Hitler's Germany and the coming of the Second World War

Essay by davermUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, April 2007

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There has been much debate regarding the causes and responsibility for the origin of the Second World War. Following the declaration of the Allied victory in 1945, popular opinion placed responsibility solely on the shoulders of the defeated Axis, particularly Nazi Germany and its Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler. A more removed examination of the international situation, however, reveals the European nations’ unwillingness to provoke another conflict also contributed to WWII.

Hitler’s ascent to power began with Germany’s defeat in the First World War. Having had its imperial aspirations crushed, combined with the economic consequences of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany’s national pride had suffered a serious blow. The “War Guilt Clause” only served to further injure German national pride. Already unhappy with the German government, popular support for the nationalistic Nazi Party grew as the Party tailored its public image to cater to the German people’s injured national pride.

The Nazi Party’s political agenda was helped when the global market crashed on October 29th, 1929.

The still-recovering German economy was extremely vulnerable to global financial fluctuations, due to its reliance on foreign capital and trade. Popular opinion, manipulated carefully by Nazi propaganda, turned against the struggling German democratic government. When elections were called, the Nazis were able to win an unprecedented 107 seats in the German Parliament, (Reichstag) making them its second largest party.

Although popular support for the Nazi party was growing, when presidential elections were called in 1932, Hitler lost both the original and run-off elections to incumbent President Hindenberg. However, after much political tumult and careful manipulation, Hitler orchestrated his appointment as Chancellor on January 30th, 1933. A rapid succession of events following his appointment as leader solidified his control over Germany. The Reichstag fire, the passing of laws making opposition illegal and finally Hindenberg’s death cumulated in...