Why was Hitler able to rise to power in Germany in 1933?

Essay by greggy August 2003

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On 30th January 1933, Hindenburg received Hitler in audience and appointed him chancellor. It came as a shock to some people but many believed that Hitler's rise to power was inevitable. Some state that Hitler could not have risen to power in any country other than Germany, implying that he was nothing more than a product of German culture. Others say that Hitler rose to power by means of his political genius. And yet still others claim that it was the weak democratic government of the Weimar Republic, and Germany's social and economic scene in the 1930's that made the people restless and ready for a dictator to come to power.

There was no single reason for Hitler's rise to power. However the main reasons were that the political and economic chaos of the 1920's and the 1930's joined forces with German culture that enabled Hitler to rise to power.

Both play an equal part. Together, both created a unique situation for Hitler's rise. Hitler was in part a product of German culture. German culture at the time stood out as particularly aggressive and racist. The values and ideas found in this culture's history inspired Hitler to do many things that he did and can explain in part why he felt the way he did on certain issues. For example there were talks of the master race in the past history of Germany by the German philosophers, which might have given Hitler his ideas on the Aryan race. Many people believe that German culture is by nature racist, militaristic, and anti-Semitic. Germany was an opportune place for Hitler to come to power. German people, feeling confused by the social and economic chaos of the 1920's and 1930's could do nothing but gravitate towards someone like Hitler.

Hitler had answers for everyone's problems. He promised to restore order and greatness. And many people accepted Hitler with open arms. Which was partly due to poor alternatives and due to the fact that Hitler told the people what they wanted to hear. Since at the time the German people were without jobs resulting from the crises and were open to anyone who promised to bring back social order and economic control. Hitler promised both of these things. The German people would have supported almost any candidate who could have made them feel as Hitler did. They wanted to feel good about themselves and about their country so they opened their arms to the person who made them feel this way.

In addition to that due to the Wall Street crash the increase in economic trouble in Germany in the late 30s ironically helped the Nazis gain voters, as they claimed to have all the answers. People who had never voted before in their lives rapidly became die-hard Nazis followers. In the 1932 elections, the Nazi party received more votes than any other. The election results a total of around 13 million votes showed that Hitler had gained a lot of support. Which assumingly came through a lot of campaigning, which might have been probably due to Hitler allying with a crucial group, the elite and the big businesses.

As fear of the Left was rapidly growing, the thought of worker riots exploding all over Germany and anxious to rebuild from the economic disaster of the 1930s, capitalists were starting to support the Nazi party more strongly. At this point businessmen and the elite saw Hitler as a politician who would not hold up business. To ensure his success, big businesses and the Elite in Germany supported Hitler financially. Which then enabled Hitler to campaign more and he could now afford to do things like using modern technology to publicise the Nazi party more widely. The elite had now also realised that they no longer needed to support the weak Republic. Since they saw Hitler as a better alternative and now believed that they could get Hitler into power and eventually control the SS/SA through Hitler to benefit them.

Industry was ready enough to tolerate a Hitler cabinet and had little love for Weimar; nevertheless, heavy industry and the elite exerted only marginal influence on Hitler's appointment. Since the political situation caused by the Reichstag's unwillingness to assume responsibility and by the unwillingness of both Nazis and Communists to seize power was the influence exerted by the president's political advisers. The tireless efforts from both Papen and Schleicher made both of them seem unfit to stay in power. As they made each other seem negative in Hindenburg's eyes. As a result Hindenburg ran out of many candidates that could take control of the chancellor position. However Schleicher did unwillingly become chancellor after he had convinced Hindenburg that Papen's policies of establishing martial law and amending the constitution would cause a civil war. Schleicher believed that he could get into power by exploiting the healthy nazi movement, which he believed was easy to tame and exploit by skilful political manipulation. However nothing went right for Schleicher when he was chancellor. Schleicher was never able to dodge the mistrust of the socialists, centrists and was never close to dividing the Nazi's. Therefore Schleicher finally admitted that he couldn't obtain majority in the Reichstag. Which than led to Schleicher's expulsion.

After Schleicher had failed Papen persuaded Hindenburg that a viable alternative to Schleicher now existed. The Nazi's and Nationalists would have a reasonable chance of obtaining a majority in the Reichstag. However Hindenburg was still a little bit hesitant, he wasn't very keen on appointing Hitler as chancellor. Probably due to the fact that Hindenburg wasn't very fond of Hitler, since he had refused Hitler total power on a couple of occasions earlier on. The Nazi's were also suffering from a great deal problems. As Hitler was running very short of funds by 1933 the Nazi party was on the verge of bankruptcy. However this wasn't the only problem the Nazi's and Hitler faced. As Nazi's were now losing votes as well as money. The Nazi party had lost 2 million on the November Elections in 1932. Which was partly due to the fact that Hitler and his party had failed to take power on various occasions. So therefore the more restless Nazi followers drifted over to the extreme left instead. Which probably explains the slight increase in the communist vote in the November elections. All this meant that the Nazi's were heading towards a freefall and it looked as though their position was going to be lost. However two days after Schleicher's resignation on 30th January 1933 Hitler was appointed chancellor. The main reason behind Hitler's appointed at this time is likely to be the scandal on Hindenburg. In which the budget committee of the Reichstag discovered that public money was misused. Speculation about this grew and Hindenburg and his relatives were implicated in the fraud. So therefore Hindenburg drew all the attention from himself towards Hitler by making Hitler chancellor

In contrast to that by looking at all the conclusive facts and arguments the sensible conclusion that can be reached is that Hitler came to power due to a combination of many different reasons. However a skilful historian can say that the backbone of Hitler's rise was based on the great economic instability of the time, which enabled Hitler to exploit the situation, and the craftiness of the backstairs intrigue. Secondly the problems with the constitution (article 48), which undermined German Democracy, the weak and illegitimate Republic that was widely hated, the fear of the left by the elite and the Republic, and the influences of the German culture on Hitler, which gave Hitler the Ideas that had shaped his way of thinking. All this together helped in portraying the perfect picture in Hitler's rise to power in Germany in January 1933.