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Hitler's rise and acquisition of power in 1933 is an amazing feat.

This section looks at the route

to Hitler gaining power.
The Nazi Party started out as a small party in Bavaria called the German worker's party. They
were opposed to the Treaty of Versailles and Communism. The party was borne out of the
dismay at the defeat in the First World War and a horror at the severity of the terms imposed
upon Germany by the Allies. It was this party that Hitler joined, initially as a spy! Hitler soon
became one of the leading lights of the party, his inspiring rhetoric and enthusiasm for the cause
propelling him to the leadership of the small party very quickly.
The party, soon renamed to the National and Socialist German Workers Party, adopted a 25 point
program of points that formed the basis of their political manifesto. It was on the strength of their
belief in these points that the Nazi's as they were now known, chose to take force in a coup d' etat
in Munich. The coup was unsuccessful, despite an initial success in reaching it's objectives of
seizing power. Hitler was thrown into prison and the party was, it seemed, destroyed.
In prison Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, which later became a best seller. Upon his release from
prison the party was radically restructured, yet it's support remained localised and insignificant in
terms of national politics. Throughout the 'Golden Years' of the Weimar Republic Hitler had little
to offer the majority of Germans. the treaty of Versailles was gradually being amended and the
economy was picking up. Extreme views, such as those held by the Nazi party, were not popular
within this period.
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 provided the spark that allowed the Nazi's to gain support. All of a
sudden the support of the American's and the aid pans were withdrawn, Germany was again

isolated and the economy was in crisis. The rise in Unemployment and a renewed fear of a
Communist uprising gave Hitler's messages a new importance. people were again interested in
the views of this extremist party. In a land where the government was struggling to control the
economy, the people and the communists any alternative that appears to be willing, and able, to
combat the problems, through whatever means, is seen in a very positive light.
This resurgence in nazi fortunes is clearly visible from election results. From having little or no
say in the national picture in the 'Golden years' the nazi's rose rapidly to become the dominant
force in the elections of 1932: although they won no overall majority in these elections. By 1933,
Hitler was viewed by many as the only man who could halt the rapid slide towards an economic
and political shambles. Other senior politicians within Germany, despite their worries about
Hitler's methods and political leanings, turned to him and his party, partly through desperation.
The end of the Weimar republic was nigh, the nazi's, in the space of 5 years had turned from
obscurity to masterdom of the German Republic.
There are a number of reasons why the nazi's rose to prominence in such a short period of time:
Hitler's speeches were inspiring, he was a great public speaker who could enthuse the masses and
ignite a sense of belief. his policies made sense and were aimed at the areas of politics that the
German masses were resentful of i.e. the treaty of Versailles and reparations. his party were
highly organised, flexible in their views (in the eyes of the electorate) and made promises that
would benefit all sectors of the population. Further to this was the nazi's open, and forceful
opposition to communism and the impressive use of force and discipline to engineer success for
themselves. these characteristics were highly valued in a Germany where law and order were
being constantly threatened.

Add to this the weaknesses of the Weimar government itself. Proportional representation had led
to a series of weak and ineffectual governments, it allowed the nazi's to become serious players
without having a mass of public support. The government was perceived as being at fault for
signing the treaty of Versailles and had lost support on several occasions for mismanaging the
economic crisis. Hitler offered a feasible solution to each of these faults and so gained support
and ultimately power.
It must not be forgotten that there was already a long history of Anti-Semitism in Germany. It
was not created by the Nazis. Yet, the 2000 year old roots of Anti-Semitism found a variant strain
in Germany that was based on racial as well as social resentment. By 1900 there were many
specifically anti-Jewish political parties with seats in the Reichstag. They were not large in
number but their ideas were almost always heard.
It is no co-incidence that the rise in German antipathy and aversion to the Jews occurred at a time
of great national reconstruction and emergence after unification. In reality, we should not be
surprised at all. The end of the war, 1918, saw the Jew become an easy target for the radical-right
seeking an explanation of how Germany had lost the war. The Jewish community was
identifiable because of its different traditions and became the target of envy for it was seen as
In 1933, the Jews comprised of less than 1% of the national population. But they composed of
16%+ of all lawyers, 10% of doctors and 5% of writers and editors. It was not unusual for the

Jew to attract such disproportionate notice in Germany - even so, these figures are unusually
Eugenics and Biology
The late 19th Century saw an intellectual shift and attraction towards eugenics and biological
classification of race. This debate was already 100 years old when Hitler adapted it into Mein
Essentially it centred upon the theory that nations were like animals and only through struggle
and fighting could they hope to survive. This 'Survival of the Fittest' had been expanded upon by
the philosopher Fredrich Nizeche. He called it, 'The Theory of the Superman'. In this way,
Nazism and Nazi theory was being delivered in an intellectual manner. It was seen as acceptable
and respectable. As such, Nazi ideology and theory was able to permeate into the larger and
broader sections of respectable German society that would have ordinarily have occurred.
"....Ominously, it was particularly strongly entrenched within the academic community, thereby
influencing the next generation...." (Noakes, 1983)

Anti-Semitism: Natural or Created?

In such an environment it was natural that anti-Semitism would germinate (and even take root).
It was all the more effective due to the size of Hitler's personal hatred and contempt for the Jews.
Without his own personal involvement, charismatic commitment and oratory skill it is
questionable whether anti-Semitism would have been so central and the results would have been

so dynamic and shocking as they were in 1945. That he was able to create the monster that was
the Nazi state must be bound upon in the unique circumstances of 1930s Germany:
* Stab in the back
* Loss of the War
* Humiliation at Versailles
* Reparations
* Political Weakness of Weimar
* Social and economic crisis and extremism: 1919-23 and 1929-33
* Massive unemployment: 1929-33

In this atmosphere it is not unexpected to find a public lurch towards the radical answers of the
right and the answers that Hitler will have had. All the more, Hitler was able to exploit latent
hostility towards the Jews and turn it into a radical doctrine (set of guidelines) of hatred.

Hitler - His Appointment

The appointment of Hitler as chancellor -an open anti-Semite, rabble-rouser and vigilante
(Munich Putsch, 1923) - is problematic. He gained 37% of the vote in 1933. Even more, a survey
of complaints about the new regime in 193 found that over 60% did not mention anti-Semitism.
So, how did Hitler's policy develop from a simple rabble-rousing, angry message into the
doctrine of a nation and an image of a people