Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933. This seemingly small appointment would have a monumental ripple effect, transforming the face of Europe, launching World War Two, and bringing about the slaughter of millions of Jews and other minority populations. In examining why Hitler was appointed, it is critical to understand the complicated history of Weimar Germany, Hitler’s rise to power, and the reasons that facilitated his appointment.
Economic Disparity & Instability
Before Hitler was appointed Chancellor, the people of Weimar Germany were living amidst economic disparity, mass unemployment, and rapidly falling currency rates. This was largely due to the reparation payments imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles following World War One. The country fell into disarray, with citizens struggling to make ends meet, political extremism on the rise, and the mainstream Social Democratic Party being blamed for the nation’s instability. In this climate of public discontent, Hitler’s appointment could be seen as a promising solution, presenting a ray of hope for the defeated people.
Hitler’s Nationalist Appeal & Nazi Propaganda
Hitler was able to take advantage of the disenchanted public and use his nationalist appeal and hate-filled Nazi propaganda to increase support for himself and the Nazi Party. He was extremely charismatic and delivered stirring speeches that spoke to a wide array of audiences. People wanted to hear his strong rhetoric and promises to bring Germany back to its former glory, restore trust in the government, promote union between different social classes, and create a powerful German state. This was made possible through exploiting the feelings of fear, anger, and resentment around Germany’s expulsion from World War One, leading to the perception that Hitler had both the backing and the motivation to uphold the Nazi Party’s extremist views.
Political Alliances & The Hindenburg Administration
Hitler was also appointed due to an alliance between the Nazi Party and German President Paul von Hindenburg’s cabinet called the ‘Cabinet of Barons’. Hindenburg’s decision to ally with Hitler was based on his hope to make the Nazi Party more moderate and his fear of a increasing support for extremists. Unfortunately, due to Hitler’s power and ambitions, the alliance backfired, leading to Hindenburg reluctantly appointing Hitler as Chancellor. Legally it was within the authority of the President to appoint ministers, however the fact that Hitler was made Chancellor was only made possible by other politicians’ political compromises, acquiescing to Hitler’s demands and ambitions.
Hitler’s Seemingly Moderate Action Plan
In appealing to the nation’s power hungry and ultranationalistic populace, Hitler’s action plan for Germany was seen as an acceptable solution by some. He planned to rid Germany of the Social Democratic party and abolish the Weimar Constitution, ensuring he would have full control of the nation while maintaining the illusion of being moderate and trustworthy. This appeal was powerful, making him even more popular amongst the German people and giving more legitimacy to his leadership of Germany.
Desire for Autocratic Leadership
One of the main drivers behind Hitler’s appointment was the German people’s desire and need for a strong autocratic leader who could steer them out of the crisis they were in. They wanted someone who could bring the nation together, stand up to the Allies, and provide them with a sense of security, something that Hitler did with his election and neofascist rule. All of his actions were perceived as unifying, from the Nuremberg Rally to the military build-up and controlled economy. He was seen as a beacon of hope and a source of national pride, making many overlook the extremist and autocratic nature of the Nazi party.
Rise of Nazi Policies & Anti-Semitic Agenda
Once in position, Hitler was able to implement the Nazi party’s violent, anti-Semitic agenda, a key driver of his appointment by Hindenburg and his cabinet supporters. Hitler began to systematically dismantle civil liberties, introduce extreme policies and publicly target Jews. He was also able to accelerate his military policies, rearm the German military, and subjugate Jewish people, leading to the genocide of millions and the onset of World War Two.
Use of Legal and Illegal Tactics
Hitler’s appointment was also made possible through his use of both legal and illegal tactics that enabled him to acquire more power in the German political system. He used legal tactics such as fear-mongering, deception, and exploiting political alliances. He also used illegal tactics such as intimidation and control of media, the use of propaganda, and the violent suppression of political rivals. Despite these tactics, the idea of Hitler as a saviour was strong in the minds of many, allowing him to gain more power and further his goals.
Election of the Reichstag and Enabling Act of 1933
The election of the Reichstag and the passing of the Enabling Act of 1933 also enabled Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor. This act was passed by the Reichstag in April 1933, granting Hitler and his cabinet full powers to enact laws without parliamentary approval, thus effectively removing all German checks and balances and allowing Hitler to become a de factor dictator. This gave Hitler the power to begin implementing the more extreme aspects of his ideology such as the implementation of anti-Semitic policies and the Holocaust.
Conclusion of Hitler’s Appointment
The appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 enabled him to gain full control of the German government and set in motion a chain of events that would have devastating consequences. The appointment was a product of the Weimar period of instability, Hitler’s own appealing agenda, political alliances, and a populace desperate for a strong autocratic leader. His appointment was a catalyst for the rise of the Nazi Party and its violent, anti-Semitic agenda, the onset of World War Two, and, eventually, the genocide of millions of Jews and other minority populations.