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The Rise of the Nazi Party: How the Nazis Came to Power
The Nazi Party slowly rose to power after World War I and eventually took over Germany until the end of World War II. Many know the Nazis as an anti-Semitic and fascist group that discriminates against non-Aryan races . For this reason, it may be incomprehensible that the Nazi Party garnered influence from the German people and took over the country. However, the Nazis utilized the current situation during their time and manufactured strategies to seize power. The Nazi Party took advantage of economic and political discontent, the will of the conservative elite, and the power of effective propaganda.
Economic and Political Discontent
Germany was under multiple crises after the first world war. The Treaty of Versailles made Germany the official nation responsible for World War I. This placed the country into massive debt as they had to pay reparations for war damages while rebuilding their nation (The Nazi Rise, n.d.; Blakemore, 2019). Eventually, the employment rate decreased significantly, wages lowered, and various establishments had to close. There was also the Wall Street Crash that halted the financial support that Germany received from international partners (The Nazi Rise, n.d.). These events led to an economic crisis in Germany as the country struggled to pay the reparations and maintain economic stability in the country.
While this economic crisis was detrimental to Germany’s condition, the Nazi Party took advantage of it to gain public support. The German people were losing confidence in the Weimar Republic since it failed to address the country’s major issues. Furthermore, the government established a coalition system where right and left-wing parties took positions to solve Germany’s economic problem. However, the coalition failed to agree on topics and create solutions. Strikes became common in the country as the fear of communism arose. This led the middle classes to look for support from right-wing parties, such as the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, better known as the Nazi Party (Moorehouse, n.d.). With this, the Nazi Party only had to tell the public about their plans and show that they align with public demand. This made the Nazi Party a desirable candidate to replace the current German government.
Political discontent eventually spread in Germany as right-wing parties gained supporters. However, political discontent existed in the country even before the Nazi Party gained influence. The German people disagreed with the Weimar Republic’s signing of the Treaty of Versailles since it made Germany the sole country responsible for World War I. There was also the aforementioned failure of the coalition system which further led to the decline of public trust in the Weimar Republic. Eventually, German leaders resigned and various political parties fought for support. During this time, Hitler received an offer for the Chancellor position. However, he declined the offer as the Nazi party had lost votes and he did not have the right to rule (The Nazi Rise, n.d.). Still, the political instability in Germany meant that the political landscape is susceptible to a new rule. Despite losing votes, the Nazi Party had strategies to gain more support.
One of the most effective strategies was the spread of Nazi propaganda in Germany. Particularly, the Nazis spread the idea that the Jews were the enemies of Democracy . The Nazis accused the Jews of betraying the country and profiteering from the first world war (Kolb, 2005). In a country already steeped in anti-Semitism, the propagation of the myth worked as the Nazis intended. For one, the myth created a tangible enemy that the public could blame and rail against. For another, the myth further advanced the Nazis’ position as representative of the public’s interests. This turned the Jews into scapegoats and the Nazis into heroes, thus allowing the Nazis to establish dominance in the country at the expense of the minority.
There was also the Nazis’ proclamation to create a strong and self-sustaining Germany. The Nazis spread the idea of removing non-Germans or non-Aryans from Germany, conquering other territories, and establishing a self-sufficient economy (Snyder, 2018). These ideas were perfect answers to Germany’s problem after World War I. Many Germans disliked non-Germans because the world was blaming Germany for the Great War. Conquering other territories meant that the country could gain resources and grow its wealth. This could fix the economic crisis and make Germany a stronger nation. Furthermore, establishing a self-sufficient economy means that they do not have to rely on other countries for economic stability. The effects of the Wall Street Crash cemented this notion as local economies declined because of an event in foreign economies. Since these ideas provided answers to Germany’s problems, the Nazi Party gained more support from the public.
The Conservative Elite
As mentioned earlier, Hitler refused an offer for the position of chancellor because of the lack of a right to rule from a presidential decree. This changed when the conservative elite decided to use Hitler and the Nazi Party to replace the current German government. The conservative elites were ruling and business classes in Germany that had powerful political and social influence. Since the Weimar Republic lost the confidence of the public, the conservative elite decided that Germany must come under authoritarian rule to secure its future (The Nazi Rise, n.d.). They chose Hitler and the Nazi Party as the perfect candidate for a new government. The influence of the conservative elite allowed Hitler to receive the right to rule by a presidential decree, making him Germany's chancellor. This legitimized the Nazi Party’s power over Germany. While the conservative elite planned to remove Hitler eventually, the Nazis’ succeeding actions prevented its manifestation. As such, the Nazi Party governed Germany until the end of World War II.
Additionally, globalization was a minor factor in the Nazi Party’s rise to power. Many Germans felt that they were victims of globalization, especially during the economic crisis. Since Germany received pressure from paying war reparations and blame for the war, international relations were limited. While Germany received support from other nations, many Germans felt the impact of the economic decline. That is especially true in small German towns as citizens felt that globalization placed them at a disadvantage (Snyder, 2018). The Nazis provided a political party that supported the needs of these individuals and another option aside from the Socialist and Communist parties. Globalization became a tool that would help the Nazi gain influence and enter an open political spectrum.
The Rise of the Nazi Party was a slow process that began right after the events of World War I. The Nazis took advantage of economic and political discontent and instability to enter the political spectrum and garner support from the public. They weaponized the Weimar Republic’s poor decisions against itself, leading to further political discontent. With the spread of Nazi propaganda that offered answers to Germany’s problems, support for the Nazi Party increased. They established themselves as the solution and turned their enemies, such as the Jews, into opponents of democracy. Finally, the support of the conservative elite provided the Nazi Party with legitimate and legal power. The Nazi Party’s rise to power showcased a significant lesson about the consequences of the first world war and a failing government.
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Blakemore, E. (2019). How the Treaty of Versailles Ended World War I and Started World War II. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/topics/reference/treaty-versailles-ended-wwi-started-wwii/. Accessed: February 8, 2021.
Kolb, E. (2005). The Weimar Republic. New York, Routledge.
Moorehouse, D. (n.d.). Did the Economic Crisis of 1923 Help the Nazi Party? Schoolhistory.org.uk. Available at https://schoolshistory.org.uk/topics/european-history/weimar-nazi-germany/economic-crisis-1923-help-nazi-party/. Accessed: October 19, 2022.
Schmidt, C. (1934). German Business Cycles, 1924-1933. National Bureau of Economic Research.
Snyder, T. (2018). How Did the Nazis Gain Power In Germany? The New York Times. Available at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/14/books/review/benjamin-carter-hett-death-of-democracy.html. Accessed: October 19, 2022.
The Nazi Rise to Power. (n.d.). The Weiner Holocaust Library. Available at https://www.theholocaustexplained.org/the-nazi-rise-to-power/. Accessed: October 19, 2022.
The Weimar Republic 1918-1929. (n.d.). British Broadcasting Corporation, https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z9y64j6/revision/1. Accessed: February 8, 2021.
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