3.2) Germany: Appeal of Nazism and Communism:

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Electoral support, Nazi's and KPD till June

  • Nazi and Communist gained support during depression.
  • But Nazi's = better at broadening their appeal.
  • Before 1929, Key nazi supporters were lower-middle class.
  • The mittlestand, white collar workers, shop keepers  and craftsmen increased after the wall street crash.
  • They got more of the middle class and farmers support too.
  • Nazis promised farmers higher prices and protection on imports.
  • They got 70% of the vote in farming constituencies.
  • Middle class support grew over fear of communist revolution.
  • Nazi = dominant in Protestant North west Germany. 
  • 1932, 84 year old Hindenburg had to stand for presidiential election again, against KPD Thalmann, Nazi Hitler, and Duesterberg. 
  • Hindenburg won at the end after 2 bollots with a majority of 53%.
  • Hitler had got 37%.
  • After this there were state election which showed Nazis as the most popular party.
  • Nazis had more than 30% support in German states  in Prussia, Bavaria, Hamburg and Saxony.
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Electoral support for Nazi's and Communists till J

  • W.Class = half of the electorate.
  • Their votes = vital between Nazi and KPD.
  • Since 1919, many W.Class in industrial areas voted for SPD and KPD.
  • This continued until 1930. 
  • KPD support grew but was limited in big cities, had  support in poor areas like Berlin and by unemployed.
  • But Nazi's 1930 electin had 27% of manual labourers so they won W.Class too.
  • 3 elections between September 1930 and July 1932 = Nazi doubled support.
  • Communists could only please traditional supporters, but Nazis appealled to all classess, generations and regions.
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The appeal of Nazism:

Economic crises caused polarisation. Nazi came across energetic and offered change. They appealed to many for many reasons.


  • Their policy = first put in 25point programme which lasted till 1933.
  • But Hitler didn't agree with many of it's points.
  • In prison after failed putsch in 1923, he published Mein Kampf showing his true aim/ideas.
  • He policy wasn't original, he kept changing it depending on the audience.
  • Nazi propaganda outlined many key ideas.
    • Hitler and Nazis = seen as a force for change.
    • Nazi propaganda showed that power, strength and will to succeed was what Hitler had.
    • With Parades of SA, they came across as showing order and unity.
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The appeal of Nazism:

    • Struggle, violence and war = part of Nazi thinking. 
    • Hitler said his view of struggle and conflict between races was scientifically justified/natural.
    • For war he believed this as a way to reconstruct German society and a new Reich.
    • Propaganda showed loyalty and self-sacrifice as a military virtue.
    • Volksgemeinchaft/people's community = key part of Nazi ideology.
    • Only Aryans could be citizens, whilst others would be treated as subject, not recieving benefits.
    • No social class, all Germans would be equal to find their level in society.
    • All would work together for Germany, believe in traditional values and gain benefits.
    • Wanted a revolution of a 'new' man and woman, knowing their importance. 
    • But the revolution was backwarsd looking.
    • NSDAP was a name to attract W.Class and to distinguish them from the KPD.
    • 25 Points programme = econimically radical/anti-capitalism like the KPD policies.
    • E.g. Take no war profits, nationalise large companies, taking land from estates. 
    • Hitler wasnt committed to these and changed his message accoring to the audience.
    • After 1930, he met with businessmen like Hugenburg to assure them their companies were safe.
    • To Hitler Socialism and Volksgemeinchaft were the same. 
    • National to him meant love for all and social meant people act for the community.
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The appeal of Nazism:

    • Hitelr hated Weimar, Parliamentary democracy, it was weak and alien to Germany's tradition. 
    • He said Parliamentary democracy was linked to Communism and Jewish, a way to stop Aryan leadership. 
    • Weimar democracy was seen by Nazis as betrayal by the November criminals who stabbed Germany. 
    • This gave him the motive to destroy it and make a dictatorship, one party leadership/Fuherprinzip.
    • This was key to Hitler in 1925 as he was able to have complete control over policy in his party.
    • Hitler had 3 aims, to reverse humiliation of TofV, he said it was unlimited blackmail and would take back German lands.
    • Make a great German Reich, all Germans would live in the boarder of the state.
    • Secure Lebensraum/living space, provide needs for Germans to sustain a great power.
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The appeal of Nazism:

    • Hitler saw Jews as responsible for Germanys problems.
    • In propaganda, Jews = greedy, cunning and had selfish motives.
    • Seen as state parasites, no official country but tried to control other races. 
    • Jews were reason for evils of capitalism and communism.
    • Jews were to blame for the defeat in war, TofV, political weaknesses of Weimar.
    • Communism was seen as a Jewish creed to stop social cohesion of Germany.


  • 1929, Hitler = complete control over Nazi party. 
  • Skills and qualities were crucial to the party, to many, he had charisma.
  • His speeches were repeated and lies, he knew how to play peoples emotions and fears and tell them he had the answers.
  • He tailored his message to the audience and his appeal led to popularity.
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The appeal of Nazism:


  • Jews were used as a scapegoat for economic problems.
  • During the depression, shopkeepers and small businessmen now expressed their hidden Anti-semitism.
  • Ordinary Germans now faced with hardship were hearing what they wanted.
  • Nazi extremism faded as they promised work and bread. 
  • Many voted Nazi's in spite of Anti-semitism, not because of it.
  • Nazi propaganda was changed via local circumstances.
  • Sometimes Speeches were anti-semitic and weren't, e.g. dusseldorf speech.
  • Rise of the SA encouraged anti-semitism, 'Juda Verreck' = 'down with the jews' was used.
  • But joining SA wasn't only to beat up jews but for free meals, anti-communism etc...
  • Statistics of campaigns in 1931-32 on economic issues focued little on anti-semitism.
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The appeal of Nazism:


  • Nazi = very skilled in propaganda.
  • Joseph Goebbels was a master at it.
  • Hitler public speaking skills and propaganda helped a lot.
  • Money provided by Businessmen Hugeman and Thysan helped Nazis.
  • E.g allowed Hitler to travel in main cities. 
  • Nazis had own newspapers, staged rallies and had film shows. 
  • Their banners, songs, marches displayed strength.
  • Propaganda targeted different groups and changed messages. 
  • Nazi speakers were well trained in oratical speech.
  • Used anti-semitism sometimes and blamed Weimar for all the problems.
  • Created an image of a powerful Germany once again.
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Appeal of Communism:

  • KPD = 2m votes in 1928-1932 July elections..
  • Membership went from 170,000 in 1929 to 360,000 in 1932.
  • Was growing in large industrial areas where in the past in 1920, they focused on factories and workshops where Trade union membership was common.
  • After 1929, party focused on unemployed, committees of the unemployed, stage hunger marches and were against benefit cuts.
  • Red front runners fought Nazi's SA and were seen as defenders of W.Class districts.
  • Some cities had district that were under communist control.


  • Closely linked with USSR, wanted abortion legal, no austerity, no military spending.
  • KPD goals were to overthrow the Wiemar inspired by the Soviet Union and declare a workers' state.
  • To them SPD and Nazis equally damaged working class interests.
  • To them the depression was the final nail in the capitalist coffin.
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Appeal of Communism:


  • Communist propaganda helped grow members via speeches by Thalmann.
  • Wanted to smash capitalist system.
  • Slogans like bread and free were told to the unemployed with picture of capitalist hit with a hammer. 
  • Images showed linked with USSR.
  • Propaganda attacked SPD as a tool of Capitalist. 
  • Electoral support for KPD grew in 1930-32.
  • Peak was 17% in November 1932.
  • Grew in membership and votes and organisation on street/neighbourhood level, it was strong.
  • But Many middle class feared a communist revolution and voted for Nazis.
  • Businessmen like Thysen financed hitler as a result.


  • Never close to a revolution
  • 50% of it voters in 1932 left in a few months.
  • Failed to attract support outside industrial lands and had limted appeal to women. 
  • KPD member were unemployed, short of money.
  • Decided to attack social facism (democracy was facist, stopped communist revolution) instead of main opponants, Nazis. Caused Anti-Nazis to divided instead of unite.
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