Why was Hitler able to become chancellor of Germany in 1933?
On 30th January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany and Von Papen descended himself to a vice-chancellor position. There was political scheming between the leaders which allowed Hitler to become chancellor. There were factors that helped the Nazis and Hitler to gain recognition and come to power. Some factors were long-term reasons such as the Treaty of Versailles which indirectly helped Hitler to become chancellor because the Weimar Government could not cope with the reparations payments. The weaknesses of the Weimar Republic is another long term reason playing a huge part giving the Nazis opportunities to take action and persuading people to vote for them. Some were short term factors such as the Wall Street Crash which led to a depression. This essay will look at how Hitler achieved his chancellor ship.
Germany was never governed by a strong leader who kept serious issues under control. The three main leaders Ebert, Hindenburg, and Stresemann all had problems. Ebert could not deliver his promises because he had to form coalitions and had to agree with the people who joined. Hindenburg was not a good politician; he was 84 years old and was controlled by army leaders and business men. The best leader was Stresemann who was respected within and outside Germany. He died, however, before having a big effect. Without a strong leader and a weak government made German citizens turn to more extreme groups.
The Treaty of Versailles is one of the factors that helped Hitler to become chancellor. The Germans were disgusted by this treaty, devastated and felt bitter at the total sum that had to be paid and accept the war guilt clause. At the end of the year 1922 no reparations had been paid by Germany. This led to a terrible economic crisis caused by the occupation of the Ruhr a (key industrial area of Germany) by the French and Belgian troops. In order to try to pay the reparations, Germany started to print money and it led to a hyper-inflation. The inflation mainly affected the middle class people. They had lost faith in the government after they lost all their savings.
This inflation suggested that the government was weak and could not cope with the serious debts. This was an important factor as it showed that Germany was in a crisis and needed a strong leader who disagreed with the Treaty of Versailles and would abolish it.
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Adolf Hitler was a good leader who commanded respect. He was an articulate speaker and could move his audience. He was in the army during the First World War and importantly, shared the German people’s hatred of the Treaty of Versailles.
The first drastic measure that Hitler and his SA took, to try to become nationally recognised, was the Beer Hall Putsch in the same year as the hyper-inflation of 1923. The putsch backfired as Hitler was sentenced to prison. Prison was where Hitler reflected the past and realised that he would have to change tactics and try to gain power by lawful means. The putsch gave Hitler some national recognition as he originally hoped. This
was the first that most Germans saw of this seemingly mighty politician with his very extreme views. This was the first step of the rise of Hitler.
Stresemann and the Weimar government was another reason that enabled Hitler to come to power. Stresemann was appointed chancellor in August 1923. He made some solutions to the problems that Germany faced including passive resistance and removing the French and Belgian troops from the Ruhr. He was fairly successful in some ways and failed in others.
In 1924 Stresemann introduced the Dawes Plan, which gave Germany a loan from America and stated that the reparations could be paid over a longer period of time than was stated in the Treaty of Versailles. The Young Plan of 1929 then reduced the reparations by a third and Germany was given 59 years to repay the sum, but unfortunately Stresemann died, the plan failed because of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 in America. Many investors worldwide felt the devastating long-lasting effects of the falling price at the New York stock exchange. The crash marked the start of the worldwide Great Depression. Although Stresemann found a few temporary solutions for Germany, she still faced many problems including depending on America’s loans, unemployment etc. The coalition government could also not keep support of the Reichstag and there had been 25 different governments in 14 years. The Germans needed a party with an overall majority. They need a party to help Germany recover from her economic crisis.
The Nazis were not very successful in the late 1920s because this period of time, being prior to the economic crisis, the Weimar government was quite successful under Stresemann and Germany’s future looked quite hopeful. But when the economy failed yet again for the worse, Germany was desperate; therefore many Germans felt it was the right time to vote for a different party with a strong leader. Hitler took this opportunity of the economic problems the Weimar government faced and started to market themselves as ‘the party that may have the solutions to Germany’s many problems’.
After the Wall Street Crash in 1929, the Nazis gained 107 seats in the Reichstag, 95 more seats have increased within the last two years. Then in July 1932, the Nazis gained 230 seats in the Reichstag.
Germany was very badly affected by the depression and since 1929; unemployment increased. By January 1933 the unemployment figure in Germany had risen to 6,100,000. Businesses were failing; homelessness and poverty increased and was common amongst people. Taxes were raised and unemployment benefits were cut. The government’s failure to deal with the depression left the Nazis with a disappointed nation especially workers, young people, farmers and businessmen. The economic crisis allowed Hitler and the Nazis to enter Germany’s political scene and take advantage as what was originally planned.
The depression weakened the government as they introduced unpopular economic policies; the chancellor raised taxes, cut wages, and reduced unemployment benefits, this made the Germans feel unsupportive as Weimar was no longer meeting the expectations of Germany. This made the people turn to the more extreme groups such as the Communists and the Nazis who gained more support. The two reasons; the depression
and Weimar are closely linked because it was Weimar's failure to deal with the depression that allowed the Nazis to seize their opportunity and put their new, more lawful approach into action.
The Nazis opened soup kitchens and housed the homeless and promised improvement for the working class and farmers who were affected by the economic crisis. Hitler and the Nazis targeted middle class and the rich who feared a communist revolution. The SA attacked the communists to remove a threat. Hitler had the support of powerful industrialists who contributed to his financial backing which paid for his expensive election campaigns. The Nazis offered to their targeted groups a scapegoat. They picked on certain groups especially the Jews.
People chose to vote Hitler and the Nazis over other parties as they promised to solve problems for Germany, such as restoring profits for employers and higher prices for farmers. The Nazis took action with a powerful SA who feed and housed the homeless.
Another reason why the Nazis won over the many other parties in the coalition was that the other major parties, including The Social Democrats and The Conservatives, just thought that ordinary Germans would see through the Hitler and the Nazis, seriously under-estimating their power. Because the system of proportional representation was being used, many parties, all with contrasting views, formed the coalition. They just quarrelled among themselves, not agreeing with each others views with no-one being willing to be associated with unpopular measures, rather than simply agreeing that Hitler and the Nazis were posing a threat and uniting to face the Nazis' challenge. If they had have agreed to work together to try to overthrow Hitler and the Nazis, then the Nazis may not have eventually gained an overall majority.
The Nazis’ flexible policies which were often vague and only repeating ideas that were popular had to be broadcasted in order for the Nazis to come to power and Hitler become chancellor. Germans had to be persuaded that Hitler was the right leader for Germany. Propaganda played a very important role led by Josef Goebbels to ensure the message was sent across. The Nazis and Hitler needed to look good, the SA wore smart uniform, and they were obedient and strong. They attacked people who opposed the Nazis. With the aid of high technology, Hitler flew all over the country and delivered powerful speeches to his audience. Propaganda helped Hitler become chancellor as it persuaded people to vote for him.
Hitler cleverly used a combination of persuasion and blackmail to become chancellor. In January 1933 Von Schleicher was not a very strong Chancellor and had failed in raising support in the Reichstag and so was fired by Hindenburg. Hindenburg had been persuaded by Von Papen to make Hitler Chancellor and make himself (Von Papen) Vice-Chancellor. Von Papen thought that it would be fine if the Nazis led the coalition and that he would be able to control Hitler but he was very wrong. Hitler became chancellor and later took absolute power.
There were many reasons why Hitler was able to become chancellor. The source seems to originate from the Treaty of Versailles which weakened the Weimar government. There were also other factors. The groups that Hitler targeted played a major part in his success. If he had targeted minority groups that were already doing fairly well under Stresemann, Hindenburg, Von Papen and Von Schleicher's rules then he wouldn't have got anywhere. He had the support of the right people which was a key to success; this is closely linked with the depression as it showed that the government was failing to meet its expectations.
Hitler made promises and shared ideas that were popular to suit the expectations of the Germans. He used his own personal qualities, he was an expressive speaker and his self-belief convinced people to believe in him and that he was their “last hope”. The effectiveness and appearances of the SA and Hitler’s élite SS and propaganda conveyed that the Nazis were powerful and organised. Whereas their opponents; the communists were disorganised and this made people vote for Hitler. But the reason why Hitler and the Nazis took the advantage to publicise themselves was because of the crippling government. The Weimar Republic was consistently weak ever since the Treaty of Versailles was signed. The hyperinflation of 1923 and the depression of 1929 suggested that the government could not deal with huge sums of reparations and debts. Germans doubted them because if they still in power of Germany there would be constant economical and political issues which would cause many social problems in Germany. This made people turn to other parties with a strong leader, many fair policies and organised group. So when the Weimar Republic was failing, Hitler took the advantage to broadcast himself and the Nazis and persuade people that they would make “Germany great again”. If it hadn't have been for the terrible economic crisis then Germany would probably still have been doing reasonably well under Gustav Stresemann's leadership and the Germans would have had no need to re-consider re-electing Stresemann despite the governments many problems. Therefore it was the depression and the weakness of the government to cope with it, otherwise if Weimar was quite successful and if the Nazis publicised they would struggle to compete to win over votes.
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This is a very comprehensive response that is well written and persuasive. Although there could be more examples used in places, it covers all major factors and explains how they link together well.