33D, L 4: The 1920s: Golden or Leaden?
by Prof. H. Marcuse, UCSB, Oct. 2, 2003
Overarching questions: Were the 1920s good (golden) years,
or bad (leaden)?
Longer term (see films): Did the Nazi movement "force" itself on the German
people, or was it very popular?
- Weimar Republic, 1924-29: Golden?
- 1934 as a turning point (film clips)
- How Hitler fits in
Textbook p. 15: discussion of quotation
The 1920s in Germany
- 1925-29: economically stable, but textbook implies impending collapse
- "Social peace agreed at the end of 1918 between trade unions and industrialists"
- "Burgfrieden:" peace in the castle
- the prince and subjects aren't at odds
1924-29: Golden Years?
- 1925 Hindenburg election: reversal of republican values?
- Reichspresident: symbolic head of state
Reichstagspresident: house majority leader
Chancellor: head of gov't (US president)
- Reichspres. Ebert (SPD) died suddenly in 1925
- Loebe: Reichstagspresident, refuses offer to run for R.president
in 1925, succeeded as Rtp. by Göring in 1932
- new election for RP in 1925: first round no majority
- second round: center-right unites behind Hindenburg
- Noske: Secretary of the Army (SPD), put down sailors' mutiny in 1918,
put down revolutionary strikes by KPD in Jan. 1919; was friendly with army
- G. Grosz satire, 1925 (textbook p. 14), image at right
"Flaws of Weimar"?
- Hindenburg actually quite democratic
- Germany joined League of Nations: great success
- Economic success: good years
- hyperINFLATION 1923: money worth nothing
- DEPRESSION 1930: money very dear
- role of economics in history (future: EIEIO mnemonic about causality)
Mein Kampf (My Struggle): Hitler's autobiography, vol. 1 in
this time of bitter wrestling between educating my soul and cold rationality
the Vienna streets did me an invaluable service by giving me a concrete lesson.
The day arrived when I wasn't wandering the streets of the mighty city overwhelmed
anymore, but took in not only the buildings but also the people.
Once while I was walking through the city I suddenly encountered an appearance
in a long black robe with black curls.
Is this also a Jew? was my first thought. They hadn't looked like that in Linz.
I covertly and cautiously observed the man, but the longer I stared at this
strange face and questioningly examined it feature after feature, the more the
first question changed in my mind to another version:
Is this also a German?"
(see also this scan from the same chapter 2 pages before, with Hitler's description
of his first encounters with the term "Jew" in his childhood: Mein
Kampf on Jews pp. 54f [1931 German edition])
- Nazi party was a diverse organization
- Hitler wasn't the only popular leader
- The army was very suspicious of the SA
- Rudolf Hess (1894-1987)
- involved in 1923 Putsch
- sentenced to Landsberg, too
- became fast friends with Hitler, "secretary"
- captured in May 1941 in Scotland
- not the same as Rudolf Höss (1900-1945)
- 5:20 from "Wonderful, Horrible Life"
- re: Riefenstahl's "first (political) film"
- Sept. 1933 Nazi Party rally "Victory of Faith"
- Roehm assassinated June 30, 1934
- Party "boycotted filming"
- 2 speeches from "Triumph of the Will"
- remembering Hindenburg (died Aug. 2, 1934)
- greeting the army
- not permanent revolution
How Hitler fits in, I: Intentionalism
- Holocaust was Hitler's preformed plan
- corresponds to idea that National Socialism was a coherent ideological program
as set out by Hitler (and other leaders)
- Hitler knew already in 1920-22 that he wanted to murder all Jews, and worked
to realize that goal
- Later reading by Goldhagen based on a variant of this view
How Hitler fits in, II: Structuralism
- nature of power structure
- dual pyramids of state vs. party administration
- corresponds roughly to the definition of NS as a variant of a political
worldview common at the time (fascism; reaction to "modernity")
- political science approach
How Hitler fits in, III: Functionalism
- widespread opportunistic behavior radicalized policy, needs of moment, "twisted
- National Socialism: the sum of the beliefs of its adherents
- persuaded or convinced?
- emphasizes role of individual behavior (psych)
prepared for web by H. Marcuse, Oct. 5, 2003
back to top, Hist 33d homepage