How was Hitler able tobecome the leader of Germany?
+ 2 In a Nutshell Prior to Hitler’s appointment as the Chancellor of Germany, the ruling Weimar Government was unpopular among the Germans. The Weimar Government was blamed for its inability to solve many of the post-war problems Germany inherited from its defeat in World War I. The Weimar Government was also blamed for its role in the surrender in World War I and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler was able to gain support by promising to overturn the Treaty of Versailles and regain Germany’s pride. Hitler and his Nazi Party were able to gain total control of Germany by 1933, turning it into a totalitarian Nazi state.
+ Opposed by the right The‘right’ comprised mainly of the German Army which objected to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Thisgroup claimed the army had been ‘stabbed in the back’ and could have continued fighting. Deeplyresentful, they were determined to obstruct the work of the Weimar Government. 4
+ Opposed by the left The ‘left’ refers to the Communists. Oneof the Communist groups was known as the Spartacists, a group which wanted to set up a government similar to the one in the Soviet Union. Frequent uprisings by the Spartacists occurred between 1918 and 1919. TheWeimar government and German public was thus very fearful about the possibility of a Communist takeover. A strongleader and government could prevent such a takeover. 5
+ Economic Depressionwas heavily in debt due to The Weimar Government the payment of war reparations. Germany’s problems were worsened by the hyper- inflation caused by the overprinting of money which the government used to pay off its debts. Many Germans lost their savings overnight and they blamed the government. The middle class was the worst hit and they stopped supporting the government, believing that the government and its democratic system had failed. 6
+ Economic Depression relied on US Germany’s economic recovery loans. This made Germany vulnerable as it depended on America’s ability to keep lending. When the Great Depression hit and America was badly affected, the loans from America to Germany dried up. Germany suffered as a result of this and was on the verge of collapse. 7
+ Political deals made with German Leaders TheNazis won less than three per cent of the votes in the 1928 Elections. By1930, they had won 37.3 per cent, making them the party with the most seats in the Reichstag.
+ Political deals made with German Leaders In 1932, President von Hindenburg was pressurised to agree to Hitler’s demand for chancellorship. He was persuaded by Franz von Papen who thought that the conservatives could channel their support for Hitler into support for the policies of the cabinet. Furthermore, it was hoped that Hitler could help the government to control the Communists. On 30 January 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor. Within months, he ended Weimar Germany and started the Third Reich.
+ Excellent speaker and charismatic ability to capture people’s attention Hitler had the natural leader with his public speaking skills. He was able to inspire confidence and belief among Germans that he could be the one to lead Germany out of its problems. Under Hitler’s leadership, the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NSDAP) or Nazi Party grew For his role in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, he was arrested. However, his stirring speech made the judges sympathetic towards him and he received a light sentence of a five-year jail sentence. He was released on parole after only nine months.
+ Reorganised the Nazi Party The jail term proved to be a turning point. Itconvinced Hitler that legal means and not force alone would help him gain power. Upon release, he concentrated his efforts on reorganising the Nazi Party. Among the changes made was the setting up of branches in different parts of Germany as well as the creation of a youth movement.
+ Reorganised the Nazi Party Initially, the Nazi Party had very little support from the people. The working class supported either the Social Democratic Party or the Communists. The years 1924–1929 saw general economic prosperity and political stability. Thus, the people did not see the need to vote out the Weimar Government. At the time, most Germans were not interested in Nazi calls to keep Jews out of German political life nor in the Nazi plan to invade other countries. The people also did not like the way the Nazis beat up their opponents to intimidate them. After the Great Depression in 1929, many Germans suffered. The Weimar Government’s popularity dipped even further. With improved organisation, Hitler was able to gain much popularity and support.
+ Exploited fear of Communism to win support The Nazi Party and the Communists became popular during the difficult times after the Great Depression. Many Germans believed that the Weimar Government had failed them and were open to trying out alternative forms of government. Hitler made use of propaganda to spread fear about the aims of Communism. He convinced people that the Nazi Party was the only party capable of providing order and stopping the Communists. Many rich industrialists supported the Nazis as they wanted an anti- Communist government. With strong financial support, Hitler was able to build a sizeable private army — the Sturmabteilung (SA) or Stormtroopers.