Alfred Hugenberg - Removal From Politics

Removal From Politics

In the elections Hugenberg's DNVP captured 52 seats in the Reichstag, although any hope that these seats could ensure influence for the party evaporated with the passing of the Enabling Act of 1933 soon after the vote. Nevertheless Hugenberg was Minister of Economy in the new government and was also appointed Minister of Agriculture in the Nazi cabinet, largely due to the support his party enjoyed amongst the north German landowners. As Minister Hugenberg declared a temporary moratorium on foreclosures, cancelled some debts and placed tarrifs on some widely produced agricultural goods in order to stimulate the sector. As a move to protect dairy farming he also placed limits on margarine production, although this move saw a rapid increase in the price of butter and margarine and made Hugenberg an unpopular figure outside of the farming community, hastening the inevitable departure of this non-Nazi from the cabinet. Meanwhile In June 1933, Hitler was forced to disavow Hugenberg who while attending the London World Economic Conference put forth a programme of German colonial expansion in both Africa and Eastern Europe as the best way of ending the Great Depression, which created a major storm abroad. Hugenberg's fate was sealed when State Secretary Fritz Reinhardt, ostensibly a subordinate to Hugenberg as Minister of Economy, presented a work-creation plan to the cabinet. The policy was supported by every member except Hugenberg, who was strongly opposed to the levels of government intervention in the economy that the scheme required.

An increasingly isolated figure, Hugenberg was finally forced to resign from the cabinet after a campaign of harassment and arrest was launched by Hitler against his DNVP coalition partners. The Sturmabteilung were also turned against the DNVP, with youth movements loyal to Hugenberg becoming the focus of attacks. He announced his formal resignation on 29 June 1933 and he was replaced by Kurt Schmitt in the Economy Ministry and Richard Walther Darré in the Agriculture Ministry. A 'Friendship Agreement' was signed between the Nazis and the DNVP immediately afterwards, the terms of which effectively dissolved the Nationalists with a few members whose loyalty could be guaranteed absorbed into the Nazi Party. Indeed the German National Front, as the DNVP had officially been called since May 1933, had officially dissolved on 27 June.

Although driven from his cabinet post Hugenberg was, along with von Papen and other former DNVP and Zentrum members, included on the list of candidates for the November 1933 election as a concession to middle class voters. However his stock with the Nazis had fallen so much that in December 1933 the Telegraph Union, the news agency owned by Hugenberg, was taken over by the Propaganda Ministry and merged into a new German News Office. Hugenberg was allowed to remain in the Reichstag until 1945 as one of 22 so-called "guest" members, who were officially designated as non-party representatives. Given that they shared the assembly with 639 Nazi deputies they had no influence.

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