“This man, Hitler, is Germany’s destiny for good and for evil…” Ulrich von Hassell says of one of the most powerful and manipulative men in Germany history. Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany rose to power during the aftermath of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Germany was embarrassed and vulnerable. When Adolf Hitler was appointed to Chancellor of Germany in 1933 by Paul von Hindenurg (Flory, 395), he quickly changed the game to gain as much power as he could, as any ambitious man would do. Hitler was able to gain his so coveted power, bringing the Nazi Party with him, in Germany due to his long term bitterness about the outcome of the war, having friends in the right places, using other weaknesses to seize power and the economic depression.
Hitler fled Austria in order to escape military service in 1913, placing him inside Germany during the first world war. The defeat of Germany in 1918 made him excruciatingly angry. He used Jews and Socialists as scapegoats who had betrayed Germany by surrendering. His growing patriotism led him to join The German Worker’s Party. The German Worker’s Party was one of several groups which formed after the war. When Hitler seized leadership in 1920, he changed the name to the National Socialist German Workers Party. The term Nazi originated from the initial letters of the first two German words in the title. In 1923, Hitler attempted to overthrow the Weimar government. He was arrested and tried for treason. He was sentenced for five years in prison. In jail, he wrote Mein Kampf, which displayed his future policies and doctrine of Aryan superiority. This was the basic idea behind his racist society. After being released from prison, he became determined to seize power through all legal, and perhaps illegal, means. (Flory, 393-395).
When German unemployment grew, so did the Nazi party. 6,000,000 people were without jobs (Ricker, 221). The Nazi Party gained over two hundred seats in the Reichstag by 1932 (Flory, 394). The Nazis won their support primarily from the lower and middle class. These classes were nationalistic and feared the depression. The Nazis gained support from Protestants, as well (Meier). Students also joined the party, including a 17-year-old boy, who burned the Reichstag building down in 1933, working on behalf of the German Communist Party (Flory, 395). Hitler declared a national emergency due to the economic depression and assumed the title Fuhrer, which means leader. He established fascism in Germany, with himself at the head of the table (Ricker, 223). Hitler was actually rather successful in battling the unemployment issue. As a leader, the people liked Hitler for the economy he built.
Having friends in high places certainly helped Hitler. First, in 1932, Hitler falsely promised to support Chancellor Papen, who lifted the ban on storm troops (Adolf Hitler).The desperate president, Paul von Hindenurg, appointed him chancellor of Germany in 1933. He began using his newfound power to his advantage, immediately. He was able to deny his political opposition freedom of speech, assembly and the press. He was easily able to manipulate Hindenurg more than once to get what he wanted, including a 1934 decree that suspended all individual rights. (Flory, 395) When Hindenburg died in 1934, Hitler took full control (Germany). In 1939, he made friends with Russia through a Non agression Pact, insuring that he would not have to fight a war on two fronts. Later that year, Hitler was able to manipulate Ambassador Henderson into rushing the Poles into some last minute negotiations (Gavin). Hitler was not very friendly, but no one said anything to him. They were far too afraid of the power he possessed to rally against him in any form.
Hitler used the weakness and fright of the German people against them. Hitler never trusted his generals. He surrounded himself with weak-willed yes-men (Gavin). His private army, the Brown Shirts, terrorized anyone who opposed him (Flory, 396). The Brown Shirts were anti-democratic, following the lead of Hitler (Ricker, 222-23). People who opposed the government were murdered, imprisoned in concentration camps forced to leave Germany or beaten up by the Nazi’s private army (Germany). In 1935, Hitler took advantage of the timid French and placed forces in a demilitarized Rhineland. The French could have easily crushed him, but he knew they would not. Every time someone tried to reason with Hitler, he demanded more out of them and threatened war if they did not oblige. (Ricker, 226-228). People were far too scared to rise up against him.
Finally, after years of anticipation and treachery, Hitler waged war on Poland on September 1, 1939, beginning World War II. The rest of the world acted quickly, waging war with Germany, in an attempt to demean his power and destroy his strength, including France and England.The destruction of Hitler came on April 30, 1945, one day after marrying his long time mistress. Together, they committed suicide in an underground bunker. Germany was destroyed. Hitler remains one of the most dreadful tyrants to this day (Adolf Hitler) having used his ‘friends’, his anger and aggression, the weakness of others and the economic depression all to his advantage to gain his so desperately coveted power.
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Ricker, John and John Saywell. Europe and the Modern World. Toronto: Clarke,
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