How far do you agree that the main reason for Hitler coming to power was the great depression
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The great depression was undoubtedly an important reason in Hitler’s coming to power. However, it was not until 1933 that leadership of Germany was handed over to the Nazis, but the great depression occurred in 1929, which leaves a three year period in which events would occur which determined the outcome. For Example, the role of the elite, the weakness of the Weimar Republic, the appeal of the Nazis and the role of Hitler all contributed to Hitler’s rise to power. These factors were all more immediate than the great depression. It is however debatable that the great depression was the most important cause.
It triggered economic turmoil and widespread depression in Germany, which paved the way for Hitler and his Nazis to offer a brighter future for the German people. A major factor which contributed to Hitler’s rise to power was the widespread appeal of his Nazi party. At the time, many people feared the spread of communism. It would be particularly damaging to Germany’s poor economic situation if they were taken over by communists. Consequently, the elite and other anti-Communists would turn towards such left-wing parties as the Nazis for help instead.
Another great appeal of the party was their anti-Versailles policy. The German people felt robbed of their dignity by the Treaty of Versailles which was signed as a peace agreement between Germany and the Allies. The Nazis promised to overthrow the treaty. In brief, the Nazis provided hope to a Germany that was in desperate need of reform. It was in economic turmoil due to the great depression and its government, the Weimar Republic, was weak and collapsing. However, the ideology of the party relied on criticism of the government and external factors, without these factors Nazi appeal would have been very limited.
Even so, their success did not only depend on their ideology; it was largely due to Hitler and his skills as a leader. Hitler was an exceptional public speaker. He was very charismatic and popular with both the elite and the German people. His speeches were very convincing and it was easy to believe him when he said he would give Germany a brighter future. Consequently, he came across as an ideal leader and the perfect candidate for leading Germany on to greater things. However, Hitler was not a very organised man and has often been said to have been very lazy.
He hated paperwork and as a result hired people like Bormann and Speer to do it for him. It was not himself who organised the propaganda rallies that made the Nazis look so impressive, increasing their popularity. It can therefore not be said that Hitler’s leadership skills were alone responsible for the Nazi’s popularity. However, Hitler did not come to power through his party alone. The Nazis, whilst being popular never won an election. It was the elite who handed Germany over to Hitler, they themselves being captivated by his charismatic glow.
It is true that Hitler was only able to get into power because of the elite’s actions. The Nazis never won an election and their voting power was actually declining towards 1933. It is likely that given a bit longer the Nazis would have been out of the election altogether. Thus, it could be said that the elite were solely responsible for Hitler’s gain of power, as there was no way that Hitler could have got in without them. However, it is possible that the elite would not have been so willing to let Hitler have control if there was not such a widespread fear of Communism.
They may not have turned to other parties with such extreme left-wing ideology; they were just desperate to avoid the right. Also, if the Weimar Republic had been better organised and not so weak and failing, then it would not have been necessary for a change in government. The Weimar Republic was set up after the war and the overthrow of the German Kaiser. It was a brand new system of government for the German people and so was not easily adjusted to. But aside from this, Weimar was structurally weak. It was based on the Constitution, which was very idealistic and in reality was not practical.
Proportional representation resulted in even the smallest parties getting a say in the running of the country, this led to problems due to opposing parties having to agree compromises. It was failing and a reform was needed, the German people would start to look elsewhere for the firm leadership they needed to pull them out of the crisis they were in. Hitler provided this hope and thus the Nazi’s appeal rose. The main problems for the Weimar Republic however, originated from external factors such as the Treaty of Versailles and the Depression.
The Treaty of Versailles caused a lot of anger in Germany. The public felt that the leaders who signed it had robbed them of their dignity. This led to the German people not trusting their leaders; thus, Weimar was automatically weakened from the start. Nevertheless, it may have succeeded if it were not for the Wall Street Crash in 1929. Before this event, Germany was in a period of comparative stability and the Weimar Republic was not completely failing. The Young and Dawes plans were assisting Germany with reparation payments and America gave loans to Germany.
If Wall Street had not crashed then the loans would have remained and Germany would have had longer to recover, as it was, America had to recall the loans due to the economic situation. This plunged Germany into a state of economic depression and further weakened the Weimar Republic, leading to questioning of its success. It was not until the Wall Street Crash that the Nazi vote began to significantly rise, their appeal dramatically improved as Hitler was able to exploit it to his advantage and boost his campaign.
He was able to promise a brighter future due to the awful situation. However, it is likely that without the depression, Hitler would have found other factors to exploit. The Weimar Republic for example would still have been a good target for his campaign. In conclusion, it is clear that the economic depression was to an extent the most important cause of Hitler’s rise to power, as it led to the collapse of Weimar and thus gave Hitler a pathway to power. However, without the depression, Weimar may still have collapsed due to its structural weaknesses and vast opposition.
The Nazi’s popularity relied greatly on exploiting external factors such as the depression. Nevertheless, many other aspects could have been exploited in the same way to their advantage, such as the weakness of the elite and the Weimar Republic. It is evident that all the effecting factors that have been examined are closely linked together. Therefore, if one had not occurred, it would have been likely that the other factors would be altered thus differing the outcome.
For example if the Weimar Republic had not been collapsing, then the elite would not have turned to Hitler for help with the economic situation. On the other hand, Hitler could still have come to power through the appeal of his ideology and his leadership qualities. It is difficult to speculate what would have happened if one of the factors did not occur as they are all so cloesly linked. They are all of equal importance as they all contributed to Hitler’s eventual domination of Germany.