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Hitler’s Rise to Power

Adolf Hitler was born in brannau, austria on the 20th of april 1889. His parents belonged to the settled middle class and his father led a thrifty but successful life. At aged 18, hitler moved to vienna where he settled for five years. He described that period of time as the worst years of his life. As a struggling artist, he tried to gain entry into the vienna academy of fine arts but was refused admission. It was in vienna that hitler was influenced by lanz von libenfels and developed very strong nationalist and anti-semitic views. In may 1913, he left for munich.

During ww1 in august 1914, he enlisted in the army. he fought on the western front for 4yrs and was awarded the iron cross for bravery. he remained in the army and was given the job of spying on newly developing political parties. One such party was the german workers party founded by anton drexler in 1919. hitler was so impressed at the first meeting by what he saw and heard that he decided to join the organisation. by 1920, he was leader of this party and changed the name to the national socialist workers party, commonly known as the nazi party.

The nazis forme their own small army called the SA(sturm abteilung). hey were easily recognised by the brown coloured shirts they wore. the SA were used to protect the nazis at any meetings or conferences that were held. hitler made the swastika the emblem of this party. early recruits included ernst rohm, rudolf hess, heinrich himmler and josef goebbels. With the weimar government facing economic and ploitical crisis in 1923, hitler decided to make a bid for power. this came in the form a the munich putsch.

On 8th november 1923, nazi’s took over a beer hall in munich. many people were killed. hitler was arrested two days later and was sentenced to 5yrs in landsberg castle. e only served 9months of this sentence. while in prison, hitler wrote his famous book ‘mein kampf’- my struggle. this book was a long boring insight into the mind of hitler and his anti-semitic views. During his time in prison the nazi party had disintegrated , and its members had become divided. hitler had to spend the next 4yrs rebuilding the party and giving it a solid organisational base. Hitler believed in a true german race devoid of impurity which could be achieved by the elimination of all inferior races. He also believed in the idea of ‘lebensraum’ or living space.

From 1923 onwards the nazis grew slowly but steadily, and there was very effective use of propaganda by josef goebbels. he portrayed hitler as a kind man. strict censorship was used on both the radio and in newspapers. hitler soon developed into a brilliant speaker and knew how to catch the audiences attention and work them into a frenzy. his listeners loved the sppeches and the spectacle. Hitler had embarked on a nationwide campaign promising employment to the unemployed, land to the peasants, re-armament to the army and most of all, he promised a strong leadership. e also blamed the ‘november criminals’ for the signing of the versailles treaty and he openly critiscised jews and communists, and the weakness of the weimar germany as being a contributory factor to germanys ills. industrialists nicknamed him ‘ the man of steel’.

By 1932 the nazi party was the largest in the reichstag and soon the number of seats rose from 12 to 288. Politicians did not trust him but the people wanted him in charge and so in january of 1933, hitler became chancellor of germany. As soon as hitler was given power he beagn to dismanntle democracy. e called a general election, however on the night of 27th of february 1933, the reichstag was set alight , ‘supposedly’ by a communist. Hitler led people to believe that this was the beginning of a communist plot to take over the country. On 23march, deputies met at kroll opera house for the debate on the enabling bill. the opera house was sealed off by the SA and the SS. This act , which was nothing less than a mandate, authorised the government to pass laws without consulting the reichstag. hitler won the two-thirds majority vote that he needed to win.

The weimar republic was dead and in this new one party totalitarian state, democracy could not survive. The leader of the SA was ernst rohm. he critiscised hitler calling him a swine and a traitor. The regular german army ‘wehrmacht’ was in a weak position since the versailles treaty. Himmler an Goring, two of hitlers ministers informed hitler of rohms threats. On the 30th of june 1934 the SS butchered 150 people at stradelheim prison. Rohm and approximately 250 others were also killed. This became known as the night of the long knives.

President hindenburg died on 2nd of august 1934. Hitler as ‘der fuhrer’ inherited the presidential powers , including supreme commander of the armed forces. Being a jew at this time was seen as a crime. they were very prosperous people who owned shops and businesses, were prominent in banking, law and medicine. The nuremburg laws were passed in ’35 and marriages between jews and germand bacame forbidden. they were forced to wear the star of david so they could be publicly identified. They were seen as ‘parasites’ and werent given any employment except for very menial jobs.

On 9th november ’38, nazi’s launched a terrorist campaign against jews. shops were wrecked, synagogues were burned and many jews were killed. this became known as ‘kristallnacht’ or crystal night due to the amount of glass broken. In the years that followed conditions for jews worsened and a ‘final solution’ of the jewish problem was decided upon. this involved mass killings. The first concentration camp was opened near dachau in munich in march 1933. communists, socialists, jews, catholics, protestants, gypsies, tramps, homosexuals and the mentally impaired were all confined.

Prisoners lived in over-croeded dormitorys and they all had their heads shaven. they were tortured and beaten constanly. Mass extermination camps were built at auschwitz, treblinka, buchenswald and belsen. people were poisoned in gas chambers disguised as showers. Hitler was raised as a catholic but soon regarded it as fit for only slaves. A concordat was signed between the vatican and german state in ’33. The church soon realised that it had signed away its independance and priests were arrested and monastries were closed down.

By ’36, unemployment was down to 2. 5m from 6m a few years previous and was negligible by ’39. The famous ‘autobahn’ gave out 200,000 jobs to germans, and volkswagen handed out a further million jobs . working conditions remained substandard but workers were willin to endure. Hitler was deeply concerned about the youth and set up camps for them. Boys were taugh how to be men and soon they al knew they would have to do service for the army. Women were just there to bear as many children as possible and alsoto cook and clean.

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StudyBoss » Adolf Hitler » Hitler’s Rise to Power

Hitlers Rise to Power

“Instead of working to achieve power by armed coup, we shall hold our noses and enter the Reichstag against the opposition deputies. If outvoting them takes longer than out shooting them, at least the results will be guaranteed by their own constitution. Sooner or later we shall have a majority, and after that- Germany. (Heiden, 142)” Adolf Hitler spoke these words in 1920, soon after becoming leader of the newly named National Socialist German Workers’ Party, commonly known as the Nazi Party. There are many contributing factors, which lead to Hitler’s gain in power over the next thirteen years.

The recent history of post-war Germany, and the events that would follow were of perfect conditions for the rise of an extremist party such as the Nazis. World War One had left Germany in defeat. Germany was put under immense pressure by the treaty of Versailles, which contributed to the disastrous and politically unstable early twenties. Hitler was a strong and manipulating character, with extraordinary leadership skills and his party was very tactical. He was very much underestimated by opposing political parties. All of these factors lead to Hitler and his Nazis’ becoming the sole political party in the Reichstag in 1933.

The German Empire was formed in 1871 and soon became one of Europe’s most influential countries. It dominated in industrial and military power, and the German people were proud of their achievements. Up until the end of World War One, a Kaiser ruled Germany. From 1888 the Kaiser was Wilhelm II. He was very ambitious and militaristic and a threat to other countries. The German people were very accustomed to success, and when Germany was defeated in World War One, they were shocked and angry. The Weimar Constitution was drawn up to help Germany bounce back.

This constitution was genuinely democratic but had some weaknesses. A president ruled with a chancellor and proportional representation in the Reichstag. Proportional representation made the Republic weak in that parties were very uncooperative. No party could get a majority, so the government had to be run by coalitions. There could never be a strong government. The president had too much power over the government and could turn himself into a dictator. This was made possible by Article forty-eight in the constitution which stated that in an emergency, the president could make laws without going first to the Reichstag.

The Social Democratic Party, or SPD, was the largest party in the Reichstag in the early years of German democracy. It was the only party, which held strong support for the Weimar Republic. Extremist groups like the German Communist Party, or KPD and the Nazi party blamed a lot of the disasters that happened in the early stages of the republic on the SPD. This was how the Nazi Party gained support from the German people. And there were plenty of things to complain about. The Versailles Treaty, drawn up by leaders of Allied parties after the first World War was very hard on the Germans.

They faced territorial losses; Allied countries took more than thirteen percent of Germany. Also, allies occupied the most productive industrial territory, the Rhineland. Overseas colonies were taken too. Germany was forced to pay reparations for damage caused by the war. The term for peace that the Germans most resented was article two hundred and thirty-one which blamed Germany for the war. The German people were angry and bitter, looking for someone to blame. The Nazis gave them the new government to blame. During this time there were attempted uprisings from both the extreme left and right of the political spectrum.

A society that had been famous for their unity was now in conflict. The year 1923 brought with it significant disasters. French and Belgian troops invaded the Ruhr, Germany’s most important industrial region. The Germans responded with a policy of passive resistance. They refused to have anything to do with the French, especially work. This was a major economical problem for Germany. They were already broke, with reparations to pay, and now they had lost some of their most important income. The German government did not have enough money to pay for the cost of the resistance in the Ruhr, so they printed more.

They did not have the money to do this, so their currency inflated. By November of 1923, the Deutschemark had inflated to one hundred and thirty thousand million marks to one American dollar, compared with just four hundred marks to an American dollar in 1922. These huge economic problems, along with humiliation of the Versailles treaty and war defeat brought much political conflict. In September 1923, when Chancellor Stresemann called off passive resistance in the Ruhr, many people felt he was giving in to France. To those who hated the republic and particularly right-wing extremist groups felt that Stresemann’s decision was a betrayal.

This was when Hitler took action. Hitler gained numerous followers throughout the hard times- his party had grown to more than thirty-five thousand members. He said what the people wanted to hear; that he wanted to tear up the Versailles treaty and get Germany back to the way it was before the war. Hitler and his private army of three thousand, called the Sturmabteilung or SA, attempted to overthrow the government in Munich, Bavaria. This was a failure as the national army and police easily crushed them. However, this revolt launched the Nazis onto the national scene.

Hitler was put on trial, and used his time in the spotlight to provoke public interest in his party’s policies. Hitler was convicted and sent to prison on a sentence for five years. He served his sentence for less than nine months. After the revolt at Munich, the Nazi party was banned. However, while Hitler was still in prison, it entered the Reichstag elections for the first time, under another name. The afterglow of the trial showed through, and the Nazis won 32 seats in the May election. Seven months later there was another election, and the Nazis’ seats were reduced to just fourteen.

This shows that Hitler had a huge impact on his party’s success. The Nazis thrived on hard times in Germany; they had policies that pleased the conservative Germans, who made up the majority of Germany at this time. They used disasters in the early twenties to better themselves. They gave the Germans someone to blame and Hitler was outstanding in the spotlight. During his stay in prison Hitler was always thinking of how to get more power. He was determined not to repeat the mistakes of 1923; so using force was out of the question. He would try to win power through contesting elections.

The Nazi gained a reputation for being thugs through their intimidation of other parties. They were still not the most influential party of Bavaria, Germany, but they were the most violent. The Nazis worked steadily through the late twenties. They kept rather quiet. The reason for this was that the NSDAP relied on instability and disaster for its support. They needed to give the people of Germany someone to blame for the problems, and express their readiness to fix it. The period 1924-29 is known among historians as the “golden years (Heiden, 242)” of the Republic. Things were going quite well.

This was on a large scale due to foreign minister and ex-chancellor Stresemann. He introduced a new foreign policy, which involved treaties with the allied countries and entry into the League of Nations as well as a review of the treaty of Versailles. He brought in a new stable currency called the Rentenmark and he introduced the Dawes Plan to Germany- huge money loans from America that would help Germany in regaining its economic stability and paying off reparations. This was a period of relative-stability. Hitler ran many public meetings and tried harder to win the support of all classes.

He took evening classes in public speaking skills. He learned to focus his issues on those that people thought were most important, and developed an outstanding system of propaganda. In October 1929 the Wall Street crash was the beginning of the Great Depression. The effects of the depression were felt all over the world, but Germany was hit particularly badly. Germany was relying on the Dawes plan for stabilizing their economy and rebuilding their industries. When the depression came, America was forced to recall the loans. Businesses had to close, German exports slumped and millions of people lost their jobs.

Unemployment rose. The government cut unemployment benefits to save money. This was a time of extreme poverty. The depression weakened the Weimar Government. The Weimar Government seemed to have no idea what to do about the problems of rising unemployment and poverty. They did try to get Germany out of the depression, but with little success. One way to get out of the depression was to print more money and increase government expenditure, but the leaders of the Weimar were scared of a relapse of the 1923 inflation. So instead the Chancellor raised taxes, cut wages and reduced unemployment benefit.

This made the Germans very angry. These economic policies also caused the collapse of the government. The SPD withdrew from the coalition and the Chancellor fell back on article forty-eight of the Weimar Constitution. Hindenburg, an eighty-four year old war hero, now ruled Germany. He was very conservative and was well past his prime. To many Germans it seemed that the Weimar government had made terrible choices in the handling of the situation. People became more involved in politics as they felt something had to change. Extremist uprisings from right and left came about.

The communists blamed the Capitalist system and the Nazis blamed the Weimar Republic, the Treaty of Versailles and the Jews. They promised to get rid of “the enemy within (Heiden, 287)” who was destroying Germany. The depression was a gift to Hitler and the Nazis. For every problem the depression raised, they had a solution. In a time where the Weimar government was at its weakest, they needed a strong leader. The people of Germany needed jobs. Hitler made it clear that he could control the communists with his SA, and that he could provide the people of Germany with jobs.

In giving his powerful and moving public speeches, it could be seen that he was a strong and decisive leader, which was exactly what Germany needed. He reminded people of the strength Germany had as a monarchy, with the Kaiser as leader. The elections in 1930 showed a remarkable breakthrough in Nazi support. Their representation jumped from twelve to one hundred and seven seats. They were suddenly the second largest party in the Reichstag. By July 1932, their representation was two hundred and thirty seats, making them the largest party in the Reichstag.

The impact of the depression can only partly explain the success of Hitler and the NSDAP. The Nazis managed to convince the people of Germany that they were the solution to all of their problems. They used special tactics to rise above other extremist groups in Germany. They were very well organized, motivated and skilled. This was largely due to many Nazis being soldiers in the First World War. The leaders of the party were masters of propaganda. They knew that their anti-communist stance and anti-Semitist stance was very popular and they used this to better themselves.

They blamed everything they could on the Communists and Jews. The man in charge of propaganda for the Nazis was Josef Goebbels who was a brilliant public speaker. They intimidated the opposition and voters with their elite army. They earned the support of powerful industrialists by co-operating with other right-winged extremist groups. Support by the industrialists gave them financial backing for their party. The Nazis made the most of their technology at the time. Radio was used for the first time in the 1932 presidential election. Hitler was chartered around on plane flights to speak to four of five rallies per day.

Radio Broadcasts, rallies, millions of election posters, as well as marches and parades carried the Nazi message into every town and home in Germany. The Nazi regime was very flexible. If they found an idea losing support, they would change it. They told the public what they wanted to hear. And although they expressed their extreme beliefs in the Nazis’ twenty-five points, Germans were actually very unsure as to what Nazis really stood for apart from wanting Germany to be great again. Only one thing stayed constant throughout the elections- the strong presence of Adolf Hitler. Posters and rallies built him up as superman.

His physical appearance was adapted on posters and Hitler developed his speech skills still further. The campaigns focused around his personality and skills. It was not what he said, it was how he said it and the people loved him. The opposition had no one to match him; they were very weak and consistently underestimated the Nazis. The Nazi Party was now the largest party in the Reichstag. In normal circumstances, the leader of the majority party would be Chancellor, however the other parties did not want to work with Hitler. President Hindenburg had the power to appoint him as chancellor, but did not want to.

There were many arguments regarding the assembly of a workable government. The weakness of the Reichstag was disastrous in the time of the Depression. Hindenburg despised Hitler, but could see what great use the Nazis could be to him, because of their large support. He appointed Franz Von Papen Chancellor. Von Papen distrusted Hitler, but was hoping to create a right-wing coalition government with the Nazis. Hitler refused to co-operate, and there was another election. The Nazis lost seats. They took their propaganda to an all-time high, but it was to no use. The intimation of the SA had begun to lose the support of the public.

Goebbels wrote in his diary “The future looks dark and gloomy; all chances and hopes have quite disappeared (Heiden, 312). ” However, success was close. General von Schleicher, a main advisor to Hindenburg, stopped supporting Von Papen, deciding he should be Chancellor. Hindenburg appointed von Schleicher Chancellor. After less than two months, von Schleicher resigned as a result of lack of support in the Reichstag. Von Papen, who had been working secretly with Hitler, persuaded Hindenburg that as long as the number of Nazis in the cabinet were limited, Hitler would be no threat as Chancellor.

He also warned that the alternative was a Nazi revolt and civil war. Hindenburg decided to appoint Hitler as Chancellor and von Papen as Vice-Chancellor. Hitler’s opponents were very sure that they had control of him, but they were very wrong. On the night of the twenty-seventh of February 1933 came the sensational news that the Reichstag building had been set on fire. Dutch communist, van der Lubbe was found inside the building and was charged with starting the fire. That night thousands of communist leader were arrested. Hitler persuaded Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree suspending the constitution.

This decree lasted for twelve years. Nazi tactics reached a peak in the days after the fire, political opponents were arrested and only the Nazis could campaign for the election. Propaganda of all sorts was unleashed, urging the public to vote for the NSDAP party. On Election Day Nazis who overlooked each ballot paper being marked policed each polling station. The Nazis got their highest result ever- two hundred and eighty-eight seats out of the six hundred and forty seven seats in the Reichstag. Hitler now wanted the power to pass laws without consulting the Reichstag.

The Nationalists were prepared to support him but he needed two-thirds of the Reichstag to pass a change in the constitution. To do this, he banned the communists under his emergency powers and he intimidated the other parties. The enabling act was passed by four hundred and forty-four votes to ninety-four. The Reichstag in effects had voted itself out of existence. It had voted to introduce Nazi dictatorship. The Reichstag now had no say on policies, and when they met, it was only to hear Hitler speak. The Nazi Revolution had begun.

Over a period of thirteen years, Hitler and the NSDAP gained more and more power until in 1933, when Hitler took over. Their leader Adolf Hitler had power over the Reichstag and was in every position to dominate German society. The years leading up to 1933 were rich in opportunities for an extremist uprising. The Weimar Republic was weak, and Germany was in the midst of political anguish. The German people were looking for a strong and decisive leader and they found it in Hitler. The Depression gave Hitler and the NSDAP the opportunity to gain power over the Reichstag, and they did just that.

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