Why Did Hitler Come To Power In

1933? Essay, Research Paper

Noakes and Pridham have called the August-December period of 1932 ?the crisis

months? in the ?Nazis struggle for power?. However, there are also many other

contributing factors prior to this which are very much concerned with Hitler?s

final seizure of power in January 1933. History has proved that dramatic change

comes only through both strong revolutionaries, and more importantly, weak or

unpopular existing rulers. So how far was Hitler and his party responsible for

their rise to power, and how much of the blame must be put on the leaders of

the Weimar Republic? This essay aims to identify the key factors in Hitler?s

rise to power, both in his own successes and in the government?s short-comings,

and why they were important to it.

The election of May 1928 had resulted in unexpected defeat for the NSDAP ?

100,000 fewer votes than in 1924 and only 12 seats. Now the strategy had to

change. Hitler called for ?a switch in priorities from the cities to the countryside?

(Bullock). In the autumn of 1928, the party assumed its first role in national

politics with its campaign against the Young Plan in alliance with Hugenburg

and the DNVP. The depression was beginning to add to the growing ?crisis of

the bourgeois parties? and Hitler saw that this was his chance. Nazi appeals

for unity and authority in the state proved successful in the unnecessary election

unwisely called by Bruning, the new chancellor, in September 1930. The Nazis

gained 18.6& of the popular vote, securing 107 seats and becoming the second

largest party in the Reichstag.

Hitler?s party had made its breakthrough into national politics; now he had

to find a way to convert popular support into a national Socialist government

led by himself. As Bullock suggests, he could use his popular support to press

for inclusion in the government and the threat of the SA violence if he was

excluded. Hitler acted shreudly, leaving all his options open (a Reichstag majority,

a coup, Authoritarian Rule by Article 48) while steadily pursuing his goal and

using his remarkable ability to retain the confidence of his often restive supporters

with the help of the growing ?Hitler myth?, which served as a substitute for

a detailed programme.

At this time, Hitler was supported by four significant factors. Firstly, there

was the intensification of the depression, and secondly, the result of this

was an increasing support for radical left and radical right parties from the

electorate. Thirdly, there was the Reichswehr?s dislike of the Republic, caused

primarily by Hindenburg?s pursuit of political stability in order to advance

rearmament. Finally, the people had a massive disapproval for the prominence

of presidential rather than parliamentary government. Whilst Hitler may have

failed to win the Presidency in April 1932, his vote in the second ballot was

as high as 13.4 million ? it would seem that a large percentage of the population

had realised that desperate times call for desperate measures, and with unemployment

consistently rising, perhaps Hitler?s eventual role was, by this stage, an inevitability.

Furthermore, the election in June made the NSDAP the largest party in the Reichstag

with 13, 745,00 votes and 230 seats ? in four ?depressing? years the party had

gained 13.5 million votes.

Where had this new support for national Socialism come from? Most historians

afree that it was largely from the middle class (the Mittelstand) which may

be subdivided into the old Mittelstand (artisans, small retailers, peasant farmers)

and the new (white-collar workers, teachers, civil servants(somewhat surprising

seeing as this group incorporated the best part of Germany?s academic body)).

Many of the former, who became the core of the Nazi support, had joined the

movement before 1929; the latter ?helped to boost the Nazi vote . . . to 13.5

million in 1932? (Lee). Blue-collar workers remained remarkably loyal to the

SDP and the KDP because of their membership of the trade unions; the upper classes

were sometimes attracted by Hitler?s anti-communist stance, but the chief support

from the wealthy came after Hitler was appointed Chancellor. ?To some extent

the appeal of Nazism transcended class barriers altogether? (Lee): Protestants,

women, the young were all attracted by 1932. But in spite of the vast increase

in their vote, the Nazis still lacked a majority which could give them the automatic

right to power.

During the ?crisis months? which followed, the refusal of Hindenburg and von

Papen to offer anything more than the Vice-Chancellorship on 13 August was to

put great strain on party loyalties. Somehow Hitler was able to preserve the

policy of legality, in the face of its apparent failure, even after the resignation

of Gregor Strasser which badly dented party morale. The fighting of yet another

election in November, when the NSDAP vote dropped by two million and the KPD

vote increased significantly, was a further blow. It is hardly surprising to

read Goebbels reflection at Christmas of ?this year has brought us everlasting

bad luck.?

However, it would seem that the tide was turning. The new Chancellor, Schleicher,

had failed to gain the mass support which he had promised Hindenburg, with his

policy based on backing from the trade unions and the ?moderate? Nazis under

Strasser. Von Papen was determined to bring him down and was now ready to see

Hitler as Chancellor. They reached an agreement on 4 January, but it took almost

another month of tortuous negotiations before Hindenburg?s suspicion of the

?Bavarian corporal? could be overcome, Hugenburg?s economic conditions satisfied

and the Reichswehr?s support ensured by the appontment of the pro-Nazi von Blomberg

as the Minister of Defence.

Such a remarkable reversal of fortune as brought Hitler to the Chancellorship

on 30 January 1933 caused Goebbels to confide in his diary that ?it all seems

like a fairy story?. In conclusion though, it was in fact the result of ?ambitious

and misguided men [who] sought to make history? and were confident, like von

Papen, that Hitler would be ?no danger at all?. Nor must Hitler?s own contribution

be forgotten: the steadfast adherence to the policy of legality, the extraordinary

control over the unruly party, the insistence on the Chancellorship, and the

selling of the idea that – in the words of a nazi slogan ? ?National Socialism

is the opposite of what exists today.?


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