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This thesis analyzes the political role of the German General Staff as well as civil military relations in Germany from the late 19th century until 1933. Specifically, it examines the rise and fall of Kurt von Schleicher. Together with Generals Paul von Hindenburg, Erich Ludendorff, and Wilhelm Groener, Schleicher shaped the politics of the Weimar Republic, right up to the end that he—unintentionally—hastened when his intrigues paved the way for Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship.
During World War I, the German army completed its control over the civilian administration and bureaucracy. In the Republic of Weimar 1919–1933, the military remained a powerful governmental player—as the self-anointed protector of the nation against external and internal threats, including democracy.
Thus, Germany’s political situation in the winter of 1932–1933 and the activities of the key players stemmed from a long-term anti-democratic socialization process amid an entrenched civil-military imbalance. As the present thesis demonstrates, Schleicher’s life—from his military background to his experience as a member of Prussia’s noble Junker class—coincided with Germany’s tumultuous modernization. The fateful lessons that he drew from this experience ultimately spelled the end of Germany’s first democracy and ushered in the calamity of the Third Reich.