The Stahlhelm was the popular name was the Bund der Frontsoldaten. Stahlhelm meant 'Steel Helmet'. Bund der Frontsoldaten meant League of Frontline Soldiers. It was one of the most important paramilitary organizations that organized after Germany's defeat in World War I. It was essentially a well organized Freikorps. The Allies 100 Day Offensive broke through the German lines and brought Allied armies close to the German border. Finally the High Command informed the Kaiser that they could no longer protect them. A new government was formned which requested an armistice. Many Germans and soldiers could not understand what went wrong. In the chaos of post-War Germany, the Communists atte,oted to seize power. Veteran's organized Freikorps to prevent this. The Stahlhelm became the largest para-military organization in Weimar Germany. They became not only a threat tothe Wimar Repunlic and the the NAZI seizure of power. Theywould eventually joined the DNVP/NSDAP coalition that help give Hitler the opportunity to seize power. Hitler moved to ansorb them within NAZI structures. The monarchist orientation posed a threat and he disbanded the organization (1935).
The Stahlhelm was the popular name was the Bund der Frontsoldaten. Stahlhelm meant 'Steel Helmet'. Bund der Frontsoldaten meant League of Frontline Soldiers. It was one of the most important paramilitary organizations that organized after Germany's defeat in World War I. It became a veteran's mutual assistance association and Freikorps. It was essentially a well organized Freikorps. Defeat in World War I came as a great shick to the German people and many soldierts. The Germans had won the War in the East with vast territorial gains. In the West a Spring offesive almost achieved victory. The Allies 100 Day Offensive broke through the German lines and brought Allied armies close to the German border. Finally the High Command informed the Kaiser that they could no longer protect them. A new government was formned which requested an armistice. Many Germans and soldiers could not understand what went wrong. In the Chaos of post-War Germany, the Communists atte,oted to seize power. Veteran's organized Freikorps to prevent this. TghecStahlhelm was one iof these groups.
The most important individuals were Theodor Duesterberg and Franz Seldte. Franz Seldte, a veteran, founded the Stahlhelmat in Magdeburg right after the War (late-1918). The first members were his brothers and some comrads from Seldte's units. The organizations journal was edited by Count Hans-Jürgen von Blumenthal. (Blumenthal was hanged by the NAZIs for his role in the July 1944 bomb plot to kill Hitler.)
The Stahlhelm was the armed branch of the Deutschnationalen Volkspartei (DNVP). While the Stahlhelm proved popular in right wing cirles, the DNVP was unable to generate much electoral support. The DNVP used it in part as the NAZIs use the SA, to provide security at party rallies. The Germans referred to this function as armed Protector of the Hall (Saalschutz).
The organization became in the 1920s before the rise of the NAZis, the most mportant nationalistic and anti-Socialist/Weimar groups. The Stahlhelm members were largely monarchists,supporters of the Imperial regime replace by the Weimar Republic. For that reason, the ties with the Reichswehr with its monarchist orientation were stronger than the NAZIs were able to build. Like other right-wing groups, they were anti-Semetic, although not as virulently as the NAZIs.
The Reichweher used the Stahlhelm to evade the Versailles Peace Trearty limits of a 100,000 man army. Officers and non-coms could be temprarily assigned to the Stahlhelm and rotated.
The Stahlhelm as a veterans group attracted nany members. At rallies they used the flag and banners ofImperial Gwrmany. Me,bership reached 500,000 men (1926). It was the largest para-,ilitary group in Germany at the time the NAZIs still were a minor party. The Stahlhelm decided to entered politics, but not as an active political party. It presented itself as 'conservative' and supported nationalist candidated. Most of the candidated it helped elect were DNVP or the more liberal, but still nstionalist DVP. The Stahlhem in the mid-20s began attracting "volkish" elements. This lead to an increasingly radical anti-Weimar orientation. The liberally orienred DVP disassociated themselves. The Stahlhelm would eventually joined the DNVP/NSDAP coalition that help give Hitler the opportunity to seize power.
The Stahlhelm had 500,000 members in 1930, larger than both the Reichwehr and the NAZI SA. It was the largest paramilitary organization in Germany. It was thus a partviof tge genera destalization of German politics aftervcthe onset of the Great Depression. It was, however, not only a threat to the Weimar Republic, but to Hitler and the NAZIs. The organization received funding from groups concerned about the Communists and Socialisrts like the Deutsche Herrenklub, the Ostlbien landed gentry, and right-wing entrepreneurs. The Stalhelm essentially outgrew the DNVP. It positioned itself as a nationalist group above party politics. The Stahlhelm, after 1929 assumed an increasingly anti-Weimar and anti-democratic character. The goal was to establish an authoritarian German Government to pursue a Revanchist program aimed at regaining the territory lost in World War I.
The Stahlhelm lacked a dynamic leader like Hitler and was less calculating about disguising their willingness to use military action to regain the lost territory, and thus were not sucessful politically.
The Stahlhelm joined the Peoples Initiative Against the Young-Plan to oppose the Ameeican-financed Young Plan (1929).
The Stahlhelm joined an alliance with the DNVP, NAZIs, and the Alldeutscher Verband to form the Harzburger Front--a right-wing alliance against the Weimar Republic. Theodor Duesterberg was the Stahlhelm presidential elections of 1932. The election was, however, dominated by President Hindenberg and Hitler.
After the NAZIs seized power (1933), the moved to integrate the Stahlhelm within the NAZI structure. SA units raided the Stahlhelm headquarters in Braunschweig to oput pressure on Seldte.
Hitler attempted to buy Seldte off by making him his first Reichsminister for Labor. in Hitlers cabinet. Seldte joined the SA (April 1933). Union with the NAZIS known as Gleichschaltung was finally achieved (1934). The NAZIS renamed the Stahlhelm the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkämpferbund (Federation of the National Socialist Frontline-Fighters). It was reorganized into the Sturmabteilung (SA) structure. Many members joined NAZI veteran's organizations. After dealing with the SA in the Night of the Long Knives (1934) and gettingthebacking of the Reichswhr, Hitle was free to deal with the Stahlhelm which he distructed because of the membership's monarchist symathies. He ordered the orgamization disbanded (1935).
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