Why do we speak of a “crisis of democracy” in interwar Europe? What was the significance of this event?
What were its effects?
−WWI ripped through European democracies, intensified by the Great Depression
−The polarization of Europeans towards either the radical left or the extreme right, resulting in right-wing
authoritarian states in Italy (1922), Germany (1933) and Portugal (also 1933); and as we know, fascist
Germany and Italy go on to start WWII
−In Germany, the Nazi Party becomes a major party, but was never actually voted into power in an
attempt to use Hitler’s popular movement to move Germany towards an even more authoritarian system,
Hindenburg appoints Hitler as Chancellor, who then seizes power quickly
−The liberal states were deprived by their depression remedies of both the material and moral means and
the will to oppose the dictators resolutely
−Originally, the German republic had been governed by the Great Coalition (comprised of no fewer than
5 political parties), but after the Great Depression came along, the Great Coalition splintered over how to
deal w/ it (ex. cutting unemployment benefits, raise taxes)
−In order to appease American creditors, the government decided to balance the budget by reducing
unemployment benefits, angering the German trade unions, which forced the Social Democratic deputies
to withdraw their support from the gov’t Muller’s gov’t resigned on March 27, 1930 - Weimar
Republic’s parliamentary system ceases to function at this point
−For the next 3 years, Germany was governed w/o any parliamentary majority parliamentary deadlock
−In response, president Hindenburg used the authority granted by Article 48 to govern by decree in case
of emergency Hindenburg appoints Bruning as Chancellor, b/c he had administrative experience in
the German Catholic trade union org, and b/c he knew how to follow orders (former member of
−Bruning tried to cure the economic depression w/ deflation, cutting prices, wages and state expenditure
to stem foreign capital flight, planned a customs union w/ Austria, and campaigned for German parity in
armaments economy worsened (unemployment increased), France fought off the customs union by
withholding assistance to Viennese banks, and France blocked Germany’s armaments parity proposal.
−W/o foreign or domestic success, Bruning wanted to return to parliamentary democracy, and calls for
new elections by dissolving the dormant Reichstag in Sept 1930 the depression-spread anger and
frustration polarized the electorate, allowing the Nazi Party to gain 107 seats (Communists also gained)
−Hindenburg replaces the Chancellor more than once, wins the presidential re-elections the 2nd round, and
in another parliamentary re-election, the Nazis gain 37.3% of the vote Hindenburg refuses Hitler’s
desire for certain ministries and the Chancellorship, but as the anarchy continues and Hitler’s popular
movement grows stronger, Hindenburg appoints Hitler as Chancellor b/c he thought he could use it to
stem dissidence on Jan 30, 1933
−NOTE: Hitler was never popularly elected; he was appointed by right-wing, who wanted right-wing
authoritarian state, not fascism
−TL;DR – economic depression sends parliament into deadlock, Hindenburg bypasses democracy and
seizes power w/ Article 48 and appoints an ineffectual Chancellor. This Chancellor creates only more
anarchy and economic woes, increasing polarizing of the votes in the re-elections of the parliament,
which brings the Nazis to power. With greater exposure to the masses comes greater power, and
Hindenburg then decides to use the Nazi popular movement to control the masses by appointing Hitler
as Chancellor. And then, the rest is history.
The years 1947-1957/58 were significant for the shape that postwar Western Europe was to take for the next
forty years. How was Western Europe “made” as a unified entity during this period? Why did this occur?
−Ideal of European unity started from a desire to keep continental European peace, and to unite in order to
compete w/ other superpowers.
Problems of European Unity
−Marshall Plan aid from the US had to be funnelled through the Organization for European Economic
Cooperation (OEEC) as part of the European Recovery Program, which attempted to encourage rational
planning on a continent-wide basis.
−The rearmament of Germans and German command of troops of other nationalities was an issue,
especially for the French. Still, by 1955, W. Germany got an army and was well on its way to assuming
major weight in the W. alliance by 1955
−Coalition of sovereign states vs. creation of new European institutions w/ authority to make sovereign
decisions. Most Europeans were still committed to the creation of supranational political institutions as
the basis of a new W.E. union
Attempted Political Union: The Council of Europe
−1st attempt: the Council of Europe, set up at Strasbourg, France in May 1949
−meant to be European parliament, but failed partially due to British opposition (who were suspicious of a
European integration movement dominated by Catholics and technocrats, and also b/c they thought they
were super-special as head of the Commonwealth) the movement would have to proceed w/o Britain
Economic Union: The European Coal and Steel Community and the Common Market
−Schuman Plan – produced the European Coal and Steel Industry of 1951; economic integration in
Franco-German production of coal and steel placed under European authority b/w French and Germans
would make war physically impossible
−Novel for its lack of mention of the sensitive topics of politics/military command – was mutually
beneficial: the French had access to Ruhr coal and some international control over German recovery.
The Germans had access to Lorraine iron ore and escape from economic interference by the Allied
−Administered by High Authority (9 technical experts), who had power independent of electoral control
and threat of dismissal during their term of office. Where a joint military defense community failed
(European Defense Community), economic integration worked, which would spill over into political
realms as wages and social policy.
−This led to the European Common Market (France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg.
The Treaties of Rome (1957) united the 6 in 2 agencies: the European Atomic Energy Agency (Euratom)
and the European Economic Community (EEC) thus begins a new era of European integration (Jan 1,
−The EEC (aka. the Common Market) created w/h W.E. a single free-trade area, leading to harmonized
economic and social policy (ex. wage and social security policies, subsidization) more than just a
free-trade zone like the European Free Trade Association (set up by Brits, Danes, Norwegians, Swedes,
Swiss, Austrians and Portuguese as way of response). Result: EEC was a huge success: steeper trade,
lessened national animosities, no internal tariffs etc.
Was Stalinization a cause or an effect of the Cold War? Please discuss in detail with reference to one eastern