The Rise to Power of
the Nazi party in
Account for the Nazi Rise to Power in
Germany until 1933.
1 - The legacy of WW1 and the impact of the Treaty of Versailles
2 – Hitler’s leadership and abilities
3 – The impact of the Depression
4 – The appeal and popularity of the Nazi Party
5 – The role of the conservative elites and the army
Research these and then prioritise and/or combine main points to form a central argument.
1- The Legacy of ww1 and the treaty
‘Stab in the Back’ and ‘November Criminals’ mantras fuelled anit-semitism and a sense of
The signing of the Treaty enabled this to be perpetuated creating instability – Spartacist, Kapp
Putsch and Communist Uprisings
Germany treated differently – communist uprisings in Bavaria created a nationalist backlash
giving rise to the formation of right-wing parties like German Workers Party
25 Point program reflected this reaction.
2 - Hitler’s leadership and political strategy adapted to
Nature of his rise to leadership by 1920.
Lessons learnt from the failed Munich Beer-hall Putsch
National exposure during his trial and leniency by the judiciary
Reorganisation of the party – Gaus, professional associations and leagues, Hitler Youth
Presidential campaign and oratory - appeal tailored to suit audience
Reaction to Von Schleicher’s attempt to split the party
Refusal to accept position of Vice – Chancellor
3 – The impacts of the Depression
Economic crisis and the failure of the political system to deal with it effectively
Rural depression, unemployment and loss of wages
Peak of the Nazi vote coincides with peak of unemployment figures
End of 32’ Nazi vote dropping, but still largest party in Reichstag
After 1930, control of Germany largely with Hindenburg and advisors and on the streets.
4 -The appeal and popularity of the Nazi
Linked to economic, social and political circumstances
Developed the mechanisms to exploit circumstances
Propaganda and ideology – Hitler’s ‘Fly Over Germany’ – Fuhrer Myth
SA and SS
5 - The role of the conservative elites and
Von – Papen and Von Schleicher’s strategies both failed
“….Hitler came to office in 1933 as the result, not of any irresistible revolutionary or national
movement …but as part of a shoddy political deal with the “Old Gang” whom he had been
attacking for months past.” Alan Bullock
The counter-view to this was presented by Hugh Trevor-Roper, an Oxford don who had
investigated Hitler’s death for MI6. In his 1953 introduction – entitled ‘The Mind of Adolf Hitler’
– to Hitler’s Secret Conversations (i.e. an edition of Hitler’s ‘Table Talk’), Trevor-Roper presented
Hitler as a man ‘convinced of his own rectitude’, who genuinely believed what he told the
AJP Taylor, Europe, Grandeur and Decline (1967) , . Taylor was one of the first historians to
recognise the statesman in Hitler, who out-manoeuvred his political opponents (‘a man bent on
success on the one side, and a group of politicians without ideas or principles on the other’).
William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960), Shirer was an American
correspondent who worked in Hitler’s Germany, and experienced events at first hand.
‘there almost certainly would never have been a Third Reich’ without Hitler, who is an example
of ‘the power of personality’ in history. Shirer’s Hitler ‘was possessed of a demonic personality, a
granite will, uncanny instincts, a cold ruthlessness, a remarkable intellect [and] a soaring
more important – and continuing – debate is that between the ‘intentionalists’ and the
‘functionalists’. Functionalist historians, essentially, revolted against the intentionalist idea,
explicit or implicit in many biographies, that Hitler had, in some way, created the Third Reich.
The respected historian Saul Freidländer is a ‘functionalist’ historian (although he suspects that
some functionalists go too far in trying to remove Hitler from the picture). In his book, Nazi
Germany and the Jews (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1997, ISBN 0 297 81882 1), Freidländer sees
the rise of Hitler as a complex causality, but emphasises what he calls ‘redemptive antiSemitism’ – the mixture of racial and Christian anti-Semitism, mixed with Wagnerian nationalism
and fear of Bolshevism, which was seeking a ‘redeemer’ to ‘save’ Germany. Similarly, the
historian Daniel Goldhagen, in Hitler’s Willing Executioners (1996) claims that Nazism was the
result of a unique ‘eliminationist anti-Semitism’ which developed through the 19th century, and
which Germans embraced
The most recent account of Hitler – Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889–1936: Hubris (Penguin, 1998, ISBN
0-713-99047-3) – is a broadly functionalist biography. In his narrative, Kershaw seeks to
demonstrate that Hitler was created by his environment and propelled to power by it. Kershaw
asserts Weber’s definition of charismatic leadership – which claims that hero-worship develops
in the needs of the worshipper, not in the character of the hero.
Evans, R. The Coming of the Third Reich, 2003 – “What was it then that bound young men to the
Nazi movement? Hitler’s charisma obviously played a part….yet…. The dynamism of the party
had deeper roots.
“As Germany plunged deeper into the depression, growing numbers of middle-class citizens
began to see …in the Nazi Party a possible way out of the situation. All would depend on
whether the Weimar Republic’s fragile de democratic structures held up under the strain.