One of the most debated questions even today in History is why Hitler came to power in early 1933? The main reasons why Hitler came to power are that he was a great speaker, he had a superior propaganda machine on his side, violent treatment of the opposition, the criticism of the Weimar Republic, Nazi economic policies and the support of big business. I will not investigate the weaknesses of the Weimar Republic, but rather of the strengths of the Nazi party. German and many foreign historians have written numerous books following the event. I will draw up a conclusion by analysis various secondary sources, which are available to me.
This book, mainly based on Hitler himself, was published in 2004 by HarperCollins Ltd. The author, Mary Fulbrook is a professor of German History at UCL and her main research interests include early modern Europe, Germany dictorships in the 20th Century and Europe after the Holocaust (6). The purpose of the book is to inform high school children about Hitler and to answer frequently asked questions about him as well as to make of course to make money. This source is very valuable because Mary Fulbrock is a historian, so she is in the position to know about Hitler and how he came to power. The company that published the book, HarperCollins, is a well-respected American printing company, which also makes the source valuable because it would only publish the best information on the topic. The book is also very valuable because it mainly uses secondary sources, so it takes into account many primary sources and draws a conclusion from them. The book also uses some primary sources, which e.g. show the mass hysteria at the time. The source also dates from 2004, meaning that many documents from East Germany and other Communist countries have become available and can be assessed. The limitations of the source are that although the book was only recently published, there still might be even newer sources, which might have only come out recently. Another limitation might be that the book is made to sell, so it presents its information in such a way that more people are interested in buying it. So it might have lots of colour photos and not much content. A third limitation is that the book focuses on Hitler and Germany at the time in general, so it does not specifically look his rise to power. A fourth limitation might be that the author is British and that she lived in a time when there was a lot of resentment towards the Germans. A final limitation is that the author of the book teaches Germany history from the medieval period to present day Germany. This means that she might know less on specifically Hitler’s rise to power.
The main author and editor of the book, Annette Dufner is an author of children and young adult books. She has however written and helped write several history books about Germany (7). The book was published in 2003 by Greenhaven Press. The purpose of the book is to, unlike the first source specifically inform us about Hitler’s rise to power. The book was also produced to sell. The sources can be considered to very valuable to us because it specifically talks about the rise of power of Hitler. This means that it only contains the information that we want. The source is also valuable because being a secondary source it takes into account many primary sources. The source is also reliable because it is recent, meaning that it can also take into account sources now available from Eastern Europe. The author/s are also from the US, meaning that they would probably would not resent the Germans as much as the British, French or especially the Russians. The limitations of the source are that it is not the most up to date book, meaning newer books have come out which might include newly available documents. Another limitation is that the author of the book does not seem to studied History or Germany History, but rather seems to a writer/editor of stories and novels.
In “The Rise of Adolf Hitler”, Annette Dufner, strongly emphasizes that Hitler’s oratory skills played a very significant role in his rise to power. Indeed Hitler was a very able speaker, who seemed to speak the very words that the crowds wanted to hear. He is often described as being the Messiah of Germany and it is said that during one of his speeches a group of foreign correspondents were so overcome by emotion that they to their feet and raise their arm in the Nazi salute (8). In order to be such a successful speaker, Hitler specially prepared his stage so that listeners would get the effect of feeling overwhelmed by supporters. He also preferred having his speeches at night because the emotional effect among the spectators would be far greater. Also, millions of people listen to Hitler’s speeches on the radio. Thus, Hitler’s oratory skills were very important in conveying their ideas to the people.
Another reason why the Nazis were able to come to power was because of Goebbels’ propaganda machine. The Nazis produced numerous pamphlets, films and posters, which discriminated minorities. Many people that were disillusioned saw Hitler as the savior of Germany and the Nazis of course played on that by presenting Hitler as being godly. Nazi Party membership grew from around 25,000 in the mid-1920s to 2 million in 1933. This, the propaganda machine enable people the Nazis to play around with people’s emotions and support them against those that had stabbed Germany in the back. This propaganda also allowed the Nazis to strong on the countryside where they were not very present.
A further strength and reason why the Nazis came to power in 1933 was because they were very well organized and they had a superior paramilitary army on their side, which was effectively used for propaganda and to stifle the meetings of enemy parties. The SS and the SA were very present in the streets of major cities and they stopped several ‘Communist revolutions’, as they were called. Even the local police helped these paramilitary organizations, especially against the communists. Another function that the SS and the SA had was that they could be used to break up the meetings of other parties and even to intimidate them. The people saw these organizations in the street and they brought the hope that there might be order again. Also many people like that there was order and discipline in the groups, which were considered old German values. The Nazis also displayed these men during their annual Nuremberg rallies and the membership of the SS and SA grew un- proportionally quickly just before Hitler’s rise to power. In 1931, the SA expanded from 70,000 to 170,000 members and the SS exploded from 280 members in 1929 to 52,000 in 1933. Thus, the SS and SA did help the Nazis consolidate power as they defended the Nazis from other paramilitaries and they were used to impress people, however they cannot be considered the main strength of the Nazis that brought them to power because all of the other parties had armies as well.
A fourth strength that the Nazis, which helped to come to power was that they had the support of many large businesses. Initially Hitler’s party wanted to nationalize all large firms and to destroy ‘international capitalism’, as it was called. After being criticized for this they dropped the idea and in 1927 Hitler published “The Road to Resurgence”, which told industrialists that he supported private enterprises (9). Starting with Emil Kirdorf, the number of business leaders that supported the Nazis increased and Hitler even promised that he would suppress trade unions when he came to power. Hitler and his party received over 250,000 Reich mark in 1930-31 from Fritz Thyssen and over $20,000 from Emil Kirdorf (10). Thus the fear of many businessmen of the Social Democratic Party and of the Communist Party provided him with money, which financed his propaganda campaign and his speeches. A final strength of the Nazis was there ideas. The Nazis appealed to everyone, the starving lower class, and the middle class, which had lost its savings during the economic depression and even to industrialists that wanted lower taxes and banned trade unions. The Nazis organized soups for the unemployed and the starving (11). Many people also blamed the Weimar politicians, the Jews, the Communists and the Treaty of Versailles for Germany’s problems and they agreed that something should be done about them. Others also liked the idea of having a strong and united German Army that would re-conquer territories stolen through the treaties that ended World War One.
To conclude it is sensible to say that there is no real major Nazi strength, only minor ones. The most important strengths were Hitler’s oratory skills, the use of effective propaganda by Goebbels and the support big business. The reason for this is that Hitler skills brought confidence to the people and made them angry against the Jews and the other enemies. Using propaganda this effective was much more powerful on the German people as Hitler was displayed as the savior of Germany and the only possible hope. If it had not been for the businessmen, the Nazis would not have been able to finance their propaganda and speeches, which in turn brought more support. Thus it can be said that the rise of the Nazis was like a cycle, the money provided by the industrialists could be used for publicity and speeches, which in turn brought support and so even more money. However, the minor strengths of the Nazis must not be underestimated. Especially the SA and SS, which made sure that Nazi rallies were undisturbed and displayed discipline and power and Hitler’s ideas, however most of which were similar in such radical right parties.
(1-5) Walsh, Ben, Modern World History, 2001, pg.153 (6) http://www.ucl.ac.uk/german/aboutus/staff/mary-fulbrook (7) http://www.jacketflap.com/annette-dufner/10286 (8) The Rise of Adolf Hitler, pg. 73 (9) http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERhitler.htm (10) http://www.reformed-theology.org/html/books/wall_street/chapter_07.htm