Why did Hindenburg appoint Hitler as Chancellor in 1933?
On January 30th 1933, President Hindenburg appointed Hitler as Chancellor and Von-Papen Vice-Chancellor having previously refused him the position in August 1932 after the Nazi’s great electoral success. Hitler was to become a dictator and a discriminator, with little care for other people’s feelings or emotions so what persuaded Hindenburg to make this surprise appointment? Looking at the event in its historical context, we can see that it was a culmination of long and short-term factors and a built up of events which lead to the decision being made. Some of these factors can be traced back to many years prior to 1933, such as the Treaty of Versailles, which indirectly contributed to Hitler’s appointment whereas other events, such as the Nazi’s targeting certain groups after the Depression of 1929 had a more direct effect on the political decisions.
By 1932 it was almost impossible for the democratic system to work in Germany as the communists and the Nazis controlled the majority of seats in parliament. The result of this was that the two parties could vote together against anything that the government tried to pass – everything from trading to laws and general business could be stopped which was extremely frustrating for the government as they desperately needed to deal with the consequences of the Depression. Each party was doing this for their own reasons however, and where the communists wanted to see a complete breakdown of the system, the Nazi party wanted to prove that the country could not be run without their support. Hitler knew that this would eventually force the government to deal with the party and, in 1932 Hitler was offered the position of Vice-Chancellor under Von-Papen but he refused, demanding that he wanted only to be Chancellor.
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It is obvious from the evidence above that Hitler was, at this time, in quite a strong position and it was also clear that Hindenburg wanted him in his government but that he was very wary, as were a large majority of the elite, of the radicalism and generally vulgar nature of the Nazi movement thus being the reason why Hitler was offered the vice-Chancellorship, as a ‘taming strategy’ for the extremist Nazi party. Hindenburg had seen what Hitler could achieve, from being virtually unknown at the end of the war, the Treaty of Versailles and his reaction to that had brought Hitler very quickly into the pubic eye and he had, very rapidly, consolidated a certain amount of power. Hitler’s reaction to the Treaty of Versailles is perhaps the core to his coming to power in 1933, and the beginning of his rise to the position of Chancellor as it led to events such as the Munich Putsch where Hitler gained a huge amount of national exposure.
The successful electioneering and propaganda of the Nazis and a dedicated growing party membership were important factors in the rise of Nazi fortune and equally important was the discipline that Hitler imposed on the SA, which continued up until 1933. As a leader, Hitler was also an incredible orator and much of his support came from those who had listened to him speak, or heard of his oratory skills and who believed that Hitler was the one who could bring them out of the economic crisis that they were in. Hitler’s electioneering techniques were also to gain the Nazi’s a broad base of support. It was the built up of this support through his strong leadership that put that Nazis in the strong position that they were in politically in the early 1930s and this position that led the establishment to believe that it could use the Nazi organisation to maintain its power and influence in 1933.
The Nazi party had increased in popularity since the German economy had collapsed in the wake of the 1929 Wall Street Crash, which created further divisions on the already disjointed political scene. The rise in unemployment and desperation of many Germans led them to turn to the political extremes such as the Nazi party and thus their support increased. In relation to this, the strains of unemployment issues led to the collapse of the ‘Grand Coalition’ in Mach 1930 and the establishment of the Brüning Government which was a key moment in the process of the Nazi rise to power. This government was the first to be based on presidential and not parliamentary power, Hindenburg made it very clear from the start that if the minority government was defeated or suffered votes of no confidence at the hands of the Reichstag, then the Reichstag would be dismissed and Germany would be governed by decree. When the government failed to pass the legislation by decree Hindenburg responded by dissolving the Reichstag, which he was completely entitled to do under Article 48 of the constitution. The reason that this is a key moment for Hitler and the Nazi party is because it is the most obvious point at which the president and his advisers openly showed their contempt for the constitution, the Reichstag and Weimar democracy and it marks the shift from parliamentary to presidential government. This meant that Hitler now had a path into power as it gave the Nazis a legal route to success which is what Hitler wanted, something which Hitler had realised much earlier on in 1923, that he would only achieve power through legal means.
Hitler was able to take advantage of these situations because he had a strong party behind him and this was party due to the reorganisation of the Nazis that had taken place throughout the 1920s. The high level of organisation meant that the party was ideally placed to take advantage of the increasing discontent of many Germans with the main political parties that could have posed as a threat to the movement at the time.
So we can see that there were a great deal of contributing factors which culminated in Hitler’s appointment in 1933 but without the support of the establishment there would have been no appointment and I think that this is an important aspect of his rise to power that needs mentioning. To many people in the German establishment, the Nazi movement offered them their only realistic alternative to the communism that many of them feared on the left. Because of this, from the early 1930s onwards, Hitler and the Nazi party became courted by bankers businessmen and politicians who hoped that they could use the movement to their advantage and to undermine the Weimar Republic thus protecting their interests and it was these members of the elite who eventually persuaded Hindenburg to appoint Hitler Chancellor. This persuasion topped reasons that Hindenburg himself had to make the appointment, if he let the opportunity pass by then there was the threat of civil war and a revolt of the NSDAP and there was also the situation that he was in with the implication of his family’s estate being tied in with the misuse of the funds for the ‘help for the east’ programme and Hindenburg could well have thought that in appointing Hitler the investigation in to this would be ended.
The final tactic of the elite was to appoint Hitler as Chancellor with Von-Papen as Vice-Chancellor alongside him to restrict Hitler’s freedom in action and to keep him under control. Hindenburg was aware of the extremist views of Adolf Hitler but believed that, in a cabinet of only three Nazi members, there would be no chance that he would be able to e press these without a majority vote and so made the misjudgement of ‘Hitler for Chancellor.’
Here's what a star student thought of this essay
Quality of writing
The spelling, grammar and punctuation were average for GCSE level. The sometimes lack of commas, or overuse of commas such that a sentence became three and a half lines (typed) long was most evident in the essay. Perhaps sentence structure in this case could be worked on to further increase the marks. There were two cases of misspelt words: Ã¢â‚¬ËœpubicÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ instead of Ã¢â‚¬ËœpublicÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and Ã¢â‚¬ËœpartyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ instead of Ã¢â‚¬ËœpartlyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. This evidently shows the lack of checking through the work, which for coursework is absolutely essential. For GCSE level, better would be expected from a history essay for coursework.
Level of analysis
The student links the points made into the argument well and the fluency of the essay was sound. However, at times, there was a lack of further developing the evidence in order to support the points made and consolidate the argument overall. Yet, the level of analysis was very high in this essay and it is fair to say, that for GCSE level, it would contribute to a higher mark for the essay. One flaw I would say here is that the student failed to draw out the significance of the Beer Hall Putsch. It was not necessarily the Treaty of Versailles that made Hitler known in Germany Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it was more the Putsch and his subsequent time in prison where he wrote his book Ã¢â‚¬ËœMy StruggleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. This is what shot him to Ã¢â‚¬ËœfameÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and gained the Nazis more awareness. In addressing the problem of a strong conclusion, it is sometimes easiest to leave the introduction and conclusion until after the main body of the essay is written. Then going back to add the introduction and conclusion will be easier and quicker as the student now knows exactly what they are arguing and can give a better overview of the question set in the introduction and conclusion because they have just written their argument out.
Response to question
The student opened the essay with a strong introduction which gave an overview and background to the question asked. However, they failed to formulate a strong conclusion to finish the essay and this was disappointing. They linked their paragraphs well and the structure to the essay served the argument well. The lack of a coherent conclusion flawed the essay deeply as it left the studentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s argument Ã¢â‚¬Ëœhanging in mid-airÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. This, consequently, would lower the mark awarded.