The Nazi party rose to power in Germany due to perfect timing and a well thought out political strategy. Adolf Hitler was the figurehead of the party, and with his charismatic speeches and manipulation of the German people’s emotions, was able to take over the nation for the Nazi party. However it was not Hitler alone who was responsible for the rise and success of the party. The climate of Germany that was ripe for the taking had been set up long before Hitler. It was also the negligence of outside powers and their desire for peace that would allow for Nazi Germany to grow in power in the days leading up to World War II.
Before we can understand how the Nazi party was successful we must look back to the history of the Germanic people. The first know use of the word “Germani” was in the year 222 B.C. by the Romans. (Waldman, Carl, Mason; Encyclopedia of European peoples, p.797) This term was used as a classification of the related peoples East of Rome, particularly the Gauls, but also included many peoples from the Rhine through Scandinavia, and modern day Poland. These societies all shared a similar language and culture but would not be united for nearly 2,000 years.
Otto von Bismarck was a Prussian conservative politician and aristocrat who would go on to unite most of the German states, the main exception being Austria. Through diplomacy he moved these nations from a lose confederation into a strong empire in the 1860s, eventually going on to defeat Austria in the Austrio-Prussian war of 1866. Bismarck would later be at the forefront of keeping peace in Europe. He helped sign the German-Austrian Agreement of 18 in 1879, the secrete Alliance of the Three Emperors in 1881 (Germany, Austria and Russia), and the secret Triple Alliance in 1882. (Germany, Austria and Italy) These alliances would set the stage for the Great War.
Due to the Triple Alliance Germany was forced into war against the Triple Entente (Russia, England and France). The First World War would rage from 1914 to 1918. 37.5 million people died as a result of the war, 10 million of which were German. The treaty of Versailles unfairly deemed Germany responsible. Article 231, the War Guilt Clause, forced the nation to pay war debts to the victors. It also reduced the size of their army to 100,000 and didn’t allow for them to have a mechanized infantry, air force, and only a small navy. This lead to a large level of poverty and inflation in Germany.
The soldiers returned home with little fanfare. The November revolution would kick out the Kaiser and replace his with the Weimar Republic on November 9th. Fredrick Ebert, the head of the Social Democrat party, established the republic. At this time many political parties ranging from far left to far right were vying for power. They all felt as though the republic was temporary and weak. The farthest right of these was the volksgemeinschaft, a nationalist movement for a pure German people. The Nazi party would form out of this group.
Adolf Hitler was a young, driven man at this time. He was an art school reject who became a colonel in the German army, even receiving an iron cross for his service. Hitler prided himself in being German, even fighting for the German army while being a citizen of Austria. He blamed what he considered the immoral Jews for the economic collapse of Germany. His fiery speeches and youth made him immensely popular in extreme right wing circles. Many soldiers joined this movement. They were dangerous and accustom to violence.
The President who was elected for a seven-year term headed the Weimar Republic. He was in charge of the army as well as appointing and dismissing the Chancellor. The Chancellor was responsible for the government and the Reichstag, which was their parliament voted on in democratic elections. Paul Hindenburg becomes president in 1925. He himself like many Germans was not a fan of the republic.
There were five main political forces at the...
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