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Hitlers Rise To Power
Hitler’s Rise To Power
Who or what was responsible for Hitler’s rise to power? Many believe that there was only one factor for his rise to power. Some state that Hitler could not have risen to power in any other than Germany, implying that he was nothing more than a product of German culture. Others say that Hitler made himself dictator by means of his political genius. And yet still others claim that it was the weak democratic government of the Weimar Republic or 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 sole cause for Hitler’s rise to power. There were two. 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 reasons fit together like pieces of a puzzle, to create a unique situation for Hitler’s rise.
Hitler was in part a product of German culture. German culture stands 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 (Stern).
Hundreds of years before Hitler emerged, German philosophers and artist preached an almost religious worship of the state. They discussed the idea of the master race, and created a mythology of German heroism that encouraged loyalty to the group and glorified death for the country. Hitler and many Germans like him, was an enthusiastic student of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel who argued that the State “has the supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be a member of the State.” Hegel foresaw in the early 1800’s that “Germany’s hour” would come and that the country’s mission would be to redevelop the world. A German hero would complete this mission (Landry).
Like Hegel, another German philosopher more directly portrayed the conventionality and obedience necessary for a secure State. Heinrich von Treitschke espoused that it was of no consequence what you thought about anything, just as long as you obeyed German law. Germany’s tradition also produced Friedrich Nietzsche who preached the coming of a master race and the superman who would conquer, impose a glorified state, and purify the master race. Finally, German legends were full of heroes and heroines like Hagen, Siegfried, and Brunhild, who were so superbly depicted in Richard Wagner’s opera, the Nibelungenlied. Heroes such as those, inspired Germans including Hitler, to think of themselves as larger than life and capable of bringing great glory to Germany through both life and death (Thomas, Landry, Bruch, Richard Wagner on the Web).
In addition to German philosophers and artists, Germany, more than any other state in Europe, had a history of militarism that ran deep. Great warriors like Frederick III inspired the creation of 18th and 19th century Prussia, laying the roots of 20th century
Germany. The Prussian state was put together on the design of conquest and was lead by a cruelly disciplined army and a narrow bureaucracy that strictly followed commands without question. The classic picture of the Nazi soldier following traditional values with his fellow soldiers was born in this Prussian past that was always highly militaristic, conventional, and hungry for conflict (Frederick of Prussia).
With this aggressive past, it was inevitable that Anti-Semitism—hatred towards the Jews—would be rooted deep in German culture for centuries. Hitler was not the origin of this prejudice. Jews were looked down upon for many reasons. They were often bankers or held positions that dealt with money. Their customs made them stand out from other Germans and many Germans believed that Jews had more devotion to their religion than to their state. The Jews religion was alien to the German’s, which was predominantly Christian. German myths often glorified blonde, blue-eyed heroes—a start contrast to the usually darker colored Jew. This violent hatred of the Jews was sung in German operas, written in German philosophy and later, embraced by its leaders (Levy/Hitler). German culture is by nature racist, militaristic, and anti-Semitic. Germany was an opportune place for Hitler to come to power. This is one of the few cultures that could have produced such a hateful aggressor.
Not only did Germany’s culture help Hitler come to power, but also Germany’s social and economic scene in the 1930’s was desperate and ready for a dictator to emerge. 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 them He promised to restore order and greatness. Almost anyone could have stepped in his place, spoke the same words, and achieved the same hold over the people as Hitler did. (Stern).
First and most important, Germany experienced severe economic distress in the wake of the Versailles Treaty. Inflation brought the major crisis of this period because it caused the value of German money to fall dramatically, so much that German printing presses had difficulty providing enough paper currency to keep up with the daily rise in prices. Money was literally not worth the paper it was printed on. Many had to sell their most precious belongings to buy just a bit of food or an absolutely necessary toiletry. Those people never forgot the hardships they endured and were the first to lend a willing ear to Hitler’s passionate preaching. Bewildered and penniless, without jobs due to high prices, the Germans were open to anyone who promised to bring back social order and economic control. Hitler promised both of these things (Jochen, Effects of World War I).
Now people were left no alternative but Hitler’s dictatorship. They blamed the democrats of the Weimar Republic who betrayed them at Versailles and bro
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