Hitler's Rise to Power

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There is no simple answer as to why Hitler became chancellor in January 1933. There are a number of causal factors which all contributed to his rise into power (I am assuming that the phrase 'rise to power' in the title means becoming chancellor). Any of the factors, on its own, however, would not have resulted in his appointment. They are all linked in a web of causation and if any of the factors were missing, Hitler would not have been appointed chancellor. Of the factors, the Great Depression was the most important.

The Treaty of Versailles only partly helped Hitler become chancellor. On 28 June 1919, Germany signed the Treaty with the allies, losing 10% of her land. The German army was reduced to 100,000 men and Germany had to pay reparations of £6,600 million. Hitler blamed the Treaty for Germany's problems. When Germany failed to pay a reparation instalment in 1922, French and Belgian troops entered German soil and seized goods. The German government ordered passive resistance but workers needed to be paid. The government printed money and hyperinflation set in. During this crisis in Germany, caused indirectly by the Treaty, when Hitler tried to seize power he was unsupported. Therefore the Treaty of Versailles, on its own, was not a reason why Hitler rose to power. After 1929, the Great Depression acted as a catalyst, igniting the German people's anger for the Treaty of Versailles and it then became a factor in Hitler's rise to power.

Another reason why Hitler was able to rise to power was due to the failure of the Munich Putsch of November 1923. At his trial, Hitler gained enormous publicity, which made him well known. He spent only nine months in Landsberg jail where he learnt many lessons. He learnt that the only way to gain power is to stand in elections and destroy the system from within. He also realised that he did not have enough big friends and by 1932, he had won the support of the army and industrialists. Hitler also wrote Mein Kampf, which allowed him to work out his own beliefs. He became like a martyr for the party and Mein Kampf acted as a Bible. However, the 'Beer Hall Putsch' was not all good. The Nazi party was banned and Hitler was not allowed to speak publicly (until 1928 in Prussia). The Nazi Party fell apart. The Munich Putsch was one of the least important reasons why he was able to rise into power. Before the Great Depression, Hitler gained very few votes (the Nazis had only 12 seats in 1928) and would have continued to do so without the Depression.

Hitler's amazing oratorical, personality and leadership skills also helped him rise into power. As I saw on video, during huge rallies Hitler whipped up the crowds into hysteria. He was years ahead of his time as a communicator and he sent his message to millions as he travelled by aeroplane all over Germany. Hitler was magnificent at building up anticipation and expectation. He would keep crowds waiting and then remain silent for about a minute once he arrived on the podium. He would begin quietly and slowly and then burst into full charge as he stirred up the nationalist emotions in the crowd. He was vague so that he could not be held to promises and drilled in the same points. Militaristic music, uniforms and banners also conveyed strength and discipline. However, Hitler held rallies in the mid 1920s and these did not win him many votes. There was something else that made voters turn to Hitler- the Great Depression. Before the Great Depression, most people were happy with the way things were- Stresemann introduced the Rentenmark after the hyperinflation and Germany got back onto her feet. Nothing Hitler said could have gained him votes and by most was regarded as a 'bore in a bar'.

In his speeches, Hitler provided scapegoats such as the Jews, communists and the Treaty of Versailles. It was true that Jews held positions of influence beyond their numbers and when jobs were in demand, anti-Semitism rocketed. After the Great...
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