In January 1933 Hitler became chancellor of Germany. Exactly ten years before this in 1923 Hitler was jailed when he tried to overthrow the government in the city of Munich. He was the leader of a small right-wing party with very extremist ideas, yet within a couple of years this party had the support of millions of Germans and went on to destroy democracy. The factors that helped Hitler to achieve this position are very debatable some people say it was down to Hitler himself and others say it was down to circumstances, such as the Weimar Republic weakness and the Great Depression. In this essay I will outline how far was Hitler himself responsible for his rise to power up to becoming chancellor in 1933 by considering all of the factors that helped him rise to power and judging just how responsible Hitler was.
There was a new government in power in Germany in 1918, the first thing they did was signed the armistice which ended World War One, because of this they became known as the November Criminals. The Nationalists spread the "stab in the back theory" which blamed the Weimar politicians for surrendering and betraying the German people. This made the German people hate the new government; this could lead to a different, more radical party getting elected.
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More hatred grew for the Weimar Republic as the Treaty of Versailles was signed, this treaty was extremely hard on Germany, 13% of there land was taken away, it's army reduced to 100,00 men and it's air force scrapped. The Rhineland is now patrolled by France, to make sure Germany didn't send any men there. The harshest point was that Germany had to accept complete blame for the war which was known as the war guilt clause. This meant that the allies could force Germany to pay back 6.6 million in yearly reparations. A lot of blame went to the government people said that the government had failed the people. The press ignored the fact that the government had no choice. People were outraged and disgusted that they got solely blamed for the war and had to pay money back to France, America and Britain, they were saying that the allies are taking food from their children's mouths and the government are just standing there and watching them. Hitler was extremely unhappy with the Treaty of Versailles he later used this in his 25 point plan to show people that it was wrong . This is another thing he did himself, was to say he will abolish the one thing that the German people hated the most at this time is the Treaty of Versailles.
After World War One, Hitler went to go and work for the government spying on extreme parties that were growing in popularity at this time. He went to go spy on the German Workers Party, while at the meeting he spoke out about a member of the party and he left the meeting, this got him noticed by the party leaders. Hitler agreed with a lot of the points that the party had. This helped to get him into power because he never would have got into power by himself he always would have needed a party. He found a party that already had the same views as him so he didn't need to make one; this is a thing that he didn't do by himself. One thing that Hitler did do that helped get to chancellor at this meeting was he showed his speaking abilities by belittle the man at the meeting.
Later that year in January 1919 Berlin was facing revolts from the left and right wing, where they tried to take over the Weimar republic. The Spartacist revolt was from the left wing which was lead by a radical socialist party, there was fighting in the streets between the communist and the Freikorps. The right wing also tried to take power of the Weimar by the kapp putsch and terrorism. All the little revolts from the left wing and most communist leaders were Jewish; Germany and Hitler saw this as the same thing. They were enemy of the state. This showed that Hitler was able to use situation like these in his speeches to show how unstable and weak the new government is. What Hitler did himself was saw he could use these revolts to prove his own parties beliefs and show people why they should hate the government and the Jews.
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After WWI Germany economy was not doing very well, they stopped paying money to France and Belgium so they took control of Germany most profitable land. The invasion caused hyperinflation in the country. The inflation had so many negative effects such as people were struggling to pay for food, clothes and heat for homes and the money became worthless. This inflation caused anger throughout Germany; people are saying if the Government didn't sign the Treaty of Versailles none of this would have happened. The Government at this time is really unliked by the people.
Hitler believed Jews were behind the treaty and he blamed them for Germany's problems. As well as being anti-Semitic he was also very anti-communist. In fact they were his number one enemy. He noticed that most communist leaders were Jewish and he thought they were out to cause trouble. Because he was so anticommunist, Hitler was admired by many businessmen and bankers, who feared that communism was going to take over Germany.
This led to Hitler to do the Munich putsch in 1923. Hitler believed that the economic conditions in Germany were so bad because of hyperinflation he could get into power. The putsch was not a success there were casualty on both sides with the SA and police. Hitler was arrested and put on trial in 1924. The trail was by ticket only; it was like a big theatrical performance it had lots of media attention. At this time the Nazi party is virtually unknown accept in the south, so Hitler used this as an advantage with the press being there to speak out against the government. It made him famous he talked about how the Treaty of Versailles was a betrayal of the people. The putsch was a failure but the good that came out of it was that Hitler got a chance to show the German people that he completely agreed and supported what they were saying. That's another thing Hitler did himself to get him into power.
The judge was very lenient towards Hitler and even wrote to the appeal court to make sure Hitler received a minimum sentence of nine months in prison. While in prison Hitler wrote the now infamous book 'Mein Kampf', in which he illustrated his main ideas and beliefs. In the book he mentioned nationalism and said that he wanted, "all German-speaking people united in a new Reich". He also believed in the 'master race'. He believed that the 'Aryan Race' was superior to everybody else and that Negroes, slaves, gypsies and Jews were inferior. He also wanted 'Lebensraum', which was more living space for Germans. He said that democracy had failed and that Germany needed strong, single leadership. He also wanted an end to communism, which he linked with the Jews, and 'Totalitarianism'. He said that the interest of the state must come before the interest of the individual. He decided that the best way to achieve power would be to use the political system and not to try another rebellion.
The Nazis were still a very small party in 1924 and Hitler needed more support. He took over other right-wing parties and formed the S.S. the S.S were Hitler's bodyguards and the men in it were more intelligent and better educated than those in the S.A. Hitler Youth also began. This was Hitler's way of brainwashing young children and training them to become members of the Nazis when they were old enough. This was a smart idea for two reasons. Reason number one because the Nazi party will grow and merge with right wing parties they could get more votes easily from areas that the right wing already owned. Reason number two is that it is easy to make children follow you and he will have a generation that he didn't have to convince to believe in him or would speak out against him. This helped Hitler get into power because as the children grew up they would spread the Nazi ideas.
During the mid 1920's things were looking good for Germany. They were receiving loans from USA and a new currency was put in place, hyperinflation decreased considerably. They started paying money back to France so they left the Ruhr. Germany had been allowed back in the League of Nations. Has Germany found the Leader they have been looking for? Was the Weimar government strong now? This was all done due to Gustav Stresemann. At this point Germany problem seems have been sorted, the interest for extremist parties has decreased. This means that if Hitler wanted to get into power something really bad has to happen.
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1929 was a very bad year for Germany. Stresemann, who had helped solved many of Germany's economical problems, died. This was an extremely important thing that happened for Hitler if Stresemann was still alive at this time maybe Hitler would of never got into power. It was also the year of the 'Wall Street Crash'. U.S.A loans stopped, industry collapsed and there was mass unemployment. Germany was even worse off than before. There was an economic slump and unemployment reached over 5.5 million people, it was the worst hit nation in the world. Five major banks collapsed and over 20,000 businesses collapsed. There was great hunger as well and the poor and middle class became very angry with the situation. People were desperate and once again they blamed the government. Voters were now rushing to the extremists, either the Nazis or the communists. Hitler's message had not changed; he was still anti-Semitic, anti-communist and still believed that Germany needed dictatorship as democracy was not working, however, his vote increased. Even those who had never heard or seen Hitler voted for the Nazi party. They would fight each other in the streets as Germany descended into further chaos. The SA would go around beating up other parties such the communist; people wouldn't want to vote for them because they were scared. There was now fierce rivalry between the Nazis and the communists. Hitler definitely took advantage of the situation. He began to use propaganda at every opportunity. He wanted Germany to believe that he was the only one who could save them. He put up posters everywhere emphasizing this message and constantly emphasized Germany's need for strong, single leadership. Hitler portrayed the image that he was the strong man who could solve Germany's problems. In his speeches he was able to make an immediate impact on people. Germans began to see him as their salvation and solution to all their problems. He promised to restore order and bring discipline back to Germany and he also had a unique personality which people admired. People were now voting for parties who would overthrow democracy, as they saw the Weimer Republic as a failure. Hitler said in one of his speeches, "We are intolerant". His goal was to "Sweep away 30 parties". Many people believed that this was the perfect solution. However Hitler did not have to be heard or seen to get votes. In Nierenberg he received 25.8% of the vote even though he had never visited there and there were no Nazis there. This campaign was created by Joseph Gobbles who ran a 'fly Hitler over Germany'. This helped Hitler to become chancellor because he was able to drum up big support by promising work, help for business, and help for farmers and to make Germany great again and act against Jews and Communists.
In the 1930 election the Nazis received 107 seats which were 20% of the vote, making them the second biggest party. It was a vast improvement on the 1928 election (only 2% of the vote). But Hitler was still not satisfied. In 1932 he ran for president. He traveled everywhere by airplane, delivering speeches in an effort to convey himself as someone very powerful. However he did not win the election. He received 13 million votes but lost out to Hindenburg who received 19 million votes.
In 1932 there was a general election. This time the Nazis proved to be even more popular receiving 230 seats. They were now the largest party in government although they never received over 50% of the vote. Hitler was now demanding to become chancellor but the president Hindenburg would not allow it. The president despised Hitler and referred to him as the "Little Austrian corporal". Hindenburg was also against giving government power to only one party. However many disagreed with Hindenburg and he came under pressure from certain influential groups. This helped Hitler because Hindenburg saw Hitler as a threat and decided to put someone else in the chancellor role which was von Papen but he did not get enough support. Hindenburg thought he was really doing a good thing but he was making people angry that Hitler wasn't in power yet. A group of businessmen and bankers wrote a letter to the president saying how he must give Hitler chancellorship for the good of Germany. They were afraid of communists becoming more powerful and agreed with Hitler's anti-communist beliefs. Army leaders also wanted Hitler to be granted chancellorship. Their argument was that they were not strong enough to fight against national socialists and communists and protect Germany's borders as well. The army consisted of only 100,000 because of the Versailles treaty. Hindenburg then said van Schleicher to become chancellor but he didn't get enough support from the government. The Traditional Right-Wing Conservatives also wanted Hitler to become chancellor. Von Papen suggested that he should be vice0chancellor and that only two other Nazis could have an important role. He thought that Hitler could be tamed and controlled this wayâ€¦..but of course this was a serious miscalculation. In January 1933 Hitler was made chancellor in a coalition government. At the end Hindenburg gave Hitler the chancellor role.
Hitler did not achieve this position by deceitful methods; in fact he was always honest and made his beliefs clear from the beginning. People were always aware of his hatred for Jews and communists and his want for a dictatorship. He even wrote a book outlining these ideas. People were made aware of his obsession with "survival of the fittest" and "creating a master race". But perhaps they were not aware of the lengths he would go to in order to achieve this 'master race'. Hitler was lucky to achieve his position as chancellor of Germany. I think that if people had not been so desperate they would not have voted for an extremist such as Hitler. Had the government been more stable maybe people would not have had such a strong desire to put an end to democracy? Hitler did not achieve power on his own; he was helped into power by economic circumstances and the support and miscalculation of others.