Nazi movement Essay

This essay has a total of 3546 words and 15 pages.

nazi movement



There is no single answer as to why the Nazis were able to gain so much support during the
1920's; there are several, and people still argue about them. Some people - especially
during the Second World War - suggested that the Nazi movement grew out of something
basically wrong in the German character. However, modern historians recognise that a
combination of factors such as Hitler's personality and mesmerising oratory skills, the
problems with the Weimar Republic, the Nazi's effective use of propaganda, Hitler's
exploitation of the Dolchstoss myth and the German people's fear of communism and the
Great Depression all aided the National Socialist Workers' Party (NSDAP, or Nazi Party) in
attracting growing support throughout the 1920's.


According to Robert Gibson and Jon Nichol in their book Germany, the reasons for Hitler's success were:
1. The Nazi Party was well organised;
2. People feared the Communists;
3. Hitler was a good speaker;
4. Few people like the governments of the Weimar Republic;
5. Hitler's ideas were popular;
6. There was an agricultural depression;
7. There was mass unemployment;
8. The Communists thought that the Social Democrats were a greater danger than the Nazis;
9. Industrialists supported Hitler.

These and other factors all contributed to the increasing support of the Nazi Party in the 1920's.

Hitler, the leader of the NSDAP, was suave, charismatic and always impressive. He would
always arrive at functions and meetings in a Mercedes and had extensive visits to the most
exclusive hotels in Germany. Hitler had a very memorable personality, and it has been
stated that "There is no question that it was the personality of Hitler that held the
NSDAP together ... and was the party's main weapon." Hitler was above all of this a
passionate and emotive speaker who, some would argue, captured his audiences' attention
with greater ease than any other figure in history. "He shone in print and positively
dazzled on the lecture platform."


Even an American journalist realised Hitler's ability to grasp people's attention with his
speeches, and commented that "When, at the climax [of a speech] he sways from one side to
the other his listeners sway with him; when he leans forward and when ends they are either
awed or silent or on their feet in a frenzy." Hitler's remarkable ability to capture and
entrance his audiences is demonstrated by the fact that Hitler, unlike any of his
contemporaries, could actually charge admission for his speeches! Obviously, the fact that
Hitler was such a popular speaker was a major reason why the Nazi Party was able to
attract growing support in the 1920's. Hitler's impressive nature was a major contributing
factor to the Nazi Party's electoral landslides in the late twenties.


Although the war was over, the militarism and fondness for military tradition remained
strong in Germany. With their processions, military bands, leaflets and sheer energy, the
Nazis attracted massive interest and appealed to the soft spot that many Germans had for
the Prussian military style, with discipline and pride. The marches, often by the SA (Nazi
Storm troopers), had a huge presence and were very impressive. Albert Speer, a leading
Nazi made the comment: "my mother saw a Storm Trooper parade ... the sight of discipline
in a time of chaos, the impression of energy in an atmosphere of universal hopelessness,
seems to have won her over also."


The sight of these parades was very emotive for some German people, and those who
respected the militaristic values that Germany had previously stood for were very
supportive of Hitler. The ideal of discipline appealed to many, and although the Nazi
Party was quite small, it was a tightly controlled, highly disciplined organisation. This
is one reason why the Nazis gained growing support during the 1920's. The opportunity of
serving in the SA gave unemployed men the opportunity to at least earn a few pfennigs. In
this manner, the Nazis were gaining support from the unemployed who traditionally favoured
the socialists and communists. This is also an example of why the Nazis continued to grow
in popularity as they were able to attract Germans from the right who appreciated the
militarism displayed, whilst also attracting those from the left - unemployed men exciting
at the opportunity to do something worthwhile.


Kurt Ludecke, who personally knew Hitler stated that "Only one thing was managed
marvellously from the beginning - the propaganda, Hitler's personal hobby and perhaps his
strongest point."


Hitler revealed in his extremely cynical writings in Mein Kamph (My Sruggle - a book that
was largely composed whilst in prison after the Beer Hall Putsch), that he had a brilliant
grasp of the principles of propaganda, ahead of many of his contemporaries. Hitler was
portrayed by his propagandists as a saviour, who could fight big business and the working
class on behalf of the ‘small man' who was being neglected. One of Hitler's key propaganda
experts, Dr. Josef Goebbels portrayed Hitler as a ‘modern monk' who worked tirelessly for
Germany. This is a perfect example of why the Nazis gained growing support during the
1920's, they were using the media to convince the German people of Hitler's supreme
leadership credentials. Hitler cleverly manipulated the media so that he was portrayed in
the most positive light possible, and the Germans were effectively brainwashed.


Hitler promised to "restore honour to the Germans, to renew political order and to bring
back ‘work and bread'". Prior to the world Depression that started around 1928, Hitler
devoted much of his political energy to the working class. However, the Nazis found it
very difficult to attract considerable support for these groups who stubbornly stood by
socialist parties such as the SPD and KPD. So when Germany came under an agricultural
depression that pre-empted the global depression that followed, Hitler turned his focus to
rural Germans, who would be looking for someone to offer them solutions.


Hitler promised impoverished small farmers, rural traders, skilled workers and peasants
cheap credits, the abolition of numerous taxes and help in reconstruction of their farming
enterprises. "The peasants, the Nazis said, were of true German blood and their life was
the true German life. They had shamefully been neglected by the Weimar Republic." Hitler
told the people of the land that under a Nazi Government, rural people would be the most
important people in Germany.


These rural Germans were on the brink of bankruptcy and starvation and welcomed these
promises. This is another reason why the Nazi party attracted so much support during the
1920's. They promised a plethora of wondrous concessions and aids to a large group of
voting Germans, who would be anxious to accept the Nazi's promises. Being in such a poor
state, the agricultural sector of German society were eager to find someone to blame. As
Geoff Spencely state: "The Nazis adopted the slogan ‘Blood and Soil' and offered the
discontented rural community a scapegoat in the form of Jews. It was a potent mixture for
success."


Hitler also made many other flashy promises to the German people. One such promise came
after the Young Plan was signed, tying Germany to thirty seven annual reparations payments
rising from 1700 million gold marks to 2400 million gold marks, and then a further twenty
one annual payments at a level of 1700 million gold marks. This meant that Germany would
be paying reparations at an average annual level of just over 2000 gold marks until 1988!
When this was announced, Hitler stated that he would not pay reparations and condemned the
Weimar Government's decision to agree to the Plan. On this matter, Hitler found an ally in
Alfred Hugenburg, leader of the largest conservative party - the German National People's
Party. Hugenburg controlled a massive media empire, and used this to campaign against the
Young Plan and ‘The Enslavement of the German People' as they called it. Although this
attempt to stop the signing of the controversial document was unsuccessful, Hitler was
given national publicity, and was given notoriety as a politician who strongly opposed the
constraints set upon Germany after the embarrassing loss in World War One. As resentment
over the loss of the war was still rife within Germany, Hitler's stance on the reparations
issue gained admiration, and added to his popularity. This is another reason why the Nazi
Party attracted growing support during the 1920's. The Nazis promised to stop reparations
to the victors of the First World War, end unemployment, give a strong leadership and they
attacked immigrants and particularly Jews.


Another, earlier, incident that gave Hitler national publicity was his attempt to
overthrow the Weimar Government in the Munich, or Beer Hall, Putsch of 1923. Once again,
Hitler's attempt at assuming power was a miserable failure, with Hitler scuttling off in a
car soon after the first shot was fired. However, this putsch was what first brought
Hitler to national prominence. This was a stepping block in Hitler's plan to take power.
Yet another example is Hitler's attempt to win the Presidency. Although this was also
unsuccessful, with Hindenburg attaining a second term, Hitler was impressive in his
ability to take Hindenburg to a second vote; capturing 13 million votes. Hitler was able
to gain more publicity, and grew in stature in the public's eye.


To say that the events of 1918 came as a great shock to Germans is probably an
understatement. The war had been launched in a wave of patriotism, unity, and optimism in
1914. In the East, the war had gone particularly well for Germany, victory had seemed
within her grasp. The defeat, armistice, and the crushing terms of the Versailles Treaty
therefore left many Germans in a state of shock about the course of events. As a result,
many believed and found solace in various conspiracy theories that appeared. It was a
conspiracy that the Jewish had "stabbed Germany in the back", holding protests and
sabotaging the war effort, while Germany's brave heroes remained undefeated at the front.
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