Government of the German Reich
Standard of the Reichspräsident
Erhard in His Personal Reichspräsident Uniform
Credit Goes to Kjalaara
Theme Song 1, 2, and 3
Reichspräsident of Germany
2 August 1934 - Incumbent
Reichskanzler: Konstantin von Essen
Preceded by: Paul von Hindenburg
Chief of the Abwehr
30 January 1932 - 18 July 1934
Preceded by: Conrad Patzig
Succeeded by: Wilhelm Canaris
Quote of the Day: "Feed a man with stew then he'll come back asking for more. Feed a man with a bullet, he won't bother you with pleas."~ Erhard Falkenrath
To see more of Erhard's archived quotes and excerpts, click here.
Erhard Falkenrath is a German military intelligence officer, and the first and incumbent Reichspräsident of the German Reich since August 1934. As of 1934, he is the youngest German head of state to date. He was the Director of the Abwehr from 1932 until 1934. Erhard was also a decorated soldier of the First World War. He was elected Reichspräsident of Germany in the aftermath of the 1934 elections that saw the DNVP rose to power in Germany. In 1934, he founded the Nationales Deutsches Reich and co-wrote the 1934 Constitution of the German Reich. Erhard is the dominant figure in Germany throughout the 1930s and mid-1940s where his political thoughts continue to influence German politics for many years to come.
Born in Hamburg, he graduated from the Prussian Military Academy. He served in World War I on the Western Front where he became a decorated soldier for his valiant service in the war and was severely wounded during his service. After the war, he became disillusioned with the chaotic situation of the Weimar Republic and dedicated most of his life in working inside the Abwehr as a skilled intelligence officer. After years of involvement in the agency, he was appointed the director of the agency before resigning in 1934. After his resignation, he pursued a career in politics and joined the German National People's Party as a stepping stone towards his political career. Upon president Paul von Hindenburg's death in August 1934; he became the party's candidate in the 1934 elections and won with 64 percent of the vote with a secured parliamentary majority. Inaugurated on 2nd August of 1934, he is the youngest leader of Germany in history.
As Reichspräsident of Germany; he presided over a politically unstable nation with the increasing polarization between the left and right-wing, coupled with a struggling economy suffering from the effects of the Great Depression. His hardline opposition towards the Treaty of Versailles led to a series of successful attempts in undermining and repudiating the treaty. Appalled with the fragile state of the nation as well as being frustrated with the petty partisanship of the Weimar era; Erhard initiated a set of policies called "Germany With Honor". Through this set of policy, he laid down the framework for a stable and prosperous German nation as well as having Germany to play a bigger role in international politics through militarization. Erhard pursued a policy calling for "national redemption" which led him to orchestrate German re-armament efforts and conducting a large-scale expansion of the German economy to recover the economy from the Great Depression. Pursuing an independent and belligerent foreign policy; he is firmly opposed to British and French dominance in world politics through the League of Nations where he left the organization in 1934, and successfully weakened and repudiated the Treaty of Versailles in 1937, reclaimed several German pre-WWI territories in 1938, and managed to reassert Germany's position as a great power on the international stage. Erhard's presidency oversaw the economic recovery of Germany, stabilization within the government, and a period of thriving cultural and scientific progress. This era of unprecedented prosperity in Germany characterized under his presidency was dubbed the Wundersane Jahre or the Miraculous Years.
He has been praised by supporters and allies alike for his enchanting charismatic image and for his adept leadership that brought extensively wide-ranging reforms which have stabilized the government after years of mismanagement under the Weimar era. An exceptional orator, his impassioned speeches have captivated millions which have defined his overall popular image as a charismatic and indomitable man. However, he is a controversial and mixed figure in German politics. Whilst being praised for his efforts in rebuilding the German nation while being regarded as the "savior of Germany"; he is criticized for his heavy-handed and authoritarian way of governing through his abusive use of emergency decrees necessary to pass his reforms, his long-term in office (10 years) through term extensions, and the expansion of his presidential executive powers. Since then, Erhard is continued to be remembered as a benevolent presidential semi-dictator among many who lived under his presidency and as such, is a revered figure along with the likes of Frederick II.
Erhard was born on the 27th of October of 1898 in Hamburg during the years of the then German Empire to a wealthy industrialist and socialite. Erhard grew up in a stable and loving family free from the poor-living conditions during that time despite his father's alcoholism and his mother's conservative stances. He grew up in a family of steadfast monarchists and as such was taught to obey and revere Kaiser Wilhelm II in which he does so throughout his childhood and teenage years. As a young child, he had an interest in joining the military after watching a German military parade in the city center but his father insisted that he should grow up to be a businessman that would manage the family business specializing in steel-making after his father's death. However, he soon studied in the Prussian Military Academy and was enlisted in the Imperial German Army and fought in the Western Front instead against his parent's wishes.
His Trench in Fromelles
Soon, he participated in the Battle of Fromelles and saw life in the battlefields whilst being under constant bombardment by artillery fires and gas attacks from British forces. His most noteworthy achievement was his accomplishment in killing eleven soldiers in the battlefield with only a bayonet whilst charging alone continuously despite being under heavy enemy fire which earned him the title "The Lone Wolf of Nord" and was decorated with an Iron Cross 1st Class and was promoted into the ranks of Brigadier General for his valor by his superiors. He also met with notable German commanders during his years of service such as General Erich von Falkenhayn and General Paul von Hindenburg who he stayed in contact with even after the war. Soon enough, he was hospitalized in December 1917 during the Battle of Cambrai after being heavily injured by a tank shell. He would later regard this moment as the "The worst Christmas present ever" for years on. He would only recover after the end of the war and during the signatory of the Treaty of Versailles in which he carefully listened to from his hospital bed through a public radio broadcast. He was disenchanted and shattered upon hearing the news and had even contemplated on committing suicide once before being assured by his beloved superior from the Battle of Fromelles. Unlike other Germans who were bought into the anti-semitic conspiracy that the Jews facilitated Germany's defeat, he was firmly opposed to the conspiracy and to the growing anti-semitic sentiment in general due to his close friendship with his several Jewish comrades during the war. He also became increasingly nationalistic at this point and began to grow revanchist and right-wing political views as he became increasingly disillusioned as Germany's instability began to spiral out of control and its national honor disgraced upon the enactment of the Treaty of Versailles. He soon found opportunity in the paramilitary Freikorps after the war and participated in quelling the November Revolution in 1919. His participation though was only out of his hatred for communism and his fear of a communist takeover of Germany and was personally opposed to the Weimar government himself. However, he was decorated by the government for his service in the uprising. Soon enough, he looked forward to joining the intelligence agency, the Abwehr, after its foundation in 1920 as he sees his service in the Freikorps to be unserviceable.
Rise in Politics
After joining the Abwehr, he became a military intelligence officer who worked on gathering information from foreign nations and deciphering acquired messages. His intelligence operations span into nations such as Poland, Denmark, and Hungary where his intelligence skills proved to be efficient and effective in obtaining sensitive information from foreign agencies. Not to mention, during his early years, he also worked as an informant and spy for the interior ministry who infiltrated into the ranks of both the NSDAP and the KPD at secret political gatherings and was partially responsible for the discovery and failure of the Beer Hall Putsch. His years as an Abwehr officer has led him to meet with several key figures in the Weimar military as well as in the government. He would also meet notable figures and politicians such as President Paul von Hindenburg and both of his chancellors; Heinrich Brüning and Franz von Papen during their tenure, as well as with prominent military officers in the Reichswehr such as Colonel General Hans von Seeckt and Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord whom he both met with through private summits discussing plans for rearmament and to establish a clandestine armed forces inside the Reichswehr. His exceptional information-gathering and deciphering skills have earned him the praise from many of his comrades and including the Abwehr chief Conrad Patzig who personally wished to have succeeded him as chief of the agency. As an intelligence officer, his role was instrumental in quelling the communist Ruhr Uprising and identifying the organizers of the insurrection which made him one of the Abwehr's most competent subordinate and soon became the trusted right-hand man and assistant to chief Conrad Patzig. He also began to show interest in joining the German National People's Party after attending a political rally in Cologne in 1925. He would only later join the party in 1926 after being convinced by one of his right-wing monarchist superiors. He would quickly grow prominence in the party due to his position as a high-ranking Abwehr intelligence officer and soon enough he began to establish ties with high-ranking party members and officials inside the party's ranks. During his tenure as the aide of the Abwehr chief and DNVP party member, he met with Archduchess Wilhelmina and her family of the Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg when he visited Vienna to spend a holiday in 1931. They both met when Erhard saved Wilhelmina from a mugging attempt when he beat the mugger into submission. Erhard took a particular notice towards the young Wilhelmina whom he has saved who was 17-year-old during that time and regarded her as being "One of Europe's most radiant and charming girl". Both Erhard and Wilhelmina formally met each other afterward and had madly fallen in love with each other at first sight after getting to know each other very well. Often, he would dance with her at events or hold numerous private rendezvous unbeknownst to her parents. Furthermore, their romantic relationship began to grow more than ever when he accepted the offer to join her parents to Vienna for some time in 1931 despite the growing political turmoil in her nation. Their relationship would only be revealed later in 1932 when he openly offered the royal family to marry her and her parents were reluctant to accept the offer due to his commoner status before gaining their trust which resulted in him earning the blessings from her parents. The both then ran an romantic relationship together and had traveled throughout Europe to celebrate this occasion. Soon enough, the couple flew back to Germany and settled in Berlin at a middle-upper-class estate in late 1932. However, this relationship remained a secret kept together by him and his significant other.
Erhard as an Abwehr Officer
Erhard's Supporters in One of
His Political Rallies
In 1932, his superior, chief Conrad Patzig resigned from his position as Chief of the Abwehr and appointed his adjutant, Erhard, to succeed him as the agency's new chief. As newly appointed chief of the Abwehr, he was in control of an understaffed agency filled with incompetent and weak-willed subordinates who were quick to decline his orders on the basis of their Prussian militaristic values. However, he fundamentally reorganized the agency by firing several inept, yes-man officers and began to appoint young and promising men into the ranks of the Abwehr where soon many of them became distinguished in their intelligence service. His agency began to closely work with several other European intelligence agencies such as in Greece and Hungary in clandestine operations. The Abwehr transformed itself from a sidelined agency with little importance into one of the most prominent and capable governmental agency in the nation under his organization. However, his years as chief was brief as he resigned from his position to work in politics after seeing the recent events in the nation such as continued governmental instability, the exacerbation of the economy and living conditions, and the rising popularity of the NSDAP. These events have prompted him into venturing the world of politics as a DNVP party member. But his relations with his party colleagues is an uneasy one, however, due to his refusal to conform to their authoritarian ideas as well as his lack of support for the revival of the German monarchy. Yet still, he was chosen as the party's candidate for the upcoming 1934 elections whom they believe that he would be easy to coerce to implement the party's policies. Throughout his years as a candidate, he began campaigning nationwide as he traveled throughout the country to hold political rallies and through his oratory skills, charm, charisma, and firm reformist image; he has attracted millions of Germans into supporting and voting for him. His most popular slogan was "Ich bin bei ihm" or "I am with him" and "Deutschlands Männer haben noch nicht verloren" or "Germany's men have not yet lost", and his most popular quirk was his smooth-talking and confident persona and his use of humor in stark contrast to his opponent's more serious attitude (like Ronald Reagan basically). Additionally, he faced fierce opposition from his NSDAP rival Adolf Hitler and has become bitter political rivals since then. After the election results were declared, he had won with 64% of the popular vote and thus through this, the DNVP has the ability to form a majority government with the DNVP at its helm. However, he soon defied the party's establishment by firmly rejecting their demands for the revoking of the Weimar Constitution, the abolishment of parliamentary democracy, and had appointed more moderate and centrist politicians into his cabinet such as from Zentrum and the German People's Party. As a result, a republicanist and reformist political faction were formed inside the DNVP which were more in-line with his views which proved to be a contender towards the party's establishment. Soon enough, he was inaugurated as Reichspräsident of the German Reich after the passing away of the then President Hindenburg on 2nd August of 1934. His presidency will bring about changes to Germany for years to come.
Brief Presidential History (1934 - 1944)
Founding the German Reich and Political Reforms
Germany During the
Great Depression in 1934
Between 1930 - 1934, before his years as president, the Weimar government was ruled by four separate ministries whom its existence never lasted a year or so throughout its operation. Erhard, frustrated with the government's inept way of governing coupled with an increasingly unstable political situation, prompted him to join the DNVP and become its candidate in 3rd July of 1934. Hindenburg's death signaled an emergency election in August of the same year in which, Erhard won in 2nd August with a seemingly secure majority of 64% all of which was divided equally yet carefully among his political compatriots. Most of the press predicted that Erhard's government will not last very long, citing the increasingly uproarious radical political factions from both ends of the political spectrum that demanded representation in the government. His government faced with fierce rivals such as from the likes of Otto Wels of the Social Democrats, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party as well as Ernst Thälmann, leader of the KPD. Whilst presiding over a Germany wracked by political instability, suffering from the effects of the treaty and the Great Depression, and mired in political violence; Erhard was determined to save Germany from both the radical lefts whilst promoting a nationalist outlook that fits his ideas as well as promoting national unity among the divided Germans. In his first day in office in August 2nd and during the inauguration, he famously proclaimed himself as being ready to serve Germany once more after his valiant service in the first World War. Afterward, he appointed his new trusted political aide Konstantin von Essen as Reichskanzler. Konstantin was seen as a seemingly compromisable figure by right-wing DNVP and moderate Zentrum party members alike.
On August 8th, he stated the need for Germany to 'save itself from an impending civil war' at a Reichstag speech which drew attention from most German politicians regarding the vulnerability of the Weimar system in the wake of 'political radicals'. The speech garnered support and backing for Erhard's administration who they believe would bring order as well as recovery for Germany. The conservative Erhard in an attempt to bring some sense of reforms into the German nation declared a Third Reich over Germany in a monumental public speech held in 15 August followed by a cosmetic change in the national flag that reverted it once more to the imperial colors as well as the reorganization of several other governmental organization that had brought a sense of hope to the demoralized German nation once again. He would proclaim the Third Reich under his presidency as "a stepping stone to German history". The proclamation took place from the balcony of the Berlin Palace which had a significant symbolic impact on his speech. On 15 August, to reaffirm his statement for radical change, Reich-President Erhard proposed a drastic change in the nation's constitution that outlined a more clear outlook of a 'constitutionally powerful' presidential position with 'equal power-sharing' with the Reichskanzler post. Erhard was responsible for the framework of the constitution whilst, his close political aide Josef Wirmer was responsible for writing his political ideas and guided the text through the enactment process. The constitutional draft was dubbed the 1934 Constitution of the German Reich which its name remains upon its enactment. Thus, a nationwide referendum took place on 29 August 1934 and 81.4% supported the new constitution and the establishment of the The Republic of Nationales Deutsches Reich which acts as a proclaimed successor to the German Empire. The constitution which was cohesive and flawless in practicality ensured a long-lasting stable governmental environment in Germany for many years to come. After its enactment, the Weimar Constitution was discarded completely on 30 August which effectively ended the Weimar Republic.
Situation in the Reichstag Amidst
the Passing of the Constitution
Reign as "Presidential Dictator" and "Guided Democracy" Era
Despite enacting the constitution on 30th August, he insisted on retaining the rule through Article 48 in a manner similar to his predecessor, President Hindenburg, in case of emergencies. An agreement was reached on 9 October of 1934 with members of the Reichstag granting President Erhard with extraordinary powers adjusted to a period in accordance with his preference which effectively made him an de-facto presidential dictator. This faced little protests from the moderates who saw the rising threat of radical political factions inside the nation and entrusted him with safeguarding political as well as civil rights inside the nation. Parties such as the likes of the NSDAP and the KPD, however, were worried about his new profound powers who feared a power grab attempt by the DNVP. However, his excessive executive powers through presidential decrees and emergency powers were made to good use such as passing many of his revolutionary ideas without the consent of the Reichstag in which his policies concerning areas such as social or economic proved beneficial for Germany as a whole. Despite ruling as a de-facto dictator, Erhard's presidential regime didn't embark on a policy of consolidation of power nor using state apparatus to repress the rights of his people. Although, famously, he would abuse his emergency powers through the passing of series of emergency decrees that contained most of his policies. This lack of coordination with the Reichstag had alienated the parliamentarians and also gained concerns from politicians as well. However, a famous speech was held on 16 October 1934 which addressed issues regarding his presidential powers where he promised to safeguard civil as well as political rights inside Germany. To symbolize this statement, he granted a degree of executive power to his partisan cabinet and rejected demands from the DNVP to establish a totalitarian state over Germany. However, despite the apparent 'benevolent' image his authoritarian presidency held, numerous breaches of political as well as civil rights were conducted in the name of 'national order' such as the increasing censorship on the German media. His initial years ruling as a semi-dictatorial president primarily focused on pursuing national unity among the Germans which had lessened the political turmoil that occurred in the nation while bringing stability once again in the nation. To achieve this, a controversial presidential decree was passed on 14 July 1935 which ordered the merging of minor political parties with leading ideological parties of both the right and left. Others criticized the move as an apparent attempt for Erhard to weaken his political rivals and consolidate power. Furthermore, Erhard was primarily disgusted by the bloody civil fightings that occurred between paramilitaries in German streets. To counter this threat, an emergency decree was passed on 20 July 1935 that banned political paramilitaries and its formation which encountered protests from political parties. The most fierce being from the NSDAP and the KPD which forced their paramilitaries into underground activities. However, all opposition ceased the next day and all remained quiet afterward.
Large Scale German
German Public Work Programs
Conducted Under His Presidency
Appalled by the weakening conservative society of Germany, he attempted to reaffirm the Christian image of the German nation. Famously, a presidential decree was passed yet again on 26 July 1935 that made prayers mandatory in schools which encountered protests from secular schools in spite of its passing. Another presidential decree passed by Erhard saw the creation of the national scout group, the Deutsche Jugend, and the banning of all political youth groups. Erhard believed that Germany was weak internally after years of inept governing of his predecessors. Consequently, in a presidential decree passed by the Reich-President on 4th of August 1935; powers of the German domestic intelligence agency was broadened, mandated rules regarding surveillance, and further created policies and procedures regarding intelligence gathering as well as sharing of sensitive information. On 29 October, president Erhard outlined his Guided Democracy governing which essentially proposed a further concession of power towards the position of Reichspräsident and the further weakening of the Reichstag. Faced with little protests due to fears of political retribution, his envisioned system passed immediately on 3 October of 1935. Monetary stability was also a primary concern of his administration. Erhard's government efficiency was heavily constrained by the massive debt and hyperinflation rates left over by the Weimar era. The Great Depression that struck Germany and elsewhere was at its heaviest in 1934 in the German Reich. To counter this, a massive restructuring of the economy along the lines of a mixed economic system was conducted. Significant government intervention into the German free market ensured the stabilization of the German economy through the government's new economic policy. On 23 May of 1935, the Reichsmark devised by Economic Minister Hjalmar Schacht was re-introduced which successfully prevented the rise of inflation within the German economy through its pegging to gold. Public work programs were set up throughout the mid-1930s to stimulate the German economy had successfully reduced the number of unemployment significantly. A decrease from 30% in 1933 to a noticeable 12% in 1935 which decreased even further as years passed by. Grand construction schemes were launched such as the Autobahn in 1936 and the complete revamping of the Deutsches Stadion in 1936.
Erhard's government was extremely vulnerable towards worker noncompliances as well as rebellions. To appease the agitated workers, the wage was raised from 5 Reichsmark to 10 Reichsmark on 4 January 1936 as well as providing social security through the Blessings from Germany Program for the most impoverished of the working-class. With this, the workers welcomed them changes and the influence of left-leaning parties such as the SPD and KPD greatly weakened. Afterward, in a decisive move, he banned labor unions on 11 January 1936 which encountered little opposition as most of the workers' demands were met. Concerning rebellions, he expanded the German law enforcement as well as its domestic intelligence agency dubbed the German Secret Service through a presidential decree that was passed on 28 January 1936. Consequently, a decree was passed two days later that brought extraordinary powers to law enforcement agencies. Erhard's government and the military launched a joint effort with law enforcement dubbed Geheime Schüsse or Secret Shootings on 19 February 1936. These extrajudicial killings took the form of mysterious shootings and assassinations that targeted paramilitary members and street thugs. Both of these groups were responsible for the numerous instances of street violence throughout Germany. By the next month saw crime rates dropping to its lowest in modern history. This left with the Gypsys where the public put most of the blame on the ethnic group for criminal activities. To counter the "Romani threat and degeneracy", Erhard passed a series of presidential decrees aimed to suppress the ethnic group throughout February and March. This left with the Romani people fleeing from Germany to other neighboring countries where they suffered the same fate. With "sexual immorality" and "societal decline" at its full force in Germany in the 1920s and the early 1930s, the Reichstag passed a legislation which closed nearly all brothels throughout Germany and imprisoned prostitutes on 12 March 1936. Aiming for the establishment of a perfect German society, Erhard's government pursued a policy of "societal enlightenment" as declared in the Reichstag on 2 April 1936 which oversaw the establishment of public groups and programs that employed Germans to participate in work programs and activities. From 1934 - 1936, this particular era of Germany was dubbed the Guided Democracy era and characterized by its increasingly nationalist and conservative sentiments among all aspects of society, and the overall stabilization of the socio-economic situation in Germany. In short, the seemingly authoritarian Erhard undertook drastic measures without coordination with the Reichstag through presidential decrees necessary to implement heavy-handed reforms while maintaining political and civil rights in the nation to ensure Germany to undertake a path of stability for years to come. Thus, Germany's future seemed bright in 1936 with its goals of economic and political stability finally achieved.
Sicherheitspolizei Officers Involved
in the Geheime Schüsse Shootings
Subverting the Treaty of Versailles
Erhard was resentful of the Versailles and Locarno treaties and sought to undermine it in any way possible. The DNVP, NSDAP, and the KPD, in particular, were the most ardent critics of the treaties. Whilst more moderate political factions took a distasteful stance yet cautious opposition towards the treaty. The German public, now restless, demanded actions against both treaties as popular nationalist sentiments began to grow within the Reich. Erhard, determined in "breaking Germany's chains", coordinated efforts with his foreign minister Ulrich von Hassell. To demonstrate this, Erhard withdrew Germany from the League of Nations and World Disarmament Conference in January 1934. Thus in a meeting with German military leaders on 6 February 1934, Erhard spoke of attacking the treaty and immediate militarization to exert German influence over Europe. When it was leaked, however, this faced concerns from the political moderates within the government who feared another World War in Europe. The communists, in particular, feared war with the Soviet Union although, in a surprising turn of events, the National Socialists came to endorse it. But in the public eye, they were supportive of the idea and support for Erhard's government rose steadily as a result. The Head of the Foreign Office, Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Prittwitz und Gaffron delivered a statement on 16 April 1935 regarding German foreign approach towards European affairs. These series of statements as followed were; "the rejection of the military restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, the return of former German colonies in Africa, and a German zone of influence in Eastern Europe". The British and French, distressed with the proclamations and felt anxious for another conflict with Germany as the Great Depression looms over the world. The Soviets, as well as Eastern European nations, were alerted as well until they were reassured that the German Reich will not interfere in Eastern European affairs in particular, in a statement released on 21 April 1935.
British, French, and German Delegates
During the Repudiation of the Treaty
Economic measures were undertaken to weaken the treaty's effectivity such as the expansion of industrial production and the issuing of Mefo Bills in 1934 to finance German economic and military development endeavors.
Neville Chamberlain After
Leaving the Event in 1937
Erhard, a believer of Pan-Germanism, demanded a referendum to be held in the Saarland which was under League of Nation's administration. The French who were fearful of a war with Germany while taking its militarization program into account agreed to a referendum. The result of the referendum held in 1935 was a staggering 90% of Germans agreeing to join the Reich once again. In October of the same year, Erhard and other German military leaders announced a formation and expansion of the Reichsluftwaffe. According to the treaty, Germany was forbidden to form an air force or increase its numbers outside of 100,000. Numbers of the Reichsmarine was increased as well. This put the Royal Navy in a dangerous situation as they believe their naval hegemony in Europe was being threatened. The Anglo-German Naval Agreement was concluded on 18 June of 1935 which allowed Reichsmarine tonnage to increase 35% in the same level of the British Navy. However, France and Italy weren't consulted regarding treaty and they felt they were tricked by Britain's promise to defend Europe from another future war nor German aggression. Thus, this event undermined the effectivity of it and revealing the irrelevance of the Versailles treaty. One of the most decisive acts that threatened the Treaty of Versailles was the remilitarization of the Rheinland with the simultaneous repudiation of the Locarno Treaties on March 1936. Britain and France were helpless in any way to resist German belligerency in Europe. Thus, in a symbolic event, after years of strenuous negotiations; British, French, and German delegates met in Königsberg inside the Königsberg Castle on 11 November 1937 (the same day World War I ended) and agreed for Germany to repudiate the treaty as well as lifting all restrictions imposed on Germany. However, the Italian and American government, one of the Big Four, weren't notified of the event and felt betrayed after it concluded. By this time, however, the effectivity of the treaty was only nominal at this point and thus, the event served no purpose but to give Germany legitimacy as well as bolstering Erhard's image and popularity as a result. Consequently, the repudiation of the treaty remains one of Erhard's administration's most astounding achievements.
Reasserting Germany as a Great Power
Before his rise to power, Germany was both diplomatically isolated and weak, left without allies of its own. Erhard outlined in his manifesto of his envisioned Third Reich of a new, 20th century Holy Roman Empire spanning from Alsace-Lorraine until Memelland. On a monumental Reichstag speech broadcasted live on national television on 4 August of 1934; he vindicated that the Treaty of Versailles was a 'gratuitous chain tied' to Germany's 'leg' in its 'path towards restoring her place as a great power'. The following days on 16 August of the same year after the Third Reich declaration saw Erhard calling for Germanic 'reunification' of many German-speaking territories and especially in Austria for a Wiedervereinigung in a public rally held in Stuttgart. This is well-received among the right while the public speech would cause some uneasiness among the social democratic left. Erhard also based his diplomacy on his idea of a certain German diplomatic 'balance hold' that would center itself as a third emerging power through 'diplomatic warfare' through might and coercion in contrast to utilizing direct conventional war to achieve its aims amidst internationally turbulent times marked by war. Furthermore, his approach was dubbed the Diplomatie der Angst or 'Diplomacy of Fear' as the German media would describe it as. Like all politicians during that era, they were strongly opposed towards the treaty while it was only a matter of time before Erhard would take a more vocal and undertaken decisive actions in undermining it. However, he was well aware that for Germany to reassert herself as a great power once again it needs its military to rearm itself after its military capabilities restricted by the Versailles Treaty. Thus, began Germany's quick remilitarization and industrialization endeavor since 2nd August 1934 to ensure that Germany would have the capacity to effectively change the world's international outlook forever. The latter conducted silently as the Great Powers of Britain and France are embroiled in colonial wars and economic depression that would take years to recuperate. To achieve this, Erhard's had Economics Minister Hjalmar Schacht devising his New Plan that focused on economic recovery and industrial and military development on March 22 of 1934. This attracted considerable opposition from laissez-faire capitalists although necessary for Germany's regeneration. For most of the early Guided Democracy era, Germany indulged in rebuilding its industrial and military power while focusing heavily on its domestic situation. However, Germany would take an early silent approach in forging new relations with European nations through secret meetings as early as August 1934. It would only take several years for the world and especially Europe to witness German ambitions beginning to unfold as the Guided Democracy is at its end when situations in Germany began to stabilize around 1936.
President Erhard in the Reichstag
Amidst His 4th of August Speech
Work in Progress
Return to Constitutional Governing and Subsequent "Miraculous Years"
Work in Progress
Political Upheaval and Resignation
Work in Progress
Brief Overview of Erhard's Presidency
Summary of His Term
Berlin Under His Presidency
Upon taking office in October of 1934, he has embarked on a series of reformist and innovative policies that have resulted in stabilization of the German government after years of administral mismanagement and governmental instability, revitalization of the German economy that saw GDP growth rate increasing tenfolds and inflation as well as unemployment rates dropped to its lowest in modern history, the introduction of a more cohesive and flawless constitution designated as the 1934 Constitution of the German Reich, revamping the German military and expanding its arms industry which in turn have made it one of the strongest militaries in the world, and Germany re-establishing itself as one of the world's major power on par with nations such as the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union after years of international isolation. His administration focused on rearmament and fixing Germany's economic misfortunes that soon later evolved into combating British and French influence through its hawkish interventionist actions to further Germany's revanchist goals in its neighbors and the overall disregard for the League of Nations' policies. Additionally, his presidency was initially challenged by chronic inflation and unemployment rates, the restriction imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, and the political clashes between radical political factions such as the NSDAP and the KPD who has come forth to challenge the nation's parliamentary system and his presidency through acts of violence. Whilst his presidency still retained the emergency rule put in place by his predecessor and he governs by decree, he rules benevolently with regards to civil rights as well as the constitution and is against any attempts to restrict political rights in the nation as he firmly supported the nation's parliamentary system except during cases such as the controversial Apostles Decree which hereby banned the NSDAP and the KPD, and imprisoning its members in the name of national order in a time of violence committed by the both groups. On an international level, his presidency was notable for reasserting Germany's position as a major power in the international stage, and ending years of diplomatic isolation as the nation began to grow in a rapid pace to achieve its dream of a unified Germanic state in accordance to its Pan-Germanist ideas which increased hostility with his British and French rival as well as with its neighbors. Additionally, to fulfill the wishes of the significant monarchist segment in the DNVP, he established an autonomous state designated as the Freies konigreich preussen which operates as a constitutional monarchy in a federal level in Germany under a figurehead König and Minister-President which acts as a governor. His years in office is well-received by the general populace of Germany and he himself is highly acclaimed for his oratory charisma that could arouse the populace into supporting his cause, his unique leadership style characterized by his disciplinary attitude and determined strong-willed image that distinguishes him from his more formal predecessors, his determination in restoring Germany's old glory stripped away after the events of World War I through any means necessary, and his set of policies that has overall benefited the average people and fixed most of Germany's woes felt during the Weimar era. Under his presidency, the socio-economic situations in Germany were characterized by a strong sense of both social and economic stability as well as fierce patriotism within the German nation. It was during that time that the German middle-class and the values of nationalism began to flourish, ushering in a new era of a nationalistic German society with financially comfortable lives. Crime, as well as political violence, was the lowest throughout his years of presidency and this puts Germany in a fortunate situation at a domestic level. By the late 1940s, the youth and especially in their college years began to become more active in politics whilst adopting political values which resulted in a new generation of politically free-thinking Germans that experienced the political dominance and control by the conservative establishment under his era.
Under his presidency, he implemented a mixed economic system with significant state interventionism over the German free market and had sought to reduce the chronic hyperinflation rates caused by his predecessors as well as attempting to find a loophole over the German war repayment. Upon assuming power, he appointed renown German economist and Reichsbank president Hjalmar Schacht as Minister of Economics who was known for his austerity measures that led to the successful stabilization of the German mark. Afterward, a new currency was implemented dubbed the Reichsmark whereby it was pegged to gold and managed to establish a well-functioning currency with high purchasing power, unlike its previous predecessors. His government has taken efforts in creating a variety of public work programs such as the nation's construction of the Autobahn and the Deutsches Stadion which in turn helped to curb rampant unemployment rates. He planned to have Germany reconstruct its economy under a new carefully-planned economic model involving both the free market and state interventionism facilitated by Hjalmar Schacht and strived for rearmament of Germany's war industry through Mefo Bills to finance Germany's belligerent foreign policy endeavors. Under his administration, a welfare system was created to ensure the economic and social well-being of its struggling citizens and had introduced universal healthcare which raised the standards of living in Germany significantly. It was during this time that his administration managed to bypass and found loopholes in Germany's outrageous war repayments as stated in the Versailles Treaty which resulted in Germany being rendered as debt-free from economic restrictions imposed by the treaty. Furthermore, as the entire world was still reeling over the effects of the Great Depression, Germany was able to recover it in a quick miraculous economic recovery never seen in the world and by the early 40s, Germany had become the third biggest economy surpassing Britain whilst still behind the Soviet Union. The German GDP per capita rose from a measly $750 in early 1933 amidst the Great Depression to $1,2 thousand in late 1934. His presidency supported and invested a significant amount of money to German corporations such as Siemens, Messerschmitt, IG Farben and numerous others to stimulate economic growth which paved the way for an industrially-prosperous German economy for its next generations. His years as president saw its years of rapid economic growth and progress which would later be nicknamed as the "Wundersame Jahre" or the "Miraculous Years" that spans from the early 1930s and well into the 1970s.
The Autobahn Built
Under His Presidency
During his tenure as President, the national budget saw an influx of Reichsmarks being spent on education as well as the general improvement in the education sector and facility. His government was notable for building numerous public schools and universities which then on would become one of the world's most prestigious tuitional institutions. Notable universities built under his presidency included the The Institute of Technology of Stuttgart, Frankfurt Medical School and the German Reich University of Berlin or (GRUB) noteworthy for its alumni and quality facilities and services. His presidency was keen on increasing the numbers of enrollment into schools and raising literacy rates, and as such began to launch a series of campaigns stressing the importance of education, expanding and modernizing German universities, heavily invest in secondary and university education, and conducting a series of public work programs in a local level to build schools in remote areas as well as promoting funds into the scientific and technological sector. And in 1937, the government made public education available for all German youths. As a result of this campaigning and policies; illiteracy rates in rural areas dropped drastically under his tenure, school enrollment rates increased, the number of graduates increased as well, and German educational institutions soon become world-renowned after government efforts in expanding and modernizing the German education system. The national youth organization, the German Youth or the Deutsche Jugend was established in 1938 under his leadership with the intention of teaching the youth discipline and order as well as molding them to fit the ideals of a perfect German society. By the late 1930s under his presidency, Germany became the paragon of scientific and technological progress coupled with a rapid economic growth rate and prospering living standards unseen throughout the Weimar era.
The Deutsche Jugend
Germany's Youth Organization
Under his presidency, he sought to remove the 'filth' and 'trash' of Germany and by doing so, he banned prostitution and pornography altogether, and numerous brothels were forcibly closed under his administration. The idea of German 'cultural and societal marvel' was heavily promoted throughout his presidency as his government advocated for athleticism in its youth through the sponsoring of several athletic programs and tournaments, the creation of an "People's Car" dubbed the Volkswagen Beetle for the masses, and promoting the image of a perfect family characterized with its successful financial and marital life as well as its strong devotion to the nation and being blessed with two children. German culture was promoted greatly during his presidency through the many cultural centers and museums established such as the world renown Cultural and Arts Museum of Frankfurt. The value of bravery, patriotism, and loyalty was heavily espoused by the government among its youth which can be seen through its establishment of the national youth organization, the Deutsche Jugend or the German Youth. Religious and church activities and attendance are encouraged by the government whilst politically, it still maintains its secularist values, however. In stark contrast to his party's more conservative view on society, he embarked on a policy characterized by progressivist leanings such as his encouragement for women to take a role in the workforce, promoting ethnic and religious co-existence and tolerance through education, as well as his crackdown on many backward traditional customs still practiced in rural areas. A leisure, after-work program was created under his presidency to provide the masses with middle-class leisure activities and removing class division. This program was called the Strength Through Joy which provided German as well as foreign workers and citizens services such as affordable concerts, plays, libraries, day trips, cruise rides, and holidays. The program quickly expanded its operation and had developed a wide range of activities for every German citizen and this service was also extended to foreign citizens as well, which resulted in a surge of tourist rates coming into Germany by August 1934. A nationwide assimilation program was conducted to integrate ethnic minorities in Germany into German society and adopt them to German culture. This saw significant success as many had come to consider themselves as Germans. As an attempt to combat unemployment and raise living standards, a nationwide social welfare program, universal healthcare system, and free public education were introduced into the nation to satisfy the needs of the average struggling German citizens during that time. These services were called Segen aus Germania or Blessings from Germania that successfully managed to ease the burden on the average impoverished citizen and combined with a massive full-employment program that brought most unemployed citizens to work has resulted in the radical transformation of a struggling and demoralized society from the Weimar years into a prospering and healthy German society under his presidency. As a result, he has been credited as a saint and savior among the German people who had lived under the economic difficulties of the Weimar years.
The Volkswagen Beetle
The People's Car
From 1934, Erhard maintained Germany's long-standing parliamentary republican system (albeit ruling by decree) with a highly hostile outlook toward the Treaty of Versailles and Western nations such as Britain and France in general. His foreign policy is characterized by its immense jingoism, aggressive expansionism, and militaristic interventionist approach. However, he is pragmatic, which can be seen through his secret cooperative relations with the Soviet Union regardless of ideological standpoints and his alliance with several fascist dictatorships throughout Europe despite his opposition towards the far-right. Through Germany's rearmament program and high military spending that garnered concerns from the international community; the government had managed to solve the unemployment crisis. His diplomatic tactic that he would always employ to achieve his goals was to make seemingly reasonable demands and proceed to threaten the opponent with a declaration of war if Germany's demands were not met. As a result, concessions were made by his helpless diplomatic adversaries, he accepted them and moved onto a new demand. This style of aggressive diplomacy worked very well on Germany's part. Erhard's hawkish foreign policy would also attempt to avoid using direct military aggression whilst using German military might as a deterrence and an effective threat towards any attempted act of aggression by its adversaries. Ulrich von Hassell, his accomplished Foreign Minister, also played a role in facilitating German diplomatic victories and especially so with the formal repudiation of the Treaty of Versailles in 1937. The German government has heavily supported many militant fifth-column, German separatist groups with the likes of the Sudeten German Party in Czechoslovakia or the Jungdeutsche Partei in Poland that are responsible for the numerous aggressive and vocal acts of resistance in the name of 'German national reunification'. German relations with Poland and Czechoslovakia would greatly deteriorate as it implemented a more hostile stance towards both nations. Through his independent foreign policy direction, Germany increased its involvement in international affairs in an assertive manner and has heavily ventured into the Third World as demonstrated with the strengthening of the Sino-German Cooperation that saw the flourishing of Chinese and German cordial relations, the signing of numerous diplomatic treaties with the Balkan nations to promote Germany's diplomatic influence and gradually lean the balance of power in the region to Germany's side, and the establishment of German companies in Latin America such as in Peru and numerous others that have effectively obtained the ability to influence the domestic politics inside the nation in favor of Germany. As a result, Germany has engaged itself in some sort of economic colonialism throughout the developing world. In addition, Germany was determined on achieving 'full national independence' by violating the Treaty of Versailles, ignoring the demands and pulling Germany out from the League of Nations, and nationalizing every Western company in Germany and delegating it into the hands of competent German conglomerates. Under his presidency, he has undertaken numerous feats that have led Germany to reassert its influence as a great power in the international world; Germany instantly left the League of Nations in 1933 after his inaguaration, launched a clandestine rearmament program in 1935, pressured for a referendum in the Saar and left with a pro-German electoral victory that resulted in re-unification the same year, ordered the Reichsheer to cross the Rhineland and re-militarize it in 1936, formed an informal tripartite alliance with Mussolini's Italy and Austrofascist Austria in the same year, managed to repudiate the burdensome Treaty of Versailles in 1937 which became a monumental event in German history, and through the Treaty of Frankfurt the next year, Germany had acquired a handful of German-speaking lands such as in Danzig, Memelland, parts of Posen, and Eupen-Malmedy through coercion as well as joint British and French attempts in appeasing the increasingly belligerent German nation. These series of diplomatic endeavors has led Germany to rise to international prominence as many began to see the German nation as a feared formidable adversary and likewise a rising great economic and industrial power that the world has never seen before.
Marching Into the Rheinland
Erhard identifies himself as a fierce German nationalist and national conservative with rather progressivist leanings for his era. On a societal level, he believes that it is necessary to maintain tradition and authority while he himself is a firm supporter of the idea of secularism and is opposed to religious interference in governmental affairs. However, he believes that it is necessary for Germany to center itself as the 'bastion of Christianity' in Europe in the wake of rising Bolshevist threat. Furthermore, he is opposed to totalitarianism as he stated that it was 'unnecessarily oppressive' and enshrines civil rights and political freedom in his political thoughts to a certain degree, despite presiding over an emergency rule government. A staunch German nationalist and Pan-Germanist, he strongly takes pride in his German identity and advocated for a unified Germanic state whilst respecting ethnic minority rights and seeks to peacefully integrate or assimilate them into German society. Economically, he is a supporter of a mixed economy whereby intervening in the German free-market economy through macroeconomics and social welfare programs to guarantee favorable market outcomes and fixing mistakes in the market economy. He is opposed to unregulated capitalism as he saw it as detrimental to the average citizen and supports moderate regulation and protectionist policies ensuring that its interests is on the behalf of the German people and not the corporates themselves and for wealth to be distributed equally among the people especially the lower-class; whilst being against Marxism for its anti-theistic ideas and believed it to be conflicting with his pro-free market beliefs such as his support for private ownership. Furthermore, he is opposed to Nazism due to its totalitarian and racial eugenist views whilst he holds sympathetic view towards Fascism, specifically Italian Fascism, only due to its unwavering nationalism and expansionist foreign policy views whilst opposing it on all levels. Being firmly opposed to social liberalism, he sees it as a breeding ground for 'cultural decline and degeneracy' as seen during the Weimar era. In addition, he holds rather ambivalent views towards democracy whilst supporting it to a certain degree but otherwise, he strongly believes in the necessity for Germany to have an elective central figure governing alongside a representative parliament who wields a significant amount of executive powers. Foreign policy-wise, it is in his best interest that Germany should re-develop and maintain its position as an economic and military power in an era of increasing international hostility among nations. His foreign policy standpoint is notably hawkish and he is opposed to dovish diplomacy in general as he sees it as useless in pursuing his revanchist goals of regaining Germany's pre-WWI border as well as a creating a superpower Pan-German state with it being the leader and helm of the European continent and civilization. However, he lacks the interest in regaining Germany's colonial lands as he sees it as a burdensome and prefers to establish bilateral ties with Third World nations and expanding Germany's industry domestically. Like all his DNVP's colleagues, he rejects the Treaty of Versailles as he sees it as a national betrayal whilst supporting the Weimar Constitution to a certain extent and doesn't hold any anti-semitic views or beliefs which puts him at odds with his colleagues. Additionally, he is moderately supportive of authoritarianism and stated the need for Germany to be ruled by a strong central benevolent figure, while remaining neutral on monarchism whereas he views himself to be a non-partisan republicanist with benevolent intentions for his homeland which is stark contrast to his more totalitarian DNVP colleagues that want nothing more but political power in the government.
His Envisioned Pan-German State
Falkenrathism is the German political stance that is based on Reichspräsident Erhard Falkenrath's policies and actions throughout his presidency. Though the term "Falkenrathism" wasn't coined until the end of his presidency, it is nonetheless, had a clear effect on his tenure as president as well as on German politics. Political scientists argued that Falkenrathism isn't an ideology that could be classified as being left, center, or right but rather; a way of political thought in governing and policy that progresses over time through pragmatism and disregard for ideology. Falkenrathism throughout this day has become a phenomenon in German politics where a considerable amount of followers of it exists as well as political parties that revolve around this thought. Furthermore, Falkenrathism can be described as a variant of German patriotism molded under Erhard's point of view and vision of a certain German nation. Under his presidency, the popular concept of Falkenrathism didn't exist until years later by political analysts.
The Personification of
His 'Strong German State'
Overtime, Falkenrathism evolves in line with the political situation that Germany faces under his presidency. Thus, Falkenrathism can be divided into two stages. The first being the Guided Democracy era spanning from 1934 - 1936 wherein this period, it was described as political thought stressing for the complete self-determination and independence of Germany from "foreign yokes" such as the Treaty of Versailles as well as calling for national unity among all Germans, who were heavily divided through class and politics in the early years of his presidency, to achieve complete stability in Germany. The second coincided with the prospering Miraculous Years where Falkenrathism criticized the petty parliamentarian nature of the nation and advocated for a presidential system with strong executive power and an advisory parliament instead. Thus, Falkenrathism evolved into subtle authoritarianism and "strongman rule" instead. Since then, it has been associated with the beliefs of Reichspräsident Erhard Falkenrath.
Falkenrathism is composed of two principles: Germany as a strong state within and an independent foreign power throughout. To establish a strong state inside Germany, he emphasized the creation of a strong executive power with institutions to cooperate with. Through this, he built authority through lack of coordination with the Reichstag and disregard for checks and balances (initially) and engaging directly with the nation's populace through direct universal votes as well as through events such as; public speeches, press conferences, and trips to German states. Furthermore, he argued that an unitary state in Germany would be beneficial as well as intervene in the German free market through Keynesianism and Economic Minister Hjalmar's policies. Regarding foreign policy, he believed that Germany should maintain an independent path without foreign involvement in it (Treaty of Locarno) and sought to impose German influence throughout such as his alliance with both Italy and Austria, his interventionist foreign policy, and flagrant violations of the Treaty of Versailles. Furthermore, Erhard was suspicious of the idea of a united European nation or body and had come to oppose such ideas later in his presidency. Thus, he insisted that Germany's interests are above anything that he deems as "trivial".
Pro and Anti
• Pro: German Nationalism, Pan-Germanism, Militarism, Expansionism, Interventionism, Realpolitik, Agrarianism, Civil Rights, Political Freedom, Minority Rights, Peaceful Integration and Assimilation of Ethnic Minorities, Conservatism, Patriotism, Republicanism, Constitutional Monarchies, Religion, Secularism, Authority, Tradition, Monoculturalism, Meritocracy, Mixed Economics, Protectionism, the Free Market, Private Ownership, Italy, Nationalist China, Austria, Hungary, and Finland
• Neutral: Ultranationalism, Benevolent Dictatorships, Democracy, Authoritarianism, Statism, Progressivism, Monarchism, Atheism, Technocratism, Welfare State, Market Liberalism, Japan, the United States, and the Soviet Union
• Anti: Communism, Marxist-Leninism, Bolshevism, Nazism, Fascism, Anarchism, Socialism, Social Democracy, Social Liberalism, Anti-Theism, Globalization, Multiculturalism, Totalitarianism, "Social Degeneracy", Anti-Semitism, Laissez-faire Capitalism, Syndicalism, Romani, Britain, France, Poland, and Czechoslovakia
For most of Erhard's life, he was a devout Protestant and a very religious man who would frequently pray at the church. His inner circles would call him as an "God-fearing Man" and a highly moralistic person as well. Regularly, he would attend Protestant ceremonies and was an avid reader of the Bible. However, Erhard views himself as a secularist tolerant of other religions and believed that religious values should be upheld while having the church barred from political affairs. Erhard would often use religious rhetorics in his speeches, calling for an "national salvation" to "cleanse Germany from its sins". Erhard would make declarations in the reaffirming of religious values and oppositions against Atheism though the latter, he would refuse to prosecute it by the recommendations of his ultrareligious colleagues. Furthermore, as a firm Christian, he would go against antitheism from Marxist, materialist thoughts and came to oppose movements such as the Positive Christianity and the German Freethinkers League. Both were banned and forcefully disbanded under his presidency/regime. Despite his firm religiosity, he is a proponent of scientific advancement as well as secularism within the government. Erhard also believed that the complete absence of an organized religion will prompt Germans to turn to mysticism instead, as he considers it as being regressive, thus was aware that religion should play a lesser degree in German politics. This made his secularist belief to be ambiguous as the government began to promote Christianity in daily lives. This outlook on religion defined his beliefs prior to 1939. In 1939, Erhard began to take a more skeptical point of view towards his Protestant belief after a failed assassination attempt by the communists against him and his future wife killed their infant daughter. Thus, he believed that God failed to act towards the event and promptly became more disbelieving towards his religion. By this time, he would still consider himself as a Protestant but lacked in spirituality nor faith in it as he began to attend Church less and looked forward to other religious alternatives. However, he often espoused religion as a public tool for his presidency's popular support. He then began contemplating on renouncing his Christian beliefs and often clashed with Christian leaders in the Reich but still maintained good relations with Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen and Bishop Konrad von Preysing. Afterward, he would regularly converse with leaders of other foreign religions such as Grand Mufti Amin Al-Husseini of Islam and other religions such as Deism, Catholicism, as well as Heathenism. Before his death in 1945, on his deathbed, he reasserted his faith in Christianity and died soon afterward .
Church Ceremony in the Reich
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