Posts Tagged ‘Chapter 23’

The Great Depression and Hitler’s Rise to Power

Monday, September 13th, 2010

It is generally regarded that the Treaty of Versailles after WWI was too heavy handed in blaming Germany for the war. In the post-WWI era, most of the world saw a significant increase in their country’s economies during the ’20s. However, Germany’s situation was among the worst in Europe.

Germany’s economy was dependent on foreign trade (and by foreign, I mean American). Thus, when the U.S. economy went belly up in 1929, the effects on the hyper-inflated German economy were disastrous.

The German mark had an exchange rate of 1 trillion to one U.S. Dollar in 1923.

Courtesy of
Here, a woman is burning Marks for fuel because they were worthless as a currency.

I couldn’t find it online, but I remember once seeing a picture of a German woman carrying a wheelbarrow full of Marks just to buy a loaf of bread.

In these economically and nationally humiliating conditions, Hitler rose to power through manipulation and political intrigue.

Hitler played off of the people’s humiliation and resentment at being scapegoated (ironic) for WWI. However, he was initially elected democratically. The people supported him not just because of his grandiose schemes to restore German prestige, but because of his successful policy initiatives.

Hitler, as terrible and atrocious as his regime was, had a several notable successes. Under his leadership, Germany developed the autobahn (the first modern super-highway system); Hitler pioneered the VW Beetle (when you ride alone…or in a VW beetle… you ride with Hitler); and successfully restoring what Germans considered to be their rightful territory.

Many Germans knew about the atrocities Hitler was committing, but let it slide because they were convinced it was what was necessary to restore the international standing of Germany.

Germany’s technological advancements, while often unethical, advanced the scientific community. Bayer, the heart-attack-preventing-aspirin-company, had no problem using Nazi’s holocaust victims as test subjects to further chemistry.

America turned it’s head the other way, and allowed in several Nazi scientists so they could help us instead of Russia after they had been captured by the allies. Including this guy:

Courtesy of

Wernher Von Braun, who, went from developing more efficient V2 Rockets used to terror bomb London, to developing America’s entire space program. Conveniently for us, he had a miraculous change of heart after he was offered immunity from the Nuremberg Trials to come to the US and …advance science.

Anyway, enough on that 3 am tangent.

Hitler was able to rise to power using democratic (kinda) means. He seduced Germans and even produced on several of his promises. So in a way, contrary to popular belief, Hitler hadn’t pulled the wool over the German’s eyes. They just tolerated his atrocities because he was delivering on his promises to restore prestige and security to the German people.,r:2,s:0