How and why did the Nazi Party come to power in 1933?
The Nazi Party
· After his release from prison in 1924, Hitler believed that the NSDAP had to gain power through democratic means.
o This was challenging however as the Nazis were outlawed and the Weimar economy was growing strong.
· After the ban was lifted in Bavaria in 1925, Hitler sought to secure his leadership by proclaiming himself Führer.
o Rudolph Hess oversaw the administration of the Nazis whilst Hitler established himself as a charismatic leader.
· The NSDAP was nationally divided into Gaues which were led by Gauleiters. Local branches were run by a cadre of activists. The organisations affiliated with the Party were responsible to Hitler but were not integrated into the Party.
· The Party initially followed Italian fascism’s example of appealing to city workers. It soon became clear however that the main supporters were the peasantry, artisans and small shopkeepers who had been impoverished by war and hyperinflation.
· In Mein Kampf, the Jews were associated with Russian Bolshevism. This made Nazi ideals accessible to the Communist-fearing middle class public.
· A racially pure state would regenerate Germany and would be supported by the Lebensraum in western Russia.
o This would involve expelling Jews and non-Germans, increasing the birth rate and rebuilding the German Reich’s military strength.
Tactics and Presidential Elections
· The Nazis had a vague political programme which could be interpreted to suite the voter who were essentially protesting against the Weimar government. The SA were seen as a force to fight the communist.
· A re-election was held for the Presidency in 1932. The election was between Thälmann (backed by Communist), Hindenburg (backed by the Centre Party, the DVP, the State Party and the SDP), and Hitler.
· The Nazis launched a massive election campaign that targeted the middle-class
· Hindenburg initially failed to gain a majority, with Hitler gaining 30% of the vote.
· A second election gave Hindenburg a majority and Hitler saw his vote increase by 2 million
Legacy of Weimar and Versailles
Weaknesses of the Republic
· Constitution was democratic but proportional representation led to the Reichstag being made up of many small parties thus making it difficult to reach a consensus.
· The Reich President was very powerful. Hindenburg hated democracy and favoured right-wing parties.
· The elites were hostile to a democratic republic.
· The German economy was weak and could not provide for a welfare state. Large sections of the population could not be compensated.
· Most of the population hated the Republic.
o The industrialists believed it spent too much on welfare.
o The workers hated the Freikorps and the persecution of the communists.
o The middle classes had had their savings wiped out by inflation.
· The Cultural Revolution alienated many traditionalist members of society.…