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Was Backstairs Intrigue or Popular Support Responsible for Hitler's Ascension of Power in January 1933?

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Introduction

Was Backstairs Intrigue or Popular Support Responsible for Hitler's Ascension of Power in January 1933? There were many reasons as to why Hitler achieved the chancellorship on 30th January 1933. Germany was in a state of chaos, both politically and economically, under 'normal' circumstances extreme right wing groups would not have gained power. However Germany's devastation coupled with clever campaigning and a dynamic leader led Hitler to gain power. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 crippled the German economy more than any other country. In 1919 following the First World War the Treaty of Versailles was imposed on Germany, included was the reparations clause, which meant Germany had to pay the Allies �6.6 million for their losses. The Dawes Plan (1924) and later the Young Plan (1929) meant that Germany depended on US loans to pay the reparations, this money was withdrawn when the stock market crashed. Following the Wall Street Crash Germany was plunged into economic chaos. The Wall Street Crash also resulted in high unemployment (6 million by the end of 1930) and also in 1931 the 5 major banks crashed, which greatly affected the middle class who had savings. German production was halved during the years 1929-1932, which affected the working class and business. Another blow to Germany in 1929 was the death of Stresemann who had begun to bring some stability to Germany. People looked to other more extreme parties to solve the economic crisis in Germany. It is partly the Wall Street Crash, which helped Hitler's rise to power. In the elections of 1928 the Nazis only had 12 seats in the Reichstag, by 1930 this had risen to 107. In the first elections of 1932 the Nazis had 230 seats, but in November this declined to 196. Hitler realised, from his failed coup of 1923 that he had to gain power legally through gaining votes in the Reichstag. ...read more.

Middle

They were successful in gaining public support through election campaigns, effective propaganda, and an influential charismatic leader. They did become the largest party in the Reichstag, however they never gained the majority vote so they were not voted into power. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917 the Germans feared a Communist Revolution in Germany. The Nazis were violently Anti-Marxist and promised to crush Communism. People feared Hitler but they feared Communism even more and so voted Nazi. The failure of the left to unite led to the right being stronger. The Communists hated the right as the Freikorps (a right wing paramilitary group) had been used to crush the Spartacist uprising in 1919 in which their leaders (Luxembourg and Liebknecht) were killed. The New Weimar Republic, created after World War One, had two major flaws in the Constitution firstly Article 48, which gave the President the power to override the Reichstag to pass laws, and secondly proportional representation, which led to weak coalition governments. Muller's coalition government fell in March 1930 and was the last coalition government with a working majority in the Reichstag; it marked the end of parliamentary government. The running of Germany now depended upon individuals. Hindenburg next appointed Bruning on Von Schliecher's advice. The Reichstag rejected his Finance Bill and it was issued using Article 48, against the Reichstag. His next mistake was to call an election in which extremist parties made major gains (anti-democratic parties held almost half the seats.) He also failed to reduce the impact of the slump and was nicknamed the 'Hunger Chancellor.' Bruning's mistakes led people to look for alternatives and so they began to vote Nazi (as illustrated by the voting figures.) Schleicher persuaded Hindenburg to dismiss Bruning, he was not dismissed due to a no confidence vote from the Reichstag but because Hindenburg took a dislike to him, which was extremely undemocratic and personal. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hitler was offered vice chancellorship twice but refused because he worked on the policy of 'all or nothing,' which made him unpopular with his party members because of the gamble he was taking. Papen eventually persuaded Hindenburg to appoint him but only three Nazis would be allowed in the cabinet out of twelve. Papen thought that Hitler could be tamed and claimed 'we've hired him.' The Communists also believed that Hitler would fail and they would take over. This was one of the biggest mistakes of the time; Hitler had no intention of being 'tamed.' I think there are several points that need to be taken into consideration when deciding which was the most important reason for Hitler's ascension to power. Hitler tried to gain power in 1923, but failed. His policies were still the same he wanted to rip up the Treaty of Versailles, create a better Germany etc. but in 1929 people more willing to listen to his messages because of the political and economic chaos. German politics had become very personal and undemocratic. Schleicher had a high influence on Hindenburg's decisions, which weren't always the right ones. Papen wanted revenge on Schleicher for his dismissal and so he made a deal with Hitler regarding his vice-chancellorship. Hindenburg frequently used Article 48 with no support from the Reichstag. They made the mistake of thinking that Hitler 'could be tamed' when Hitler had no intention of this, they underestimated him. The Nazi Party itself was a very well organised 'Catch All' party with potent messages, which were carefully delivered. The economic situation made people desperate and other parties just sat back. However it is worth noting that Hitler was not voted into power, but chosen because they felt he would just be the 'face' and they could do what they wanted to with him, like a puppet. They thought they could use his supporters to their advantage and they would become more popular. I think all these reasons are equally important because without any of them I don't think that Hitler would have gained power. Rachel Johnson ...read more.

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