The Third Reich, the Nazi army, the Holocaust, all creations of one man... Adolf Hitler. Different stages of his life have been elucidated on to delve deeper into how and what created this dictator, from his childhood and education to his death in 1945.
In this post, we look at Adolf Hitler's rise to power and the creation of a Nazi Germany, with an in-depth analysis of the events and circumstances of his ascent.
Adolf Hitler's Rise to Power - Timeline
✠ Young Hitler fought in the First World War for Germany, his patriotism and love for his country firmly cemented. The war taught Hitler tactics of violence and leadership skills. His wartime superiors noticed the amount of bravery and noble spirit in this young man. That very spirit that would make him stand out as a leader amongst his peers.
✠ Germany lost the war. The aftermath was humiliating, the Treaty of Versailles and de-militarization of the German army along with sanctions, angered Hitler, who resented the loss of the nation's pride. The common German citizen himself, was seething with resentment at the horrifying circumstances that Germany was presently in.
Helplessness, anger at the insipid Weimar government and an overpowering urge to avenge the country, such dangerous thoughts existed in the minds of the German public. Such festering emotions were also perfect for Hitler to take advantage of.
✠ The first step in Hitler's grasping of power, was joining the German Worker's Party in 1919. Hitler at that time, was working as a police spy and was supposed to infiltrate and report on the suspicious activities of the party. But while attending meetings and socializing with its members, Hitler realized he was meant to be a part of such an organization.
Indeed the party's anti-Semitism, anti-capitalist and nationalist ideas resonated with Hitler's beliefs and thoughts. And the party was likewise impressed with this man's hidden talents and his sharp oratory gift.
✠ From joining as the 55th member, Hitler soon rose to a higher position as the seventh member of the DAP's executive committee and became an important part of the party, which soon became the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). A red flag with the swastika was created and used as the party's symbol.
✠ This party became a key platform for Hitler to express his views and can be regarded as his training ground. He was enthusiastic and principled and very good at addressing large crowds, to mobilize the masses.
Above all, he seemed to know how to turn the typically peaceful German public into a powerful rabble. It was during these early speeches and rallies, that Hitler started anti-Jewish propaganda and planted the seed of doubt in the common German's mind, that Jews were to blame for the sorry state Germany was in.
✠ Hitler needed to take control of the party to continue controlling the masses with his growing popularity. In 1921, the party members held an election and voted almost unanimously in favor of Hitler attaining leadership of the party and becoming the Führer or Leader. The NSDAP was renamed the Nazi party.
✠ Becoming the head of such a political party increased Hitler's reputation and standing as a man who can get things done. Local businesses and smaller, less powerful political factions sought the party's support and strength. Hitler had even managed to create his own army, dedicated to the Nazi party, called the Sturmabteilung or SA.
✠ In an aggressive move to declare himself, Hitler organized an attempted coup to take over the Bavarian government with the help of the Bavarian army and police force along with a new friend, General Erich Ludendorff. This event was titled the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. The coup failed and Hitler was arrested for treason.
He was sentenced to 5 years in jail at Landsberg. His sentencing was less of a trial and more like a Hitler showcase, as he explained and emphasized his ideas and beliefs. This trial of Hitler spread his name to the far reaches of Germany, as a fighter for a new way of German life.
✠ In jail, Hitler was regarded as a hero and spent only 8 months in Landsberg, out of his 5-year sentence. He wrote the first part of his autobiography Mein Kampf during this period. The failed coup taught Hitler a valuable lesson in war strategies, that perhaps stealth and propaganda can achieve what brute force cannot.
✠ Armed with this principle, he now returned to Munich and his party in 1924. He reorganized the party's internal structure and adopted a more subdued stance in rallies and movements. Here Hitler's speeches were the real crowd pullers.
He spoke of visions of grandeur and power, that Germany could reach. He spoke of a better future without the evils of the Jews and the Communists. He inspired the public to believe and be proud of their Aryan heritage and to have faith in him, that he would raise Germany from the gutters to its true seat of power.
✠ Economic change gave Hitler his first real step into the power game of German politics. The Great Depression from across the ocean, came to Germany in 1930. Germany was highly dependent of foreign loans and money and the Great Depression took this source of income away in one clean swipe.
The common man now had no job, no money and no economy. Feeling betrayed by the government, the public turned to the one man and party, who promised them change and hope. This was the Nazi party and that man was Adolf Hitler.
✠ An obscure and small-time militant party suddenly took over the elections. Overnight they became the 2nd largest party in the German political league. Suddenly Hitler's influence seemed everywhere. His small SA army had half a million people in its ranks.
✠ In 1932, he decided to run for president and his opponent at the time was Paul Von Hindenburg. It was a classic case of young vs old and revolutionary vs establishment. Though Hitler lost the election, he had shown the then German government, just what he was capable of.
It also angered the public, who felt that Hitler should have won the election. They already had lost all faith in their government and felt that Hitler in the government, would bring about a radical change in their lives.
✠ Hindenburg soon realized the futility of fighting against a tide of support for Hitler and in 1933, Hitler was appointed as Chancellor of Germany. Now in a seat of power, he started aggressive political tactics. The first of these, was not allowing any party to gain a majority in the parliament.
The German parliament or Reichstag was dissolved and in the upcoming elections, the Nazi party remained supreme. At this time, Hitler's supporters set the Reichstag on fire to postpone the elections and blamed it on the Communists. Using the unstable political situation as an excuse, Hitler persuaded Hindenburg to declare a state of emergency.
✠ At the reopening of the new Reichstag, the Nazi party unveiled the Enabling Act. Combined with the existing state of emergency, it basically conferred immense power onto Hitler.
With the law on his side, Hitler banned the Communist party and forced the remaining parties to dissolve. So the Nazi party's entire political opposition was wiped out. By July 14th of 1933, the Nazi party was the only legal party and even the Catholic Church of Germany was supporting it.
✠ The final piece in this massive game of political chess, was President Hindenburg. Hitler's growing support and army began to pile pressure on him to resign. But in 1934, Hindenburg died. According to the constitution, elections were required to select a new leader.
But Hitler stepped in to fill the void and his party, being the entire parliament, transferred all presidential powers and the role of president on him. In short, Hitler was decreed the Führer und Reichskanzler of Germany. He became the Supreme Commander of the armed forces. He was now Germany's dictator and this marked the Nazi party taking over Germany.
Whether his rise to power could have been prevented or not, one thing is for certain, Hitler had a purpose and a task in mind and he let nothing stand in his way. His will and force changed the course of human history forever.