Secondary 3 Elective History Unit 1 Rise of Authoritarian Regimes (Germany) Reasons for the Rise of Hitler

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Secondary 3 Elective History

Unit 2.1 Rise of Authoritarian Regimes (Germany)

Reasons for the Rise of Hitler




Weakness of the Weimar Government

  • The Constitution and the System of Proportional Representation caused short-lived coalition governments to govern the country and created instability.

  • The government was opposed by the Right as they believed the Weimar Government betrayed Germany by signing the Treaty of Versailles

  • The government lost support of the Middle Class as the Weimar Government caused hyperinflation in a bid to solve the country’s economic woes caused by the Versailles Treaty.

This resulted in the rise of Nazi Party as the belief in Hitler’s ‘a stab-in-the-back’ led the masses to lose faith in government and looked to Hitler & the Nazis as alternative government

Fear of Communism

  • Middle and upper class Germans saw the Nazis as opponents of communism

  • Hitler exploited the fear of Communism to gain support from rich businessmen and used the funds to set up a sizable private army. He also convinced the common people that the Nazi Party was the only one that could provide order and prevent a Communist dictatorship similar to Russia.

This resulted in the rise of Nazi Party as many of the Germans did not want a communist regime in Germany and led them to view Nazis as a better alternative government

Stresemann demise

  • The government lost a good leader in Gustav Stresemann who negotiated American loans and improved relations between Germany and her enemies. Stresemann also stabilized the German economy.

  • His demise caused the Germans to again loss trust in the Weimar government

This resulted in the rise of Nazi Party as the Weimar government no longer appealed to the masses and the Nazi were able to offer better solutions to the dire solution

Effects of Great Depression

  • When the Great Depression struck, the loans Germany depended upon from the Americans, stopped. The German economy came to a standstill and rampant unemployment and economic hardship struck the country.

This resulted in the rise of Nazi Party as took advantage of the dire economic situation to present themselves as a better alternative to the failed Weimar government

Hitler’s own abilities

  • Hitler was an excellent speaker and a charismatic leader. He capitalized on issues which mattered to the German people and swore to make Germans proud of Germany again.

This resulted in the rise of Nazi Party as Germans were attracted to the nationalist aims & promises to restore the prestige of the nation

Nazi Party propaganda

  • The Nazi Party propaganda was of the highest quality and convinced many Germans to support Hitler

  • Public meetings were carefully staged managed with floodlights, military music and marches by Nazi supporters

This resulted in the rise of Nazi Party as they were able to capture the hearts and minds of the Germans into supporting them as the next government

Elimination of opposition

Reichstag fire (communist)

  • 1933, a fire destroyed part of the Reichstag building

  • Hitler immediately accused the Communists of having set the fire.

  • Hitler asked for and received from President Hindenburg the Reichstag Fire Decree to suspend most civil liberties in Germany

  • Nazi government used this to arrest thousands of members of the Communist Party, to close their newspapers and to prevent them campaigning in the election

The Reichstag fire purges Hitler’ greatest opposition which is the communist as they had the backing of the Soviets and the wealthy individuals who did not want them to take over the government.

Establishing total political powers

Enabling Act

  • Enabling Act gave the government, i.e., Hitler, dictatorial powers.

  • During Hitler's rule, the Reichstag was merely summoned from time to time to approve important government measures.

  • Hitler no longer relied upon the votes of the deputies in the Reichstag, where the Nazis did not enjoy a majority.

  • Hitler took the radical steps of denying all legal guarantees of personal liberty, freedom of speech and the right of assembly by official decree.

The Enabling Act- enabled Hitler to override the constitution-gave him supreme power-could rule for 4 years without reference to Reichstag-need not consult other political parties in the coalition government-could thus construct laws such as banning of opposition parties which further eliminated his rivals, thus increasing his power by 1933.

  • Eventually Hitler came to power

  • Other parties could not resolve their differences to unite against him

  • The President, Hindenburg, had no choice but to appoint Hitler as Chancellor in Jan 1933

  • Beginning of the end for Weimar Germany and the start of the “Third Reich” (the third German empire)

Consolidation of Hitler’s power / Control over the Germans




Political Control


Gestapo was the secret police established in 1933 to monitor people’s loyalty to the Nazi state. Its deputy leader, Werner Best, had described its task as one of uncovering the enemies of the state and justified that it should be free to use any means to identify anyone not loyal to Germany. Not surprising then it became one of the most feared groups in Germany.

After it came under the leadership of the Schutzshaffel in 1936, under the leadership of Reyhard Heydrich, the Gestapo became even more ruthless.
People’s Court:

set up on 1934 by Hitler to try people arrested for speaking out against Hitler.

Was extremely ruthless – in just the first five years of its operation, it ordered the execution of over 500 people.

Concentration camps:

Those who could not be controlled through intimidation were sent to concentration camps. The two main ones were Dachau and Oranienburg, set up in 1933.

This was effective in controlling the people since people did not have to be proven guilty to be sent to a concentration camp.

The Gestapo was effective in maintaining control through the fear and intimidation they instilled. Since they could use any means to identify anyone of being disloyal, they made people too fearful to oppose the government.

Effective in maintaining control since it had the power to actually sentence people to death, it could maintain control simply by removing those deemed too difficult to control.

Such concentration camps were effective in maintaining control since it meant physically removing those who could not be intimidated and isolating them by containing them in concentration camps hence effectively stopping them from influencing other into opposing the government.

Political control

Night of the Long Knives

wiping out of the SA's leadership and others who had angered Hitler

To maintain his position as dictator of Germany, Hitler now needed the support of the German Army which had the power to crush his dictatorship whenever it pleased

SA numbers had then swollen to 2 million men. They were under the control of Ernst Röhm

By June 1934, the regular army hierarchy also saw the SA as a threat to their authority. The SA outnumbered the army by 1934 and Röhm had openly spoken about taking over the regular army by absorbing it into the SA.

Hitler had decided that Röhm was a 'threat' and he made a pact with the army. If Röhm and the other SA leaders were removed, the rank and file SA men would come under the control of the army but the army would have to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler.

Night of the Long Knives represented a turning point in the conduct of German government. It not only removed the SA leaders but also got Hitler the army's oath that he so needed. From that point on, a number of things were clear: the Nazi Party was in unquestioned control of the state, Hitler was in control of the Nazi party, and both were fully prepared to use raw, brutal violence to accomplish their political objectives.

Economic Control

Banning trade unions:

banned trade unions and set up own trade union, German Labour Front.

This was an effective means of control since it everyone had to join the German Labour Front and no one could form any other trade union or hold a strike to protest for better wages or working conditions.

Setting up agencies to keep in check opposition from workers

Further control was exerted by forming agencies to prevent labour unrest.

eg. National Labour Service – provided jobs.

eg Beauty of Labour – monitored working conditions

eg.Strength through Joy – organized social activities to keep workers happy.

Controlling the production of consumer goods:

Nazis controlled what industries produced. While some consumer goods like radios were produced in abundance, they limited the production of other consumer goods.

These measures were taken so that people would be educated to work to support the national Socialist state and to indoctrinate them in the national socialist state mentality. They would then have pro-Nazi ideas

Close monitoring of working conditions would firstly keep workers’ satisfied and happy and secondly, minimize opposition. This is done so as preventing the workers from going against the Nazi party, hence enabling them to maintain control over the people.

By such means they were able to maintain the morale of workers as they would not feel so badly off when the goods are not available

Social Control

Use of fear

Hitler set up the SA and the SS as his private armies to deal with opposition parties and people who did not support the regime. They murdered opposition party members and even disrupted meetings so as to prevent any form of opposition from arising. People who spoke against Hitler were tried in court and punished. The Gestapo, a secret police, was also formed to hunt down and remove people who undermined Hitler’s position.

Use of propaganda

Joseph Goebbels was put in charge to set up the Ministry of People’s Enlightenment and Propaganda so as to portray the Nazi’s as a powerful party. For example, censorship was tight so as to prevent any anti-Nazi material from being aired over radio or from being published in books. Posters of Hitler as a wise leader appeared everywhere to inculcate in people that he was the best choice leader for Germany. Students in schools had to use textbooks and material that had a favour towards Nazis and schoolteachers were sacked if they did not have the correct political ideas. The Nazis total control of the media too controlling what was broadcast.

Use of Education

-teachers were appointed by the Nazis

-curriculum set by the Nazis. The timetables had subjects like race studies.

Schools had to follow the strict curriculum and use the 'right' textbooks. There was no attempt to teach students to think for themselves.

The presence of these groups created such a sense of fear that the Germans were frightened into submission to the Nazi regime.

All these propaganda means ensured that the Germans were constantly reminded/ingrained with the Nazi ideologies/principles and hence would ensure compliance to their rule.

All with the clear aim that the aim of education was to train young people to be indoctrinated with Nazi ideas and be loyal citizens of Nazi Germany.

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