Thousands of Germans were swayed by the Nazis in the early 1920s, due to post-war unrest and Hitler’s promising and charismatic leadership. In an attempt to seize power, Hitler attempted a coup now known as the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, which was justified as a means to overthrow the government on the 23rd of November 1923. The rebellion failed, however, and resulted to several deaths and Hitler’s arrest. Rather than weaken his popularity, Hitler’s treason and trials made him a national figure, a champion of the Germans.
During the trial, a judge sympathetic to the Nazis’ nationalist views allowed Hitler and his followers to demonstrate open contempt for the Weimar Republic, which they dubbed as a “Jew government”. They were found guilty, but instead of being deported due to being Austrian citizens, the judge gave them a minimum sentence, which is a maximum of five years in prison. Hitler, however, merely served nine months – the rest of his term was suspended. During his imprisonment, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, where he postulated that the conflict between the races was the catalyst of history. Under the radical belief that the Aryan race was superior, he argued that Aryan Germany had every right to incorporate Eastern Europe into a single empire, which would be able to provide Lebensraum, or living space, for those who will be deemed worthy. He further argued that the empire would mean a victory over Communism, as like many conservative Germans, the Jews and Communists were regarded as enemies of Germany. Here, he associated Communism to the Jews, using “Jewish Bolshevism” or “Jewish Marxism”, where he maintained that the Jews were behind the teachings of the Communist Party. According to Hitler, the Jews were and acted everywhere – they moved so discretely, controlling everything that few could ever detect their influence. This belief was later adopted by the Nazi Party, then used as a propaganda against the racism on Jews. Hitler regained his freedom in 1925, fully reinstated as a leader of the Nazi Party. His arrest led him to a realization – an armed uprising will never be successful. His greatest weapons to finally gain control over Germany lie in the rights granted by the Weimar Constitution; freedom of speech, the press, and the right to assemble.
The Nazi Party lost its popularity following the recovery of Germany post-war, but when the stock market crashed in 1929, the tides began to turn once again in their favor. The Great Depression could not be prevented by leaders around the world, and to a number of Germans, democracy seemed useless to rescue them from the collapse. Only solutions proposed by extreme political parties stirred public interest. The German Communist Party, in particular, postulated that to end the Great Depression, Germany needed to adapt to a government similar that that of the Soviet Union. According to them, the government should take over all German land and industry from the capitalists, as these people only drove profit for self-interest. The German wealth should be redistributed accordingly. For this, the Nazis blamed the Communists and Jews. To counter the Communist promise, the Nazis vowed to restore Germany anew, the world’s pride, and end the depression in the process. They campaigned with slogans that read “Work, Freedom, and Bread!”, and their promises attracted many supporters, a number of whom lost faith in communism and democracy. Among them, however, were the wealthy – alarmed by the growth of the Communist Party, they clung to the Nazi ideals to keep what they own.
Hitler officially became a German citizen in 1932 to allow him to run for president in the same year. His opponents were Paul von Hindenburg, a conservative incumbent, and Ernst Thälmann, the Communist candidate. Hindenburg triumphed over the three, but the Reichstag election held four months later increased the Nazi’s popularity even further.
President Hindenburg’s administration, however, could not alleviate the depression. The public support began to disseminate, and by 1933, he called for Hitler. Hindenburg believed that Hitler had the popularity the do not possess, and his administration had the power Hitler needed. Convinced that they could control Hitler and views, they struck a deal with him. They were certain that Hitler would fail miserably in an attempt to end the depression, and as soon as he does, they regain control and “save “the nation. That choice became the catalyst to tragedy, one that history would never forget.