To what extent was the increase in electoral support for the Nazi’s in the years 1928-1933 the result of propaganda and electioneering?

This period of time saw the Nazis spiral into power through the collapse of the global economy and the turn to extremism. The crisis had shrouded over Germany and had left the country vulnerable with an undesirable deficit and an indecisive Weimar coalition government to find a solution. Constitution of Germany also contributed to the surge of support for the Nazis; Article 48 left the Weimar Republic subject to the President’s authority. Combined with the heavy distribution of precision contrived electioneering and propaganda, the Nazis formulated a recipe for seizing power.

Beneath the efficient Nazis and their strength as a catch-all party, there lay a severe problem with the country’s governing body: the Weimar Republic. Firstly, in the coalition’s infancy in1930, President Hindenburg had immediately cut their authority through the exercising of Article 48 rule by decree. By law this allowed the President to exert ultimate authority and could amend and make statute law. For the Nazis this was the basis of their uprising; dissolving the strength of the existing government meant increased dissatisfaction with the public who, during austere times, needed decisive leadership. Yet in order for the Nazis to completely come to power, there needed to be additional problems with the government. The sheer nature of the Weimar government contributed to their demise and Nazi success. By nature, coalition governments are indecisive through the continual consultation that must take place between each party which it consists of. Because the process of key decision making and policy outlining was prolonged it meant the German public were disgruntled; what they needed was one party, one set of guidelines and a solution to the weak government.

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It can be said that the nature of the Weimar Republic contributed to its own downfall and the Nazis resultant rise; in response to the indecisive coalition, the public favoured the regimented ideology of the Nazis. Both the collapse of democracy through Article 48 and the lack of policy making made the collapse of the Weimar the most influential factor behind the Nazi rise in support. Had a stronger government been in power, without the hindrance of an interfering President or the need for continual consultation between parties, then the course of history may have been considerably different; public desires would perhaps have been met, thus giving Nazis not enough support to ever achieve power. In summary, the Nazi soar of support would not have been entirely possible without the incumbent government facing detrimental issues, a coalition in a period of a struggle was inadequate, and therefore the Nazis were recognised as the solution.

Although the initial weakness of the Weimar allowed the Nazis to attract support, their policies and stance towards the economy were also crucial. The Great Wall Street Crash in 1929 left ***** unemployed following the American banking crisis as the banks demanded money borrowed to be paid back and shares were plummeting in price. The ramifications the Great Depression had during this period was exceptional. Germany was left in bankruptcy as the slump came after the Treaty of Versailles which had also subjected them to financial misery – having to pay back the Allies �6billion. How this benefitted the Nazis however was different; in extreme times, extreme measures are called for usually by the public. Because the economy in Germany from 1929-1932 was disastrous, the political parties with the promise for most significant change were favoured; giving the Nazis a chance to catch support. Discontent amongst the population as their currency became almost worthless, leant itself to radicalism and the Nazis; their rise in support was synonymous with the economic downturn. Had the financial crisis improved over the years or had the coalition government been more successful, then the Nazis would have struggled to have come to power because the public only looked to them in the most desperate of times. To say that it was the Great Depression singularly which resulted in their increased electoral support is arguable; a more resounding judgment is that the inefficient Weimar government was to blame. The economic climate may, not alone, have been enough for the mass population to turn to a far right-wing party, but with the culmination of the government it provided the ingredients for a surge in support for the Nazi party.

The internal structure and organisation of the Nazi party also had a telling effect on the attraction of voters, despite the external conditions. This appeal to the public was mobilised through the highly effective propaganda and electioneering contrived by Nazi leaders in order to appeal to the nation. At the top of the party, Adolf Hitler can be said to have had an integral part in their rise to power. Hitler took electioneering to the next level as he flew to fifty towns in fifty days prior to the 1934 election, conveying Nazi ideology to the masses. It was also his charisma and enigmatic speeches which were highly successful, rallies would end in standing ovations and his presence responded in huge support. The reason behind this was that he became accountable for the party and at such a time, the German public needed one party and one leader to whom he is accountable for and is given the authority to make decisions and ultimately solve the worsening situation. Electioneering undoubtedly was a major factor behind the increase of Nazi support, the party travelled up and down the country conveying their message to ensure that it was they who should be elected and they had the answers. Nothing highlighted the effects of Nazi electioneering like the statistics from Neindenburg where in 1928 the Nazi Party achieved 2.3% of the vote, yet in 1931 their support had soared rapidly to 25% of the vote. This showed both the effects of successful electioneering and Hitler’s speeches. In addition to the successful election campaigns, the party propaganda had a major role in the rise in support.

Nazi propaganda was heavily distributed on every street corner every wall every building, as well as through all forms of media. Sheer magnitude of propaganda that the party released contributed to the surge in support; it was unavoidable messages being displayed, and the public could not help but to be indoctrinated by Nazi ideology. But the nature and appeal of the propaganda was cleverly manipulated by Hitler and his Chiefs. Firstly the propaganda was always clear, easy to understand and ambiguous: “first bread, then reparations” this allowed the majority of the electorate to access the information and in times of austerity what they desired was frank, up front messages. Secondly what also aided their success were the subjects of their propaganda. Knowing their ideology suited strata of society, Nazis targeted farmers, families, workers, women and many more groups with knowledge that they could promote policies for that area and attract their vote. Good examples of this were the posters aimed at farmers talking of rural support, and the cartoon of family, idealising them and outlining the benefits of a prosperous family. Both electioneering and propaganda undoubtedly helped the Nazi cause. Hitler himself was a successful tool in which people were attracted, as well as the volume of propaganda it was unsurprising that they eventually achieved power.

Propaganda and electioneering certainly were successful in the Nazi rise in support during 1928-1933, but had it not been for the existing problems then they would not have been so effective. The global economy lead to severe discontent around Germany and left the nation in ruins; the government in office was not of high enough calibre to satisfy their needs and a solution was sought after. Nazi support ultimately sprouted from the weakness of the coalition; a stronger government could have rode roughshod and kept power, yet through the worsening of the crisis and the powerful weapon of propaganda, Hitler and the Nazis were able to gain control of Germany; one of the most infamous regimes in history.


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