Night of the Long Knives
Jewish Persecution
Life under Hilter

 

Nazi Germany

Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January 1933. He stayed in power for 12 years, until eventually committing suicide with defeat on 30 April, 1945. How did he stay in power so long? What benefits were there for the German people? Let's find out...


Was Hitler's Rise to Power Inevitable?

This question is still debated by historians. Before we look into it, first we need to know just what reasons there were for the fall of Weimar... Must have been pretty dire, considering they couldn't even meet in Berlin.

  • Weimar was weak (as you can see on the here). The government couldn't agree on anything because of the proportional representation.
  • The people had a traditional lack of respect for it because it was democratic.
  • Many people hated Weimar because they thought it had "stabbed them in the back" with the Treaty of Versailles.
  • When the Separatist Revolution and Kapp Putsch took place, it had to rely on someone else to save it - showing how weak it was. Violence was a regular occurrence on the streets.
  • It was powerless when hyperinflation occurred. Only when Stresemann came along, could they sort themselves out - weak again.

Hitler, in comparison, seemed strong.

  • He promised a return to traditional German ruling and values.
  • He promised employment and prosperity for all.
  • He blamed Weimar for the Treaty of Versailles, along with playing on other traditional hatreds, such as the Jews.
  • He promised to destroy the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Hitler was a terrific politician. He was strong minded, possessed great energy, and had a brilliant speaking voice.
  • He hated communism, leading business to support him.

However, the Nazi Party was an extremist Party. There was a direct link between the number of votes and seats they had in the Reichstag, and the unemployment of Germany. Only when the German people were desperate, did they turn to Hitler.

So was his rise inevitable?

The Great Depression was the final nail in the coffin for Weimar. Under Stresemann, and his great foreign policy, they had begun to recover thanks to American help: The Dawes Plan. Germany borrowed an equivalent of £40 million from America, which they invested in long term projects, as well as paying off reparations (which were also lowered).

Weimar needed one thing - time. Sadly, this wasn't allowed, as on 29th October, 1929, the Wall Street Crash occurred in America. This sunk the world into depression, but Germany was particularly hard hit, thanks to their dependence on America through the Dawes Plan. America stopped all loans, and demanded reparations. Even worse for Germany, Stresemann had died the same month.

It was a crucial turning point. Weimar was unable to handle it, as they had been with the hyperinflation. Their response was to raise taxes, cut down unemployment benefit, and lower wages of public officials. This didn't work as in 1932, there were 6 million Germans unemployed. Desperate, many turned to Hitler.

In July 1932, the Nazi Party gained 230 seats in the Reichstag out of 608. They were the biggest single party in Germany, but it was still not enough to have the majority. There is a theory now, then that Hitler's rise was inevitable, only a matter of time.

However, in November, 1932, another vote showed Nazi popularity had decreased, to 196 seats. Had the Nazis, then had their peak? Could Weimar have bared it?

We'll never know. Ironically, it was thanks to the government that Hitler came to power. Von Papen and Von Schliecher thought they could use Hitler. They thought if they let him inside the government, he would be a much greater threat than if he was outside, and so managed to convince the aging President Hindenberg to appoint Hitler as Chancellor.

Hitler became Chancellor, and soon destroyed democracy. Was it inevitable? I don't think so. If the government had stood up to him, rather than planned to use him, Hitler wouldn't have been able to gain power. The poll of November shows this. Weimar probably would have still fallen, but it would not necessarily have been Hitler who took over.

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All text copyright © 2006 to EJ Taylor. Page Template created by James Taylor. Site created: 10 April, 2006. Last revised: 2 August, 2015