By the end of this lesson, you should be able to explain how the economic circumstances in Germany created an environment favourable for the rise of Hitler.
Reparations and the Ruhr invasion
Source A: An extract from the official French army account of the occupation, published in 1924
Passive resistance consisted… of not collaborating in any way with the French and Belgians. It meant refusing all their demands, and not complying with any of their orders… The post, telegraph and telephone workers refused to make any communication with the French and Belgians, to send their letters, to sell them stamps, and so on. Railway workers refused to run the trains needed for the troops. German officials of all ranks pretended to be unaware of the presence of the French and Belgians.
1. Using Source a and the Video above, what do you think the Germans hoped to achieve by resisting against the French and Belgium forces?
As a result of passive resistance in the Ruhr, the government had to buy resources such as coal from other nations. Moreover, they had to pay trillions of marks to the workers who were on strike. This led to the phenomenon of hyperinflation in 1923.
Source B: Table showing the decreasing value of the mark against the pound, 1914-23
Source C: A cartoon published in Germany by the left-wing magazine Simplicissimus in 1923. Top caption reads ‘Paper money’ and the bottom one reads ‘Bread’.
source D: An account by Willy Derkow, a student in Germany in 1923.
At eleven in the morning, a siren sounded. Everybody gathered in the factory yard where a five-ton lorry was drawn up, loaded with paper money. The chief cashier and his assistants climbed up on top. They read out names and just threw out bundles of notes. As soon as you caught one you made a dash for the nearest shop and bought anything that was going…
You very often bought things you did not need. But with those things you could start to barter. You went round and exchanged a pair of shoes for a shirt or a pair of socks for a sack of potatoes; some cutlery or crockery, for instance, for tea or coffee or butter. And this process was repeated until you eventually ended up with the thing you actually wanted.
2. Using the video and sources B-D, how do you think hyperinflation affected the people's perception and attitudes towards weimar Germany?
Stresemann and the Golden Years
The Great Depression
When the US stock market crashed in 1929, heralding the period of the Great Depression, Germany's economic crashed for the second time under the Weimar Government. This was as Germany was dependent on US loans.
The sudden withdrawal of loans caused factories to close down, millions to lose their jobs and social services to be cut. By 1932, a third of the working population was unemployed.
The coalition couldn't decide on what to do and no one had enough power to pass laws to rectify the situation.
3. Imagine you are a German who wants order and stability in his life. How would you feel now towards democracy?