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Hitler was a man who left a big mark on world history because he was given the freedom and power to do as he pleased as the Chancellor of Germany. The reason he became Chancellor, and was allowed so much freedom can be best described by Edmund Burke with his famous quote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” So because of his lack of resistance, Hitler was able to become one of the most ruthless dictators to ever exist. He was the ruler of Germany for twelve years, and in those twelve years he turned Germany into a totalitarian state, took over several countries including France and Poland, and killed millions of people he deemed to be “inferior to Aryans”. Since he gained so much power, most people assume that he had to work very hard to get to the top. However, the truth is quite the opposite. It didn’t take Hitler much time to gain power because he had several advantages. He came to the German people at a time when they were desperate and could be easily manipulated due to the devastation of World War 1. Hitler was able to gain their trust by using his charisma and outstanding speaking abilities. These characteristics also helped Hitler become friends with rich and influential people in Germany who helped him become the Supreme Ruler. These people pushed him far, and with their help he was able to run in elections. After repeated failure in elections, Hitler tried to simply approach the President of Germany and ask to become the Chancellor, and the answer he got, unfortunately, was ‘yes’. As evident from all these elements of Hitler’s rise to power, Hitler also experienced a great deal of luck.
Hitler had great speaking abilities which helped him gain popularity amongst the German people. He knew that having good speaking power was an effective method of persuading people that he was right and had the answers to all of Germany’s problems. So he wrote his speeches very carefully and delivered them in a very effective manner. In his speeches he would attack other groups of people while making himself and his Nazi party seem heroic and brilliant. He was also able to use his involvement in World War 1 to his advantage by showing off his medals and honors.
One factor that truly helped Hitler gain power so quickly was the attitude of the German people at the time and their response to his ideas. He was first making speeches in small bars and at other small gatherings. Normally, one who speaks at such occasions is listened to briefly and then forgotten. However, Hitler had charisma and he had “interesting” ideas on how to bring Germany out of its bad state. Although his ideas were rather irrational, the German people liked them because they were desperate and were willing to try almost anything in order to solve the economic crisis which was the result of the Treaty of Versailles. He blamed the 1932 economic crisis on Jews by saying that they had come into Germany and were stealing German citizens’ jobs. People naturally liked this idea since it implied that the blame was on someone else. And at that time Jews were the people who everyone loved to hate. His ideas soon saw him become famous because he caught the attention of several influential people who decided to help him since they were attracted by his confidence and charisma.
The man who helped Hitler the most was a rich German business man named Ernst Hanfstaengl. Ernst advised Hitler on how to gain people’s trust and he set him up to give speeches in big gatherings. Hitler was gaining popularity rapidly. At one point, Ernst advised him to expand his fame by giving himself an eye-catching look, the small mustache, and an attractive logo, the Swastika. Soon posters of a man with a strange mustache, eyes filled with determination, and an attractive logo filled the streets.
This method of propaganda caught on to people and soon Hitler gathered a group of devoted followers known as Nazis. He also had friends in the military that assisted him in his conquest for absolute power over the German people. They were very helpful to Hitler because he was able to team up with them in order to control people. His men, who included Nazis as well as his military groupies, would go around beating people who opposed Hitler. The group that was attacked the most at this time was in fact the communists and not the Jews. This is because the communists were the main group of people in Germany trying to shut Hitler down. Several Jews were trying to do the same, but they feared getting in his way since they had much less support than the Communists. Jews at this time were generally left alone by the Nazis. Instead, there were daily clashes between Nazis and Communists aka ‘The Reds’. Eventually the Nazis grew in numbers to a point where ‘The Reds’ were forced to back down and watch Hitler triumph. Once this event took place Hitler had no serious competition left and he knew he was on the road to becoming the dictator of Germany.
However, being the impatient risk-taker that he was, Hitler decided to try and take over the government. On November 8th, 1923, Hitler led 2,000 armed Nazis through the streets of Munich in an attempt to take over the Bavarian government. The insurgents were met by armed police who easily stopped them. Hitler was put on trial, and surprisingly his trial and jail time (only 9 months) gave him more fame. He turned the trial into one of his brilliant speeches and defended his reasons for attacking the government by criticizing it. His main point of criticism of the government was the fact that they were weak and cowardly. At one point in his speech he was quoted as saying, “The maintenance of world peace cannot be the purpose and aim of the policy of a State”. By this he meant that the government’s mission of staying out of trouble and surrendering the war had caused the decline of Germany. The trial got a lot of attention and consequently his speech was heard by many Germans who were convinced that Hitler deserved to be their ruler. The judges and jury found his speech very convincing, and that is why he was given such little jail time. A Professor, Dr. Karl Alexander von Mueller, witnessed the trial and was shocked by Hitler’s great speaking ability. His comment on the speech was, “I cannot remember in my entire life such a change in the attitude of a crowd in a few minutes, almost a few seconds … Hitler had turned them inside out, as one turns a glove inside out, with a few sentences.”. In prison, he spent his time writing his book “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”) which also gained him fame.
The failure of the Weimar government in regards to World War 1 also helped Hitler rise to power. By signing the Treaty of Versailles and being embarrassingly defeated in World War 1, the Weimar Republic looked weak and unorganized and it therefore allowed Hitler and the communist party to increase their power. Because of this, the tactics of Hitler’s speeches were to ignite a sense of revenge on England, USA, and France amongst the German people. He would say that Germany had the potential of being a great nation and that it was only being held back by the Weimar Republic who was weakening Germany by surrendering to other nations. In addition to this, people were beginning to lose their faith in the idea of democracy and actually thought that having a dictator would be better. This was an important element of Hitler’s empowerment since he was able to step up and take full control of Germany without any significant resistance. In fact, the people openly welcomed him when he became Chancellor of Germany since they were happy to have gotten rid of democracy. This happiness and relief was obviously short-lived for most people since time showed Hitler’s evil character which he so effectively concealed before he was made chancellor.
Another way Hitler seized control was quite surprising considering he tried once to lead an army into the streets and take over the government. Hitler actually went through the legal channels and tried to become the President of Germany by running in the 1932 elections. He was lucky to have been able to participate in these elections since he was made a German citizen earlier that same year. In this election Hitler was competing with Hindenburg who was independent Ernst Thälmann of the communist party. Hitler came in 2nd at the end of the elections as he finished with 16.4% less votes than Hindenburg (a total of 36.7% votes). Although he lost the elections, the fact that he had was involved in the election, came in second, and had 36.7% of Germany’s votes helped him a lot. After the election his fame expanded and so did his involvement in German politics. Hindenburg then became president and Hitler remained an ordinary political figure. At the time Papen was the chancellor, however shortly after the elections he resigned due to pressure from his political rival Schleicher. Schleicher was the chancellor for a short time since he did a poor job and had a lot of conflict with Hindenburg. Papen was happy to see his rival failing but he wouldn’t be satisfied until he had revenge and that is where Hitler came in. Papen decided that it would be smart to replace Schleicher with Hitler since the Nazis were very strong which would prevent Schleicher from being able to fight back. He then negotiated with Hindenburg who was completely against the idea at first, but eventually he gave in since Papen promised he’d be able to keep Hitler under control. So on January 30, 1933 Hitler was made Chancellor of Germany and unlike what Papen predicted, Hitler was uncontrollable. This day was the beginning of Hitler’s diabolical plans being put in action.
It is fair to say that Hitler’s rise to power was an easy process which didn’t require much work on his part. The amount of power he had was much larger than the effort he had put into acquiring that power. One reason for this is that he experienced a great deal of luck on his road to Chancellorship. Another reason for this is that he was had charisma and good speaking abilities which caught the attention of rich and influential people who liked his ideas and supported him wholeheartedly. What also helped was the desperation of the German people and the failures of the Weimar republic which made Germans turn away from democracy and openly welcome a totalitarian ruler. His failures which included his attempt to take over the Bavarian government and his participation in the presidential elections of 1932 also helped him. However, at the end Hitler was simply given the Chancellorship on a silver platter as a result of Papen’s greed and Hindenburg’s gullibility and trust in Papen.
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