In one way, losing in World War I could have been a blessing in disguise for Germany. For centuries before World War I, Germans had been ruled by the wealthy noble minority, the dukes and princes in the country. This nobility had not wanted to lose its power, so they had never allowed the German’s to vote for their own government as we do.
But when Germany surrendered in 1918, the Kaiser, the strongest and best example of this nobility, gave up his throne, and therefore Germany had the opportunity to ‘start over’, and choose a new form of government.
As we shall see, the “government” then ended up with Adolph Hitler, a leader who was more of a tyrant than any of the dukes and nobles had ever been. How was Hitler able to seize power in Germany?
At any rate, in 1918, most people knew that the type of rule shown by the Kaiser should be replaced, but the country was very divided on what sort of government there should be. There were three main divisions in thinking. Some people believed that Germany should have a Communist country like Russia. Some believed that Germany should be Democratic, like the U.S. or Canada, and some believed that the country should be run much like it always had been by the wealthy nobility and the army. These people were called Nationalists. Here is a chart summary outlining who made up these groups, and what they believed in.
|Party Names||Communists – At first called Spartacists); Independent Socialists||Social Democrats; Center Party; Democrats||Nationalist, later called Nazis.|
|Beliefs||Government should be run by elected council of workers. Industry and agriculture should be owned by government, and under control of the workers rather than under private ownership. The power of the military should be reduced.||Government should be run by elected representatives from all parties. A constitution should safeguard the rights of minorities and workers. Government should own a few industries, such as railroads, but the rest should be privately owned.||Government should be run by the wealthy and the army. Radical democracy should be outlawed and Jews and foreigners prohibited. Industry should be privately owned, and the nation’s military power increased.|
|Types of Supporters||Many factory workers, pacifists, and some intellectuals.||Most workers, professional men, most Catholics, some businessmen.||Army officers, some unemployed, businessmen, farmers, and aristocrats.|