Seeking Power

The Nazi Party

The political and social chaos in Germany immediately after World War One led to rise of many violent and extreme political groups. Hitler's NSDAP was one of these.

Hitler's time in the army and the military background of many of his supporters led to the NSDAP becoming like a military organisation. NSDAP meetings looked like military parades, and Hitler addressed them with passionate speeches that roused strong emotions in his followers. This made it easy for them to take part in acts of violence, and party members attacked members of other political groups.

Changing Tactics

Hitler left Landsberg Prison in December 1924, having served only nine months of his sentence for treason. While Hitler was in prison, life in Germany began to improve. The economic situation had got better, and people were less desperate for extreme solutions to help relieve their circumstances. In the Reichstag elections of December 1924, the Nazis won 3 per cent of the vote, while the Social Democratic Party (SPD) won 26 per cent. Hitler wanted to gain power over the country and, after the failure of his attempt to overthrow the government ('putsch'), he realised he would have to use the democratic methods of the Weimar Republic. In February 1925 Hitler told the NSDAP that, instead of using force, they would stand for election and campaign for votes. Initially, this was not very successful. In 1928 the NSDAP got only 2.6 per cent of the vote, gaining 12 seats in the Reichstag. Despite this, the Nazis were well organised with more than 100,000 members throughout Germany.

American Loans

American assistance in the mid-1920s hauled the Weimar Republic back from the brink of collapse. This was called the Dawes Plan and it involved the transfer of 800 million marks from the United States of America to the German Government in which the German economy began to recover.

In 1928 industrial production finally surpassed pre-First World War levels. By 1930 Germany was one of the world's leading exporters of manufactured goods.
However the Germany economy still had serious weaknesses.

  • It depended on American loans which could be withdrawn at any time
  • Unemployment was a serious problem. The economy might be growing, but it wasn't creating enough jobs fast enough for Germany's growing population.
  • There were serious cases of extreme wealth and poverty throughout the German people.
  • Some sectors of the economy were in trouble throughout the 1920's, farming in particular. Farmworker's earnings were, by 1929, a little more than half the national average pay.
Between 1929 and 1932, support increased for parties with extreme solutions to Germany's problems. While the communists promised to give the unemployed and working classes control of the country and ownership of industry, the Nazis were seen as the strongest group capable of preventing what others saw as the threat of communism. The political system made it very difficult for the democratic parties to keep governments in power.

People began to blame the political parties for Germany's problems. Extremist groups proposed drastic measures, and these seemed more appealing to people desperate for solutions. As democratic governments failed to deal with Germany's problems, the Nazis looked to many to be the strongest option. In the election of July 1932 the Nazis won 37 per cent of the vote. This made them the largest single party in the Reichstag and Hitler, as their leader, Hitler was made Chancellor, the head of the German government.