- Born in Austria in 1889, Hitler had lived in Germany from 1912 onwards.
- He'd been a brave soldier on the Western Front in World War I, winning the Iron Cross twice. He couldn't accept that Germany had lost the war.
- In 1919, he joined the German Workers' Party, led by Anton Drexler. It was a tiny party - Hitler was the 55th member. In 1920 the name was changed to the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis).
- Hitler was a charismatic speaker and attracted new members. He took over the leadership of the party.
- The party set up its own armed group called the SA - brown-shirted stormtroopers who protected Nazi leaders and harassed their opponents.
- In 1923, things were going badly for the Weimar Republic - it seemed weak.
- Hitler planned to overthrow the Weimar government - starting by taking control of the government in a region called Bavaria.
- Hitler's soldiers occupied a beer hall in the Bavarian city of Munich where local government leaders were meeting. He announced that the revolution (Munich Putsch) has begun.
- The next day Hitler marched into Munich supported by stormtroopers. But the revolt quickly collapsed when police fired on the rebels.
1 of 8
- Hitler was imprisoned for his role in the Munich Putsch.
- He wrote a book (Mein Kampf - My Struggle) in prison describing his beliefs and ambitions; he would create a greater Germany, he would reverse the Versailles Treaty, he would join Austria and Germany, he believed the Aryans were a master race (He meant Northern European people, but he got it wrong), Germans had a right to Lebensraum (more space to live), he believed other races were inferior.
- The Nazi party was banned after the Munich Putsch. After Hitler was released from prison, he re-established the party with himself as supreme leader.
- By the mid-1920s, the German economy was starting to recover under Stresemann. As a result, general support for the Nazis declined and overturning the government through a coup no longer seemed realistic.
- Hitler changed tactics - he now tried to gain control through the democratic system. The Nazi party network was extended nationally, instead of it being a regional party. Propaganda was used to promote the party's beliefs.
2 of 8
The Great Depression
- The Depression caused massive unemploymentt in Germany - over 6 million were unemployed by 1933.
- In 1931, Germany's biggest bank collapsed. This made paying reparations more difficult.
- Weimar governments kept changing during this time, but none managed to solve the economic problems.
- The Depression contributed to the collapse of the Weimar Republic. People hoped a new government could sort out the problems.
- Extremist groups like the Nazis became more popular - they promised strong leadership.
- The Nazis promised prosperity and to make Germany great again. This appealed to many of the unemployed, as well as to businessman and young people.
- Some people supported the Nazis' anti-communist and anti-Jewish views.
- By 1930 Nazi membership grew to over 300000.
3 of 8
1930 Election Results
- 1st - Socialists, 2nd - Hitler's National Socialists, 3rd - Communists.
- In 1928, Nazis had 800000 votes and 12 seats but in 1930, 6409000 votes and 107 seats.
- Chancellor Heinrich Bruning couldn't control the Reichstag properly - there was a big increase in seats for both the Nazis (who won 107) and the communists (who won 77). Bruning had to rule by emergency decree as no single party had enough seats to control the Reichstag.
- By April 1932, conditions were serious in Germany. Millions were unemployed and the country was desperate for a strong government.
- President Hindenburg had to stand for re-election, because his term of office had run out. Hitler stood against him and there was also a communist candidate.
- Hindenburg, a national hero, said he'd win easily but didn't win a majority in the first election - in the second ballot he won 53%, beating Hitler's 36.8% of the vote.
4 of 8
Rise of the Nazis
- Hindenburg couldn't find a Chancellor who had support in the Reichstag.
- He appointed the inexperienced Franz von Papen.
- In the July 1932 Reichstag elections, 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 kept von Papen.
- January 1932-6 million unemployed, Hitler used the Depression to promise better things, Stands against Hindenburg in 1932 and loses, July 1932-Nazis largest party in Reichstag - July 1932=230 seats, Nazis lose seats in November 1932 but still largest party, January 1933-Hitler finally offered 'Chancellorship' in 1933.
- The Nazis lost 34 seats in the November 1932 election - they seemed to be losing popularity.
- Hindenburg appointed Kurt von Schleicher as Chancellor. Von Schleicher tried to cause divisions in the Nazi Party by asking another leading Nazi to be Vice-Chancellor - Gregor Strasser. But Hitler stopped Strasser accepting.
- Soon, Hindenburg gave in and offered Hitler the post of Chancellor in January 1933.
- Hitler decided to call another election in March 1933, hoping to make the Nazis stronger in the Reichstag.
5 of 8
The Nazis did well in the elections in 1933 because:
- They controlled the news media.
- Opposition meetings were banned.
- They used the SA to terrorise opponents.
- A fire broke out in the Reichstag building and Hitler whipped up opposition against the communists who he said started it. Mass arrests of communists followed.
- Hitler was allowed emergency decrees to deal with the situation - and used these powers to intimidate communist voters.
- The Nazis won 288 seats but no majority - the communists still won 81.
- So Hitler declared the Communist Party illegal.
- This gave him enough support in parliament to bring in an Enabling Bill which was passed with threats and bargaining in March 1933.
- This bill let him govern for four years without parliament and made all otther parties illegal. Hitler was almost in full control.
- Trade Unions were banned in May 1933.
- In July 1933, all political parties, apart from the Nazi party, were banned in Germany.
6 of 8
Night of the Long Knives
- Hitler still had opposition - and was worried about rivals within the Nazi party.
- The biggest threat was Ernst Rohm, who controlled the SA (over 400000 men). On the 29th-30th June 1934, Hitler sent his own men to arrest Rohm and others. This became known as the 'Night of Long Knives'.
- Several hundred people were killed, including Rohm, Strasser and von Schleicher. Any potential opposition had been stamped out.
- A month later Hindenburg died. Hitler combined the posts of Chancellor and President, made himself Commander-in-Chief of the army and was called Der Fuhrer (the leader). It was the beginning of dictatorship.
7 of 8
Germany under Strong Leaders
- Germany was reorganised into a number of provinces. Each province was called a Gau, with a Gauleiter - a loyal Nazi - in charge of each.
- Above them were the Reichsleiters who advised Hitler, e.g. Goebbels who was in charge of propaganda and Himmler who was chief of the German police.
- At the top was the Fuhrer - Hitler himself - who was in absolute control.
- Every aspect of life was carefully controlled and only loyal Nazis could be successful.
- Nazi Teachers' Association - Hitler Youth, League of German Maidens, Jungvolk
8 of 8