Did Adolf Hitler Ever Win The Popular Vote


Adolf Hitler is one of the most notorious figures in history, and the idea of him ever having won the popular vote is, to many, a difficult one to stomach. However, it is important to look at the facts objectively, and to understand why, in that tumultuous period of political upheaval, Hitler could feasibly have come out on top in the voting polls. During the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, Hitler had the support and financial backing of key figures such as the banker and industrialist Fritz Thyssen and the former-soldier-turned-politician Ernst Rohm. He also had a strong political message that spoke to the German people’s need for order and unity after the ravages of World War I, and the Weimar Republic’s post-war financial instability. In 1932, Hitler ran for the chancellorship after being appointed leader of the Nazi party, and in the federal election of 12 November, he won 33.1% of the vote, compared to over 37% for the incumbent, the Social Democrat Franz von Papen.

Relevant Data

However, a huge number of Germans were still opposed to Hitler’s fascism and instead voted for more traditional parties such as the Centre and German National People’s Party. To combat this, Hitler’s second-in-command, Hermann Göring, was put in charge of the Reichstag Fire Decree, which enabled the suspension of civil liberties and the banning of political parties, thus giving Hitler unprecedented power with which he could shut down any opposition. Consequently, in the 1933 election with no mainstream parties remaining, Hitler won 92.1% of the vote, which further strengthened his chancellorship and enabled him to bring into effect his Nazi regime.
It is important to note, however, that this popular vote was arguably not democratically obtained: the means by which voting was suppressed and those opposing Hitler’s regime were intimidated cannot be ignored, making this election not a legitimate representation of the German people’s feelings.

Expert Perspectives

In examining how Hitler won the popular vote, we must also turn to the academic perspective. Dr Hadley Pitts, a professor of political science from the University of Pennsylvania, remarked that ‘The idea of Austrian-born Hitler winning the popular vote in 1933 is no less astounding than Donald Trump managing to win a majority of the Electoral College in 2016’.
However, it is important to remember that each of the contexts are different: in 1933, there was already a significant groundswell of support for Mussolini’s fascist ideologies, and the post-war context of serious economic hardship placed voting in favour of totalitarian strongmen as an attractive solution to the instability. It is also pertinent to remember that in 1933, Germany was also home to the most established democratic institutions in Europe, with a vibrant civil society and parliamentary tradition going back centuries: for Hitler to be successful in such a context was a testament to his political successes as well as his oppressive tactics.

Own insights and analysis

My own insight into this question of Hitler winning the popular vote is that it must be looked at in context. Certainly, given that the German people were so desperate to find a leader who could return them to their pre-war status quo in a time of political and economic instability, it is unsurprising that they turned to the one leader who could seemingly provide it. Furthermore, given the lack of political parties and the banning of civil liberties, it cannot be said that Hitler’s success was through any legitimate democratic process.
However, while historians and political scientists may debate the merits of these tactics, the reality remains that Hitler did win the popular vote in Germany in 1933, in a country with centuries of parliamentary tradition, and this must not be forgotten amid the shock and horror of his seminal evil deeds.

Public Sentiment

Public sentiment in Germany at the time of Hitler’s election was generally in favour of the Nazi party, as can be seen from numerous polls taken in the years leading up to the 1933 election. According to a survey by Emnid in 1930, 57% of German respondents believed that the fascist, authoritarian policies endorsed by the Nazi party promised the only salvation for Germany’s economic and political woes.
Part of the reason for this popular opinion was the establishment of mainstream newspapers such as Der Angriff, the Nazi’s flagship publication since 1927. Such publications served to spread Nazi propaganda and regularly painted Hitler in a positive light, thus skewing public opinion and building further support for his political ascension.

Political Rhetoric

It’s true that Hitler had many powerful allies, financial support and a strong political message. His speeches were emboldened by nationalistic rhetoric, rife with notions of strength, loyalty and struggle: precisely the qualities the German people wanted to hear after the debilitation of World War I. Such language was far more empowering to the average citizen than the more reasonable, conservative and pacifist policies of those such as von Papen and Schleicher, who were “talking down” to the troubled German people.
This, of course, was just the ammunition Hitler needed to overtake his competitors in the political arena and win the hearts and minds of those seeking guidance and direction in a chaotic time.

Legitimacy of the Vote

The legitimacy of Hitler’s 1933 victory remains a complicated question. Since his victory was only built on a highly undemocratic foundation of austerity, suppression and manipulation, it cannot be said to have been a ‘true’ popular vote victory. However, it is equally wrong to say that the Nazi party won solely through suppression and manipulation: there was also a genuine popular feeling in Germany that fascism could provide the answers the nation required.
Of course, we must not forget the more sinister tactics employed by the Nazis during this election: the suspension of civil liberties, the intimidation of the opposition and, ultimately, the dissolution of democracy. While these atrocities cannot be denied, we must remember that ultimately, Germany was in a vulnerable position and desperate for a saviour.

Economic Factors

While political rhetoric was important in swaying public opinion, there are also economic factors to consider when examining Hitler’s 1933 victory. In the wake of the global financial crisis of 1929, Germany had been hit particularly hard with drastic job losses in industries such as textiles, steel and coal. Consequently, Hitler’s promise of reigniting these industries and creating jobs appealed to the majority of German voters. Furthermore, while the Nazis had been in control of the Chancellor’s office since 1933, they had implemented sweeping reforms of Germany’s economy, stabilizing its currency and effectively rebuilding the middle class.
Ultimately, the economic welfare of the people had a large influence on their voting decisions, and many were willing to overlook any caveats about Hitler’s tyrannical regime given that prosperity was brought about by his victory.

Propaganda and Electioneering

Finally, it is important to remember that electioneering and propaganda played a crucial role in winning the popular vote for Hitler. From Der Angriff spreading Nazi rhetoric to Hermann Göring’s ruthless electioneering tactics, propaganda combined with the struggling German economy meant that the German people were effectively hoodwinked into supporting Hitler in the 1933 federal election.
Not only did his puppet-masters intervene with the vote, but they also succeeded in driving public opinion towards supporting the Nazi party. With a low voter turnout, a lack of opposition, fear of reprisals and a surge in nationalist sentiment, Hitler’s election was secured, to the initial joy of many German citizens.

Elizabeth Baker is an experienced writer and historian with a focus on topics related to famous world dictators. She has over 10 years of experience researching, writing, and editing history books and articles. Elizabeth is passionate about uncovering lost stories from the past and sharing interesting facts about some of the most notorious dictators in history. In her writing, she emphasizes how dictators can still affect modern-day politics and society. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington where she continues to write and research for her latest projects.

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