Power Essay, Research Paper
Adolf Hitler was one of the 20th century?s most powerful dictators. He was responsible for World War II and the death of millions. Hitler saw a nation in despair and used this as an opportunity to gain political power. He saw a nation of unemployed and hungry citizens and promised them economic prosperity in return for absolute power. Someone once said ?The Nazis rose to power on the empty stomachs of the German people?.
Hitler was born in Austria-Hungary in 1889. His father, Alois Hitler, worked in Austrian customs service. Hitler had a relatively comfortable childhood. Although he was an above average student he was more interested in art than in academics. Like most German speaking citizens of Austria-Hungary, Hitler considered himself German and developed a strong sense of German nationalism. By 1908 both Hitler?s parents had died. Hitler pretended to continue his studies in order to receive an orphan?s pension.
In 1913, Hitler went to Munich to escape Austrian authorities who were after him because he failed to register for the draft. Hitler volunteered for the German army.When Germany was defeated in 1918, he blamed the Jews and decided he would go into politics to save the country.
After the war, Hitler returned to Munich. He was selected to be a political speaker by the local army headquarters. He was given special training in public speaking. Later in life Hitler used his skill in motivational speaking to gain the support of the German people for the Nazi party.
Hitler was selected as an observer of political groups in the Munich area. During this time period he was introduced to the National Socialist German Workers? Party, better known as the Nazi Party. The Nazis shared his dislike of the liberal democracy of the Weimar Republic as well as his violent racial nationalism and anti-Semitism. In 1921 he was named the absolute leader of the Nazi Party.
After its defeat in World War I, Germany was forced to give up land, demilitarize and pay war reparations. When Germany refused to pay all that was demanded, France and Belgium occupied the coal mines in the Ruhr industrial area. The German government ordered the workers to strike as a form of passive resistance. To compensate these workers the German government printed huge amounts of new money. This led to inflation. German currency rapidly lost value. Many people were unemployed and on the brink of starvation.
Hitler felt it was the right time to start a revolution. On November 8, 1923, Hitler and about 600 followers attempted to take control of the provincial Bavarian government. They lacked mass support and had no chance against the military force of the government. The rebellion failed and Hitler was imprisoned and sentenced to five years although he only served one. Hitler explained his political views in his book Mein Kampf or My Struggle.
Hitler regained control of the Nazi Party upon his release in December 1924. From 1925 to 1930 Hitler built a network of local parties over most of Germany. He also organized the Schutzstaffel or the ?SS?, a group that performed police tasks. They carried out violent acts against Hitler?s enemies. Unemployed young men who joined Hitler?s groups were given food, shelter, uniforms and a sense of purpose.
The stock market crash of 1929 effected practically every nation in the world. Germany was already suffering a post-war depression and was greatly effected. Hitler used the suffering of the masses to gain political support. He gained a strong following from the middle class, the workers and the unemployed by promising to improve the economy. As economic conditions worsened, the Nazis gained more support.
Hitler staged huge rallies and parades. His speeches called for a strong and proud Germany. He attacked the Jews, making them the scapegoats for all of Germany?s economic troubles. His energy on stage and his motivational style of speaking made the masses believe that they were the master race and destined to rule the world.
In 1933 Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Although he had promised President Hindenburg that he would uphold the constitution, Hitler immediately called for new elections. The Nazi Party gained control and ended the Weimar Republic. Hitler assumed dictatorial control of Germany. He suspended all civil liberties and used violence to crush all opposition. He actually started to carry out his promise of economic recovery by employing people in war industries as Germany prepared for war.
Hitler used the poor economic condition of Germany to gain complete control. He was responsible for the deaths of 40 million people and today his name is synonymous with evil. I believe that when people are in a desperate situation, like the people in Germany, they may believe politicians who promise them better times. Unfortunately, many Germans followed an evil and violent leader who took advantage of people at a time when they were poor and hungry, to gain power and cause destruction.