Why Did Hindenburg Appoint Hitler as Chancellor in 1933?

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Why did Hindenburg appoint Hitler as Chancellor in 1933? (No. 3, Pg 146) The reasons for Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in 1933 have been debated heavily by a number of Historians. Causes, ranging from Germany’s authoritarian historical background and the effects of World War One on German Society to Hitler’s very own charisma as a leader and speaker, have all been considered as reasons for his lucky ascent into power. Yet there is no denying that for all Hitler’s charm, Nazi support by late 1932 was flailing and the people never actually elected him as Chancellor. So, this begs the question; why would Hindenburg (The German president at the time) choose to put Hitler, a man he had claimed to strongly dislike, into a position of power over the Reichstag and the German people? Although there are many long term reasons for Hindenburg’s decision; a shared miscalculation by certain groups of people in power can be seen as a very important cause. One famous explanation (favoured by the Nazis) for Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in 1933 (and his later position as dictator) was that it had simply been his and Germany’s inevitable destiny. Although, this could first be dismissed as propaganda by the Nazis, looking at the authoritarian nature and history of Germany and the rise of Hitler and the Nazis in the 1920s and 30s, there is some truth to it. In German History; there is this theory of Sonderweg (special path); a belief that Germany was unique, distinct from other European nations and was therefore destined to follow a different transition from Aristocracy to Democracy. This course could include violence if necessary; past German Chancellors such as Otto Von Bismarck who was famous for his Blood and Iron Speech during the unification of Germany are an example of that. Germany had a history of Authoritarianism and a strong belief in Militarism and the army. The days of the Kaiser and the Second Reich, during which there had been little liberalism, had not left people’s minds and there were still those that were nostalgic for those days. Hitler drew on Germany’s past ideologies because the people’s belief in Authoritarian and military traditions had not faded. They lacked a commitment to democracy and seemed to have lost faith in it; it wasn’t working for them so Hitler’s message appealed to them. According to William Shirer ‘Acceptance of autocracy, of blind obedience to the petty tyrants who ruled as princes, became engrained in the German mind’. Hitler was offering extreme change and a goodbye to the democratic mess they had found themselves in, he was offering to bring back some of the old ways from the days of the Kaiser and the German People seemed to prefer Order over Freedom. Their vote for Hindenburg as president, an old war leader from World War One is proof of their nostalgia. Perhaps Hitler was simply the Authoritarian leader that Germany wanted and had been destined to have. As Taylor would put it ‘There was no mystery to Hitler’s victory; the mystery was that it had been so long delayed’. Another explanation for his rise could simply be the appeal of Adolf Hitler. Hitler had not been destined to become chancellor of Germany; his political skill had gotten him there. Hitler said things the German people wanted to hear and his ideologies seemed to be shared by a lot of Germans anyway. In the aftermath of World War 1 and the Paris Peace Conference; there was a general hatred for the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler’s message (in Mein Kampf, for example) was filled with a Pan-German, anti-communist, anti-capitalist and anti-Semitic ideas and this appealed to the German public who mostly seemed to share his ideas. Hitler built on this appeal by forming the SA in 1921 in order to make the Nazi look more impressive; using his political skill in 1925 he overcame his political rivals and re-founded the Nazi party, becoming their undisputed leader. With Joseph Goebbels (In charge of Propaganda) at his...
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