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Did The Great Depression of 1929 Help Bring About World War II?

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Oct 28 in Education ✍ by Virginia (4,133 points)

I found an interesting YouTube channel for history (Dr Alan Brown), and one of his documentary videos says YES - the Weimar Republic might have been able to survive had the Great Depression not come along! 

That many Germans believed they had not really lost World War I at all, but had been stabbed in the back by internal forces; socialists, liberals, Jews, the usual suspects...and then the Great Depression just destabilized the situation in Germany too much, the "straw that broke the camel's back," and vomited up Hitler and Nazism. 

It is interesting, I did not know this, but the Allied forces did not enter or occupy Germany after WWI (except for one area I think it was, the Rhine countryside?). So German people never 'felt like' they lost that war...they felt betrayed, somehow. And then the Depression on top of all that, and Weimar went down.

Have you ever encountered this idea? Might it be true?

5 Answers

TheOtherTink Oct 28

Yes, assuredly.

The hyperinflation of 1923 destroyed the savings of the middle and working classes, and the Great Depression took 25% of their jobs.

Written on the shed in the background of this picture of jobless men, it says, "Vote Hitler".

image

O'Tink, what a breath-taking photo! Very fine helpful and yet concise response, ty!

YW, Virginia. :)

O'Tink, contemplating that photo some more...I still am quite amazed, kinda makes you tremble in your boots...we (the USA) we had jobless folk lined up in the streets, socialist/communist rallies and demonstrations...

However, where Germany ended up with Hitler, the USA got FDR...do we have angels or something?

image

Well, Virginia, things were not as bad in the US as in Germany... we hadn't lost a war with millions of young men dead, we didn't have to pay war reparations, we didn't have a hyperinflation, we didn't have a history of Prussian authoritarianism, and yes, we do have angels... the Founding Fathers, if we still have the sense to listen to them. :unsure:

O'Tink, German history is truly fascinating; apparently that Prussian authoritarianism was well salted with a kind of mysticism, the valour of the warrior and all, plus the divine right of the Hohenzollern/Kaisers, the manifest destiny of the Nordic races to conquer...have you encountered all that very much in your own studies?

There is a good history of Prussia, Iron Kingdom, that I read a few years ago. Its existence was quite precarious until Frederick the Great firmly established Prussia as a great European power; militarism was essential for its survival and expansion to the point where Bismarck was able to unify the whole of Germany and make the King of Prussia Kaiser in 1871. Well, that only lasted less than 50 years, when the Kaiser had to abdicate in 1918.  Bismarck was a political genius who knew exactly how far he could go, whereas Wilhelm II was a klutz.

Yes, there was a lot of mythology and desire for conquest, but I'm not sure it was much greater than in other civilizations, Genghis Khan, the Chinese and Japanese emperors, the Ottomans, Aztecs, Incas, etc. come to mind.

I think Western conquests were more successful in the past 500 years because of better technology.

Other Tink, I found the book on GOODREADS where it has a very high rating, and put it on my list there...

I do find the Hitler stuff (and precursors) is very interesting, but online it seems like everybody with an axe to grind says, "Oh this thing I am against, it is EXACTLY what the Nazis were doing..."...so it is not that easy to sort out what is really happening, and the spurious comparisons...

Yes, Virginia, the online stuff on Nazism and Hitler is often nonsense, especially the comparisons with current politics.  It's best to stick with reputable historians.

Rooster Oct 28

Very much so! I've read quite a bit about it! With so much unrest and unemployment at an all time high? It's just a pot waiting to boil over. History shows that all the leaders of the Weimar regime didn't last long and were in-effective. When Hindenburg was made President? He knew there had to be change and Hitler's party began to rise through hate and intimidation but also with promise to make Germany a world leader again, of which he actually did. It took Hitler quite a while before he came to the fore front and got elected by a narrow margin.With increasing the war economy and building his war machine, he virtually wiped out unemployment and the German people enjoyed a brief "happy" time.

If the Versailles treaty hadn't drug Germany into the depths of despair? This might not have happened and the Weimar Republic just might have had time to build a democratic country and there would have been no war.This is a very strong scenario if you read what the Allies did with the Versailles treaty of which Hitler was determined to destroy.

The Allies only de-mililtarized the Rhineland and gave back Alsace-Lorraine to France.

Virginia Rooster Oct 28

Rooster, it is SO fascinating...I am studying now because I am scared for the USA...I had read about the devastating effect of the Versailles Treaty, so punitive; and the Allies knew the treaty would cause inflation, and indexed the reparation payments!

But there is clearly a lot more involved...anyway, ty for your information.

Marianne Oct 28

The history in these times was very complex, as many protagonists were involved.

Yes, the Great Depression was certainly one of the many elements which led to the collapse of the Weimar Republic; further the war reparations, the hyperinflation, the occupation of the industrial Ruhr region, not to forget the Treaty of Versailles, or the recovery of the Alsace-Lorraine territories by France, or the rise of nazi and fascist totalitarianism - just to cite some of the main causes.

There is a lot to read:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Powers

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Empire

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austria-Hungary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Bulgaria

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Ottoman_Empire_during_World_War_I

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle-Eastern_theatre_of_World_War_I

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnian_crisis


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allies_of_World_War_I

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonial_empire


After WW1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimar_Republic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Peace_Conference,_1919

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_Nations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Versailles

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_S%C3%A8vres

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locarno_Treaties

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawes_Plan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperinflation_in_the_Weimar_Republic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_the_Ruhr

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Plan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lausanne_Conference_of_1932

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_reparations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conference_of_Lausanne

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Revolution_of_1918%E2%80%9319

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_evolution_of_Germany

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alsace-Lorraine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_Fire_Decree

Virginia Marianne Oct 28

Some fine research as usual, Marianne, ty.

Marianne Marianne Oct 29

You're welcome and thank you, Virginia - lol. We need as much as possible less biased, updated and documented info, with references, of course.

:):angel::D


Kninjanin Oct 28

It is true.

Virginia Kninjanin Oct 28

Thank you Kninjanin, I learned something today!

Fuzzy Corona 5 days ago

Yeah, it hit Germany really hard, which was a sad sad story, leading to the perception that they needed a new leader to restore their former glory

Virginia Fuzzy Corona 5 days ago

Thank you Fuzzy Corona, a fascinating and tragic piece to the puzzle of the rise of Nazism.

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