On the 30th of January 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor. Why had this happened? From a tramp in 1914 to the Prime Minister of Germany, what had happened in between these years that led to Adolf Hitler becoming chancellor? My task is to analyse the events between 1914 and 1933 that led to Hitler becoming chancellor. Some of these events are going to be short term causes such as the “Reichstag Fire” and some of these events are going to be long term causes such as “the defeat of world war 1.
I will also encounter political and economical causes that allowed Hitler to become chancellor. My task is to analyse all of these causes and decide which cause is the most important cause of Hitler and the Nazi’s rise to power. Hitler was born on the 20th of April 1989 in Austria. He left school at the age of 16, and ion 1909 moved to Vienna to try and study at an art college. This is where he first got interested in politics and he especially liked the ideas of the Nationalist parties. This is also where his hatred of socialist
Parties began. His beliefs matched the Nationalists; to make Austria great and his beliefs of anti-Semitism, Anti-Communism and Anti-Democracy also started with the support of the nationalist parties. In 1913, Hitler moved to Germany to avoid military service, for Vienna but he volunteered to join the German Army as soon as war began in 1914. In the First World War Hitler worked in the army as a messenger, taking messages between trenches. He was wounded twice once by rifle and then gassed near the end of the war.
During the war he won many medals including the “Iron Cross First Class” the highest award a German soldier could get. When he recovered from his injury the war was over and the armistice had been signed. Hitler himself said that “war was the greatest of all experience” Hitler was devastated. He blamed the Jews and the socialist politicians for the surrender of Germany. Hitler was certain that the German army couldn’t have been defeated and he felt that Germany had been “Stabbed in the Back” by the Jewish and nationalist politicians or “November Criminals” as he called them.
The defeat of the First World War is a long term cause for Hitler and the Nazi’s rise to power as it convinced Hitler that he had to do something to make Germany great again. Hitler already didn’t like Democracy as Germany had been ruled by a monarchy before and he believed that the German army would have won had the politicians not signed the armistice. The armistice led to the treaty of Versailles, which crippled Germany and is also another very important long-term political cause for Hitler and the Nazi’s rise to power. Most German people hated the treaty of Versailles because of how harshly it punished Germany.
Hitler and many other wanted to tear up the treaty from the day that it was signed. Also included in the harsh terms treaty was the “War Guilt” clause, in which Germany had to admit that it was responsible for starting the Great War. The terms of the treaty of Versailles constantly fuelled Hitler’s anger, so it is a very important cause in Hitler’s rise to power because if he had not been constantly angered then he would not have taken some of the measures that he did. Hitler had very strong views on the treaty. Even though he was Austrian, he loved Germany more than anything.
Hitler hated the Treaty of Versailles; he stirred up the German people by reminding them of parts of the treaty that they would not like and he promised that if he was elected he would refuse to abide by many terms in the treaty, such as the reparations, military restrictions, and the land which was “stolen” away from Germany. He knew that people in Germany were living in poverty, and so the majority of the population blamed their problems on the treaty, this caused many to turn towards Hitler, because he had been against the treaty right from the start.
The way that Hitler used the treaty as an excuse and stirred up the German people shows Hitler’s skilful use of propaganda and his strong leadership skills. It was without doubt that if there was nothing to constantly fuel Hitler’s anger, in this case the Treaty of Versailles, he would never have come to power. After the First World War, Hitler continued to work for the government as a “V-Man”, spying on political parties and finding out if they were dangerous to the new Weimar Republic. While on the job Hitler came across the newly formed “German Worker’s Party (DAP)”, a small organisation formed in, Munich in 1919.
Hitler found that this party was not dangerous and he liked their ideas, as they matched his ideas. He decided to join the German Worker’s Party in the same year. At the time he joined, Anton Drexler was the leader of the party and Hitler was soon appointed the head of propaganda for the party by the end of 1919. In February 1920 Hitler and Drexler drew up the “twenty-five point programme”, of the German Worker’s Party. This stated that the Treaty of Versailles, should be scrapped, Germany should expand to include more territory for its people and Jews were to be deprived of German citizenship.
Shortly after the party’s name was changed to National Socialist German Worker’s Party or “Nazi Party”, so that they could get more votes and this was done at Hitler suggestion. In 1921 Hitler pushed Drexler aside and took leadership of the party. This shows how Hitler was able to rise to supreme control in the Nazi party so quickly. This is because he had such good leadership skills and he was much disciplined, and he had gained this experience from the army. This is also an important cause to Hitler’s rise to power because it shows that he was well motivated and could easily take control.
To further enhance the party, Hitler designed the swastika or “crooked Cross” as the symbol of the party, he also made the “Storm Troopers” (SA) or the “brown shirts” to protect the party and thrash any opponents. Another important reason for Hitler and the Nazi’s rise to power was Hitler’s personality, oratory and leadership skills. Hitler was a very good speaker and a master of propaganda. Here are Hitler’s views on how to influence the masses of the people; “The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble.
On the other hand they quickly forget. Such being the case of all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and these must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea. Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively but must present only the aspect of truth which is favourable to the party” When he delivered speeches, some people said that they were hypnotised by his speeches.
All of the steps that Hitler had taken since becoming leader and re-organising the party show that he was a strong leader, this was the message that he was trying to get out to the German people. This was shown in the way he had organised his party, they had a symbol, and a personal army force and no other party had this in Germany and this also prepared him for the future, he had everything planned and was very organised unlike his opponents. Another important long-term cause for Hitler’s rise to power was the “Munich Putsch” or the “Beer hall Putsch”.
On the evening of the 28 November Hitler and his SA burst into a meeting held by general von Kahr in a beer hall in Munich. There Hitler declares that he was taking over the state government of Bavaria. Next he declared that he was going to march into Berlin to take over the German government. Hitler tried to win the support of Kahr and others by threats, but they refused and Kahr managed to escape. The next morning, Hitler tried again; he led 3,000 supporters to march to the centre of Berlin mean while President Ebert had declared a “national State of Emergency”.
On the way Hitler and his supporters were met by 100 Bavarian Police, who were sent to disperse the Putsch. When they opened fire 16 Nazi’s were killed ; the Putsch had collapsed. Hitler managed to keep in the background but was arrested two day’s later. In many ways the Putsch was a failure in the short term, but it was a success and a very important cause of Hitler and the Nazi’s rise to power in the long term. Hitler had gone ahead with the Putsch because he felt the time was right, as there was a lot of anti-government felling in Germany due to hyperinflation.
Another reason was that he thought that he would get support from von Kahr and other right -wing Parities. The consequences of the Putsch were that Hitler was put on trial and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment in landsberg castle. But before his imprisonment Hitler was given a lot of publicity. This was the first time Hitler could express his ideas. Many people felt the same way ; wanted to over throw the Weimar Republic ; tear up the Treaty of Versailles.
The failure of the Putsch also allowed Hitler to re-think his strategy, he decided to change his approach from violence ,to gaining more votes and he said ” I will have to use Democracy to destroy itself” while he was in prison, so he had clearly shown that he was going to use the democratic system to get into power. Also while in prison Hitler wrote his book, “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle) in which he mentioned his beliefs and ideas of s perfect race and laid out his plans for the future.
In one of the letters he wrote out after the failure of the Putsch he writes; When I resume active work it will be necessary to pursue a policy. Instead of working to achieve power by an armed coup, we will hold our noses and enter the Reichstag against Catholics and Marxists members. If out voting them takes longer that out shooting them, at least the result will be guaranteed by their own constitution. Sooner or later we shall have a majority, and after that- Germany! ” The struggle for peace, pg 51 So we have seen that the Putsch greatly contributed to Hitler’s rise to power, because as a result, he was able to change his strategy and plan things out and prepare him for the future.
We have also come across another important cause to Hitler and the Nazi’s rise to power, while evaluating the “Munich Putsch”. The weakness of the Weimar republic is an important cause because it shows that if the government wasn’t weak from the start and things went right then no-one would listen to extremist parties, such as the Nazi party. The Weimar Republic had been weak from the start; this was due to many causes. One of these was that the Republic was based on “Proportional Representation”. This meant that no party had a majority in the Reichstag and therefore the government was made up of “Coalitions”.
This way the parties were always arguing over problems and couldn’t reach a decision. Another problem was “Article 48 of the Constitution” this article gave the president the power to pass democracy in a crisis and not consult the Reichstag. This was also seen when Hitler tried the Munich Putsch and Pres. Ebert declared a “national State of Emergency”. The Weimar had been politically unstable from the beginning and Hitler used this to his advantage to exploit the Weimar and gain support. This can be proved by the many rising that tried to overtake the Weimar.
These include the “Spartacist Rising” in 1919 and the “Wolfgang Kapp” in 1920. The weakness of the Weimar is an important cause in Hitler’s rise to power because had the Weimar been a strong government from the start and not faced as many problems then the chances are that extremist groups would cease to exist as no-one would support them. This notion that no-one likes to listen to extremist parties when things are going right can be proved. This was true for the Nazi’s; the Nazi’s and Hitler were unable to make an impact between 1924 and 1929. This was due to the fact that the Weimar republic was doing quite well at the time.
The republic was under the leadership of Gustav Stresemann, who was very influential. Under Stresemann Germany did quite well, the economy recovered quickly from the collapse of the mark and inflation and the Rentenmark was introduced to replace the old devalued currency. Germany was also greatly helped by the Dawes plan of 1924; this was a bank loan from America. By this plan the allies agreed for Germany to pay off it’s reparations in easier stages. Stresemann also signed the Young Plan; this plan went further from the Dawes plan and extended the payments by another 59 years.
Although Germany seemed to be doing well Stresemann knew what could happen; “The economic position is only a flourishing on surface. Germany in fact is dancing on a volcano” Gustav Stresemann Weimar Germany- Josh Brooman What Stresemann meant from this was that Germany was only the support of America. If the American banks recall their loans, the Dawes and the Young Plan’s. Then Germany would greatly suffer, the economy would collapse again and the Weimar would again be distrusted. This was what Hitler needed. During the “Stresemann era” Hitler couldn’t make an impact no matter how hard he tried.
In 1925 he completely re-organised the party. He divided the party in to local units called “Gaue” and each under a “Gauleiter” appointed by Hitler himself. In 1926 gained the support of northern Nazi’s and DR Joseph Geobbels and extended his control beyond Bavaria. He started used powerful propaganda to target specific grievances, and developed the Nazi newspaper the “Volkischer Beobachter” to spread the Nazi ideas. Despite these efforts the Nazi’s still were doing badly. Below is a table showing election results between 1924 and 1928.