Collapse of the Weimar Republic - bruning's chancellorship to schleicher

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Transcript of Collapse of the Weimar Republic - bruning's chancellorship to schleicher

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Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Brunings Chancellorship to Schleicher

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Between 1929 to January 1933, four men held the position of German Chancellor:Hermann MullerJune 1928 March 1930Heinrich BruningMarch 1930 May 1932Franz von PapenJune 1932 November 1932Kurt von SchleicherDecember 1932 January 1933

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Hermann MullerMuller was a Social Democrat (SPD) and led the government for almost two years.Muller faced huge difficulties, largely caused by the economic crisis. He oversaw the implementation of the Young Plan but faced Hindenburg trying to replace him.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Muller struggled to get his coalition to agree on actions, including welfare spending. He resigned after Hindenburg refused to use Article 48 powers to support him.Mullers five party coalition government was the last one to have a working majority in the Reichstag.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Heinrich BruningIn March 1930, Bruning replaced Muller as Germanys Chancellor.Bruning came from the German Centre Party and was head of two separate minority coalition governments (the first with six parties, the second with five).

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Brunings government was centre-right and included most ministers from Mullers government, except the SPD.He faced similar problems to Muller being unable to get his finance bill agreed by the Reichstag and so persuaded President Hindenburg to enforce this using Article 48.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

The use of Article 48 caused outrage in the Reichstag, who demanded this decision be reversed.Instead Bruning persuaded Hindenburg to call new elections, which the Chancellor believed would result in support for his policies, making it easier to govern.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

The September 1930 Reichstag elections had the opposite effect that Bruning intended.The Nazis (in particular) and the Communists both increased their representation. This made it impossible for Bruning to govern without the regular use of presidential decrees (Article 48).

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Brunings economic policy was focused on reducing spending to overcome Germanys crisis.Bruning cut government spending, including civil servants wages, and also introduced tax rises. He eventually started a programme of public works after reparations were suspended.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Brunings foreign policy was more aggressive than Stresemanns.He arranged for reparation payments to be suspended due to the Depression. Bruning also demanded changes to the disarmament section of the Versailles treaty, although no firm action happened.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Bruning refused to work with the Nazis and in 1932 banned the Nazi paramilitary group, the SA.Brunings plan to distribute spare land to unemployed workers was opposed by Prussian Junkers. Hindenburg refused to back Bruning and he resigned in May 1932.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Some historians see Bruning as the last defender of German democracy, believing there was no alternative to his policies (Edgar Feuchtwanger).Brunings own memoirs (published in the 1970s) claim he was trying to rebuild Germanys greatness and restore the monarchy.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Others say he was Weimar Germanys undertaker.Bruning used the economic crisis to achieve his own goals ending reparations and ending social welfare (Ruth Henig). He also introduced the concept of governing by decree (Hans Mommsen). All of this helped Hitler achieve power.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Historians views

Evans and Jenkins: Bruning was anti-socialist, monarchist but a democrat at heart. Stephen Lee: Bruning was well aware of the plans being made to undermine the Republic. Ian Kershaw: the decision to dissolve the Reichstag was one of breath-taking irresponsibility. Richard J Evans: Brning fatally underestimated the potential of the Nazis; and the political reliability of Hindenburg.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Franz von PapenFranz von Papen was an inexperienced politician but became German Chancellor in June 1932.During his chancellorship he was originally a member of the Centre Party but eventually became an independent.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Papen was appointed due to Kurt von Schleicher persuading Hindenburg to do so. Schleicher then played a prominent role as Defence Minister in Papens Cabinet.His government did not include any members of the Reichstag, consisting of members of Germanys elite.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Papens actions in government included gaining Nazi support.He lifted the ban on the SA and in July 1932 Papen launched a coup against the centre-left government of Prussia, using Article 48 powers to take it under federal control. This caused Communist versus SA riots in Berlin.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Ongoing divisions in the Reichstag and the demands of Hitler led Papen and then Hindenburg to agree to hold early federal elections.In July 1932 the Nazis (37%) and Communists gained more than half of the seats in the Reichstag. Hitler demanded to be made Chancellor.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

After the elections, Papen struggled to run Germany.In September 1932 the Reichstag passed a vote of No Confidence in Papen. The Reichstag was dissolved and Hindenburg considered not having new elections but eventually changed his mind, fearing civil war.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

The November 1932 elections saw Nazi support fall slightly (to 33%) and the Communists gain more backing.Several elite members of Germany demanded that Hindenburg make Hitler the Chancellor. Hitler could not get a Reichstag majority so the President refused.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Papen proposed scrapping the Reichstag and using the army to control the country. Hindenburg again feared this would cause civil war.In November 1932 Papen was forced to resign as Chancellor, with Schleicher persuading President Hindenburg to not support Papen.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Kurt von SchleicherKurt von Schleicher was an army General and also served as Defence Minister in Papens government. He helped found the Freikorps. Schleicher was appointed Chancellor by President Hindenburg in December 1932.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Papen hoped that Hindenburg would reappoint him. He was also angry at Schleicher, believing that he had been betrayed.Papen was involved in various efforts to undermine Schleichers time as Chancellor, seeking revenge for his own problems.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Schleicher believed that the real danger facing Germany was Communism. As such he was supportive of the Nazis.Schleicher aimed to gain NSDAP backing, including making the Nazi Gregor Strasser vice-Chancellor. Hitler ultimately undermined Strasser within the Nazi Party.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

As Chancellor, Schleicher implemented numerous policies, including continuing Brunings land plans.He also introduced a public works programme that would ultimately create around two million jobs. However these did not come to fruition until into 1933, so Hitler gained credit.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Schleicher had been close friends with Oskar Hindenburg, the Presidents son. This gave Schleicher good access to the President.The two men had a falling out said to be about a joke and this meant that Schleichers access to and influence over the President was lost.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Papens plans to hurt Schleicher now began to take effect. Papen began to push Hindenburg to dismiss the Chancellor.In order to stay in power, Schleicher tried to get Hindenburgs backing for an authoritarian government headed by Schleicher ruling by decree.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

The military feared that an authoritarian government headed by Schleicher could not succeed. They withdrew their backing for him.Rumours spread that Schleicher planned a putsch against the President. Hindenburg then dismissed Schleicher and appointed Hitler as Chancellor.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Historians views

Eberhard Kolb: Schleicher and others did not struggle to deal with their circumstances their actions were designed to change Germanys constitution to favour the countrys elitesSir John Wheeler-Bennett: Schleicher believed that Germany needed a strong leader and that it should be him. His actions were designed to achieve this.Edgar Feuchtwanger: Schleicher played a role in undermining the Bruning and Papen governments.