Why did Hitler become a Chancellor?
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Published: Fri, 16 Jun 2017
On 30th January 1933, President Hindenburg invited Adolf Hitler in public and appointed him as the chancellor of Germany. Whilst some believed that Hitler’s rise to power was inevitable, to others it came as astonishment. Many assumed that Hitler’s rise to power was only due to his political brilliance and his witty Nazi tactics. Yet, there are many that believe that it had everything to do with the weakness of Weimar Republic and after the rising level of unemployment the German people were ready to accept a dictator.
There are many reasons behind the rise of Adolf Hitler. The Munich Putsch was a major event in the rise of Adolf Hitler. Although the Nazis had progressed well from the end of World War One in 1919 to 1923 they did not have much support in Germany. There main support was in Bavaria and was no use to Hitler in Germany. So Hitler, along with the Nazis attempted to seize power 1923. Hitler believed that even though he only had three thousand members in the Nazi Party, he had a chance to win over Weimar Republic Government. However on 9th November 1923 Hitler and the Nazis were defeated. Although many say that this was a big defeat for the Nazi Party, others stated that even though the Putsch itself might have failed, it had launched the Nazi’s and Hitler into a national frame along with making Hitler famous. It was the main building block of Nazis success. Two days after the Munich Putsch, Adolf Hitler was captured and put to trial. Hitler was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, but served less than nine months before he was released. Although the years after the Munich Putsch there were many difficult times for the Nazis, Hitler said, ‘it was the greatest good fortune for us Nazi that the putsch collapsed because the Nazis were not yet prepared to face the great difficulties at the time.’ He also thought that the putsch ‘had proven the most effective propaganda for National Socialism.’ Hitler also had an opportunity to write his thought and vision in a book called, ‘Mein Kampf’.
The collapse of the Munich Putsch persuaded Hitler that the only way of seizing power was ‘legal means’. He introduced his own tactics into the Nazi Party system. He decided to reorganise the party and make it more effective for elections. Throughout the late 1920s the Nazis ran public meeting and worked on winning over the working classes. They had soon discovered that the anti-Semitism propaganda worked best amongst the working class. Propaganda worked best with them because it is ‘brainwashing’ of public and altering their viewpoint. There were many different Nazi Propagandas including posters, radios, films and newspapers. Though the Nazis had many different methods of propaganda, Hitler believed that posters were the best means of propaganda for various reasons. Posters were cheap and easy to distribute and was used for constant reminder of ideology. Hitler was finding it difficult to win over the middle classes. He finally realised that he had to focus more on his message because the anti-Jewish message did not work well with the middle classes. He decided to criticise the government. There were many posters published criticising Gustav Stresemann and the Dawes Plan suggesting that there were holding Germany on ransom along with the Jewish bankers. The Nazis also held public meetings in various different parts of Germany in order to evoke the same feelings in the German citizens as the Nazi Members. Using this method, the Nazis developed a very accurate and sensitive system of propaganda.
The Wall Street Clash in October 1929 was the beginning of a great depression but for the Nazis it was the biggest gift they could have ever received. Germany had been hit badly by this because they had to pay back the entire loan they had acquired from the USA as part of the Dawes Plan. In Germany, the depression affected different people in different ways. It was as if Germany had lost another World War. Unemployment had risen massively in Germany and even the businessmen, who always kept themselves well-protected, felt the impacts of the Great Depression. Everyone in Germany was suffering apart from the Nazis. Everyone, from Businessmen to factory workers and farmers were hoping that the government, Weimar Republic would help them. Six million German people were unemployed and others were hanging on to their hinges. But the Weimar Republic had no idea what to do about the problem of rising unemployment and poverty. It was the second major economic devastation for the Weimar Constitution. They had resisted themselves from printing more money and increasing government expenditure due to the impact it had on Hyper-inflation in1923. Instead they increased taxes, cut benefits and reduced unemployment benefits. They were not winning the support of German people. Weimar Republic seemed to have made a hopeless mess of handling the situation. They were already struggling due to the consequences Germany had to face after the end of World War One in 1919. Germany had lost land and their army had to be cut down to 100,000 men only which meant that many ex-soldiers who had fought in World War One were unemployed. They were angry with Weimar Constitution for accepting defeat and were eager to get back their revenge. And now Weimar Republic’s policies had given too much power to the President, the States and the army which weakened the Reichstag as well as dividing them into different groups. Many more inhabitants of Germany, who didn’t vote before became more interested in politics because they needed someone who can better the situation. Extremists parties like the Communists part and the Nazi Party became better known among those who were desperately in need of help. The Nazi said that the Weimar Republic is to be blamed, the treaty of Versailles and the Jews. They assured the angry Germans that Hitler was their man. The Nazis promised to reduce unemployment by putting them back to work on road building and public works. Hitler had his plans on how to attract many sections of society. Some of his ideas that attracted the Germans included ‘Rip up the Treaty of Versailles, Work Freedom and Bread and Germany as a national and prideful state.’ Hitler clearly knew the desires of the Germans and was quick to promise anything that would help the Nazis gain vote in the Reichstag. Whilst, on the other hand the Communists Party said that the Depression showed the capitalist system has doomed and that the only answer was communism. Hitler became aware of the strong oppositions and thus along with Ernst Rohm and Hermann Goring he introduced his own set of men to destroy the opposition, the SA. They wore brown uniform and knew how to deal with the Communists. They were not only used to intimidate opponents but also to gain support for the Nazi Party.
During this time Hitler mostly used his leadership skills and tactics to gain as much supporter and power as possible. He was an excellent public speaker and was easily able to put his points across with his powerful and moving speeches. Along with getting his views to his crowd he also demonstrated to them his excellent and strong leadership in the ‘Great German’ tradition dating back to Kaiser and beyond. His strong personality and powerful ideas seemed to outwit the Weimar Republic. This had a great impact on the elections in 1930. The Nazis made their first great breakthrough when they gained a total of 107 seats in the Reichstag. They were suddenly the second biggest party and at the time, they seemed likely to take over. They were seen as a major force in German history and politics. But what got them these seats? The Nazis were ex-soldiers who felt as if the Treaty of Versailles was a ‘stab on the back’ and what they brought with them was decisive. There excellent teamwork and obedience enabled Hitler to work through the whole of Germany. Another of Hitler’s main tools was his henchmen; Joseph Goebbels was an effective piece of propaganda. He was well trained and used every means to pass his message across. Though he wasn’t as good as Hitler, he was intelligent and new how to bring up hatred for the Communists and Jews. He created excellent poster that created fear and disgust not only for the Jews but also the Communists. Hitler was then able to point out that the Nazis knew how to deal with the Communists and their records showed this.
The Nazi Party also had support from rich industrialists. Usually rich industrialists voted for the Conservatives Party but after the elections in 1930, they started supporting the Nationalists. Hitler agreed to make a deal with the right wing nationalists and the two parties agreed to co-operate. Hitler used this deal as a financial backup. This showed the Nazi Party was quite flexible. If they realised that if a proposal was not working for them they would change it. Not only did Hitler use tactics but weakness of opposition parties supported them along with the elections and uprising of the Nazi Party. Other opposition like the Social Democrats underestimated the Nazis. They saw that there support was constant and so they were not willing to change their policies.
In 1932, the weakness of Weimar Constitution was clear to all Germans. The Weimar Republic was already unpopular amongst the Germans because they had agreed to sign the Treaty of Versailles and this had left many Germans and ex-soldiers bitter. The Germans were also largely affected by the Depression because they were already damaged by having to pay large sums as part of the reparation. They were then attracted to extremists groups like the Nazis and the Nationalists. Germany was run by an 84 years old man, President Hindenburg. No political leader was strong enough to rule Germany. At the time, the Nazi Party was the largest party and normally the leader of such party was likely to become leader. In this case it was Adolf Hitler. But the only thing that stood in between Hitler and him becoming the chancellor was President Hindenburg. He disliked Hitler along with other Reichstag members who would not work with Hitler. In July 1932 elections, the Nazis won 37.3% of the votes (230 seats) and had once again proved to be the largest party. Hitler demanded to be appointed as the Chancellor but Hindenburg refused and he said, ‘I cannot give all the power to an unorganised and intolerant and violent party’. Though after this event, many industrialists and politics wrote to Hindenburg and persuaded his to give Hitler dictatorship. After high pressure, Hindenburg appointed his favourite man, Franz con Papen to be the chancellor of Germany. Von Papen had no support but had hoped to create a right wing coalition government with the support of the Nazis. Hitler was furious that Hindenburg had selected Franz von Papen to be the dictator and thus refused to co-operate with von Papen. Hindenburg decided to call another election. However, this time it was a bad time for the Nazis. They were facing the financial crisis. Though surprisingly help came from two men, General von Schleicher and Franz von Papen. Von Schleicher had stopped supporting Von Papen and decided he himself should become Chancellor. So in December 1932 von Schleicher was appointed the chancellor of Prussia. Unfortunately, this triggered off a power struggle between these two men. Schleicher admitted defeat and Hindenburg wanted to re-appoint von Papen but he refused. Instead he suggested that Hindenburg should appoint Hitler instead because as long as the numbers of Nazis in the cabinet are limited the most extreme of Nazi policies could easily be resisted. Following this, President Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as the Chancellor of Germany and von Papen as the vice-chancellor of Germany. They (Hindenburg and von Papen) believed that Hitler would be tamed.
In conclusion, I believe that the main reason behind Hitler becoming the Chancellor of Germany is the political manoeuvring between Franz von Papen and General von Schleicher. After von Schleicher had failed, von Papen persuaded Hindenburg that another option now existed. The Nazi’s together Nationalists would have a realistic chance of gaining the majority number of seats in the Reichstag. However Hindenburg was still a little bit cautious, he wasn’t very enthusiastic on appointing Hitler as chancellor due to his extreme ideas. He had on a previous occasion refused to appoint Hitler. The Nazis were also suffering from a big problem. They were running toward bankruptcy and were gradually losing seats in the Reichstag. Many of their supporters have left and this could be due to Hitler failing to become the chancellor on various occasions. The Communists votes were increasing and the Nazis were going towards the biggest landslide they would have to face. I believe that if the political power struggle wouldn’t have occurred then Hitler would not have come to power. I believe that economical power was Hitler’s and the Nazis backbone and in 1932 their backbone was due to break. This is basically what helped in revealing the great frame in Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in January 1933 as he was appointed as Chancellor and the rise of ‘Great Evil’ began.
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