How Did Hitler Come to Power in 1933?


Adolf Hitler was a very lucky man throughout his lifeÉ

It was November 1918 and Germany signed the armistice ending the First World War. Private 1st Class A. Hitler was in an army hospital being treated for a shrapnel wound to the head when he heard the news. Like many other Germans, he was shocked and angry about the surrender as the fighting never reached Germany. Soon after the Treaty of Versailles was signed which detailed the handover of German land and colonies and the reduction of armed forces. The majority of Germans felt, Hitler included, that this was highly unfair; they suffered and starved for nothing. This document provided him a voice with which to address his views to the German public.

Hitler could not have come to power without two main events that happened in the run-up to 1933:

The Great Depression in 1929, in which Germany was hit hardest because the USA withdrew their loans to them (Dawes Plan), saw unemployment rise rapidly and trade plummet. As in most cases, faced with an extreme problem, people search for an extreme answer; it came in two forms: The Communist Party and the NSDAP (National Socialist German WorkerÕs Party) or Nazi for short (Nationalsozialistische). The communists were a left-wing party who believed in equality of the people, abolition of the middle classes and the working proletariat to rule. This did not suit the tastes of the Middle and upper classes, as they would lose a considerable chunk of their wealth if the Communists came into power. The Nazis on the other hand, with which Hitler was a member, were a very right-wing party. They blamed others for GermanyÕs problems and appealed to a large spectrum of people by using deliberately vague policies about how they could improve Germany. In HitlerÕs speech on becoming elected as chancellor, he said that he would increase workersÕ wages and increase profits for the companies. This does not make sense, as Hitler would have to pull money out of nowhere to maintain this promise. They also built on peopleÕs fears of communism and made scapegoats of the ÔNovember criminalsÕ, the Weimar government that signed the Treaty of Versailles, the Nazi seats in the Reichstag over the Depression rose from 12 by just less than 2000% to 230. Headed by the most charismatic leader of the time, Hitler, the Nazis looked favourites over the Communists as the winner of the next general election following the depression.

A serious miscalculation in 1933 by leading politicians also helped Hitler to come into power. The Ôback-door intrigueÕ as it was known was a plan formulated by Franz von Papen, a failed Chancellor and friend of President Hindenburg, to get his own back on Schleicher, the man who replaced him as chancellor. He executed this plan by convincing the aging Hindenburg that Hitler, suicidal after losing votes in the July 1932 elections and who had public support, could be manipulated to do as they pleased. Hindenburg was reluctant at first as in the previous year; the working-class Hitler had stood against him for President. The President had the emergency powers of Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which could take away civil liberties and use force to restore order. If a state of emergency was declared, the President could rule like a dictator. Hitler lost the election but 19 million votes to 13 million, a narrow margin. In losing the election, more and more people backed Hitler and Nazi support rose.

In July of that year the Nazi Party, winning 230 seats, were by far the largest party but unfortunately for them, the Proportional Representation system of voting used by Germany at that time did not give them a majority in the Reichstag, so a coalition with another party was needed. Hitler would still have been elected; being the leader of the largest party, but Hindenburg used Article 53; Hitler had to be ÔpassedÕ by the President as fit for the chancellorship. However, Hindenburg did not like Hitler so he did not allow Hitler the role of chancellor. Von Papen was elected and when he was proved useless, Schleicher got the job, von Papen was not happy so he thought up the Ôback-door intrigueÕ.

When Hitler was ÔelectedÕ as