Depression hit Germnay hard. Businesses collapsed, unemployment soared and banks closed. In 3 years German production halved and a third of the population was being supported by the Government. Those voters that had ignored Hitler in the 1920s because they thought that his ideas were too extreme began to listen to him. Because of this, Nazi votes increased.
The faliure of the Weimar Government
Two chancellors (Muller and Bruning) had resigned in quick succession as they couldn't get the majority of politicians to support their ideas.There were so many politicians from so many political parties that they couldn't agree on an appropriate course of action.
By 1932, Hindenburg was ruling by Article 48. This meant that he didn't even have to consult the democratically elected Reichstag , when introducing new laws.In effect, by 1932 the democratic process in Germany had failed and parties like the Nazis and Communists grew more popular. (In 1930, the Nazis won 107 seats and in July 1932 this increased to 230 seats. Although this number fell to 196 in November, they still remained the largest party in the Reichstag).
Fear of Communism
In 1917 there had been a communist revolution in Russia where the Communist Party took over all businesses, factories and farms. Busiessmen and farmers were paticularly frightened of Communism taking over in their own country. Since Communists didn't believe in religion, religious people were also worried.
From the start, Hitler had said that he would fight communism. The SA (brownshirts) were sent out to beat up his Communist opponents. This helped him gain support from the middle and upper classes (businessmen, landowners, factory owners e.t.c.) becuase he promised to deal with the Communist threat.
- Hitler was able to make people believe that he could be trusted to make Germany a great nation. Since he was a powerful and inspiring speaker, he was able to fill his audiences with hope.
Orginisation of the Nazi Party
- Nazi Offices were set up all over Germany to recruit more followers.
- The Hitler Youth Orginisation was set up to encourage younder followers.
- More newspapers were bought and millions of leaflets an posters were printed (all orginised by Joseph Gobbels)
- Hitler took part in parades and rallies where he made passionate speeches.
After the depression, the Nazi party began to look like the sort of people that could restore the nation (orginised and disciplined). Hitler also also used new technology in original ways (In 1932, he used an aeroplane to take him to 20 cities in 7 days to make speeches). This in contrast to the use of radios showed how modern the Nazis were.
Hitler becomes chancellor
- Hindenburg forced Bruning to resign (in June 1932) and instead of Hitler, made Franz von Papen chancellor. However, his Government collapsed when one of Hindenburg's advisors, von Schleicher, told that the army disapproved of von Papen and might take action unless he was replaced.
- In December 1932, von Schleicher became chancellor but resigned after 8 weeks when he couldn't get enough support. Hindenburg and von Papen realised that they needed the support of a major party in the Reichstag. Hitler refused the post of vice-chancellor.
- On 30th January 1933, he was asked to become chancellor with von Papen as his vice-chancellor. They thought that this would enable them to control him but they underestimated Hitler.