Essay on Hitler’s Rise to Power Due to Economic Hardship
Economic hardship did to some extent contribute to Hitler’s rise to power. Economic hardship, is the difficulty caused by having too little money or too few resources. The government steps in realizing their economic hardship, pays the interest on their loan (Cambridge dictionary, n.d). Economic hardship did not help Hitler rise to power, this is seen during the hyperinflation in 1923. On the other hand, in the 1930’s economic hardship did aid Hitler in his rise to power, seen through The Great Depression. Conservative politics made the Great Depression worse so they had to Hitler in government to win back the support of the middle class.
The long-term factor of the Weimar Republic Constitution, was not economic hardship, but aided Hitler in his rise to power. The Weimar Republic was formed in November 1918, with the first president being Friedrich Ebert (Swinton J, 1995). The government had the tasks of drawing up a new Constitution, signing a peace Treaty with Germany’s former enemies and to control the enemies of the Republic, who were on the extreme left and right wings of politics (Swinton J, 1995). The Weimar Constitution aimed to give genuine power to all German adults, however, it had a major flaw which contributed to it downfall in 1933-34 (BBC, 2019). Weimar’s foremost flaw was article 48, this allowed the Chancellor to be given emergency powers, this meant laws could be passed without going through or being approved by parliament (Swinton J, 1995). However, in the Constitution, it was not clearly stated what an emergency was classified as, it was too easy for a Chancellor to use the emergency powers. Article 48 contributed to Hitler’s rise to supreme, when he was the Chancellor. After the Reichstag fire Hitler was granted emergency powers and was able to pass laws without them being approved, by the parliament. However, Hitler was not the first Chancellor to do this with Brüning’s time as chancellor called the ‘Brüning dictatorship’ (Time Magazine, 1931). Thus, economic hardship did not contribute to Hitler’s rise to power, but the Weimar Constitution did.
A long-term factor that did not aid Hitler’s rise to power was the economic hardship of hyperinflation caused by the Treaty of Versailles. The Versailles Treaty was created at the end of World War II, on June 28 1919. The Treaty of Versailles involved Germany losing its oversea empires, loss of territory in Europe, Germany was not able to join with Austria or the leagues of Nations, its armed forces were limited in number, due to Germany being blamed for the war, they had to pay large fines to Britain, France and the USA (Ferriby, Martin, Walsh, 2016). Hitler used the Versailles Treaty to campaign for the Nazi party ‘…Hitler’s doctrine included disfranchising Jews, repudiation of the Treaty of Versailles; death to all communists and the abolition of department stores…’ (Time Magazine, 1931). The Versailles Treaty led to the hyperinflation that occurred in 1923. Hyperinflation is when prices of goods and services rise more than 50% a month (The Balance, n.d). Germany had no goods to trade so the Government printed money, to pay their fines with more money in circulation prices and wages rocketed, meaning money was worthless (Ferriby, Martin, Walsh, 2016). “…prosperous middle-class families would find their savings in the bank, which might have brought them a house in 1921, by 1923 would not even buy a loaf of bread…’ (Ferriby, Martin, Walsh, 2016).
During the hyperinflation Hitler planned the Beer Hall Putsch, to violently take over government. Hitler and a group of Nazis interrupted a government meeting, forcing them to support the Nazi party (Swinton J, 1995). The following day Hitler, Nazis and their supporters including General Erich Ludendorff marched across Munich, however they were shot by the army and police (Swinton J, 1995). Hitler was arrested and charged with high treason, resulting in him being jailed. Therefore, economic hardship did not help Hitler come to power, as he was imprisoned during the 1923 hyperinflation. High prices did not help Hitler into power but the middle class losing their jobs and their farms did contribute.
On the other hand, economic hardship did contribute to Hitler’s rise to power, seen through the short-term factor of the Great Depression of 1929 and another short-term factor being the Chancellor Dr Brüning. The Great Depression was the economic crisis and period of low business activity, beginning in 1929 and continuing through most of the 1930s (Swinton J, 1995). The Weimar government was ‘…Reeling from the blows of war and peace, Weimar was psychologically incapable of withstanding a fresh onslaught…’ (Brendon, n.d), this being the Great Depression.
Dr Brüning was chancellor from 1930 to 1932, during this time he became known as the ‘hunger chancellor’ due to his austerity policies, this included cutting the meagre allowance for unemployed people by 60%, causing 6 million people to be unemployed, middle class people also lost their jobs (Swinton J, 1995). The unemployed went hungry, giving Dr Brüning his name of ‘hunger chancellor’(Swinton J, 1995). Hitler made use of the Depression the ‘…suffering of millions was his great opportunity…’ (Swinton J, 1995). Hitler promised the people food and jobs, and gave hope to the masses. During the Great Depression the Nazi’s popularity went up, with farmers, middleclass people, young people and land owners supporting Hitler. In 1928 the Nazis won 13 seats in the Reichstag, however by July 1932 they had 230 seats in the Reichstag (Swinton J, 1995). This made the Nazis the largest party, however they never won a majority of the seats. Likewise, the communist party was also growing, which worried many people, especially the middle class and land owners (Swinton J, 1995).
In 1928 the communist party had 54 seats in the Reichstag, by November 1932 they had 120 seats (Swinton J, 1995). This caused fear with the consequential result being the Nazi’s popularity to go up as Hitler said he could save Germany from communism (Swinton J, 1995). When Hitler became chancellor in 1933, there was a fire in the Reichstag building (parliament building) Hitler exploited this event to request emergency powers, giving him the ability to pass laws without them having to go through parliament (Swinton J, 1995), this was called the enabling act. Through the Reichstag fire, the Great Depression and the enabling act economic hardships did contribute to Hitler’s rise to power.
Economic hardship did to some extent contribute to the rise to power of a dictator. Through Hitler’s rise to power through the Great Depression. However, others hardships did assist Hitler’s rise to power. This includes the Versailles Treaty, the enabling act and the Reichstag fire. Overall economic hardships to a small extent did contribute to Hitler’s rise to power.