Hindenburg (German Democracy) Essay

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Assess the importance of Hindenburg as a cause of the failure of democracy in Germany in the period 1918-1934. Paul von Hindenburg was the second president of the Weimar Republic, who had led Germany through economic prosperity of the Golden Age under Stresemann (1924-9), but also the series of severe crisis ranging from nationwide political revolts (1919-23) to worldwide economic depression (1929), that have influenced the Reichstag as a whole. For the first five years after taking office, Hindenburg fulfilled his duties of office with considerable dignity and decorum. Nevertheless, many claim that with the election of President Hindenburg, German democracy was doomed. There is a certain degree of truth in such statement, for Hindenburg had played a considerable role in undermining the German democracy in his later presidential years, through appointing Adolf Hitler (1933) chancellor of Germany in spite of his awareness of Hitler’s dictatorial qualities, and invoking Article 48 under which the government no longer functioned democratically. Hindenburg’s biggest mistake was to make Adolf Hitler chancellor of Germany in 1933, for this meant that an era of German elections and parliamentary life had come to an end, and an era of dictatorship and terror was soon to emerge. As the following evidence proves, Hindenburg was clearly aware that giving power to Hitler would be a vital step in the downfall of the Weimar Germany. In 1932, although the number of seats for the Nazis in Reichstag fell from 230 to 197, it still remained to be the largest Party. Von Papen therefore offered to bring Hitler into his new government by giving him the Vice-Chancellorship. However, Hitler was not tempted and reiterated his desire for the Chancellorship, and would accept nothing less as his aim was complete power, not the sharing of power. When Von Papen put these demands to
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