Enemies of the State: Political Violence and the fall of the Weimar Republic

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Title: Enemies of the State: Political Violence and the fall of the Weimar Republic
Author: Munson, Geddes
Advisor: Gerstein, Linda
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of History
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Running Time: 12118933 bytes
Issue Date: 2007
Abstract: What relationship did the sharp increase in political violence in Germany from 1929 to 1932 have with Hitler's rise to power? Why were there so many paramilitary groups and politically motivated fights in the final years of the Weimar Republic? Why was the German Communist Party unable to use political violence as effectively as the National Socialists? This is an examination of one attribute that the two most extreme political parties of the Weimar Republic, the German Communist Party (KPD) and the National Socialists (NSDAP) shared: Both had large and established paramilitary organizations that clashed with each other regularly. I trace the roots of this violence to the First World War, and then use the literature, plays, and visual art of the day to examine both the place that violence had in the German psyche and the public reaction to it. I will conclude that though the public generally approved of a high degree of violence, there were limits to what it could stomach. The challenge for political parties that wanted to use violence effectively then was in keeping their paramilitary formations obedient to the political leadership. This was a very difficult task, and one that Hitler was able to do with much more success than the KPD. I will then argue that in particular National Socialist violence was a key part of their growth strategy: it got the NSDAP the attention it needed to become part of the national conversation. Indeed it was political violence that propelled the NSDAP to electoral success, culminating in Hitler's appointment as chancellor.
Subject: Political violence -- Germany -- History -- 20th century
Subject: National socialism -- Germany -- History -- 20th century
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Munson, Geddes. "Enemies of the State: Political Violence and the fall of the Weimar Republic". 2007. Available electronically from

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