Post-World War I Germany was a country ridden with resentment, distress and desperation. There was confusion throughout the country because many thought that they had won the war, therefore the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles came as a shock to most German citizens. War guilt was a source of major bitterness in Germany and caused it to resent its neighbors deeply. There were also great economic issues arising from Versailles with seemingly impossible reparations needing to be paid by the losing state of the War. The Treaty also attacked German Tradition greatly by limiting its military significantly which caused outrage in the country.
The political instability that ascended from all of these factors was unavoidable. The Weimar Republic was established in 1919, after the German Revolutions in the November of 1918, to replace the imperial form of government in Germany. This Republic attempted to spread liberal democracies in Germany, which was soon proved a difficult task. The Weimar Republic was fragile and insecure from its inception, and with the creation of many extremist groups that outright defied it, this new government was doomed to fail. One of these extremist parties was the National Socialist, or the Nazis. Adolf Hitler joined the Nazis in 1919 when it was one of the smallest parties at the time because he had similar views with these right-wing thinkers.
Hitler decided to become a politician after the German Collapse in 1918, as he describes in his infamous book Mein Kampf. Hitler was quickly recognized as a striking public speaker and a ‘master of the masses' He appealed to the emotions and desperation of a distraught nation with his powerful and commanding speeches that captivated thousands. When Hitler joined the Nazis in 1919 there were a mere seven members, this number rose to 27,000 followers in 1925 and then an impressive one million followers by 1932. As the party grew, so did Hitler's power. Soon he was one of the most influential men in Germany which surprised everybody, even himself. Hitler's rise to chancellery in 1933 was propelled by his charismatic and confident leadership and permissible by the failure of the Weimar Republic which paved the way for one of the most devastating dictatorships in history.
[...] "The Sources of Hitler's Power." The Review of Politics, 1942: 379-408. Heiden, Konrad. Der Fuehrer: Hitler's Rise to Power. Germany: Gollancz (Gurian, The Sources of Hitler's Power, 1942) Roberts, Professor S.H. "The Rise of Hitlerism." The Australian Quarterly, 1933: 57-68. [...]
[...] He knew that the citizens of Germany were unstable and confused, thus to gain their loyalty he gave them scapegoats to mask their own failures and the failure of Germany. Hitler moved his audiences into an unbalanced fury towards the Treaty of Versailles, Jews, Communists, Southerners as well as most foreigners. He would blame them for their losses in World War I and the continued disaster in Germany. He utilized the ‘stab in the back theory' to denounce the legitimacy of the current Republic by saying its incapacity let the operation of Jewish forces be successful. Hitler also claimed that the Republic did not have the will for victory and did not know how to control the masses as he did. This put the on the enemy line which influenced people to put their confidence in Hitler when the Republic was failing. [...]
[...] Hitler uses the rational methods of propaganda to create a deeply irrational and unstable confidence in him throughout the country. Because his propaganda has a further reach then his speeches and gatherings, he is therefore able to influence mass amounts of people that were previously left out of political happenings. By doing this, Hitler is able to create an “army of disillusioned”. This army is composed of romantic youth, idealists, nationalists, workers, militarists, anti- communists, unemployed; essentially any citizen that was weary of the failure of their state and yearning for a regeneration of the Eternal Germany. While most of these people may not have fully believed in Hitler's politics, they were opponents of his opponents and that was reason enough to follow him. [...]
[...] There was a belief that there was no future under the Republican order and the situation would not be improved by any other traditional or respectable organization of its kind. This gave an unusual political opening in the German government for someone to overthrow the regime and seize power, which is where the Nazis and Hitler come into the picture. While this newfound opportunity could have been grasped by any other extremist party at the time, what set Hitler apart was his undeniable charisma and dominance as a leader. [...]
[...] Hitler was what Germany needed at the time to inspire a desperate people and stabilize the government, however, would they have made the same decision knowing what he would do in the years to come? Bibliography Gurian, Waldemar. "The Sources of Hitler's Power." The Review of Politics, 1942: 379-408. Heiden, Konrad. Der Fuehrer: Hitler's Rise to Power. [...]
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