After all the hard work put in by the Nazis over several years in order to access rise to power, President Hindenburg finally appointed Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on 30th January 1933. Many historians have argued about how this all came about, however one in particular, Holtfriech, believes their rise to power was all due to the Great Depression, which was a world-wide phenomenon. This particular aspect however makes it sound all too simple as there also many other factors which play a crucial role in the Nazis’ success. Without Hitler’s oratorical ability, the role of propaganda and the support of a wide range of the population, the Nazis would have not come to power. In my opinion, I think that the Great Depression grabbed the world’s attention and that this was the greatest opportunity for the Nazis to finally excel in their attempt for power, by changing tactics to suit the society.
This makes it clear that despite these factors, without the Great Depression, the Nazi message would have not been heard, and it is this that is the most important factor in their rise to power. The Great Depression was an immense tragedy that placed millions of Americans out of work and was without a doubt the most severe economic downturn in American history, during the period of 1929-1939. Germany was affected by this because their economy was supported by American loans due to the Dawes Plan of 1924. As America’s economy was in a horrific state, these loans had to be recalled. The loans were to be paid back however Germany was not in a position to do so, therefore German businesses had to close. The workers were sacked and therefore spending was declined. German people were sucked into unemployment and despair. Everyone was involved: factory workers, middle class bank clerks, civil servants, office workers, small farmers, shopkeepers and all the self-employed.
Their position worsened and by 1932, 18,000 farmers had gone bankrupt, 50,000 businesses went bankrupt during 1930 and 1932 and also by 1932, 6 million people were unemployed. The reason why the Great Depression led to rise in power by the Nazis was because the new state of society allowed them to change some of their tactics fundamentally, in order to gain electoral success as more people were ready to listen in this difficult time. Some of these changed tactics involved propaganda, use of technology, support of the industrialists, promises to voters, flexibility and weaknesses of opposition. They realised their anti-Communist stance was very popular therefore their propaganda further whipped up fear and hatred of the Communists and were seen as ‘dealing with Communist threat’. Radio was also used for the first time and they could now redouble propaganda and they went very extreme with this.
They also gained financial backing from big business as Hitler made a deal in 1931 with the other main right-wing party, the Nationalists, in which they agreed to co-operate, instead of traditionally voting for the Conservative Party which lost much of its support after 1930. Instead of winning votes over specific classes, they had promised something for everybody as the Great Depression had an effect on everybody too, which allowed more people to listen. Moreover, instead of speaking powerfully for their own beliefs, in their all-out push for electoral success they realised that it doesn’t really matter what you promise as long as people trust you. Therefore if they found an idea was losing them support they would change it, which altered their tactics. Lastly, they were also trying to gain success by electioneering instead of another Putsch, which the Social Democrats feared. As a judgement this was a very important factor which allowed the Nazis to succeed.
As more people were ready to listen due to the Great Depression, Hitler’s oratorical ability came into play as an important role. Hitler was indeed a one of a kind as there was something about the man which people loved-the way he spoke. This can be seen as a factor which contributed to the Nazis’ success as he had outstanding speaking skills which had an immense effect on people. An example of this is from a source form E.A Buller, Darkness over Germany, 1943. Buller was anti-Nazi German teacher who left Germany and one would expect him to badmouth Hitler, however it was rather different. He mentioned that the workmen or lower-middle class types repeatedly shouted ‘he speaks for me, he speaks for me.’ He also stated that the manner in which he was speaking had many people lost in the world around them, probably unaware of what he was saying. Another man also said ‘Ach, Gott (Oh, God), he knows how I feel.’ Lastly, he also said that one man in particular struck him as he leant forward with his head in his hands, and with a sort of convulsive sob said, ‘Gott sei Dank (God be thanked), he understands.’
The reason why Hitler’s oratorical ability contributed to the Nazis’ success was because he promised easy solutions to difficult problems which the society needed. He talked as if he really listened to people, which was key to gain votes. The manner in which he spoke felt as he was talking directly to the person it applied to, not to the country as a whole. All these key aspects of his oratorical ability show us he had a huge impact on people which led to his success along with the Nazis. Overall, I think this was a fairly important factor which played a role to their success as votes were key for their success because they decided that violence wasn’t making things better. Other than speaking to get peoples’ attention, the Nazis also used propaganda, which leads me onto my next point. Their national leaders were masters of propaganda and they carefully trained their local groups in propaganda skills. They used every trick in the book to get their message home in order to have a rise in power.
Examples of the way they portrayed their messages were by radio broadcasts, producing millions of posters, rallies, parades and marches also carried the Nazi message into every home and town in Germany. Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda advisor, also chartered planes to fly Hitler all over Germany in order to speak four or five massive rallies per day. Posters and rallies built Hitler into a superman- the reason why propaganda allowed the Nazis’ rise to power was because their use of propaganda made Hitler sound like the strong leader whom Germany needed and wanted. This propaganda managed to ‘brainwash’ German people to think that the Aryan race and Nazi regime was the best possible way in life. His impression on posters also manipulated the minds of others and gave them sighs of relief. He inspired them and tricked the public into getting what he wanted and therefore propaganda helped the Nazis’ success to be achievable.
Overall I think this was a fairly important factor as votes gradually increased after more people were ready to listen after the effects of the Great Depression. As we talk a lot about the people of Germany, the support of a wide range of population of Germany was also a key factor to the Nazis’ rise in power. The Nazis tried diligently to get as maximum votes and attention as possible. This was only possible by persuading different sectors of society and to get the variety of the population to support them. There are many examples of how the Nazis did this which eventually resulted in their rise to power, when Hitler finally got appointed Chancellor. Before the Great Depression, in the late 1920s, they tried to appeal to the working classes by increasing their anti-Jewish message which had the most appeal. However, their message was still not working its magic so they decided to focus more on the middle classes by changing policy.
They were doing well with the middle classes and among farmers, and this is where most of their new members were coming from. They began to focus on to the parts of their message which would appeal to this section of society. As mentioned before, the Great Depression changed tactics of the Nazis fundamentally therefore they changed their methods of appealing. As everybody was in a time of need, they started promising solutions to everyone which increased their votes because action in this difficult period of time needed to take place. Every sector of Germany seemed to hear what it wanted to hear. Workers were promised jobs (Hitler could point to how the Nazis had taken in the unemployed and fed and housed them). Employers were promised restored profits; farmers higher prices and shopkeepers protection against competition. There was something for everybody.
The effect of these promises can evidently be seen as a success as their votes increased by 5.6 million between 1928 and 1930. So the reason why the support from a large population contributed to the Nazis rise in power was because if they were seen as a majority, they are likely to get more importance which is what they needed and allowed them to take control. Large support also allowed increase in propaganda campaigns which means the message would’ve been heard even more boldly and lastly, having the working class on their side also encouraged them to solve the unemployment issues which allowed more votes and likability which led to their rise in power. I also think this was a fairly important factor which played a role to their long wished achievement.
Taking account of all these aspects, I have concluded that the Great Depression was indeed the most important factor therefore I agree with Holtfriech’s statement. This is because I think it had the biggest link in-between all the factors which explains why I stated they were all fairly important. The Nazis tried immensely hard to gain support and power before the Great Depression however they were not succeeding sufficiently. The Great Depression opened the doors of opportunity for them to have their chance as more people were committed to listen to ideas, as they were in a tragic state economically. This allowed the Nazis to change their tactics fundamentally which led to my points on the following factors.
As more people were ready to listen, Hitler’s ability to speak came into play which couldn’t have been more effective without the help of the Great Depression. This led onto propaganda that redoubled which involved technology such as the radio to communicate with the public and convey their messages. As they were using propaganda to attract everyone, this is where the support of a large population got involved as they were trying to appeal to everyone. This clearly tells us that without the Great Depression to occur, Nazi tactics would’ve been less likely to change but as they did change, this is the real reason why I think they were successful as their improved methods proved to have more effect which therefore resulted in Hitler becoming Chancellor of Germany in 1933.