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The Rise of Hitler and the German National Socialist Party

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The explanation of the rise of Nazism cannot be restricted to one specific time period or one specific event - the source of many Nazi ideologies are found before WW1.Many pre-war conditions(but especially the gradual 'collapse of liberalism', of which I will write later) helped to prepare the public psyche for National Socialist policies. Equally, I disagree with Historians who, for their own reasons, disregard specific events perhaps caused by their own social/political groups which inadvertently aided Hitler (I refer to Marxist historians who hold that the brief reign of the communists was an insignificant aid to the middle-class flood to Nazism, since the reactionary right had 'already decided' that fascism should be wheeled out to stop the (according to Marx) inevitable, shut-down of Capitalism).

In the days following the November ceasefire, Germany was left without a leader of any description since the Kaiser had fled to Holland. Heavy industrialists like Fritz Thyssen, arrested and subjected to all kinds of humiliation by the communists in the immediate aftermath of the armistice, funded the early National Socialists partly because" the impression which those agitated days have left upon me[Thyssen]were never blotted out"(1).Indeed, many of Germany's prominent businessmen experienced the same if not worse treatment at the hands of communist 'policemen' and, as James Pool reveals (2) ,the friends of those killed were to become some of Hitler's first major financial backers.

Apart from the personal humiliation which Industrialists had endured, there was also the small matter of rising costs due to the concessions ceded to the workers during the brief reign of the Communists. These included the 'eight hour day', the extension of universal suffrage to both sexes, general recognition of union agreements etc. "Every eight hour day is a nail in Germany's coffin!"Was one of their favorite laments? However, industry could not itself carry on the fight against the organized proletariat. This task it confided to the "volunteer corps" or "combat leagues", armed gangs specializing in 'Bolshevik fighting'. The early National Socialists, being one such armed gang, attracted most of the funds through both their violent 'resistance' to the Communists and the fact that a right-wing Totalitarian state would offer the industrialists a near monopoly over their domestic market, since Nazism was blaming the 1923 economic crisis on foreign capitalism and had vowed to cease the flood of importers making a killing out of the German hyper-inflation(e.g. the 'one price stores', who bought their stock in stable economies, thus being able to sell at a constant and relatively cheap Deutschmark rate).

The Jews were also depicted as the enemy of German Capitalism, since major Jewish leaders (Radek, Levine, and Axelrod among others) were eminent participants in the November revolution. The Nazi antipathy towards Jewish communism was greeted warmly:" These were the men responsible for the riots and murders!", declared a bitter Thyssen (3).Of course, it was also true that the Jew proved a formidable business opponent - being a cynic, I would suggest that to have all the Jews ostracized for events which involved a minority of them was convenient to say the least!

Hitler then sought to blame the Jews for the multinational capitalism which was threatening the hitherto comfortable existence of the petty bourgeois. It was already widely known, as Jeremy Noakes tells (4), that the Jewish presence in the banks and the international stock exchanges was growing disproportionately strong and the widespread barring of the Jews from the professions had caused them to be increasingly prevalent in the one industry open to them - usury. This left many who were dependent on the Jew and, against this background, stories of a Jewish conspiracy (of the kind crudely insinuated by the notorious Der Sturmer (5)) to usurp the traditional German Mittelstand (footnote a) could appear tenable to a tradesman who suddenly found himself on the brink of bankruptcy for complex economic reasons which he did not fully understand. The official Nazi Mittelstand department, however, proved themselves more subtle in their linking of Jewry and the theory of collusion. In the following piece of 1932 propaganda it was, of couse, unnecessary

to reiterate that Marx was a Jew, since this fact had not exactly been underpublicised by the aforementioned Sturmer and their like.

"Attention! Middle class citizens! Retailers! Tradesmen!

A new blow aimed at your ruin is being prepared and carried out in Hanovre! The present system enables the gigantic concern


To build a new vampire business in the centre of the city. This is the wish and aim of the black-red (footnote b) system as expressed in the following remarks of the Marxist Engels in May 1890:'if capital destroys the small artisan and retailer it does a good thing'.

This is the black-red system of today!" (6)

In this way, Hitler yoked together two seemingly conflicting philosophies by giving them a common enemy - Jewry. On reflection, it seems almost absurd to (i) blame the Jews for two contradictory ideals and (ii) to believe it, as millions of middle-class Germans seemed to. But 1923 was not a year immune to absurdities: witness the Mark falling to an incomprehensible exchange rate of 4,200,000,000,000 Marks to the dollar in November. Many comfortable middle-class livelihoods had been violently obliterated by the crisis - the fixed salary class were now society's vagabonds and, however much we today would hope to possess enough moral courage to repel the tempting words and scapegoats of Nazism, I suggest that one simply does not know how vulnerable one would be under such an extraordinary economic catastrophe as befell Germany in 1923. Hitler, however, did know. He could sense that the innate human aversion towards such extreme nationalism (an aversion which, as I concede to Hans Mommsen, was already on the wane due to the late 19th century "collapse of liberalism", to which I will refer later (7)) was further clouded by this destabilizing crisis and it was this aptitude in precisely gauging the mood of the people which was to be a central aspect in his ascent to office.

Despite what the Nazis professed, multinational capitalism was not the exclusive confine of the Jew - it was also the domain of one of Hitler's largest



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