Hitler's Rise to Power, 1919-1933

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  • Created on: 24-06-20 07:19

Early Development of Nazi Party, 1920-22

In 1919-1920, the Nazi party was set uo and in the Munich Putsch of 1923, Hitler unsuccessfully tried to sieze power by force. There was limited backing for the Nazis during 1924-28 but the Depression in 1929 brought increased support. 

Political developments in 1932 led to Hitler beocming Chancellor in 1933. 

The Nazi Party, led by Adolf Hitler, emerged in the 1920s, and was able to take advatage of the problems experienced by the Weimar republic. 

The Nazi's openly expressed their hatred for Communism.

They saw the Social Democratic government as a Communist government and they made no secret of their plans to overthrow it when the time was right.

They were based in Bovaria, which was such a good base for such a right-wing party as it has a right-wing government and many ordinary people in Southern Germany were opposed to the Social Democrats.

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Early Development of the Nazi Party, 1919-22

Even the Bavarian state government had plans to topple the Weimar government. 

The German Worker's Party (DAP) was set up by Anton Drexler in February 1919, in Munich.

HItler joined in September 1919.

The DAP set up a permanent headquarters and Hitler became second in command in 1920.

Hitler sugested a new name for the party - the National Socialist German Worker's Party (NSDAP) or Nazi Party for short.

In July 1921, Hitler became leader of the Nazi Party. Hess, Goering, Streicher, and Rohm, were selected as some of his party suppporters. 

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Key Nazi Ideas:

These are some of the key Nazi ideas, outlined in 25 points:

  • Abolish the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Destroy the Weimar Republic. 
  • Destroy Marxism. 
  • Challenge terror or violence with your own terror or violence. 
  • Remove Jews from all positions of leadership in Germany. 
  • No non-Germans to be newspaper editors.
  • Educate gifted children at the state's expenses.
  • Increase old-age pensions.
  • Strong central government. 
  • Nationalise important industries.
  • Conquer Lebensraum (living space).
  • Rearm Germany, 
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The SA

Hilter also had a group called the SA - the Sturmabteilung.

They were a paramilitary force, made up of unemployed ex-soldiers.

They were formed in August in 1921 by Hitler and put under the commad of Ernst Rohm.

They wore brown uniforms and were nicknamed 'Brownshirts'.

They were used to disrupt opposition meetings and to control crowds and any opposition to Hilter - often violently. 

By November 1923, the Nazis had 50,000 members.

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The Munich Putsch 1923

Why did Hitler Attempt the Munich Putsch?:

  • To topple the Weimar Republic.
  • To gain support and raise the profile of the Nazi Party.
  • To put pressure on the government.
  • He belived he had the support from the army and Bavarian government.
  • He believed it was the correct time (1923 - year of crisis).
  • Hitler wanted to bring about a Nationalist government.
  • Wated to lead a march similar to Mussolini's.
  • Weimar Republic was seen as weak, and Hitler was ready to exploit the people's grievances.

What was the purpose of his timing?:

  • The government would be preoccupied with the economic crisis.
  • Stresseman had just called off the passive resistance in the Ruhr, thus they seemed to have given into the French = outrage.
  • Hyperinflation crisis had weakened Weimar support.
  • It was a state of emergency; Hitler was going to take advantage of the chaos. 
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The Munich Putsch 1923

What happened? (The Events):

  • On the 8th November, 1923, Hitler and the SA burst into a beer hall in Munich, disrupting a political meeting attended by Kahr, Seisser and Lossow.
  • The three political leaders were held at gunpoint until they offered their support for the uprising. They were then released.
  • The following day, Hitler and Luddendorf, along with 3000 supporters marched through Munich hoping to win mass public support.
  • Seisser and Lossow had changed their minds and organised troops and police to resist them.
  • 16 marchers were killed and Hitler fled.
  • On 11th November, Hitler was arrested and the Nazi Party was banned.
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Consequences of the Putsch (1)

Hitler and several other leaders were put on trial. Luddendorf was found not guilty, and Hitler and three others were fund guilty of treason and sentenced to five years in Lansberg prison. The NSDAP were banned.

In the short time, the Munich Putsch was a defeat and a humiliation for Hitler. But Hitler was released after only 9 months. 

In the longer term, Hitler realised he needed to rethink the strategy for winning control of Germany. A violent uprising had failed, so what he needed to do was build a party with nationwide support and use democratic measures to win power. The ban on the Nazis was also lifted in February 1925. Hitler also used his trial to get national publicity for his views, and whilst in prison he wrote Mein Kampf - contained his political beliefs. 

In 1925, Hitler enlarged the SA. About 55% of the SA came from the ranks of the unemployed. Many were ex-servicemen from the war. He also set up a new group called the **. ** were similar to the SA but were frantically loyal to Hitler personally. Membership of the party rose to over 100,000 by 1928.

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Consequences of the Putsch (2)

Hitler also appointed Joseph Goebbels to take charge of the Nazi propaganda - highly effective at spreading the Nazi message. He and Hitler believed the best way to reach this was by appealing to their feelings rather than by rational argument. Goebbels produced posters, leaflets, films and radio broadcasts, he organised rallies; and he set-up 'photo opportunities'.

Despite these shifting policies and priorities, there was no electoral breakthrough for the Nazis. Even after all their hard work, in 1928 they were still a fringe minority party who had the support of less than 3% of the population.They were the smallest party with fewer seats than the Communists. Prosperity of the Stresseman years and Stresseman's success in foreign policy made Germans uninterested in extreme politics. 

Whilst in prison, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf which is a key source of information about the political beliefs of Hitler's Nazi Party after 1924. Hitler made his extreme racist views very clear:

  • Hitler believed that the German race (Ayran) was destined to rule the world.
  • Jewish conspiracy to undermine Aryan rule.
  • Jews planed to weaken the Aryan race by intermarriage and by taking over German industry.
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The Lean Years of Nazi Party, 1924-28

The period 1924-1929 was a time of mixed fortunes for the Nazi Party:

The party did not do well:

  • There were quarrels and disagreements during Hitler's period in prison.
  • Economic recovery meant there was little support for extremist parties.
  • It only won 12 seats in the 1928 election.

The party made progress:

  • Won 32 seats in the 1924 elections.
  • Mein Kampf provided key ideas for development of Nazi Party with focus on importance of propaganda and anti-Semitism.
  • Hitler reorganised the party to make it more efficient. 
  • 1926 Bamberg party conference. Hitler continued to strengthen his position. Possible rivals to Hitler's leadership were won over or removed from the party.
  • Membership increased to 100,000 members by 1928.
  • Hitler set up the ** - acted as Hitler's personal bodyguards. Under the control of Himmler who expaded the ** to 3000 members by 1930.
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Limited Support for the Nazis, 1923-29

Between 1923-1929, the Nazis had limited support due to different reasons:

  • Stresseman's new currency and the Dawes and Young Plans restored economic stability. Inflation eased; employment increased; the public were better off. This cut support for extremist parties like the NSDAP. The moderate SPD won 30% of the general election vote in May 1928.
  • Under Stresseman, the Locarno Pact,  membership of the League of Nationns and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, all gave Germany more status in the world. This cut support for nationalist parties like the NSDAP.
  • In 1925, Hindenburg became president of the Republic. This increased support for the Weimar Republic and cut support for parties who wanted to get rid of it, like the NSDAP.
  • The NSDAP won practically no support from the German working classes in the big cities. In the 1928 general elections, the Nazi Party only won 1% of the votes in Berlin and in the Ruhr industrial district. 

The message was clear - while the economy was strong, few people voted for the Nazis. 

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Growth in Support for Nazis, 1929-32

Confidence started to ebb away on 3rd October, 1929, when Stresseman had a heart attack and died. The loss of his expertise was a massive blow to the Weimar Republic. Later on in October 1929, there was a world economic crisis which led to the Great Depression. In Germany, it caused economic collapse, widespread unemploment and a political crisis.

The Wall Street Crash: In 1929, the American stock market crashed and sent the USA into a disastrous economic depression. In a very short time, countries around the world began to feel the effects of this depression. Germany was particularly affected. American bankers and business men lost huge amounts of money in the crash. To pay off their debts, they asked German banks to repay the money they had borrowed. The result was economic collapse in Germany. Businesses went bankrupt, workers were laid off and unemployment rocketed.

In Germany, the Wall Street Crash caused a banking crisis - people lost their savings, and there was a general economic collapse in Germany. This was because, to pay out the money demanded by their account holders, German and Amercian banks urgently needed cash. These banks began to demand the return of money they had lent to businesses in industry and agriculture. German industries and farms had to cut back poduction or even close down completely. The economy collapsed. 

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The Wall Street Crash: (1)

Wall Street Crash, USA, October 1929:

US companies lost billions of dollars in value overnight. Many banks and businesses were ruined, and worldwide dpression resulted. US stopped lending money to Germany and demanded all loans be repaid.

German Businesses: Had to pay back loans. Recieved no more investement from the US. Had to pay back increased taxes to government. 

German Government: Couldn't borrow money from the US. Refused to print more money. Increased taxes. Made cuts to unemployment benefits. Government workers had wages cut and some lost their jobs.

German People: Businesses reduced staff or closed. Millions of workers and farm labourers lost their jobs. Young people were badly affected by job losses. With no work, and benefits slashed, families suffered terrible poverty. German workers who already unemployed became poorer. They could not afford to buy as much. This meant that sales went down even futher and compaies had to make more workers unemployed. It was a downward and vicious spiral for Germany.

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The WSC: Suffering

In 1929-30 there was a 10% in industrial output. In 1929-31 there was a 30% fall and in 1929-32 there was a 40% fall in industrial output. In September 1929, unemploment was at 1.3 million, 4.3 million in September 1931 and 5.1 million in September 1932. In January 1933 unemployment was at 6.1 million. Many people suffered:

Unemployment - As the number of people out of work grew, the government became unable to pay unemployment benefits. Taxes were rasied and unemployment benefits were cut, causing even bigger problems for the unemployed.

Savers - Some people had their savings invested in shares; when share prices crashed, the value of their savings crashed too. 

Workers - Taxes went up, but with people still desperate for work, employers cut waes. Real wages were 70% of 1928 levels by 1932.

Homeless - Many people could no longer afford rent and so shanty tows were set-up. These were makeshift houses. The unemployed began to wander the streets looking for food or work. Boredom turned to violence. Increase of 24% in arrests for thefts in Berlin.

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The WSC: Governmental Effects

The German government just did not deal with these issues. From 1930-32 the Chancellor was Heinrich Bruning - he firstly proposed higher taxes to pay for unemploymet benefits, to make payments more affordable. This policy proposal pleased no-one and in July 1930, the policy was rejected by 256 votes to 193. The failure by the moderate parties to work together made the Reichstag look weak and powerless. It had met 94 times in 1930, it only met 41 times in 1931 and 13 times in 1932. Bruning ended up relying on article 48 to pass any laws, and he resigned in May 1932. 

As life became harder, and moderate parties failed to solve Germany's economic problems, people abandoned the moderates and switched to the extremist parties - the KPD and the Nazis.

Support for the Nazi Party grew quicker than support for the Communists. The thought of a Communist government scared the German middle and upper classes, and thus many middle and upper classes voted for the Nazis.

Hitler was the best defece against the Communists.

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General Elections:

This table shows the General Elections, 1928-1932, seats in the Reichstag.

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Nazi Appeal (1)

Appeal of Hitler: Hitler was a strong leader, promised to restore law and order and to force other countries to scrap the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler was very popular, featured prominently in Nazi posters and spoke in as many parts of the country as he could. He used aeroplanes in the campaign for the 1930/32 elections, also had the suppport of welathy businessmen who funnded the costs of an election campaign.

The SA: The uniformed SA made the Nazis seem organised and disciplined. During economic and social turmoil, the SA made the Nazis look strong enough to control unrest and stand up to foreign powers; they disrupted opposition meetings, had a stronger private army than Communists. Armed and uniformed SA tore down opposition's posters, intimidated their candidates, and broke into their offices, disrupting their rallies. In one clash with Communists near Hamburg, 18 people were killed.

Propaganda: Joseph Goebbels was a master of propaganda and used every possible method to get across the Nazi message. Posters targeted different audiences and were timed to have maximum impact. Their message was generally simple but clear. 

Women: Nazis had a traditional view of women; play a special role as mothers and wives. More women liked this idea.

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Nazi Appeal (2)

Big Businesses: Wealthy industrialists supported the Nazi Party. Hitler persuaded businessmen that the Nazis were the best hope of protection from the Commuists. Nazi finances benefitted as wealty businessmen like Benz and Krupp's poured money into the NSDAP.

Working-Class Support: The Nazi traditional policies appealed to workers especially with the promise of 'Word and Bread' on posters. 

Middle-Class Support: Hitler could help the middle classes recover from their extreme lose of savings as the Communists wanted to abolish private ownerhip of land and businesses, and the middle classes saw the Nazis as a strong party that could protect them from this. Many middle-classes did not like the drinking and sexual openness of the Weimae Republic - the Nazis had tradtional German values on these policies. 

Farmers: In 1928, the Nazi policy of confiscating all private land was changed to just saying that private land would be confiscated if it was owned by Jews. This reassured farmers.

Young People: The Nazi Party was exciting - there were rallies and the speeches were always stirring and promising more than traditional parties. 

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Hitler's Road to Power: (1)

As 1932 began, the Weimar Republic was crippled by economic problems. The Chancellor and leader of the Centre Party, Heincrich Bruning, was struggling to make constitution of republic work. The Reichstag met infrequently and Bruning relied increasignly on presidential decrees to pass laws; Hitler was far from coming to power. In the General Election of 1930, the Nazis won 107/577 seats (18% of the vote) but by January 1933, Hitler had become Chancellor.

Paul von Hindenburg is hero of the First World War and President of the Weimar Republic.

Heinrich Bruning is the Chancellor.

General Franz von Papen is the politican and friend of Hindenburg. 

Kurt von Schleicher was the army general. 

1) The Fall of Chancellor Bruning: In April 1932, moderate socialist Chancellor, Bruning, used a presidential decree to ban the SA and **. He wanted to calm unrest, control the Nazi's. Right-wing parties became angered. An ambitious general, Kurt von Schleicher, decided to remove Bruning. He organised a coalition of right-wing groups, consisting of landowners, industrialists and army officers. He persuaded Hindenburg that they had a majority and Bruning was sacked.

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Hitler's Road to Power: (2)

2) Von Papen becomes Chancellor: Von Schleicher controlled new government from behind the scenes. He chose a wealthy gentlemen politician, von Papen, as figurehead of new coalition. Hindenburg made von Papen Chancellor in May 1932. Von Schleicher offered the NSDAP a place and the Nazi Party were, for the first time, part of Open Coalition. In elections of July 1932, NSDAP won 230 seats; now the largest party. Hitler demanded Hindenburg sack von Papen and appoint him. Hindenburg, hated Hitler, refused. Instead, von Papen hung on to office and called new election for November 1932; gambling that Nazi support would fall, which did, to 196, but they were still the largest party. Without Hitler's support, von Papen could no longer command a majority in the Reichstag, nor the confidence of Hindenburg. Von Papen resigned. 

3) Von Schleicher becomes Chancellor: 39 business tycoons like Krupp, Siemens, Thyssen and Bosch signed letter asking Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as Chancellor; thinking they could control him by donating to party. Hindenburg was opposed. On 2nd December, he appointed von Schleicher as Chancellor. He consistently failed to get majority in Reichstag. He informed Hindenburg that von Papen and Hitler were conspiring against him - they were - and he needed Hindenburg to suspend constitution and declare von Schleicer head of military dictatorship. Hindenburg refused, but news of plan leaked out; he lost any remaning support in Reichstag. 

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Hitler's Road to Power: (3)

4) Enter Hitler: Throughout all of this intrigue, von Papen had continued to plot against von Schleicher with Hindenburg and right-wing parties in the Reichstag. He told them that, if they supported Hitler as Chancellor, with von Papen as vice-Chancellor, they could make all the decisions themselves and use Hitler as a figurehead. He said he had Hitler in his pocket. Hindenburg reluctantly agreed as there was no alternative - on 30th January 1933, Hitler was legally and democratically appointed Chancellor of Germany. 

Hidenburg was open to governing by decree, using Article 48, which weakened the Republic.

Von Schleicher and von Papen were right-wing conservatives who wanted to move away from governmet by the parties elected to the Reichstag to a stronger government controlled by wealthy industrialists and landowners; undermined the Weimar Republic.

All 3 underestimated Hitler, all belived they cold bring Hitler and the Nazis into power and control them.

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Timeline: (1)

April 1932:

  • Hindenberg stands for re-election as President. No one party has 50% of the vote.

May 1932:

  • Election with Hindenburg being re-elected as President. Hitler increases his share of the vote. 
  • Chancellor Bruning bans the SA and announces plan to buy up land from landowners and use this to house the unemployed. Both plans are very unpopular and Bruning resigns. 
  • Bruning is replaced by von Papen - he is put forward by von Schleicher. Von Schleicher had been planning a coalition between right-wing supporters and the Nazis.
  • Hitler agrees to the coalition if the ban on the SA is removed. The coalition takes power.

July 1932:

  • Further elections take place - widespread fighting between the Communists and the Nazis.
  • The Nazi share of the vote increases from 18% in 1930 to 38%.
  • Hitler demands that he be made Chancellor - Hindenberg refuses. 
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Timeline: (2)

November 1932:

  • Further election. Von Schleicher warns Hindenburg that if von Papen stays as Chanceloe there will be civil war. Von Papen goes. 

December 1932:

  • Von Schleicher becomes Chancellor.

January 1933:

  • Von Schleicher does not have the support of the public or the Nazis. 
  • He persuades Hindenburg that he could be the head of a military dictatorship.
  • Hindenburg refuses.
  • Von Papen persuades Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as Chancellow to avoid Von Schleicher's military dictatorship. He also suggests that he should become Vice-Chancellor to keep a check on Hitler.
  • Hitler becomes Chancellor.
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