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How Hitler Came to Power After the Great Depression.

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Introduction

How Hitler Came to Power After the Great Depression There is no simple single answer as to why Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933. If I wanted to be glib I could say that he became Chancellor because he was invited to do so by President Hindenburg, but in reality it was a combination of factors including the Nazi's skilful use of propaganda along with Hitler's undeniable speaking and leadership skills, and his manipulation of the German political system as well as the vanity of other politicians, which propelled Hitler and the Nazis into power. Perhaps most important was that Hitler was able to capitalise on the shallow roots of democracy in Germany, the lingering resentment of the war and the Treaty of Versailles and most critically of all the despair felt by millions of Germans as a result of the depression caused by the Wall Street crash. The depression was the catalyst that allowed all these other elements to combine in the unique environment of Germany in the early 1930's. It is possible to argue that without the Wall Street crash and the consequent depression, Hitler might only have been a footnote in history. In one sense the first reason why Hitler came to power in 1933 was because he had failed to seize power in the Munich putsch of 1923. ...read more.

Middle

However, this relative prosperity and stability was fragile and was shattered for ever by the Wall Street crash of 1929. Germany was hit badly as American banks called in their loans to Germany negotiated under the Dawes plan of 1924. Many German companies, struggling for cash and suffering because of the downturn in world trade, had to close down causing mass unemployment. By 1932, 6 million Germans (1 in 3 of all workers) were out of work. Under the social security system unemployment pay only lasted 6 moths and after that people were faced with real poverty, homelessness and despair. Ordinary German men and women were suffering terribly and in their despair, believing they had been let down by the established political parties, became more ready to listen to and believe the messages of extreme parties such as the Communists and the Nazis. This was the moment Hitler had been waiting for- the propaganda machine was cranked up to exploit the economic crisis. Hitler told the German people that the problems of the depression were not their fault. He blamed the Jews, the Allies and the Weimar democrats for Germanys problems. He promised different things to different people. To businessmen he promised that he would control the trade unions and deal with the Communists. ...read more.

Conclusion

Both von Papen and Hindenburg looked down on Hitler and believed Hitler was so desperate for power that they would be able to control him. Effectively, they believed they could use Hitler as a front man and with his large support they would be able to maintain control and implement the reforms to the constitution they believed necessary. Hitler agreed to von Papen's offer, and became Chancellor of a coalition government of which only three of twelve ministers were Nazis. Hitler had come to power by using the processes of democracy- not only had he achieved electoral success by playing on the fears of the German people and by offering them hope but he had also played the established politicians at their own game by agreeing to the coalition on his own terms. It would soon become evident that for Hitler, democracy was just a means to an end. To sum up one could argue that Hitler came to power because he played on the weaknesses of others. He gained popularity by seeming to offer a way out of their economic woes to the German people, and he became chancellor by seeming to offer industrialists and politicians like von Papen and Hindenburg a means of keeping the Communists out and maintaining their own hold on power. However, for all his undoubted propaganda and political skills, he would not have had this opportunity if Germany had not been plunged into economic depression by the knock-on effects of the Wall Street crash. ...read more.

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