The Rise of Nazi Germany: The History of the Events that Brought Adolf Hitler to Power by Charles River Editors*Includes pictures
*Profiles the seminal events that helped Hitler rise to power and consolidate his position, including the end of World War I, the Beer Hall Putsch, the Burning of the Reichstag, and the Night of the Long Knives
*Includes online resources for further reading
*Includes a table of contents
“I cannot remember in my entire life such a change in the attitude of a crowd in a few minutes, almost a few seconds ... Hitler had turned them inside out, as one turns a glove inside out, with a few sentences. It had almost something of hocus-pocus, or magic about it.” - Dr. Karl Alexander von Mueller
It is often claimed that Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany through democratic means, and while that is a stretch, it is true that he managed to become an absolute dictator as Chancellor of Germany in the 1930s through a mixture of politics and intimidation. Ironically, he had set such a course only because of the failure of an outright coup attempt known as the Beer Hall Putsch about a decade earlier.
At the close of World War I, Hitler was an impoverished young artist who scrapped by through selling souvenir paintings, but within a few years, his powerful oratory brought him to the forefront of the Nazi party in Munich and helped make the party much more popular. A smattering of followers in the hundreds quickly became a party of thousands, with paramilitary forces like the SA backing them, and at the head of it all was a man whose fiery orations denounced Jews, communists and other “traitors” for bringing upon the German nation the Treaty of Versailles, which had led to hyperinflation and a wrecked economy.
The early 1930s were a tumultuous period for German politics, even in comparison to the ongoing transition to the modern era that caused various forms of chaos throughout the rest of the world. In the United States, reliance on the outdated gold standard and an absurdly parsimonious monetary policy helped bring about the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the Empire of Japan began its ultimately fatal adventurism with the invasion of Manchuria, alienating the rest of the world with the atrocities it committed. Around the same time, Gandhi began his drive for the peaceful independence of India through nonviolent protests against the British.
It was in Germany, however, that the strongest seeds of future tragedy were sown. The struggling Weimar Republic had become a breeding ground for extremist politics, including two opposed and powerful authoritarian entities: the right-wing National Socialists and the left-wing KPD Communist Party. As the 1930s dawned, these two totalitarian groups held one another in a temporary stalemate, enabling the fragile ghost of democracy to continue a largely illusory survival for a few more years.
That stalemate was broken in dramatic fashion on a bitterly cold night in late February 1933, and it was the Nazis who emerged decisively as the victors. A single act of arson against the famous Reichstag building proved to be the catalyst that propelled Adolf Hitler to victory in the elections of March 1933, which set the German nation irrevocably on the path towards World War II.
Like other totalitarian regimes, the leader of the Nazis kept an iron grip on power in part by making sure nobody else could attain too much of it, leading to purges of high-ranking officials in the Nazi party. Of these purges, the most notorious was the Night of the Long Knives, a purge in the summer of 1934 that came about when Hitler ordered the surprise executions of several dozen leaders of the SA. This fanatically National Socialist paramilitary organization had been a key instrument in overthrowing democratic government in Germany and raising Hitler to dictatorial power in the first place.
In , Adolf Hitler was a strange combination of has-been and never-was. His Nazi party had a paltry number of seats in Parliament and showed no signs of picking up steam. Unbeknownst to most, and largely lost to the scrapheap of history, are the machinations and fateful miscalculations of a small number of men who helped pull Hitler from oblivion and back into the spotlight. Dietrich Klagges. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons. Hitler was Austrian, and thus prevented from running for political office in Germany—as well as facing possible deportation. Hitler was thus able to run for the presidency, make a name for himself and announce his presence on the national political scene more on that later.
It was anti-Marxist and opposed to the democratic post-war government of the Weimar Republic and the Treaty of Versailles , advocating extreme nationalism and Pan-Germanism as well as virulent anti-Semitism. Hitler's "rise" can be considered to have ended in March , after the Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act of in that month. President Paul von Hindenburg had already appointed Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January after a series of parliamentary elections and associated backroom intrigues. The Enabling Act—when used ruthlessly and with authority—virtually assured that Hitler could thereafter constitutionally exercise dictatorial power without legal objection. Adolf Hitler rose to a place of prominence in the early years of the party. Being one of its best speakers, he told the other members to either make him leader of the party or he would never return. He was aided in part by his willingness to use violence in advancing his political objectives and to recruit party members who were willing to do the same.
Conditions were ripe for the development of such a party. Resentment at the loss of the war and the severity of the peace terms added to the economic woes and brought widespread discontent. Munich was a gathering place for dissatisfied former servicemen and members of the Freikorps , which had been organized in —19 from units of the German army that were unwilling to return to civilian life, and for political plotters against the republic. Many of these joined the Nazi Party. Conditions were favourable for the growth of the small party, and Hitler was sufficiently astute to take full advantage of them. When he joined the party, he found it ineffective, committed to a program of nationalist and socialist ideas but uncertain of its aims and divided in its leadership. He accepted its program but regarded it as a means to an end.
Who Was Adolf Hitler?
The 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War is on September 1. As someone who specializes in international business, I know how rapidly ideas and ideologies can be transported globally. International business scholars are increasingly concerned with the possibility that economic nationalism will lead to deglobalization , reversing decades of economic growth. This has spurred new debates on the potential consequences of economic nationalism and also examinations of the political processes that cause shifts from liberal democracies to more authoritarian governments. Understanding to helps us better understand to And in an era of rising political extremism around the world, this period of history holds lessons important for the present. It features a university courageously resisting ministerial interference, but quickly falling in line when the new regime had cemented its power.