Adolf Hitler was one of the most notorious dictators of the twentieth century and his influence on history is still felt today. But before he came to power in Germany, he was just a small-time politician who spent much of his adult life in Vienna and Munich. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Hitler’s life before he rose to power, focusing on his early political activities and associations.
Hitler was born in 1889 in Austria and moved to Germany when he was just three years old. He started out as a struggling artist, but he quickly developed an interest in politics. He joined the German Workers’ Party in 1919, which would eventually become the Nazi Party.
Hitler was passionate about his political views and quickly rose through the ranks of the party. In 1923, he was arrested for his role in an attempted coup and sent to prison, where he wrote Mein Kampf, an autobiographical account of his political philosophy. After being released, he returned to politics and worked to expand the Nazi Party’s influence.
Hitler was seen as an effective speaker, popularizing nationalist and anti-Semitic views and galvanizing support for the Nazi Party. Hitler was also crafty in his tactics, using propaganda and intimidation to further his agenda. He was adept at skillfully manipulating public sentiment to his benefit, his rhetoric leaving lasting impressions on the German people.
Hitler developed a cult of personality, carefully cultivating his image as a strong leader who could bring Germany back from the brink of economic ruin and restore it to greatness. He was a master manipulator and adept politician, acknowledging the power of symbols and slogans in unifying people behind a cause. His astute understanding of the power of the press, films and radio in controlling minds allowed him to spread fear and hatred throughout Germany with remarkable speed and efficiency.
When Hitler came to power in 1933, he quickly set about consolidating his control over the country. He made anti-Semitism the cornerstone of his rule and his policies quickly led to the imprisonment, deportation and death of countless Jews. His tyrannical rule claimed the lives of millions of innocent people, sowing the seeds of the Holocaust and devastation that would follow.
Throughout his ascendancy, Nazi organizations such as the SS and Gestapo, who had been founded by the party, provided staunch support for Hitler and the furthering of his ideology and political agenda. These organizations played a major role in spreading fear and terror throughout Germany and helped to repress those who dared oppose Hitler. Furthermore, the SA (Stormtroopers) acted as the militant arm of the Nazi Party and diligently hindered and suppressed opposition to Hitler’s rule.
Several other organisations were integral to the success of Nazi propaganda and its drive to achieve ideological domination. The various branches of the Nazi Party had distinct functions. For example, the Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment had the task of disseminating the official Nazi message and waging a campaign of racial hatred against the Jews and other minority groups.
The Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda closely monitored the media and censored, or eliminated, all materials deemed inimical to the Nazi Propaganda, as well as controlling access to information through censorship laws. The Reich Chamber of Culture provided support in developing Nazi Party culture and approved or banned artistic works, further restricting freedom of expression.
Role of Women
Women played an important role in the Nazi Party and during Hitler’s time in power. Women were usually responsible for serving as secretaries and administrative assistant to the Nazis’ litany of organisations and bureaus. Women were also often involved in Nazi youth organisations and propaganda, including running subordinate organisations of the Nazi Party such as the Bund Deutscher Maedel, an organisation dedicated to the education, welfare, and recreation of young girls.
The Nazis sought to restore traditional values of patriarchy and emphasised the role of birthing and rearing children. Women were expected to focus on the “Kinder, Kueche, Kirche” (children, kitchen, church) ideal and discouraged from working or engaging in activities outside of the home. Women were also used as symbols of Nazi power, presenting an image of motherhood and a strong Aryan female.
Hitler’s economic policy sought to restore Germany’s pre-war prosperity by creating full employment. To combat mass unemployment, he initiated a series of large-scale public works and labour programs. He also created jobs by investing in increased military spending and armaments production. Investment in infrastructure, such as motorways and bridges, was an important part of his policy.
Hitler’s economic policies also sought to isolate Germany from global markets. He imposed trade restrictions and tariffs on imported goods and imposed quotas on foreign workers and favoured investment in German companies over foreign firms. His economic policies helped to restore the country’s economy and alleviate the high levels of unemployment.
Hitler sought to maintain economic security through foreign investment. He arranged large loans from foreign lenders to fund his regime and also negotiated trade agreements and treaties with other countries. He also seized foreign assets and tried to use them to benefit the Reich.
Successful Propaganda Campaigns
Hitler used propaganda tactics to convince the German people of the legitimacy and necessity of his rule. He used political rallies, large-scale public works, and a range of indoctrination tactics such as the Hitler Youth, to spread his message and solidify his power. He developed a cult of personality to convince people that he was the only leader capable of bringing Germany back from the brink of defeat and restoring it to greatness.
He effectively used the power of the press, radio and film to spread Nazi propaganda throughout Germany. He controlled the media to disseminate his message and censored dissenting views. His propaganda efforts were successful, and his rule was accepted by a large majority of the population, who were enthralled by his charismatic and inspiring rhetoric.
Hitler’s detailed plans and keen understanding of the politics of fear, rhetoric and intimidation helped him win the hearts and minds of the people of Germany, enabling him to seize and maintain power for more than a decade.