Alfred Hugenberg - Relationship With Hitler

Relationship With Hitler

Further information: German referendum, 1929

Hugenberg was vehemently opposed to the Young Plan and he set up a "Reich Committee for the German People's Petition" to oppose it, featuring the likes of Franz Seldte, Heinrich Class, Theodor Duesterberg and Fritz Thyssen. However he recognised that the DNVP and their elite band of allies did not have enough popular support to carry any rejection of the scheme through. As such Hugenberg felt that he needed a nationalist with support amongst the working classes whom he could use to whip up popular sentiment against the Plan. Adolf Hitler was the only realistic candidate and Hugenberg decided that he would use the Nazi Party leader to get his way. As a result the Nazi Party soon became the recipients of Hugenberg's largesse, both in terms of monetary donations and of favourable coverage from the Hugenberg-owned press, which had previously largely ignored Hitler or denounced him as a socialist. Joseph Goebbels, who had a deep hatred of Hugenberg, initially spoke privately of breaking away from Hitler over the alliance but he changed his mind when Hugenberg agreed that Goebbels should handle the propaganda for the campaign, giving the Nazi Party access to Hugenberg's media empire. Hitler was able to use Hugenberg to push himself into the political mainstream and once the Young Plan was passed by referendum Hitler promptly ended his links with Hugenberg. Hitler publicly blamed Hugenberg for the failure of the campaign but he retained the links with big business that the Committee had allowed him to cultivate and this began a process of the magnates deserting the DNVP for the Nazis. Hitler's handling of the affair was marred only by one thing and that was premature announcement in the Nazi press of his repudiation of the alliance by the Strasser brothers, whose left-wing economics were incompatible with Hugenberg's arch-capitalism.

Despite this episode in February 1931 Hugenberg joined the Nazi Party in leading the DNVP out of the Reichstag altogether as a protest against the BrĂ¼ning government. By then the two parties were in a very loose federation known as the 'National Opposition'. This was followed in July of the same year by the release of a joint statement with Hitler guaranteeing that the pair would co-operate for the overthrow of the Weimar 'system'. The two presented a united front at Bad Harzburg on 21 October 1931 as part of a wider right-wing rally leading to suggestions that a Harzburg Front involving the two parties and the veterans movement Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten had emerged. The two leaders soon clashed however and Hugenberg's refusal to endorse Hitler in the German presidential election, 1932 widened the gap. Indeed rift between the two opened further when Hugenberg, fearing that Hitler might win the Presidency, persuaded Theodor Duesterberg to run as a junker candidate. Although he was eliminated on the first vote, due largely to Nazi allegations regarding his Jewish parentage, Hitler nonetheless failed to secure the Presidency.

Hugenberg's party had experienced a growth in support at the November 1932 election at the expense of the Nazis leading to a secret meeting between the two in which a reconciliation of sorts was agreed. Hugenberg hoped to harness the Nazis for his own ends once again and as such he dropped his attacks on them for the campaign for the March 1933 election.

Read more about this topic:  Alfred Hugenberg

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