Why did the Nazi Party gain popularity in the years 1933-1939?

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Why did the Nazi Party gain popularity in the years 1933-1939?


Word War One had had devastating effects on Germany. In June 1919 came the Treaty of Versailles, and with it Germany lost land, overseas colonies, livestock and locomotives. Sections of the Rhineland were to be occupied for up to fifteen years in order to monitor German behaviour. In 1921, the amount of money that Germany owed in reparations was about $33 million. Therefore it would come as no surprise to discover the discontent, misery and humiliation felt by many Germans during this period. It was by using these emotions that Hitler and the Nazi party began their task in gaining the trust of the German people.

Within Germany, there was widespread belief that to master Germany’s economic, political and social crisis, and to create a new unity and base for future prosperity, a strong leader was needed. Despite his superiors originally believing that he would be an easily controlled tool and therefore of little threat, Hitler began to become seriously politically active after he was made Chancellor of Germany on January 30th 1933.

The terrible burden of the breakdown in German society threatened to bring all economic life to a standstill. Thousands of factories closed their doors. Hunger was the daily companion of the German working man…The government carried its measures against public opinion so far that many an honest man had to resort to theft to obtain food…”Burglaries, too became daily occurrences…so early in 1930 I joined the National Socialist Party.” (Abel).

Such accounts were not uncommon during the depression period. The Nazi Party offered hope for those badly effected – employment for the unemployed, food for the starving and pride for the many humiliated by Germany’s recent defeat. This type of psychology or propaganda that the Nazi Party used was beginning to drive thousands – in particular young males, into believing there was hope for a new Germany. By concentrating on issues that Germans had close to their hearts, the Nazis succeeded. Because people were worried about the future of the economy, they voted for the Nazi Party. They were also scared of the idea of a Communist country. (Nazis used the Reichstag Fire incident to emphasise the reason why a person should not vote for the Communists.)  Nazi propaganda was especially popular at this time. They timed things very well, as at this period in time the majority of Germans blamed the original government for their misfortune and the objects of ridicule became the Jews. Many Germans blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat in World War 1, implying that they had not fought with the intensity of true Germans. ‘Hitler recognised that hate was a powerful emotion so he consciously appealed to it.’ (Ian Kershaw).

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Idealism too drove Hitler’s followers. Many of them had hope that a new society would be created via the Nazi regime; a ‘national community’ that would end all existing social divisions. Those who joined the Nazi Party believed that there was no chance of returning to the ‘class-ridden, hierarchical society of the past.’

All these aspects of Nazism were to formulate popular opinion in the Third Reich.

In 1933, 25.9% of the German population were unemployed. By 1939 the figure was a mere 0.5%. The German public was largely unaware of what was going on – the Nazis were ...

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