III Publishing

Notes on German Big Business
and the Rise of Hitler
by Henry Ashby Turner

page 2
by William P. Meyers

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Collapse of the moderate coalition, and the Nazi breakthrough

In 1930, long before Hitler came to power, the parliamentary government of Germany "ceased to function." Chancellors started ruling by decree. "The dissension that tore apart the great [parliamentary] coalition arose over the questions which seemed novel at the time but which have since become familiar dilemmas of twentieth-century capitalist welfare state. At stake was whether, in times of economic contraction, social programs should be maintained ... or whether the programs should be curtailed in order to permit the private capital accumulation needed to spur investment and renewed growth." [100]

Social Democrats (SPD) are most to blame for bringing down the Muller cabinet by rejecting the "Bruning compromise." "A majority of the SPD deputies bowed to strong pressure from the socialist trade unions." A SPD deputy who supported the compromise, Rudolf Hilferding, called that decision "committing suicide for fear of death." And "While at least part of the business community bore a sizeable share of responsibility for the crisis that ended in the breakup of the great coalition, no evidence supports the contention that big business launched in the spring of 1930 an offensive aimed at destroying the democratic institutions of the Republic." [103]

"Well in advance of the cabinet's fall, the military leadership had chosen Muller's successor ... Heinrich Bruning, leader of the Catholic Center Party." "Groener and Schleicher saw to it that a special relationship developed between Hindenburg and Bruning." "They had found a politician willing to reduce the dependence of the executive on the democratically elected parliament." [104] [WPM: Thus the dictatorship started in 1930, and amounted to a series of appointees by Hindenberg.]

But most of the political maneuvering was about how to handle the economic crisis, rather than purposefully ending the Republic. [106]

"Bruning's defeat in the Reichstag precipitated his first steps to curtail the authority of parliament. The chancellor responded to his setback by obtaining a presidential order dissolving the Reichstag and scheduled a national election for the end of September. He then invoked Article 48." [rule by decree] [108]

In the election of September 1930, most big business money went to the new Conservative People's Party, which only received 1% of the vote and 4 seats. An older business party, the DNVP, dropped to 41 seats. The National Socialist Party increased their position in the Reichstag by 95 seats to 107, and received 6.5 million votes. "The obscure, inscrutable fanatics of the 1920s had suddenly become a major force in national politics." [111]

"The party's massive, elaborate, and sustained election campaign had alerted political observers that something unusual was under way." [111] Socialists and communists assumed that the Nazis had been financed by big business interests. But in fact over time Hitler & crew had put together a formidable grassroots fundraising organization. The Nazis had appeared to be leftists to big business, and to workers and the middle class as well. Until "the dissolution of the Reichstag in July, Nazi parliamentarians had continued to align themselves with the left of socio-economic issues." [113. Well documented elsewhere]

next: The Nazi Money Machine (page 3)

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