected by irrefutable ‘proof ’ as to how things might have developed if those in charge in a particular historical situation had chosen a different course of action. But the historian is very much in the position to analyse the decisions as such in all directions by means of precise reference to sources. This includes, for instance, as exact a record as possible of the ideas put forward at the time of the decisions and of the forces available for their real- 11 ization; a careful examination of the divergent assessments of the situation, as of the prognoses deriving from these regarding probable further devel- opments, from the standpoint of whether the prognoses later proved to be 11 right or wrong; conclusions about the relationship of the means to the end in the various groupings involved in the political struggle, in other words, 1 the question of how far they implemented effectively the resources at their disposal in order to achieve their aims. By means of extensive evaluation of sources using this type of analysis, the more recent research on the revolution can bring into the field conclu- sive arguments to assess the freedom of action and options for decision- 111 making. Thus, one can demonstrate that the SPD leadership did not use sufficiently the opportunities available in those weeks from November to January to press ahead with the dismantling of authoritarian structures and to put in place conspicuous markers, which would have signalled clearly, not least to their own membership, that a noticeable shift in the political and social distribution of power would result, in favour of the work force. With regard to the various assessments of the freedom of action of the revolution government, H. A. Winkler has found a way of formulating this, which ought to find consensus among a majority of those involved in the research debate: 111 First: the governing Social Democrats could not, without provoking chaos, avoid some degree of co-operation with leading elements of the old regime. Second: the extent of that co-operation, and hence the polit- ical and social continuity between the monarchy and the Republic, was considerably greater than the situation required. In other words, if the Social Democrats had shown a stronger degree of political will, they could have altered more and would not have had to preserve so much. [GG, vol. 8 (1982), p. 5.] 111 H. A. Winkler has also formulated this firmly among conclusions in his monumental three-volume work, Arbeiter und Arbeiterbewegung in der Weimarer Republik: In 1918, the social democrats were striving for parliamentary democ- 111 racy and thereby a type of state which promised to give to German 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 Basic problems and trends of research society a level of political freedom corresponding to its cultural and material development. They underestimated the fact that parliamentar- ianism has never been implemented only by parliamentary means. The opportunity to alter by dint of reform structures that stood in the way of democracy was at its greatest immediately after 9 November 1918. It was not used. The consequence, an excessive degree of social conti- nuity between the authoritarian state of the empire and the republican democracy, prevented many social democrats from identifying them- selves with the new state. The avoidance of power among social democrats weakened the parliamentary democracy and thus gave extra impetus to the already strong anti-parliamentarian forces among the bourgeoisie. [586: Der Weg in die Katastrophe, p. 952.] A general view of studies of the 1918–19 revolution in the 1960s and 1970s may give the impression that too much attention was devoted to the workers’ and soldiers’ councils and too little to other important aspects of the period between the fall of the empire and the convening of the National Assembly. This impression, however, is only partly correct. Two points should not be overlooked. First, the councils and the revolutionary movement are certainly a major subject of research, and it cannot be denied that there has been a certain danger of turning the councils into the key question of the revolution; this was, at most, only indirectly the case, as S. Miller points out [211: Die Bürde der Macht, p. 120]. But from the point of view of research planning it was right and necessary, in studying the period, to begin by analysing the coun- cils as the most important elements of the revolutionary movement, and to re-examine old stereotypes. Now that the gaps in our information have been filled, it would be wrong to continue to put the councils in the forefront of research or to treat them as an all-decisive factor in the events of the revolutionary months. It should also be noted that interest in the councils and the revolutionary movement of 1918–19 was genuinely historical and not inspired by current politics. All the important evidence had already been studied when, unexpectedly, the question became topical after 1968 and some sections of the student movement began to discuss the theory of councils as a modern-day problem. This ‘politicization’ of the subject made it harder, rather than easier, to consider the problems of the 1918–19 revolution in a calm and factual manner. Second, while in the 1960s and 1970s much interest was concentrated on the councils and the revolutionary movement, and on the conclusions that might be drawn as a result concerning the revolution as a whole, researchers were at the same time also examining a much broader spectrum of the aspects and problems of the initial phase of the Republic. Many works dealt with the question of the armed forces and the policy of the High Command during the revolutionary months [196, 220, 822, 829, 847, 848, 964]; with economic problems and the organizational alternatives after the 158 Revolutionary origins of the Republic 159 11 fall of the empire and in the transition from war to peace [e.g. 186, 231, 234]; with the complexity of problems associated with demobilization [177 et al.], and not least with preparations for the peace negotiations in the winter months of 1918–19 [240, 247, 251, 268, 279, 930]. Another impor- tant area is that of parties and the party system in the phase following the collapse of the empire. The re-formation and development of particular parties was studied in depth (see page 166 below), as was the reorientation of the trade unions [e.g. 178, 473, 520, 541, 558] and the behaviour of organized industrial and agrarian interests during the revolutionary period 11 [e.g. 567, 705, 706, 710, 717, 811]. Several studies deal with the reaction of the Protestant churches to the revolution and the abrogation of the episcopal status (summus episcopatus) of local rulers [e.g. 210, 474, 478, 11 502, 537, 588]; the attitude of the Catholic church in the revolutionary months has not yet been studied in detail [brief analysis in 194: Hürten, 1 Die Kirchen in der Novemberrevolution; cf. 501, Deutsche Katholiken 1918–45, pp. 49–85]. But, on the whole, it is true to say that the intensive research of the last four decades has thrown a considerable amount of light on the political, economic and social issues and new departures of the revo- lutionary months. From the various separate pieces of the mosaic it would 111 not be difficult to form a combined, many-faceted picture. A comprehen- sive account of the German revolution of 1918–19, based on the results of numerous specialized studies, is an urgent desideratum. In the first volume of Arbeiter und Arbeiterbewegung in der Weimarer Republik, [584], H. A. Winkler presents in broad outline the events of the revolution, reflecting the latest research; yet, unlike the all-encompassing work, these partial accounts cannot, nor are they intended to, replace a comprehensive history of all the essential aspects of the German revolution of 1918–19, any more than does U. Kluge’s well informed outline of the problem [197: Die Deutsche Revolution 1918–19]. 111 For a considerable length of time the final period of the Weimar Republic, as opposed to its beginnings, has been the centre of academic and public interest, as the question of missed opportunities in the establishment of a democratic state has appeared less urgent than the question of the govern- ability of such a state in times of economic crisis and political uncertainty; but the revolution of 1918–19 remains one of the chief pivots of recent German history and a central theme for historical research and reflection. 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 3 The Reich constitution, the party system and the Reichswehr Scholars have for a long time shown only moderate interest in the genesis of the Reich constitution in 1918–19: a surprising fact when one considers the enormous importance of the constitution in general, and some of its clauses in particular, for the further development of the Republic and finally its downfall. We can only speculate as to the reasons for this neglect. However, it may be pointed out that the constitutional debates of the National Assembly did not give rise to any spectacular basic controversy of the kind that fascinates contemporaries and historians alike, such as those of the German National Assembly of 1848–9. This was because, when the National Assembly convened in February 1919, the principal constitu- tional decisions had already been taken: for a republic and parliamentary democracy, for a federal as against a centralized system, and for a ‘strong’ presidential power as against purely parliamentary rule. From May 1919, work on the constitution was overshadowed by the disagreements over the signing of the peace treaty (see above, pages 35 ff.). These fundamental decisions, taken between November 1918 and February 1919, were sanctioned by the National Assembly when, in the first few days of its existence, it approved the law on the Provisional Exercise of State Power which had been negotiated between the Reich government and the Committee of States of the Land governments. This formed the basis of the constitutional structure erected by the National Assembly. The principle of a central system of government and the respective powers of the President, Cabinet and Reichstag were scarcely touched on in the parlia- mentary debates, and the details were also not considered in much depth [413: Haungs, Reichspräsident und parlamentarische Kabinettsregierung, p. 22]. The constitution-making process thus includes both the preparatory work and decisions during the transition period from November 1918 to February 1919, and the debates in the National Assembly. Both these stages must be taken into account in studying the origin and final shape of the Weimar constitution. There is still no comprehensive monograph on the subject. 111 111 Reich constitution, party system and the Reichswehr 161 11 The earlier account by W. Apelt, who himself took part in drafting the constitution, was based on a relatively narrow range of sources [176]; E. R. Huber [193, Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, vol. 5, pp. 1178–243] deals with the actual discussions in a fairly summary manner and C. Gusy likewise devotes only about eighty pages of his instructive work about the Weimar Reich constitution [190] to the developments from the end of the monarchy to the implementation of the new constitution. Attention should still be drawn to the analysis of problems by R. Rürup [‘Entstehung und Grund- lagen der Weimarer Verfassung’, in 199: Kolb (ed.), Vom Kaiserreich zur Weimarer Republik, pp. 218–43]. The most important works on the preparation of the constitution deal with particular aspects. Thus, L. Richter [222] examines the genesis of the articles related to the church and education, R. Schiffer [448] the inclusion of ‘plebiscitary elements’, G. A. Ritter [223] and F. Völtzer [230] the production of articles related to the economic order. L. Richter analyses the genesis of Article 48 [in: Der Staat 37 (1998), pp. 1–26, 221–47; not very informative on the same subject is 429: Kurz, Demokratische Diktatur?, pp. 24 ff.]. G. Schulz [454, vol. 1], E. Eimers [403] and W. Benz [388] deal with the relations between the Reich and the Länder during the months of the revolution and with the share of the latter in writing the constitu- tion. E. Portner [218] and L. Albertin [464] look at the policies of the Liberals with regard to the constitution, R. Morsey [431] those of the Centre, while H. Potthoff [219] and S. Vestring [228] tackle the attitude of the left. W. J. Mommsen [988] discusses Max Weber’s contribution to the preparation of the draft, and H. Fenke the unofficial drafts [in: Archiv des öffentlichen Rechts 121 (1996), pp. 24–58]. Other important themes still await attention, such as the constitutional debate outside the National Assembly, discussions within the parties and outside Parliament, and the genesis of a few important articles. A system- atic examination of the thoughts on the constitution of Hugo Preuß, the first of the ‘fathers of the constitution’ to spring to mind, would be highly desirable [unsatisfactory: 209: Mauersberg, Ideen und Konzeption; the dissertation, Hugo Preuß. Studien zur Ideen- und Verfassungsgeschichte der Weimarer Republik (Berlin, 2000), by G. Gillessen, submitted in 1995 and only now published in book form, is only an outline; some aspects of Preuß’ thoughts in: D. Lehnert, Verfassungsdemokratie als Bürgergenossen- schaft (Baden-Baden, 1998)]. If, therefore, the current state of research can scarcely be considered satis- factory, some important individual questions are clarified by existing special studies, for example the debates on the draft constitution between the Reich and Land governments at the end of January and beginning of February 1919, or the motives and considerations that led to the concept of a plebisc- itary Reich presidency. As we now know, it was the Liberals who developed 11 11 1 111 111 this concept and secured its adoption, because they were deeply mistrustful 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 162 Basic problems and trends of research of purely parliamentary rule and desired a system based on the separation and balance of powers; instead of constitutional monarchy, there was to be a ‘constitutional democracy’. The Majority Socialists did not take a deter- mined stand against the fateful mixture of the presidential and the parliamentary system. Despite much criticism from their own ranks they accepted the idea of a plebiscitary president, which was championed by H. Preuss as well as Max Weber; thus they set up a dualistic system which was ‘fundamentally ambiguous’ (D. Sternberger). When discussing the faults in the construction of the Weimar constitu- tion, there are two crucial problem areas: the dualism of the power of democracy and the power of the President, and the ominous Article 48. (1) Because two routes to power and the formation of a government existed side by side, the compulsion to form a parliamentary majority was weakened – the parties were able to shirk their responsibilities, the scope for presidential rule increased, and government by a parliamentary majority was not the norm. ‘These possible consequences escaped the enthusiasm of the creators of the constitution. They believed they had to fuse together basic elements of several political systems (and traditions) without considering sufficiently the divergent aspects of the constitution, which could lead to weakening or even to conflict, especially between the two powers elected by the people, parliament and the president’ [K. D. Bracher, in: HZ 225 (1977), p. 645]. Certainly, one can argue that the establishment of a presidential regime was only possible because the parties, or their representatives in parliament, could no longer find the strength to form a majority or an effective coalition. So the influence, the room for manoeuvre and the power of the President increased. A contrary argument can be put forward, that the position of the parties was weakened from the start because the constitution placed the President at the side of the Reichstag as ‘supervisor and provider of help in an emergency’. His position was as legitimate democratically as that of the elected members: ‘The parties lost the impulse to show a willingness to compromise in parliament’ [438: Oberreuter, Die Norm als Ausnahme, p. 314]. On this footing, the German party system could continue to exist, almost unchanged (cf. page 167 below). When the parliamentary system failed to function, the President stepped forward. ‘Thus the flight from responsibility was made easier for the parties. The weak operation of the parliamentary system was simultaneously cause and effect of the President’s abundance of power’ [584: Winkler, Von der Revolution zur Stabilisierung, p. 235]. This characteristic feature of the constitution has been termed ‘presidential reserve constitution’ [152: Schulze, Weimar, p. 423]. (2) When the majority of the National Assembly conceived Article 48, the unrest unleashed by the radical wing of the work force in spring 1919 was fresh in the memory of the creators of the constitution, as was the possibility that a regional government and parliament might take the oppo- site course to the national government. Therefore, Article 48 controlled the Reich constitution, party system and the Reichswehr 163 11 enforcement of the law of the Reich vis-à- vis the Länder as well as for a state of emergency. Indeed, in the first three years of the Republic, this article was used chiefly to quell unrest and rebellion. In the name of the economic crisis of 1922–4 there was, however, a fundamental change in the applica- tion of the President’s special authority: paragraph 2 of Article 48 now functioned – alongside the enabling acts [see 409: Frehse, Ermächtigungsge- setzgebung im Deutschen Reich 1914-1933] – as a constitutional basis for the simplification and accelerated introduction of emergency legislation [429: Kurz, Demokratische Diktatur?, pp. 152, 157, 193]. For the period from 11 1 January 1920 to 31 December 1924, 400 decrees were passed in place of laws, as compared with 700 formal, properly passed laws of the Reich, and most of the emergency decrees in no way helped to overcome an emergency 11 situation that had suddenly arisen; they related, instead, to economic measures and were permanent reforms [ibid., p. 146]. Thus, already during Ebert’s 1 presidency, the extensive use of the presidential power to dictate reached a climax. That resorting frequently to the passing of emergency decrees repre- sented a highly questionable procedure is emphatically underlined in more recent research, and it is likewise stressed that Ebert’s basic loyalty to the constitution changes nothing of the fact ‘that some of the decrees already 111 pushed outwards the boundaries of Article 48 and that the clear tendency to use emergency measures anticipated the later development under Brüning’ [438: Oberreuter, Die Norm als Ausnahme, p. 309; also 429: Kurz, Demo- kratische Diktatur?; H. Boldt, ‘Der Artikel 48 der Weimarer Reichsver- fassung’, in 156: Stürmer (ed.), Die Weimarer Republik, pp. 288–309]. On the other hand, the application of Article 48, as practised by Ebert, is sharply contrasted with the use of emergency decrees under Hindenburg. For, as L. Richter demonstrates, under Ebert the measures relating to Article 48 were based on extensive agreement between the government, the President and the parliamentary majority; in nearly all cases, the application 111 of Article 48 took place at a formal sitting of a Reichstag which was basi- cally in a position to take action – quite the contrary of the situation in the years from 1930 onwards. Under Ebert, Article 48 was used less as a direct means of strengthening the President’s position than for the accelerated passing of the government’s intended legislation, providing the initiative for the use of exceptional powers; Ebert restricted himself to giving his approval to the proposed measures. Moreover, Ebert categorically rejected using Article 48 to pass bills which had failed in the Reichstag and always remained aware of the barriers inherent in the law on exceptional circumstances [L. Richter, ‘Das präsidiale Notverordnungsrecht in den ersten Jahren der 111 Weimarer Republik’, in 426: Kolb (ed.), Friedrich Ebert als Reichspräsident, pp. 207–257]. The facts were sharply formulated thus: ‘The use of the same instrument, which saved the Republic under Ebert, destroyed it under Hindenburg. It depended, therefore, how the emergency authority was used. Precisely because it was supposed to be so effective and had, therefore, 111 so few limitations, it was at the same time easy to abuse. Here, strengths 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 164 Basic problems and trends of research and mortal weaknesses of the Republic lay side by side’ [190: Gusy, Die Weimarer Reichsverfassung, p. 113]. Another element of the constitution that was virtually decided on before the National Assembly met was proportional representation. This was decreed by the revolutionary government in November 1918, and was applied in the election to the National Assembly. The Assembly, without any fundamental debate on electoral methods, incorporated proportional representation in the constitution. This was generally expected and was in no way considered to be ‘revolutionary’. The SPD had fought for its adop- tion for decades and now made it a sine qua non. But the bourgeois parties and groups were also in favour, as under current conditions it seemed that an overwhelming predominance of the SPD would be less likely under proportional representation than under the previous majority system. It was not only in Germany that proportional representation was thought of in those days as the most ‘up-to-date’ electoral system; most other European countries also adopted it in the 1920s. In the last years of the Weimar Republic the debate on electoral methods was intensified, with a view to improving the existing system; but the latter was only subjected to strong criticism after 1945, when statesmen, political scientists and a few historians agreed in blaming proportional repre- sentation for the deficiencies of the Weimar parliamentary system and the collapse of democracy. Proportional representation, it was argued, had encouraged the formation of new parties and splinter parties; the multiplicity of groups had made it harder to form governments and had finally led to a breakdown of the system. F. A. Hermens, the most determined and persis- tent critic of proportional representation, argued in numerous publications that it was the real cause of the collapse of the Weimar Republic [e.g. Demokratie oder Anarchie? (Frankfurt on Main, 1951) with approving pref- aces by A. Weber and C. J. Freidrich]. According to Hermens, if the majority system had been in force ‘the NSDAP would certainly not have been a factor of national importance in 1932 and would probably have long since died of political anaemia’ [ibid., p. 229]. The arguments of Hermens and his followers were scarcely disputed in the 1950s and were accepted by histo- rians, sometimes in a less emphatic form (e.g. E. Eyck, and A. Schwarz). In 1964 K. D. Bracher spoke of the ‘widespread view’ that a voting system based on relative majorities might have saved the Weimar Republic and prevented the victory of National Socialism [‘Probleme der Wahlentwick- lung in der Weimarer Republik’, in 396: Büsch, Wölk, and Wölk (eds), Wählerbewegungen in der deutschen Geschichte, p. 629]. The argument has since quietened down. It lost its politically sensitive character inasmuch as the development of the Federal Republic showed that proportional representation is by no means incompatible with a stable parliamentary system. Looking back on the controversy as to the connec- tion between the electoral system and the failure of the Weimar democracy, certain points may be noted: Reich constitution, party system and the Reichswehr 165 11 (1) It is not only difficult, but highly questionable from the point of view of method, simply to recalculate the electoral results of the Weimar period in terms of majority voting, as the voting tactics of both parties and electorate are certainly different under the two systems. As H. Fenske rightly observes in his criticism of Hermens, one would need the courage to rewrite the history of Weimar from the first day onwards in terms of a different electoral system; in short, ‘one would be relying solely on fictions’ [408: Wahlrecht und Parteiensystem, p. 34]. (2) A relative majority system could not have saved the Republic from 11 dangers arising from radical changes of view by the electorate. We may agree with E. R. Huber that ‘proportional representation in the Weimar Republic was certainly not the cause of the rapid rise of the radical parties’ [127: 11 Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, vol. 6, p. 133]. Thus considerable doubt attaches to the view put forward by E. Schanbacher in support of Hermens, 1 that proportional representation was ‘a main cause of the triumphant advance of the National Socialists in the parliamentary elections from 1929 onwards and, consequently, of Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor on 30 January 1933’ [447: Parlamentarische Wahlen und Wahlsystem, p. 231]. J. W. Falter, who considers the ‘conditioned prognosis’ permissible, expresses this differ- 111 ently: ‘another electoral system would perhaps not necessarily have prevented the rise of National Socialism, but could have helped to curb it’, but he does not want to exclude the fact that, with a different electoral system, ‘the NSDAP and its potential allies would have achieved an absolute majority as early as 1932, in which case the death knell of the Weimar Republic would have sounded even earlier’ [864: Hitlers Wähler, p. 135]. (3) The role of splinter parties in the Weimar period is often much exag- gerated. The functioning of the parliamentary system was less impaired by the existence of a few small parties than by the difficulty of forming coali- tions among the larger ones. This difficulty was largely due to the way in 111 which bourgeois parties lost their enthusiasm for working with the Social Democrats by means of fair compromise. Their ‘anti-Marxism’ steadily gained strength, and these decidedly anti-Marxist positions are to be seen – as H. Fenske appropriately underlines – as the real germ of the disease in the German party system of the Weimar period. It was particularly serious that they were not confined to the conservatives but also affected the national Liberals. They are far more important than the fragmentation due to the electoral system or the formal legacy of constitutionalism in the constitu- tion [408: Wahlrecht und Parteiensystem, p. 345; cf. ibid. pp. 281, 349]. Parties and the party system in the Weimar period are a wide field to which 111 research has devoted special attention for over four decades. Interest in the development of the German party system after 1918 had already been displayed in the years before 1933. Thus L. Bergsträsser in the fifth and sixth editions (1928, 1932) of his Geschichte der politischen Parteien in Deutschland [469] dealt with the development of parties since the foundation of the 111 republic, and in 1932 S. Neumann published a pioneering study of the history 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 166 Basic problems and trends of research and structure of the Weimar parties [535] which is still among the best descrip- tions of the parties of those years, their structure, programmes, politico-social background and general place in political life. K. D. Bracher, who edited Neumann’s study in 1965, rightly placed it on a par with A. Rosenberg’s History of the German Republic. Neumann, as a social scientist of historical inclination, developed Max Weber’s theory of types into a typology of parties which made possible a precise structural analysis and comparative description of the German parties, in the Weimar period at least, and which has since become widely accepted. He distinguishes the liberal ‘party of representa- tion’, rooted in nineteenth-century tradition, whose members and support- ers scarcely come into action except at election time, from the modern ‘party of integration’, characterized by the constant activity of its members, a high degree of bureaucratization, complete involvement of the individual in the organization, and the permeation by it of all spheres of life. Neumann further distinguishes two variants of the party of integration: the ‘democratic’ (SPD, Centre) and the ‘absolutist’ (NSDAP, KPD). Neumann’s important contribution to the study of German political parties could not exercise much influence at first, as under the Third Reich the Weimar parties were taboo as a theme of academic research. After 1945 the study of the Weimar party system did not get under way at once; in 1956 Neumann observed that the Weimar party landscape was a terra incog- nita [Modern Political Parties (Chicago, 1956), p. 354]. However, things changed very quickly in the following years: from the beginning of the 1960s a large number of studies of Weimar party history were published, so that for a long time now it has not been possible to speak of a terra incognita. As early as 1960 E. Matthias and R. Morsey edited an important work, Das Ende der Parteien 1933 [528]. The careful studies, based on the sources then available, of the structure and policies of the chief parties during the ‘crisis of the party state’ combine to form a differentiated picture of the party landscape at the end of the Republic and in the first weeks of the Third Reich. The work emphasized not only the insoluble difficulties that confronted the main parties of the state, but also the confusion and lack of purpose with which the republican parties reacted to the institution of the presidential regime and the challenge of the National Socialist movement. Assessments may have been modified in the interim, but Das Ende der Parteien 1933 is a real achievement of research and it established the bench- mark for further works about the history of the parties. It was compiled in connection with extensive research by the commission for the History of Parliamentarianism and the Political Parties: this body, founded in 1951, became a centre of research in the Federal Republic, publishing from the late 1950s onwards a series of basic editions of sources and numerous monographs on the history of parliament, parties and associations. By far the greater number of studies of party history in the Weimar period are devoted to single parties, their organization and policies; to some extent also to the formation of policies and the effects of social processes on the Reich constitution, party system and the Reichswehr 167 11 composition of party membership and its electoral following. As against this, relatively few works deal explicitly with the general development of the party system between 1918 and 1933. Two subjects of the greatest importance call for thorough study and analysis: the continuity, to a large extent, of the German party system before and after the upheaval of 1918–19, and its rapid break-up from 1928 onwards. The party system of imperial times remained essentially unaltered during the revolutionary months of 1918–19. Some parties changed their names, and the political left split into two rival parties; but the four main political 11 currents – the conservatives, the Centre, the liberals and the Social Democrats – were represented in 1919 in about the same relative strength as in the Reichstag election of 1912. It is generally accepted today that the 11 structure of the party system hardly suffered any change in the transition from the monarchy to the Republic, so that we can speak of a continuity 1 of the party system. G. A. Ritter, differentiating somewhat, refers to the ‘continuity and re-forming of the German party system in 1918–20’ [549]. He points to some changes in the inner structure and behaviour of the parties, resulting mainly from the change in the electoral system. This called for the mobilization of scattered votes and therefore required a party orga- 111 nization extending over a wide area, which affected the activation of the reservoir of voters. But Ritter also regards continuity as the dominant feature of the party system in the transitional period Credit is due to R. M. Lepsius, whose study ‘Parteiensystem und Sozial- struktur’ [521] was first published in 1966, for not only emphasizing the stability of the party system between 1871 and 1928 but also giving a convincing explanation of the phenomenon. He attributed it to the direct link between party formations and the more or less distinct social milieux with which each of them was associated. The political integration and orga- nization of society depended not only on class interests but also on a complex 111 configuration of religious, regional, social and economic factors [ibid., p. 67]. None of the great party groupings was strictly homogeneous from the class point of view, but each had a ‘socio-moral milieu’ on which it depended; stability stemmed from its consistent loyalty. Lepsius’ model of the four ‘socio-moral milieux’ (Socialists, Catholics, Liberals and Conservatives) was transformed into three ‘camps’ by K. Rohe: Socialist, Catholic and National, the latter including both Liberals and Conservatives [443: Rohe, Wahlen und Wählertraditionen in Deutschland]. The linking of the main parties with the relevant social milieu lasted, with varying intensity, beyond the interruption of 1918. Thus, for many 111 researchers the fragmentation of German society during the Weimar Republic into various socio-political, religious and regional ‘breakaway cultures’ was considered to be a substantial weight for the Weimar democ- racy [see, above all, two collective volumes edited by D. Lehnert and K. Megerle, 634: Politische Identität und nationale Gedenktage; 635: Politische 111 Teilkulturen zwischen Integration und Polarisierung]. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 168 Basic problems and trends of research Research was affected by strong impulses from the paradigm ‘milieu’ – understood as an assemblage of compulsory philosophical axioms, of organ- izational networks and of communal daily rituals, all forming an essential part of life. From the early 1980s, the form, stability and consistency of the ‘milieux’, continuing into the Weimar Republic, have been the object of various research endeavours, but also of intensive and partly controversial discussion. In the centre, there is the socialist workers’ milieu, subject of by far the best research, because it offers practical access for this: its formation and compactness can be recorded with the help of union and party struc- tures, election results, and examinations of the countless organizations in the ‘front line’. There is, however, clear disagreement about the development of the workers’ milieu and ‘culture’ in the 1920s. In the opinion of several researchers, the socio-moral milieu of the workers’ movement was disintegrating after 1918, because the culture of the mass media was belatedly becoming established (cinema, radio, sport, consumerism and leisure) and undermining the structures of the educated workers’ milieu built up under the Kaiser. After the change of political system in 1918 the impetus for alternative culture began to lose significance [above all: 630, Langewiesche, Politik-Gesellschaft-Kultur; a summary: 907, Schmiechen- Ackermann, Nationalsozialismus und Arbeitermilieux, pp. 453 f.]. P. Lösche and F. Walter represent the opposing point of view: the climax of social democratic solidarity with its organizing networks took place, not under the Kaiser, but during the Weimar Republic [P. Lösche/F. Walter, ‘Zur Organisationskultur der sozialdemokratischen Arbeiterbewegung in der Weimarer Republik’, in: GG 15 (1989), pp. 511–36; ibid., ‘Auf dem Weg zur Volkspartei? Die Weimarer Sozialdemokratie’, in: AfS 29 (1989), pp. 75–136; F. Walter, ‘Milieux und Parteien in der deutschen Gesellschaft’, in: GWU 46 (1995), pp. 479–93]. They emphasize that the theory of swiftly advancing erosion of the social democratic milieu cannot be supported by the findings of empirical research, neither in the assumption that there were especially solid social milieux under the Kaiser, nor in the assertion that, after 1918, an ‘inner dissolution’, even ‘decomposition’, of the social demo- cratic milieu took place. In order to achieve empirically secure results Lösche and Walter initiated a research project which has its academic expression in four princely volumes [Solidargemeinschaft und Milieu: Sozialistische und Kultur- und Freiheitsorganisationen in der Weimarer Republik. Vol. 1: F. Walter, Sozialistische Akademiker- und Intellektuellenorganisationen in der Weimarer Republik (Bonn, 1990); vol. 2: F. Walter et al., Sozialistische Gesundheits- und Lebensreformverbände (Bonn, 1991); vol. 3: D. Klenke et al., Arbeitersänger und Volksbühnen in der Weimarer Republik (Bonn, 1992); vol. 4: S. Heimann/F. Walter, Religiöse Sozialisten und Freidenker in der Weimarer Republik (Bonn, 1993)]. This wealth of study material verifies that the social democratic ‘front line’ organizations (among them new formations such as Arbeiterwohlfahrt (Workers’ Welfare), Kinderfreunde (Friends to Children), Arbeitsgemeinschaft sozialdemokratischer Lehrer Reich constitution, party system and the Reichswehr 169 11 (Association of Social Democratic Teachers) were expanding, in numbers at least, during the 1920s. Thus the Social Democratic Freidenkerorganisa- tionen (Organizations of Freethinkers), for example, grew from 6,500 members before 1914 to a mass movement of about 600,000 members; the Arbeiterturn- und Sportbund (Workers’ Gymnastic and Sport Federation) increased its membership from 120,000 before the war to 570,000 at the end of the 1920s. According to Walter, alternative culture likewise was much higher in social democratic circles at the end of the Weimar Republic than under the Kaiser; it was in those last years of the Republic that this milieu 11 consolidated its position under pressure from outside. These diagnoses of high membership numbers for the ‘front line’ organ- izations surely do not permit a definitive judgement either of the ability to 11 make an impression, or of the consistency and influence of the social demo- cratic milieu in the Weimar period. Even empirical studies have brought to 1 light some rifts in the network of solidarity, as well as dissonance and regional disparities. So the debate about the question ‘stability or erosion?’ has prob- ably not yet reached a conclusion. The results of more recent works are, however, to be taken seriously and not to be disregarded. Obviously, and one can agree with Lösche and Walter on this point, the forces for cohe- 111 sion in social democratic surroundings were still stronger than the tendency to fragment. The Catholic milieu, the conservative milieu and the liberal one (inas- much as there was one, which some doubt) still await precise empirical investigation. Lösche and Walter have set in motion a research project on this topic, but the results are not yet available [first results outlined by P. Lösche/F. Walter, ‘Katholiken, Konservative und Liberale: Milieux und Lebenswelten bürgerlicher Parteien in Deutschland während des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts’, in: GG 26 (2000), pp. 471–92]. W. Pyta has demonstrated in his subtle examination of the interweaving 111 of milieux and parties in Protestant Germany what remarkable new insights can be gained from judicious use of the milieu paradigm [545: Dorfgemein- schaft und Parteipolitik 1918–1933]. The fruitfulness of this approach is substantiated by the regional study by S. Weichlein [Sozialmilieux und poli- tische Kultur in der Weimarer Republik. Lebenswelt, Vereinskultur, Politik in Hessen (Göttingen, 1996)]. Two further local case studies of catholic milieux in Münster and Ettlingen deserve mention [D. Kaufmann: Katholisches Milieu in Münster 1928–1933. Politische Aktionsräume und geschlechtsspezifische Verhaltensräume (Düsseldorf, 1984); C. Rauh-Kühne, Katholisches Milieu und Kleinstadtgesellschaft. Ettlingen 1918–1939 (Sigmaringen, 1991)]. The 111 socio-moral milieux are certain to remain an important field of study in future, especially since the preoccupation with milieux and mentalities is very fashionable in the new culturally orientated research. However one may judge individually the continuation or weakening of the force of ties and consistency among the various social milieux after 1918, 111 it is indisputable that the German party system, relatively stable for decades, 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 170 Basic problems and trends of research was caught up in turbulence from the end of the 1920s, and that this resulted from the leaching, even the collapse of the political centre. This did not happen overnight, however. In 1920 the lower middle class showed a rightward tendency, which increased in 1924; in 1928, middle- class and peasant ‘interest parties’ scored considerable electoral successes. It can be said that large sections of the middle class had ceased to be ‘liberal’ and were looking for a new political home [see among others the case study: 870: Fritzsche, Rehearsals for Fascism]. Thus the inherited party system began to break up before the world depression set in, before the German political crisis and the significant rise of the NSDAP; afterwards, however, the latter’s rapid development into a mass party greatly acceler- ated the process of dissolution. It 1928–9 it was indeed not yet clear – as H. A. Winkler has shown in his basic study Mittelstand, Demokratie und Nationalsozialismus [806] – that the bulk of the lower middle class would turn to National Socialism as the alternative to parliamentary democracy [ibid., p. 159]: that class, after all, was not the only one to which Nazi propaganda was addressed. But the situation was altered by the depression, so that the middle-ground parties, apart from the Centre, lost the great bulk of their voting support in 1930–2 and disappeared almost completely from the political scene. Seeing that the German party system had been relatively stable for over sixty years, its break-up within a few years is a highly dramatic phenomenon. Some aspects of it have been elucidated, but a comprehensive analysis is still lacking. More light might be thrown by research into the connection between the party system and changes in political mentality due to social shifts during the middle period of the Republic – another reason why further study of that period is required. The history, structure and policies of individual parties during the Weimar period is the subject of a large number of works – it would be beyond our scope to discuss them or even enumerate their titles and principal themes. Accounts were submitted relatively early of the whole period of their exist- ence (often very short) for the USPD and some smaller parties [on the USPD: 517, 530, 582; on the smaller parties: 470, 477, 503, 538, 566, 575]. In the case of the large parties, the countless examinations were at first confined to particular stages of their developmnent between 1918 and 1933, or some aspects of their political activity. For practically all the impor- tant parties, their internal development and political activity in the initial and final phases of the Republic were at first more thoroughly studied than the middle phase. For a number of years there has been greater interest in the development of the larger parties in the middle phase of the republic, so that a very rich fund of information exists. This holds true for the Zentrum and the BVP [498, 505, 531, 532, 554, 560, 561] as for the DNVP [496, 500, 523, 556, 571, 574, 576, 955] and the liberal parties [464, 475, 484, 494, 497, 504, 547, 559, 569; cf. also the concise out- line in D. Langewiesche, Liberalismus in Deutschland (Frankfurt, 1988), Reich constitution, party system and the Reichswehr 171 11 pp. 233–286]. The Weimar period social democracy is also the subject of countless studies [211, 468, 471, 493, 495, 508, 511, 513, 514, 526, 544, 555, 568, 573]. In his work in three volumes, Arbeiter und Arbeiterbewe- gung in der Weimarer Republik [584–586], H. A. Winkler presents, among much else, an extraordinarily rich and concise history of the SPD in the Weimar era. Some social democratic ‘front line’ organizations are dealt with in careful case studies carried out for the project mentioned above and super- vised by P. Lösche and F. Walter. K. Schönhoven gives a sharply focussed and excellently written overview of the development of the SPD and KPD 11 under Weimar (with instructive information about sources, bibliography and research) [563: Reformismus und Radikalismus]. The history of the KPD is well researched for the whole period of the Republic [465, 467, 482, 483, 11 512, 527, 551, 577-580, 581]. Despite the large number of valuable works on the organization, devel- 1 opment and policies of the individual parties, there are still many gaps to be filled. Also, we know too little about the parties’ regional and communal organization, the social composition of their membership and constituents (and the changes in this respect between 1918 and 1932), and their leading personnel, especially at middle and lower levels, apart from H. Weber’s exact 111 prosopography of the administration of the KPD from 1918 onwards [578]. As a whole, the classical research into the parties carried out in the 1960s and 1970s with great intensity and notable results, both in quantity and quality, seems to have come to an end. Since the 1980s, a greater preoc- cupation with social history dominates the studies of the parties under Weimar, with a strong emphasis above all on questions of the structure of the electorate and of their behaviour in elections. In future, the ‘attachment of the political protagonists to their respective personal milieux, mentalities and cultural patterns of interpretation’ ought to be brought out more [160: Wirsching, Die Weimarer Republik, p. 95]. 111 For a long time, academic monographs about politicians who made their mark in the Weimar Republic were rare. For at least a decade, there has been a significant change in this respect. Biographies of leading parlia- mentarians and top civil servants of the Weimar period have appeared in quick succession, though of varying quality [see the relevant informa- tion under ‘Sources and Secondary Works’ below, pages 279 ff.]. Since 1997, ‘political biographies’ or biographical articles about the following person- alities have been published: Brüning [932, 933], Brockdorf-Rantzau [930], Eisner [937], Geßler [939], Grzesinski [942], Hilferding [946], Hindenburg [949], Keil [958], Scheidemann [975], Stinnes [982], Wirth 111 [990, 991]. There has also been a change since the 1970s in the perspective from which problems of the armed forces and military policy are treated. For a long time research concentrated on questions, which were also central to any politico-historical discussion, of the relationship between the Reichswehr 111 and the Republic, the extra-constitutional influence of the military in politics, 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 172 Basic problems and trends of research and the degree of responsibility falling on the Reichswehr and its leaders for the downfall of the Weimar democracy. Since the mid-1970s, however, these themes have gradually receded into the background. Instead, interest has focussed more – within the framework of general theorizing as to the relationship of the military, society and politics in the modern industrial state – on the problem of rearmament and the attempts to create a ‘mili- tary-industrial complex’ in the Weimar Republic. [On the development of research and the new lines of inquiry, see the instructive remarks by K.-J. Müller in The Army, Politics and Society in Germany, 1933–1945 (Paderborn, 1979; 3rd edn 1981; Eng. trans., Manchester, 1987, pp. 16 ff.] Studies of the Reichswehr have at all times had a marked relevance to present-day questions. In the 1950s decisive stimuli were received from the debate on German rearmament and membership of the Western military alliance. The place of the armed forces in a parliamentary democracy was a topical issue, and naturally aroused interest in the controversial relationship between the Reichswehr and the Republic in Weimar times. In this first phase of Reichswehr historiography two fundamental positions took shape, which in developed form still confront each other. The anti-Reichswehr interpretation of the 1950s and 1960s was expressed more particularly in the works by W. Sauer [845] and F. L. Carsten [822]. It emphasized, as the main component of Reichswehr policy, the deter- mination of the military leaders to obtain and preserve an autonomous posi- tion of power for the Reichswehr in the Republican state. The officer corps formed by the imperial army could not bring itself to accept parliamentary democracy, and organized the Reichswehr as a ‘state within the state’, inde- pendent of the society and politics of the Republic. The almost autonomous position of the Reichswehr weakened the democratic order itself in those years in which the parliamentary system continued to function reasonably, and in the era of presidential Cabinets the military came to play the deciding role in internal politics. Already in 1930, Minister of Defence Groener expressed with assurance that no stone might be turned in the political life of Germany ‘without the decisive word of the Reichswehr being cast into the balance’ [822: Carsten, Reichswehr und Politik, p. 364]. Step by step, the military leadership secured for itself a substantial influence on the forma- tion of Reich Cabinets and the conduct of politics as a whole, thanks not least to Chief Minister Schleicher, a member of the closest circle of advisors to the President. Viewed thus, the Reichswehr contributed in large part to the undermining, and so to the failure, of the Republic. As against this, a more favourable view of the role of the armed forces was taken by H. J. Gordon [829] and H. Meier-Welcker [977]. These writers held that Seeckt could not be accused of exercising undue political influ- ence; on the contrary, he was loyal to the state and did much to consolidate the Republican order. The Reichswehr, under Seeckt at least, had come to terms with the Republic, becoming, as it were, Republican by conviction if not by sentiment, and would have remained so if the political leaders had Reich constitution, party system and the Reichswehr 173 11 shown more sympathy towards the armed forces and more understanding of Germany’s security needs. R. Wohlfeil attempted to reconcile these conflicting views, which can be called liberal and conservative, in his contribution to the Handbuch zur deutschen Militärgeschichte [852]. This takes a line of cautious revisionism, showing understanding for an interpretation such as Meier-Welcker’s and toning down Carsten’s criticism. It offers a synthesis of research as it stood at the end of the 1960s. As a result of the numerous research activities people were already well informed at this point about the connections 11 between the Reichswehr and the paramilitary organizations, about the tense relationship between the Reichswehr and the parties, the parliament and the government of the Republic, about the collaboration between the Reichs- 11 wehr and the Red Army [now detailed in 853: Zeidler, Reichswehr und Rote Armee 1920–1933] and also about the ideas of the Reichswehr leadership 1 on foreign policy and their efforts to bring about a revision of the military conditions in the Treaty of Versailles [cf. the comprehensive survey for its time by M. Geyer, ‘Die Wehrmacht der Deutschen Republik ist die Reichswehr’, in: MGM 1973–2, pp. 152–99]. The argument was given a different direction by A. Hillgruber in his study 111 of 1974, ‘Militarismus am Ende der Weimarer Republik und im “Dritten Reich”’ [in 320: idem, Großmachtpolitik und Militarismus im 20. Jahr- hundert, pp. 37–51]. Referring to M. Geyer’s research, which had not then been published, Hillgruber pointed out that from the mid-1920s onwards the army leaders developed and propagated new social conceptions of a mili- tarist kind, tending towards a fusion of the military and the civilian sector and ultimately a totalitarian military state (Wehrstaat). This new perspective was developed in the following years, at an international symposium in 1977 [841] and in the works, above all, of M. Geyer [828], E. W. Hansen [832] and W. Deist [‘Die Reichswehr und der Krieg der Zukunft’, in: MGM 111 1989/1, pp. 81–2]. Thus, interest shifted to the period after the end of the ‘Seeckt era’, on which it had previously concentrated. Nobody disputes today that the end of the ‘Seeckt era’, at the beginning of October 1926, implies a deep cleft in the history of the Reichswehr. ‘From now on the military policy of the Republic took place on a different plane and on a different course’ [Deist, ‘Die Aufrüstung der Wehrmacht’, in 824: Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, vol. 1, p. 377]. The ‘modern’ officers surrounding Schleicher who were setting the tone wanted to create a powerful, well equipped army, based on the internal stability and capability of the Reichswehr achieved by Seeckt and on the swiftest possible removal of 111 the demilitarising conditions of the Treaty of Versailles. In connection with the new concept of ‘home defence’, the programme for ‘fortification of the German people’ and an ambitious rearmament programme developed since 1926, the leaders of the Reichswehr introduced the idea of ‘militarization of the home front’ – an ‘extension of the military sphere’, blurring the 111 organizational boundaries between the military and civil society, with a view 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 174 Basic problems and trends of research to total preparation for total war. As M. Geyer, in particular, pointed out, this new armament policy presupposed the social and political stabilization of the Weimar Republic and required a compromise between the Reichswehr and the civil power. Hence the Reichswehr leaders abandoned Seeckt’s atti- tude of aloofness towards the Republic and its institutions [important in this context, Schleicher’s memorandum of December 1926, reproduced in 850: Vogelsang, Reichswehr, Staat und NSDAP, pp. 409–13]; their military and armaments policy was increasingly pursued in alliance with the government rather than independently of it. But, for precisely this reason, the leaders of the Reichswehr attached great importance to having in power a government from which extremely far-reaching concessions towards the ambitious plans and extensive financial demands of the military could be expected. The mili- tary and socio-political intentions of the army leaders were thus an important factor in the complex decision process which resulted in the appointment of Brüning’s presidential Cabinet. If the traditional depiction of the Reichswehr as a ‘state within a state’ is called into question by the trenchant new interpretation of military politics after the end of the ‘Seeckt era’, it is also imperative to look at the bound- aries of the new assessment of the relations between the army, society and politics. First, the development should not be seen as too linear, as a consistent, unstoppable process. Groener (Minister of Defence from January 1928) tried initially, by means of a policy of compensation, to win over the Republican forces for the Reichswehr and the conservative forces for the recognition of the non-partisan character of the Reichswehr, but was un- successful in this attempt at integration [see 834: Hürter, Wilhelm Groener, a comparatively positive judgement of Groener as minister]. Second, however, the new concept of an ‘extension of the military sphere’ should not be taken to mean that the military and armaments policy was a social process initiated and impelled primarily by functional necessity, rather than one fully controlled by the military and political decision-makers. Important results of earlier research are still relevant, for example, evidence of the marked hostility of army leaders to the constitutional form of parliamentary democracy. The political aims and ambitions of the Reichswehr chiefs, and their consequent manoeuvres in 1929–32, which were in no way forced by events, were factors of the first rank in the disruption of the Weimar Republic and must not be lost to view. 11 4 Problems of economic and social development 11 11 1 Historians after 1945 turned only with hesitation to problems of economic and especially social development in Weimar Germany. Until the 1960s the main interest was in political history, parties, state institutions and polit- ical crises. Themes of social history were seldom treated, a work such as L. Preller’s of 1949 [779] remaining an exception. If the social history of 111 the Weimar Republic was for a long time overshadowed by party-political history or the analysis of crises, this was no doubt partly because, with the end of Weimar and the Nazi seizure of power, a particular line of research was abruptly broken off: namely, a historically oriented social science, which had begun to develop a set of tools for the investigation of questions of social history, making use of the ‘young’ disciplines of sociology and polit- ical science, in the tradition of Lujo Brentano and Max Weber. Hence in Germany after 1945 there was far less continuity in the field of social history than of political history; institutional conditions were less favourable, and methodical training was much less in evidence. Thus it was certainly no acci- 111 dent that the decisive stimulus towards the treatment of Weimar social history came first of all from other Western countries, especially the USA. Later, during the 1960s, German historians began to devote their attention to economic and social problems of the Weimar Republic; for more than two decades, examinations of society and the economy have made up the lion’s share of the new academic publications about it. An attempt to draw up a ‘progress report’ in this respect was made by the symposium on ‘the industrial system and political development in the Weimar Republic’, held at Bochum in June 1973 and attended by histo- rians, economists and political scientists. Political developments were by then 111 relatively well documented, and the debate was intended to centre on their socio-economic background. The symposium led to a new emphasis and a change of viewpoint in academic discussion of the Weimar Republic. The record of the proceedings [765], which runs to 1,000 pages, presents numerous contributions and reports of discussions in sessions devoted to 111 individual themes: economic growth, changes in economic structure and in 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 176 Basic problems and trends of research the industrial system; social policy and social conflict in the Weimar Republic; financial policy and its effects on social issues; the international framework and the role of reparations policy; economic pressure groups representing industry, the agrarian interest or the middle class; state interventionism and ‘special interest’ policy in the period of crisis. This list of subjects shows that central elements of economic and social development were singled out, and despite disagreements in detail there was one noteworthy consensus: a prin- cipal weakness of the political system of the Weimar Republic lay in the contrast between ‘far-reaching social intervention by the state and the almost unlimited autonomy of big business in matters of price-fixing and market policy’ [H. Mommsen, in 765: p. 614]. Economic and social policies were more or less independent of each other. In the demobilization phase of 1918–19 the great industrial interests, especially those of heavy industry, secured a dominating influence over economic policy. In return they made concessions to the trade unions and parties, especially the Social Democrats, in the field of social policy which, however, they did not regard as irrevo- cable. To this extent the arrangement between the political and the industrial system rested on a very unequal basis [L. Albertin, in 765: p. 673]. When, as a result of economic crises and mass unemployment, economic rivalries became more intense and the position of the trade unions was permanently weakened, important business interests went back on the ‘arrangement’, pursued a policy of ‘class struggle from above’ and worked for an authori- tarian constitution outside the parliamentary system. The Bochum symposium showed clearly how explosive the field of social policy had been in Weimar days, even well before 1929–30. In the following years useful monographs were written on several themes that had been discussed briefly at Bochum or noted as deserving research. Thus we are now fairly well informed on the agrarian associations and their influence on the parties, bureaucracy and economic policy; the chief works are those by M. Schumacher [567], J. Flemming [717], D. Gessner [486] and S. Merkenich [763]. As Schumacher shows, the agrarian bloc after 1918, in spite of a perceptible loosening of the agrarian-industrial ‘common front’, contributed much more than is often supposed to the stabilization and consolidation of pre-revolutionary structures in Germany. The unity and effectiveness of the agrarian camp was not seriously endangered by the revo- lution and the Republican order [567: Land und Politik, p. 503]. Apart from the less important bodies representing small farmers, the agrarian asso- ciations amalgamated in the Reichslandbund (Reich Agrarian League) were among the mainstays of right-wing conservative anti-parliamentarianism under the Weimar Republic. To the political aspects of the Reichslandbund there ‘belonged, besides aggressive popular nationalism, an ideology for a community of the people, which demanded from society concessions in favour of the indispensable agrarian economy. These were not only economic demands for high protective tariffs and subsidies, but also the excessive eleva- tion ideologically of bodies representing the rural community within the Problems of economic and social development 177 11 social hierarchy. In this model for a rural society that was ahead of its time, anti-Semitism had a central position’ [763: Merkenich, Grüne Front gegen Weimar, p. 354]. According to a dictum of agrarian politician Schlange- Schöningen, who was active in the DNVP until the end of 1929, agriculture became ‘in its huge bulk the absolute negator of the state’ [763: p. 356]. An influential leader of the Landbund wrote to DNVP chairman Hugenberg in January 1932: ‘It is high time that this system had its neck broken’ [763: p. 359]. Gessner, whose account concentrated on the final phase of the Republic, 11 detects in the case of some agrarian-conservative groups a pragmatic readi- ness to co-operate with the Weimar state, and would thus extend the spectrum of conservative policy ‘in the direction of conservative govern- 11 mentalism’ [486: Agrarverbände in der Weimarer Republik, p. 265]. It must, however, be noted that even the ‘governmentalists’ in the agrarian associa- 1 tions were far from sincerely accepting the parliamentary republic. If, especially after the outbreak of the agrarian crisis in 1927–8, they showed more anxiety to come to an arrangement with the government and the civil service, it was because they needed state subsidies and protectionist measures. In Brüning’s time they pursued this line intensively and not without success, 111 with the clear objective of using the authoritarian state to further their own protectionist interests. Since, with Merkenich’s work [763], a solid study of the Reichslandbund now exists, and, since the short-lived Christlich-Nationale Bauern- und Landvolkpartei (Christian-National Farmers’ and Country Party) has been dealt with in a monograph [533], the agrarian associations which were in competition with the Landbund need closer examination: the Vereinigung der Deutschen Bauernverbände (Union of German Farmers’ Associations) which was close to the Centre Party, and the Deutscher Bauernbund (German Farmers’ Federation) representing the interests of small farmers (from 1927, 111 under the new name Deutsche Bauernschaft). Further, the rural protest movements, which flared up in some cases as early as 1924 and gained ground in the years that followed, should also be analysed systematically [686: Bergmann/Megerle, Protest und Aufruhr der Landwirtschaft in der Weimarer Republik; on the 1928–9 protests, 763: Merkenich, Grüne Front gegen Weimar, pp. 247 ff., and 755: Le Bars, Le mouvement paysan dans le Schleswig-Holstein 1928–1932, and 570: Stoltenberg, Politische Strömungen im schleswig-holsteinischen Landvolk 1918–1933]. Finally, there is a lack of studies describing in detail, especially after the stabilization of the currency, the economic interests of German agriculture 111 in all its variety at regional level. The instructive overview by H. Becker, Handlungsspielräume der Agrarpolitik in der Weimarer Republik zwischen 1923 und 1929 [685] still needs to be filled out with thorough examina- tions of individual sources, like the sturdy work by B. Theine on Westphalian agriculture [797], so that one gains a clear picture of why German agricul- 111 ture again reached the previous level of indebtedness within only a few years 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 178 Basic problems and trends of research of having its inflationary debts cleared. In this context, Merkenich has pointed to the narrow-minded stubbornness of many farmers east of the Elbe in their economic planning: ‘Instead of giving up the monoculture of grain and sugar beet, which brought ever smaller returns, and turning to concepts promising success such as improving their stock, they went in for more intensive methods. Thereby, they misunderstood totally the mecha- nisms of the market, which provided them with sinking incomes for rising production. A fundamental reason for the relatively early and quickly increasing need for credit in agriculture east of the Elbe lies in this economic short-sightedness’ [763: Grüne Front gegen Weimar, p. 358]. Theine has proved conclusively for Westphalian agriculture that agricultural enterprizes were able to stand up to the agrarian crisis by means of flexible adaptation to altered conditions for production and sales. According to his findings, the economic situation of Westphalian agriculture in 1924–32 was no worse than before 1914 [797: Westfälische Landwirtschaft in der Weimarer Republik , p. 70]. Since the Bochum symposium considerable progress has also been made in investigating the history of the trade unions, industrial associations and interest groups. In the studies of the history of the unions from 1918 to 1933 the essential aspects are dealt with thoroughly: the organizational devel- opment and union politics of the independent and Christian trades unions, the difficulty of adapting union work to the new conditions under the parlia- mentary democracy, freedom of action and the setting of priorities in union politics, the potential for and occurrence of conflict in the disagreements between capital and labour. For the Christian trade unions, the detailed accounts by M. Schneider [558] and H. Roder [550] are worth mentioning, for the free unions above all the exceptionally informative works by H.-J. Bieber [178], D.Brunner [473], G. Laubscher [520], H. Potthoff [541, 542], M. Ruck [552] and M. Schneider [788]; K. Schönhoven’s overview [562, Die deutschen Gewerkschaften, pp. 116–176] shows outstanding knowl- edge of the facts; the substantial introductions to volumes 1–4 of Quellen zur Geschichte der deutschen Gewerkschaftsbewegung im 20. Jahrhundert [18] throw light on the most recent research. Heavy industry is at the core of the examinations of industrial interests and entrepreneurial politics. In particular, B. Weisbrod, following C. Maier, has shown clearly that the influence of heavy industry in the Weimar years was based on its ‘power of veto’. Despite some severe setbacks and its insufficient ability to achieve particular objectives, this enabled heavy industry to impose ‘restrictive conditions’ on the political system, ‘which seriously threatened its power of integration and direction and did much to undermine its social content and democratic structure’ [804: Weisbrod, Schwerindustrie in der Weimarer Republik, pp. 17 f.]. The ‘special interest policy’ of industry throughout the Weimar period has been to a great extent illuminated by several solid works [691, 705, 706, 710, 727, 769, 777, 789, 800, 810, 914, 916, 981, 982], but we still lack comprehensive accounts Problems of economic and social development 179 11 (such as exist for the imperial period) of the great associations representing big business. The thorough study by S. Wolff-Rohe of the founding and early years of the Reichsverband der Deutschen Industrie is now available [811; on the RDI in the later years of the Weimar Republic cf. 769: Neebe, Großindustrie und NSDAP 1930–1933], but there is still a lack of precise examinations of other great business associations, such as the Vereini- gung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände, the Deutscher Industrie- und Handelstag, and the Langnam-Verein, to name only the most important. In addition, more research is needed into the activities, methods and orga- 11 nization of branches of the economy outside the sector of heavy industry. Studies of this type could provide clearer outlines to the tensions between associations focussed on export and those interested in the domestic market. 11 The main areas of conflict in the disagreement between the different sectors of the labour market are assessed more precisely in a number of 1 sound studies: the struggle about working hours [689, 711, 786, 795], state arbitration [682], introduction and application of unemployment insurance [687, 720, 743, 758], pay policies in mining [800], worker participation [778]. On the whole, the present state of research enables us to make consider- 111 ably more precise statements than were possible a few decades ago about the course of socio-political conflict in the Weimar period, its main issues, strategies and dimensions. In the light of recent research, the two decisive issues in the development of relations between employers and workers were the creation of the Central Working Association in 1918–19 and the Ruhr ironworks dispute of 1928 (cf. pages 82–3 above). Hence these two areas of problems are examined thoroughly in the relevant studies. The picture arrived at is that the decision in the autumn of 1918 – still before the fall of the monarchy – to co-operate on a basis of social part- nership was taken by the employers and unions. However varied the reasons 111 and aims were on both sides, management and union representatives were united in their determination ‘to protect the German economy at the end of the war from state bureaucracy, the Reichstag and, above all, from revo- lution’ [712: Feldmann/Steinisch, Industrie und Gewerkschaften 1918–1924, p. 22]. The creation of the Central Work Association (Zentralarbeitsgemeinschaft) in November 1918 was made possible by the willingness of the unions to embark on a policy of ‘small steps’ rather than go for drastic alterations in the social balance of power; the employers, on the other hand, were now prepared to make concessions so as to fob off the demand for socialization 111 and stabilize their own position. The community of intent – ‘based on the reforming optimism of the union leaders and the political pragmatism of the employers’ [562: Schönhoven, Die deutschen Gewerkschaften, p. 125] – between the two sides soon lost its integrative force, and finally broke down at the beginning of 1924. The social conflict escalated during the phase of 111 economic recovery when heavy industry, in particular, turned away from the 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 180 Basic problems and trends of research November concessions; its leaders systematically opposed union claims for parity in management and social reforms, especially the eight-hour day, and supported all political groups which promised to steer the Republic into authoritarian channels. In the unanimous view of recent research, the Ruhr dispute of 1928 was the real turning-point in the social conflict of the Weimar period. With the lockout of 230,000 workers the bosses took the offensive against the social elements of the Weimar constitution, aiming to break the power of the unions, defeat the compulsory arbitration system, and put an end to state intervention on rates of pay and social policy. In so doing they did not hesitate to create a fait accompli in opposition to the Reichsverband der Deutschen Industrie and the Vereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberver- bände, which had been prepared to compromise with the unions. The Ruhr dispute – which the earlier literature at best mentions only incidentally, apart from Preller’s Sozialpolitik in der Weimarer Republik [779] – has gradually been recognized as a conflict of the greatest significance; this was first pointed out in E. Fraenkel’s stimulating analysis of 1967 [718]. The ‘discovery’ was of special importance because, along with other findings, it contributed to the modification of the current picture of the so-called ‘stabilization phase’. The Ruhr iron works dispute showed how explosive the social situation was before the world depression, and to what extent the consensus was already broken [detailed analyses of the dispute in 804: Weisbrod, Schwerindustrie in der Weimarer Republik, pp. 415 ff.; 585: Winkler, Der Schein der Normalität, pp. 557 ff.]. From the late 1970s onwards, the conditions for, the course and the effects of the inflation in Germany have become a particular focus for research in economic and social history. At a congress in 1976 G. D. Feldman described research on the inflation that began in 1914 and lasted almost a decade as like ‘crossing a historiographic desert with a few oases’ [699: Büsch and Feldman (eds), Historische Prozesse der deutschen Inflation 1914–1924, p. 3]. Thirteen years later, Feldmann was able to establish that the period during which the history of the inflation had to be labelled a ‘historiographic desert’ is now over [715: Feldmann/Holtfrerich/Ritter/Witt (eds), Kon- sequenzen der Inflation, VII] – this being thanks to a big international research project which produced a considerable number of instructive studies. Four main aspects may be pointed out here. (1) It is agreed today that the inflation must be considered as a process that began in 1914, immediately after the outbreak of war; it went through many phases – during some of which the currency was relatively stable, while during others it fell rapidly – and culminated in the ‘hyperinflation’ begin- ning at the end of 1922. The term ‘hyperinflation’ for the final phase has become generally accepted by historians. It is further agreed that inflation took a decisive turn in 1916, when government expenditure unmistakably exceeded the revenue from domestic loans; and that hyperinflation dates from the last months of 1922, before the occupation of the Ruhr and the Problems of economic and social development 181 11 beginning of passive resistance. In the minds of contemporaries, on the other hand, the early phases were wholly eclipsed by the searing experience of hyperinflation, and the chaotic phase of total devaluation of the currency was equated with the whole development of events since the First World War. Whereas historians formerly concentrated entirely on the months of hyperinflation, and its politically and socially destabilizing effects, this no longer appears to modern research as the most interesting period of infla- tion; it is emphasized that hyperinflation is not the single standard by which the process should be evaluated. 11 (2) The inflation was long judged to be a politico-economic mistake of the first order. Recently, some economic historians in particular have tended to take a much more positive view, at least of the period prior to hyperin- 11 flation. This is expressed most emphatically by C.-L. Holtfrerich, who stresses that, in the precarious years after the war, the German economy was kept in 1 motion by the ‘lubricant of inflation’ [738: The German Inflation 1914–1923, p. 198]. When the possible consequences of a different strategy, such as an earlier stabilization, are considered, inflation accompanied by full employ- ment and economic growth up to the end of 1922 appears as a ‘lesser evil’, since it saved Germany from being involved in the ‘world economic crisis’ 111 of 1920–1. Whereas in Britain in 1921 over 20 per cent of workers were unemployed, in Germany at that time there was practically full employment with rising wages, adjusted ever more frequently to rising price levels. (On the other hand, economic historians take very different views as to whether the boom associated with inflation was favourable to German economic growth in the long run.) According to C.-L. Holtfrerich, the German economy at that time made an important contribution to the relatively rapid overcoming of the economic crisis in the USA, Britain and other countries [738: pp. 210 ff., 220, 332]. Holtfrerich gives a further reason for regarding the inflationary policy down to 1922 as a ‘rational strategy . . . in the national 111 interest’: by the summer of 1922 large amounts of short-term foreign money, especially from the USA, were invested in Germany; thus the creditors’ losses from devaluation were borne in part by foreigners [ibid., pp. 298, 333 f. This interpretation is also firmly underlined by S. A. Schuker, American “Reparations” to Germany, 1919–1933 (Princeton, NJ, 1988)]. Finally, the inflation afforded the possibility – admittedly a very dubious one politically – of, so to speak, exporting economic grievances, because many in Germany blamed the situation primarily on the Allies’ reparation demands. Research into economic history has demonstrated indisputably that this was, and is, an oversimplification of the connections: 111 Although the matter of reparations has become important for both domestic and foreign policy, economic policy and Germany’s economic development were affected less, on the whole, than was feared in the immediate post-war years . . . The link, claimed by all German parties 111 to exist, between economic frailty and the payments to foreign powers 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 Basic problems and trends of research is, on closer analysis, exposed as a legend. This qualification of their economic importance does not, however, lessen the political weight of the reparations. They formed a permanent lever for radical right-wing propaganda until the 1930s and have acquired considerable psycho- political significance in that regard [Petzina in 131: Jeserich/Pohl/ v. Unruh (eds), Deutsche Verwaltungsgeschichte, vol. 4, p. 53]. In line with the findings and assessments of more recent research into inflation, Holtfrerich and other economic historians argue that the inflation was unavoidable for compelling reasons of home and foreign policy; a policy of stabilization in Germany after 1918, with its inevitable economic and social consequences, would have destroyed the parliamentary democratic system of government before 1923. This amounts to a basic questioning of current ideas concerning German financial and reparations policy in 1919–23. But it may be wondered whether it is legitimate to draw so sharp a distinc- tion between the period of ordinary inflation, regarded as beneficial on the whole, up to the end of 1922, and the ensuing hyperinflation with its acute economic, social, socio-psychological and political implications. Lately, more voices have been raised in protest against taking stock as early as 1922 of the cost and benefit of the German inflation. So, for example, J. Freiherr v. Kruedener contests the theory that the effects of hyperinflation on society had, if only to a limited extent, compensated for the political benefit achieved by mid-1922: It was not so much the objective result of the depreciation of the currency up to 1922, especially the consequences of its distribution, but rather, its subjective effect, and above all its effects on everyday life in the wild year 1923, which allowed to come into being the trauma which for a long time afterwards narrowed the scope for decision-making in German economic and financial policy. [in 715: Feldmann/Holfrerich/ Ritter/Witt (eds), Konsequenzen der Inflation, pp. 213–86, here p. 216]. According to v. Kruedener, the key to a general understanding of the conse- quences is not only, not even principally, to be found in economic analysis. Instead, the question of what happened psychologically to the Germans in 1923 has to be answered. Under the controlling influence of hyperinflation, its specific, short-term effects combined with living under threat in the longer term to form a socio-politically explosive and catastrophic experience. The crisis led to escape reactions (emigration, suicide, drug-taking, joining religious sects), but also to a tendency to political and social violence. In this respect, the decisive result of inflation lay, not in the recovery of the economy, but in an unnerved population. Thus, v. Kruedener comes to the final conclusion: 182 Problems of economic and social development 183 11 Whoever argues in favour of the German hyperinflation, that it eased the switch from a wartime to a peace-time economy by means of its stimulating economic effects, that it hastened the incorporation of the exhausted and disappointed army of millions into the work process, throttling thereby the danger of civil war and helping the new democ- ratic order into life, must not forget to add that this indisputable historical “achievement” was paid for with a type of forfeit, because of its traumatic ending. The redemption of this did not succeed in the period following; it became, instead, a guaranteed burden for German 11 economic and foreign policy in a specific, fateful way, until, only a few years later, it turned into protest from the unnerved population during the catastrophe of the worldwide slump [ibid. p. 286]. 11 Those are doubtless weighty arguments and viewpoints, and overall one has 1 the impression that, in the course of implementing the inflation project, the initial tendency to discover predominantly positive elements in the inflation process – especially a calming effect on acute political and social conflicts in the first years of the Republic – has gradually lost some ground in favour of an accentuation of the negative aspects of the inflation. Nevertheless, in the light 111 of the current state of the debate, it will be impossible to continue to assess German inflation only as a burden for the young German democracy. Within limits, the inflation process also functioned as a stabilizing factor and was part of a regulating mechanism for social conflicts, in the face of the economic, political and social problems which had to be overcome in postwar Germany. (3) The belief that the inflation process was deliberately manipulated by individual industrialists (such as Stinnes) or particular groups in society plays a large part in earlier literature. Recent research does not support the whole- sale thesis of conscious manipulation, but takes the view that inflation profiteers such as big business men came only gradually to turn the situa- 111 tion to their own ends. ‘They exhibited very different, and by no means always consistent, styles of behaviour, their decisions clearly reflecting each particular phase of the inflation’ [713: Feldman, Holtfrerich, Ritter and Witt (eds), Die deutsche Inflation, p. 8]. Hence the different processes of learning and adaptation should, it is suggested, be more closely studied. Not until late in 1922 did practically all groups of German society begin to reckon in gold marks or foreign currency, so that in practice, if not in theory, the principle that ‘a mark is a mark’ was abandoned. In this way domestic prices were raised to the world market level and the occa- 111 sion for a fresh round of inflation was removed. Thus the extent to which different groups exploited the situation to their own advantage was a question of their learning to do so, and time played an important part in this. In other words, it must be clearly indicated who learnt about the effects and opportunities of inflation from whom, and when 111 [ibid., also 714: (same eds) Die Anpassung an die Inflation]. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 184 Basic problems and trends of research (4) This leads to a further central problem: the question as to who gained and who lost by the inflation has been intensively discussed in the latest research. It is of great importance since, in the opinion of many historians, a direct or indirect connection exists between the traumatic experience and social consequences of hyperinflation on the one hand and, on the other, the rise of National Socialism and Hitler’s victory. A direct connection, since the inflation turned part of the middle class into a proletariat, politi- cally disoriented and susceptible to Nazism; and an indirect one, since during the world depression the German government dared not take the necessary measures to alleviate unemployment for fear of causing another inflation [693: Borchardt, Wachstum, Krisen, Handlungsspielräume der Wirtschaft- spolitik, pp. 151 f.]. It is hard to give precise indications of the effects of the inflation on the incomes and fortunes of different social groups, because statistical data are incomplete; the official figures are inadequate from the point of view of method, or sometimes actually falsified. But, as recent studies have shown, if the existing data are carefully used and evaluated – for example, wage-scales differentiated by occupational groups which are available for some regions, such as Hamburg and Thuringia – it is possible to arrive at conclusions which modify the usual picture of the social consequences of the inflation, based chiefly on contemporary opinions. Economic and social historians are agreed in their view that the wide- spread belief, in this unrefined form, as to the ‘destruction of the middle class’ by the inflation is untrue. The ‘middle class’ consisted of very different groups which were affected in very different ways by the almost complete devaluation of the currency and consequent wiping out of all debts, including those incurred by public bodies. While savers, mortgagees and bondholders lost their wealth and the rentier class disappeared entirely, small tradesmen, shopkeepers and craftsmen did good business and suffered scarcely at all from the inflation, and farmers were on the whole unaffected [699: Büsch and Feldmann (eds), Historische Prozesse der deutschen Inflation 1914–1924, pp. 54 f., 61, 79, 217]. It cannot be denied, however, that the redistribution of wealth within the middle class hastened the dissolution of the German bourgeoisie as a social and political factor; it accentuated the conflicts of wealth within the bour- geois parties and had a lasting effect on the configuration of the party system [ibid., pp. 264 f., 288 ff.]. There is disagreement as to the effect of the inflation on real wages and salaries. Holtfrerich and, above all, W. Abelshauser cast doubt on the opinion, which held sway for a long time, that the process of impoverish- ment of the work force, which started after war broke out, continued without a break from 1919 to 1923 [738, The German Inflation 1914–1923, pp. 221 ff.; ‘Verelendung der Handarbeiter?’, in: H. Mommsen/W. Schulze (eds), Vom Elend der Handarbeit (Stuttgart, 1981), pp. 445–76]. They believe they can prove that the real wages of the workers did not sink contin- ually during inflation but that the provision of the working population Problems of economic and social development 185 11 improved measurably in important areas of the cost of living, giving the workers an improved social position. This evaluation was not without its opponents, however. Of course, the workers benefited from the introduc- tion of the eight-hour day, from relatively full employment due to the inflation boom, as from the price fixing by the state for basic foodstuffs and rents (the share of a working class household’s budget for rent was almost nil at the peak of inflation); the system of pay agreements eased further the adaptation of wages to the currency devaluation. But – it is argued – the traditional picture of the poor circumstances of the bulk of the work force 11 is scarcely altered by these diagnoses: the slow improvement in the acquisi- tion of material needs meant that the working class were guaranteed only the essential elements of physical recovery from wartime poverty and exhaus- 11 tion, whereas the standard of living from before the war was nowhere near being re-established [795: Steinisch, Arbeitszeitverkürzung und sozialer 1 Wandel, pp. 456 f.; 770: Niehuss, Arbeiterschaft in Krieg und Inflation, pp. 153 ff.; on the distressed circumstances of the disabled and those with a small pension, see K. C. Führer in: AfS 30 (1990), pp. 144–80]. According to the latest research, the salaries of officials (the number of whom rose from one million in 1914 to just over one and a half million in 111 1923) apparently did not decrease as the inflation progressed; after reaching a low in March 1920, in the next year or two they improved for a while in real terms, especially since salaries were paid at the beginning of a quarter until mid-1923, so that, at times, more money was available, before the advancing inflation again undermined its value. Before 1914 there had already been a tendency for the salaries of different groups to approximate to one another. Whereas in the lower ranks of the civil service (i.e. the vast majority of officials) incomes in real terms were again on the level of before the war, with the stabilization of the currency, the higher salary earners lagged behind; middle-ranking and top officials reached respectively 92 per 111 cent and 82 per cent of their pre-war income, giving rise to jealousy and resentment on the part of higher officials, who felt their social status to be impaired [A. Kunz, ‘Verteilungskampf oder Interessenkonsensus? Ein- kommensentwicklung und Sozialverhalten von Arbeitnehmergruppen in der Inflationszeit 1914 bis 1924’, in 713: Feldmann, Holtfrerich, Ritter and Witt (eds), Die deutsche Inflation, pp. 347–84; and idem, 754: Civil Servants and the politics of Inflation in Germany, 1914–1924]. The levelling tendency was not confined to official salaries: differentials between adolescents and adults, male and female, skilled and unskilled workers were greatly reduced during the inflation years. 111 Even if the effects of the distribution of inflation are still under discussion, the following can be clearly established: the public purse was definitely on the winning side, and the losers were the savers, the mortgagees and the holders of public loan stock, above all, those of independent means who were living largely or exclusively from interest. Their capital was destroyed by infla- 111 tion. Even before the end of the inflation period, they were organizing 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 186 Basic problems and trends of research themselves into protective associations, and, on 28 November 1923, they won a case in the Supreme Court giving them favourable compensation for their deposits. Therefore, politicians and the government were forced to revalue the currency upwards after stabilization. Until the law on revaluation was passed in mid-1925, revaluation remained a pivotal issue in domestic politics. M. L. Hughes examines this important chapter in the consequences of inflation [744, Paying for the German Inflation]. As he shows, the interests of the victims of inflation stood in irreconcil- able opposition to the interests of the economy (mostly on the debtors’ side) and the government. Since the politicians recognized that full, or generous, revaluation would ruin the stabilized currency and could but have disastrous economic consequences, the revaluation (25 per cent, with certain excep- tions) was lower than the victims had expected or hoped. Many were therefore of the opinion that their just desserts had been sacrificed to the despicable interests of big business by unscrupulous politicians. Hughes defends emphat- ically the current view that large sections of the middle class had turned away from the bourgeois parties because of the frustrating end to the struggle for revaluation, becoming opponents of Weimar democracy and ultimately those who elected Hitler. Undoubtedly, there are grounds for the theory, but Hughes cannot produce robust empirical proof. As yet, no sure state- ment is possible as to what extent the motive of disappointment at revaluation influenced the transfer into Hitler’s camp. But this much is certain: the Volksrechtspartei, which dedicated itself entirely to the interests of the victims, achieved only 1.8 per cent of the votes in the general election of 1928 (two seats in the Reichstag) and disappeared thereafter into insignificance. The references to important studies of the inflation and its effects show that research into economic and social developments after 1918 is to a large extent in a state of flux, and that many older judgements are in need of revision. G. D. Feldmann, one of the definitive pioneers of research into inflation, has summed up the various results available. His magnum opus, The Great Disorder [708], offers a fascinating synthesis, in which politics, the economy and society in Germany in the period of inflation are compre- hensively described and subjected to astute analysis. There has for some time been controversy as to the trend of the German economy during the years of relative stabilization. It was long supposed that the economy in these years took a decided upward turn, which was suddenly reversed after the onset of the world depression and in consequence of it. This view has been challenged with good reasons, notably by K. Borchardt in ‘Zwangslagen und Handlungsspielräume in der grossen Weltwirtschafts- krise der frühen dreissiger Jahre’ [in 693: idem, Wachstum, Krisen, Handlungsspielräume, pp. 165–82]. This study, which aroused much atten- tion, was primarily intended as a defence of Brüning’s deflationary policy (to which we shall revert , see page 207 f. below), but forms part of a comprehensive reassessment of economic developments in Germany from 1925 to 1929. Problems of economic and social development 187 11 Borchardt’s argument may be briefly summarized as follows. After the First World War the German state was living beyond its means. ‘Far more than any previous German state’ it practised a system of subsidies and the redistribution of wealth. In particular, wage rates in 1925–9 took no account of productivity and thus acted directly as an instrument of redistribution. After the inflation of 1923 wage rises were forced through by the increased strength of the trade unions and the system of compulsory arbitration. Since these could no longer be fully reflected in prices, the result was a ‘squeeze on those types of income from which investments are as a rule basically 11 financed’ [ibid., p. 178]. Hence the investment rate remained low, and economic growth until 1929 was slow in comparison with what might theo- retically have been expected after the considerable losses of growth during 11 and after the war (‘relative stagnation’). In consequence, from 1925 onwards and not only after 1929, the unemployment rate was higher than it had ever 1 been in Germany. The recession began at different times in different sectors of the economy, but overall it set in well before the New York stock exchange crash at the end of October 1929. Altogether, Borchardt concludes, the German economy in 1925–9 must be described as an ‘abnormal, in fact a sick economy, which could not possibly have gone on in the same way even 111 if the world depression had not occurred’ [ibid., p. 179]. This interpretation rapidly gained a strong following and a great deal of lively agreement beyond the circles of economic historians. But soon the critics spoke out: was it actually or mainly because of ‘excessively high’ wages that labour productivity remained low during the Weimar period, or did other factors play an important part, such as economically unjustified subsidies and the cartellization of German industry, which had ‘long put a damper on the entrepreneurial spirit’ [H. A. Winkler in GG 8 (1982), p. 8]? Is it permissible to measure wages (under the heading ‘wage move- ments as a neutral factor in the distribution of wealth’) only in relation to 111 current productivity rates, when this means that ‘the complex social and political conflicts of interest in Germany between the wars are viewed mainly from the point of view of economic growth and thus of the economy as a whole, so that social and political developments are increasingly thrust into the background’ [A. Kunz, in 713: Feldman, Holtfrerich, Ritter and Witt (eds), Die Deutsche Inflation, p. 365]? The most determined criticism of Borchardt’s theory about excessive wages comes from C.-L. Holtfrerich [740: ‘Zu hohe Löhne in der Weimarer Republik?’]. His two chief arguments, supported by in-depth calculations, are: 111 (1) Wage increases did not go beyond the framework imposed by the development of productivity; the causes of the (indisputable) weakness of investment in the German economy before 1929 (and of the relatively high unemployment from 1924 to 1929) should be sought in areas other than the labour market and especially in the high rates of interest and the foreign 111 trade barriers, which hindered the growth of German exports. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 188 Basic problems and trends of research (2) If the figure in the ‘Wages and Salaries’ column in official Reich statistics after 1925 was considerably higher than before 1914 (in 1913, 45.3 per cent of total income, from 1925, about 55 per cent), this is not to be attributed to (too) high wages, but to the marked absolute and rela- tive increase in the numbers of employees and officials receiving salaries, who as a rule earned better than manual workers. H. Potthoff reminds us of the lack of inquiries into statistics and of the global calculations in the breakdown of people’s incomes in Reich statistics [542: Freie Gewerkschaften 1918–1933, pp. 133 ff.]. A similar judgement to that of Holtfrerich and Potthoff is made by H. A. Winkler [585: Der Schein der Normalität, pp. 729 ff.]. There has been and still is a lively debate over Borchardt’s argument that economic sense lay all on the employers’ side in the years after 1924 and that wage pressure acted as a destabilizing economic and social factor [see, among others, the appropriate contributions in GG 11 (1985), pp. 273 ff. and GG 16 (1990), pp. 375–402, and the collective volume by J. Freiherr von Kruedener (ed.) 753: Economic Crisis and Political Collapse; also some essays in the Borchardt Festschrift 698: Zerrissene Zwischenkriegszeit, and the remarks by Holtfrerich, in VfZ 94 (1996), pp. 119–32, here pp. 121 f., pp. 124 ff.]. An end to the debate is at present as far from view as a conver- gence of the standpoints. This will probably remain the case for the foreseeable future, because here (this applies likewise to the ‘second Borchardt theory’, see below pages 207 ff.) it is a question not only of the investigation of facts, often difficult enough, but of subtle evaluations and perspectives rooted in the basic ideas of the essence of the historical process, which cannot be refuted through specific detailed information. The fact that no conclusive result can be given for the debate may disappoint anyone expecting from the historian definite, unambiguous statements. It is indis- putable, however, that this controversy has an extraordinarily productive effect academically: countless special studies have been stimulated by it, enriching our knowledge; important aspects of the economic development of the Weimar Republic have moved into sharper focus and are being researched more intensively than before. And one can, at any event, affirm that the warring factions agree on one essential point at least: that the economic situation in Germany was highly precarious even before the world depression. The latter’s epochal importance for Germany is indeed accepted, but the German recession began well before the end of 1929; it was aggra- vated, but not caused, by the New York stock exchange failure; in this sense we may speak of a ‘crisis before the crisis’. If these conclusions about the development of the economy in 1924–9 are correlated with what is known about the break-up of the party system or the increased antagonism between capital and labour, we may sum up as follows: recent research is gradually bringing to light the fact that even in the few ‘good’ years of the Weimar Republic, those of relative stabilization, there was no true stabilization of the political system, economic relations, or the social structure. 11 5 From the peace treaty to the Young Plan: international relations and foreign policy, 1919–30 11 11 1 The interwar power system was given its character by the course, conclu- sions and effects of the Paris Peace Conference. International relations after 1919 were governed by the conflict over the consolidation, modification or destruction of the status quo established in Paris. There is scarcely any other peace congress or peace settlement in respect 111 of which opinions have changed so much in the course of a few decades as they have – not least in Germany herself – in regard to the Paris conference and the Treaty of Versailles. In Germany between the wars the peace treaty, the Versailles ‘dictat’, was the great national trauma. Both the genesis and the provisions of the treaty were the object of passionate criticism, often expressed with the greatest vehemence. On no political question were the parties and groups so unanimous as in condemning the peace treaty, partic- ularly the so-called ‘war guilt’ article, which Germans rejected almost with one voice. Politicians of the left and centre saw the treaty and its effects as one of the main reasons for the desperate state of the German republic. 111 Those of the right, for their part, strove to undermine the democratic republic with their unbridled agitation against the ‘dictat’ and the ‘policy of fulfilment’. In National Socialist propaganda against the Republic, the ‘shameful peace’ played a major role along with the ‘stab in the back’ and the ‘November criminals’. Only after the convulsions of the Second World War and the catastrophe of 1945 were Germans able to form a less emotional view of the peace settle- ment of 1919. Against the background of 1945 the Treaty of Versailles appeared relatively ‘moderate’, since it had allowed Germany to continue to exist as a united national state, and in the long run as a European great 111 power. However, the abandonment of the intellectual attitudes of the 1920s and the earlier drastic condemnation of the treaty was a more or less tacit process, expressed in incidental judgements (see for example, Gerhard Ritter’s observation of 1951, page 34 above), without spectacular controversy or elaborate pieces of research. Apparently the German public had lost interest 111 in the Treaty of Versailles. While international research after 1945 devoted 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 190 Basic problems and trends of research much attention to the Paris conference, German scholars at first made little contribution [277: Viefhaus, Die Minderheitenfrage und die Entstehung der Minderheitenschutzverträge auf der Pariser Friedenskonferenz 1919; 240: Dickmann, Die Kriegsschuldfrage auf der Friedenskonferenz von Paris 1919]. In the 1970s some West German historians produced monographs based on a wide range of sources, in which German and American aims were analysed in detail and with important new conclusions [268: Schwabe, Woodrow Wilson, Revolutionary Germany, and Peacemaking 1918–1919 (orig. German edn, 1971); 251: Krüger, Deutschland und die Reparationen 1918/19; 247: Haupts, Deutsche Friedenspolitik 1918–19]. Despite differences on some points of fact and in their general conclusions, these authors agree that the principal aim of the German government was to preserve the country’s economic potential as far as possible intact, so as to use it as an asset in restoring Germany’s ‘great power’ status (cf. page 30 above). It was, however, not only the defeated nations that criticized the Paris settlement between the wars; in the victorious countries the ‘peacemakers’ were also much attacked, though for varying reasons and with varying emphasis. In France the treaty was widely regarded as too lenient, because it took too little account of France’s need for security against her eastern neighbour. In Britain, on the other hand, at the turn of the year 1919–20 the economist J. M. Keynes, who had been a member of the British dele- gation to the conference, provided all critics of the treaty with a range of effective arguments in his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace [London, 1919; German translation, 1920]. Lloyd George in his own account [The Truth about the Peace Treaties (London, 1938, 2 vols)] replied to these critics that they had failed to appreciate the unique circumstances and difficulties of peacemaking after a world war; but by this time his views carried little weight. The ‘bad conscience’ of the victorious countries went far to create the psychological conditions for the appeasement policy which played into Hitler’s hands after the establishment of the Nazi dictatorship. Since 1945, not only in Germany but also in other countries, the debate has been no longer a matter of attack and defence, but rather of moderate criticism and increased understanding for the formidable task which confronted the statesmen assembled in Paris. This is not only because of greater detachment and the cooling of passions, but is also due to the opening up of a large amount of source material [see, e.g. 8: Papers relating to Paris Peace Conference; 38: Mantoux, Les Délibérations du Conseil des Quatre]. On this broader basis many important conclusions have been arrived at. These throw light on many connections and make clear how limited the peacemakers’ freedom of action was and how many difficult problems faced them in attempting to transform a world war into a system of universal peace [see, e.g. 235: Baumgart, Vom europäischen Konzert zum Völkerbund, pp. 56 ff.; K. Schwabe, ‘Versailles – nach sechzig Jahren’, NPL, vol. 24 (1979), pp. 446–75; 270: Sharp, The Versailles Settlement; useful From the peacy treaty to the Young Plan: 1919–30 191 11 articles on the state of research in 236: Boemeke/Feldmann/Glaser (eds), The Treaty of Versailles; there is also a comprehensive bibliography, contin- uing on from the special bibliography up to 1969, in 166: Gunzenhäuser, Die Pariser Friedenskonferenz und die Freidensverträge 1919–1920; see also 253: Krumeich (ed.), Versailles 1919]. Four conclusions should be emphasized in particular. (1) The final terms of peace corresponded not so much to the inten- tions and desires of the statesmen concerned as to the ‘irreparable situation created by the war’ [267: Schulz, Revolutions and Peace Treaties, 1917–1920, 11 p. 137]. Given the conflict between Wilson’s ideological principles and the emphatic demands of old-style power politics, it was at best possible to aim at compromises, and in the view of more recent research this aim was 11 successful. Numerous studies add up to a far-reaching rehabilitation by histo- rians of the peacemakers of 1919. This is true, in particular, of Wilson 1 himself, whose image was overshadowed by the evident contrast between his idealistic programme and certain features of the peace. As P. Birdsall emphasized in 1941 [Versailles Twenty Years After (New York, 1941)], Wilson fought hard for the main points of his peace programme and despite great difficulties, was far from unsuccessful in converting the abstract prin- 111 ciples into specific terms. This view of Wilson’s attitude and achievement at the conference has since gained large acceptance. Thus, for instance, K. Schwabe, in his detailed study of the American peace strategy, concludes that Wilson, as the conference proceeded, ‘came to adopt a policy of prac- tical responsibility’, appearing less and less as the “radical ideologue” of his own war speeches but rather as the exponent of a “higher realism”’ [268: Woodrow Wilson, Revolutionary Germany, and Peacemaking 1918–1919, pp. 396, 401]. Certainly Wilson had to give up or modify parts of his programme, but we should not for this reason underestimate the influence of his ideas on the peace treaties [267: Schulz, Revolutions and Peace Treaties, 111 1917–1920, p. 147]; they were, in any case, an important counterweight to the demands of some of the victorious countries, and thus enforced compromises that would otherwise hardly have been possible. (2) It is nowadays more fully realized that the task in Paris really was to deal with the consequences of a world war. Germany was indeed the central object of the negotiations, but by no means the only one: the problems ranged from South-Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, all the way to the Far East. The handling of the German question was overshadowed by the most various international constellations of interests and fronts, and was affected by horizontal lines of division within particular countries. This 111 aspect is brought out in A. J. Mayer’s work [257: Politics and Diplomacy of Peacemaking], which emphasizes connections that have been overlooked or neglected and provides many new insights. According to Mayer, the polar- ization of leftist and rightist forces in each nation was the decisive feature of the postwar situation, so that analysis should concentrate on the interre- 111 lation between the domestic scene and attitudes to peacemaking. The 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 192 Basic problems and trends of research behaviour of the European and American statesmen can, in his view, only be properly understood as an answer and reaction to events in Russia, given that the containing of Bolshevik Russia was the Allied statesmen’s first priority. For this reason Mayer inclines to regard the Allies’ German policy as no more than a function of their policy towards Russia. While the German question was formerly all too often regarded as the chief or even the only focus of the peace negotiations, Mayer goes to the opposite extreme. He certainly exaggerates in playing down the intrinsic importance of Germany at the peace conference and making Russia the primary factor; but he is right in contending that the strategy of ‘containing’ Bolshevik Russia was an important aspect of international politics in those months. [For arguments against overrating the importance of Russia in this connection see, e.g. 274; Thompson, Russia, Bolshevism and the Versailles Peace; 255: Lundgreen- Nielsen, The Polish Problem at the Paris Peace Conference; 235: Baumgart, Vom europäischen Konzert zum Völkerbund, pp. 106 ff.] (3) It is realized and admitted today, more clearly than in Weimar Germany, that the German treaty was a compromise – it was not a ‘Wilsonian peace’, but neither was it a ‘Carthaginian peace’ (cf. page 34 above) Despite the heavy burdens it imposed, Germany came off more lightly than seemed probable at certain stages of the negotiations. France’s extreme demands, prompted by her dire need for security, were firmly opposed by Wilson and Lloyd George and were only partially reflected in the treaty. The predominant view now is that Versailles left Germany in a position, in the long run, to become an influential power once more; indeed her opportunities in foreign affairs were greater after 1919 than in the Kaiser’s or Bismarck’s Germany [320: Hillgruber, Grossmacht politik und Militarismus, p. 24]. (4) As regards the question of how far the Treaty of Versailles consti- tuted a burden on the Weimar Republic, and to what extent the ‘Versailles complex’ contributed to the rise of Nazism and the destruction of the Republic, recent researchers take a different view from that of most contem- porary observers. Typical of the latter is a remark by Otto Braun, for many years Minister-President of Prussia. In his memoirs, commenting on the question of how the Hitler dictatorship could have come to power, he used the pithy phrase ‘Versailles and Moscow’ [64: Von Weimar zu Hitler, p. 5]. In other words, the blame for the destruction of German democracy was due to foreign factors, and to Versailles first and foremost. A similar view was expressed by L. Zimmermann, who concluded his account of German foreign policy in the Weimar era [384, p. 474] with the words: ‘Timely revi- sion of the peace treaties would probably have saved the Weimar Republic and saved the peace.’ When this was published in 1958 it was already a somewhat anachronistic judgement (but characteristic in so far as the whole book is written from an interwar viewpoint). For investigation of the final phase of Weimar has brought to light such a complication of causes that it is no longer possible to attribute the downfall of the Republic simply to Versailles, either as a real handicap or as a psychological factor and From the peacy treaty to the Young Plan: 1919–30 193 11 propaganda theme [109: Bracher, Die Auflösung der Weimarer Republik, p. 17]. No doubt it will never be possible to assess the exact part played by Versailles and its effects in bringing about the rise of Hitler, but it is today no longer regarded as absolutely decisive [235: Baumgart, Vom europäischen Konzert zum Völkerbund, p. 134; in the same vein, A. Hillgruber, ‘Unter dem Schatten von Versailles’, in: 117: Erdmann/Schulze, Weimar, pp. 51–67, here p. 66]. Just because Versailles was not a ‘Carthaginian peace’ – because, while Germany ceased for the time being to be a great power, she was in a position 11 once more to become one – the treaty ‘exerted no compulsion on the Germans and their social and political leaders to come to terms once and for all with the new situation’ [117: p. 57]. In this respect Germany’s 11 position after 1918 was basically different from that after 1945. In Weimar Germany, revision of the Treaty of Versailles was the chief aim 1 of foreign policy; all relevant political and social forces concurred in this, and the whole population supported them [see M. Salewski, ‘Das Weimarer Revisionssyndrom’, in Aus Politik- und Zeitgeschichte 2/80, 12 January 1980, pp. 14–25, et al.]. However, there were important differences of opinion which developed into bitter conflict, as to the timing, priorities and methods 111 of revisionist policy. While the losses of territory in the east were felt as especially painful and were not accepted as a final settlement, in the existing circumstances their recovery could not be in the forefront of German aims. In the first years after the war, the focus of international dispute arising out of Versailles was not territory but the reparations question. The economic and political reor- ganization of Europe after 1919 was closely bound up with this question, and – if only because of the unavoidable participation of the USA, as the world’s strongest economic power – the reparations settlement was crucial to the development of the postwar international system. Accordingly, for 111 many years research has concentrated on this area of problems. Publications on the subject of reparations are almost too numerous to survey, and represent probably every conceivable viewpoint. Given the far- reaching differences between the various political and economic historians and financial experts who have approached the problem, it is particularly difficult for anyone not fully versed in financial and monetary questions to find his or her way through the jungle of arguments and reach a valid conclu- sion. As the experts do not even agree as to how much Germany actually paid, it is not surprising that widely contrary views are put forward as to how much she could have paid, given the utmost good will. The debate as 111 to what Germany could have paid under what economic conditions, with what specific modalities as to the raising and transfer of funds, must operate with theoretical models and numerous hypotheses, leading, understandably, to very different results and assessments. In this situation it is to be welcomed that an expert on German repara- 111 tions policy has recently produced a study which includes a comparative 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 194 Basic problems and trends of research analysis of figures, the theory of transfers, and the effects of reparations on Germany’s external economy and political system [P. Krüger, ‘Das Reparationsproblem der Weimarer Republik in fragwürdiger Sicht’, VfZ, vol. 29 (1981), pp. 21–47]. In this study Krüger also surveys the conclusions of some recent research into French and German reparations policy in 1919–24. The research in question – chiefly by J. Bariéty [281], W. McDougall [340], S. Schuker [369] and M. Trachtenberg [376] – is based on a thor- ough use of the French archives released since 1972. This has enabled the authors to add innumerable details and to modify in several important respects the accepted picture of the ‘reparations battle’ between 1919 and 1924. The conclusion on which they agree is to revise comprehensively the negative view of France’s policy towards Germany and the reparations issue, and the general assessment of the power relationship between France and Germany after the First World War. The general view has hitherto been that, in contrast to the comparatively moderate attitude of Britain and the USA, France adopted an extremely harsh attitude towards defeated Germany. These authors, on the contrary, maintain that the French government after 1919 behaved with essential moderation and that much of the responsibility for what went wrong at the peace conference and afterwards is to be laid at the door of the Americans and especially the British (Trachtenberg). A key point in the argument is the estimate of the relative strength of France and Germany after the war. France’s aim, they argue, was not to perpetuate French hegemony on the Continent but to maintain a Franco-German equi- librium which had been temporarily secured by the German defeat but remained precarious because, in spite of Versailles, Germany’s demographic and economic potential made her superior to France. Bariéty, in particular, interprets French policy in 1919–23 as a series of attempts – by a combi- nation of Rhineland policy, reparations and the general economic provisions of the Treaty of Versailles – to establish an equilibrium of the structures économiques profondes and thus achieve an object that was not secured by the treaty itself. Poincaré, in particular, was imbued with the fear of long- term German predominance and did all he could to correct the balance in favour of France. By the occupation of the Ruhr, which he undertook after long hesitation and when all attempts at a negotiated solution had failed, he hoped to safeguard the payment of reparations and exert pressure on the British and Americans to co-operate with France in solving the German problem, including if possible the separation of the Rhineland from Germany (Bariéty, McDougall). This proved a failure. The attempt to bring Germany to her knees resulted in a ‘technical victory’ over the Ruhr question, but ultimately in defeat for France’s revisionist policy. After the cessation of passive resistance in the Ruhr, and with the French financial crisis after the beginning of 1924 (see especially Schuker on this point), France became increasingly dependent on the British and Americans, and Germany’s negotiating position improved. The London conference of From the peacy treaty to the Young Plan: 1919–30 195 11 July–August 1924 drew a line under French efforts to achieve, by any possible means, a revision of the treaty situation in France’s favour. A critique of this new assessment of French postwar policy must begin with the theory concerning the Continental balance of power which offsets France’s hegemony after 1918 against the potential strength of Germany. It is hard to relate this to the actual situation after the war. The debate over the new assessment of the power situation in postwar Europe still continues [cf. articles in Journal of Modern History, vol. 51 (1979), pp. 56–85]. But the recent research can already be credited for throwing light on the detailed 11 course of the reparations battle, especially between the autumn of 1923 and the London conference (Bariéty, Schuker), and for putting beyond doubt the seriousness of France’s ambitions on the Rhine in 1919–23 11 (Bariéty, McDougall). It can be stated even more firmly than before that the London conference and the events leading up to it were the real turning- 1 point in postwar European politics. It may be doubted, on the other hand, whether the extremely favourable picture of French policy as one of relative moderation towards the defeated enemy can be sustained. The overall picture published in 1989 by B. Kent [326: The Spoils of War] ostracizes the reparations policies of all participating governments. Combin- 111 ing a compact narrative with a definite opinion, Kent emphasizes that there was no coherent and consequential reparations policy towards Germany on the part of the victors, aimed at systematically plundering, punishing and permanently weakening the loser; instead, allied policy represented a large- scale populist diversion, by means of which the ruling conservative élites of the victorious states tried to cover up the financial consequences of the war even from their own citizens, in order to prevent demands for radical socialist solutions from emerging. Short-term interests are said to have been decisive on both sides at the end of the war, not a long-term strategy of economic reconstruction. Based on these premises, Kent criticizes severely 111 the British Cabinets and the German politicians, and also the American administrations for the stubborn insistence on repaying the allied debts; French policies are judged in a somewhat milder fashion. Whether or not one finds Kent’s overall interpretation convincing, this work deserves atten- tion because of the portrayal in minute detail of the separate stages of the dispute over reparations. Among the controversial aspects of German foreign policy under Weimar has long been the Rapallo treaty of 1922: its origins, the time and manner of its conclusion, its significance and effect on European politics. The ‘Rapollo complex’ is still with us. In Western minds at that time it conjured 111 up the bogy of a German–Russian conspiracy against the West, and to the present day this fear is revived on occasion [286: Bournazel, Rapallo]. The Eastern bloc, however, regarded the treaty as a model foundation for rela- tions between the Soviet Union and capitalist states [e.g. A. Anderle (ed.), Rapallo und die friedliche Koexistenz (Berlin, 1963)]. Scarcely any treaty 111 in the twentieth century has been so thoroughly investigated by historians. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 196 Basic problems and trends of research But, while its genesis, on the German side at least, has been illuminated to a great extent [see 353: Pogge, Rapallo – Strategy in Preventive Diplomacy et al.; 300: Fink, The Genoa Conference; 332: Krüger, Die Außenpolitik der Republik von Weimar, pp. 151 ff., as well as several articles in 301: Fink (ed.), Genoa, Rapallo and European Reconstruction in 1922], the contro- versy as to its significance continues, since the sources permit various interpretations of the motives of those concerned on the German side. If historians since the Second World War have devoted special attention to the Rapallo theme, which arouses the interest of a wider public outside academic circles, the reason is no doubt that, much as the international situation has changed since 1945, relations with the Soviet Union are a topical issue of the first order in German politics. West German research in the 1950s and 1960s concentrated on refuting the ‘Rapallo legend’ of a German–Soviet conspiracy against the rest of Europe. Using fresh source material, Schieder [365], Helbig [315], Erdmann [298], Laubach [430] and Linke [338] reached essentially the same conclusion, namely, that there was no question of a revisionist German–Soviet conspiracy against the West. After 1919 Germany had need of an active Eastern policy if only because of her economic interests; the Rapallo policy was one of political equilib- rium, suited to the time and place; the treaty did not imply a German–Soviet alliance ‘to burst the fetters of Versailles’ [315: Helbig, Die Träger der Rapallo-Politik, pp 5 ff.]; it was not a ‘blow against the West’ [298: Erdmann, ‘Deutschland, Rapallo und der Westen’, p. 164], but rather a ‘defensive measure by German politicians against what they saw as a danger from the Western powers’ [430: Laubach, Die Politik der Kabinette Wirth 1921/22, p. 209]. T. Schieder summed up this interpretation by saying that Rapallo was a ‘treaty of normalization and liquidation, born of immediate economic and political needs’ [365: Schieder, ‘Die Entstehungsgeschichte des Rapallo-Vertrags’, p. 551]. H. Graml, above all, has joined issue with this interpretation [306: Die Rapallo-Politik im Urteil der westdeutschen Forschung; cf. 305, Graml, Europa zwischen den Kriegen, pp. 137 ff.], expressing in strong terms his view that it tends to whitewash the intentions and methods of German foreign policy in general, and particularly as regards the Rapallo treaty. He regards Ago von Maltzan of the German Foreign Ministry as the leading spirit of the Rapallo policy, which in his view was a coolly calculated strategy intended to wreck the ‘policy of fulfilment’ and its first positive effect on German–Western relations, and to free Germany’s hands for a revisionist policy directed espe- cially against Poland. He regards Rapallo as ‘a decisive victory for the policy of revision and restoration, and one from which neither Germany nor Europe was to recover’ [305: Graml, Europa zwischen den Kriegen, p. 151]. Graml’s reinterpretation, amounting to a revival of the theory of a German–Soviet ‘revisionist’ conspiracy, aroused lively controversy. The objec- tion was rightly made that the effect of isolating and overemphasizing a single motive of the German Rapallo policy, namely, the revisionist anti- From the peacy treaty to the Young Plan: 1919–30 197 11 Polish one, was to ‘encourage the monocausal explanation of an extremely complex process in foreign affairs’, and to obscure other motives, such as the widespread interest of German business circles in trade with Russia, or the problems connected with Article 116 of the Treaty of Versailles [P. Alter, ‘Rapallo – Gleichgewichtspolitik und Revisionismus’, NPL, vol. 19 (1974), pp. 509 ff.]. It should also be pointed out that it is wrong to draw a sharp distinction between the ‘policy of fulfilment’ and Maltzan’s revisionism, as the former policy also aimed at the revision of Versailles [352: Pogge, ‘Grossindustrie und Rapallopolitik’, p. 297; for criticism of Graml’s position 11 see also W. Baumgart, ‘Deutsche Ostpolitik 1918–1926’, in A. Fischer/ G.Moltmann/K. Schwab (eds), Rußland – Deutschland – Amerika (Festschrift für F. T. Epstein) (Wiesbaden, 1978), pp. 239–56, here: pp. 252 f.]. As to 11 the charge, repeated by Graml and many others, that Maltzan deliberately misinformed and finally duped the Foreign Minister, this was refuted by the 1 observation that Rathenau (whose own firm, AEG, was keenly interested in business with Russia) was himself totally prepared to sign the Rapallo treaty, having worked for an agreement with Russia since 1919. Maltzan, it was suggested, may have taken advantage of Rathenau’s death to enhance his own reputation as the ‘father of Rapallo’ [353: Pogge, ‘Rapallo – Strategy 111 in Preventive Diplomacy’, p. 143]. In contrast, P. Krüger holds firmly to the opinion that Malzan, under the protection of the Chancellor, took control ‘astutely and cold-bloodedly’, putting the hesitating Rathenau ‘under pres- sure, by using all the rules of the game, from leaking information to psychological influence to threats of resignation’ [332: Die Außenpolitik der Republik von Weimar, p. 174]. In the light of these arguments, K. Hildebrand concluded in 1977 that the immediate reason and one of the strongest motives leading the German delegation to sign the treaty was ‘fear of isolation in the realm of power politics’. The treaty made it possible for Germany and the Soviet Union to 111 pursue a joint policy of counterbalancing the Entente: ‘the freedom of move- ment which the treaty conferred on both parties, and the counterweight now created within the framework of the Paris settlement, as matters stood in the first half of the 1920s, enabled Germany and the Soviet Union to create an urgently needed balance vis-à-vis the French claim to hegemony’ [318: Hildebrand, Des Deutsche Reich und die Sowjetunion, pp. 25 ff.]. In contrast, P. Krüger sees all the advantages of the final treaty as being on the side of the Russians, who were able to break out of their international isola- tion, whereas the Wirth government drew no advantages from the treaty, and its repercussions are, instead, judged as disadvantageous for Germany 111 [333; Versailles, p.113; 332: Die Außenpolitik der Weimarer Republik, pp. 175 ff.]. Based on new Russian sources and summarizing research to date, H. G. Linke examines Der Weg nach Rapallo [339]. K. Hörster-Phillips likewise, in her biography of Wirth, looks closely at the negotiations in Genoa and the settlement of the Rapallo treaty, evaluating sources in minute detail 111 [991: Joseph Wirth 1879–1956, pp. 171 ff.]. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 198 Basic problems and trends of research Even without full unanimity in research as to the implications and effects of the Treaty of Rapallo, by looking at German foreign policy from 1922 onwards one can note that Graml attaches too much importance to the treaty’s role in changing the course of German and European politics after 1919 and makes a very one-sided assessment of the intentions and style of the foreign policy of the Reich. He effectively denies the legitimacy of any kind of revisionist policy on Germany’s part, by stating that revisionism was permissible to all the defeated countries and even to dissatisfied victors, with the single exception of Germany, because a German revisionist policy implied a claim to hegemony and was therefore tantamount to endangering the peace of Europe. ‘In other words, a revisionist policy on Germany’s part meant a return to the law of the jungle, and if this policy succeeded it would destroy the European balance’ [305: Graml, Europa zwischen den Kriegen, p. 57]. The guiding principle of German foreign policy after 1919 ought therefore, according to Graml, to have been to give up any idea of correcting the results of the war and to work within the system of collective security, as only thus could the peace of Europe be preserved. From today’s stand- point this is certainly an important view and one worth discussing, but there was no practical basis for it in the Weimar Republic. Not to mention the right wing, neither the centre nor the political left were prepared to give up all hope of treaty revision; the only question was how soon that attempt should be made, by what methods and with what priorities. This complex of questions lies at the centre of all research into German foreign policy in the Stresemann era. The personality and policy of Gustav Stresemann have from the begin- ning been a favourite subject of research into the Weimar period. Initially – before 1933, and also after 1945 – the great majority of published works were by Stresemann’s supporters and admirers. The release of his posthu- mous papers in 1953 led to the first phase of academic interest in his foreign policy; soon afterwards the source basis was enlarged by the opening of the Foreign Ministry archives. [For a list of works of the 1950s and early 1960s see H. W. Gatzke, ‘Gustav Stresemann: A Bibliographical Article’, Journal of Modern History, vol. 36 (1964), pp. 1–13.] A second phase of intensive interest in German foreign policy in the Stresemann era began around 1970. In addition to W. Link’s basic work on the American policy of stabilization in Germany from 1921 to 1925 [336], Turner’s study of the domestic poli- tics of Stresemann [984], and Krüger’s thorough overall view of foreign policy in the Weimar Republic [332], we should mention the studies by M. Walsdorff [378], W. Weidenfeld [380], M.-O. Maxelon [341], J. Jacobson [323], K. Megerle [343], K.-H. Pohl [354], M. Berg [285] and C. Baechler [987]. These works, written from various points of view and concentrating on various aspects, have systematically illuminated the whole field. Con- sidering how long Stresemann and his policy were a subject of acute controversy, it is remarkable that these recent works establish a far-reaching consensus, in particular on two questions that were formerly much contested: From the peacy treaty to the Young Plan: 1919–30 199 11 namely, Stresemann’s transformation from a nationalist into a ‘European’, and the general conception of his foreign policy. (1) Among the standard themes of the literature on Stresemann is that of his development as a politician and statesman: was he a nationalist or a European, an opportunist or an idealist, a sincere advocate of a policy of understanding or a deceitful power-politician? While critics concentrated on his letter of 7 September 1927 to the former crown prince, which was published in 1932 [cf. R. Grathwol, ‘Gustav Stresemann: Betrachtungen über seine Aussenpolitik’, in 344: Michalka and Lee (eds), Gustav Strese- 11 mann, pp. 224–9], pro-Stresemann writers formerly distinguished sharply between the nationalist of the First World War and the European statesman of the 1920s; almost without exception, they posited a dramatic conversion 11 at the beginning of the 1920s. On the basis of this interpretation, after 1945 Stresemann was elevated to the status of a ‘great European’, not on any new 1 evidence but as part of the attempt to establish a respectable tradition of German foreign policy. In the 1950s scholars concentrated on refuting this ‘legend’ [H. W. Gatzke, Stresemann and the Rearmament of Germany (New York, 1954); 983: Thimme, Gustav Stresemann], which is now exploded. Almost all recent researchers agree that Stresemann was a coolly calculating 111 realist, nationalist and power-politician, but – this should be emphasized, to counter some exaggerations of the de-mythologizing process – he was no different in that respect from other European statesmen of his time: they, too, were exponents of national power politics and not European integration. (2) The central objective of Stresemann’s foreign policy was the restora- tion of Germany as a sovereign ‘great power’ with equal rights. ‘Stresemann’s basic concept, in respect of its content, was derived from the German aspi- ration to power before 1914; his strategic methods were adapted to the power situation after 1918’ [341: Maxelon, Stresemann und Frankreich, 111 p. 297]. The studies of German foreign policy in 1923–9 which appeared in the 1970s proved this convincingly and showed in detail how, in Stresemann’s view, the recovery of Germany was possible and should be achieved. If only because of the lack of military power, he firmly rejected war as a means to his political ends, and regarded the path of negotiation and understanding as the only possible one. The main role in his plans was played by Germany’s economic potential, not the least important feature being close economic co-operation with the USA; he realized at an early stage that an American stake in Germany would confirm the interest of the world’s leading power in the peaceful evolution of conditions in Europe. 111 The second basic component of Stresemann’s foreign policy was his realization that only by satisfying France’s demand for security could the way be opened for the co-operative solution of European problems. Therefore he endeavoured, on the one hand, to achieve a Franco-German compromise based on frontier guarantees and trade agreements and, on the 111 other, he sought by co-operation with Britain and the USA to normalize 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 200 Basic problems and trends of research relations with the Western powers and create an international climate that would make possible a peaceful settlement of outstanding problems. At the same time, he was concerned to avoid taking an unambiguous stand in favour of the West and against the East. Summarizing the results of recent research, W. Michalka describes Stresemann’s priorities as follows: On the basis of a solution to the question of reparations he aimed to put an end to the occupation of the Ruhr and then of the territory occupied in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles. Closely connected with these aims were the recovery of the Saarland and the abolition of military control in Germany. His next aim was to be the revision of Germany’s eastern frontiers. [The Locarno treaty and Germany’s entry into the League of Nations] were means to these ends [344: Michalka and Lee (eds), Gustav Stresemann, p. xiv]. This last statement could be elaborated: basically Stresemann regarded all the ‘stages’ in his foreign policy of 1923–9 (Dawes Plan, Locarno treaties, Treaty of Berlin, membership of the League of Nations, Young Plan) as steps towards the restoration of German power. But he proceeded cautiously, avoiding conflicts, and regarded treaty revision and European peace as inter- dependent aims to be reconciled by international co-operation: the binding together of international understanding and national revisionism was the key characteristic of Stresemann’s foreign policy – such is the broad consensus of more recent research. Against this background, views still differ on two points. Was Stresemann’s foreign policy in 1923–9 successful in terms of his own ideas and purposes? Second, could a revisionist policy, such as his, have achieved its object in the long term without the use of force? Some scholars (Walsdorff, Megerle, Knipping, to some extent Weidenfeld and Jacobson) incline to a sceptical view of the effects of Locarno. They consider that Stresemann overestimated the revisionist potential of the treaties; in 1928–9 he had to recognize that his policy had not been a success. Two replies may be made to this. Certainly, the years after 1925 did not bring such rapid and spectacular results in the way of revision as many, including Stresemann himself, had hoped for in the initial euphoria. But the view that the Locarno policy was a failure does not do justice to the motives or the actual results of Stresemann’s foreign policy. Taking into account the situation of 1923, the relatively short span of six years and an international situation that was far from favourable to Germany, it can be said that Stresemann as Foreign Minister achieved no small results for his country. It must be remembered that the Locarno policy also had a defensive purpose, namely, to prevent a Franco-British entente and the isolation of Germany, and in this respect it was without question highly successful. Could Germany’s further revisionist aims, which Stresemann approved of in principle – and especially the revision of the eastern frontier – have been From the peacy treaty to the Young Plan: 1919–30 201 11 achieved eventually by other than warlike means, and did Stresemann accept the use of such means if necessary? To this hypothetical question we can only give speculative answers. Recent authors are predominantly of the opinion, for plausible reasons, that Stresemann realized ‘that even a militarily strong Germany could not face a confrontation with the Western powers. Hence he had no realistic alternative to the policy of mutual understanding’ [341: Maxelon, Stresemann und Frankreich, p. 184]. It was also to Stresemann as a realist that ‘the political and economic gains that Germany could expect to achieve by peaceful means – including perhaps union with Austria – would, 11 in any case, put her in the front rank of European powers. Why risk such promising prospects for the sake of a military adventure?’ [K. Epstein, Vom Kaiserreich zum Dritten Reich (Frankfurt, Berlin and Vienna, 1973), p. 198]. 11 In an interesting ‘counter-factual analysis’, H. A. Turner concludes that even at the crucial stage of a policy of revision vis-à-vis Poland, Stresemann 1 would have aimed at a compromise. ‘He would in all probability have had to do so if he wanted to retain the support or at least acquiescence of the Western powers, which was a cornerstone of his foreign policy from the beginning’ [‘Stresemann und die Kontinuität in der deutschen Aussenpolitik’, in G. Ziebura (ed.), Grundfragen der deutschen Aussenpolitik seit 1871 (Darm- 111 stadt, 1975), pp. 284–304; quotation p. 302]. Even though a continuity of German power policy and ambition can be traced before and after the breach of 1918, there is a qualitative and fundamental difference between Stresemann’s cautious policy of revisionism within the international system, and Hitler’s expansionist policy of Lebensraum and racial ideology. It must, however, be noted that in the three years that elapsed between Stresemann’s death and Hitler’s assumption of power, Stresemann’s succes- sors forced the pace of revisionism and departed from his policy of ‘chan- nelling revisionist demands into a general understanding with the other great powers and a recognized procedure in accordance with international law’ 111 [331: Krüger, ‘Friedenssicherung und deutsche Revisionspolitik’, p. 257]. It is evident that a new definition for priorities and methods in foreign policy resulted from the change to a presidential regime. In spring 1930, the scep- tics and opponents of Locarno came to power. In June 1930 von Schubert, who was for many years permanent secretary in the Foreign Ministry and had played an important part in formulating Stresemann’s policy, was removed from office and replaced by Bernard Wilhelm v. Bülow, previously head of the League of Nations department, a decided opponent of Stresemann’s ideas and the exponent of an outspoken nationalist policy. His views on foreign affairs were close to those of Brüning and of the new Foreign Minister Curtius 111 [see 358: A. Rödder, Stresemanns Erbe, also – very critical of Curtius – 307: Graml, Zwischen Stresemann und Hitler, p. 42 and frequently]. The new men undertook a change of course in foreign policy – ‘fully aware of what they did, for the sake of revisionary politics instead of politics of fulfilment, as a top official at the Foreign Ministry put it . . . The combi- 111 nation of revisionary politics and securing of peace came to an end; there 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 202 Basic problems and trends of research was talk, only, and ever more urgently, of revision and Germany’s rightful claims’ [333: Krüger, Versailles, p. 160]. One must agree unconditionally with P. Krüger, when he – as H. Graml also now insists [307: Zwischen Stresemann und Hitler] – stresses the hiatus, in foreign policy too, at the moment when the presidential regime began. Clear reservations exist, however, towards the attempt by F. Knipping [328: Deutschland, Frankreich und das Ende der Locarno-Ära 1928–1931] to date the start of aggressive offensive activity in German revisionary poli- tics as early as ‘mid-1928’, at the time of the ‘great coalition’, when the Reich government put onto the international agenda premature evacuation of the Rhineland. Under Hermann Müller and Stresemann, the premises for a willingness to be accommodating and to compromise still held, a fact which Knipping underestimates, and these were reaffirmed through the regu- lation of the reparations question and the agreement to an early evacuation of the Rhineland – only in 1930 was the basis of accommodation politics consciously given up by the Germans. At that point, even the concept of ‘accommodation politics’ lapsed into unpopularity in the Foreign Ministry [307: Graml, Zwischen Stresemann und Hitler, p. 60]. When setting priorities and methods, the foreign policy of the presiden- tial Cabinet was quite distinct from Stresemann’s. Its main goal was to bring about a rapid and offensive solution to the reparation and armament ques- tions, and also to gain an independent position of power for Germany in central Europe and the Danube area. After the failure, chiefly due to French resistance, of the project for an Austro-German customs union, prepared in secret and announced as a surprise coup in 1931 [see the recent 358: Rödder, Stresemanns Erbe, pp. 186 ff., in detail also 307: Graml, Zwischen Stresemann und Hitler, pp. 89 ff.], the Reich government concentrated on concluding bilateral trade agreements with the south European states (whose economies, dependent on agricultural exports, were suffering badly from the catastrophic fall in prices for agricultural products on the world market). In this way, the Reich wanted to gain greater political influence in the Danube and Balkan regions [above all: 322: Höpfner, Deutsche Südosteuropapolitik, esp. pp. 250 ff. with further bibliography]. It will probably not be acceptable to go so far as to interpret the promo- tion of German revisionary policy, in the era of the presidential Cabinets, as the irrevocable refusal to continue a policy of peaceful development of international connections. But there is no doubt that, from 1930 onwards, German foreign policy was carried out against a background of increased national self-centredness (Abgrenzung) and intensive revisionary claims. It was also largely owing to the ‘radicalization of international affairs’ from 1930/1 onwards that German complaints about the Treaty of Versailles and demands for its revision became louder and shriller with the transition from Stresemann to Brüning and from the latter to the Papen and Schleicher governments [Hildebrand in 283: Becker and Hildebrand (eds), Inter- nationale Beziehungen in der Weltwirtschaftskrise 1929–1933, pp. 434, 436]. 11 6 The last phase of the Republic 11 11 1 As already mentioned (page 142 above), postwar research concerning the Weimar Republic began by concentrating on its last phase, and with good reason: the object was to investigate the causes and stages of the failure of Weimar democracy and to explain the fateful events that led in January 1933 to the takeover of state power by Hitler and his party. The main interest 111 centred then, as it does now, on the breakdown of the ‘great coalition’ and the change to presidential government in March 1930, and the develop- ment of National Socialism into a mass movement. Opinions vary as to the causes, scope and effects of the decisions taken for the solution of the government crisis in the spring of 1930 but no one disputes that the appointment of a ‘Hindenburg Cabinet’ under Brüning was a far-reaching and dangerous transformation of the system of government. Opposing views of Brüning’s presidential Cabinet were formulated with great clarity at an early stage. A. Rosenberg, writing in 1935, dated the end of the Republic from 1930; after the September election of that year, the Reichstag 111 majority ‘abandoned the struggle with the unconstitutional dictatorship . . . The same hour saw the death of the Weimar Republic. Since then one dicta- torship has succeeded to another in Germany’ [146: History of the German Republic, p. 211]. On the other hand, F. Meinecke in 1946 expressed the view that the ‘path to the abyss’ began only with the dismissal of Brüning, since under his leadership the German people ‘could very well have been able to survive the difficult economic and spiritual crisis and to avert the ruinous experiment of the Third Reich’ [The German Catastrophe (Cambridge, Mass., 1950), p. 70]. These rival assessments of the Brüning period are not based on a profound study of sources but on the experience of the time, which 111 some evaluated differently from others. The respective views were not researched and argued systematically until the 1950s. On the one hand, W. Conze then developed the thesis of the inevitability of the change to a presidential system on account of an acute ‘crisis of the party-political state’ which was essentially the fault of its own exponents. On 111 the other hand, K. D. Bracher maintained that the authoritarian system 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 204 Basic problems and trends of research created by Hindenburg and Brüning could not be justified as the conse- quence of an irremediable structural crisis of party democracy. If no attempt was made to find a parliamentary solution to the government crisis of 1930, it was only because the President’s entourage and the chief army officers, long before the crisis, had decided to introduce a presidential regime and had made firm preparations to do so. Hence Bracher regards Brüning’s period of office as the first stage in the dissolution of the Weimar Republic, whereas Conze takes a favourable view of the Brüning experiment for a ‘state above party’ and considers that the real crash came with Brüning’s dismissal ‘within a hundred yards of the goal’ (cf. page 142 f. above). The controversy between Bracher and Conze set off a debate about Brüning that has gone through many phases; it has at times slackened but never subsided, and is still unresolved. Three stages of particular intensity may be distinguished. In the first phase after 1955, prompted by Bracher’s criticism of Brüning, the main question was whether the change to a pres- idential system could or could not have been avoided. What were the motives and aims of the protagonists of the authoritarian course, and what exactly was the importance of the Brüning period in the break-up of the Republic? The dispute revived with different emphasis after the publication of Brüning’s memoirs [67] in 1970. A third round of the debate was set off at the end of the 1970s by K. Borchardt [‘Zwangslagen und Handlungsspielräume in der grossen Weltwirtschaftskrise der frühen dreissiger Jahre’ (1979), in 693: idem, Wachstum, Krisen, Handlungsspielräume, pp. 165–82]. Borchardt subjected to a critical review the unfavourable assessment of Brüning’s defla- tionary policy which had until then been generally accepted and was even encountered among Brüning’s defenders. The main argument thus shifted to the content of Brüning’s policies, the question of freedom of action and feasible alternatives for German economic and financial policy during the world depression. The debate in the late 1950s, and early 1960s produced no agreement between the views of Bracher and Conze. Conze held to his thesis of an incurable ‘crisis of the party-political state’ in 1929–30 and described the Brüning policy as a last attempt to ‘save democracy’ [‘Brünings Politik unter dem Druck der grossen Krise’, HZ, vol. 199 (1964), pp. 529–50; ‘Die Regierung Brüning’, in 125: Hermens and Schieder (eds), Staat, Wirtschaft und Politik in der Weimarer Republik, pp. 223–48; ‘Die politischen Entscheidungen in Deutschland 1929–1933’, in 113: Conze and Raupach (eds), Die Staats- und Wirtschaftskrise des Deutschen Reichs 1929/33, pp. 176–252]. In substantial agreement with Conze, W. Besson saw it as the essence of Brüning’s policy to ‘strengthen the power of the state to do what had to be done’ (Exekution der Sachlichkeit), but conceded that there was much to be said for the view that ‘it was the authoritarian state in the form of the bureaucratic regime governing by emergency decrees which sacrificed the masses to Adolf Hitler by leaving them to themselves’ [390: Württem- The last phase of the Republic 205 11 berg und die deutsche Staatskrise 1928–1933, pp. 358, 362]. Bracher, on the other hand, vigorously opposed the ‘increasing tendency to rehabilitate the presidential solution’, and declared that ‘the history of the Brüning- Papen-Schleicher system of governing by emergency decrees from 1930 onwards is in a very precise sense the prehistory of the Third Reich, the starting-point of Hitler’s dictatorship and the situation that made it possible’ [‘Parteienstaat, Präsidialsystem, Notstand’, in 129: Jasper (ed.), Von Weimar zu Hitler 1930–1933, pp. 69 f.] Despite a tendency which certainly exists, and is deplored by Bracher, to 11 take ‘a conservative and all too benevolent view of the presidential regime’ [109: Die Auflösung der Weimarer Republik, preface to 5th edn, 1971], it can be said that the broadening of the source base in the 1960s furnished 11 important arguments for a critical view of the genesis of the first presidential 1 Cabinet. It now became clear that the aversion to compromise, shown by the parties at either extreme of the ‘great coalition’ and the interest groups behind them, was increased by the fact that from the beginning of 1930 there was loud and clear talk behind the scenes of a coming ‘Hindenburg government’, 111 and to many it seemed only a question of time before the SPD was forced out of the Cabinet . . . Not the least important cause of the failure of the coalition was the fact that a real alternative existed in the shape of a presidential government under Article 48. Thus the switch to a presidential regime in March 1930 was not merely a consequence of the collapse of the ‘great coalition’, but also one of its causes. [U. Wengst, ‘Heinrich Brüning und die “Konservative Alternative”’, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, B50/80, 13 December 1980, p. 20]. In the midst of conflicting judgements as to the inauguration of the pres- 111 idential system and the significance of Brüning’s Cabinet for the break-up of the Weimar Republic, a sensation was caused by the publication of Brüning’s memoirs [67] at the end of 1970. In them he spoke with great openness of his basic political views and intentions, so that his personality and policy appeared in a new light. The picture he presented of his own opinions and objectives at the time is well summarized by E. Hamburger: In foreign policy he was a ‘revisionist’, determined to break the peace settlement of 1919. In constitutional matters he was a monarchist and an opponent of the democratic republic. Politically he was a conserva- 111 tive in the Centre Party. His deflationary measures were made to serve his foreign policy; so was the fight for arms equality. His efforts were bent on destroying the Versailles system, with the abolition of repara- tion payments as the first step. In the legislative sphere, from 1930 onwards he took advantage of the increasing impotence of Parliament 111 in order to restore a constitutional order of the Bismarckian type by 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 Basic problems and trends of research misusing the system of emergency decrees. In the executive sphere, Hindenburg’s re-election was intended to pave the way for a regency followed by a restoration of the monarchy. In party matters Brüning sought to link his party on a permanent basis with the anti-republican forces in the Reich and in Prussia. [‘Betrachtungen über Heinrich Brünings Memoiren’, IWK, vol. 15 (April 1972), pp. 18–39; quotation, p. 31] After the publication of his ‘Memoirs’, Brüning’s friends and supporters had more difficulty than before in explaining and justifying the Chancellor’s politics. W. Conze continued to adhere with few modifications to his basi- cally favourable assessment of Brüning and his policy [‘Brüning als Reichs- kanzler’, HZ, vol. 214 (1972), pp. 310–34; ‘Die Reichsverfassungsreform als Ziel der Politik Brünings’, Der Staat, vol. 11 (1972), pp. 209–17. But the memoirs have certainly strengthened the position of those who regard March 1930 as the crucial turning-point. Bracher could thus feel confirmed in his view that the introduction of presidential government was ‘not a move to save democracy, but part of a conscious plan to bring about a right-wing regime independent of party and parliament and to keep the Social Democrats out of power’. Brüning’s policy ‘oscillated between the defence of a bureaucratic version of a state based on the rule of law, and paving the way for dictatorship . . . He was not . . . the last chancellor before the break-up of the Weimar Republic, but the first chancellor in the process of destroying German democracy’ [‘Brünings unpolitische Politik und die Auflösung der Weimarer Republik’, VfZ, vol. 19 (1972), pp. 113–23; quotations pp. 119, 122 f.]. In the debate about the value of Brüning’s memoirs as a source, doubts were increasingly expressed as to whether Brüning’s later statements about his ‘actual’ intentions and goals can in fact be taken as they stand. Early on, G. Morsey expressed in a subtle analysis, critical of sources, considerable reservations regarding the implied reliability of the memoirs, much of it not reflected elsewhere, and also regarding Brüning’s efforts to present his political actions as planned and wholly directed by long-term aims [Zur Entstehung, Authentizität und Kritik von Brünings “Memoiren 1918–1934” (Opladen, 1975)]. This type of critical assessment of Brüning’s retrospec- tive admissions about his final goals, but also of his statements about the factual course of events, has become more or less generally accepted. Today there is considerable agreement that Brüning’s plans for a restoration ‘are to be judged rather as a secondary construction than as a political programme for a constitution that was actually pursued’ [160: Wirsching, Die Weimarer Republik, p. 113]. There is also agreement that, in the memoirs, there are countless errors, inaccuracies, even untruths [in this context, H. Rödder, above all, has no doubts, ‘Dichtung und Wahrheit. Der Quellenwert von Heinrich Brünings Memoiren und seine Kanzlerschaft’, HZ 265 (1997), pp. 77–116: cf. Rödder, ‘Reflexionen über das Ende der Weimarer Republik. 206 The last phase of the Republic 207 11 Die Präsidialkabinette 1930–1932/33. Krisenmanagement oder Restaura- tionsstrategie?’ VfZ 47 (1999), pp. 87–101, as in 931: Müller, Die “Brüning Papers”, and 932: Patch, Heinrich Brüning and the Dissolution of the Weimar Republic]. Nevertheless, the ‘Memoirs’ remain an important source: they simply need to be treated with great care and accompanied by scrupulous comparison with parallel contemporary records on the reconstruction of the actions of the government under Brüning’s chancellorship. In the meantime, it can no longer be doubted that Brüning was well aware of the plans for an authoritarian transformation of the system that 11 were being brewed in Hindenburg’s circle and by the army leaders. Admittedly, at the beginning of 1930 Brüning still thought it desirable for the ‘great coalition’ to remain in being until the autumn of that year, and 11 in March 1930 he endeavoured to bring about a modus vivendi between its right and left wing [at least until 18 March: see T. P. Koops, ‘Heinrich 1 Brünings “Politische Erfahrungen”’, GWU, vol. 24 (1973), pp. 197–221]. But as soon as the coalition broke up he placed himself without reservation at Hindenburg’s disposal and willingly – all too willingly, as Conze admits – accepted the President’s conditions for the formation of the new govern- ment and the policy it was to pursue. The historical importance of the 111 political decisions of those March days of 1930 can hardly be overestimated. While it was long disputed as to whether the Brüning period was a first stage in the dissolution of the Republic or the last attempt to save democ- racy, from the 1950s onwards there was a high degree of unanimity as to Brüning’s economic and financial measures. The deflationary policy which he pursued with ruthless consistency until his dismissal, and which aggra- vated the crisis, was regarded by almost all economists and historians as having been fatally mistaken. However, the rightness of his judgement and its applicability to Brüning’s policy were challenged by K. Borchardt in 1979 in his study entitled ‘Zwangslagen und Handlungsspielräume’ [693: Wach- 111 stum, Krisen, Handlungsspielräume, pp. 165–82], thus imparting a new direction to the discussion about Brüning. Borchardt begins by posing the question whether Brüning’s failure to embark on an expansionist, anti-cyclical policy was due to ‘incompetence and lack of discernment on the government’s part’, or whether the political and economic options in 1930–2 left no feasible alternative. In order to answer this question, Borchardt seeks to clarify: (1) when such measures to offset the crisis could and should have been taken, and (2) whether appro- priate means were available for the purpose. In Borchardt’s view, measures to stimulate the economy could not have been taken before the summer of 111 1931, so that a timely move against the recession was impossible; at best the bottoming-out of the crisis, which occurred in the summer of 1932, might have been advanced by some months. As to the possible means (deficit financing to create jobs), Borchardt considers that the government ruled out foreign credits because of the likely political conditions; while the 111 creation of money by the Reichsbank was open to many technical and 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 208 Basic problems and trends of research political obstacles, such as the terms of the bank’s charter, the impossibility of devaluing the mark on account of the Young Plan, and fear of inflation. ‘Because of foreign and domestic constraints, the possibilities of action to stimulate economic activity were, at least during Brüning’s period of govern- ment, . . . much more restricted than subsequent critics have suggested on the basis of pure economic theory’ [ibid., p. 173]. Borchardt’s opinion that the German economy was in an abnormal and unhealthy state even before the world depression (cf. page 187 above) supplies him with a further explanation of the reaction to the crisis by Brüning’s government and the social groups supporting it. Since premature stabilization measures would have tended to preserve the ‘sick’ economy, they did not appeal to those who sought to use the crisis as a ‘chance to clean up the system’ [693: p. 182]. In Borchardt’s view, Brüning was faced with constraints ‘so tremen- dous that even today we can offer no real solution to them’; so it is understandable that ‘those in charge at that time did not take the measures that it was later thought they should have done’ [ibid., pp. 181 f.]. Borchardt’s study caused a considerable stir and some disarray, as it called in question much that had long been regarded as economically unchal- lengeable. So it came as no surprise that there was opposition to Borchardt’s view and assessment of the correlations. C.-L. Holtfrerich was particularly emphatic: in firmly rejecting Borchardt’s theory of excessive wages before 1929 (see page 187 f. above), he disputes energetically that Brüning had been in an inescapable situation in his economic and financial policy [739: ‘Alternativen zu Brünings Wirtschaftspolitik in der Weltwirtschaftskrise?’]. He further shows that pressure in Brüning’s own ranks for a revision of the deflationary policy increased after the bank crisis of July 1931, and he asks why Brüning held unswervingly to that policy throughout his term of office despite growing resistance on the home front. The answer, according to Holtfrerich, lay in Brüning’s political aims, which were also to a large extent those of the classes supporting him: the consolidation of the public finances, above all the curtailment of social expenditure, and the wiping-out of reparations. To achieve these aims, Brüning needed the depression. If Brüning found his options limited, it was because of his own scale of priorities: (1) the revision of Versailles, above all the abolition of repa- ration payments with Allied consent; (2) so as not to bar the way to this, strict observance of international obligations (including the stipu- lations of the Young Plan as to the gold and foreign currency backing of the mark and the ban on its devaluation); (3) avoidance of inflation; and (4) far behind these, the aim of full employment or even economic growth [ibid., p. 629]. According to Holtfrerich, if Brüning had chosen to alter his priorities he could have taken active measures to revive the economy in the summer of 1931, before the final cancelling of reparations; and a policy of work creation The last phase of the Republic 209 11 beginning a year earlier might have changed Germany’s political destiny and enabled democracy to survive. Thus Holtfrerich is of the opinion that there was probably no situation of constraint which excluded alternatives [ibid., p. 631]. U. Büttner also represents this opinion in a sharp-witted study [700: ‘Politische Alternativen zum Brüningschen Deflationskurs’], in which she concludes that, at the latest from the summer of 1931, not only were the economic, technical and theoretical conditions ripe for a new orientation of economic policy, but also, and above all, the wish existed among broad 11 swathes of the population for active control of the economic crisis, since there was no lack of support in society for an economic policy that would break the cycle. She counters Borchardt’s warning about the historian’s 11 tendency to be wise after the event with the argument that all objections later declared valid by historians against Brüning’s policies had also already 1 been raised by contemporaries [ibid., p. 238; similarly in 762: Meister, Die große Depression; appropriate remarks by industrialists, representatives of associations, members of government and officials in 749: Kim, Industrie, Staat und Wirtschaftspolitik]. Borchardt could not be convinced by criticism made by Holtfrerich, 111 Büttner and several other scholars of his interpretation of Brüning’s economic and finance policy; he sticks by his own judgement [cf. his article in 753: v. Kruedener (ed.), Economic Crisis and Political Collapse, pp. 9–151; this collec- tive volume gives useful information about standpoints, arguments and emphases in the differences of opinion in what is termed the ‘Borchardt controversy’]. There is no longer any doubt that Brüning’s first priority was the cancelling of reparations. Although his first goal as Chancellor concerned the re- establishment of the Reich finances, he soon recognized that the worldwide slump in general and the disastrous financial and economic situation of the 111 Reich could be exploited to shake off reparations completely, especially since British and American sympathy could be reckoned with for this course, as gradually became clear during the Hoover moratorium. One cannot go so far, as has been known to happen, as to accuse the Brüning government of having deliberately aggravated the economic crisis so as to force a solu- tion of the reparations question; but the desperate financial and economic situation in Germany, if not engineered by Brüning, was used by him as a means of scaling down reparations. To put it in his own words, ‘We could make the disease into our weapons’ [67: Memoiren 1918–1934, p. 309; on his reparations policy see, besides the earlier work, 734: Helbich, 111 Die Reparationen in der Ära Brüning, and the vivid examination 725: Glashagen, Die Reparationspolitik Heinrich Brünings 1930–1931, and the detailed portrayals now in 316: Heyde, Das Ende der Reparationen, and 307: Graml, Zwischen Stresemann und Hitler]. In his policy of putting this ahead of all the country’s other vital needs, Brüning was influenced not least 111 by the expectation that if he got rid of reparations it would open the way 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 210 Basic problems and trends of research for early co-operation between himself and the political right, and thus meet the wishes of Hindenburg and the army leaders. Thus there was a connec- tion between reparations, Brüning’s stubborn adherence to a policy of deflation and the objective of a presidential regime. In this way, it is clear that March 1930 not only introduced a momentous transformation of the system of government, but also laid the basis for German economic and financial policy during the great depression. The political decisions and events from September 1930 to January 1933 were of the first importance in ‘making Hitler possible’; accordingly they have been studied exhaustively from this point of view, among others. Some problems that were long controversial have been cleared up in recent years and are now the subject of broad agreement, for example, the motives, stages and responsibilities for Brüning’s dismissal [very detailed, 454: Schulz, Zwischen Demokratie und Diktatur, vol. 3, pp. 768 ff., esp. pp. 819 ff., as in 586: Winkler, Der Weg in die Katastrophe, pp. 560 ff. (ibid. pp. 577 ff. outstanding overall assessment); cf. also page 123 above] or in the evalua- tion of the social democratic policy of tolerance towards Brüning’s Cabinet: whereas for a long time there was a negative assessment of the social demo- cratic strategy of tolerance, a cautious perspective, taking more serious account of the line-up of power, has meanwhile become accepted. As the motives and the setting of goals of the SPD and the union leadership emerge clearly – the prevention of National Socialist participation or even take-over in government, maintaining the social democratic government in Prussia, gaining time until the economic crisis weakened (see page 120 above) – it becomes clear that there were scarcely any realistic politically accountable alternatives to the strategy of tolerance [514: Kolb, ‘Die sozialdemokratische Strategie in der Ära des Präsidentialkabinetts Brüning’; 586: Winkler, Der Weg in die Katastrophe, pp. 207 ff.; 544: Pyta, Gegen Hitler und für die Republik, pp. 203 ff.; 555: Schaefer, SPD in der Ära Brüning, pp. 65 ff.; K. Schönhoven, ‘Strategie des Nichtstuns?’ in 462: Winkler (ed.), Die deutsche Staatskrise 1930-1933, pp. 59–75]. Much debated for a long time was the reaction of the Prussian govern- ment, the SPD and the trade unions to Papen’s coup d’état against Prussia on 20 July 1932 [as to the propriety of the term, see G. Schulz, ‘“Preussenschlag” oder Staatsstreich?’, Der Staat, vol. 17 (1978), pp. 553–81, esp. pp. 569 ff.]. The controversy on possible forms of resistance to the deposition of the Prussian government has exercised historians of Weimar from the beginning, as Papen’s measure of Gleichschaltung seemed in retrospect to be a prelude to the Nazi seizure of power. While those directly involved, such as O. Braun, C. Severing and A. Grzesinski maintained in their memoirs that resistance appeared hopeless and an appeal to mass action would have been irresponsible, in the mid-1950s K. D. Bracher and E. Eyck contended that non-resistance had been a grave mistake. Bracher admitted that resistance by force would probably have been crushed, but The last phase of the Republic 211 11 there remained the possibility of a lasting demonstration, a manifesta- tion of the unbroken will of democracy to assert itself against a temporarily superior force. This might, beyond all justified practical calculations, have made it possible to save a democratic consciousness from the psychological and moral collapse of the republican forces; it might have made the way harder for the new rulers, delayed future developments and lessened their effect [109: Die Auflösung der Weimarer Republik, p. 599]. 11 This view was generally accepted, despite the immediate objection by A. Brecht that judgements as to responsibility must be based on the situation as it had been when actions were performed or left undone, and ‘not as it 11 later developed in unforeseeable circumstances’ (cf. page 143 above). E. Matthias considered that the decision by the Prussian government and 1 SPD leaders to offer no resistance was a fatal one even though the repub- lican ‘stronghold’ of Prussia could not have held out in the end. ‘On 20 July the last chance of widening the base of republican resistance in a right- ward and leftward direction was thrown away; and the effect of total defeat could not have been more devastating than the political and psychological 111 consequences of failing to act’ [528: Das Ende der Parteien, pp. 127, 144]. H.-P. Ehni actually described the balance of forces as ‘not by any means so hopeless’, and accused the SPD leaders of ‘a fatal trust in legality’ and ‘legal- istic immobility’ [402: Bollwerk Preussen?, pp. 270 f.]. The only exception to this consensus in the 1960s was K. Rohe in his book on the Reichsbanner, in which he stated that the reasons for not resisting were politically compelling and convincing: ‘The actual power situation at the time of Papen’s action – which moreover was legitimate in a formal sense – was so completely in the Reich government’s favour that resistance by force could only have appeared to the left as an act of political suicide. Any sacrifice 111 must have seemed useless from the start.’ No alternative course was open on 20 July, ‘in so far as it can be taken as a principle of sensible political action that every risk must be proportionate to the likely results of action’ [843: Das Reichsbanner Schwarz Rot Gold, p. 437]. Similar arguments, and some additional ones, were used by H. Schulze in his biography of Otto Braun, published in 1977 [927: Otto Braun, pp. 745 ff.]. In some areas of research there is still criticism of the behaviour of the Prussian government and the SPD leadership. Contemporary witnesses, too, are predominantly harsh in their condemnation of the party leaders. But in the academic debate, meanwhile, relaxation has clearly gained the upper 111 hand, treating the behaviour of the leaders of the SPD and the unions with understanding, and assessing the absence of a call to arms to the masses as a realistic and responsible decision under the circumstances. It is hardly in dispute that the foundations of the ‘Prussian bulwark’ were already much undermined by the summer of 1932, and an attempt at armed resistance 111 would not only have been condemned to rapid failure but would almost 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 212 Basic problems and trends of research certainly have led to an authoritarian military dictatorship, at least for a time, which the social democrats could not have wanted. In addition, greater weight is laid on the reasons for holding that the SPD’s decision not to instigate combat by calling for a general strike was politically the right one: for example, the destabilization of the workers’ movement by reason of high unemploy- ment, the party’s attrition in the ‘war on two fronts’, against right-wing radicalism and the KPD; uncertainty whether the majority of the organized workers still in employment would take up the fight openly against the President of the Reich and the Reichswehr, since as a result of the declara- tion of the state of emergency all militant resistance could but lead to unforeseen consequences; a lack of clarity as to how the communists would react in the fight, wanting to gain as much advantage for themselves as they could; finally, the fear that calling a general strike would play into the hands of the NSDAP leadership, which hoped ‘to make itself into the beneficiary of the confrontation between the state and left-wing forces and to set itself up as an agent in the maintenance of order and as the saviour of Germany from Bolshevism’ [140: H. Mommsen, Die verspielte Freiheit, p. 456]. The comparison drawn earlier between the behaviour of the leaders of the SPD and the unions on 20 July 1932 with that during the Kapp–Lüttwitz putsch in 1920 is inappropriate. In 1920, troops carried out a coup against the right-wing government. The action of 20 July 1932 bore, on the other hand, the stamp of a measure taken by the President and the government of the Reich according to the constitution, however much it lacked legal justification. In 1920, the rallying cry was clear: prevention of a military putsch against the constitutional government. What could the slogan have been in July 1932? Reversing the dismissal of a provincial government which was just managing to function, which had no majority in its parliament and whose members were tired of being in office and had been endeavouring for weeks to bring about an honourable departure for themselves? Could one, by means of a call to reinstate the current government, lead the work force into the battle and probably into a bloodbath? For there can be no doubt that the Reichswehr was willing and prepared to offer resistance. It is also highly questionable whether the moment for a ‘last stand’ had already come in July 1932, a week and a half before the general election. Finally, one further consideration: even the attempt to mobilize the work force could certainly have led to a rapprochement between reactive groups and the NSDAP among the opposition, as has been mentioned. In that way, the make-up of the alliance of January 1933 would have been anticipated – and historians would today ask each other this question, ‘whether, in the summer of 1932, the German workers’ movement provoked its own decline and the victory of National Socialism by means of a pointless uprising’ [563: Schönhoven, Reformismus und Radikalismus, p. 164]. On the basis of these arguments, observations and considerations, the passive behaviour of the leaders of social democracy and the free unions on 20 July 1932 is given a less harsh, and, one might say, fairer, judgement The last phase of the Republic 213 11 than was the case for some time [for the arguments and viewpoints listed here, see H. Grebing, ‘Flucht vor Hitler?’, in: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte B4-5/83, 19 January 1983, pp. 26–42; 130: Jasper, Die gescheiterte Zähmung, pp. 95 ff.; 586: Winkler, Der Weg in die Katastrophe, pp. 646 ff.; 544: Pyta, Gegen Hitler und für die Republik, pp. 386 ff.; 55: Schaefer, SPD in der Ära Brüning, pp. 414 ff.; 838: Lessmann, Die preußische Schutzpolizei, pp. 363 ff.; Kolb, ‘Rettung der Republik: Die Politik der SPD in den Jahren 1930 bis 1933’, in 159: Winkler (ed.), Weimar im Widerstreit, pp. 85–104, here pp. 95 ff.]. 11 Recently, scholars have frequently asked whether political alternatives were not still available under the authoritarian Cabinets of Papen and Schleicher, rather than delivering power to the National Socialists. In this case, a possi- 11 bility of preventing Hitler from becoming chancellor, which has had too little attention, has moved into the foreground, namely, the declaration of 1 a state of emergency (see page 130 f. above). In view of the development in 1932 of a situation of veritable ‘constitutional disability’, which could no longer be rectified by constitutional means, would turning to an over posi- tive law of emergency have been apposite and justified, in order to keep the ‘legalistically’ operating National Socialists from power? A limited adjourn- 111 ment of the Reichstag outside the terms of the constitution, backed up by the authority of the President and the armed might of the Reichswehr, would certainly not have opened an escape route from the crisis of the Weimar Republic, but this would have represented probably the only remaining alter- native to appointing Hitler as Chancellor. There is no doubt that, from the end of August 1932 until the end of January 1933, the proclamation of a state of emergency was under consideration [E. Kolb/W. Pyta, ‘Die Staatsnotstandsplanung unter den Regierungen Papen und Schleicher’, in 462: Winkler (ed.), Die deutsche Staatskrise 1930–1933, pp. 155–81; W. Pyta, ‘Verfassungsbau, Staatsnotstand und Querfront: Schleichers Versuche zur 111 Fernhaltung Hitlers von der Reichskanzlerschaft August 1932 bis Januar 1933’, in: Winkler/L. Richter (eds), Gestaltungskraft des Politischen, Fest- schrift für Eberhard Kolb (Berlin, 1998) pp. 173–197; on Schleicher’s conception of the constitution: Winkler, ‘Konstitutionelle Demokratie statt monarchischer Restauration’, in VfZ 47 (1999), pp. 417–41]. Recently found sources show more clearly than was hitherto assumed that the leaders of the Reichswehr were very well prepared, on an understanding with Schleicher, for the take-over of executive power [see the documents by W. Pyta, ‘Vorbereitungen für den militärischen Ausnahmezustand unter Papen/Schleicher’, in MGM 51 (1992), pp. 385–428; on the problem of 111 the emergency in ‘Weimar’s last months’, cf. also 394: Blomeyer, Der Notstand in den letzten Jahren der Weimarer Republik; 389: Berthold, Carl Schmitt und der Staatsnotstandsplan am Ende der Weimarer Republik]. The final phase of the Weimar Republic was overshadowed by the triumphant rise of the National Socialist movement from 1929–30 onwards. 111 It is certainly a major responsibility of historians to explain convincingly the 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 214 Basic problems and trends of research causes and stages whereby the party changed from local cadres to a populist mass movement and an important factor in the domestic arena. During the first two decades after 1945, however, research concentrated on the party’s early history in Bavaria in 1919–23 and on Hitler’s personality. [On the problems of Hitler biography and the study of his character and opinions see research reports by K. Hildebrand, Das Dritte Reich (5th edn, Munich, 1995), pp. 150 ff., and 909: Schreiber, Hitler]. Only in the late 1960s did interest shift to some extent to the years after the party’s re-foundation in 1925. The monographs by J. Nyomarkay [902], D. Orlow [903], W. Horn [881] and A. Tyrell [918, cf. 52], which appeared within a short time of each other, deal thoroughly with the internal development and structure of the NSDAP and the formation of a new type of party based on the Führer ideology and the Führer principle (cf. page 103 above), while the work by P. Hüttenberger [882] describes the Gauleiter system, the most important party cadre during the ‘time of struggle’. Other studies seek to discover on what the attraction of the NSDAP was based and what were the real causes of its mass following. In this connec- tion M. Broszat draws attention to the psychological attitudes related to age, experience, or social origin to which for a long time too little heed was paid in comparison with ‘objective’ socio-economic data, such as origin, occupation, and so on, which are easier to ascertain but often less informa- tive (cf. page 110 f. above). To Broszat the mass appeal of the NSDAP seems ‘undramatic’ and ‘sudden in appearance only’, because the new, anti- Marxist and anti-liberal, catch-all party to a great extent simply took over and united ‘what had already existed far and wide, though in a scattered form, in the way of ideology and sectional interest with a political poten- tial’. The watchword of a ‘national community’ (Volksgemeinschaft) proved the most effective element of National Socialist propaganda, and the party became highly popular with the younger generation, in particular, thanks to widespread social discontent [859: ‘Zur Struktur der NS-Massenbewegung’, pp. 59 ff.; cf. idem 858: ‘Soziale Motivation und Führerbindung des Nationalsozialismus’; 860: Die Machtergreifung, pp. 207–19, report on sources and state of research]. In J. Kocka’s view the attraction that National Socialism exerted on very different social groups was due primarily to the movement’s ‘Janus-like char- acter’. ‘National Socialism made it possible to be simultaneously, on the one hand, radical and anti-elitist, opposed to capitalists and “big shots”, and, on the other, fiercely anti-socialist, nationalistic and conscious of one’s social standing.’ The fact that large sections of German society were attracted by this dualism – National Socialism was both dynamic and anti-modern, reac- tionary and revolutionary, opposed to capitalism and also to socialism – is attributed by Kocka to the persistence of strong pre-industrial, pre-capitalist and pre-bourgeois traditions [‘Ursachen des Nationalsozialismus’, in: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte B25/80, 21 June 1980, pp. 3–15; quotation pp. 10 f.]. A further theory of the nature of the National Socialist movement, The last phase of the Republic 215 11 its conception of itself and its cohesive force, has been put forward by the American historian J. M. Rhodes, who interprets it as a secular, chiliastic phenomenon [905: The Hitler Movement]. Works describing the NSDAP as a whole, and the origins of its mass membership are supplemented by more specialized studies dealing, on the one hand, with particular cities and regions [e g, 854, 856, 876, 880, 901, 906, 908, 919] and, on the other, with the organizational ‘infrastructure’, for example, the SA [855, 866, 884, 893, 898, 899], the SS [889], the agrarian advisers [871], the youth organizations and the Students’ Association 11 [910, 865], and the National Socialist organization of cells in the workplace [890]. This organization network is, in particular, in need of further inves- tigation, as it enabled the Nazis to penetrate the most varied sections of 11 society and, in some cases, to infiltrate bourgeois associations and institu- tions (cf. pages 106–8 above); it thus played an important part in making 1 possible the spectacular Nazi advance from 1930 onwards. In the 1970s and 1980s, research into the Nazi rise to power concentrated on two themes: electoral developments, and relations between the NSDAP and the industrial world, especially heavy industry. Certainly, it was not by election that Hitler came to power. But it is equally 111 true that he would not have done so but for the elections, in particular the National Socialist successes of 1932. In view of this fact it is surprising that the shift of voters to the NSDAP was for some time not analysed on a scientific basis; such analysis was replaced by ‘electoral folklore’ (J. W. Falter), a mixture of true, half-true and completely false assertions. The view – based partly on contemporary studies – which prevailed for a long time, is that National Socialism was a middle-class phenomenon: the party consisted mainly of members of the old and new middle class, that is, craftsmen, small trades- men, medium-sized farmers, employees and officials, in so far as voters in these categories were not Catholic supporters of the Centre or the BVP. As 111 against this, it was thought, the upper and upper-middle classes were largely immune to National Socialism; so was the working class, except that the Nazis had some success with the unemployed. This interpretation was condensed by the American sociologist S. M. Lipset into a theory of Fascism as ‘extrem- ism of the centre’ [‘“Fascism” – Left, Right and Center’, in Political Man – the Social Bases of Politics (Garden City, NY, 1960), pp. 127–79; cf. an early criticism of this theory by H. A. Winkler, ‘Extremismus der Mitte?’, VfZ, vol. 20 (1972), pp. 175–91]. The analysis of the political origin and social background of NSDAP voters with the help of modern methods of studying electoral history did not get 111 under way until the 1970s. In the 1980s, it formed a definite focal point for academic studies of the NS movement before 1933. Within the frame- work of a big project supervised by J. W. Falter, 30 separate studies were produced; Falter put the fruits of this costly task into his book, Hitlers Wähler [864]. As a result of this monograph and countless studies by other 111 authors, one can state the following: 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 216 Basic problems and trends of research (1) The shift of voters to the NSDAP, especially in the election of September 1930, cannot be sufficiently explained and interpreted either by means of the class theory of Lipset and others, or by the theory of the masses put forward by Bendix and others (cf. page 114 above). [For a presentation and critique of these two positions, see J. W. Falter, ‘Radikalisierung des Mittelstandes oder Mobilisierung der Unpolitischen?’, in P. Steinbach (ed.), Probleme politischer Partizipation im Modernisierungsprozess (Stuttgart, 1982), pp. 438–69.] The shifts of voters to the NSDAP appear today consid- erably more complex than either theory assumes. In the elections of 1930, July 1932, and 1933, the NSDAP had more success than any other party in gaining voters who had not voted in the immediately preceding election. By far the most of these had voted in the past for the DNVP, the bourgeois middle-ground parties or the special interest and regional parties, not a few had even voted for the SPD; only the voters of the Centre, BVP and KPD showed almost total resistance to the NSDAP. It is assumed that, in 1930, every third DNVP voter, every fourth DVP or DDP voter, every seventh non-voter and every tenth SPD voter of 1928 switched allegiance to the NSDAP; of these, former non- voters and DNVP voters were the largest contingent. In the July election in 1932, every second voter from the splinter parties (largely former DNVP voters), every third from the Liberals and the German National Party, every fifth non-voter and every seventh SPD voter of 1930 transferred to the NSDAP [864: Falter, Hitlers Wähler, p. 110]. (2) Regarding the social structure of the NSDAP electorate (which is not, or need not be, identical to party membership – cf. page 110 above), the popular view that the petty bourgeoisie helped Hitler to power with their votes cannot be sustained in this form. The social basis for the behav- iour of the National Socialist voters was neither as static nor as narrow as was long supposed and maintained [see above all 861: Childers, The Nazi Voter; 864: Falter, Hitlers Wähler, and Falter’s summary, ‘Wähler und Mitglieder der NSDAP. Neue Forschungsergebnisse zur Soziographie der Nationalsozialisten 1925–1933’ in: GG 19 (1993), pp. 155–77]. The ‘middle class theory’, which prevailed until recently, needs to be revised in two directions – upwards and downwards in the pyramid of social strata. R. F. Hamilton has shown by a careful analysis of results in the individual wards of fourteen cities that the NSDAP was more than averagely successful in districts inhabited by the upper and upper-middle classes, which, in some cases – for example, Berlin, Hamburg, Essen and Dortmund – actually gave it its highest percentage for the city in question [877: Who voted for Hitler?; Hamilton, ‘Braunschweig 1932’, in: Central European History 17 (1984), pp. 3–36]. What is also of interest is Hamilton’s discovery that, in the July 1932 election, the NSDAP had results far above average among voting summer visitors using a Stimmschein (voting permit) – in the Weimar Republic there was no postal vote, but with a Stimmschein one could vote in another constituency. From this, one can deduce that those who could The last phase of the Republic 217 11 afford a holiday in the crisis summer of 1932 on the North Sea or the Baltic, in the foothills of the Alps or in the Black Forest, were among the more affluent sections of the population [877: Hamilton, Who voted for Hitler?, pp. 220 ff.]. Also worth noting is Hamilton’s observation that the upper class share of the NSDAP poll was particularly marked where the influen- tial bourgeois local newspaper was kindly disposed to the NSDAP, so that one is forced to ask if the voters’ actions were affected by the political lean- ings in the papers or if the papers followed the opinions of their readers: a field for future local history studies opens up. 11 Since the upper and upper-middle classes made up only a modest section of the whole electorate, the votes of this social class did not play a decisive role in an election – the NSDAP was not going to become a mass move- 11 ment or win an election with the votes of the exclusive suburbs. Nonetheless, the realization that there was an amazingly strong affinity to National 1 Socialism, at least in elections, among the property-owning, educated (non- Jewish) bourgeoisie is very significant. Here, there is a key to understanding the behaviour displayed by most of the upper and upper-middle classes after 30 January 1933. Among the working class, too, the NSDAP gained considerably more 111 votes than was once supposed; their share of the poll among NSDAP voters is estimated to be 30 to 40 per cent. Until very recently, the working class was considered to be largely resistant to National Socialism, the mainly inex- plicit reason for this being the image of the ‘typical’ industrial worker from city conurbations, with links to the labour movement. However, this cate- gory of worker made up only one section of the working class (which was defined uniquely in line with insurance laws: compulsory insurance against invalidity). In the employment census of 1925, of 16 million workers in all areas of the economy, 10.2 million were in industry and skilled trades; if the number in skilled trades and small businesses is deducted from that, 111 7.8 million ‘industrial workers as such’ remain. About 4 million of those were employed in concerns with over 200 employees. Two points should be noted here, regarding the ‘susceptibility’ of workers to National Socialism [864: Falter, Hitlers Wähler, pp. 198 ff.; Falter/D. Hanisch, ‘Die Anfälligkeit von Arbeitern gegenüber der NSDAP bei den Reichstagswahlen 1928– 1933’, in: AfS 26 (1986), pp. 179–216]. First, even before 1930 a sizeable number of workers had not voted for either of the ‘working-class parties’, the SPD or the KPD. Thus it is estimated that in December 1924 the DNVP received about 2.2 million workers’ votes [572: Stupperich, Volks- gemeinschaft oder Arbeitersolidarität, p. 35]. It is to be supposed that the 111 NSDAP was especially able to attract such ex-supporters of the conservative or bourgeois parties. Second, the NSDAP could make inroads particularly among classes with whom the independent trade unions and workers’ parties had had little success: with farm labourers, homeworkers, employed craftsmen and workers in small concerns and some branches of the public 111 service (post, railway, municipal enterprises). On the other hand, industrial 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 218 Basic problems and trends of research workers, especially those in heavy industry, remained largely impervious to Nazi attraction. Older assumptions, about the inclinations towards National Socialism of social groups as they appear in elections, need to be revised in two further respects. In contrast to the assertions of the ‘middle class theory’, employees voted, very probably below average, at most, however, on the average, for the NSDAP; on the other hand, above average allegiance to the NSDAP is to be observed among officialdom [864: Falter, Hitlers Wähler, pp. 230 ff., pp. 242 ff.]. (3) A further important result of the latest studies is that, contrary to the usual belief, the NSDAP did not make wholesale gains among the unem- ployed. The latter, who in 1932–3 comprised about a third of all workers, voted for the KPD and (to a less extent) the SPD rather than the NSDAP, which registered appreciable gains only among out-of-work white-collar employees. Thus the common view that the unemployed contributed signif- icantly to the electoral success of the NSDAP is not confirmed but refuted by research [among others, 864: Falter, Hitlers Wähler, pp. 292 ff.; Falter, ‘Politische Konsequenzen von Massenarbeitslosigkeit’, in PVS 25 (1984), pp. 275–295]. The NSDAP actually profited indirectly from the mass unemployment (see above, pages 111 f.). In summarizing these findings, J. W. Falter realizes that the NS move- ment was, in fact, ‘a socially mixed party that held attractions for all classes of society, if in differing proportions: taking the social structure of its members and voters into account, if not its programme or poli- cies, it can be described as being a modern party of integration. It endeavoured, using the signature of people’s party, to address in its propaganda all social classes, aided by offers and promises formulated to suit specific groups. In acting thus, it seems to have had more success than the other political parties. Its attempt to place itself to some extent at an angle to the existing lines of conflict in Weimar society was, at least partially, successful’ [elections and voters’ behaviour with regard to the rise of the NSDAP after 1928, in 111: Bracher/Funke/Jacobsen (eds), Die Weimarer Republik 1918–1933, pp. 484–504; quotation p. 496]. The question of relations between big business and the Nazis before 1933 was for a long time much neglected by scholars in West Germany and in the West as a whole. This was a considerable disadvantage when, in the late 1960s, the interpretation of National Socialism in terms of fascism became popular, as this necessarily focused attention on the relationship between capitalism and fascism. In the absence of source-based, non-Marxist studies of the relations between heavy industry and the NSDAP in the last phase of the Republic, East German scholars were at first able to dominate the discussion in West Germany with a series of publications. Their intel- lectual offensive was based on the Soviet-Marxist ‘agency theory’, to the effect that the Nazi seizure of power was engineered by German heavy The last phase of the Republic 219 11 industry. Hitler, on this view, became ‘the political candidate, carefully built up at great expense’, of a ‘Nazi group’ of industrialists, bankers and big landowners, who wanted him to be chancellor and brought about his appointment [E. Czichon, Wer verhalf Hitler zur Macht? (Cologne, 1967), p. 32]. East German historians did indeed admit that German heavy industry before 1933 did not act as a single monopoly-capitalist bloc (as the Comintern used to assert in its time), but was divided into rival wings and groups (which were defined and characterized in varying ways); but ulti- mately it was a majority group of ‘representatives’ of industry who placed 11 Hitler in power. From this point of view fascism appears as a ‘completely monocausal act of purchase’ [E. Hennig, ‘Industrie und Faschismus’, NPL, vol. 15 (1970), pp. 433–49; quotation p. 439]. 11 By way of reaction to these views, from the end of the 1960s onwards non-communist research, in its turn, took up the theme of ‘industry and 1 National Socialism’. Credit belongs to the American historian H. A. Turner for a number of critical and empirical studies which have thrown light on the extent of financial support given by industry to the NSDAP. [For a summary of these studies see 914: Faschismus und Kapitalismus in Deutschland; Turner’s comprehensive monograph: 916: Die Großunterneh- 111 mer und der Aufstieg Hitlers]. Turner succeeded in his first studies in exposing as legends various assertions that had been repeated so often as to be counted as facts, and to cast doubt upon the cogency of some pieces of evidence that had been regarded as ‘key documents’. According to Turner, even in 1932 – not to speak of previous years – the NSDAP received only a very modest share of the ‘political funds’ distributed by heavy industry; these donations amounted to very little in comparison with those from other sources, for example, small and medium-sized firms as well as foreign donors, or, above all, with the sums the party derived from its own resources (join- ing and membership subscriptions, sale of leaflets, entrance payments for 111 events, especially rallies with Hitler as speaker, et al. [896: Matzerath/ Turner, Die Selbstfinanzierung der NSDAP 1930–1932; 916: Turner, Die Großunternehmer und der Aufstieg Hitlers, pp. 144 ff.]). Turner’s conclusions aroused fierce controversy, which developed into a regular ‘documentary battle’ (G. D. Feldman). D. Stegmann charged Turner with neglecting structural aspects that were relevant from the point of view of social history; according to Stegmann, the pro-Hitler wing of heavy indus- try worked hard and successfully to pave the way for his chancellorship [see, e.g. 912: ‘Zum Verhältnis von Grossindustrie und Nationalsozialismus 1930–1933’]. Turner, in reply, accused Stegmann of sometimes using sources 111 arbitrarily, misinterpreting archive material and arriving at conclusions that did not hold water [915: ‘Grossunternehmertum und Nationalsozialismus 1930–1933’]. The vehemence of this dispute and the disparity of conclu- sions were not only due to differences of method and standards of judge- ment, but also to the fact that the questions and object of research were not 111 clearly enough formulated, so that the respective arguments to some extent 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 220 Basic problems and trends of research missed their aim. Two aspects of the whole complex should in fact be carefully distinguished: (1) the financing of the NSDAP – the question as to what absolute and relative share was provided by industry, especially heavy industry; (2) the part played by heavy industry and the key industrial associ- ations in the final phase of the Weimar Republic. The latter question involves, over and above elucidation of the position regarding subsidies, a full analy- sis of the self-regarding policy of heavy industry and its share in the destruc- tion of parliamentary democracy, the collapse of the Republic and the facilitation of the Nazi ‘seizure of power’. While Turner concentrates on the first question, Stegmann was chiefly concerned with the second; this divergence, however, was not brought out with sufficient clarity by either adversary. As to the first question, as matters stand at present the argument may be regarded as closed. Unless any new sources come to light and call for fresh conclusions, it can be taken as proven that big business did not make any decisive material contribution to the rise of National Socialism and the Nazi electoral successes. On the other hand, Turner’s statement that financial grants from the business world were ‘predominantly aimed against the National Socialists’ [914: Faschismus und Kapitalismus in Deutschland, p. 25] needs to be corrected in the sense that the subsidies of heavy industry to the DNVP, the DVP and other small parties of the right were not directed so much ‘against the National Socialists’ as against the left and, in a wider sense, against parliamentary democracy. Financial contributions from heavy industry did not enable the right-wing parties to succeed in the elections of 1932. Accordingly, G. D. Feldman rightly concludes that money did not transform itself into political power: ‘The industrialists did not manage to create a polit- ical party with a broad bourgeois base, which . . . would have given industry more solid support, . . . nor did they win favour with a majority of the popu- lation through their efforts to buy the press’ [‘Aspekte deutscher Industrie- politik am Ende der Weimarer Republik 1930–1932’, in 737: Holl (ed.), Wirtschaftskrise und liberale Demokratie, pp. 103–25; quotation p. 118]. Thus there can hardly be any doubt today that heavy industry’s direct financial contribution to the NSDAP was a relatively small one. Much more complex, and harder to answer, is the question as to how far industry, espe- cially heavy industry, helped to prepare the way for Hitler’s chancellorship through its political activities and by directly or indirectly influencing those in control during the period of presidential Cabinets. In particular, it is still disputed as to how far heavy industry was truly represented by its pro-Hitler wing in 1932, and how effective the latter’s activities were in the last months and weeks before 30 January 1933. (Turner and Stegmann take completely opposite views of, in particular, the importance of the Keppler circle and of Schacht’s office, also the genesis and significance of the industrialists’ peti- tion to Hindenburg in November 1932.) Although there are still differences of opinion, the following may be taken as established. (1) In the last months before the Nazi seizure of power, it was evidently less than ever the case that a single individual could speak or act as a The last phase of the Republic 221 11 representative of big business as a whole [417: Hentschel, Weimars letzte Monate, p. 133]. It can scarcely be disputed any longer that ‘heavy industry’ was not essentially involved in arranging Papen’s interview with Hitler on 4 January 1933 [ibid., p. 136, agreeing with Turner and others against Stegmann; cf. on the whole 769: Neebe, Großindustrie, Staate und NSDAP 1930–1933, pp. 140 ff.]. (2) Note should be taken of G. D. Feldman’s point that the long predominance of heavy industry, which was still unbroken in the 1920s, had the effect of driving important parts of the business world, especially medium 11 and smaller enterprises, towards right-wing radicalism, thus destroying potential reserves of support for a liberal democratic policy. ‘In this sense heavy industry bears more responsibility for the support given to Hitler by 11 German industry as a whole than can be inferred simply from its direct influ- ence’ [‘Aspekte deutscher Industriepolitik am Ende der Weimarer Republik 1 1930–1932’, in 737: Holl (ed.), Wirtschaftskrise und liberale Demokratie, p. 115]. (3) After Schleicher’s government declaration and the modification of the emergency decrees of 4 and 5 September 1932 (which had gravely affected the labour laws to the workers’ disadvantage), the group of heavy 111 industrialists led by Paul Reusch (Chairman of the Gutehoffnungshütte – mining, steel and vehicle manufacture – and an influential ‘economic leader’ in the Weimar Republic) insisted on the abandonment of Schleicher’s plans and worked for a return to Papen’s authoritarian regime. That is to say, while not fully cognizant of Papen’s manoeuvres since the end of December, they endeavoured to put an early end to Schleicher’s chancel- lorship. Until recently the dominant view has been that the industrialists were more or less agreed in opposing Schleicher, but R. Neebe has now shown that the Reichsverband der Deutschen Industrie and the Deutscher Industrie- und Handelstag were still behind Schleicher in January 111 1933; thus Hitler became Chancellor at a time when ‘the industrial front was split’ [769: Grossindustrie, Staat und NSDAP 1930–1933, p. 201; on the preparation for Schleicher’s fall and the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor, see the very detailed analysis in 917: Turner, Hitlers Weg zur Macht]. To this extent it appears that heavy industry was less responsible for bringing Hitler to power than is often supposed; but its chief represen- tatives no doubt hardly saw any reason to oppose a take-over of the government by Hitler [417: Hentschel, Weimars letzte Monate, p. 138]. The business world did not create Hitler’s government and the great majority of big business men were not trying, in or before January 1933, to bring a 111 Nazi government to power. But, by their opposition to parliamentary democracy and preference for an authoritarian system, the bosses had accel- erated the breakup of the Weimar Republic and played into the hands of a dictatorship. Hence the business world in general, and big business in partic- ular, bears a large share of responsibility for Hitler’s accession to power and 111 for Nazi rule. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 222 Basic problems and trends of research What made Hitler possible? Was the Nazi ‘seizure of power’ inevitable in the circumstances that prevailed? Every discussion of the collapse of Weimar circles round these questions, which have received very different answers from researchers up to the present. Certainly, the monocausal explanations which at first prevailed, attributing the rise of Nazism and Hitler’s assump- tion of power to a single cause or a single main cause, are by now discarded, as all such simplistic accounts have proved inadequate. Historians today at least agree that the collapse of the Republic and the Nazi ‘seizure of power’ can only be plausibly explained in terms of a very complex range of causes. Among these, the following must be taken into account: (1) the institu- tional framework, for example, the President’s constitutional rights and options, especially in the absence of clear parliamentary majorities; (2) economic developments, with their effect on the political and social balance of power; (3) the pecularities of German political culture (partly responsible, for example, for the disaffection of the élite classes who, for the most part, were hostile to the pluralistic party democracy of the Republic); (4) changes in the social fabric, especially in the ‘middle class’, with consequences, inter alia, for its political orientation and electoral behaviour; (5) ideological factors (the German authoritarian tradition; extreme nationalism, exacer- bated by defeat in war, by the ‘stab in the back’ legend and by propaganda against the ‘war guilt’ charge; the yearning for a ‘strong man’, which prepared the way for a charismatic ‘leader’ cult such as Hitler’s); (6) factors of mass psychology, for example, the effect of propaganda enhanced by the rootlessness and political instability of large sections of the population; and (7) the role of certain key personalities, in particular Hindenburg, Schleicher and Papen. Our answer to the question as to what brought down the Weimar Republic and made Hitler possible will largely be qualified by the weight attached to the different components, and how they are woven into a consistent whole; for this weighting and combining is not dictated by the sources, but is the task of the interpreting historian. How it is performed will depend on shifts of interest and the viewpoint of the individual inquirer or of a whole generation of researchers, determined by their horizon of experience, scale of values and standards of judgement. Because this is so, particular events, situations and connections are judged differently, and for more or less fifty years interest in the Weimar Republic has concentrated first on one major aspect and then on another, as we have seen several times in the present survey. These remarks are not intended as a plea for any far-reaching modifica- tion of the historical verdict on Weimar and its end, but only to point out why it can, and must be, the case that differently stressed answers are legit- imately given by historians to questions such as that regarding the causes and conditions of the Nazi ‘seizure of power’ and the circumstances that made it possible. The phrase ‘differently stressed’ is used advisedly, since there can be nothing casual or arbitrary about the historian’s judgement. As The last phase of the Republic 223 11 our survey has also shown with many examples, in the past decades research into the Weimar Republic has achieved important results, has cleared up many facts and has refuted a whole range of assertions and suppositions that were long taken for granted. The limits within which interpretation is still possible are set by the body of research thus created. 11 11 1 111 111 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 Reich election results, 1919–33 National Assembly 19. 1. 1919 36.766 NSDAP (in 1924: NS-Freiheitsbewegung) 32 Number entitled to vote (in millions) Votes cast (in millions) Size of poll (%) Total no. of seatsa DNVP 1st Reichstag 6. 6. 1920c 35.949 2nd Reichstag 4. 5. 1924 38.375 3rd Reichstag 7. 12. 1924 38.987 30.704 78.8 493 6.206 20.5% 103 0.907 3.0% 14 30.524 83.0 421 (423)b 3.121 10.3% 28.463 79.2 459 4.249 15.1% 44 71 95 – – 1.918 29.709 77.4 472 Wirtschaftspartei/ Bayer. Bauernbund Deutsch-Hannoversche Partei 1554 0.275 0.9% 0.218 0.8% 1.005 3.3% 17 0.263 0.9% 4 4 0.694 10 0.320 – 0.574 10 –– –– –– 3.919 13.9% 2.694 2.4% 1.1% 2.0% 0.499 1.6% 5.696 19.5% 6.5% 0.077 0.2% 0.319 1.1% Landbund – Deutsches Landvolk – Deutsche Bauernpartei – Christlich-sozialer – Volksdienst 8 – – – 3.049 10.1% 51 4.119 13.6% 69 3.2% 5.7% 1.920 6.3% DVP 1.345 4.4% 9.2% 13.4% Zentrum (Centre) (in 1919: Christliche Volkspartei) BVP – DDP (from 1930: 5.641 3.845 13.6% 3.914 64 65 1.238 4.4% 0.946 21 16 2.333 8.3% 1.655 39 28 6.104 21.7% 6.009 19 65 45 5.980 19.7% 91 18.5% 19 32 1.134 3.7% Deutsche Staatspartei) SPD USPD KPD Others 75 11.509 37.9% 163 (165)b 2.317 7.6% 20.5% 7.881 26.0% 131 102 100 5.046 17.9% 0.235 0.8% 22 84 – – 0.099 0.3% – 0.589 2.l% 3.693 12.6% 2.709 9.0% 4 62 45 0.131 0.5% 0.332 1.1% 0.930 3.1% 0.598 2.0% 2 – 4d – Source: Statistisches Jahrbuch für das Deutsche Reich, vol. 52 (Berlin, 1933), p. 539. Note: The figures against each party indicate, first, the number of votes obtained (in millions), then its percentage of the poll, then (in bold type) the number of seats it held at the beginning of the session. a The total number of seats varied from one Parliament to another, as it depended on the number of votes cast: see Bibliography, no. 461, pp. 145 ff., 361 ff. b Two additional SPD members were elected by the Eastern Army on 2 February 1919, bringing the total to 423 and the strength of the SPD to 165. 4th Reichstag 20. 5. 1928 41.224 0.810 2.6% 12 1.397 4.5% 5th Reichstag 14. 9. 1930 42.957 6.409 18.3% 107 1.362 3.9% 6th Reichstag 31. 7. 1932 44.226 37.162 84.1 608 2.177 5.9% 73 41 37 52 52 7th Reichstag 6. 11. 1932 44.374 8th Reichstag 5. 3. 1933 44.685 31.165 75.6 491 4.381 14.2% 35.225 82.0 577 2.458 7.0% 35.758 80.6 584 2.959 8.3% 39.654 88.8 647 3.136 8.0% 13.745 37.3% 230 0.146 0.4% 11.737 33.1% 196 0.110 0.3% 17.277 43.9% 288 – 0.195 0.6% 0.144 0.4% 0.047 0.1% 0.064 0.2% 33–1– 0.199 0.6% 0.194 0.6% 0.097 0.3% 0.105 0.3% 0.084 0.2% 33221 0.581 1.9% 1.108 3.2% 0.091 0.2% 0.046 0.1% – 10 19 1 – 0.481 1.6% 0.339 1.0% 0.137 0.4% 0.149 0.4% 0.114 0.3% 86232 – 0.870 2.5% 0.364 1.0% 0.403 1.2% 0.383 1.0% 14 3 5 4 2.679 8.7% 1.578 4.5% 0.436 1.2% 0.661 1.9% 0432 1.1% 45 30 7 11 2 3.712 12.1% 4.127 11.8% 4.589 12.5% 4.230 11.9% 4.425 11.2% 62 68 75 70 74 0.945 3.1% 1.005 3.0% 1.192 3.2% 1.095 3.1% 1.074 2.7% 16 19 22 20 18 1.505 4.9% 1.322 3.8% 0.371 1.0% 0.336 1.0% 0.334 0.9% 25 20 4 2 5h 23 23 2 1 0.048 0.1% 9.153 29.8% 153 0.021 0.1% – 3.264 10.6% 8.577 24.5% 143 – 4.592 13.1% 7.959 21.6% 133 – 5.283 14.3% 7.248 20.4% 121 – 5.980 16.9% 7.181 18.3% 120 – 4.848 12.3% 54 77 89 100 81 1.445 5.5% 0.804 2.3% 0.244 0.7% 0.299 0.8% 0.005 – 4e 4f 1g – – c Results of the election on 6 June 1920, together with those of 20 February 1921 in constituency no. 1 (East Prussia) and no. 14 (Schleswig-Holstein) and 19 November 1922 in constituency no. 10 (Oppeln). d Deutschsoziale Partei. e Sächsisches Landvolk 2, Volksrechtspartei 2. f Konservative Volkspartei. g Volkrechtspartei. h Elected on the proposal of the SPD. Reich presidential elections 1919, 1925 and 1932 1 The Reich Presidential Election 1919 The Reich Presidential Election of 1919 took place on the basis of the law of 10 February 1919 regarding ‘temporary power in the Reich’. Paragraph 7 stated: ‘The President of the Reich is to be elected from the National Assembly with an absolute majority. His term of office continues until the new President of the Reich, elected on the basis of the future Reich constitution, takes up office.’ On 11 February 1919 the National Assembly elected Friedrich Ebert (SPD) to be (temporary) President of the Reich. Of the 379 votes cast, 277 were for Ebert, 49 for Count von Posadowsky (DNVP), and one each for Scheidemann (SPD) and Erzberger (Centre Party). 51 voting papers were invalid. The Weimar Reich Constitution stated in Article 41 that the President of the Reich was appointed by means of a general election. According to Article 180, Paragraph 2, the ‘temporary’ President Ebert, elected by the National Assembly, could, however, continue in office until the first president elected by the people took over. With a two-thirds majority, sufficient to alter the constitution, the Reichstag agreed on 24 October 1922 to give Article 180, Paragraph 2, the following form: ‘The President of the Reich elected by the National Assembly continues in office until 30 June 1925.’ After the death of Ebert on 28 February 1925, Simons, the President of the Supreme Court, took over the role of President of the Reich until the first president elected by the people took up office. Reich presidential elections 1919, 1925 and 1932 227 11 2 The Reich presidential election 1925 11 11 1 111 First Round of elections 29 March 1925 Number entitled to vote (in millions) 39.23 Votes cast (in millions) 27.02 Size of Poll 68.9% Valid votes (in millions) 26.87 Hindenburg –– Jarres 10.42 38.8% Held 1.01 3.7% Ludendorff 0.29 1.1% Braun 7.80 29.0% Marx 3.89 14.5% Hellpach 1.57 5.8% Thälmann 1.87 7.0% Splinter votes 0.03 0.1% 3 The Reich presidential election 1932 Second Round of elections 26 April 1925 39.41 30.57 77.6% 30.35 14.66 48.3% – – – – – – – – 13.75 45.3% – – 1.93 6.4% 0.01 0.0% Second Round of elections 10 April 1932 44.06 36.77 83.5% 36.49 – – 19.36 53.0% 13.42 36.8% 3.71 10.2% – – 0.01 0.0% 111 2.58 6.8% 18.65 49.6% 11.34 30.1% First round of elections 13 March 1932 43.95 37.89 86.2% 37.65 Duesterberg Hindenburg Hitler Thälmann 4.98 13.2% Winter 0.11 0.3% Splinter votes 0.01 0.0% Number entitled to vote (in millions) Votes cast (in millions) Size of poll Valid votes (in millions) 111 The presidential elections of 1925 and 1932 took place on the basis of Article 41 of the Weimar Reich Constitution in connection with the law about the election of the president of 4 May 1920, which had recently been promulgated (6 March 1924) and was then amended as a result of the second law about the election of the pres- ident dated 13 March 1925. From then on, whoever gained more than half the valid votes was duly elected. If no candidate attained the absolute majority, a second poll had to take place, for which candidates who had not stood for election in the first round could be nominated. In the second poll, the candidate who drew a majority of valid votes (i.e. the absolute or the simple majority) was elected. 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 Data for population distribution and employment 1 Population by age (in thousands) Total population 1910 1925 1953 65,362 5,797 – 8.9% 9,997 – 15.3% 4,086 – 6.3% 27,250 – 41.7% 13,596 – 20.8% 64,926 62,411 Below 6 years 6–15 15–20 20–45 45–65 Over 65 years 9,281 – 14.3% 12,826 – 19.8% 6,287 – 9.7% 23,323 – 35.9% 9,940 – 15.3% 3,269 – 5.0% 7,135 – 11.4% 8,937 – 14.3% 6,543 – 10.5% 24,228 – 38.8% 11,974 – 19.2% 3,594 – 5.8% 4,637 – Others 7.1% 2 Population by religion (in thousands) Year 1910 1925 1933 Total Protestant population 64,926 39,991 – 61.6% 62,411 40,015 – 64.1% 65,218 40,865 – 62.7% Roman Catholic 23,821 – 36.7% 20,193 – 32.4% 21,172 – 32.5% Jewish 615 – 1.0% 564 – 0.9% 500 – 0.8% 598 – 0.7% 1,639 – 2.6% 2,681 – 4.0% 3 Population by size of parish Year Fewer than 2,000 1910 40.0 1925 35.6 1933 32.9 2,000 to below 5,000 11.2 10.8 10.6 5,000 to 20,000 to Over below 20,000 below 100,000 100,000 14.1 13.4 21.3 13.1 13.7 26.8 13.2 12.9 30.4 In parishes with . . . inhabitants (in %) . . . people were living Data for population distribution and employment 229 11 4 Gainfully employed by economic sector (in %) 11 11 1 111 Year Farming Industry and and forestry trades 1907 35.2 40.1 1925 30.5 42.1 1933 28.9 40.4 Tertiary Sector Total Trade Public and and private transport services 24.8 12.4 6.2 27.4 16.4 6.6 30.7 18.5 8.3 Domestic service 6.2 4.4 3.9 5 Work force potential (in thousands) Population between 15 and 65 years of age Total Year population 1910 64,926 1925 62,411 1933 65,362 Overall 39,507 – 60.9% 42,745 – 68.5% 44,932 – 68.8% Male 19,480 – 60.8% 20,467 – 67.8% 21,633 – 68.3% Female 111 The concept of work force potential used here is based solely on the criterion of ability to work according to age. What is not taken into account is that certain groups of the 15- to 65-year-olds cannot be drawn into the work process for physical or social reasons or are not willing to take up gainful employment. 6 Employment rate Employment rate: those in the population in gainful employment. Male or Female Employment Rate: those men or women in gainful employment of the male or female section of the population respectively. – 60.9% – 69.2% 20,027 22,279 23,300 – 69.4% Employed People (incl. Soldiers) Of whom women Employment Year 1,000 1907 28,092 1925 32,009 1933 32,296 1,000 % 9,493 33.8 11,478 35.8 11,479 35.5 Rate Male Female 45.5 61.1 30.4 51.3 68.0 35.6 49.5 65.7 34.2 Data based on tables to be found in 775: Petzina/Abelsberger/Faust (Eds), Sozialsgeschichtliches Arbeitsbuch vol. 3 (pp. 28, 31, 37, 55, 29, 54). 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 Chronology 1918 29 Sept. 3–4 Oct. 28 Oct. 3 Nov. 3–9 Nov. 9 Nov. 10 Nov. 11 Nov. 12 Nov. 15 Nov. 14 Dec. 16–20 Dec. 28–9 Dec. 1919 1 Jan. 5–11 Jan. 15 Jan. 18 Jan. 19 Jan. 6 Feb. 11 Feb. 13 Feb. 21 Feb. Feb.–May 2–6 Mar. Army High Command calls for immediate armistice and establishment of a parliamentary regime. Germany proposes armistice to President Wilson. Adoption of parliamentary constitution; mutiny of the High Seas Fleet at Wilhelmshaven. Czechoslovak republic proclaimed in Prague. Armistice between Austria-Hungary and the Allies; sailors’ rebellion at Kiel. Rebellion spreads in Germany, soldiers’ and workers’ councils formed in many cities. Abdication of William II; proclamation of the German republic. Formation of Council of People’s Representatives (SPD–USPD); Ebert–Groener agreement. Armistice signed at Compiègne. Poland an independent republic. German Austria proclaims itself part of the Reich. Central Working Association agreement between heavy industry and trade unions. ‘Khaki election’ in Britain. Congress of Councils in Berlin; decision to hold election to National Assembly on 19 Jan. 1919. USPD members withdraw from Council of People’s Representatives. Foundation of KPD (German Communist Party). Street fighting in Berlin (Spartacist rising). Murder of Karl Liebkneckt and Rosa Luxemburg. Peace conference opens in Paris (without the defeated Central Powers). Election of National Assembly. Opening of National Assembly in Weimar. Friedrich Ebert elected Reich President. Scheidemann Cabinet (‘Weimar coalition’) of SPD (Social Democrats), DDP (left-wing Liberals) and Catholic Centre). Murder of Bavarian Minister-President, Kurt Eisner. Disturbances, strikes and riots in many parts of Germany. Founding congress of the Third International (Comintern) in Moscow. 11 21 Mar.– 1 Aug. 7 Apr.– 2 May 7 May 16 June 20 June 28 June 11 Aug. Sept. 11 10 Sept. Nov. Soviet republic in Hungary (Béla Kun). Soviet republic in Munich. Peace terms communicated to German delegation at Versailles. Allied ultimatum concerning acceptance of peace treaty. Scheidemann Cabinet resigns; government formed by Bauer (SPD and Centre). Peace treaty signed at Versailles. Weimar constitution comes into force. Allies withdraw intervention forces from Russia. Peace treaty between Austria and the Allies (St Germain). Beginning of civil warfare in China (to 1926). Electoral victory of Bloc National in France. Hindenburg’s evidence to National Assembly committee of inquiry (‘stab in the back’ legend). Peace treaty between Bulgaria and the Allies (Neuilly). Treaty of Versailles comes into force. Admiral Horthy elected regent of Hungary. Kapp–Lüttwitz putsch; government flees to Dresden and Stuttgart; general strike proclaimed by unions; putsch collapses. Fighting in the Ruhr district and central Germany. US Senate refuses to ratify Treaty of Versailles or approve US member- ship of League of Nations. Russo-Polish war. Peace treaty between Hungary and the Allies (Trianon). Reichstag election (‘Weimar coalition’ suffers considerable losses); bourgeois minority government formed by Fehrenbach (Centre, DDP and DVP [National Liberals]). Peace treaty between Turkey and the Allies (Sèvres). Formation of the ‘little Entente’ (Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia), joined by Romania in June 1921. Split of the USPD. Left wing of the USPD joins the KPD. Greco-Turkish war (to 1922). Paris conference: German reparations payment set at 269,000 million gold marks. Franco-Polish treaty of mutual assistance. London conference on reparations; threat of sanctions against Germany. Allied troops occupy Duisburg, Ruhrort and Düsseldorf. Russian Communist Party congress adopts New Economic Policy. Polish–Soviet frontier fixed by peace treaty of Riga. Plebiscite in Upper Silesia; KPD’s ‘March operation’ (Märzaktion) in central Germany. German reparations fixed at 132,000 million gold marks. Fighting breaks out in Upper Silesia. Allied ultimatum demands acceptance by Germany of ‘London pay- ments plan’. Wirth government; Reichstag accepts London ultimatum. Beginning of ‘policy of fulfilment’. 11 1 111 16 Nov. 18 Nov. 27 Nov. 1920 10 Jan. 1 Mar. 13–16 Mar. Mar.–Apr. 19 Mar. Mar.–Oct. 4 June 6 June 10 Aug. 14 Aug. 16 Oct. 4–7 Dec. Dec. 1921 24–9 Jan. 19 Feb. 21 Feb.– 14 Mar. 8 Mar. 8–16 Mar. 18 Mar. 20 Mar. 27 Apr. 2 May 5 May 10 May 111 111 111 Chronology 231 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 232 Chronology 24–5 Aug. 26 Aug. 12 Oct. 5 Nov. 12 Nov.– 6 Feb. 1922 1922 6–13 Jan. 18 Jan. 10 Apr.– 19 May 16 Apr. 24 June 18 July 7–14 Aug. Aug. 24 Sept. 10 Oct. 23 Oct. 24 Oct. 28 Oct. 14 Nov. 1923 10 Jan. 11 Jan. 13 Jan. 22 May 24 July 12 Aug. 13 Sept. 26 Sept. Oct. 16 Oct. end of Oct. 3 Nov. 8–9 Nov. USA signs peace treaties with Germany and Austria. Erzberger murdered. League of Nations Council partitions Upper Silesia between Germany and Poland. ‘Great coalition’ government (SPD, Centre, DDP, DVP) formed in Prussia under Otto Braun (SPD). Washington conference (naval limitation agreement; independence of China guaranteed). Cannes conference (decision to hold a world economic conference at Genoa). Poincaré government in France. Genoa conference. Treaty of Rapallo between Germany and the Soviet Union. German Foreign Minister Rathenau murdered by right-wing extremists. Reichstag approves Law for the Protection of the Republic. London conference; Poincaré demands ‘productive pledges’ from Germany in return for a moratorium. Accierated inflation in Germany. Remnant of USPD merges with SPD. Greco-Turkish armistice after Greek defeats; failure of Lloyd George’s Near East policy. Bonar Law (Conservative) succeeds Lloyd George as Prime Minister. Ebert’s term of office prolonged by constitutional amendment until 1 July 1925. March on Rome: beginning of fascist seizure of power in Italy: Mussolini premier. Wirth government resigns; bourgeois minority government formed by W. Cuno, head of Hamburg–America shipping line. Lithuanians invade Memel territory. Occupation of Ruhr by French and Belgian troops. ‘Passive resistance’ proclaimed; beginning of struggle over the Ruhr. Stanley Baldwin becomes British Prime Minister. Greco-Turkish peace treaty of Lausanne; Greece abandons claims on Turkish mainland. Fall of Cuno government; ‘great coalition’ (SPD, Centre, DDP, DVP) under Gustav Stresemann (DVP). Military dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in Spain. Passive resistance in the Ruhr broken off; state of emergency proclaimed in Germany; peak of inflation. Separatist movements in Rhineland and Palatinate. Deutsche Rentenbank established to stabilize the currency. Deposition of SPD–KPD government in Saxony; conflict between Bavaria and the Reich government; failure of communist attempt at a rising (‘German October’). SPD ministers withdraw from Reich government owing to events in Saxony and Bavaria. Hitler–Ludendorff putsch in Munich; Ebert confers Reich executive authority on General von Seeckt. 11 15 Nov. 23 Nov. 30 Nov. 1924 21 Jan. 11 22 Jan. 25 Jan. 27 Jan. Chronology 233 Rentenmark introduced at a value of 1 billion (a million million) paper marks. Fall of Stresemann government. He remains Foreign Minister in bour- geois minority government of Wilhelm Marx (Centre, DVP, DDP, BVP [Bavarians]). Reparation Commission decides to appoint an international commit- tee of experts to report on Germany’s ability to pay (chairman: the American financial expert Charles G. Dawes). Lenin dies. First British Labour government (minority) under Ramsay MacDonald. Franco-Czechoslovak treaty of alliance. ‘Adriatic treaty’ between Italy and Yugoslavia. Britain recognizes Soviet Union. End of state of emergency in Germany. Hitler sentenced to five years fortress detention. Publication of Dawes Plan for provisional settlement of German repa- ration payments. German government accepts Dawes Plan. Reichstag election (losses by government parties and SPD, gains by DNVP [Nationalists], Völkische Partei and KPD). Electoral victory of Cartel des gauches in France; Herriot becomes Premier, Briand Foreign Minister. Memel statute adopted. London conference adopts Dawes Plan. Dawes Plan approved by Reichstag. Geneva Protocol ‘for peaceful settlement of international disputes’; ineffective, as rejected by British government. France recognizes Soviet Union. Massive electoral victory of Conservatives under Baldwin, who forms government in Nov. Reichstag election following dissolution (losses by radical parties). Hitler prematurely released. Military dictatorship in Lithuania. Allies postpone evacuation of first Rhineland zone (Cologne), due on 10 Jan., on account of German violation of disarmament terms. Hans Luther forms first ‘bourgeois bloc’ government, including DNVP. Stresemann addresses memorandum on security to British and French governments. Japan recognizes Soviet Union; neutrality pact. Re-foundation of NSDAP (Nazi Party). Ebert dies. Hindenburg elected President. Conference of Ambassadors’ note to Germany concerning disarmament. Evacuation of Ruhr district begins (completed 1 Aug.). Evacuation of Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Ruhrort. Locarno conference; treaties initialled. DNVP ministers withdraw from government. Reichstag approves Locarno treaties. Evacuation of Cologne zone begins (completed 31 Jan. 1926). Locarno treaties signed in London. 11 1 111 1 Feb. 13 Feb. 1 Apr. 9 Apr. 16 Apr. 4 May 11 May 17 May 16 July– 16 Aug. 29 Aug. 2 Oct. 24 Oct. 29 Oct. 7 Dec. 17 Dec. Dec. 1925 5 Jan. 15 Jan. 20 Jan., 9 Feb. 21 Jan. 27 Feb. 28 Feb. 26 Apr. 4 June 14 July 25 Aug. 5–16 Oct. 25 Oct. 27 Nov. 30 Nov. 111 111 111 1 Dec. 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 234 Chronology 1926 19 Jan. 24 Apr. 3–12 May 5 May 12 May 12–15 May 20 June 8 Sept. 17 Sept. 6 Oct. 19 Oct.– 18 Nov. 10 Dec. 17 Dec. 1927 29 Jan. 31 Jan. 4–23 May 27 May 16 July 17 Aug. 1928 16–18 Jan. 15 Feb. 20 May 28 June 27 Aug. Sept. Oct.–Dec. Oct. 20 Oct. 9 Dec. 1929 9 Feb. 11 Feb. 11 Feb.– 7 June 24 Mar. 7 June Second Luther Cabinet (bourgeois minority government, without DNVP). German–Soviet treaty of friendship and neutrality (‘Berlin treaty’). General strike in Britain ends in workers’ defeat. Hindenburg’s ‘flag decree’. Luther government resigns over flag dispute; Marx forms bourgeois minority government. Marshal Pilsudski’s coup d’état in Poland. Plebiscite on expropriation of former princes. German membership of League of Nations passed. Stresemann–Briand conversation at Thoiry. Seeckt dismissed from post as chief of army command. Imperial conference in London: Dominions defined as ‘autonomous communities . . . freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations’. Stresemann awarded Nobel Peace Prize. Marx Cabinet falls. Fourth Marx Cabinet, this time including DNVP: second ‘bourgeois bloc’ government. Inter-Allied Military Commission withdrawn from Germany. World economic conference at Geneva. Anglo-Soviet relations broken off (British charges of espionage and propaganda); resumed Oct. 1929. German law on employment exchanges and unemployment insurance. Franco-German commercial treaty. Conference on proposed re-delimitation of Länder boundaries. Government coalition splits over Education Bill. Reichstag election (gains by the left, losses by DNVP and bourgeois middle-ground parties). ‘Great coalition’ government formed by Hermann Müller (SPD). Briand–Kellogg pact outlawing war; 54 states accede by the end of 1929. League of Nations sessions dealing inter alia with evacuation of the Rhineland and question of a final reparations settlement. Ruhr ironworks dispute. First Soviet Five-Year Plan. Alfred Hugenberg elected leader of DNVP. Monsignor Kaas leader of Centre Party. Litvinov Protocol (non-aggression pacts linking the Soviet Union, Romania, Poland, Latvia and Estonia). Lateran treaties between Italy and the Holy See. Paris conference for revision of Dawes Plan, chaired by the US economist Owen D. Young. Parliamentary election in Italy under law of 12 May 1928 (single list): plebiscitary acceptance of fascist regime. Young Plan signed by experts. 11 9 July Chronology 235 ‘Reich Committee’ formed under Hugenberg and representing DNVP, Stahlhelm and NSDAP; beginning of campaign by nationalist right against the Young Plan. Poincaré resigns. First conference at The Hague on the Young Plan. Briand proposes to the League of Nations Assembly his plan for a ‘united States of Europe’ (customs and economic union). Death of Stresemann. Crash on New York stock exchange; beginning of world economic depression. Memorandum against Young Plan by Schacht, president of the Reichsbank. Stalin’s fiftieth birthday celebrations; beginning of the ‘personality cult’. Failure of nationalist petition against the Young Plan. Second conference at The Hague on the Young Plan. London naval conference. Wilhelm Prick first Nazi member of a government (Thuringia). Schacht resigns as Reichsbank president; succeeded by Hans Luther. Reichstag adopts Young Plan legislation. Müller Cabinet resigns. Heinrich Brüning appointed Chancellor; first presidential government. Briand’s memorandum on Europe. Evacuation of Rhineland by Allied troops completed ahead of sched- uled date. Reichstag annuls government decree on ‘safeguarding the national economy and finances’, and is dissolved. Reichstag election; large gains especially by NSDAP. ‘Legality oath’ by Hitler at Leipzig trial of Reichswehr officers from Ulm, accused of high treason. Several (deflationary) emergency decrees. Nearly 5 million unemployed. German government announces plan for a customs union with Austria, which is prevented mainly by French veto. Fall of Spanish monarchy. Failure of Austrian Credit-Anstalt threatens economic and political stability throughout Europe. President Herbert Hoover proposes a year’s moratorium on all inter- national debts. Hoover moratorium declared. Failure of Darmstädter und Nationalbank (Danat-Bank); banking crisis in Germany. The Japanese capture Mukden and occupy Manchuria. Further emergency decree on ‘safeguarding the national economy and finances’. Second Brüning Cabinet. Rally of the ‘national opposition’ at Bad Harzburg (the ‘Harzburg front’). 11 11 1 111 16 July 6–31 Aug. 4–5 Sept. 3 Oct. end of Oct. 6 Dec. 21 Dec. 22 Dec. 1930 3–20 Jan. 21 Jan.– 22 Apr. 23 Jan. 7 Mar. 12 Mar. 27 Mar. 29 Mar. 17 May 30 June 16 July 14 Sept. 25 Sept. 1 Dec. 1931 Feb. 20 Mar. 13 Apr. 11 May 20 June 6 July 13 July 18 Sept. 6 Oct. 9 Oct. 11 Oct. 111 111 111 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 236 Chronology 8 Dec. 11 Dec. 16 Dec. 1932 Feb. 2 Feb. 18 Feb. 10 Apr. 13 Apr. 24 Apr. 12 May 20 May 30 May 4 June 16 June 16 June– 9 July 5 July 20 July 22 July 25 July 31 July 13 Aug. 4 Sept. 12 Sept. 25 Oct. 6 Nov. 17 Nov. 29 Nov. 2 Dec. 11 Dec. 1933 4 Jan. 28 Jan. 30 Jan. Fourth emergency decree on ‘safeguarding the national economy and finances’. The Statute of Westminster grants full self-government to the British Dominions. Formation of the ‘iron front’ (SPD, ADGB [trade unions], workers’ sporting associations, and the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold). German unemployment reaches its peak (6,128,000). Disarmament conference opens at Geneva. Japan creates the puppet state of Manchukuo out of occupied Manchuria. Hindenburg re-elected President. SA and SS banned. Landtag elections in Prussia, Bavaria, Württemberg, Anhalt and Hamburg. Large NSDAP gains everywhere; the ‘Weimar coalition’ under Otto Braun (SPD), governing in Prussia since 1925, loses its majority. Groener forced to resign from the post of Defence minister. Dollfuss government in Austria. Brüning Cabinet resigns. Government of ‘national concentration’ formed by Franz von Papen, with Schleicher as Defence Minister. Reichstag dissolved. Ban on SA lifted. Lausanne conference; end of reparations. Antonio Salazar becomes Prime Minister of Portugal. ‘Prussia coup’ by von Papen and Schleicher. Interim Prussian govern- ment dismissed and Papen appointed Reich Commissioner. The deposed government appeals to the High Court. Germany withdraws from the Geneva conference on disarmament. Soviet-Polish non-aggression pact. Reichstag election; NSDAP the largest party. Hindenburg refuses Hitler’s demand to be appointed Chancellor. Emergency decree ‘to reanimate the economy’. Reichstag passes a vote of no confidence in the Papen government, and is dissolved. Court verdict on the Prussian coup: Reich Commissioner to continue exercising authority in Prussia; Otto Braun government to represent Prussia in the Reichsrat. Reichstag election; NSDAP loses votes but remains largest party. Papen Cabinet resigns. Franco-Soviet non-aggression pact. Kurt von Schleicher forms presidential government. Five-power declaration acknowledging Germany’s equality of rights in respect of disarmament. Hitler and Papen meet in Cologne: soundings for the formation of a joint Cabinet. Schleicher resigns, having lost Hindenburg’s confidence. Hitler appointed Chancellor at the head of a presidential government. 11 Bibliography 11 11 1 Note (1) Works published before 1980 are cited sparingly, as the earlier literature can easily be traced through the bibliographies of later works. Limited numbers of published essays and articles in collective volumes are included. (2) Subtitles are only given when they elucidate the main title. 111 (3) (4) In cases where English translations of German works exist, these are cited in 111 1 Akten zur Deutschen Auswärtigen Politik (ADAP) 1918–1945: Serie A, 1918–1925; Serie B 1925–1933 (Göttingen, 1966–95). 2 Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919–1939: Series I, 1919–1925; Series IA, 1925–1929; Series II, 1929–1938 (London, 1947–86). 3 Documents Diplomatiques Français 1920, vol. 1 (10 January–18 May 1920) (Paris, 1997). 4 Documents Diplomatiques Français 1932–1939, Serie 1, 1932–1935 (Paris, 1964–84). 5 Documents Diplomatiques Français sur l’Allemagne 1920. French diplomatic reports from Germany, 1920, ed. by S. Martens in conjunction with M. Kessel, 2 vols (Bonn, Berlin, 1992–93). 6 Dokumenty vneˇsn’ej politiki SSSR 1917–1938 (Moscow, 1958–77). 7 Papers relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States 1918 ff. (Washington DC, 1930 ff.). 8 Papers relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Supplement, The Paris Peace Conference 1919, 13 vols (Washington DC, 1942 ff.). 9 I Documenti Diplomatici Italiani, Serie 6, 1918–1922; Serie 7, 1922–1935 111 111 10 (Rome, 1953 ff.). Documents Diplomatiques Belges 1920–1940 (Brussels, 1964–66). As a rule the latest edition is cited; occasionally also the date of the first edition, when it is of importance for the history of research. preference to the originals, but are preceded by an asterisk. A Sources I Documents on foreign policy and treaty texts 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 238 Bibliography 11 Deutsch-sowjetische Beziehungen von den Verhandlungen in Brest-Litovsk bis zum Abschluss des Rapallo-Vertrages, 2 vols (East Berlin, 1967–71). 12 Locarno-Konferenz 1925. 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Das Ende der Weimarer Republik in Baden und Württemberg 1928–1933 (Stuttgart, 1982). 909 Schreiber, G., Hitler. Interpretationen 1923–1983. Ergebnisse, Methoden und Probleme der Forschung (Darmstadt, 1984, 2nd edn, 1988). 910 Stachura, P. D., Nazi Youth in the Weimar Republic (Santa Barbara, CA, 1975). 911 Stachura, P. D., Gregor Strasser and the Rise of Nazism (London, 1983). 912 Stegmann, D., ‘Zum Verhältnis von Großindustrie und Nationalsozialismus 1930–1933’, AfS, vol. 13 (1973), pp. 399–482. 913 Thoss, B., Der Ludendorff-Kreis 1919–1923. München als Zentrum der mitteleuropäischen Gegenrevolution zwischen Revolution und Hitler-Putsch (Munich, 1978). 914 Turner, H. A., Faschismus und Kapizalismus in Deutschland. Studien zum Verhältnis zwischen Nationalsozialismus und Wirtschaft (Göttingen, 1972). 915 Turner, H. A., ‘Großunternehmertum und Nationalsozialismus 1930–1933. Kritisches und Ergänzendes zu zwei neuen Forschungsbeiträgen’, HZ, vol. 221 (1975), pp. 18–68. *916 Turner, H. A., German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler (New York and Oxford, 1985). 917 Turner, H. A., Hitlers Weg zur macht. Der Januar 1933 (Neuwied, 1997). 918 Tyrell, A., Vom ‘Trommler’ zum ‘Führer’. Der Wandel von Hitlers Selbstverständnis zwischen 1919 und 1924 und die Entwicklung der NSDAP (Munich, 1975). 919 Wiesemann, F., Die Vorgeschichte der nationalsozialistischen Machtübernahme in Bayern 1932/33 (Munich, 1975). 920 Winkler, H. A., ‘Mittelstandsbewegung oder Volkspartei? Zur Sozialen Basis der NSDAP’, in W. Schieder (ed.), Faschismus als soziale Bewegung (Hamburg, 1976), pp. 97–118. Wirsching, A., see no. 587. 11 XII Biographies ADENAUER 921 Stehkämper, H. (ed.), Konrad Adenauer, Oberbürgermeister von Köln (Cologne, 1976). 922 Schwarz, H.-P., Adenauer. Der Aufstieg: 1876–1952 (Stuttgart, 1986). 923 Köhler, H., Adenauer (Frankfurt, Berlin, 1994). BÖSS 924 Engeli, C., Gustav Böss. Oberbürgermeister von Berlin 1921–1930 (Stuttgart, 11 11 1 111 BOLZ 925 Miller, M., Eugen Bolz (Stuttgart, 1951). 926 Sailer, J., Eugen Bolz und die Krise des politischen Katholizismus in der Weimarer Republik (Tübingen, 1994). BRAUN 927 Schulze, H., Otto Braun oder Preussens demokratische Sendung (Frankfurt, 1977). BRAUNS 928 Mockenhaupt, H., Weg und Wirken des geistlichen Sozialpolitikers Heinrich 111 BROCKDORFF-RANTZAU 929 Haupts, L., Graf Brockdorff-Rantzau (Göttingen, Zurich, 1984). 930 Scheidemann, C., Ulrich Graf Brockdorff-Rantzau (1869–1928) (Frankfurt, 1998). BRÜNING 931 Müller, F., Die “Brüning Papers”. Der letzte Zentrumskanzler im Spiegel seiner Selbstzeugnisse (Frankfurt, 1993). 932 Patch, W. C., Heinrich Brüning and the Dissolution of the Weimar Republic (Cambridge, 1998). 933 Hömig, H., Brüning. Kanzler in der Krise der Republik (Paderborn, 2000). DIETRICH 934 Saldern, A. von, Hermann Dietrich. Ein Staatsmann der Weimarer Republik (Boppard, 1966). EBERT 935 Witt, P.-C., Friedrich Ebert. Parteiführer, Reichskanzler, Volksbeauftragter, Reichspräsident (Bonn, 1982, 2nd edn, 1988). 936 König, R., Soell, H. and Weber, H. (eds), Friedrich Ebert und seine zeit. Bilanz und Perspektiven der Forschung (Munich, 1990). EISNER 937 Grau, B., Kurt Eisner 1867–1919 (Munich, 2001). ERZBERGER 938 Epstein, K., Matthias Erzberger and the Dilemma of German Democracy 111 111 (Princeton, NJ, 1959). 1971). Brauns (Paderborn, 1977). Bibliography 279 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 280 Bibliography GESSLER 939 Möllers, H., Reichswehrminister Otto Geßler. Eine Studie zu “unpolitischer” Militärpolitik in der Weimarer Republik (Frankfurt, 1998). GOEBBELS 940 Reuth, R. G., Goebbels (Munich, 1990) 941 Höver, U., Joseph Goebbels – ein nationaler Sozialist (Bonn, Berlin, 1992). GRZESINSKI 942 Albrecht, T., Für eine wehrhafte Demokratie. Albert Grzesinski und die preußische politik in der Weimarer Republik (Bonn, 1999). HAASE 943 Calkins, K. R., Hugo Haase. Democrat and Revolutionary (Durham, NC, 1979). HELFFERICH 944 Williamson, J. G., Karl Helfferich, 1872–1924. Economist, Financier, Politician (Princeton, NJ, 1971). HEUSS 945 Hess, J. C., Theodor Heuss vor 1933 (Stuttgart, 1973). HILFERDING 946 Smaldone, W., Rudolf Hilferding. Tragödie eines deutsches Sozialdemokraten (Bonn, 2000). HINDENBURG 947 Dorpalen, A., Hindenburg and the Weimar Republic (Princeton, NJ, 1964). 948 Wheeler-Bennett, J., Hindenburg. The Wooden Titan (London and New York, 1967). 949 Zaun, H. Paul von Hindenburg und die deutsche Außenpolitik 1925–1934 (Cologne, Weimar, Vienna, 1999) HITLER 950 Bullock, A., Hitler. A Study in Tyranny (London, 1964). 951 Fest, J. C., Hitler (London and New York, 1974). 952 Zitelmann, R., Hitler. Selbstverständnis eines Revolutionärs (2nd edn Stuttgart, 1989). 953 Kershaw, I., Hitler 1889–1936 (Stuttgart, 1998). HOFFMAN 954 Hennig, D., Johannes Hoffmann. Sozialdemokrat und bayerischer Minister- präsident (Munich, London, New York, Paris, 1990). HUGENBERG 955 Leopold, J. A., Alfred Hugenberg. The Radical Nationalist Campaign against the Weimar Republic (New Heaven, CT and London, 1977). JOOS 956 Wachtling, O., Joseph Joos. Journalist, Arbeiterführer, Zentrumspolitiker (Mainz, 1974). KAAS 957 May, G., Ludwig Kaas, 3 vols (Amsterdam, 1981/2). KEIL 958 Mittag, J., Wilhelm Keil (1870–1968). Sozialdemokratischer Parlamentarier zwischen Kaiserreich und Bundesrepublik (Düsseldorf, 2001). KOCH-WESER 959 Papke, G., Der liberale Politiker Erich Koch-Weser in der Weimarer Republik (Baden-Baden, 1989). LEBER 960 Beck, D., Julius Leber (Berlin, 1983). 11 1 111 11 11 111 LUPPE 961 Hanschel, H., Oberbürgermeister Hermann Luppe. Nürnberger Kommunal- politiker in der Weimarer Republik (Nuremberg, 1977). MARX 962 v. Hehl, U., Wilhelm Marx 1863–1946 (Mainz, 1987). MIERENDORFF 963 Albrecht, R., Der militante Sozialdemokrat. Carlo Mierendorff 1897 bis 1943 (Berlin, Bonn, 1987). NOSKE 964 Wette, W., Gustav Noske (Düsseldorff, 1987). OSSIETZKY 965 Grossmann, K. R., Ossietzky (Munich, 1963). PAPEN 966 Bach, J. A., Franz von Papen in der Weimarer Republik. Aktivitäten in Politik und Presse. 1918–1932 (Düsseldorf, 1977). 967 Petzold, J., Franz von Papen. Ein deutsches Verhängnis (Munich, Berlin, 1995). RATHENAU *968 Kessler, Count H., Walther Rathenau (London, 1929). 969 Schulin, E., Walter Rathenau, Repräsentant, Kritiker und Opfer seiner Zeit (Göttingen 1979, 2nd edn, 1992). 970 Berglar, P., Walther Rathenau. Ein Leben zwischen Philosophie und Politik (Graz, Vienna, Cologne, 1987). 111 SCHACHT 971 Simpson, A. E., Hjalmar Schacht in Perspective (The Hague, 1969). 972 Pentzlin, H., Hjalmar Schacht. Leben und Wirken einer umstrittenen Persönlichkeit (Berlin, Frankfurt and Vienna, 1980). SCHÄFFER, F. 973 Altendorfer, O., Fritz Schäffer als Politiker der Bayerischen Volkspartei 111 1888–1945 2 vols (Munich, 1993). Bibliography 281 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 282 Bibliography SCHÄFFER, H. 974 Wandel, E., Hans Schäffer, Steuermann in wirtschaftlichen und politischen Krisen (Stuttgart, 1974). SCHEIDEMANN 975 Schmersal, H., Philipp Scheidemann 1865–1939. Ein vergessener Sozialdemokrat (Frankfurt, 1999). SCHLEICHER 976 Vogelsang, T., Kurt von Schleicher. Ein General als Politiker (Göttingen, Frankfurt and Zurich, 1965). SEECKT 977 Meier-Welcker, H., Seeckt (Frankfurt, 1967). SEVERING 978 Alexander, T., Carl Severing – ein Demokrat und Sozialist in Weimar, 2 vols (Frankfurt, 1996) shorter version entitled: Carl Severing. Sozialdemokrat aus Westfalen mit preußischen Tugenden (Bielefeld, 1992). SIMONS 979 Gründer, H., Walter Simons als Staatsmann, Jurist und Kirchenpolitiker (Neustadt an der Aisch, 1975). STEGERWALD 980 Schorr, H. J., Adam Stegerwald. Gewerkschaftler und Politiker der ersten deutschen Republik (Recklinghausen, 1966). STINNES 981 Wulf, P., Hugo Stinnes. Wirtschaft und Politik 1918–1924 (Stuttgart, 1979). 982 Feldmann, G. D., Hugo Stinnes. Biographie eines Industriellen 1870–1924 (Munich, 1998). STRESEMANN 983 Thimme, A., Gustav Stresemann (Frankfurt, 1957). 984 Turner, H. A., Stresemann and the Politics of the Weimar Republic (Princeton, NJ, 1963). 985 Hirsch, F., Stresemann (Göttingen, 1978). 986 Koszyk, K., Gustav Stresemann. Der kaiserliche Demokrat (Cologne, 1989). 987 Baechler, C., Gustave Stresemann (1878–1929). De l’impérialism à la sécurité collective (Strasbourg, 1996). WEBER 988 Mommsen,