Adolf Hitler The Rise to Power
The Early Years • Hitler was born in Austria in 1889. • When he was 18, he moved to Vienna, the capital of the multi-ethnic Hapsburg Empire. hoping to enter art school, but was rejected. • While in Vienna, Hitler was poor. He had odd jobs, but was forced to live in hostels to get by. Here he began to form his fanatical anti-Semitism. • Germans were only one of many ethnic groups in Austria. Yet they felt superior to Jews, Serbs, Poles, Czechs, and others. • He moved to Germany, and fought as a German soldier in WW I, earning two medals for his service. • After the war, Hitler remained in the Army, and was assigned to keep tabs on political groups. One of these groups was the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi Party.
The Weimar Republic • 1919 – A constitution is drafted in the city of Weimar to create a democratic government to run Germany. • It set up a Parliament, led by a chancellor, which is another term for a prime minister. • It was weak because like Britain and France, it had many small parties, forcing them to establish a coalition government. • The government was blamed by all Germans for agreeing to the Treaty of Versailles. • When the Republic was no longer able to pay its war debt, France and Belgium invaded and took over the Ruhr Valley. • This added to Germany’s humiliation. • When the Great Depression hit, faith in the government was gone. • Germans wanted a strong leader, like Otto von Bismarck had been.
Hitler and the Nazi Party • Hitler began to despise the Weimar government, believing it was weak and ineffectual. • He joins the Nazi Party in 1919, and quickly rises to the top. • In 1923, Hitler tries to forcibly seize power in Munich, Germany, but fails, and is arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. • While in prison, Hitler writes his book “Mein Kampf” or “My Struggle”, which would soon become the basic book of Nazi goals, and ideology. • Hitler leaves prison after less than a year. • He realized that power was easiest to keep and hold when it came legally. • He used the Great Depression, and ineffectiveness of the Weimar government to rally workers, small-town Germans, and business leaders to his cause
Mein Kampf • Reflects Hitler obsessions of extreme nationalism, racism, and anti-Semitism. • Germans were a Superior “master race” of Aryans, or light-skinned Europeans, whose greatest enemies were the Jews. • Echoed a familiar right-wing theme, that Germany had not lost the war, but had been betrayed by a conspiracy of Marxists, Jews, corrupt politicians, and business leaders. • Urged German’s everywhere to unite into one great nation. • Believe Germany needed to increase it’s living space or “Lebensraum” for the people. • Slavs, Pols, and other inferior races needed to bow to Aryan needs. • Germany needed a strong leader or “Fuhrer.”
The Great Depression • By 1930 the Great Depression had crippled the German economy. • The Weimar government is ineffective. The German people want help and change. Hitler and the Nazi’s offer a better future. • Nazi Party wins 107 seats in the Reichstag, becoming the second largest political party. • The General Staff supports Hitler for his pro military views. Industrialists believe he will be good for business. • 1932 Adolf Hitler runs for President of Germany against Paul Von Hindenburg. • Josef Goebbels runs a furious propaganda campaign in support of Hitler. Hitler loses election and subsequent run-off election, but has gained vast support among the German public. • 1933 Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany.
Hitler Solidifies Power • The SA and SS have free rein in Prussia. • Hitler uses the Reichstag fire as the reason to attack Communists, and further restrict freedoms. • 1933 New Reichstag grants Hitler- Dictator of Germany. • Gestapo is created – secret police. • Nazi government replaces Weimar government. • Nuremburg Laws – Restrict Jewish population. First of over 400 laws against Jews that would be passed during the Reich. • First detention/concentration camps open. • “Night of Long Knives” purge of SA leaders, and other opposition opponents. • 1934 Paul Von Hindenburg dies. Hitler becomes “Fuhrer of the German Reich”
The Third Reich • Social - Nationalism - Indoctrination of youth - Removal of freedom in the arts. • Political - Totalitarianism • Economic - Large social work programs - Rearming of military. • Religious/Ethnic - Anti-Semitism, racism, and control of Christian beliefs. • Military - Rebuffing the Treaty of Versailles, Rearming of military. - Military expansion
Social Policy • Like Fascists in Italy, Hitler sought to indoctrinate youth with Nazi ideology. • In schools and camps the “Hitler Youth” pledged absolute loyalty to Germany and Hitler himself, while undertaking physical fitness programs to prepare for war. • The role of women in Nazi Germany is limited. Dismissed from jobs and universities, women are encouraged to raise “pure-blooded” Aryan children. • Purged offensive Art from German culture: jazz music, modern art. Offensive literature had to go too, especially if written by Jews. Book burnings took place across Germany.
Political • A Totalitarian State was created with Hitler and the leader. • Order is kept by a brutal system of terror and repression. • All areas of German life are controlled by the government including religion and education. • Elite SS troops enforce the Fuhrer’s will. • The Gestapo (secret police) discover any hidden opposition. • Outside of Germany, Western Nations offer only appeasementtowards Hitler. Believing that the Communists were a greater threat than Adolf Hitler.
Economic • Hitler launched massive public works programs to drastically decrease unemployment. (roads, housing, and replanting of forests). • Began to rearm the German military in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles. • Brings big business and labor under government control, but keeps capitalism. • Workers offered vigorous outdoor vacations that just happens to help them be physically fit for war.
Religion and Ethnic Groups • Passed laws restricting Jews behavior: • Prohibited Jews from marring non-Jews. • Forced Jews out of schools, teaching positions, government jobs, etc.. • November 7, 1938 the “Night of Broken Glass” or “Kristallnacht”. Jews across Germany are attacked by SA and SS troops. • Jews sent to concentration camps. • Combined all the Protestant churches into one State church. • Muzzled the Catholic church within Germany.
Military • Hitler needed the support of the General Staff, and the 100,000 man Army. • Rebuffs the Treaty of Versailles. • Promotes the rearming of German forces. • Promotes the conquest of neighboring lands; Austria, Sudetenland, Rhineland.