1923-1928 Nazi Germany

Weimar Republic, 1929-1933

Administration . Foreign Policy . Domestic Policy . The Economy . Demography . Cultural History

Administration . President Paul von Hindenburg (non-party) 1925-1934; Chancellor Heinrich Müller (SPD) 1928-1930, Heinrich Brüning (Zentrum) 1930-1932, Franz von Papen (non-party) 1932, Kurt von Schleicher (non-party) 1932-1933. Capital Berlin. General elections were held in 1930, July 1932, November 1932 and January 1933.

Foreign Policy . The Young Plan (1929-1930) reduced the reparation rates Germany had to pay. At the Lausanne Conference 1932, Germany succeeded in getting the approval of Britain and France for its decision to halt reparations payments.

The Economy . On October 24th 1929, the New York stock market collapsed, an event known as the Wall Street Crash. US banks recalled their loans to European banks, the crisis thus spread to Europe, where it severely affected the fragile economy. Unable to pay their bills, many companies went bankrupt; the unemployment figures rose sharply.
The companies who stayed in the business had to tighten their budget. New investments were out of the question, the employees had to accept pay cuts, vacant positions often were not filled, as company owners wanted to avoid to hire new workers. The economy was flat.
Unemployment figures rose from 1.39 million / 8.4 % to 1.89 million / 13.1 % in 1929, 3.07 million / 15.3 % in 1930, 4.52 million / 23.3 % in 1931, 5.57 million / 30.1 % in 1932 [IHS pp.160, 163]. German total government revenue sank from 6.7 billion RM in 1929 to 4.9 billion RM in 1932 [IHS p.819], total central government expenditure declined from 8.5 billion RM in 1928 to 5.9 billion RM in 1932 [IHS p.789]. Consumer price indices (1929 = 100) declined to 88 in 1932, 85 in 1933 [IHS p.846]; the country experienced deflation. The German government, under chancellors Herman Müller (1928-1930), Heinrich Brüning (1930-1932), Franz von Papen (1932) and Kurt von Schleicher (1932-1933), fearful of the consequences of inflation, pursued a policy of austerity, cutting government expenses and hoping for economic forces to bring about a recovery. Reparation payments continued to burden the German economy; the Young Plan (Jan. 1930) reduced Germany's payment rates, but failed to halt the country's rapid economic downturn; in 1932 Germany halted reparations payments (Lausanne Conference).

Domestic Policy . The government (chancellor Hermann Müller) was at a loss, having no concept leading out of the crisis. The election of 1930 saw a drastic increase of the radical parties (communists + 23 seats, NSDAP + 95), mainly at the expense of the conservative and liberal parties (DNVP, DVP, DDP). A new government under chancellor Heinrich Brüning was formed. He pursued a policy of Austerity. Unable to secure a parliamentary majority for this unpopular policy, he used a loophole in the constitution, declaring a national emergency and ruling by decree. This, in effect, disempowered parliament and marked the begin of autocratic rule.
Brüning's austerity policy only enforced the flat economy. The unemployment figures continued to rise; as most men losing their jobs were the sole providers of income in their families, their situation was desperate.
In 1931, Carl von Ossietzky was sentenced to jailtime for high treason - he had published secret information on the German army's policy to circumvent restrictions imposed on it by the Treaty of Versailles.
The situation became tense, as public sentiment turned against women holding jobs (there were families with a double income while many families were without income) and groups such as Jews who held a much higher rate of high-paying jobs than their share of the population suggested. Demagogues promising easy solutions to overcome the crisis, such as Hitler and Goebbels, found an audience willing to listen.
In 1932, Brüning was toppled after intrigues of arch conservative politicians, who succeeded him in two short-lived administrations. Then, in January 1933, Franz von Papen suggested Hitler to be asked to form a coalition government; von Papen (who joined Hitler's cabinet as a minister) believed he could influence the politically inexperienced Hitler and appear as the strongman of the administration, possibly to later win a large share of the voters of the NSDAP. A major miscalculation.

German stamps featuring President Paul von Hindenburg.
Von Hindenburg, a World War I hero, credited with the victory in the Battle of Tannenberg, was regarded a conservative, and proposed by most of the democratic parties. The office of the president, although powerful, was a largely representative one in the Weimar Republic, and von Hindenburg did have little impact on it's development.

Germany, seats in the Reichstag, 1929-32
after the elections of Sept 14th 1930, July 31st 1932 and Nov. 6th 1932



Independent Social Democrats and Communists
Social Democrats
Centre (Catholics)
Germ. Nat'l People's Party (nationalistic)
German People's Party (national liberal)
German Democratic Party / G. State P. (1930-)
Bavarian people's party (regional, nat'l liberal)
National Socialists (Nazis)
smaller parties
Sept. '30

July '32

Nov. '32


Demography . J. Lahmeyer gives Germany's population for 1929 as 64.7 million, that of 1933 as 66.0 million.

Cultural History . Thomas Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 1929, H. Fischer (1930), F. Bergius (1931), C. Bosch (1931) the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, O.H. Warburg (1931) the Nobel Prize in Physiology, Werner Heisenberg (1932) the Nobel Prize in Physics.
In 1929, Erich Maria Remarque published Im Westen nichts Neues (in English published under the title "All Quiet on the Western Front"). In 1930, Alfred Rosenberg (NSDAP) published er Mythos des 20. Jahrhunderts.
In 1930, at Babelsberg film studios, Joseph von Sternberg directed Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) with Marlene Dietrich.
Germany did not participate in the first Football World Cup held in Uruguay in 1930 - travel expenses were regarded too expensive.
German athletes participated in the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where Germans took 3 gold. In 1930 the IOC voted to give the XI. Olympic Summer Games to the city of Berlin.

Articles from Wikipedia : Elections in Germany : Weimar Republic Elections, Lausanne Conference, Franz von Papen, Heinrich Brüning, Hermann Müler, Kurt von Schleicher, List of Nobel Laureates by Country : Germany, Erich Maria Remarque, Carl von Ossietzky, 1936 Summer Olympics
N.H. Dimsdale, N. Horsewood and A. van Riel, Umemployment and Real Wages in Weimar Germany (2004)
DOCUMENTS Weimar documents in German Original, in English translation, from psm-data
Weimar documents, from Document Archiv, in German
Germany : World War I and Weimar Republic, from Eurodocs, collection of links
REFERENCE Bernd Widdig, Culture and Inflation in Weimar Germany, Berkeley : University of California Press 2001, KMLA Lib.Sign. 332.41 W638c
Weimarer Republik, Informationen zur politischen Bildung 261, revised edition 2003 [G]
Frederic V. Grunfeld, The Hitler File. A Social History of Germany and the Nazis, 1918-1945, NY : Random House 1974 [G; actually a pictorial history]
Article : Germany, in : Statesman's Year Book 1929 pp.921-967, 1932 pp.924-974 [G]
Article : Germany, in : Americana Annual 1930 pp.347-352, 1931 pp.344-349, 1932 pp.313-318, 1933 pp.342-349 [G]
Article : Germany, in : New International Year Book 1930 pp.310-318, 1932 pp.325-332 [G]
Article : Germany, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1932 pp.282-287 [G]
IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics, Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on March 27th 2008

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