The Rise of Adolf Hitler
December 4, 2012
After his failed Munich Putsch, which was a failed attempt at a revolution to overtake Munich in November 8th 1923, and his one-year imprisonment Adolf Hitler decided that the only way to overthrow the Weimar government and rise to power would be by democratic means. However, after his release from prison, the ambitious speaker found himself unable to seize power in a period of political stability and economic prosperity with the enactment of the Dawes Plan in 1924 and the Young Plan in 1929. Nevertheless, after the Wall Street Crash in 1929 the idea of Hitler as leader seemed more and more appealing to the German people. By manipulating the German people, promising them that he could return Germany to prosperity and make it better than ever before, and using his political abilities, Hitler was able to rise to power by being appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933. In the 1928 elections, during a period of prosperity and stability, the NSDAP only got 12 seats in the Reichstag. However, in the elections of 1930 and 1932 (July), the Nazi Party got 107 and 230 seats respectively. It is clear that the worse the economic state of Germany was, the more seats the Nazis got,. During these two years, after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, when unemployment rates were quickly escalating, the small Nazi political group transformed into the largest and most powerful party in Germany. Finally, in the November elections of 1932, a period during which the first signs of economic recovery were apparent, Hitler and his Party obtained 196 seats, 46 seats fewer than the previous elections. This shows that without a doubt, the rise of Hitler was fueled by the financial problems and the desperation and hopelessness of the German people. In addition to this idea, according to the historian Robert Boyce, “the economic slump did not only bring about financial crisis, but also led to a political one”, that of fascism. The Treaty of Versailles was one of the main causes for Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Signed on 28 June 1919 at the Paris Peace Conference, the treaty aimed at punishing Germany for all its war crimes during the battles of the First World War. As stated by the Versailles agreement, Germany was forced to pay immense amounts of reparations for its economy and agriculture, colonies and territorial areas such as the Polish corridor, the Saar, Alsace-Lorraine and demilitarization of Rhineland, as well as to accept the responsibility of starting WWI, as required by the War Guilt Clause. Despite the fact that Germany had managed to recover from all problems and its economy was in a good state after the ratification of the Dawes Plan in 1924, the Versailles Treaty, being immensely humiliating for Germany, became a fundamental element of Adolf Hitler’s propaganda. With his characterization of the Versailles government as the “November Criminals of 1918”, who stabbed the undefeated German army in the back as General Erich Ludendorff had claimed, Hitler aimed to hold responsibility for Germany’s troubles the government of Friedrich Ebert and his government. At the same time, Hitler promised to the German people to restore Germany’s greatness and build the Third Reich, by abolishing the Treaty of Versailles. The German people, who had previously suffered from the Treaty’s harsh clauses and did not want to experience once more problems such as hyperinflation, unemployment or poverty, could now see a leader that could unite them and find a solution to their troubles. Hitler’s political abilities played a crucial role in his rise to power. In order to attract and unite the German masses, he used his charisma, made extensive use of propaganda and carefully planned his speeches. According to Ian Kershaw, Hitler was “above all an actor. That applied on the delayed entry to the packed hall, the careful construction of his speeches,...
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