How was Hitler able to become chancellor in January 1933?

AQA GCSE Modern World History revision notes based on the syllabus.

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Growth in support for the Nazis

The Nazis became popular with several groups:

  • the military, as they resented the end of the War and the small army German was allowed after it.
  • middle class people who had suffered financially after the war.
  • business people, who feared the growth of Communism.
  • Germans who thought the government was weak and had betrayed the people in the Peace process and the Versailles Treaty.
  • farmers - because food prices were low.
  • people who disliked the Jews - anti-Semites.
  • thugs who found the Nazi way exciting.
  • people who had no other choice - negative cohesion. This meant that they had to vote for Nazis, as the other Parties would be detrimental to them.
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The Rize of the Nazis

  • The depression hit Germany hard, and by 1929 membership of the Nazi party had risen to nearly 200,000 - people wanted change.
  • In the 1930 elections, the Nazis came out as the second biggest party after the Socialists.
  • By April 1932, conditions were serious in Germany. Over 5 million people were unemployed and the country was desperate for a strong government.
  • President Hindenburg had to stand for re-election, because his term in office had run out. Hitler stood against him along with a Communist candidate.
  • Hindenburg said that he'd win easily, but didn't win a majority in the first election - in the second ballot he won 53% and beat Hitler who won 36.8% of the vote.
  • Hindenburg couldn't find a Chancellor who had support in the Reichstag.
  • He appointed the inexperienced Franz von Papen - who couldn't govern, so there were new elections in June 1932.
  • The Nazis won 230 seats - they were now the biggest party, but didn't have a majority in the Reichstag. Hitler demanded to be made Chancellor.
  • Hindenburg refused because he didn't trust Hitler and reappointed Papen. Hitler was offered the Vice-Chancellorship job instead, on the advice of von Papen.
  • Hitler refused and waited for the next set of elections.
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Hitler comes to power

  • The new government still couldn't govern properly, so new elections were called in November 1932.
  • Yet again, the Nazis came out as the largest party, although their share of the vote fell. Hitler regarded this election as a failure because of 2 million lost votes and along with 38 lost seats in the Reichstag. To add to this, the Nazis were running out of funds and their leader was threatening suicide.
  • Hitler again demanded his Chancellorship, but Hindenburg appointed Kurt von Schleicher as Chancellor.
  • Von Schleicher only lasted a month. In January 1933, he was forced to resign and on the 30th, Hitler was offered the Chancellorship much to the amazement of the public. Hitler had finally achieved his goal.
  • Hitler decided to call for another election in March 1933, hoping to make the Nazis stronger in the Reichstag.
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