MINI ESSAY: Hitler’s Rise to Power
“Hitler’s rise to power was due more to the weakness of the Weimar Republic than his own strengths.” I agree with this statement to a large extent due to the various evident shortcomings in the means by which the Weimar government addressed issues faced by Germans in the years leading to Hitler’s rise to power. The Weimar Government was a coalition government made of many parties that had proportional representation. As there were too many political parties that each had individual agendas, the decision making process was inefficient, which meant that laws could not be passed quickly. The German people saw the treaty of Versailles as a harsh and unjust treaty and they held the Weimar politicians responsible for their treatment. After the Wall Street Crash, Germany needed a strong government to solve its economic problems. Frequent changes in government gave the Germans a sense that the government was weak and could not get things done as it lacked stability and consistency.
The depression of 1929 created poverty and unemployment. For those who had lost their jobs, there was hunger, poverty, and homelessness. “Unemployment in Germany rose to 6 million” (Hitler’s Rise to Power). The Weimar government had no idea on what to do about these problems. They did attempt to address theses issues though, but with little success. The Weimar government raised taxes, cut wages and reduced unemployment benefits to try to solve the issue of economic collapse and other effects of the depression. In addition, Germany was being ruled by presidential decree. The president though, was 84 years old and was controlled by business and army leaders. These issues lead to a rise of extremism, mainly due to the unpopular economic policies. The Nazis blamed the Weimar Republic for the state Germany was in, making the government lose the little support they had.
Bitterness and anger of the public helped the Nazis to gain more support. Many middle-class people, alarmed by the obvious failure of democracy, decided that the country needed a strong government. This series of events had gradually decreased the German people's tolerance of the ineffectual democracy. Most support went to the Nazis who were promising to return Germany to its former glory. In 1928, the Nazis had only 12 seats in the Reichstag; by July 1932 they had 230 seats, being largest party. The government was in chaos. President Hindenburg dismissed Brüning in 1932. He replaced him with Papen, and then Schleicher. Hindenburg had to use Article 48 to pass almost every law. People started to doubt Hindenburg himself. Taking advantage of these times of hardship, Hitler promised these desperate people what they wanted: employment and a way out of these poverty times. “There were simply not enough Germans who believed in democracy and individual freedom to save the Weimar republic.” (Written by the modern historian S. Williams) (John D. Clare, Hitler’s Rise to Power). Hitler was the only option left, and during desperate times people were willing to listen to anyone.
However, one can controvert that Hitler’s own strengths were also the reason for his success, possibly more than the weaknesses of the Weimar Republic. “Hitler standing before a crowd delivering his powerful and moving speeches seemed to represent strong, decisive leadership in the great German tradition going back to the Kaiser and beyond.” (Lacey, Shephard, pg 50) Hitler, the strong leader whom Germany needed and wanted was the focus in the barrage of electioneering. “While the Weimar Republic appeared simply muddling through indecisively, Hitler’s strong personality and powerful ideas seemed to be just what Germany needed.” (Lacey, Shephard, pg 50) In January 1933, Hindenburg and Papen came up with a plan to get the Nazis on their side by offering to make Hitler vice chancellor. He refused and demanded to be made chancellor. They agreed, thinking they could control him. However, Hitler was seen as a strong leader and the Nazi Party as organized and disciplined, in distinct contrast to the disunited and Weimar Government.
In conclusion, the weakness of the Weimar government was the most important reason for the rise of the Nazis and Hitler. If there had been a strong government, the economic effects of the great depression would have been handled much better, and there would have been no opportunity for the Nazis and Hitler to present themselves as a better alternative government. Thus, the weakness of the Weimar government was more of the reason of Hitler’s rise to power, rather than his own strengths.
Clare, John D. "Hitler's Rise to Power." Hitler's Rise to Power. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. .
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Historyishappening. “Hitler’s Rise to Power.” YouTube. 06 Apr. 2008. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. .
Lacey, Greg, and Keith Shephard. Germany 1918-1945. London: Hodder Murray, 1997. Print.
XPrince007X. “National Geographic Apocalypse The Rise of Hitler 1of2 Becoming Hitler.” YouTube. 01 Feb. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. .