“The Nazi rise to power was essentially linked to the Great Depression” (Holtfriech).
To what extent do you agree with this statement?
After all the hard work put in by the Nazis over several years in order to access rise to power, President Hindenburg finally appointed Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on 30th January 1933. Many historians have argued about how this all came about, however one in particular, Holtfriech, believes their rise to power was all due to the Great Depression, which was a world-wide phenomenon. This particular aspect however makes it sound all too simple as there also many other factors which play a crucial role in the Nazis’ success. Without Hitler’s oratorical ability, the role of propaganda and the support of a wide range of the population, the Nazis would have not come to power. In my opinion, I think that the Great Depression grabbed the world’s attention and that this was the greatest opportunity for the Nazis to finally excel in their attempt for power, by changing tactics to suit the society. This makes it clear that despite these factors, without the Great Depression, the Nazi message would have not been heard, and it is this that is the most important factor in their rise to power. The Great Depression was an immense tragedy that placed millions of Americans out of work and was without a doubt the most severe economic downturn in American history, during the period of 1929-1939. Germany was affected by this because their economy was supported by American loans due to the Dawes Plan of 1924. As America’s economy was in a horrific state, these loans had to be recalled. The loans were to be paid back however Germany was not in a position to do so, therefore German businesses had to close. The workers were sacked and therefore spending was declined. German people were sucked into unemployment and despair. Everyone was involved: factory workers, middle class bank clerks, civil servants, office workers, small farmers, shopkeepers and all the self-employed. Their position worsened and by 1932, 18,000 farmers had gone bankrupt, 50,000 businesses went bankrupt during 1930 and 1932 and also by 1932, 6 million people were unemployed. The reason why the Great Depression led to rise in power by the Nazis was because the new state of society allowed them to change some of their tactics fundamentally, in order to gain electoral success as more people were ready to listen in this difficult time. Some of these changed tactics involved propaganda, use of technology, support of the industrialists, promises to voters, flexibility and weaknesses of opposition. They realised their anti-Communist stance was very popular therefore their propaganda further whipped up fear and hatred of the Communists and were seen as ‘dealing with Communist threat’. Radio was also used for the first time and they could now redouble propaganda and they went very extreme with this. They also gained financial backing from big business as Hitler made a deal in 1931 with the other main right-wing party, the Nationalists, in which they agreed to co-operate, instead of traditionally voting for the Conservative Party which lost much of its support after 1930. Instead of winning votes over specific classes, they had promised something for everybody as the Great Depression had an effect on everybody too, which allowed more people to listen. Moreover, instead of speaking powerfully for their own beliefs, in their all-out push for electoral success they realised that it doesn’t really matter what you promise as long as people trust you. Therefore if they found an idea was losing them support they would change it, which altered their tactics. Lastly, they were also trying to gain success by electioneering instead of another Putsch, which the Social Democrats feared. As a judgement this was a very important factor which allowed the Nazis to succeed. As more people were ready to listen due to the Great Depression, Hitler’s oratorical...
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