How Adolf Hitler Gained Power

Background Information

Adolf Hitler rose to power in the 1930s, becoming one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. As leader of the Nazi Party, Hitler transformed Germany, steered the economy out of depression, significantly increased the size and scope of the German military, and set out to create an ethnically pure state. He is widely held responsible for starting World War II and the genocide of millions of people, primarily Jewish people and others deemed “inferior.” Although Hitler was ultimately unsuccessful in his ambitions, he managed to survive in power for more than a decade.

Hitler’s Rise to Power

Adolf Hitler’s rise to power began in 1919. A failed artist and Army corporal in World War I, he joined the German Workers’ Party, which opposed the treaty the Allies had imposed on Germany in the Treaty of Versailles and advocated nationalism and anti-Semitism. Through his influence, the party changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or Nazi Party.
Hitler rose within the ranks of the party and in 1921 became its leader and powerful public speaker. Hitler and his supporters capitalized on Germany’s humiliation and economic turmoil as a result of the Treaty of Versailles and the Weimar Republic’s inability to manage the situation. Hitler promised to restore Germany’s economy and end unemployment, restore its national pride, end reparations payments and reverse the Treaty of Versailles, which he viewed as unfair. This message resonated with German voters, who were fed up with their country’s economic and political instability. The Nazi Party gained support as a result and in 1922 became the second-largest party in the Reichstag.

Hitler Attains Chancellorship

Hitler had developed a strategy of gaining power in stages and it worked. President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler as chancellor of Germany in January 1933, and the one-time corporal quickly consolidated control. He implemented a number of tactics to silence his opponents. He formed a secret police force, the Gestapo, and filled its ranks with Nazi supporters. He passed the 1933 “Enabling Act,” which allowed him to create laws without Reichstag approval. By December, he had been appointed Supreme Commander of the German military, controlling the military and all military-related policies.
In July 1933, he declared that other political parties posed a threat to National Socialism and banned them. The German electorate became a single-party system, allowing Hitler to take full control of the Reichstag, Germany’s federal legislature, which granted him extraordinary powers. Soon after, he declared himself “Führer” or leader of the Reich, a position that included the newly created post of “Reich President.”

Laws Passed by Hitler

In the early days of his power, Hitler and the Nazis needed to build their infrastructure quickly, so they passed more than 400 laws aimed at ensuring control, suppressing opposition and consolidating their power. They also passed laws aimed at creating a Nazi-led single-party state. The aim of the Nazis was to create a racial utopia in Germany – any opposition to Hitler’s ideals was not tolerated.
In October 1933, the Nazis passed the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, which was designed to prevent the birth of ‘genetically unhealthy individuals’. The following month, Hitler established the Reich Citizenship Law, which stripped Jews and those perceived as undesirable of German citizenship. Further laws passed by Hitler included the Anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws in 1935 and the Forced Euthanasia Law in 1939.

The Nazi Propaganda Machine

Hitler and the Nazis understood the power of propaganda and used it to their advantage. Nazis used advances in technology – and the skills of people in their propaganda machine – to spread their message as far and wide as possible. The message was one of national pride and racial superiority, with a mission to make Germany a powerful nation.
Nazi propaganda extolled the virtues of National Socialism and portrayed Hitler as a strong leader who could save Germany from the problems it faced. Art, music, poster campaigns and books were all used to spread Nazi ideology. The propaganda helped shape public opinion and created a sense of national pride and loyalty to Hitler.

The Use of Fear and Terror

Hitler and the Nazi’s kept tight control of Germany by using fear and terror, most notably SS Schutzstaffel (Protection Squad) which was created by Hitler in 1929. Hitler’s SS organisation was tasked with protecting the Nazi leadership but also helped implement the policies of racial purity and anti-Semitism that Hitler championed.
The SS organization was secret, highly feared and often used violence and terror to keep Hitler in power. SS members were under orders to eliminate anyone who spoke against the Nazi party or had links to opposition groups. Their orders were to terrorize people, making sure that no one or no group posed a threat to the Nazi party.

The Role of the Media and Education System

The media and education system in Nazi Germany were closely controlled by the Propaganda Ministry. Newspapers, radio programmes and films were used to spread Nazi ideology, although any potential opposition was silenced. The education system was closely aligned with Nazi beliefs and served to indoctrinate children from an early age. The education system was designed to ensure that future generations were loyal to Nazi beliefs and committed to upholding Nazi policies.

Hitler’s Contempt for International Law

Hitler and the Nazis showed little regard for international law and often violated it. This was particularly visible in the way they treated minorities in Germany, as other nations stood by and watched as they implemented their racial policies. The Nazis also invaded other countries without justification, such as when they invaded Poland in 1939. This invasion was a clear violation of international law, as it violated the rights of an independent nation.

Hitler’s Death and Legacy

Hitler’s death in April 1945 marked the end of his reign of terror in Germany and the beginning of post-war efforts to rebuild the country. His legacy is a dark one. The hatred, violence and cruelty of the Nazi regime have become a symbol of evil and his name is synonymous with genocide, racism and hatred.

Conclusion of Influencing Ideologies

The lasting legacy of Hitler’s ideas and actions is one of racial hatred, oppression and suffering. However, it is also a reminder of the power of ideas to influence and shape the political landscape, and how dangerous it can be when those in power wield that influence in a negative way. The way in which Hitler was able to gain power and use it to create a totalitarian form of government has become a significant part of political science and is used by data analysts and historians around the world to help understand events of today.

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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