Winston Churchill said in 1938, “We need more Hitlers in Europe!” This comes as quite a shock to most people reading this, as it did to me. This is because we look at history too anachronistically, and see things before they happened and imbue causes and reasons before they actually came into play. Before 1939, Germany didn’t know it would extinguish millions of people in the coming six years. With the entrance of Hitler to power in 1933, Germany actually began a strong trend upwards. If we were to splice Germany out of time between 1933 and 1938, we would extrapolate much differently about its future.
Quickly, I wanted to look at how Hitler masterfully came to become the most powerful man in Germany. The NSDAP, or national Social Workers’ party, started in 1919, was almost voted out of existence during the relative stability of the Weimar Republic through 1924. One of the flaws of the Weimar Republic’s constitution was its protection of rights to any political body, however small. This was where the Nazi party stayed alive in the government. IF there was some threshold to surpass to gain seats, then the Nazi party would have been voted out of existence. That wasn’t the case, and the NSDAP hung around.
1929 saw the stock market crash, and a horrific super-inflation of the German Mark.
Since the Weimar was based on a multi-party system, only a majority was needed to obtain power in the government. By then, the Nazis had gone through their “years in the wilderness”, and were now experiencing popularity among the people. Radical voting always takes place when needs are dire, and the economy was in dire straits. Feeling that Hitler could be passified and controlled, the Catholic-Democratic party decided to align with the Nazis. This gave them the majority, and they took power in 1933. Von Hindenberg, the then President of Germany, was persuaded to appoint Hitler as Chancellor on the 30 January.
27th February: Reichstag fire
28th February: the government, including the social left, give all power to the Right.
23 March: The enabling act allows Hitler full control of the entire country, with nobody to answer to. Thus, the Weimar Republic had voted itself out of existence.
14 July: Germany becomes a 1 party state
30 November: Gestapo created
30 June: Night of long knives: SA purged (The SA were the storm troops, or people Hitler used to begin with to get into power. They were made up of the poorer classes, and were more easily persuaded to action and violence. Hitler, now in power, didn’t need them, and purged the organization).
2 August: Hindenburg dies, Hitler becomes President
19 August: Hitler proclaims himself Fuhrer and Chancellor
Hitler wins over the army, the bureacracy, and big business, as well as consolidates his party. The army takes an oath to him, and in Europe, ones word means more than it does in America. He promises big business no nationalism of industries, and is able to get them in his pocket. With the bureaucracy, he offers rewards, and places people in power that he wants. The professional civil service act removed Jews from office and allowed Nazis to be put in their place. He began making Germany into an Autarky.
Many changes were being made for a better Germany. German youth were taught Aryan superiority, German history and biology. There was a new emphasis on sports, since Hitler wanted a strong people. He told the youth, “Make yourselves hard.”
There was investments to building the first highways or autobon, new factories, and with those changes unemployment plummeted almost to the point of negligence by the end of the decade. Inner-country tourism was promoted, and pride was portrayed for the country. People were taught to work hard, and new food plans were put in place to keep people healthy. There was a strong emphasis on the family, and the traditional views of women as the homemaker and mother and the father as the bread winner. Hitler saw success, after success, after success in his country.
The people were happy, too. They were taught modesty and thrift. They listened to popular tunes of their day, went dancing, and enjoyed life like any other people. They developed the first television programs on cooking and gardening. Population began to increase, since the economy was so good, and Germany even hosted the olympics in 1936.
Someone said that once the puzzle is discovered, it’s always easy to say, “I could’ve done that”. I think the same principle is applied to history: once it’s occurred, we try to show teliologically how it happened. Sometimes, though, it’s not that easy. I think once we consider how much good Hitler and the Nazis did for Germany, we begin to understand why the German people trusted him so much, and we see how he actually came to power.