Rise of the Nazi's - how did
the Nazi's gain considerable
support by 1923??
1.1 Munich Putsch - November 1932
1.1.1 In the atmosphere of crisis in late 1923 Hitler attempted to take over the government.
On 8 November in a Beer hall in Munich, Hitler and Rohm, with the backing of
Ludendorff, took control of a conservative political meeting and Hitler announced a
national revolution. Hitler hoped to unite right wing nationalists in an armed march to
seize control. Instead some of the conservative politicians reported the plot to the
authorities and the Bavarian police were able to stop the Putsch as they marched
through Munich on the 9 November. 14 Nazi's were killed and Hitler was arrested for
high treason. In prison Hitler had time to write Mein Kampf and sales helped to support
Hitler in his political work
184.108.40.206 Hitler's trial was transformed into a propaganda coup as he was given a platform for his
party's beliefs. His sentence was lenient - 5 years was the minimum stipulated by the
Weimar Constitution yet his was reduced to 10 months - an act of encouragement from the
220.127.116.11.1 Ludendorff was acquitted on the grounds that although he had been present at the time of the putsch, he was there 'by accident'!
18.104.22.168 Mein Kampf outlined his Weltanschauung (world view)
1.2 Late 1920's, Goebbels developed the techniques of 'saturation' propaganda. The use of speeches, lectures, rallies and
aeroplane campaigns raised the profile of the party. Hitler was portrayed as the statesman-like figure which increased votes
1.2.1 Rallies were designed to provoke an emotional response through the orchestration of image, sound and emotive measures.
1.2.2 Goebbels cultivated an image of Hitler as Germany's heroic saviour, a messiah type figure, which
contrasted with current politicians who seemed weak and ineffective. Nazi propaganda was tailored
to different audiences to maximise support.
22.214.171.124 The 'Hitler over Germany' campaign portrayed him as dynamic and modern. He spoke to 50 cities in 15 days.
Nazi's were successful at presenting different platforms depending on the audience. Party members pitched their
themes to the needs and fears of the appropriate social groups, always stressing their promise to rebuild Germany
to her past glory.
126.96.36.199 Appealed to farmers by offering special benefits to offset the collapse of agricultural prices
188.8.131.52 appeal to the unemployed and industrial workers by aiming to overcome the depression and offering
'bread and work'
184.108.40.206 appeal to the Mittelstand by limiting the control of large department stores
220.127.116.11 appease industrialists by playing down the fear of nationalism and the
state control of the economy.
18.104.22.168 messages about Weimar's lax moral standards were tailored to
conservative mothers and anti-Semitic messages were targeted at
22.214.171.124 Historian Bernd Weisbrod observed that the Nazis
'promised almost anything to everybody.
1.3 The party was able to take advantage of the opportunity
presented against the campaign against the Young Plan.
The campaign was a failure but considerable national
exposure had been given to Hitler and his Nazi rallies which
had an immediate impact at the 1929 local elections
2 Economic depression
2.1 The 1929 Wall Street Crash and the resulting unemployment further polarised German politics. The German
economy relied heavily on US money and so the German economy was severely affected. This created the
opportunity upon which Nazi propaganda would not fall upon deaf ears. Unemployment undermined confidence
in the Weimar Republic as by 1933 one in three German workers was unemployed. Many believed that without
political change that they too would suffer a collapse in living standards. Thus there was an increase in the
popularity of those who offered radical solutions to the economic problems. This explains the acceptance of the
authoritarianism of Hindenburg and the rise in the vote for the KPD. Germans were persuaded to break with their
voting habits of the past and vote for a political movement that, if seemingly violent and extremist in parts, was
reassuringly familiar in its message, for example to remove the Treaty of Versailles.
2.1.1 6 million people were unemployed by 1932 (1/3 of the working age out of work)
2.1.2 50,000 businesses bankrupted
2.1.3 Industrial production declined by more than 40%
2.1.4 Voters looked to more radical parties for solutions
3 Failure of mainstream politicians
3.1 The political system struggled to cope with the difficulties.
3.1.1 Muller's Grand Coalition fell apart as the parties disagreed over the issue of
unemployment benefits. Subsequent governments were minority administrations which
lacked Reichstag support. Bruning's government failed to get backing for its July 1930
budget and so Hindenburg dissolved the Reichstag and called a new election. Von
Papen's government also fell apart as a vote of no confidence was passed.
126.96.36.199 INTERNAL DIVISIONS - > sharp increase in unemployment had created a large deficit on new NI
scheme and the major parties in the coalition could not agree on how to
tackle it. SPD (supporters of trade unions) wanted an increase in
contributions and maintain the levels of welfare payments. DVP had ties
with big business and wanted to reduce benefits
3.1.2 The German political system moved in a more authoritarian direction.
Bruning and later von-Papen had to rely extensively on emergency
decrees rather than parliamentary government; 44 were issued under
Article 48 in 1931. In July 1931 von Papen and Hindenburg also used
Article 48 to seize control of regional governments in Prussia, where they
rejected to the left-wing SPD-led government.
188.8.131.52 However politicians did not gain popular support because they did not take effective action to deal with the
depression. Modest reflationary measures were only started in mid-1932. As a result Germans lost faith in
the political system; Bruning was labelled the ‘hunger Chancellor’
3.1.3 The problem worsened as political violence returned to the streets. During the July 1932 election campaign
there were 461 riots in Prussia in which a number of people died. The SA were responsible for lots of the
violence as they battled against communists. This increased person’s discontent.
3.1.4 Scapegoat - Weimar democracy - the 'November criminals': politicians
responsible for the armistice (Treaty of V) and the creation of the Republic
became associated with all aspects of Weimar Germany - e.g. the Great
4 Support from the conservative elites
4.1 Hindenburg resisted making Hitler chancellor after the July 1932 election and did not consider mass
popularity sufficient for him to be elected. What eventually led to his appointment was the support he
received from some in the political and economic elite.
4.1.1 Conservatives in big business turned to Hitler for fear of a communist takeover as they had seen the KPD
vote increase from 3.2 million in 1928 to 5.9 million in November 1933. Thus influential industrialists and
bankers put pressure on Hindenburg to appoint Hitler Chancellor. They also contributed to Nazi funds.
Furthermore army leaders told Hindenburg that they would be unable to deal with uprisings from both the
communist militia and SA. Thus they wanted a deal with Hitler in order to gain the support of the SA
184.108.40.206 Hitler managed to secure 3m Reichmarks from big businesses
4.1.2 Hitler benefitted from the intrigue of the time. Von Papen schemed
against von Schleicher, appointed in December 1932. The plan
involved convincing Hindenburg to make him vice-Chancellor and
Hitler Chancellor in a cabinet where Nazi members would be a
minority. Von Papen wanted to use Hitler’s popular support to give
the legitimacy to an authoritarian government that his own
government had lacked in 1932. Von Papen assumed he would be
able to control Hitler. Hindenburg relented when von Schleicher
failed to gain Reichstag support in the same way as von Papen.
5 Veneer of legality
5.1 At the 1926 party conference Strasser failed in his
challenge to Hitler’s insistence that all action had to be
dictated with the policy of ‘legality’. This explains Hitler
quelling of the SA and the reduction of their role to
organising Nazi rallies.
5.2 In March 1931 the leader of the Berlin SA,
Stennes, rebelled against the orders of Hitler to
obey a decree requiring police permission for
rallies. This rebellion failed and the fact that the
leadership was seen to be dealing effectively with
the revolts of radical party members gained
confidence in Hitler’s commitment to ‘legal’
methods of gaining power.
6 Party reorganisation and ideology
6.1 By 1923 the party had 55,000 members, many of whom were attracted by the
‘catch-all’ manifesto and the radical nationalism of the movement
6.2 The party had an ability to expand and provide a political home for those discontented with their lives. In
1925, following a poor showing in the elections, the party was reorganised into a centralised and
bureaucratic entity and an index of all members was created.
6.2.1 At the Bamberg Conference (1926) Hitler asserted his
ideology and the Fuherprinzip (the principle that Hitler
possessed all power and authority)
6.2.2 Hitler established a national party network. Regional party bosses (called
gauleiters) were appointed and accountable to Hitler. They assisted with
6.2.3 The May 1928 election results were dismal (only 2.6% of the vote) and this prompted further party reorganisation. Nazi
professional bodies were set up for Jurists, doctors, teachers and students. This allowed the
party to transform into a mass movement. The setting up of groups to appeal to specific sections
of the community gave the party a wide appeal; the AA drew into the party a largely discontented
6.2.4 The NSDAP had huge support from the Middle Class who were damaged by the economic uncertainty. The Nazis
started to attract votes from the industrial working class. Their vote was actually weakest in urban areas. For significant
swathes of the population a vote for the Nazis was a protest vote against the failures of the Weimar Republic; this
explains the breadth of Nazi support.
6.3 The reason that the party was able to provide a
political home for those discontented after the crash
of 1929 was because of the flexibility of the party
structure created and developed in the 1920s.
6.4 JEWS - Easy to exploit the long
established history of anti-Semitism in
Europe as a whole, Germany in particular.
6.4.1 This poster comes from the 1932 presidential elections, but I am not sure which round. The caption on top, in
pseudo-Hebraic lettering, translates as: “We are voting for Hindenburg!” The pictures are of a variety of Jewish
socialists and communists, sex researchers, etc. The caption beneath: “Look at these faces and you’ll know where
you belong!” The pictures are of leading Nazis. Courtesy of Dr. Robert D. Brooks.
6.5 Played on the fears of Communism - KPD a
sizeable party of 13-17% in 1930-2 and
increasing threat of communist USSR.