====The growth of Nazi Power 1920-33 ====

The consequences of the Munich Putsch

=====The party’s beliefs and organisation =====

While Hitler was in prison after the Beer Hall Putsch, he wrote ‘Mein Kampf’(My Struggle), which was a cross between his autobiography and a list of his political ideas:

§  The German people were a master race, a 'herrenvolk'. All other races (Slavs, Jews, black people) were inferior.

§  Germany should be re-united and seize land to the east

§  To make Germany great again, a new leader was needed. Democracy was a weak system and should be replaced by dictatorship. Communism was evil, too.

§  Hitler also decided that he would have to change his tactics and the way that his party was organised.

Nazi flag

How did Hitler change the Nazi Party?


§  He decided that it must try to gain power by legal means.

§  He must set up a proper political party with a national organisation. Up to then, the Nazis had only been well known in Bavaria. He needed to win as many votes as possible if he was to gain a majority in the Reichstag.

§  He set up sections for women and children and for teachers and founded the Hitler Youth.

§  He appointed Josef Goebbels as head of propaganda. His job was to put the Nazi message across as clearly as possible.

§  In 1926 the black-uniformed SS (Schutz Staffel) was formed, loyal to Hitler personally.


This was the logo of the SS. 

Why did Hitler decide to make these changes?


§  He knew that if he tried to use violence again and failed a second time, he would be finished.

§  At his trial he had gained the attention of a wealthy businessman Alfred Hugenberg. He offered to finance the Nazis. He also owned 53 newspapers, which he used to publicise the Nazis. In 1929 Hugenberg  bought the largest cinema chain in Germany, Hitler then had access to even more publicity.

The result was that by the end of 1926 the Nazi Party had 50,000 members, but its seats in the Reichstag had fallen from 32 in 1924 to only won 12 in the general election of 1928.

=====The growth in support for the Nazis and its causes =====

======Why did support for the Nazis increase in the late 1920s? ======

In 1928 the Nazis won support outside of Bavaria for virtually the first time. They began to win votes in farming areas of north Germany, as prices fell. But their big break came in 1929.

§  On 3 October 1929 Gustav Stresemann died. He had been responsible, more than any other politician, for Germany’s recovery in the 1920s.

§  On 24 October 1929 Wall Street, the American Stock Exchange crashed. US bankers called in their loans to Germany.  German companies had to close down.


§  This led to the Depression of the 1930s, which affected Germany more than any other country. By 1932 6,000,000 Germans (One in three of all workers) were out of work.

§  Unemployment pay only lasted six months. After that came real poverty and homelessness. 

§  The Weimar government seemed unable to deal with the crisis (along with most governments in the world). 

§  The worst effects were felt from 1931 onwards when a series of banks went bust. This ruined many ordinary Germans and led to them losing their homes and being forced to live on the streets.

§  In desperation people began to look for extreme measures to deal with the situation. Two parties began to gain support, the Nazis and the Communists. Voters began to turn away from the centre parties and look to extremes.

§  The Social Democrats refused to cut unemployment pay and so went into opposition. As they were the largest single party this made it difficult to make coalitions. Governments came and went.

§  In this situation, President Hindenburg began to allow Chancellor Bruning to use his emergency powers on a regular basis to by-pass the Reichstag. Democracy in Germany had really ended by 1932.

§  From 1929 support for the Nazis rose steadily.

Numbers of Nazi members in the Reichstag

1928                  12

1930                                '107

1932 July        230

====Why did support for the Hitler and the Nazis grow so quickly? ====

§  Hitler told the German people that the problems of the Depression were not their fault. He blamed the Jews and the Weimar democrats for Germany’s problems. He used them as a scapegoat.

§  The Nazi Party propaganda chief, Goebbels, had Hugenberg’s money and newspapers to back them. Hitler hired a private plane to fly around Germany. He was the first politician to do this. Goebbels organised torchlight processions, rallies, radio broadcasts, films. Nazi propaganda was far ahead of any of their rivals.

§  Hitler said that he would be able to solve the problems. He offered strong leadership and easy solutions.

§  Hitler said that he would do away with the Treaty of Versailles, which had treated Germany so badly, and make their country great again.

§  He was always backed up by large numbers of disciplined and uniformed followers. The SA rose in numbers from 30,000 in 1929 to 440,000 in 1932.  The discipline, the processions and the uniforms gave the impression of toughness and knowing what was needed. It reminded people of the old days under the Kaiser.

§  The violence of the SA increased. This gave the impression of action and purpose. They particularly attacked Communists, which pleased middle class and business people. It also made the Weimar system look as though they couldn’t keep order.

§  Hitler promised different things to different groups of people. To businessmen he promised that he would control the Trade Unions and deal with the Communists. To workers he promised that he would provide jobs.

====How did Hitler become chancellor? ====

§  In 1932 Hitler stood in the presidential elections against Hindenburg. Hindenburg won 17 million votes, Hitler won 11 million.

§  In the July 1932 general election the Nazis became the biggest party in Reichstag, but Hindenburg refused to appoint Hitler Chancellor. Franz von Papen became chancellor.

§  In the November 1932 the Nazis lost some support, but were still the biggest party in the Reichstag. Franz von Papen was replaced as chancellor by General Kurt von Schleicher.

§  Von Papen was furious that von Schleicher had taken his place and was determined to get rid of him. In January 1933.he suggested that Hindenburg appoint Hitler as chancellor, with von Papen as vice-chancellor in a coalition government. Von Papen thought he could control Hitler.

§  Hindenburg against his better judgement agreed. On 31 January 1933 Hitler became chancellor of Germany. He led a coalition government, which included four Nazis.


President Hindenberg making Hitler Chancellor