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How did Hitler become leader of the Nazis?
Germanys defeat in 1918 left Hitler extremely bitter and, like many other Germans, he needed a
scapegoat, someone to blame for the defeat. He blamed the defeat on the communists and the
Jews, who he felt stabbed the German army in the back. After the war he returned to Munich.
He was still employed by the army to check up on extremist groups in Munich. In September 1919
Hitler was sent to a meeting of a small extremist group known as the German workers party., which
had been set up earlier that year by Anton Drexler. It only had 6 members and within a week, Hitler
had joined. This was partly because he was impressed with the partys ideas. Hitler realised that he
had more chance of becoming leader of a small group rather than a bigger one.
In February 1920 he advertised a meeting and almost 2,000 people attended. At this Hitler
announced the party's new name: the nationalist socialist German workers party, or the Nazis.
Hitler attracted an increasing number of followers for the party. By 1921 he was strong enough to
challenge Drexler and take over the leadership.
What were the main features of the early Nazi party, 1920- 1922?
The Nazi party was based in Munich but it soon began to spread to other parts of Germany. The Nazis
published their own newspapers to spread their ideas and received support from extreme
nationalists and anti- communists. By 1922 the Nazi party had 6,000 members, rising to 50,000 two
Hitler himself designed the Nazi flag. The three colours, red, white and black, had been the colours of
the German flag under the Kaiser. Red represented the socialist part of the party, the white the
nationalist and the swastika itself Hitler's racial views.
Hitler encouraged many people to join the Nazi party. He put great faith in the spoken word, and
stage-managed and rehearsed his speeches carefully.
In 1921 Hitler set up the Sturm Abteilung (SA) also known as the stormtroopers. It attracted many ex
soldiers, especially from the freikorps. The SA would disrupt the meetings of Hitler's opponents and
often beat up opposition supporters.
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The party programme
Nationalism appealed with the promise to destroy the treaty of Versailles
Socialism appealed to the workers. The Nazis promised to give workers a share in company
profits, to nationalise big companies and to share out land for the benefit of everyone.
Anti Semitism or hatred of the Jews appealed to those Germans who needed a scapegoat
for German defeat and also those who were resentful of Jewish wealth.
Hitler hated communism and promised to remove the threat of the German communism