If Germany had won World War I - Page 2




 
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April 23rd, 2010  
Jeff Simmons
 

Topic: somebody, somewhere


There are too many "If's" to really answer this puzzle. My point of view is that if Germany had won the Great War, somebody, somewhere, would have eventually decided that the war had been too costly and that they wanted their land back. Hitler, who basically felt cheated, may have decided that total defeat of France and the Russians was the only correct course of action for a depressed Germany to take. And he would have found plenty of WWI vets to back him up. Remember, Germany wasn't the only country in a depression; it was world-wide. While the Treaty of Versailles cemented this economic condition, it was not the only factor.

One must remember as well that WWII began in Asia in the early 1930s, with Japan's plan for a "Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere." Their attempts to conquer China and Southeast Asia would have taken place no matter what was going on in Europe. That in itself would have led to world-wide "deal-making," and could have easily been a catalyst for conflicts elsewhere.
April 23rd, 2010  
Blitzmädel
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Korean Seaboy
The Nazis couldn't have risen because their rise were primarily built on the hatred of the Versailles Treaty and the humilitation the German people faced.


The Treaty of Versailles was not the prime factor. It was a series of financial events unfolded in the years 1921 through 1923 that would propel the Nazis to new heights of daring and would even prompt Hitler into attempting to take over Germany.

In April of 1921, the victorious European Allies of World War One, notably France and England, presented a bill to Germany demanding payment for damages caused in the war which Germany had started. This bill (33 billion dollars) for war reparations had the immediate effect of causing ruinous inflation in Germany.

The German currency, the mark, slipped drastically in value. It had been four marks to the U.S. dollar until the war reparations were announced. Then it became 75 to the dollar and in 1922 sank to 400 to the dollar. The German government asked for a postponement of payments. The French refused. The Germans defied them by defaulting on their payments. In response to this, in January 1923, the French Army occupied the industrial part of Germany known as the Ruhr.

The Nazis and other similar groups now felt the time was right to strike. The German state of Bavaria where the Nazis were based was a hotbed of groups opposed to the democratic government in Berlin. By now, November 1923, the Nazis, with 55,000 followers, were the biggest and best organized. With Nazi members demanding action, Hitler knew he had to act or risk losing the leadership of his Party.
April 23rd, 2010  
Jeff Simmons
 

Topic: Solid thinking


I like the last explanation of Hitler's rise given by our fellow writer from Denmark. He/she has obviously given some time to check the facts; as a former news journalist and editor, I've found the difference between a mediocre argument and a great argument is the latter requires thorough research. I would imagine that someone like the late James Michener could have traced Hitler's rise all the way back to when the earth began cooling 14 billion years ago, and done so convincingly.
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April 23rd, 2010  
Blitzmädel
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Simmons
I like the last explanation of Hitler's rise given by our fellow writer from Denmark. He/she has obviously given some time to check the facts; as a former news journalist and editor, I've found the difference between a mediocre argument and a great argument is the latter requires thorough research. I would imagine that someone like the late James Michener could have traced Hitler's rise all the way back to when the earth began cooling 14 billion years ago, and done so convincingly.
Thank you for the kind words.
I´m a she, by the way.


I think that the only way you could prevent, that the Nazis in Germany came to power was if the Americans had followed the same policy in the twenties as they did after World War II with something like the European Recovery Program (The Marshall Plan)

It might have stabilized the European economy and maybe the world would not have experienced a Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.
April 24th, 2010  
Jeff Simmons
 

Topic: A 1920s "Marshall Plan"


A "Marshall Plan" for Europe following World War One would have changed a lot of things, but at the time, even the plans with the best intentions never got off the ground. For instance, Wilson's League of Nations failed because the American government refused to join, the Russians weren't invited, and the Germans were barred.

Never leave your enemy vanquished; they will come back to bite you when you least expect it, and in a place you don't want to be bitten.
April 24th, 2010  
Partisan
 
 
Great information on the inter war years Blitzmadel, obviously you have been mugging up on this for a while.

Here is my uninformed opinion, only slightly biased by being a Brit.

If Germany had won WWI, it would've been as part of a negotiated settlement - there were simply more troops coming on line thanks to the Americans. The land war was starting to become unstuck, but ultimately was still being fought on the human wave principal, so Germany would've been (and was) very bruised and probably not in a position to exploit any colonial demands that it made. But let's suppose it had.

The Great Depression would probably have affected Germany more severly, resulting in internal turmoil, with the possibility that a Nazi like party could've come to the political scene. But I think that is unlikely. Whilst periods of economic woe generate anti establishment feelings, they seldom generate a long lasting politically active group to capitalise on them. But say it had, then this party would more than likely have fallen into the political rut that every other country was in, allowing their armed forces to stagnate, resisting change, because it cost so much.

Wheras the Nazi party had to get creative, playing with a cap on troops, limitations on weaponry and technology - they did this becasue they had a goal, not just the restoration of the German glory, but also the repudiation of the shame of the Treaty of Versailles - which if it hadn't happened, would not have been a driver for the innovation of Blitzkreig, armoured infantry and combined arms groupings. Certainly these would've occured eventually, but would it have been the Germans who put this together, if they were busy trying to hold onto a colonial empire and an 80 year old nation? I don't think so, it is just as likely that the French or the Belgians might have come up with it - not the Brits, as we were safe behind the channel.
April 24th, 2010  
Blitzmädel
 
 
I still think that Hitler would rise to power

Because before the war, the German constitution was working less and less well. Reich chancellors were not responsible to parliament but to the Kaiser. The system could work only when the Kaiser was himself a competent executive, or when he had the sense to appoint and support a chancellor who was.

The reign of Wilhelm II showed that neither of these conditions need be the case. In the twenty years preceding the war, national policy was made more and more by the army and the bureaucracy. It is unlikely that this degree of drift could have continued after a victorious war. Two things would have happened which in fact happened in the real world: the monarchy would have lost prestige to the military, and electoral politics would have fallen more and more under the influence of populist veterans groups. We should remember that to win a great war can be almost as disruptive for a combatant country as to lose it.

While it is, of course, unlikely that the Kaiser would have been overthrown, it is highly probable that there would have been some constitutional crisis which would have drastically altered the relationship between the branches of government.

It would have been in the military's interest to push for more democracy in the Reich government, since the people would have been conspicuously pro-military. The social and political roles of the old aristocracy would have declined, since the war would have brought forward so many men of humble origin. Again, this is very much what happened in real history. If Germany had won and the Allies lost, the emphasis in these developments would certainly have been different, but not the fundamental trends.
April 25th, 2010  
MontyB
 
 
I think you are missing the over all picture, the reason the Nazi's came to power was because of the general angst of the German people whether it be Versailles, the depression or a great dislike of the new Mercedes 500 SL coup is irrelevant it was simply an over all movement within Germany that the Nazi's harnessed and played to their advantage.

Had Germany won WW1 they would not have had Versailles, they would have been imposing reparations of their own and most of all they would have had the euphoria of victory which most importantly would have meant that the German army would not have been demobilised and standing in line for jobs, none of these things generate the anger that was required for a Nazi victory.

If anything a German victory would have more likely seen a French or British Nazi party.
April 25th, 2010  
Blitzmädel
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MontyB
I think you are missing the over all picture, the reason the Nazi's came to power was because of the general angst of the German people whether it be Versailles, the depression or a great dislike of the new Mercedes 500 SL coup is irrelevant it was simply an over all movement within Germany that the Nazi's harnessed and played to their advantage.

Had Germany won WW1 they would not have had Versailles, they would have been imposing reparations of their own and most of all they would have had the euphoria of victory which most importantly would have meant that the German army would not have been demobilised and standing in line for jobs, none of these things generate the anger that was required for a Nazi victory.

If anything a German victory would have more likely seen a French or British Nazi party.
Irrelevant….????

The background to Hitler's rise to power

The German Weimar Republic was doomed from the start. Germany had no democratic tradition, and in fact many parties were deeply opposed to the creation of a democracy. These included old monarchists, the Army, the industrialists, the Nationalists and several other conservative parties. Many, like the Nazis to come, were not so much members of the Republic as they were conspirators to overthrow it. When it came time to create the Republic, the conservative parties took no part in the process. They left that responsibility to the Social Democrats, who were not enthusiastic about building a Republic either, but did so anyway, by themselves.

Yet this would allow the conservative parties to blame the Republic and the Social Democrats for all of Germany's future problems. The new government, led by the liberal parties, inevitably had to sign Germany's surrender documents and terms of peace. Unfortunately, the punitive Treaty of Versailles humiliated Germany before the entire world. This event was really beyond Germany's control, but conservative parties would blame liberals and the Republic forever afterwards, calling it a "stab in the back" by the "November criminals." To be loyal to the Fatherland, conservatives often said, one had to be disloyal to the Republic. Hitler himself would rely heavily on this very rhetoric.

The constitution of the new Republic was also doomed from the start. On paper, it seemed like one of the most liberal and democratic constitutions of Europe at the time. It called for the government to be led by a president with limited but sometimes strong constitutional powers. The Reichstag, or parliament, would be filled with a varying number of elected representatives (usually about 600). These representatives would in turn elect the Reichstag's chancellor and cabinet, which would remain in power only as long as they commanded majority approval in the Reichstag. In the event that no single party or candidate commanded a majority, then coalitions would have to be forged.

Unfortunately, the constitution also contained several fatal flaws. One of the worst was Article 48 of the constitution, which granted dictatorial powers to the president in times of national emergency. Unfortunately, the president would frequently evoke this clause, and it ultimately proved the downfall of the Republic.

Another flaw was an elaborate and complex system of proportional voting and voting by list, intended to give minorities the fairest possible representation. This is a laudable goal, of course, but other democracies use different methods to achieve it. Germany's approach had the practical effect of splintering the parties; by 1930, there were no less than 28 parties competing for election. This made it virtually impossible to establish a majority in the Reichstag, and led to instability and frequent changes in the government. What made this worse is that Germany's middle class was too small, and there were too few middle-class parties to stabilize German politics. With Communists on one side, and Nazis on the other, there was little room for compromise and coalition-building.

Finally, the constitution created a government that was not sufficiently centralized. Many of the German states retained a high degree of autonomy under the new government. This was not the original intention of Professor Hugo Preuss, the constitution's chief architect. He had called for states like Prussia to be turned into provinces under a unified German state. But his suggestion was rejected, creating a situation where strong German states would endlessly squabble for power.

In addition to these constitutional defects, there were two other problems that weakened democracy in Weimar Germany. One was the advanced age of its president, Paul von Hindenburg, a strong-willed field marshal and war hero. Unfortunately, Hindenburg would be in his middle 80s and partly senile by the time Hitler started achieving real power. Although he personally detested Hitler, he made many costly blunders and miscalculations about him, thinking he could easily control him. But by then the aged field marshal had lost much of his competence.

The second problem was that the Army was not subordinated to the government, but was a strong political player in its own right. By the time Hitler started his final rise to power, the Army's most influential political figure would be Lieutenant General Kurt von Schleicher, who was a close personal friend of Hindenburg and other government leaders. He would emerge as a major power broker -- and an undemocratic one -- in the power struggles that erupted in the early 30s. Of course, Hitler had long made sure to cultivate his alliances with the Army.

These were the conditions under which Hitler began his political career.
April 25th, 2010  
Blitzmädel
 
 

Topic: Hitler's rise to power


Like all mass movements, Nazism only thrived in times of great national distress. However, it is important to note the significant limits of Nazi popularity even then. After World War I, Germany lay defeated, humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles, its industrial regions occupied by foreign powers, saddled with enormous war reparations, and with no military to defend itself. Yet throughout the 1920s, Hitler could not exploit these setbacks to achieve political power. As late as May 1928, the Nazis had obtained only 12 seats in the Reichstag.

It took the Great Depression -- which hit Germany harder than any than any other nation -- to turn Nazism into a true mass movement. But even then, the Nazis never gained a majority of the people's vote. Nazism generally appealed to only a third of the German people, and these came from its lower classes, armed forces and war industries. Nearly two-thirds of Germany were opposed to Hitler, and adamantly so. There was never any hope that Hitler could have won their support. It goes without saying that if the German Republic had been truly democratic, it would have survived even the test of a depression.

Still, the Great Depression gave Hitler a chance to blame the status quo, and he expertly exploited the people's misery to increase his political power. In elections held on September 14, 1930, the Nazis won 18 percent of the vote, increasing their seats in the Reichstag to 107. Overnight they went from the ninth to second largest political party in Germany.

Between 1931 and 1933, vicious power struggles would break out between rival political parties. The power brokers in these struggles were Hindenburg and Schleicher. The problem during this period was that no party even came close to achieving the majority required to elect its leader Chancellor. Coalitions were either impossible to build, or were so transient that they dissolved as quickly as they formed. Ambitious leaders from every party began maneuvering for power, striking deals, double-crossing each other, and trying to find the most advantageous alliances. Hitler himself would ally the Nazis to the Nationalist Party. "The chess game for power begins," Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary. "The chief thing is that we remain strong and make no compromises."

In 1932, hoping to establish a clear government by majority rule, Hindenburg held two presidential elections. Hitler, among others, ran against him. A vote for Hindenburg was a vote to continue the German Republic, while a vote for Hitler was a vote against it. The Nazi party made the most clever use of propaganda, as well as the most extensive use of violence. Bloody street battles erupted between Communists and Nazis thugs, and many political figures were murdered.

In the first election, held on March 13, 1932, Hitler received 30 percent of the vote, losing badly to Hindenburg's 49.6 percent. But because Hindenburg had just missed an absolute majority, a run-off election was scheduled a month later. On April 10, 1932, Hitler increased his share of the vote to 37 percent, but Hindenburg again won, this time with a decisive 53 percent. A clear majority of the voters had thus declared their preference for a democratic republic.

However, the balance of power in the Reichstag was still unstable, lacking a majority party or coalition to rule the government. All too frequently, Hindenburg had to evoke the dictatorial powers available to him under Article 48 of the constitution to break up the political stalemate. In an attempt to resolve this crisis, he called for more elections. On July 31, 1932, the Nazis won 230 out of 608 seats in the Reichstag, making them its largest party. Still, they did not command the majority needed to elect Hitler Chancellor.

In another election on November 6, 1932, the Nazis lost 34 seats in the Reichstag, reducing their total to 196. And for the first time it looked as if the Nazi threat would fade. This was for several reasons. First, the Nazis' violence and rhetoric had hardened opposition against Hitler, and it was becoming obvious that he would never achieve power democratically. Even worse, the Nazi party was running very low on money, and it could no longer afford to operate its expensive propaganda machine. Furthermore, the party was beginning to splinter and rebel under the stress of so many elections. Hitler discovered that Gregor Strasser, one of the Nazis' highest officials, had been disloyal, attempting to negotiate power for himself behind Hitler's back. The shock was so great that Hitler threatened to shoot himself.

But at the lowest ebb of the Nazis' fortunes, the backroom deal presented itself as the solution to all their problems. Deal-making, intrigues and double-crosses had been going on for years now. Schleicher, who had managed to make himself the last German Chancellor before Hitler, would eventually say: "I stayed in power only 57 days, and on each of those days I was betrayed 57 times." It's not worth tracking the ins and outs of all these schemes, but the one that got Hitler into power is worth noting.

Hitler's unexpected savior was Franz von Papen, one of the former Chancellors, a remarkably incompetent man who owed his political career to a personal friendship with Hindenburg. He had been thrown out of power by the much more capable Schleicher, who personally replaced him. To get even, Papen approached Hitler and offered to become "co-chancellors," if only Hitler would join him in a coalition to overthrow Schleicher. Hitler responded that only he could be the head of government, while Papen's supporters could be given important cabinet positions. The two reached a tentative agreement to pursue such an alliance, even though secretly they were planning to double-cross each other.

Meanwhile Schleicher was failing spectacularly in his attempts to form a coalition government, so Hindenburg forced his resignation. But by now, Hindenburg was exhausted by all the intrigue and crisis, and the prospect of civil war had moved the steely field marshal to tears. As much as he hated to do so, he seemed resigned to offering Hitler a high government position. Many people were urging him to do so: the industrialists who were financing Hitler, the military whose connections Hitler had cultivated, even Hindenburg's son, whom some historians believe the Nazis had blackmailed. The last straw came when an unfounded rumor swept through Berlin that Schleicher was about to attempt a military coup, arrest Hindenburg, and establish a military dictatorship. Alarmed, Hindenburg wasted no time offering Hitler the Chancellorship, thinking it was a last resort to save the Republic.
 


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