The Seeds of Evil

Russell Haggar

Site Owner

The Seeds of evil


Section 1-The Nazi Party in he 1920’s



  • What were the origins of National Socialism?

March 1918- Anton Drexler formed Committee for Independent Workmen- mainly artisans and lower middle class


Jan 1919- German Workers Party- a group established immediately after the First World War- hostile to wealth of upper class and strongly anti Semitic- aimed to create “classless socialist organisation led only by German leaders.”


S Lee- Long history of pan Germanism and anti Semitism

The Early Nazi party

Early conception of nazi party- revolutionary


  • What were the 25 points?

25 points contained points that were both nationalist and socialist

Lee argues it soon became clear that Hitler was not particularly committed to socialist element of party programme

Key themes

Revision of Treaty of Versailles

Citizenship of German state to be given to those of German blood


War profiteering to be made a criminal offence

Large dept stores to be divided up and leased to small traders



  • What was the Munich Putsch?

Bavaria and state capital Munich- reputation for extremism

Communist revolt 1919

1921- Gustav von Kahr- head of right wing government- openly resisted control from Berlin

Oct 1922- Mussolini- “March on Rome”- influenced Hitler- wanted Bavaria to march on Berlin- rejected by Kahr


8th- 9th November 1923

8th Nov- Von Kahr addressed gathering at beer hall in Munich- in hall police chief and army commander as well as Nazi’s

Hitler arrived with SA- entered room and sealed building- fired revolver and cried “A national revolution has started.”

Kahr refused to work with Hitler- tricked into supporting Nazi’s by Hitler

In morning Nazi’s released Kahr, army commander and police chief- they didn’t back Hitler

Hitler, Goering and Luddendorf marched into Munich- met by 3,000 police- 16 died

Hitler fled


  • What were the consequences of the Munich Putsch?

Provided publicity for Hitler- (Feb/March 1924) trial showed Hitler off as superb speaker- wore iron cross- gained sympathy of judges-

Press gave verbatim reports of trial- many public impressed

Sent to prison at landsberg- shared cell with Hess

Wrote mein Kampf- Mein Kampf dictated by Hitler in Landsberg prison


After his release Germany very different- government had control- Evans states- “The banned Nazi party was no longer a credible force in German politics and the SA, although still in existence, had lost its fearsome image.”



  • How was the party re-organised after the Munich Putsch?


Party led by Rosenberg whilst Hitler in prison- poor leader

Hitler banned from political activity- couldn't make speeches in public from March 1925- March 1927- permitted to speak to party gatherings

Ban on Nazi party lifted in Jan 1925 and on 26th Feb NSDAP officially re-founded

Bamburg Conference- Hitler called for a meeting aimed to restore party unity and agree future programme

Hitler at meting aimed to diminish socialist influence upon policy

At conference little debate- Hitler led speaking- spoke for five hours and headed off attempt by Gregor Strasser to re-write the Party Programme along “socialist” lines

Goebels converted to Hitler's view

Kershaw on significance of Bamburg- “The way to the fully fledged Fuhrer Party was paved.”

Significant increase in activist base in this period- over 100,000 members


  1. Lee- after 1925 the middle class became basis of electoral strategy after 1925

S Lee- Hitler focussed much more on racial policy rather than economic

By mid 1926- Hitler in control of party

Membership falling- 35,000

Communists dominating industrial areas

1927- ban on Hitler’s involvement in politics officially lifted


Hitler believed Golden Years of Weimar would be short lived- wanted party to be in position to exploit future problems- created new party framework from Munich- Divided Germany into GAUE (regions)- each Gaue had a Gaueleiter or leader


1928- Gaue reorganised- match Reichstag electoral districts- these regions then divided into units

Structure controlled by Hitler


1928- election- Nazi’s 12 seats- 3% of vote- Hitler re-establishing control over party rather than concentrating on election


Section 2- World Depression


  • How was Germany affected by world depression?

Layton- Loans made Germany more susceptible to impact of crash


Initial reaction- many Germans rushed to convert savings into gold or a stronger foreign exchange-


Growing trade gap post Wall Street Crash

Rising unemployment- those that were working- many jobs short term- 1929 unemployment 132,000, over 5 million by spring 1931, mid 1932- 6 million

1929-31- value of German exports fell by 55% from £630 million to £280 million

Layton- statistics fail to convey sociological and psychological consequences


German industrialists calling for restriction on taxes

Division in government widened over unemployment- SPD increase insurance contributions, DVP cut welfare

June 1931- banking crash- DANAT closed

Farmers already hit by high interest rates and falling agricultural prices before 1929- position worsened- 18,000 bankrupt by 1932

50,000 industries went bankrupt between 1930-32

By 1932- 6 million people unemployed


Layton- “… the world economic crisis should really be viewed as simply the final push which brought the Weimar system crashing down.”


But it must be remembered that economic decline evident before 1929- Dr Edgar Feuchtwanger- The German economy began to falter even before the Wall Street stock market crash of October 1929 signalled a world wide depression of unprecedented severity.”


  • How did governments respond to crisis?

For long time government did very little du to number of reasons

  • Widespread international belief that governments were powerless
  • Germany recovered from minor slump in 1926 without intervention
  • Coalition government divided over economy- Grand Coalition split by issue of unemployment relief
  • Great fear of hyperinflation- psychological impact of 1923 massive impact upon both government and society
  • Legal restrictions on Reichsbank due to Dawes and Young Plan
  • Government found it difficult to borrow money as foreign countries lacked confidence
  • Bruning wanted problems to continue so as to stop reparations


Budget cuts- 1928-33- budget for war victim's pensions cut by 1/3- blame on democracy

Schacht- German industrialist warned foreign banks not to provide loans to the German government to balance its books

Section 3- The collapse of the Weimar Republic


  • What was the Grand Coalition (1928-30)?

Led by Muller- contained SPD, DDP, Centre and DVP- 301 out of 491 seats

Nazis less than 3% of vote


Coalition flawed- parties driven by self-interest and inter party divisions e.g. SPD divided between moderates and left wing

Muller- well-intentioned but lacked assertiveness and dynamism of a great charismatic leader


Big problem- Social Security Payments

DVP moved to right after Stresemann’s death

Key dividing issues

  • Republic versus Imperial flag- 1927 the flying of both flags greatly offended SDP's
  • SPD against financing new battle cruiser
  • Nov 1928- owners of iron and steel works in Ruhr refused to accept pay award from state for workers- locked out workers- emphasised growing divide within German society


  • What impact did the Young Plan have upon German politics?

Young Plan- Germany regained control of banking system and there was a final date for the settlement- BUT the amount agreed was still considerable and would be paid for another 60 years

Hitler said- “Why should generations unborn be saddled with the debts of their elders.”

Young plan received great deal of criticism- led by Hugenberg new leader of DNVP- moved party considerably to right- owned large proportion of media- made lot of money from hyperinflation

A Bullock on Hugenberg- “ a bigoted German nationalist… An ambitious, domineering and unscrupulous man with large resources at his disposal.”


Anti Young Plan- Hugenberg, Stahlhelm (ex-servicemen group) Pan German league joined with Hitler in 1929

This group drafted “Law against the Enslavement of the German people.”- Demanded end of Germany’s reparations- charges of high treason against Muller

National referendum on Young Plan- 13.8% support anti

March 1930- Young Plan passed


  • Why did the Grand Coalition collapse?

Dec 1929- vote of no confidence in government- Muller survived

Mar 1930- Muller asked Hindenberg to use Article 48 to pass financial bill- SPD wanted to increase insurance contributions from 3% to 3.5%- DVP opposed as this would have hit the employers

Hindenberg refused

Muller resigned 27th mar 1930

SPD never in government again

No future government had majority in Reichstag


Collapse of Coalition had long term causes

  • Failure to resolve differences between DVP and SPD
  • Fears for the future of the economy
  • Drift to the right in politics largely inspired by German capitalists and industrialists




  • Was Brunings appointment damaging to democracy?

Key Issues

  • Was Bruning a sincere statesmen doing his best in an impossible position?
  • Did Bruning aspire to create a more authoritarian regime?

Layton- Brunings appointment marked major shift away from parliamentary democracy

Bruning new chancellor- coalition- Centre, DVP and DNVP

Bruning known as the “Hunger Chancellor”

Hite and Hinton argue he tried to work with the Reichstag but found this increasingly difficult over time- inability to inspire masses and his politics seen as harsh- agrarian reforms upset the elites


July 1930- proposal of tax increases and reduction in government expenditure- rejected by Reichstag- passed by Article 48

Evans and Jenkins- “The introduction of rule by presidential decree certainly made Bruning entirely dependent on Hindenburg and reduced the role of the Chancellor to that of merely being the Presidents yes-man in the Reichstag.”

Layton argues Bruning was arch conservative and monarchist prepared to use Article 48 and look for backing from traditional elite's


  • What changes did the September 1930 election have upon German politics?

Hindenberg called election after SPD got Reichstag to approve withdrawal of Article 48- was this an irresponsible action by Hindenberg? - Unscheduled election

Elections- 1930- significant swing to parties of extreme left and right

Nazis second biggest party- 6.5 million votes- 107 deputies in Reichstag- Communists 77 seats

Real losers- DNVP and DVP

William Carr- “two out of every five Germans voted for parties bitterly opposed to the principles on which the Republic rested.”

Hindenberg refused to give Hitler place on cabinet


  • Why did Bruning struggle to do anything post Sep1930?

Impossible position for Bruning- worsening economic situation

Adopted deflationary policies- cut wages and spending

Cut government expenditure including wages, salaries and welfare payments regardless of political consequences- drove many to Nazi’s- civil servants particularly badly hit

Spending required from abroad or Reichsbank and this was prevented by Young Plan

Bruning aimed to exploit depression by making it worse- hopefully lead to cancellation of reparations but very few options available to him

Street violence- SA versus Communists

Oct 1931Hitler and Hugenberg joined forces to oust Bruning- the two met aiming to create a combination of industrialists, financial and political interests with NSDAP- called Harzburg Front- achieved little as Hitler feared he was being used by Hugenberg


  • What were the results of the presidential elections in 1932?

Presidential election 1932- Hitler encouraged to stand by Goebels- First Round Hindenberg didn’t get majority

In Second Round Hitler gained 36.7%

Hitler didn’t regard this result as a success but led many to believe that Nazi’s should be included in government

Hindenberg supported by moderate left and centre


  • Why was Bruning dismissed?

May 1932- Hindenberg dismissed Wilhelm Groener (Defence Minister) when Groener placed ban on SA

June 1932- Bruning sought Hindenbergs signature on emergency decree that intended to turn estates of former Prussian aristocrats into 600,000 allotments for unemployed- opposed by landowning class- this class put pressure on Hindenberg to sack Bruning

Bruning forced out by Schleicher and Hindenberg- Schleicher felt Brunings opposition to Hitler was wrong.

Feuchtwanger- on the role of Schleicher and friends- " It was another element in Weimar’s weakness that the officer corps of the small professional army permitted by the Versailles treaty gave only conditional loyalty to the Republic.”

Bruning was not dismissed by a vote of no confidence in the Reichstag but because Hindenberg had turned against him

Feuhtwanger on Hindenberg and the elites- “Rule by presidential decree had made the decisions and misjudgements of the small circle of men around the President crucial.”

Could Bruning have done anything else?

Layton- Bruning victim of political situation that he had helped to create- his brand of moderate authoritarianism re-aserted the influence of the old elites at the heart of government


  • What were the features of Papen's government?

Schleicher played key role in encouraging Hindenburg to appoint Paen- felt Papen would be easier to manipulate than Bruning

Papens cabinet known as “cabinet of the barons”- represented mainly landed and industrial elites-

First act- removed ban on SA and SS- immediate increase in violence- bloodiest fighting- 7,000 Nazis paraded through a working class district of Bamburg

Lawlessness provided Papen with excuse to dismiss Socialist government of Prussia on grounds that it could not keep order- when decision challenged by SDP's- Hindenburg sent in army- showed Nazis just how easily democratic system could be replaced by autocratic system


Papen dissolved Reichstag- elections July1932

Massive Nazi campaign- 37% of vote- became biggest party


  • Had the political crisis reached its peak by December 1932?

Allied troops withdrawn from Germany in 1930

Reparations virtually ended in July 1932

In December 1932 Germany was granted the right to equality of armaments at Geneva Disarmament conference


Communist vote increased in November 1932- key in mobilising middle class and industrialists


Was there an alternative to Hitler-?

  • Authoritarian government
  • Democracy surviving
  • Communist revolution


  • Why was Hitler appointed chancellor in 1933?

Many of elite's wary of radicalism and generally vulgar nature of Nazi movement

Jan 1933- members of elite persuaded Hindenberg to appoint Hitler Chancellor

1932- Key industrialists and land owners concerned about lack of effective government – some believed Nazi’s support could be used to create more authoritarian system- JUNKERS upset by Brunings and Schleichers attempt to buy up bankrupt estates to resettle poor farmers

Members of elite had taming policy for Hitler

  • Initial proposal- make Hitler vice chancellor August 1932- Hitler rejected this
  • Dec 1932- Schleicher hoped to split Nazi’s- bring in G Strasser as vice chancellor- failed- Strasser left Nazi party
  • Put Hitler as chancellor surrounded by Papen and conservatives- difficulties in nazi party- make them easy to control- Papen said of decision- “We’ve hired him.”

Kershaw on elite's support for Hitler as chancellor- “Had they opposed it a Hitler chancellorship would have been inconceivable.  Hitler needed the elite's to attain power.”

Dr E Feuchtwanger- “Hitler did not seize power, but was given it by a back stairs intrigue.”

Evans and Jenkins- Hitler came to power as a re4sult of the other political parties- SPD and KPD failed to realise that their disagreements were small compared with the size of the Nazi threat


If Hitler hadn’t been appointed chancellor what would have happened- electoral vote declining- would he have attempted a second coup

Why did democracy decline in Germany?




Section 4- The Nazi Party post Wall Street Crash

  • Who voted for the Nazi’s?

It is difficult to assess voting patterns because

1)  Results of secret ballot do not tell us who voted for whom

2)  Don’t have modern opinion polls

3) Normally historians have had to compare regions but can be massive range of details


Evidence used

1)  SA membership- eg’s of occupations etc

2)  Nazi propaganda and its audience

3) Nazi autobiographies- Abel's survey of 581 autobiographies- 1934- American academic offered prizes to Nazi party members who wrote account of why they joined- are these representative

4) Comments by Germans and foreigners in 1930’s Germany



1928- 810,000 votes for Nazi’s

1932- July- 13,450,000

3 million new young voters from 1928-32

Return of a number of non voters in elections- 1928- 75.6% turnout- July 1932- 84.1%

Nazi party performed best in predominantly Protestant and rural districts of North Germany. Pomerania, Schleswig- Holstein

Big cities and heavily industrialised districts and predominantly Catholic areas in west and south proved least vulnerable to Nazi’s appeal

Catholic church openly hostile to nazi’s pre 1933

Higher number of peasant holdings seemed to correlate with higher Nazi vote

Unemployed felt alienated from system but care must be taken to recognise varying working class vote

J Noakes argues that Nazi’s made breakthrough by integrating 1) Middle class- self employed artisans, small retailers, and peasant farmers 2) Pensioners- small investors and those on fixed incomes 3) New middle class- civil servants


Feuchtwangar- Hitler's appeal cut across all classes- thus justifying to some extent the claim that Nazism was a movement and not a divisive party, like the others.”



J Noakes- " Despite the marked differences between the Mittelstand groups, they were united by a shared and very strong sense of status distinction, particularly vis a vis

S Lee- “The middle class experienced a crisis of industrialisation which made them susceptible to radical ideas.”

Hite and Hinton- “Religion and local community influences seem to have a greater determinant of voting behaviour than class.”

Hite and Hinton argue all people represented Nazis

After anti Young Plan- Hitler attracted backing of German industrialists such as Kirdorff and Thyssen


  • What role did Hitler play in the rise of the Nazi’s?


1925 Feb- refunded party- Hitler supreme power over policy and strategy

25 point plan remained fixed

Fuhrerprinzip- party obedient tool of Hitler’s will

Hitler introduced brown shirt for SA

Introduced right arm salute and designed flag- used old colours of empire

1926- Bamburg- defeated more socialist inclined rivals-

Hitler and Goebels recognised importance of propaganda- used it to target Germans specific grievances- tailored message to grievance- able to appeal both to socially downtrodden and agrarian and industrial elite's. - Hitler very flexible in his message- tailored ideas to audience- central feature that unified movement

Central rallying figure

Erdmann- “Hitler’s greatness was diabolical: it was that of a world figure who confused the minds of men.”

Cult of leadership- important in Nazi’s

Albert Speer- “I became committed  (to Hitler) when I first heard him speak…I was enthusiastic, elated; I felt that he could save Germany, give us back faith in ourselves…I am ashamed of it now, but at the time, I found him deeply exciting.”



David Welch- “Nazi propaganda that depicted Hitler as an uncompromising opponent of the Weimar Republic had the effect of setting Hitler apart from other politicians tainted by their association with the Weimar system which had now become synonymous with political humiliation and economic failure.”

Welch describing Hitler- “ … an intuitive opportunist determined to gain power first in order to impose his “utopian visions”.”


Care though must be taken not to overestimate Hitler’s role

Nazi’s did well in areas that didn’t have massive propaganda campaign

Many people whom encountered Hitler not impressed


  • How was the Nazi party structured?


After Anti Young Plan campaign- centre of much media attention and attracted the backing of industrialists such as Emil Kirdorf and Fritz Thyssen

Jan 1932- Dusseldorf conference- Nazi’s met leading industrialists- showed elites he represented capitalist friendly ideas


Built up range of organisations eg.  Nazi Welfare Organisation- soup kitchens- helped develop idea of national community- VOLKSGEMEINSCHAFT

Gregor Strasser built up efficient structure- allowed it to exploit economic deterioration post 1929

Local propaganda developed personal contacts- key individuals spread messages such as teachers and butchers

Training message- 6,000 passed through training school by 1933- speakers licensed by party- booklets produced on politics and propaganda techniques

Nazis used slide shows, loudspeakers, films and planes- 1932 presidential election “FUHRER over Germany.”

Funding mainly from ordinary members- some money from industrialists

Membership rose very quickly- 1931- 390,000 at start of year to 800,000 by end but turnover very high



  • What was the role of the SA?

SA formed in 1920- sports detachment of Nazi party- protect speakers

1933- 500,000 members

1921-23 and 1930-34- led by Ernst Rohm

Rohm eager for Nazis to seize power- saw SA as army of new Nazi state

Rohm- radical socialist and not intellectual

Why join the SA?

  1. Hatred of communism
  2. Hitler
  3. Excitement
  4. Free soup and general charity
  5. Creates sense of purpose

Sa leader- SA offered recruits “what they almost always lack at home, a warm hearth, a helping hand, a sense of comradeship.”

SA distributed propaganda and beat communists

1930-32- increased city battles with communists- July 1932- 100 killed

1932- Bruning banned Sa

Papen ended ban

Disciplined marches created sense of order

Fear of SA amongst elites encouraged elites to work with Hitler as he could control them


Hitler- “We must struggle with ideas, but if necessary also with fists.”

  • Who were the key individuals in the rise of the Nazi’s?

Otto Strasser- former member of SPD

Left wing of nazi party

Wanted nationalist and racist form of socialism

Became disillusioned with Hitler

Left party in 1930

Survived Night of long knives- went into exile

Gregor Strasser

Joined NSDAP- 1920

Built up a mass movement in northern Germany- working with Goebels and his brother

Took part in Munich putsch- led party when Hitler in prison

By early 1930’s second in popularity only to Hitler

Opposed to Hitler's anti Semitism and links with big business

Resigned 1932

Murdered in Night of long knives


Ensure internet links are used to develop understanding of Goebels, Goering, Hess and Himmler,

There are other figures that will help you to understand the rise of the Nazis and these can be found on the Ashcombe link pages


Section 5-Consolidation of power


  • How did Hitler gain control over Germany?

Two other Nazi’s admitted into Nationalist coalition- Frick- Minister of Interior and Goring- Minister without Portfolio

Hitler Jan 31st 1933- “Appeal to the Nation” speech- convinced Hindenberg to dissolve Reichstag- called election for 5th march- presented Nazi party as alternative to weakness of old regime

Hitler said “ give us four years and then judge us.”

Goring- position gave him control of nearly 2/3’s of Germany- purged Prussian civil service and police of people opposed to NSDAP

Goring recruited 50,000 “police” auxiliaries to help maintain “law and order”- recruits attached to SA and SS

Goring- Shooting Decree- any policemen shooting someone engaged in activities hostile to the state had Goerings support- democratic parties attacked

4th Feb 1933- decree that gave Hitler power to suppress newspapers hostile to NSDAP- media prevented from reporting in favour of political rivals


  • Reichstag Fire

Van der Lubbe- Dutch Communist caught but communists little to gain from fire- Van der Lubbe posthumously acquitted by West Berlin court in 1980

At time 4,000 Communists arrested including party leader Thalmann

Day following fire- Hitler got president to sign Emergency Decree for the Protection of the German People- suspended democratic freedoms provided by Weimar constitution- this became legal basis of Nazi dictatorship until 1945

Replaced constitutional government by permanent state of emergency

Gave legal basis for persecution, terrorism and repression

Freed Hitler from reliance upon coalition

By 5th march 51 opponents dead

Election- 89% of people voted- NSDAP vote up 10% but still not a majority- 43.9%


13th march- Goebels appointed Minister of Propaganda and Popular Entertainment


  • Enabling Law-


This gave Hitler dictatorial powers for it transferrred for period of four years powers from Reichstag to government

Hitler needed 2/3’s of Reichstag- relied upon Catholic Centre Party- they supported after Hitler promised to respect Catholic Church

Hitler was now independent of elites