14 September 1930 Reichstag Election

The NSDAP received 6,371,000 votes in a national election, representing about 18% of the total votes, and gained 107 seats in the Reichstag.

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Much of the economic boom that Germany had enjoyed in the mid-1920s was built on foreign capital. In 1927, German manufacturing was at its postwar high: 22% above what it had been in 1913. German agriculture reached its prewar level in 1928 and remained stagnate, despite protective tariffs. Also, labor unions were forcing up wage rates, and a spiraling rise in wages and prices appeared. Germans were accumulating debts. In September 1928 Germany had 650,000 unemployed, and by 1929 three million had lost their jobs. In the wake of the great fall of prices on the US stockmarket in 1929, lenders from the US gave Germany ninety days to start repayment.

In 1929 in Munich the political aspirant Adolf Hitler told a US newsman, Karl Wiegand, that with Germany’s economic troubles, especially bankruptcies, rising unemployment and distrust of public officials, Germany was “steadily, slowly, but surely slipping more and more into conditions of Communism.” The public is confused, he said, and “It is this state of affairs that the National Socialists are raising the cry of home country and nation against the slogan of internationalism of the Marxian Socialists.” Asked whether he was interested in again opposing the government by force, Hitler replied that support for his movement was growing so rapidly that “we have no need of other than legal methods.

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By 1930 in Germany, bankruptcies were increasing. Farmers were hurting. Some in the middleclass feared sliding into the lower class. And some in the middleclass blamed the economic decline on unemployed people being unwilling to work – while hunger was widespread. note35

According to Stalinist dogma, a crisis in capitalism and its attendant suffering was supposed to produce a rise in class consciousness among working people and to advance revolution. The Communist Party in Germany did find a little more support, but Hitler and the Fascists, campaigning against Communism, were gaining strength. In 1930 the parliamentary coalition that governed Germany fell apart. New elections were held, and the biggest winner was Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Party. From twelve seats in parliament they increased their seats to 107, becoming Germany’s second largest political party. The largest party was still the Social Democrats, and this party won 143 seats and 24.5 percent of the vote. Communist Party candidates won 13.1 percent of the vote (roughly 50 times better than the US Communist Party did in 1932 elections). Together the Social Democrats and the Communists were large enough to claim the right to make a government. But Communists and the Social Democrats remained hostile toward one another. The Comintern at this time was opposed to Communists working with Social Democrat reformers. It held to the belief that a collapse of parliamentary government would hasten the revolutionary crisis that would produce their revolution.

Instead of a left-of-center, socialist government, the president of the German republic, Hindenburg, selected Heinrich Brüning of the Catholic Center Party to form a government. This Party had received only 11.3 percent of the vote. Brüning did not have the majority parliamentary support needed to rule. Brüning ruled as chancellor under Hindenburg’s emergency powers. It was the beginning of the end of democracy in Germany, with Hindenburg willing to do anything other than give the government back to the Social Democrats.

Brüning attempted to restore the economy with the conservative policies: a balanced budget, high interest rates and remaining on the gold standard. There was no emergency deficit (Keynsian) spending as in Sweden, and the economy continued to slide.

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A typical campaign scene with Nazi posters on display next to the Center Party, Communists, Socialists and others.

Hitler was looking good to many Germans because he seemed truly devoted to the country. He was a sincere nationalist. He appeared to adore children and those adults who supported him. Hitler found his greatest support in traditionally conservative small towns. He appealed to morality, attacking free love and what he inferred was the immorality of Berlin and some other major cities. He promised to stamp out big city corruption. He called for a spiritual revolution, for a “positive Christianity” and a spirit of national pride. Hitler repeatedly called for national renewal. He and his National Socialists benefited from the recent upheavals in the Soviet Union: the collectivization, starvations, persecutions, and the rise in fear and disgust in Germany for Bolshevism. Hitler’s campaign posters read:

If you want your country to go Bolshevik, vote Communist. If you want to remain free Germans, vote for the National Socialists.

Hitler called for a strengthened Germany and a refusal to pay reparations. He promised to restore Germany’s borders. He appeared to be for the common man and critical of Germany’s “barons.” To the unemployed he promised jobs and bread.  His party had the appeal of being young and on the move. Disillusioned Communists joined his movement, as did many unemployed young men and a variety of malcontents. In addition to finding support in small towns, he found support among the middleclass. He found support too from some among the newly rich and among some aristocrats. He found support among a few industrialists and financiers who wished for lower taxes and an end to the labor movement. From wealthy contributors Hitler was able to set up places where unemployed young men could get a hot meal and trade their shabby clothes for a storm trooper uniforms.

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Appeals to anti-Semitism had not been much help to conservative candidates before the depression, but Hitler’s verbal attacks on Jews were now having more appeal and Hitler continued to hammer away at what he described as the Jewish aspect of capitalism.

The depression had been worsening in Germany, and in 1932 unemployment reached thirty percent – 5,102,000 in September. Hindenburg’s seven-year term as president ended that year, and at age 84 Hindenburg ran for re-election, his major opponent for the presidency – Adolf Hitler. Neither Hindenburg nor Hitler won a majority, and in the runoff campaign Hindenburg won 19.4 million to Hitler’s 11.4. But in the parliamentary elections held later that April, the National Socialists increased their seats from 107 to 162, the National Socialists becoming the largest political party in Germany. Hitler had lost the election for the presidency, but his campaigning was building support.

 

 

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Published in: on September 14, 2016 at 7:52 am  Leave a Comment  

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