How did Hitler come to power in Germany? Was he elected?
Hitler’s rise to power is quite a long and turbulent story. involving many years of political manipulation, intrigue, ruthless intimidation, and clever maneuvering by Hitler and his followers. Hitler began his political interests after WWI due to his resentment of the Treaty of Versailles and the state of the nation which he believed was a travesty to the German people. He joined the German Workers’ Party, which later became known as the Nazi party, and quickly gained popularity within the group due to his skill in public speaking and debate.
He quickly became one of the central members of the party and began to create an aggressive and militaristic party. It was common for Nazi members to be engaged in brawls with rival political parties in the street and the party became known for its aggressive anti-Marxist and anti-Semitic policies. This all culminated in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, which was a failed coup led by Hitler in an attempt to take control of the country much like Benito Mussolini had done in Italy only a year before. The coup failed and Hitler was sentenced to five years in prison for his crimes. His prison sentence was relatively light, however, and he was given many freedoms whilst incarcerated. It was in this period that he wrote Mein Kampf and restructured his own political goals and aims in order to reattempt his struggle for absolute power in Germany. Hitler concluded that it could only be through legal movements that he could seize power and so he chose to abandon his more violent and illegal political movements.
Upon his release he rejoined the Nazi party and spearheaded their attempt to seize control of the German government. The party used a combination of anti-communist rhetoric, anger at the Great Depression, and propaganda campaigns in order to improve their standings within parliament. By 1930, the Nazi party held 20% of the seats in German parliament, making them the second largest party in government. It was then that Hitler began to increase levels of violence against communists and Jews and solidified the party’s reliance on violence, intimidation, and threats in order to retain power. The more moderate parts of the German government were powerless to stop these acts and soon became resigned to the rise of the Nazi party. By 1934, the Nazi party had used violence and its strength in the polls to seize the majority of the German government but were still struggling both politically and physically with communist supporters in the region. Nevertheless, Hitler and the Nazi party then used the disorganization and infighting of other political parties to take control of the situation and eventually Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Many believed that this would satisfy Hitler and he would stop here in his desire for power, but this did not occur.
After the Reichstag was burnt down in suspicious circumstances, Hitler declared a state of emergency and suspended many civil liberties. Hitler then took initiative and forced through the enabling act, which gave him the ability to pass laws and to act without parliamentary approval, which effectively made him dictator. . By the end of 1934, Hitler was firmly in power within Germany and had total control of the government, military, media, and the people.