How did Adolf Hitler come to power and why was he so successful?
Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945) was the leader or Führer of Germany from 1933 until he committed suicide in 1945. He was the cause of World War II and responsible for the deaths of nearly 11 million people, 6 million of which were Jewish (Rosenberg). There were several factors that aided in Hitler’s diplomatic and military successes and these factors played a role in why the West was so slow in responding to the war that Hitler started.
The Weimar Republic was the government that was formed in Germany at the end of World War I. The people of Germany associated the Republic with the humiliating Treaty of Versailles and there was an overall distaste for it. Hitler came along and made a lot of promises to the German people, who already had a bitter taste left in their mouths from World War I. He promised to cure economic hardship and to reestablish Germany to the position of a world power. He was very good at convincing the German people that the Weimar Republic betrayed the German people and that a new government was necessary. (Kishlansky, Geary and O’Brien. 2008)
Though he was a great speaker and had a lot of support, Hitler lost the presidential election and Paul von Hindenburg (1925 – 1934) was elected president of Germany. On January 30, 1933, President Hindenburg appointed Hitler as chancellor of Germany, which gave Hitler a firm footing to carry out his plans. Hitler made claims that Germany was nearing Communist revolution and convinced the president to pass emergency laws that consisted of outlawing the freedom to press, the freedom to public meeting and allowed for the use of violence against the communists and socialists.
After just a year and a half, President Hindenburg died and Hitler was able to take over as president. He combined the role with the chancellor position and created the position of supreme leader, otherwise known as Führer. Hitler was now the legal dictator of Germany, with a lot of support from the German people. His dreams of expansion for Germany were now possible.
Britain, France and America were blind to the threat that was Nazi Germany. They did not understand what the Nazi party and Hitler had planned in the crusade to make Germany the biggest and strongest empire. The world was also very sensitive about war. World War I was devastating to most countries. Many countries were broke and still struggling to rebuild both physically and financially. This allowed Hitler to annex Austria in 1938 without a single fight (Rosenberg). The world just sat by and watched. When Hitler set his sights on Czechoslovakia, the mediation at Munich took place. Neville Chamberlain (1869 – 1940), the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom attempted to reason with Hitler (Neville Chamberlain). Chamberlain assumed that Hitler was, as the rest of the world, interested in preventing war. The mediation ended with Hitler getting everything that he wanted and the rest of the world assuming that there was now a peace for Europe (Kishlansky, Geary and O’Brien. 2008). It was not until he set his eyes on Poland that the world began to take action against Germany.
Hitler had taken full control of Germany. He was making sure to remove any critics from their positions of power and replacing them with Nazis that were loyal to him. He successfully convinced the German people that he was there in the best interest of the people and he was able to keep the world at bay while he did what he wanted for a time. The world was incredibly sensitive to the idea of another war and would have allowed Hitler to do as he pleased, until he took his expansion too far.
Mark Kishlansky, Geary Patrick, and O'Brien Patricia. Civilizations in the West. Seventh Edition ed. Pearson Education, Inc, 2008.
"Neville Chamberlain (prime minister of United Kingdom) -- Encyclopedia Britannica." Encyclopedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/104904/Neville-Chamberlain (accessed June 16, 2013).
Rosenberg, Jennifer. "Hitler - A Biography of Nazi Leader Adolf Hitler." About.com. http://history1900s.about.com/cs/hitleradolf/p/hitler.htm (accessed June 15, 2013).