The Nazi Part Was No More Than a Fringe Irritant in German Domestic Politics

A ‘fringe irritant’ in German domestic politics must be a term widely used for many minority parties in a struggling Weimar Germany, whilst designed to lower the thought of their actual influence and reputation amongst the readers of historical sources it also shows the significance of their effects on the population. In the case of the DAP (later NSDAP) it was minute, and at even said by Hitler himself: “at a low club level form”.

Germany, being a new country which had gained experience of defeat and humiliation at the hands of the allies, was still primarily made up of states run under a somewhat ‘federal’ system of government and this would have led to a very authoritarian regime given the times, thus altering the scope of power parties such as the NSDAP could originally achieve. As extremism and inflation sharply increased and tolerance decreased, the appearance of new, fluid political thought was becoming all the more noticeable with events such as the Kapp Putsch and the Spartacist Uprising being echoed all around Germany.

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Did the NSDAP stay as a minority for the duration of the 1920’s or was it a wave of success and failure following each other? Whether it had been the German Workers Party or any other form of minority political group, towards the beginning of the 1920’s, all of these ‘political factions’ put together would be an irritant to majority state leadership, and in the case of ‘the German Worker’s Party’: Minister President Kommissar Gustav von Kahr was the opposition.

With the harshly reformed German army taking charge of reporting on these fringe parties, Hitler had gained his opportunity to make himself heard and succeeded. However, under Anton Drexler’s leadership, the DAP were very much a fringe irritant contained to a beer hall, designed to air nationalist views and calls for Bavarian Independence but it wasn’t really until Adolf Hitler made himself known that the party’s reputation mirrored his own.

This can be seen in the party’s membership figures which shot from 55 in 1920 to 108,000 in 1928. The party had many limitations holding it back and these included the presence of the army and V-Men (even when Hitler left the army in 1920), the Public Speaking bans placed on Adolf Hitler all around Germany from 1925-1927 and even the success and consequent boom of the economy because of American loans being handed over to the Weimar Republic.

These all led to short term effects on the NSDAP and it hindered the rise of the party to a national level to a little extent. However the biggest limitations to power were probably the exclusion from Von Kahr’s plans and this possibly led to the term fringe irritant being associated with the NSDAP – this exclusion can be seen as the main drive behind the failed Beer Hall Putsch but even this had its limitations as it resulted in Hitler being imprisoned for 5 years (parole after 6 months) thus halting the progress of the Nazi Party at 20. 00 members in Bavaria for most of 1924. The definitive factor which classes the Beer Hall Putsch as something created by a fringe irritant party was the fact that this was just another Putsch, confined to a small region/province and with only a handful of support thus emphasising the fact that the party was still working at a low level in comparison to the rest of the Weimar republic’s political system whilst holding very little strength on the whole.

Also the fact there was a mere 25 point plan with views of anti-Marxism and anti-Capitalism but also internal divide just showed that there was no real backbone to the organisation and there was no formal manifesto – just a collective of ideas and theories as opposed to fundamental policy framework, which was economically justified to work.

The internal divide in 1924-25 also led to a brief stammer in how influential and strong the party became, it was seen to have lost its steam mid flow and the fact Hitler had to serve a prison sentence didn’t help the matter, leaving amateurs such as Dr Joseph Goebbels (up and coming Nazi) to pick up the pieces. Not only was this bad for the image of the party committee (now looking for coalition with other right wing factions) but it also didn’t look good to the public who now saw the Nazi party as a finished cause by 1925.

Whilst numbers still rose, they weren’t as steep in increase right up to the Wall Street crash and also the economic death spiral of the Weimar Republic for a second time in its history. This all however mostly changed after Hitler left prison, bans were lifted as the party was no longer seen as a threat, and the re-structure and organisation of the internal workings of the party proved most popular to the party membership, this of course leading to sharp rises towards the end of the decade.

The structure and creation of sub-organisations such as the German Nazi Lawyers league and others set a basis for national expansion which would come in very useful towards the end of the decade with federal Reich elections. All of this strengthening the overall strength of the party nationally and theoretically moving it away from the status of a fringe irritant and more along a mainstream route, albeit very unorthodox. The final case for the NSDAP being a strong party and not fringe irritant was the fact that the party was finally on course to win seats in the Reichstag.

This jump from regional to national influence is surely a sign that this political machine was building up steam even if it only won 12 seats. The votes gained were also limited to rural land owners in Bavaria and surrounding regions. This showed the Nazi’s to be representative of one specific group in society but the catch-all theory behind the DAP’s change to the NSDAP was to incorporate a wider spectrum and this became apparent where a large proportion of membership was driven by the working class, this subliminal propaganda of National Socialism seemed to be working.

To conclude, The NSDAP was a fringe irritant party in German politics towards the beginning of the decade where they were only heard by those in Bavarian beer halls, but grew vastly in size and force towards the end, media influence such as the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 and the policy of Legality really strengthened the party and transformed it from a regional to a national power.

Things didn’t really kick off until the Wall Street Crash of 1929 but even before then, the strength of the party was apparent as one by one, federal authorities and states within the Weimar Republic began to ban Hitler from Public Speaking and banned Party activity but also recognised the small (at the time) membership as a threat.

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The Nazi Part Was No More Than a Fringe Irritant in German Domestic Politics. (2017, Mar 14). Retrieved from