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The Fateful Alliance

The Fateful Alliance: German Conservatives and Nazis in 1933: TheMachtergreifungin a New Light

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 372
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  • Book Info
    The Fateful Alliance
    Book Description:

    On 30 January 1933, Alfred Hugenberg's conservative German National People's Party (DNVP) formed a coalition government with the Nazi Party, thus enabling Hitler to accede to the chancellorship. This book analyzes in detail the complicated relationship between Conservatives and Nazis and offers a re-interpretation of the Nazi seizure of power - the decisive months between 30 January and 14 July 1933. TheMachtergreifungis characterized here as a period of all-pervasive violence and lawlessness with incessant conflicts between Nazis and German Nationals and Nazi attacks on the conservativeBurgertum, a far cry from the traditional depiction of the takeover as a relatively bloodless, virtually sterile assumption of power by one vast impersonal apparatus wresting control from another. The author scrutinizes the revolutionary character of the Nazi seizure of power, the Nazis' attacks on the conservativeBurgertumand its values, and National Socialism's co-optation of conservative symbols of state power to serve radically new goals, while addressing the issue of why the DNVP was complicit in this and paradoxically participated in eroding the foundations of its very own principles and bases of support.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-018-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-29)

    During the past fifty years much detailed historical research has been devoted to explaining the prehistory of Hitler’s rise to power: why Hitler became Chancellor less than three months after the NSDAP suffered a major defeat in the 6 November 1932 elections; how the transfer of power was affected after much confusion, prevarication, and behind-the-scenes intrigue, all of which resulted in Hitler becoming head of government on 30 January 1933; and why, after the democratic press in their 1933 New Year’s editions had predicted the premature death of his movement and its certain decline into oblivion, National Socialism could emerge...

  5. Chapter I Pragmatists versus Fundamentalists: The DNVP in the Weimar Republic, 1918–1933
    (pp. 30-82)

    From its inception, the German National People’s Party was divided between principled opposition to the Weimar Republic, on the one hand, and the desire for practical cooperation and participation in governmental coalitions, on the other—a conflict that was never overcome until Hugenberg became party chairman in 1928. Three phases in the relationship between the DNVP and the Weimar Republic can be distinguished: (I) uncompromising opposition and hope for the demise of the Republic before 1924, with tentative signs of a reluctant readiness for cooperation; (II) participation in coalition governments and political cooperation despite ongoing opposition to Gustav Stresemann’s foreign...

  6. Chapter II Uneasy Partners: The Relationship between the DNVP and the Nazis, 30 January–5 March
    (pp. 83-113)

    The immediate events surrounding Hitler’s appointment to the Chancellorship have been the subject of much detailed recent scholarship so that, in the context of the present study, it will suffice to emphasize a number of salient points.¹ (1) The transient character of Schleicher’s Chancellorship was apparent from the first, not least because Schleicher remained in the Ministry of Defense at the Bendlerstrasse, while Papen resided in close proximity to Hindenburg in the Ministry of the Interior and continued to enjoy privileged access to the president. The failure of Schleicher’s grand design to create a government based on the support of...

  7. Chapter III Conservatives and the NSDAP during the “National Revolution” of March 1933
    (pp. 114-145)

    After the Reichstag fire and the 5 March 1933 elections, the“Nationale Erhebung” (national awakening) turned into the“National revolution”.¹ In the ministerial discussions of 7 March, Hitler declared before his Cabinet that he considered “the events of 5 March . . . [to be] a revolution.”² And on 8 March, Goebbels noted in his diary: “The German revolution marches steadfastly on and cannot and will not be halted.”³ The journalDie Hilfeused the term “cataclysmic change of power” to describe post-election events: after 5 March the Nazis usurped power in those German states not yet ruled by...

  8. Chapter IV The Nazis and the Conservative Bürgertum: A Clash of Worlds
    (pp. 146-173)

    After the elections of 5 March and especially after the Enabling Act of 23 March, the Nazis made no bones about the fact that their conservative alliance partner had become completely expendable. The role of the DNVP as the stirrup holder for the Nazis had played itself out. Already in the course of the takeover of state governments, violent attacks against conservative dignitaries had become so prevalent that the Bavarian DNVP deputy Walter Baerwolff, indignantly and with great dismay, equated Nazi iniquities and law-breaking with “. . . the events during the revolution of 1918.”¹ For the conservative establishment, however,...

  9. Chapter V Between the Dictates of Conscience and Political Expediency: The DNVP and Anti-Semitism
    (pp. 174-218)

    The scope and intensity of Nazi anti-Semitic attacks during the last years of the Weimar Republic had made it clear that the lives of the 525,000 German Jews ¹ were bound to take a turn for the worse after the 85-year-old President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler Chancellor. For years, Hitler and his lieutenants had levied barrages of hate-filled charges against Jews, blaming them for the devastation of the First World War, the debilitating 1918 armistice, the Treaty of Versailles, the 1923 inflation, Marxism, and world communism as a whole. Yet few recognized the urgency of the problem during the...

  10. Chapter VI Rebellion against the Inevitable: The Tribulations of Spring 1933
    (pp. 219-252)

    At the beginning of April 1933, Major Hans Nagel, thegeschäftsführendes Vorstandsmitglied(party manager) of the DNVP in Berlin, received a long registered letter from the DNVP Konstanz district association (on Lake Constance), which reflected the mood among that district’s party members.¹ At a function organized by the Konstanz chapter of the conservative Berlin Herrenclub² on 18 March, a German National speaker from Berlin had argued that the DNVP Reichstag faction was currently divided into three groups: the first was made up of Hugenberg and his followers, though Hugenberg concentrated almost exclusively on his various ministerial offices; the second and...

  11. Chapter VII Ignominious Demise: Defections, Prohibitions, and Final Dissolution
    (pp. 253-293)

    An understanding of the contemporary Zeitgeist is necessary to explain the rapid disappearance of old established parties such as the liberal parties, Center, and SPD (whose roots reached back to theVormärz) from the political stage without a last-ditch stand, and the ignominious end of the DNVP, which resembled a melting away more than a last convulsive struggle. Between the end of March and the end of June, during the long spring of 1933, dramatic changes took place not only in the political climate and public mood, but also in the consciousness of a majority of the population. Without proper...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 294-304)

    During the winter and spring of 1933, the Nazis made a strenuous effort to present themselves as in harmony with conservative German and Prussian traditions, or even as the natural result and outgrowth of these traditions. The Nazis made the conservative Prussian past serviceable to their need for political legitimation to an extent hitherto unprecedented. Long before the Second World War, Prussian values became National Socialist values, judged to epitomize the German character, and held up as models to emulate: austerity, thrift, tenacity in the pursuit of one’s goals, a preparedness for personal sacrifice, and a willingness to lay down...

  13. Appendix
    (pp. 305-308)
  14. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 309-332)
  15. Index
    (pp. 333-352)