The Great Depression played a prominent role in Hitler coming to power. However other factors contributed such as the electoral success of the Nazis, the unpopularity and failings of the Weimar constitution and mistakes made by the intrigues. Although the Great Depression initiated other factors contributing to the rise of the Nazis it cannot be described as the sole main reason. A combination of mistakes, events and actions led Hitler to become Chancellor.The Great Depression was one of the important reasons for Hitler coming to power as it provided a variety of public matters that Hitler and the Nazi party could easily exploit.
Between 1929-33 legal restrictions were placed on the Reich bank so they could not increase money printed or devalue mark due to the fear of hyperinflation. This resulted in the failure of welfare programmes, a rise in unemployment and worsened living conditions. These three failings caused a huge amount of dissatisfaction, which the Nazis fed upon. Groups such as the farmers were not helped and the Nazis immediately provided a clear alternative. The government in 1928-33 cut the budget for war victim’s pensions act, which embittered thousands. Many felt betrayed by the government and therefore felt no need to carry on supporting it. The Nazis through primarily propaganda showed them working against unemployment and starvation thus appealing to the working class.
They also claimed to be able to prevent the reparations. Their main scheme was to have cross-class appeal.Although some improvements were made in 1932 with Bruning setting up new public work schemes and Papen beginning to allocate unused land to peasants and workers, it was all ‘too little too late’. Hitler began to take all the credit and built on the recovery. He also reorganised the party so that the Nazis had 35 Regional party groups corresponding to the 35 Reichstag electoral districts with each district having its own regional leader. This granted local support and an easier way in which to campaign to the country as a whole. The organisation of the party during the Great Depression explicitly showed up with lack of organisation of the Reichstag at the same time.The Great Depression was to some extent the reason many of the electorate turned to vote for the Nazis and assist in bringing up Hitler.
However to a larger extent the failure of the Weimar constitution paved a way from the very beginning for a number of extreme parties to make their mark upon German society, including the Nazis. The Weimar constitution meant a system where many parties could get involved, resulting in large coalitions. This made decision making almost impossible due to a constant lack of majority. Evidence of this is shown in March 1930 when Muller and the SPD government collapsed when if failed to agree on what cuts on unemployment it should make. This resulted in the government appearing weak and divided, therefore losing a lot of confidence from the people. Therefore, this caused voters to seek stability and unity in the more extreme parties. The consecutive chancellors, including Bruning and Schleicher, then also like Muller found it had to get laws passed through the Reichstag.
Thus from 1929 Germany was ruled by article 48 which was used regularly by Hindenberg the President. Article 48 gave dictatorial powers to the president, which resulted in creating an undemocratic system from which Hitler was appointed, not elected. Furthermore, many worked against the Weimar democracy in hope for the return of an authoritarian leadership, the times of Imperial Germany and the Kaiser.The hatred of Versailles was another major factor exploited by the Nazis which resulted in a reason for them coming to power. The exploitation of the Treaty of Versailles was unrelated to the Great Depression it only ran alongside it. The problem manifested itself from the start when the ‘November Criminals’ were seen to have betrayed Germany and lost them the war. These criminals formed the core of the government and also agreed to the Treaty of Versailles. Immediately Weimar was seen in a bad light and people’s perception of it was tarnished.
Although Weimar survived hyperinflation, the Young Plan was seen as a betrayal of the German people. Not only did it include the ‘War Guilt Clause’ yet also agreements to reparations and reduction in the German military. Hitler and the Nazis exploited this to the greatest extent they could. Hitler was a great nationalist and gained his largest bank of support by promising to rebuild the German army and to again make Germany strong, bringing them back to their days of glory.The exploitation of the Great Depression gave Hitler a solid platform from which he could be appointed Chancellor, as did the exploitation of the Treaty of Versailles. However what gave rise to his unprecedented level of popularity? The Nazis managed to stand out and eventually become the biggest party in the Reichstag due to three main factors, his use of propaganda, the newly organised party and Hitler’s personal skill as a leader. Hitler and the Nazi parties supreme use of propaganda was used to promote simple messages and used as scapegoats in the form of Jews and communists. The propaganda provided a practical alternative and therefore appealed to discontented groups such as farmers and the unemployed.
Alongside this, the use of the Jews as scapegoats brought to light resentment within certain parts of German society. Propaganda also made out a communist threat, which the Nazis wanted to get rid off. Nazis determination to get rid of this threat even through violence appealed to many.The organisation of the party also dramatically changed between 1926 and1933. Nazi party had regional structure from 1928 and moreover formed a much more effective SA.
The SA, in their smart uniforms gave the impression that serious actions were being taken to change the situation. The SA attracted many people as it meant food and warmth within the military training camps., and provided a new purpose in life and it seemed like the restoration of firm government and law and order would result in the ‘good way of life’. The final vital role, was the role of Hitler himself, who as a skilled orator and charismatic leader carried the party towards success. He provided the public with the strong leader they so desperately wanted and united the people with his 25point plan.
Hitler also managed to have an anti-young plan alliance with Hugenberg, which meant the Nazis were supported financially and more opposition to the Young Plan was brought up.Finally a major role in Hitler coming to power was due to the failings of the intrigues, on the one hand due to the lack of ideas to cope with the Great Depression yet on the other hand due to vital errors and major misjudgements being made. If one looks at the period of 1930-33 the failings come within the concentrated small clique of right wing politicians controlling Germany at the time who were constantly trying to manoeuvre themselves into more powerful positions. The first mistake was appointing Bruning as chancellor as he did not command respect of the Reichstage therefore forced to use article 48.
He then called an election which had detrimental results with the Nazis gaining 37.3% of the votes, meaning they had the biggest party in the Reichstag allowing Hitler to demand higher posts within government. However Hitler refused offers which were not the chancellorship.Because Schleicher undermined Papen and Bruning, Papen then intrigued against Schleicher for his own personal gain. He made a pact with Hitler threat Hitler would become chancellor and himself vice. Using his influence with Hindenberg, the president, he displaced Schleicher and got Hitler appointed.
It is had to blame any one of the politicians but all of them. None looked for the good of the country rather the three of them wanted power for themselves. By consistently undermining each other they created instability and were forced to look towards Hitler and use him as their puppet.
They then made the vital error believing they could control Hitler and use him as their puppet. Furthermore Schleicher and Paper got rid of two people who could have ever stopped the Nazis at this late stage. Schleicher intrigued against Groener who was a courageous man and had the army behind him. While Paper overthrew the SPD government of Prussia whose 180,000 strong police force, could easily have halted Hitler.