Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 because he was leader of the most popular party in Germany. How far you agree with this opinion? Hitler’s appointment in 1933 cannot be put down to just one factor. There were many influential occurrences leading up to his appointment but overall the Great Depression seems to be the biggest factor as it started a ‘chain reaction’ that overall led to Hitler being Chancellor of Germany. Therefore, despite being the leader of the most popular party in Germany playing a part in Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor it was not solely responsible and was also not the most important factor.
An argument that could be used to show that Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 because he was leader of the most popular party in Germany is the idea that the Nazis used effective tactics which not only allowed them to gain extreme popularity but also their leader, Adolf Hitler. Essentially, the Nazis clever strategies allowed Hitler to gain recognition. For example, the Nazis were incredibly good at changing their policies to suit their audiences at rallies. The Great Depression was also used to their favour; promoting Hitler as the saviour in their propaganda to incredible effect.
Goebbels’ propaganda campaign was very effective and it won support for the Nazis and Hitler. Also, Hitler moved away from violence and realised that the only way he could receive true power was through the Reichstag. The Nazis were able to win over the working and middle classes by using their anti-Jewish propaganda for the working classes and for the middle classes and farmers they focussed on their policies on powerless and honourless Germany, making it great again. No other party focussed more on propaganda than the Nazis; they were masters of propaganda.
Their propaganda skills had the ability to change the public’s opinions and views. It encompassed every aspect of Weimar Germany to entice millions of people into following them, their policies ranged from unemployment to the stab in the back myth of Versailles. This increased the appeal of the Nazis and as a result they increased their vote in the Reichstag in the next election of July 1932, increasing their number of seats to 230 and becoming the largest party in the Reichstag.
The Nazis used the problems with the economy and the Weimar republic to boost their support; this is evident in the fact that as unemployment got worse, Nazi support increased. Therefore clearly, being the leader of the most popular party did have extreme benefits for Hitler in terms of helping him become Chancellor due to gaining popularity through the party. Having said that, the idea that Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 because he was leader of the most popular party in Germany to an extent can be argued to be untrue; as briefly discussed the weaknesses of the Weimar government also played a clear role.
More specifically, events happening outside of Germany such as Wall Street Crash; The Great Depression. Germany suffered the consequences due to the collapse of share prices on the New York Stock Exchange more than any other country. US loans and investment ceased and demands quickly followed for the repayment of previous short-term loans. Also, the crisis caused a further decline in the price of food and raw materials as the industrialised nations reduced their imports. As demands for exports collapsed world trade slumped and German industry could no longer pay its way.
The argument could therefore be made that without this event the Nazis may not have become the most popular party. After all, the party’s popularity came from anger and bitterness of Weimar. Therefore, people turned towards the extremist political parties. Yet many workers turned to communism but this frightened wealthy businessmen, so they financed Hitler’s campaigns. Many middle-class people, alarmed by the obvious failure of democracy, decided that the country needed a strong government. The depression of 1929 created poverty and unemployment, making people angry with the Weimar government.
Overall, this argument clearly signifies that Hitler’s appointment to become Chancellor was not just down to him being leader of the most popular party in Germany; events outside Germany lead to Weimar failing miserably which also played a clear role. Nazis electoral success in 1932 did to an extent have an impact and therefore, can be used to argue that Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 because he was leader of the most popular party in Germany. After all, the elections to the Reichstag in July saw the Nazi percentage of the vote increase to 37. 3 per cent, making it the largest party in the Reichstag. This was a sensational breakthrough.
As the largest political group in the Reichstag, they had a mandate from the German people to be involved in the government. Clearly, this indicates that whilst the Nazi party looked increasingly powerful, their leader Hitler did so too; making him more well known throughout the country. This argument is also strengthened by the thought that it is after all, down to being the leader of the Nazis because the moderate parties would not work together despite the fact that together they would be stronger than the Nazis and therefore, weaknesses of other parties contribute to Hitler and the Nazis looking stronger.
This strength made Hitler more established as a political figure giving him a clear advantage. However, in comparison to the previous argument another reason for Hitler’s Chancellorship was Von Papen; indicating that Hitler did not become Chancellor just due to being the leader of the most popular party in Germany. After all, the Nazis gained electoral success in 1932 but Hindenburg still refused to make Hitler Chancellor; indicating despite being the leader this did not put Hitler in an advantageous position. Yet, Von Papen had been Chancellor before Hitler and had become close friends with President Hindenburg.
This played much to Hitler’s advantage as Papen offered to convince Hindenburg that Hitler was the right choice for the new Chancellor provided Papen could be Vice Chancellor. Von Papen managed to convince Hindenburg, along with various other politicians that Hitler was the best choice. Without Von Papen, Hitler may not have managed to initially become Chancellor or at least not until later than January 1933. This combined with the idea that previous governments were weak and lacked support made a clear sign for that Germany needed change. Hitler was something new and had clearly opposed the idea of a democracy from the start.
As the German public started to go against the Republic their support turned to the opposing and completely differing view of Hitler. He was different to the past chancellors such as Von Papen who represented failed governments. He portrayed himself through propaganda and in speeches as a strong and powerful leader who could lead Germany out of this depression and unrest and that’s what the German public needed at the time. After all, Hindenburg had no other alternative but to place Hitler as Chancellor due to the failures of previous governments and Hitler’s growing support from people close to Hindenburg.
Also, other conservative elites believed that Hitler was a man that could easily be tamed and kept under control. This gave him an advantage over the Communists, as Hindenburg believed he wouldn’t be able to control the communists if he supported them. This is therefore important in the eventual appointment of Hitler as Chancellor as without the support of the conservative elites, it is debatable as to whether or not Hitler would actually have gained power. Even, when in the July 1932 the NSDAP won 230 seats, becoming the largest party in Germany,
Hindenburg did not appoint Hitler Chancellor. Hence, it is hard to imagine why anything would have changed without considerable pressure being mounted on Hindenburg from business. In particular, without the support of von Papen and his supposed ability to “control Hitler”, Hindenburg would certainly not have been persuaded. Clearly then, these conservative elites had at least some impact in bringing about Hitler’s time as Chancellor. Also, the misjudgement of von Papen and Hindenburg in believing that they could control Hitler is crucial in explaining the overall Nazi seizure of power.