Saturday, 30 January 2016

Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany 30th January 1933

Today marks the anniversary of when Hitler was made Chancellor of Germany, after a series of failed attempts by others to lead a country that had been in tatters after the Wall Street Crash of 1929.  Hitler and his NSDAP party had won a majority in the Reichstag in 1932 with 37% of the vote-in a parliament that had been dogged by a series of ineffective coalition governments-on the back of a massive propaganda campaign, promising Germany's unemployed (which reached over 6 million by 1933) 'Bread and Work', with Hitler flying from city to city, parading himself as the saviour for all to see. 
The narrative goes back further than January 1933 and the preceding months of campaigning (as Hitler also stood in the Presidential election of March 1932, coming second to Hindenburg).  Hitler had been vying for control of Germany as early as the failed Munich Putsch in November 1923, at a time when Germany was going through a series of crises.  Hitler believed it would be the opportune time to seize control of the Bavarian government and declare a new republic to rival that of the struggling, and increasingly unpopular, Weimar Republic.  Hitler massively misjudged the situation as he did not get the support he anticipated nor did the Putschists have any real notion of what to do once they had taken over the local government building.  The day after, the attempted coup was put to bed when a local army force of 130 men opened fire on Hitler and his accompanying 2000 conspirators; killing 16 Nazis and wounding many more, including Hitler himself.  Two days later, Hitler was arrested and he would spend 9 months in prison for treason-a lenient sentence to say the least.  This event led Hitler to change his tactics of how to come by power in Germany from one of violence and revolution to doing it 'by the book'.  The Putsch did help Hitler in many ways as it was widely publicised, including Hitler's trial, during which he was able to air his nationalistic views.  This resonated with many in Germany as they were still reeling from the 'diktat' forced upon them in 1919. What Germany wanted, and needed, was someone to take charge and build the country back up again, even if that meant going against terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
Between 1924 and 1929 Hitler and the NSDAP struggling to gain much popular support as Germany was experiencing its 'Golden Years'.  When times are good it's not ripe for swathes of the electorate to vote for an extreme party and the moderates will do, as they are seemingly doing a good job.  However, during this time Stresemann had organised loans from the USA under the terms of the Dawes Plan and Young Plan respectively.  But in 1929 disaster struck when the USA experienced a financial crisis and recalled the loans from Germany.  This, almost overnight, plummeted Germany into a desperate state; the Great Depression had hit.  This eroded the Golden Years Germany had once experienced and unemployment rocketed.  It was during this time of hardship that people began to look to the extreme left and extreme right for answers.  Both the NSDAP and the KPD benefitted from a surge in votes and, therefore, seats in the Reichstag.  This culminated in the Nazi Party winning the majority of seats in the 1932 election.  
Despite Hitler being the leader of the largest party in the Reichstag, Hindenburg was reluctant to give him the role of Chancellor.  It was Von Papen that finally convinced Hindenburg that it was the right thing to do, under the notion that they would be able to control Hitler.  This was not to be.  What followed what a series of manoeuvrings to enable Hitler to consolidate power from as early as February 1933.  And so the history goes...