The Rise of Hitler and the Nazis

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The Nazis during the early days

Who were the Nazis?

1919 Anton Drexler,Gottfried Feder and Dietrich Eckart formed the German Worker's Party (GPW) in Munich.

The German Army was worried that it was a left-wing revolutionary group and sent Adolf Hitler, one of its education officers, to spy on theorganization.

Hitler discovered that the party's political ideas were similar to his own. He approved of Drexler's German nationalism and anti-Semitism but was unimpressed with the way the party was organized. Although there as a spy, Hitler could not restrain himself when a member made a point he disagreed with, and he stood up and made a passionate speech on thesubject.

Anton Drexler was impressed with Hitler's abilities as an orator and invited him to join the party. At first Hitler was reluctant, but urged on by his commanding officer, Captain Karl Mayr, he eventually agreed. He was only the fifty-fourth person to join the German Worker's Party. Hitler was immediately asked to join the executive committee and was later appointed the party's propaganda manager.

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The Nazis during the early days

Who were the Nazis continued...

  • In the next few weeks Hitler brought several members of his army into the party, including one of his commanding officers, Captain Ernst Roehm. The arrival of Roehm was an important development as he had access to the army political fund and was able to transfer some of the money into the GWP.
  • The German Worker's Party used some of this money to advertise their meetings. Adolf Hitler was often the main speaker and it was during this period that he developed the techniques that made him into such a persuasive orator.
  • Hitler's reputation as an orator grew and it soon became clear that he was the main reason why people were joining the party.This gave Hitler tremendous power within the organization as they knew they could not afford to lose him.
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The 25 Points

Developing Nazi Ideology


  • In April, 1920, Hitler advocated that the party should change its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). Hitler had always been hostile to socialist ideas, especially those that involved racial or sexual equality.
  • However, socialism was a popular political philosophy in Germany after the First World War. This was reflected in the growth in the German Social Democrat Party (SDP), the largest political party in Germany.
  • Hitler,  therefore  redefined socialism  by placing the  word  'National'  before  it.  He claimed  he  was only in favour of equality for those who had "German blood". Jewsand other "aliens" would lose their rights of citizenship, and immigration of non-Germans should be brought to an end.
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The 25 Points

Developing Nazi Ideology

In February 1920, the NSDAP published its first programme which became known as the "Twenty-Five Points". In the programme the party:


  • Refused to accept the terms of the VersaillesTreaty
  • Called for the reunification of all Germanpeople.
  • To reinforce their ideas on nationalism, equal rights were only to be given to German citizens. "Foreigners" and "aliens" would be denied theserights.
  • To appeal to the working class and socialists, the programme included several measures that would redistribute income and war profits, profit-sharing in large industries, nationalization of trusts, increases in old-age pensions and freeeducation.
  • On 24th February, 1920, the NSDAP (later nicknamed the Nazi Party) held a mass rally where it announced its new programme. The rally was attended by over 2,000 people, a great improvement on the 25 people who were at Hitler's first partymeeting.
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Hitler becomes leader

  • Adolf Hitler knew that the growth in the party was mainly due to his skills as an speaker and in the autumn of 1921 he challenged Anton Drexler for the leadership of the party. Drexler accepted the inevitable, and Hitler became the new leader.
  • Hitler's ability to arouse in his supporters emotions of anger and hate often resulted in their committing acts of violence. In September 1921, Hitler was sent to prison for three months for being part of a mob who beat up a rival politician.
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The SA

  • When Hitler was released, he formed his own private army called Sturm Abteilung (Storm Section). The SA (also known as stormtroopers or brownshirts) were instructed to disrupt the meetings of political opponents and to protect Hitler from revenge attacks. Captain Ernst Roehm of the Bavarian Army played an important role in recruiting these men, and Hermann Goering, a former air-force pilot, became their leader.
  • Hitler's stormtroopers were often former members of the Freikorps (right-wing private armies who flourished during the period that followed the First World War) and had considerable experience in using violence against their rivals.
  • The SA wore grey jackets, brown shirts (khaki shirts originally intended for soldiers in Africa but purchased in bulk from the German Army by the Nazi Party), swastika armbands, ski-caps, knee-breeches, thick woollen socks and combat boots. Accompanied by bands of musicians and carrying swastika flags, they would parade through the streets of Munich. At the end of the march Hitler would make one of his passionate speeches that encouraged his supporters to carry out acts of violence against Jews and his left-wing political opponents.
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