( Editor’s note: Welcome to The Road to BFV which is a 3 part historical miniseries on the beginnings of the Second World War throughout the 1930s. This 3 part mini-series focuses on the Western Front and the years immediately following the end of The Great War from the year 1918 to 1939 from the German perspective. Remember to leave feedback if you would like to see more of these type of historical articles for games based on a historical timeframe. cheers.)
( PART II: 1933-1936.)
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 brought about a worldwide economic disaster, Germany was one of the countries that suffered greatly during the Great Depression. The Communists and the Nazis made great gains in the German elections of 1930 with both parties securing almost 40% of the seats within the Reichstag. The political parties of the Weimar Republic couldn’t stop the rise of the Nazis because the political system within the Weimar Republic made it difficult for anyone to govern properly and those that govern properly had to rely on the President’s emergency powers.
From 1931 to 1933, the Nazis combined terror tactics and traditional campaigning to win the vote; Hitler crisscrossed Germany by air while the Sturmabteilung paraded in the streets, terrorizing opponents, and broke up meetings. The German Democrat Party and the People’s Party lost to the Nazis at the voting booths while the Catholic Centre Party managed to hold on for a while.
By January 1933, the Nazis had won control of the Reichstag and a new cabinet was sworn in. The Nazis gained three posts with Hitler becoming chancellor and Göring was made Minister without portfolio. The Sturmabteilung and the Schutzstaffel led parades throughout the streets of Berlin, this event would later be called Hitler’s Machtergreifung.
After the Reichstag fire in February 1933, the Nazis passed the Enabling Act a month later which allowed Hitler to do anything he wanted without the consent of the parliamentary. The Enabling Act eliminated the Reichstag from politics and within three months of the passage of the act, all parties outside of the Nazi Party were effectively eliminated or pressured into dissolving after the Nazis passed a law that the Nazi Party would be the only party within Germany in July 1933. In August 1934, Hitler would become dictator and assume the title of Führer und Reichskanzler after President Hindenburg’s death.
By 1936, Hitler had done a good enough job of lifting Germany out of the Great Depression that he began to rebuild Germany from the ground up. Germany withdrew from the League of Nations and the World Disarmament Conference 3 years earlier and the year prior, in 1935, Hitler started to rebuild the Wehrmacht and expanded the Wehrmacht with the inclusion of the Luftwaffe and the German Kriegsmarine. On top of that, Hitler would remilitarize the Rhineland in March 1936.
Under Articles 42, 43, and 44 under the Treaty of Versailles that was imposed on Germany at the end of World War I, claimed that Germany could not build anything on the left and right sides of the River Rhine as this would be taken as a hostile act. The Locarno Treaties that Germany and the Allies signed in 1925 stated that the Rhineland be demilitarized immediately and that the status of the Rhineland should be demilitarized permanently.
The remilitarization of the Rhineland changed the balance of power to the Third Reich and with the Rhineland now remilitarized, Germany could now build the Siegfried Line, a heavily fortified defensive line that could stop anything in its tracks. It would later see heavy fighting as the Second World War came to an end in 1945.
( PART III will be released tomorrow. Hope to see you again tomorrow!)