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Why did Hitler become Chancellor in January 1933?

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Introduction

History Essay Why did Hitler become Chancellor in January 1933? This question has sparked a debate amongst many well-known historians; Alan Bullock and Ian Kershaw, for example, have written whole books on this topic. There is no simple answer to a question such as this, and by writing this essay, I aim to consider both the internal and external factors of the Nazis' rise to power, before arriving at a justified conclusion. In 1919, the German army sent Adolf Hitler to Munich, Bavaria, to a meeting of a small extreme nationalist group called the German Workers' Party. He found he agreed with many of their opinions and ideas, and by 1921 its full name had become the Nationalsozialistische Deutsch Arbeiterpartei (the NSDAP, or 'Nazis' for short) and Hitler had become President of the extreme right-wing organisation. It was determined to overthrow the Social Democratic government in power at the time in order to impose its own choice of government; a strong, authoritarian dictatorship. This was vastly different to the government Germany did have; the most democratic government in Europe. However, the Weimar Republic, introduced by Friedrich Ebert, was not the faultlessly fair legislature it made out to be. Its internal weaknesses proved very beneficial to Hitler and he took advantage of them to enhance the image of the Nazi party. The actual constitution of the Weimar Republic was very ineffective. Article 48 gave the President the power to rule by emergency decree, something he had to take regularly, as the German states had too much power and usually ignored the government's commands. Its system of proportional representation led to 28 parties, which made it virtually impossible to establish a majority in the Reichstag as no party was ever likely to win more than fifty per cent of the vote. ...read more.

Middle

could crush it and be seen as dealing with the communist threat. In this way Hitler and the Nazis developed a very sensitive system of propaganda; they learnt the skill of focusing on the issues that people considered important. This type of violence also played a part in drumming up success for the Nazi party. Hitler's SA or 'Brownshirts' were used to intimidate opponents, such as the communists, in order to secure votes. Force, violence and rivalry were central to the Nazi philosophy of 'survival of the fittest'. Another great strength of the Nazi party was their promises to the voters and their flexibility. When Hitler introduced his Twenty-five Point Programme in 1920, it promised every level of society something - for the workers he promised jobs and an end to unemployment; for the employers he promised restored profits; for farmers, higher prices; for shopkeepers, protection against competition. No matter how rich or poor they were, every German was pledged a promise that Hitler would help them and regain the national pride. He was described as having "his finger on the pulse of Germany" and an adept understanding of the desires of ordinary people. The Nazis were also very flexible in their political strategy. In their all-out push for electoral success, they found that it didn't matter what was promised to the German people, just as long as they were trusted. If they found that an idea was losing them support, such as the idea of nationalising industries, they dropped it because (in this case) it became evident that the big business leaders, who were their main source of financial backing, did not like it. However, the Nazis trump card was Hitler himself. ...read more.

Conclusion

On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was recruited by President Hindenburg as Chancellor of Germany. In conclusion, it is my opinion that although the extremely powerful internal strengths of Hitler and the Nazis were of immense avail to their succession, and that Hitler succeeded where another man might not have, the deciding reason Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933 was due to long-term factors. Those being the bitterness and resentment entrenched in the German people from the very beginning and the weakness of the Weimar Republic. If the German people had had a strong, stable government in which they could place their total faith, a man wanting to overturn the government into a dictatorship, no matter how brilliant a public speaker or propagandist, would not have succeeded. It is tempting to see it as a testament to Hitler's cunning, but I do not believe that that is true. When you look back at the Stresemann Years, although they only lasted for five years, Hitler was, in essence, forgotten about. People were no longer deeply affected by his brilliant speeches and powerful propaganda campaigns; the government had stabilised and although Germany was neither as steadfast nor wealthy as she had been, the people were coping again. Hitler appealed to the masses because there was no other choice for the German people; no other opposition that appeared as strong or had as much self-belief and pride. I accept that there were factors outside of the government's control, such as the Kapp Putsch, that weakened its esteem and reputation, but had its foundations been solid and reliable, it would have been able to bear those attacks and recover from them. There was no political figure in the Reichstag that was able, or prepared, to fight to stop this man. In the end, Hitler did not take power at all, he was given it. ...read more.

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