Hitler's Rise to Power, 1919-33:

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  • Created on: 28-06-20 11:34

Early Growth of Party:

Adolf Hitler, born in Austria in 1889, moved to Munich in 1913, became obsessed with all things German. He fought in WW1 and his experience confirmed his views that Germany had special destiny. He was shocked by Germany's defeat and the outcome of the Treaty of Versailles.

1919 - Hitler joined the DAP.

1920 - Hitler was second in command of the DAP. In August, DAP changed name to the National Socialist German Workers Party, (NSDAP).

1921 - Hitler took over control of the Nazi Party from Drexler. 

Hitler's Early Political Career:

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 permanent headquarters, Hitler became second in command. Hitler suggested a new name for the party, the National Socialist German Workers' 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 supporters. 

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The SA:

The Sturmabteilung (SA):

  • The SA were also called Stormtroopers.
  • They were a paramiliatry force, made up of unemployed ex-soldiers.
  • They were formed in August 1921.
  • They were formed by Hitler and put under the command 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 Hitler, often violently. 
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The 25-Point Programme:

The Nazi programme, written by Hitler and Drexler in 1920, included the following points:

  • Increase pensions for the elderly.
  • Nationalise industries.
  • Get rid of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Everybody should have a job.
  • Build up Germany's armed forces.
  • Only German races may be members od the nation. No Jew may be a citizen.
  • Expand Germany across new territory to feed the people and to settle surplus population, known as Lebensraum.
  • All citizens should have equal rights and duties.
  • Every hard-working German to have the chance of higher education.
  • State must protect mothers and infants, stop children working; make laws for compulsory sports.

The programme opposed: the Weimar politicians who agreed to the Treaty of Versailles: democracy, which they thought was weak: and Jews, who they felt undermined the German economy.

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The Munich Putsch: (1)

Hitler attempted to overthrow the Weimar government in November 1923 - the Munich Putsch. After this date, and up to 1928, the Nazi Party struggled to get support. 

Reasons for the Munich Putsch:

Long Term: 'Stab in the back', reparations, the loss of Germany's colonies, resentment of Weimar government, particularly by the Bavarian government. 

Medium Term: Hitler was influenced by Mussolini's right-wing party in Italy - the Fascists. Mussolini marched on Rome in 1922, forcing the democratic government to accept him as leader.

Short Term: Hyperinflation, French troops entered the Ruhr in 1923 and took over German businesses, Hitler thought he had support. 

Bamberg Conference 1926:

Hitler organised this conference to address splits between the socialist and nationalist wings of the Nazi movement. Hitler's power as leader was secured and his vision of Nazism took forward.

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The Munich Putsch: (2)

8th November 1923: Hitler with 600 SA entered beer hall in Munich where Bavarian government were meeting. At gunpoint, Hitler forced government leaders to support him. Rohm took over local police and army headquarters. Ludendorff, behind Hitler's back, let the government leaders go.  

9th November 1923: Hitler gathered with 1000 SA and 2000 volunteer supporters and marched on Munich town centre to declare himself President of Germany. The group met by state police. Someone opened fire and there was chaos. Ludendorff, Rohm, and Streicher, were arrested.

11th November 1923: Hitler was found hiding at friend's house and was arrested.


Short term, Putsch was not good for Hitler. He was in prison and the NSDAP was banned, and the Putsch had failed miserably due to lack of support. Long term, consequences more positive for Hitler and NSDAP. Hitler used trial to publicise views. He used time in prison to write Mein Kampf, 'My Struggle', this book became bestseller when published and outlined political ideas and particularly views on Jews. Events of Putsch made Hitler realise party needed to rethink tactics, be more organised to win support nationally, using violence and force wasn't enough. 

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Growth in Support, 1929-32:

In this period, Nazis reorganised to benefit from the Weimar Republic's weaknesses and economic problems. Hitler's appeal as a leader also benefited them. 

Hitler's Propaganda:

Using propaganda techinques, Hitler persuaded:

  • business people that he could solve the economic crisis.
  • working-class people that he could give them work and food.
  • middle-class people that he could protect them from the communists, solve the economic crisis and return Germany to traditional values.
  • rural communities that he could protect them from the communists, who might sieze their land
  • young people to join him by providing something exciting for them to be part of.
  • women that the Nazis were the best party to save the nation and their families.

Until the economic problems after 1929, the Nazis had very little success in elections.

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The Wall Street Crash:

Wall Street Crash, USA, October 1929: US companies lost billions of dollars in value overnight. Many banks and businesses were ruined, and worldwide depression resulted.

US stopped lending money to Germany and demanded all loans be repaid.

German Businesses:

  • Had to pay back loans. Received no more investment from the US. Had to pay increased taxes to government.

German Government:

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

German People:

  • Businesses reduced staff/closed. Millions workers and farm labourers lost jobs. Young people badly affected by job losses. With no work, slashed benefits, families suffered bad poverty.
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The Hitler Appeal:

  • He was a strong leader.
  • His image appeared on most publicity material.
  • He travelled around the country giving speeches and talking on the radio.
  • The party adopted moder technology, e.g. used aeroplanes.
  • The intimidation tactics of the ever-growing SA helped to increase support for the Nazis.

How the Depression benefited Hitler:

  • Economic problems.
  • Unemployment.
  • Dissatisfaction with weak Weimar governmnet.
  • Increased membership of extreme left and right wing parties. 

Support for the Communist Party grew during this period but the Nazi Party grew faster. Support for the Communist Party was mainly from the working classes living in cities who wanted a party that could protect their jobs and wages. 

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Political Developments, 1932:

The actions of four key people resulted in Hitler becoming Chancellor. You will need to know who these people were and the sequence of political events.

Paul von Hindenburg:

  • Hero of WW1 and President of the Weimar Republic.

Heinrich Bruning:

  • The Chancellor.

General Franz von Papen:

  • The politican and friend of Hindenburg.

Kurt von Schleicher:

  • The army general.
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Hitler's Road to Power: (1)

April 1932:

Hindenburg 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 a 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 - there is 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 - Hindenburg refuses. 

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Hitler's Road to Power: (2)

November 1932:

Further election. Von Schleicher warns Hindenburg that if von Papen stays as Chancellor 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 Chancellor to avoid von Schleicher's military dictatorship. He also suggests that he shuould become Vice-Chancellor so that he can keep a check on Hitler. Hitler becomes Chancellor.

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