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When people think about WW2 they think about Hitler and the Holocaust, but rarely ever how the whole mess even started. This essay will show how Hitler came to be in power what events eventually led to the holocaust. After World War 1 Germany was in shambles. For starters, during the war, merchant ships were kept out of the German ports by allied warships, resulting in many shortages. These shortages mainly included food and coal, which left people starving and freezing in their homes, there was also a shortage of soap making it nearly impossible for Germans to keep clean.
All of this lead to disease causing 40,000 Germans to die when the flu spread over Europe. The Keizar didn’t listen to what is people wanted even though there were several ways that he would have made their life better. This resulted in public opinion turning against him. “On October 1918 Germany’s navy chiefs ordered the fleet in Kiel to put to sea for battle” (Brooman 23). But two sailors on two seperate ships refused the order and they were both arrested. Only making matters worse. The other sailors in Kiel held meetings to protest because they were afraid that comrades would be shot for mutiny. They were shortly after joined by workers and soldiers. They set up a council to run the town. Hitler obtained power in Germany for four main reasons including the fact that authority was split into rivalries, the Nazis conflicting presence in Germany, parties and the president offered the position of Chancellor to him, but most importantly because of the effect the Great Depression had on the economy of Germany.
The Weimar Government had many weaknesses, including the signing of The Treaty of Versailles, and conflict with Communists, Conservatives, and right wing parties. After Germany was defeated, the Kaiser fled on November 9th, his place was taken over by Friedrich Ebert, the leader of Germany’s largest socialist party. He immediately worked to give the people of Germany what they wanted. On November 11th 1918 the Treaty of Versailles was signed, surrendering to the Allies and officially ending the war. The treaty Eventually ended up harming Germany more than it helped. Germany lost a lot of land and had to pay reparation money to their former enemies.
Germans were ashamed of how they had surrenedreed lost the war. Ebert also improved living conditions, starting with shorter working days, helping the unemployed, an increase in food supplies, and allowed free speech and elections for parliament (Brooman 23). These changes made a lot of the German people happier, except for a group of communists called the Spartacus league who disagreed with everything Ebert said or did (Brooman 23). The Spartacus league wanted Germany to be run by workers and soldiers councils instead of parliament. They first tried to gain power by starting a revolution, they walked around the streets firing guns and taking over important buildings by force on January 5th, 1919. The socialist government responded by using the ex-soldiers (right wing groups) and a lot of violence with which they recaptured the buildings that were taken over by Spartacists and murdered their groups leaders. Soon after Ebert held the elections for parliament. His own party called the Social Democrats won the most votes. On February 11th 1919 the new parliament met in the town of Weimar, they first appointed Ebert as president of Germany (Brooman 23). A lot of groups like the Communists, Conservatives and right wing parties were still opposed to democracy. Whenever the economy went down support for these groups went up.
One big reason for the Nazi success was because of inflation, the US stock market crash and the Great Depression. Germany struggled with money because instead of increasing their war time taxes like many other countries did to pay off the war, they printed money. That money very soon lost its value. Things started becoming more and more expensive. To solve this problem the US loaned $200 million to Germany in order for their economy to recover (Beck 471). In 1929 the US economy fell due to distribution of wealth, overproduction and business and agriculture. When the US economy fell so did the German economy, the US wanted their money back from Germany causing companies in Germany to go bankrupt and more people to become employed, this would come to be called the Great Depression (Beck 472). Germany was one of the countries that was hit hardest by the Depression, six million workers in a population of sixty-four million were unemployed by 1933 (Brooman 42).
The depression changed the Germans, they were unemployed and hungry resulting in them becoming angry at the government. Germans soon started supporting the parties that promised to end the economic depression if they were to be elected into parliament. There was one group that was the most popular and most convincing party out of them all. The National Socialist Party better known as the Nazi Party, promised the people jobs if they were elected into power just like many of the other parties did. And the people that weren’t unemployed often voted for them because they didn’t want communism.
Things that led to Hitler become Chancellor in 1933 was because he a great public speaker, and because the Nazis spread their ideas through propaganda. Hitler was able to persuade crowds of people that his ideas were correct. He started his speeches by listing all the things that were wrong in Germany and everywhere else around the world, speaking louder, and louder as the speech went on, he always ended his speeches by asking “and whose fault is this? ” to which the crowd would answer “it’s all / the fault / of the jews. ” (Brooman 52). Another method the Nazis used to gain power was propaganda (changing the way people think though advertizing). They used slogans instead of detailed policies. The slogans talked about going back to Germany’s traditional ways and uniting Germans behind one leader. Their policies about going back to traditional ways were never criticized because they were never clear enough about what they meant in regard to policies. When industrialists started criticizing Nazi plans to nationalise industry, the Nazis simply dropped the policy. Whenever they could, they would find ways to spread their beliefs of Jews, Communists, Weimar politicians and the Treaty of Versailles being the cause of Germany’s problems (Walsh 153). They spread their ideas through the eight newspapers they owned, pamphlets and political posters.
One of the posters shows a family, there is a son and father sitting at a table both looking disappointed and frustrated and a woman holding a baby in the back looking very sad with a headline stating, “Women! Millions of men are out of work. Millions of children have no future. Save our German families. Vote for Adolf Hitler!” (Brooman 55). The Nazis and Adolf Hitler’s speaking skills, and use of propaganda encouraged people to vote for The Nazis. Hitler was was invited into power because leaders like Hindenburg believed that they could limit Hitler’s influence and resist his extremist demands. The Nazi Party did not have majority of votes after the elections of July 1932, but were still the plurality. Hitler demanded that he became chancellor from the President. Nevertheless, Hindenburg thought he was suspicious and therefore refused to give Hitler the post. Franz Von Papen (current Chancellor) worked to solve the unemployment problem going around. He almost immediately had trouble because he had no support in the Reichstag. That led to another election in November of 1932. Again, the Nazi Party resulted in become the largest party but still their share of the vote fell. Hitler had lost over 2 million votes and 38 seats in the Reichstag. Nazi swere also starting to run out of funds. President Hindenburg appointed Kurt von Schleicher as Chancellor but he also, was quickly forced to resign. It then became clear that the Weimar government was not turning out the way they that had hoped it would, Hindenburg needed to appoint a Chancellor who had the support of the Reichstag. Hindenburg, von Papen, industrialists, army leaders, and politicians secretly met through all of January 1933.
On 30 January Hitler finally got what he wanted for so long, Hindenburg offered him the post of Chancellor. This came as a surprise to everyone. But the reason why Hindenburg and von Papen invited him to be Chancellor in the first place was because they thought they could limit his influence and because they knew he would get the support of the Reichstag. Policies were made by the Cabinet, which was filled with conservatives. Hitler’s job was was to get support from the Reichstag for the policies and control the communists (Walsh 156). When Hitler was Chancellor only three government ministers were Nazis and he had less that half the seats in parliament, which was done to limit Hitler’s power (Brooman 56). Hitler called another election in March 1933 to get Nazi majority in Reichstag. All around the Germany there were speeches, rallies, processions, and street fighting. He used the same strategies as he always did before but this time he had the power to control the streets and state media. On February 27th the Reichstag building burned down. Hitler blamed the communists and accused them of starting their first communist uprising. Hitler requested emergency powers to deal with the problem, the Nazis arrested communists, broke up meetings and frightened voters with that power (Walsh 158). After the election was held the Nazis had more seats but still not over half. He joined forces with another small party, The Nationalists. Resulting in them having just over half of the seats in parliament. Hitler became a dictator when he made his first law called the ‘Enabling Law’ giving him the power to make laws without parliament agreement, basically making him a dictator.
The most significant reason why Hitler came into power was because of the Great Depression happening in Germany at the time. As the economy went down the support of the Nazi party went up. Hitler promised the Germans everything they wanted most, which was more jobs that would later result in more money. Which was why Germans voted for the Nazi Party in the first place, all they cared about was getting their jobs back and were too blind to see the things that could happen if the Nazis were to be elected into power. The Germans that still had jobs voted for the Nazis because they didn’t want a communist. There was a wide range of groups The German government was just recovering when the Great Depression happened, shattering any chance of things going well again. If the Great Depression happened the Nazis would have never gotten that much support because people wouldn’t have been so desperate for more jobs and money. The Great Depression was the spark that caused all the unspeakable things that would happen next.
To conclude, the ideas illustrated above show the the main reasons of how Hitler got power in Germany and what events led to WW2. It all started with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Then came the Great Depression which completely demolished the German economy right after it was starting to recover from the complication caused by the Treaty. Hitler’s speaking skills and the Nazi use of propaganda made Germans support the Nazis. And lastly, when they gifted Hitler the post of Chancellor and he made the ‘Enabling Law’ officially places him a dictator. The most important cause being the Great Depression, starting the events that led to the 2nd world war.
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