Nazis Take Power.
Here we shall explore why the Weimar Republic collapsed and how Hitler came to power. What was it that caused the Germans to vote for him and how he went about creating levers of power for himself. It will also elaborate on how Hitler crushed opposition even within his own party.
At the start of 1933, the Weimar government, after 15 years in office, had little real support in the country. Although the Nazis did not have an overall majority, they were the largest single party. No other party could match them in their propaganda or in their loyalty of support. Regardless of actual figures the Nazis could project the illusion of superiority over their rivals. This was because the people of Germany wanted change and had become more than disillusioned with the Weimar government. The communist threats, the Jewish menace, unemployment, the injustice of the Versailles settlement, the uncertainty of the economy were all contributing factors to the rise of Nazi-ism.
Hitler’s ability to appeal across the range of classes had already borne fruit in the Harzburg Front of October 1931, a grouping of the various conservative forces on the political right. The Front brought the Nazi party was come forums and gave it the air of respectability it needed in order to ultimately secure power. The July 1932 election indication of how far the National Socialists had gained in popularity; they doubled their previous vote and won twice as many seats in the Reichstag. However, it must be said, the rise of the Nazis was not inevitable and under a different economic climate may not have ever secured power. This fact is borne out by the November 1932 election in which the National Socialists saw the loss of 34 seats. Only two months later, Hitler was to take office as Chancellor. Hitler’s success was not, therefore, simply a matter of popular support. It owed as much to his skill as an opportunist in outmanoeuvring a set of conservative politicians who thought they could render him harmless by inviting him into office. Events were to prove that they had toolkit misjudged Hitler and the situation.
The aging Weimar president Von Hindenburg refused to acknowledge Hitler and the Nazis and tried by juggling his ministerial appointments to keep the conservative character of the government, knowing that if the Nazis were admitted to power they would destroy the Weimar Republic. From 1930 to 1933 three different chancellors tried, without much success, to govern through a series of coalitions. The Nazis grew impatient and Hitler refused to yield to their desires to overthrow the government by force arguing that legal power was the only way forward. He had, since 1924, advocated this route to power and always believed that sooner or later the Nazis would have the majority and after that – Germany.
In January 19 turkey tree Hindenburg agreed to appoint Hitler as Chancellor but only after he had been assured by cabinet ministers that Hitler would be far less dangerous in office then out, because it would be easier to control him but, as time would tell, Hitler was far beyond control. Hitler introduced an Enabling Act which suspended the Weimar Constitution and granted him full power to govern in his own right. Two significant events accord in the prelude to the final ascension to power Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party; the burning of the Reichstag building and Nazi success in what was to prove the last Reichstag election.
On the night he became Chancellor Hitler declared war on spiritual, political and cultural nihilism. He further demanded the Germany should not sink into communist anarchy. Less than a month later and Hitler had a golden opportunity to demonstrate his resolution when a Dutch communist set fire to the Reichstag building in Berlin. The arsonist was allegedly working alone and so it was not difficult for the Nazis to denounce the act as part of a large-scale communist plot.
Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister manipulated Hitler’s fury and declared that only the Nazi party could save Germany from a red Revolution. Hermann Goering used the SA to terrorize other political parties and the campaign proved highly successful. The party fold increased and it is now beyond doubt that the Nazis had more popular support than any other party, resistance to Hitler within the government collapsed.
In the early 1930s the Weimar Republic had been deemed a failure and the intense nationalism of the Nazi party seemed a better proposition the Germans than any other pro-Soviet regime. Hitler had convinced the nation that he understood the needs of the people and promised salvation. The German middle classes and industrialists were already angry with the Weimar governments when Hitler proffered redemption from an ever deepening recession that was crippling the country. People admired Hitler’s stand on the rights of Germany as a nation in Europe and his condemnation of that Versailles Treaty. He further promised full support to the millions of Germans who by the terms of the 1919 peace settlement had been placed under foreign governments not of their choosing. The entire deal was far too attractive for all those disillusioned by the Weimar Republic’s failure to defend German interests abroad.
In Mein Kampf Hitler insisted that one person must have absolute authority and bear all responsibility. This was a basic principle of Nazi-ism and he quickly made himself the absolute leader by using a mixture of bribery and threats to dissuade opponents from attending the Reichstag. The result was that the Enabling Act, which would allow him absolute control was passed by an overwhelming majority. There was now no restriction on Hitler who had no reservations about destroying the power of the Reichstag. It has served its purpose and from now on it was simply be a chamber for endorsing his policies and a platform from which he could address the nation. Hitler was quick to build on his success. Within a year of the Enabling Act, he had destroyed trade unions and brought all Parliaments in all the individual German states under total Nazi control and, by outlawing all opposition groups, turned Germany into a one-party state. The end of democracy had arrived.
In June 1934 in what was later labelled “the Night of the Long knives”; Hitler moved to rid himself of his old friend and comrade in the Munich putsch and now leader of the SA Ernst Rohm. Hitler had fears that Rohm had plans of his own and rather than wait for these plans to transpire he orchestrated a fake scenario that culminated in Rohm losing his life. These events clearly demonstrated Hitler’s ruthlessness and were a clear signal to the German people, to whom he publicly admitted the events, but justified them by declaring he had the right to delete execute traitors because he was now the Supreme Judge.
Following the death of Hindenburg in August 1934 Hitler added the Presidency to his Chancellorship. His supreme power was recognized in his adaption of the title Führer, which, from this time on, was his official title. Hitler was now absolute ruler and Supreme Commander of the German Armed Forces and as such was now in total political and military control. The German Army adopted an oath of unconditional loyalty to the Fuehrer which meant this loyalty was to Hitler personally, not simply to him as head of state. Hitler and his armed forces had a special relationship that was ultimately to prove tragic, since military loyalty prevented any challenge to the Fuehrer’s decisions even when these were militarily absurd.
In the elections of March 1936, a mockery of democracy, Hitler won 98.9% of the vote in a contest in which the Nazis were the only contenders. However, what is significant here is the fact that the overwhelming majority of the German people idolized Hitler who had led them, or so they believed, into new levels of national pride.