How did Adolf Hitler rise to power
Since World War Two, many people have wondered how Adolf Hitler, an uneducated but extraordinary Austrian man came to be the Fuhrer of one of the most powerful nations of the world. It is a fact that Adolf Hitler was uneducated, however this did not prevent him form having an amazing talent for oration and speech writing. The treaty of Versailles was an agreement created and signed by ‘the big four’ after World War one.
The big four consisted of: America’s Woodrow Wilson, Vittorio Orlando of Italy, Georges Clemenceau of France, and David Lloyd George of Great Britain. Before this Treaty was created Woodrow Wilson produced a list of fourteen points which offered an opportunity for peace. Most German people thought these points were reasonable and hoped that the other members of the big four would agree to these points.
This was not the case, Clemenceau along with almost everybody in France was afraid of Germany and its army, therefore Clemenceau demanded that Germany’s army must be reduced, and that France must be awarded some of Germany’s land (Alsace – Lorraine), the Saar (an German coalfield) was to belong to France for 15 years, after 15 years a referendum would be held to decide which country the Saar would join with; the German industry was also to be reduced. Lloyd George wanted the German navy to be reduced as he feared its size. Along with all this Germany was made to pay 6,600,000,000 pounds sterling in reparations.
In total Germany lost 1/8 of all its land, all of its colonies and all overseas financial assets. A new map of Europe was carved out of Germany, and the German military was basically non-existent. Along with many other Germans Hitler thought the treaty of Versailles was far too harsh on Germany. Hitler believed that Germany was capable of winning WW1 as there was no fighting on German soil. Hitler’s thoughts were the same as many other German soldiers, many soldiers that fought in the First World War said that they could have fought for longer.
These soldiers were the beginning of Hitler’s group called the Nazi’s. Hitler provoked the German people into feeling betrayed by their government as Hitler believed it was the government’s fault they lost the war as the government were the ones who signed and/or acquiesced to the Treaty of Versailles. The members of the government were nicknamed the ‘November criminals’ Hitler believed them to be mostly Jewish people and ‘communists’ or ‘Marxists’. It was often referred to as a Jewish-Marxist “stab in the back”.
Many Germans listened to Hitler as he promised to abolish the Treaty and to restore Germany to its former glory. In Hitler’s growing National Socialist workers party in Munich, Hitler began to gain many supporters, by 1923 Hitler believed that he had enough power and support to start a revolution. Hitler thought that because the Weimar Government was preoccupied with the economic crisis it was the perfect time to act. On the 8th of November, Hitler and many armed storm troopers hijacked a local government meeting and announced that Hitler was taking over the government of Bavaria.
However, the day after Hitlers revolt the Weimar Governments forces hit back, police rounded up and arrested many storm troopers, both Hitler and the old war hero Ludendorff were arrested and tried for treason. Sixteen Nazi’s were killed by the police. Hitler’s crime was punishable by death, however the judge at Hitlers trial was very sympathetic towards him and sentenced him to five years imprisonment. Ludendorff and the other storm troopers were freed. At the trial Hitler’s words and ideas were recorded and Hitler gained enormous publicity. Even though Hitler was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment he only served 9 months.
During this 9 months in prison Hitler wrote a book called ‘Mein Kaumpf’ or ‘my struggle’. This book explained Hitlers ideas about Germany’s future. He also came to the conclusion that he could not gain power by force but he would have to work within the democratic system, however, Hitler planned to abolish this system once he had been voted into power. If Hitler wanted to legally become the ruler of Germany, he needed to become a member of the parliament, this was possible because of the Weimar Constitution. The Weimar Constitution allowed all small and large parties to be represented.
However small the number of votes the party had, they would definitely have at least one seat in parliament. The Weimar Consititution suppported a proportional representation, which means that the higher the number of votes each party has, the more seats they will have in parliament. The Nazi’s had 32 seats out of about 600 in 1924. Between 1924 and 1928 Germany received loans from America, which helped to pay the reparations and to rebuild the German industry. The economy was booming and most people supporting the Nazi’s decided that they did not need Hitler and his promises of bread and jobs.
Hitler adopted a 25 point programme, a few of the main points were: Grossdeutchland – Hitler wanted to unite all Germans in one “big Germany”; to abolish the Treaty of Versailles; Lebensraum – Hitler wanted more land and “Living space” for all of Germany; This was a very bad time for Hitler, as he was losing votes and support rapidly. In 1928 The Nazi’s only held 12 seats in parliament. However, even though things looked bad for Hitler and the Nazi’s at this time, Hitler was determined to gain support and to be voted into power.
Hitler knew that to be a good leader he must never give up, so he spent most of his time rebuilding the Nazi party. The American stock market crashed in 1929 causing America to stop all loans to Germany and to demand their money to be repaid. The result of this was an economic crash in Germany. Businesses went bankrupt , workers were laid off; by the end of 1932, 6million people were unemployed and because the unemployment was so high the unemployment benefits were reduced causing people to literally starve to death.
In the 1930 Reichstag elections Hitler and the Nazi party were voted for by 18. 3% of the voters. Whereas in July 1932 they gained 37. 4%. Hitler gained many votes as people were suffering from the depression and began to believe Hitler when he promised to help them. Hitler was delighted at this because it meant that many more people were interessed in his ideas and in him. However, Hitler still did not have as many votes as he needed to win the elections. The other main party that had a large number of seats in the elections were the Communists.
The Communists also promised bread and jobs for everyone. The Nazi party appealed to the rich, middle class and the lower middle class as all these classes had something to lose by voting for the Communists; the Communists appealed to the poor and the working class as they could gain a lot and become equal in status with the upper class. The Reichstag fire occurred in 1933, Hitler claimed that this fire was started by the Communists, this helped Hitler to gain a lot of support from those who had previously voted agaist him.
In the 1933 elections Hitler gained just under 50% of the votes. The Nationalist Party joined forces with the Nazi’s awarding them over half the total number of seats. This enabled Hitler to be sure that the Reichstag would vote any way he wished them to. Many people in Germany had a business or owned a house, they were scared of communism as it meant that they would lose everything they had spent their lives working for. Therefore Hitler appealed to anyone who had any property or money, this was mainly the rich, the middle class and the lower middle class.
Hitler could not have gained so many votes without possessing a great skill for oration, he also had a very strong and stable image, these qualities are what made him a good leader in the eyes of the German people; this is because the German economy was in a state of depression and the German people wanted someone who could restore order to their country and help rebuild Germany to a great and powerful nation once again. Hitler was a great fan of propaganda, in fact he used propaganda to gain votes and publicity.
In 1921 Adolf Hitler formed his own private army called Sturm Abteilung (Storm Troopers). The SA were instructed to disrupt the meetings of political opponents and to protect Hitler from revenge attacks. He used the SA to rule the streets using violence, whenever a SA member came across a communist or other opposing party they would beat him. Hitler said that the SA were keeping the streets safe for ‘normal’people to walk in the night. The SA wore grey jackets, brown shirts, swastika armbands, ski-caps, knee-breeches, thick woolen socks and combat boots.
Many members of the SA were former members of the Freikorps; Freikorps were private armies who flourished in the years preceding the First World War, they had considerable training and experience in using violence against their rivals. By exploiting mob emotions and by employing modern methods of propaganda Goebbels helped Hitler into power. It was a Nazi party member who first said that it was a ommunist who started the Reichstag fire. Joseph Goebels was a man who was able to use propaganda to get publicity for Hitler and to pass his ideas on to other people through posters, flags and films made of Hitler’s speeches.
Hitler attended mass rallies in which he could explain to everybody his thoughts and ideas about Germany’s future. Hitler was a very popular man by 1933, but even though he was very popular he was still not awarded the post of chancellor. Hitler demanded the post of chancellor from Hindenburg many times, Hindenburg was the President of Germany, but Hindenburg refused; Hindenburg did not trust Hitler to ruler in a democratic way. Hindenburg’s friend, Papen, was chancellor at this time and Hindenburg used him to continue to make emergency laws for him.
However, the leading army general of the German army told hindenburg that the German army would not support him if he allowed Papen to stay in the post of chancellor; Hindenburg realised that he needed the German army to prevent a civil war from occuring. Therefore Hindenburg fired Papen and hired Schleicher, this did not work out as well as Hindenburg had hoped, as Schleicher only lasted fifty-seven days, this was because the Reichstag would not agree with his decisions and so he had to ask Hindenburg to make emergency laws for him. Hindenburg refused and asked Schleicher to resign.
Within a year of Hindenburg firing Papen two chancellors had come and gone. Hindenburg had no choice but to appoint Hitler the post, even though Hindenburg did not trust him. In 1933 Hitler gained over 50% of the seats, he therefore knew that the Reichstag would vote for what he wanted. Hitler wanted absolute power to do whatever he wanted without the approval of the Reichstag, so he put an enabling law in front of the Reichstag and asked all members to vote for it. The Enabling Law allowed Hitler to do anything he wanted for the next four years without asking the Reichstag for approval.
Only 94 members voted against him and so Hitler now had the legal right to do anything he wanted with Germany for the next four years. What Hitler wanted was to destroy the Weimar Republic and to create a strong, proud German empire. Hindenburg died on August the 2nd 1934, just over one year after naming Hitler chancellor. Hitler then merged the offices of chancellor and president into a new office of Fuhrer and chancellor. This made Hitler the head of the Government and state. Hindenburg’s death helped Hitler very much as without it he could not have become Fuhrer of Germany.
Many people believe that the great depression was the main reason for Hitlers success in becoming the ruler of Germany. There are many other reasons that people may have noticed him; at Hitler’s trial after his behaviour at Munich Putsch he gained a lot of publicity which he probably would not have received if he had not acted how he did. So Munich Putsch was a very important factor in the rise of Hitler as people may not have heard about him before and thought that he would not be able to fulfill his promises.
Although this was an important factor in Hitler’s rise to power it was not the only one, some other important factors are: TheTreaty of Versailles, Germany would not have been in chaos and Hitler would not of been able to persuade as many people as he did to vote for him; If he had not become chancellor then he would have had no power and not have been able to gain power; If Goebbels had not used propaganda to attract people and make them listen to Hitler then he would not have been able to achieve his goal, and so, all of these factors helped Hitler obtain power, each factor is as important as another but no reason is greater than the rest.