Many Historians agree the key event of Hitler´s rise to power was his appointment of Chancellor the 30th of January 1933 by the former German President von Hindenburg, who ruled the country since 1925 and was reelected in 1932. Although in the elections of July 1932 Hitler won 37.5% of the parliamentary seats (230), making the Nazi party the largest in the Reichstag, whereas he should have been Chancellor, he did not rise to power, as Hindenburg did not appoint him as himself, Franz von Papen and General von Schleicher hated and distrusted Hitler and were scared of his radical political ideology, expressed in his autobiography “Mein Kampf”. President von Hindenburg appointed Franz von Papen as Chancellor, who hoped to form a right-wing coalition with the Nazis and other right-wing parties with Adolf Hitler as vice-chancellor. Without the support of Hitler, who claimed full power, von Papen could not form a government, forcing Hindenburg to call another election in November of the same year in which the Nazis lost 34 seats.
In a fight to get power between von Papen, who lost his credibility, as he was not able to get support of the Reichstag and Schleicher, who turned against him and stopped supporting him. Firstly von Schleicher is appointed Chancellor in December 1932, but resigns and Hitler is made Chancellor, by the desperate Hindenburg. There are four crucial areas to look at to understand why Hilter was appointed Chancellor: Winning the elections in 1932, the fact, that there was no strong alternative, Chaos in Germany and the discredited Weimar Republic. First of all, to be the most powerful party in the Reichstag with 37% of the votes in 1932, he promised solutions to the everyday problems. In his propaganda he offered national unity, prosperity and full employment by getting rid of what they claimed were the real causes of the troubles: Marxists “the November criminals” (those who agreed to the armistice in November 1918), Jews, Jesuits, Freemasons and the Treaty of Versailles to build up Germany into the former “Roman German Reich” again, including all the Germans of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland into a great power.
They were attracted by Hitler’s extraordinary political abilities and the Nazi´s image itself; ex-soldiers who lived in miserable conditions after the war, were attracted by their private army, the SA, wealthy landowners and industrialists feared a communist revolution, like it occurred with the Spartacist Rising (1919) in Germany and in 1917 in Russia, whereas they heavily financed the Nazis propaganda. The population had enough with two economic catastrophes (1923 and 1930) and could not afford another one. In addition, they needed a strong leader who would bring the catastrophically situation back into the right track, this man was Hitler. Another important point is the fact, that in 1933, there was no alternative, rather than Hitler. First of all, with the introduce of the new Parliamentary Representation, which had as aim to give a fairer representation of each party inside the parliament, had the drawback, that decision making was slow and difficult. Caused by the high number of political parties, it was very difficult to get a majority and rule the country. For instance, in the elections of 1928, eight parties got more than the 12 seats the Nazis achieved and the most voted party, the Social Democrats with 153 seats, did not reach majority.
This caused a lack of power and decision-making. This benefitted Hitler, because during the Chancellorship of Franz von Papen, he had not enough support to pass laws, whereas he used heavily article 48 (allows to rule in case of emergency without the approval of the parliament) and asked him to form a right-wing coalition with Adolf Hitler as vice-chancellor. As Hitler wanted the Chancellorship, both von Papen firstly and Schleicher did not have the support of the Reichstag, having to resign. Furthermore, the only alternative for Schleicher was Hitler, as they needed him to form a right-wing coalition to have the majority of the Reichstag. Only with the support of the Nazis, either the right-wing group or the left-wing group could have a majority. It is important to mention the impact of chaos in Germany on Hitler.
The first economic catastrophe, hyperinflation (1923), caused by French troops Rheinland occupation in 1923, made possible by the limited German army, making resistance impossible and the fact Germany could not return the excessive reparation payments costs of the 1st World, destroyed all the savings of the country’s population, as they dropped in value, and secondly, in 1930 massive unemployment, because of the Wall Street Crash, which dropped foreign demand on German goods, letting to 6.5 Mio unemployed Germans, caused a chaotic situation: Starving population, violence, social unrest.. This caused a huge wave of strikes. Different political groups used the low popularity and political instability of the Republic to seize power: Firstly the Spartacist Rising in January 1919 by the communists, in March of one year later, the Kapp Putsch by right-wing groups and a series of political assassinations, carried out by ex-Freikorps members, supporting Hitler, gave the population a sense of danger, which benefitted Hitler, as he promised stability, peace and safety.
It has to be taken into account, Hitler took part in the Music Ball Putch, but failed, which helped him to create more instability. Another reason for Hitler´s rise to power is the discredit of the Weimar Republic, bringing it at the verge of collapse. To stop war and reinstate democracy, the Allies forced the Republic in 1919 to accept the humiliating and unpopular Versailles Treaty, forcing to return 100% of the pre-war colonies, lose 80% of the pre-war fleet, limit to 100.000 their army forces with little armament, lose 40% of the iron production, 16% of the coal production, 13% of the territory in 1914, 12% of the population, pay all the reparation costs and what is worst, the blame for starting the. This was seen as the “stab in the back”- , the idea that the German armies could have fought on but were betrayed by the “November criminals” (government) who had surrendered unnecessarily, by the German population, a myth Hitler would use heavily in his propaganda.
Other important issues were hyperinflation in 1923, which made the exchange rate of a Pound compared to a Mark increase from 20 Marks in 1918 to 21.000.000.000 in 1923 and the Wall Street Crash in 1930, causing 6.5 Mio unemployed. People and political parties stopped supporting the Republic, as they could not guarantee to avoid another major economic catastrophe. Another big reason why discredit towards the Republic increased, was caused by the Dawn´s loan, which boomed German economy. In contrast, Hitler, who according to some critical Historians, was not aware of its future economic impact and did only criticize it heavily, as he followed a strict autarky policy, making unthinkable to accept foreign help, boomed his popularity, when the Wall Street Crash, which could have been avoided by not accepting the Dawn´s and Young plan, damaged German economy. Conclusion:
Many Historians debate whether in 1933 Hitler’s rise to power was irrevocable and whether it was due to his personal and political abilities of him or exclusively due to the mistakes of the Weimar Republic. On the one hand, Historian Lee argues that the rise of the Nazis was as the result of a deliberate policy by Schleicher, Papen and Hindenburg to create an authoritarian government, as a consequence of having no support of the Reichstag and the increasing use of article 48. They felt that democracy had failed and therefore allowed Hitler’s rise to power to gain them popularity, as he could unite all the right-wing party’s into a coalition. On the other hand, Historian Morris and Murphy suggests that Burning’s failure to cut benefits led to unpopularity, losing support for the moderates and increase support for the extremists. His biggest mistake was dissolving the Reichstag and allowing the extreme parties to have more power. Von Papen as Chancellor undermined democracy, lifted ban on SA and removed local governments.
After new elections in which Hitler lost support, Schleicher and his failure led to Hitler. Taking into account the chaotic situation in Germany and the discredit of the Republic it is reasonable that no other party supported them, as they would damage their own reputation and they lost support of the peasants, the workers, the army and the landowners, who chose between Communism and extreme Nationalism. This can be seen as the main reason to dissolve the parliament, as they could not pass any law without using article 48. Adding the factor there was an internal power fight between Schleicher and von Papen and that both failed as Chancellors, it can be concluded, that Hitler was chosen as Chancellor for being the most successful Nationalist, with the hope he will form a right-wing coalition with von Papen to have majority in the Reichstag and because there was no other alternative, as both Schleicher and von Papen failed previously and the Reichstag, being dissolved needed a Chancellor to face the Great Depression .