The Rise of the Nazi Party

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There is no single answer as to why the Nazis were able to gain so much support during the 1920's; there are several, and people still argue about them. Some people - especially during the Second World War - suggested that the Nazi movement grew out of something basically wrong in the German character. However, modern historians recognise that a combination of factors such as Hitler's personality and mesmerising oratory skills, the problems with the Weimar Republic, the Nazi's effective use of propaganda, Hitler's exploitation of the Dolchstoss myth and the German people's fear of communism and the Great Depression all aided the National Socialist Workers' Party (NSDAP, or Nazi Party) in attracting growing support throughout the 1920's.

According to Robert Gibson and Jon Nichol in their book Germany, the reasons for Hitler's success were: 1. The Nazi Party was well organised;
2. People feared the Communists;
3. Hitler was a good speaker;
4. Few people like the governments of the Weimar Republic; 5. Hitler's ideas were popular;
6. There was an agricultural depression;
7. There was mass unemployment;
8. The Communists thought that the Social Democrats were a greater danger than the Nazis; 9. Industrialists supported Hitler.

These and other factors all contributed to the increasing support of the Nazi Party in the 1920's.
Hitler, the leader of the NSDAP, was suave, charismatic and always impressive. He would always arrive at functions and meetings in a Mercedes and had extensive visits to the most exclusive hotels in Germany. Hitler had a very memorable personality, and it has been stated that "There is no question that it was the personality of Hitler that held the NSDAP together ... and was the party's main weapon." Hitler was above all of this a passionate and emotive speaker who, some would argue, captured his audiences' attention with greater ease than any other figure in history. "He shone in print and positively dazzled on the lecture platform."

Even an American journalist realised Hitler's ability to grasp people's attention with his speeches, and commented that "When, at the climax [of a speech] he sways from one side to the other his listeners sway with him; when he leans forward and when ends they are either awed or silent or on their feet in a frenzy." Hitler's remarkable ability to capture and entrance his audiences is demonstrated by the fact that Hitler, unlike any of his contemporaries, could actually charge admission for his speeches! Obviously, the fact that Hitler was such a popular speaker was a major reason why the Nazi Party was able to attract growing support in the 1920's. Hitler's impressive nature was a major contributing factor to the Nazi Party's electoral landslides in the late twenties.

Although the war was over, the militarism and fondness for military tradition remained strong in Germany. With their processions, military bands, leaflets and sheer energy, the Nazis attracted massive interest and appealed to the soft spot that many Germans had for the Prussian military style, with discipline and pride. The marches, often by the SA (Nazi Storm troopers), had a huge presence and were very impressive. Albert Speer, a leading Nazi made the comment: "my mother saw a Storm Trooper parade ... the sight of discipline in a time of chaos, the impression of energy in an atmosphere of universal hopelessness, seems to have won her over also."

The sight of these parades was very emotive for some German people, and those who respected the militaristic values that Germany had previously stood for were very supportive of Hitler. The ideal of discipline appealed to many, and although the Nazi Party was quite small, it was a tightly controlled, highly disciplined organisation. This is one reason why the Nazis gained growing support during the 1920's. The opportunity of serving in the SA gave unemployed men the...
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