History Essays – Hitler Power German

Hitler Power German

Choose any one reason from the list and explain how it contributed to Hitler’s rise to power.

The Enabling Act

One of the key events that contributed Hitler’s rise in power was the passing of the enabling act. The Enabling Act was a direct result of the burning Reichstag building, shortly after Hitler became chancellor. By this time, Hitler was already a standing member of the German Workers Party (DAP) and had adapted the name and the aims of the party to blend with his own thoughts and beliefs.

He also had managed a failed putsch in Munich, 1923, which is universally known as the beer hall putsch. A scandalous trail followed resulting in Hitler being sentenced to five years in prison (but was released after only one year of service) which was to be carried out at Landsberg Castle. Here Hitler composed he autobiography: Mein Kampf which detailed his aims and beliefs for Germany’s future under his reign. As a result (of many contributing factors), during the July 1932 elections, Hitler and the Nazis received the majority of 230 seats in the Reichstag.

After the Wall Street Crash, the unemployment leaves rocketed and several Germans were now supporting extremist parties, such as the Nazis and the Communists (KPD), because they promised change as well as stability – explaining the Nazis rise in popularity in the July 1932 elections. Courses implemented by the government to cease the country’s suffering had not yet taken effect. Because this slight political obstruction, Hitler to agree to a coalition with President Paul Hindenburg and the Weimar government and during January 1933 he [Hitler] was appointed the chancellor of Germany.

One of Hitler’s aspirations was to become the sole leader of Germany (or Der Fuhrer), but before he could reach his aspired goal, he had to conquer the obstacles in his way. First he had to gain total control of the Reichstag and the government, and absolve it (if possible); he had to eliminate the German Communists as well as gaining the loyalty and support of the German Army and the expulsion of Hindenburg.

Once all of these were achieved, Hitler would then be Der Fuhrer.

Hitler could accomplish one of these aims was to gain full control of the Reichstag, and managed this by instigating the Enabling Act. The Enabling Act was an article set up by a committee at Versailles in 1919 which said that if one of the members of the Reichstag wished to relinquish their rights and abilities as members of parliament they could vote upon the enabling act, and if two-thirds of the majority was reached in favour of those who wished to pass the act, the responsibilities of the Reichstag could be passed on to the Chancellor (a the time) giving them the power to pass laws, hold trials, make major decisions ect .by themselves.

Passing this act was necessary for Hitler to gain power, not only over the Reichstag; but over Germany as well. If he didn’t control the Reichstag, he had no power to do anything: any laws he wished to employ had to be voted on by the parliament, even with Hitler’s 193 seats in November 1932, Hitler didn’t hold the majority of seats. Therefore to gain two-thirds of the majority needed, Hitler had to exonerate himself of the competition and gain [more] support.

In February 1933, two days before the Enabling Act elections, the Reichstag building was burnt down. Near by the scene of the crime was a communist supporter, Van der Lubber, painted with evidence that suggest he caused it. After a guilty confession from Van der Lubber taking all the blame for starting the fire, Hitler went to President Hindenburg and convinced him to activate Article 48 (somewhat of a martial law which when stimulated allowed the president the facility to make and pass laws in addition to handing out punishment without going through the Reichstag or parliament).

Using this, Hitler persuaded Hindenburg to outlaw the Communists, (who just happen to be one of the Nazis principal rivals in the Reichstag. Many men and women were imprisoned; members of the communist parties as well as people who were not communists, but were a political threat to Hitler and the Nazis.

At the next Reichstag elections the Nazis received 44% of seats, but even without opposition of the communists the Nazis still didn’t have two-thirds of the majority of the votes that they needed. Then there was the concordat of March 1933.

The Catholic Pope was worried about the state of the church and how it would be run if Hitler took power. Seeing that Hitler had a possibility of gaining power the power he sought after, the pope wanted to assure the Catholic stability inside Germany. The concordat secured the Catholic Centre Party’s support to Hitler in the next Enabling Act vote, at the same time, promising that when Hitler came to power he would leave the church to run itself and is exempt from any measures the Nazi Party might execute.

With the support of the Catholic Centre Party, the Nazis held the two-thirds of the majority needed. On March the 23rd 1933, the Enabling Act was passed with 444 votes against 94. Hitler had achieved goal number one: absolving the Reichstag.

After the Enabling Act was approved, Hitler was well on his was to power. He only had to gain the support of the German Army and eliminate Hindenburg. These were both achieved by the absolution of the SA, lead by Ernst Roehm, in June 1934 during the Night of the Long Knives or Kristalnacht.

The army were highly trained but were small in number, whereas the SA were a large number (2 million) of men who were untrained. The German Army vowed their elegance provided that the SA was removed. Leaders, including Ernst Roehm were brought to Hitler’s chateau in the mountains and killed. The troops that once made up the German Army were all spread out between different units.

In August 1934, Hindenburg died of old age, leaving Hitler (as chancellor) to take his place, and declared that Germany no longer needed a chancellor and expelled the position altogether making himself Der Fuhrer of Germany.

Therefore, it is shown that the Enabling Act, completing two of his four objectives making him Der Fuhrer, was a major contributor to Hitler’s rise in power.

Using some of the causes in the list explain how both long-term and short-term causes contributed to Hitler’s rise to power. [10 marks]

There are multiple causes of Hitler’s rise to power, including both long term and short term causes. These causes are interconnected as often a long term cause (a cause which acts over a number of years) will act as a foundation which leads to a short term cause (a cause which acts over a number of days, weeks or months) which triggers an event. This relationship between causes means that without one, another may not occur and therefore all causes, both long and short term, are necessary for an event to happen the way it did.

The Treaty of Versailles is a very important long tern cause of Hitler’s rise to power because it motivated Hitler to seek that power. Opposition to the Treaty was one of the central uniting policies of the Nazi party.

The Treaty of Versailles were extreme on Germany and it people. This is what flamed a hatred for the Allies [the Big Three] in several Germans. The terms of the treaty happened to throw the delicate economic balance of Germany crumble.

During the years following the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the German civilians faced a series of strikes, putsches and invasions (mainly from France and Belgium). All of which contributed to Hitler’s rise to power.

In the early 1920s, the German economy was in distress and the currency had collapsed by 1923. Hitler saw the public’s discontent as his opportunity to steal power. On November 8, he led his “army” to a beer hall in Bavaria where local government leaders were holding a meeting.

The Nazis quickly captured the politicians and Hitler put himself in charge. The group then marched on the former Bavarian War Ministry building when the police opened fire. During the riot that followed, the man beside Hitler was killed as he pulled his leader to the ground.

The failure of the “Beer Hall Putsch” brought the Nazi party and Hitler into national publicity. Hitler was arrested and, after a 24-day trial, sentenced to five years in Landsberg fortress. The name is misleading, because the “fortress” was more like one of those country-club type prisons where white-collar criminals are sometimes sent.

Hitler received a steady stream of visitors and presents and was treated more like he was on a picnic outing than serving as an inmate.

Hitler’s incarceration was that it allowed him to dictate his views to his friend and cell-mate, Rudolf Hess. Those views would later be published as the book Mein Kampf (My Struggle), a volume that to this day remains a bible for racists, anti-Semites, and sociopaths.

The failure of the “Beer Hall Putsch” taught Hitler valuable lessons that he used to win and hold power later. One obvious lesson was not to get into any more battles with an enemy that was larger and better armed. Hitler also decided that his best chance to gain power would be through the use of legal methods rather than force.

The Weimar Republic was devastated by Wall Street Crash of October 1929 and the Great Depression that followed. The Crash had a devastating impact on the American economy but because America had propped up the Weimar Republic with huge loans in 1924 (the Dawes Plan) and in 1929 (the Young Plan), what happened to the American economy had to impact the Weimar Republic’s economy.

Both plans had loaned Weimar money to prop up the country’s economy – especially after the experiences of hyperinflation in 1923. America demanded the loans be paid back, because their economy was being held by a thread.

Unemployment sky-rocketed and the hyperinflation became worse. So many Germans needed money that wasn’t available.

The money was required for food, heating a home, clothes etc. With no obvious end to their plight under the Weimar regime, it is not surprising that those who saw no end to their troubles turned to the more extreme political parties in Germany – the Nazi and Communist Parties.

In 1928, the Nazi Party had nearly gone bankrupt as a result of the spending on street parades etc. which had cost the party a great deal. Bankruptcy would have automatically excluded them from politics – they were saved by a right wing businessman called Hugenburg who owned a media firm in Germany. He financially bailed them out.

In the 1930 Reichstag election, the Nazis gained 143 seats this was a vast improvement on their previous showing. Hitler only expected about 50 to 60 seats. A senior Nazi official claimed that what was a disaster for Weimar was “good, very good for us.”

In the July 1932 Reichstag election, the Nazis gained 230 seats making them the largest party in the Reichstag.

In the same year, Hitler had challenged Field Marshall von Hindenburg for the presidency. Such a move in 1928 would have been laughable but in the presidential election Hitler gained 13,400,000 votes to Hindenburg’s 19,360,000. The leader of the Communists gained 3,700,000. By any showing, Hitler’s achievement in this presidential election was extremely good for a politician whose party was on the verge on bankruptcy just 4 years earlier – but it also showed the mood of the German people in the early 1930’s.

In the November 1932 Reichstag election, the Nazi Party dipped somewhat to 196 seats but this still put them way ahead of their nearest rivals, the Social Democrats on 121 seats.

The Communist Party continued its steady climb from 77 seats the 1928 election, to 89 in the July 1932 election to 100 in the November one.

It is clearly shown that without one of these causes; however small it may seem, another much larger event may not have occurred: a domino effect. Without the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler would have not had anything to base his revisionist ideals from, without theses ideals he would not have been able to rise to the top of the Nazi party to the level of superiority he held in 1923. Without the Great Depression of 192, Hitler would not have had the opportunity to hold the Munich Beer Hall Putsch.

Without the putsch, Hitler would not have been sent to prison, he would not have received the attention he was given at his trial, he his ideals would not have been broadcast to all of Germany and around Europe, and Mien Kampf may not have been written, without Mien Kampf, Hitler would have to find other ways of spreading his beliefs and so wouldn’t have reached the level of popularity held by 1929.

Without the level of popularity Hitler wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of the opportunity the Wall Street Crash represented, and wouldn’t have been Chancellor (without the unstable nature created by the financial depression, the people would not have needed to look to the extremist groups for stability and change, popularity would have risen at a slight rate, if not fallen).

If Hitler had never become chancellor, there would have been no opportunity to enforce the Enabling Act and without said power Hitler may not have become Der Fuhrer at all. All of the causes are interconnected and therefore without one, another may lose its rank of importance or simply not occur.

Was any one of these reasons more important than the others in Hitler’s rise to power? Explain.

Some causes are more important than others. However many of the causes are reliant on other causes. For instance: the great depression made the German people lose faith in moderate parties like the Social democrats. This resulted in a polarization of German voting habits, meaning that extremist parties gained many votes from people who hoped that they would bring change.

The Nazi party gained exceptionally from this phenomenon; they went from having 12 seats in the Reichstag (1928) to 230 (July 1932) to 288 (March 1933). In general, as unemployment rose rapidly and the economic and social situation in Germany deteriorated the Nazi vote share increased. This popularity of the Nazis with the public eventually lead to the decision by von Papen and Hindenburg to appoint Hitler Chancellor, which in turn gave Hitler the opportunity to pass the Enabling law. This shows a definite correlation between the effects of the great depression and Hitler gaining power in Germany.

The Treaty of Versailles was an important event in Hitler’s rise to power. Perhaps not directly important, there was no quick outcome from the treaty that lead to Hitler becoming Der Fuhrer; instead the Treaty of Versailles provided and built up the base upon which Hitler expanded his revisionist ideas.

It was mainly the specifics of the treaty which were important: the war guilt clause 231, the removal of all colonies and states (such as the Sudetenland), the Polish Corridor, the illegalisation of the Anschluss, the demilitarisation of the Rhineland, the limits placed upon the main German armed forces (no air force, no tanks, no more then 100,000 voluntary men ect.), as well as the demand for £6.6 billion to be paid in reparations to the allied forces, and so on.

These demands created for Hitler and the rest of Germany points to focus on which could be blamed for the down fall of their country. The war guilt clause fostered hatred within Germany where it was believed that the war could have been won.

The removal of the Border States and colonies created a nationwide push for Lebensraum – the belief that Germany people deserved living space to the East in order to support the population. Demilitarisation pushed upon the country meant that it was a wish if many for the country to be strong once again. And the demand for reparations was ignored by Germany to start an attempt to prove that such a payment was impossible.

This lead to the economic depression, this was not the only reason for the rise in Nazi votes. The Nazis made significant changes to their policies during the years 1924-1929, including the spread of the party across the nation, a focus on propaganda and the setting up of other organizations like the youth league.

The Nazis also began to focus their message at the middle classes, which paid off when the middle classes were badly affected by the depression and began looking for new voting options. Had the Nazis not become more organized in the years preceding the depression, they would no have been able to benefit from it. Therefore the Nazi reorganization is an important cause of Hitler’s rise to power.

There are also other causes of Hitler’s rise to power which had an impact on the depression. The terms of the Treaty of Versailles made the effects of the depression in Germany much worse, because Germany, forced to pay £6.6 billion in monetary repayments and left with a weak economy, became reliant on US loans. Therefore when the Wall Street Crash threw the US into an economic slump, Germany was dragged with it.

Then came the Munich Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. This was where Hitler and General Luddendof organised a march upon Berlin to take power from the Bavarian Weimar Republic Government. One factor facing them, however, was the lack of support from Ritter Von Kahr, the Bavarian Leader who wanted Bavaria to be separate form Germany. So on November 8th 1923, Hitler and the Nazis SA stormed a public beer hall in Munich where meeting of Von Kahr’s was taking place.

Hitler demanded Von Karh’s support, which was given, only to be retracted the next day. Regardless, Hitler marched on Berlin with his storm troopers, but was stopped by the German Police Force. The Munich Putsch is an extremely important even because of its eventual effects. Hitler’s trail was broadcast on national radio, and what he had said in his own defence was printed and could be read by people all over Germany, this was the first time this had been possible for the Nazis, while Hitler was in prison, he wrote a manuscript: Mien Kampf, which documented the man’s beliefs and plans for the future of Germany under his own rule, again this book was printed and was a best seller inside Germany as well as throughout the rest of Europe and although was banned and forced to disperse; come the end of the trial, the Nazi party was allowed to regroup in February 1925,just more than a year after he [Hitler]tried to overthrow the government.

Also another major outcome of the Munich Putsch was that Hitler decided that any attempted to take power had to be through being voted into power; he also knew form that point on that he would need to gain support of the German Army before he did anything else. Therefore it can be said that this is probably one of the more important events, as it shows what Hitler’s aims were in his future actions.

The Munich Putsch and its effects (especially Mein Kampf) showed Germany and the rest of Europe, Hitler’s oratory skills, his personality and his aims for leadership. These turned out to be major factors in Hitler’s rise to power, because it was these mediums that Hitler conveyed his beliefs and politics to the people of Germany (as well as through propaganda, and so on)

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 again created an opportunity for change. Money lent to Germany by the USA through the Dawes and Young Plan had rebuilt the German economy, however it still relied on the support of the USA to preserve the strength of the economy. So when the monetary support was withdrawn, the economies in both countries failed.

This again caused the people to turn towards extremist parties such as the Nazis to answer their problems. The elections of July 1934 saw the largest results for the Nazis ever, 230 seats in the Reichstag parliament building. Therefore, this can be seen as and important event in aiding Hitler to his rise in power, as it was by this event that Hitler’s popularity was once again increased after the golden years of the Weimar government (1924 – 1933), however possibly not as important as some of the other events might seem, being more directly involved with Hitler’s rise to power.

The final decision by Von Papen and Hindenburg to make Hitler the chancellor was obviously an important event, although Hitler had much support from the public following the Wall Street Crash and main failure of the Weimar Republic. Hindenburg looked down on the man who he labelled a “jumped up corporal”, and refused to instil Hitler as chancellor.

However after being convinced by the public and (apparently) his son, Hindenburg came to see that appointing a popular man as chancellor might increase the popularity of the Weimar Government, and therefore Hitler was appointed. An important event to be sure, not as important as, perhaps as the Enabling Act election, however a major step in Hitler’s rise to power.

The Enabling Act was a major factor in Hitler’s rise to power. The Enabling Act was where Hitler gained two-thirds of the votes in the Reichstag in order to assume the responsibilities of the Reichstag itself. In order for the majority of the votes to belong to the Nazis, they had to purge themselves of their opposition which included the communists and catholic influences.

Communists were exonerated through the Reichstag fire, an event that was blamed on the communists and caused the party to become illegal. This removed the threat they posed to the Nazis, however the majority vote could remove this easily, and so this lead to the concordat with the Catholic Centre Party.

The concordat ensured that if and when Hitler took power the church would remain as it was, in return for their support for the Enabling Act election and for the future. It was in the way that the Enabling Act election was achieved and as demonstrated the importance by the number of aspects included, this is one of the more important factors as the Enabling Act, Hitler gained the full power of the Reichstag parliament using only democratic means: he defeated the Weimar Republic with their own system.

As seen, the importance of an event cannot easily be measured, some events seem to have almost no importance, however without them, another much more relevant event may not have occurred or held the same impact, and a good example of this is the Night of the Long Knives; where Hitler commanded all the generals and captains of the SA be assassinated.

Alone the action seems to have no relevance, but it is known that Hitler had these men killed to gain the support of the German Army, without it Hitler could never have become Der Fuhrer of Germany


  • Germany 1919-45 – Brooman, Josh
  • GCSE modern world history (second edition) Walsh – Murray, Hodder
  • Modern world history to GCSE OXFORD – Leonard, Mason
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica GCSE History
  • www.britannica.com
  • www.schoolhistory.co.uk
  • www.spartucushistory.com
  • www.bbcschools.co.uk/bitsizegcse/history/mwh/
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