Friday, June 21, 2024

How the Weimar Republic was overthrown: A manual for a coup in 2022

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A group called “Citizens of the Reich” has been arrested for planning a coup d’état which would here be called “attempted aggravated public disorder.”

A judge, an Alternative for Germany deputy, a septuagenarian prince, and people with military training wanted to storm the Reichstag and depose the government. In total about 21,000 involved. The coup leaders reject the EU, the territorial limits established after World War II, the constitutional order, and found Germany in decline. His purpose was to establish a State inspired by the German Empire of 1871 to return to being “a great nation.” They have been linked to National Socialism. The question some have debated is whether the movement has ended arrests, since Hitler’s arrest after his failed 1923 coup was not an obstacle to his later rise to power.

Historian Richard J. Evans wrote that to understand how the Nazis did it, you have to penetrate their way of telling reality. Who cares about the truth when emotions are triggered by crisis and discomfort? That’s when you only hear what you want to hear. The key to the success of the Nazis was telling people what they wanted to hear, explaining to them that they were victims but that they could be gods, that democracy was a way of avoiding the triumph of the people, and that dictatorship was useful to settle accounts and fulfill the historical destiny. That is why Hitler presented himself as a common man, one more who had gone from a humble life to embody the spirit of the German people.

The Nazis used emotions, the economic crisis and social unrest to rise electorally

Yes, but there are questions. How did a cultured and developed nation applaud National Socialism? Didn’t they realize that it was an apology for a criminal dictatorship? Mark Mazower, another historian, explains it by involving it in the totalitarian tendency after the First World War, in that contempt for democracy and freedoms in which communism also participated. The Marxist analysis was wrong to say that Nazism was a ruse of the class struggle to counteract communism and destroy the proletariat. Yet the Nazis persecuted bourgeois and workers alike and substituted state capitalism for the free market.Nor was it that the Germans were not interested in politics, as Thomas Mann wrote, or that they were a caudillismo people, in the opinion of the communist historian Taylor.

A foreign betrayal

Economists point to the economic crisis as decisive, but there was also a devastating crisis in the United States and they did not become a Nazi dictatorship, but instead voted for Roosevelt for the New Deal. And those who believe that it is a matter of education are mistaken. It is an arrogant prejudice to consider that a rich and educated society cannot desire dictatorship. Loving the great culture does not morally immunize or preserve from being an authoritarian. The political crisis was decisive for Nazi success. The Republic was despised by those who saw it as a foreign imposition resulting from defeat in war, as if it were a strange system that did not solve problems. The communists, on the other hand, criticized her for having bloody and fire prevented the Soviet revolution in Germany between 1918 and 1923.

The political leaders, and their parties, failed democracy. They were irresponsible, and lacked a sense of State. The Weimar coalition, made up of Social Democrats, Democrats and the Zentrum, a conservative party, which had built the Republic, broke up out of ambition. The Zentrum was allied between 1929 and 1933 with the right and finally with Hitler’s Nazis. The communists, the KPD, did not collaborate with the SPD, the social democrats, by order of Stalin to fuel government instability in Parliament and social unrest. In fact, they came to vote with the Nazis to censor the Government.

They used the existing disaffection with the republic to stir discontent

The result was instability, with four general elections between 1930 and 1932, and as many Prime Ministers at that time: the socialist Müller, the centrists Brüning, Von Papen and Von Schleicher. The latter was the one who believed that he could control Hitler and the NSDAP. “They are a wild horse that we will eventually tame,” said the arrogant Schleicher. The National Socialist party went through two stages. The first was that of street and revolutionary agitation, the corollary of which was the Munich Putsch in November 1923.It was an attempted coup that came out of the Hofbräuhaus brewery. Until then they were nothing more than a small group of resentful and authoritarian nationalists, hooked on the mystique of violence. The second stage is interesting, and from which many lessons are drawn. It was when they assumed the model of Mussolini’s fascism.


The Nazis, led by Goebbels, created a propaganda machine to grow within democracy, and once in power, blow it up. They built a party that functioned as an electoral machine, with speakers trained in their schools, parades with uniforms and torches, and the use of the press, cinema, theater, and radio.They did it to extend a discourse rooted in the German mentality and that seemed like the solution to their chaotic present. This discourse was only possible if there was a mentality inclined to accept lies as true. It is the obsession with cultural hegemony shared by totalitarians, from the Nazis to the communists, including those of Podemos today. Nazism turned to traditions and ideas that were specifically German, just at the moment of a general crisis in the country. These ideas may seem silly, but you have to take them seriously because they are the ones that reach ordinary people.

Since the German unification of 1871 there was a militaristic mentality, of national superiority, corroborated, in his opinion, by its high culture and technology. To this were added biological arguments about the hierarchy of races and their role in civilization.

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