Term Paper: Hitler's Appointment as German Chancellor

Pages: 7 (2063 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 12  ·  Topic: Drama - World  ·  Buy This Paper

Adolf Hitler's assent as the Fuhrer of Germany is well documented. His campaign of terror during World War II caused the deaths of more than fifty million civilians and combats. Although the primary historical focus in the past has been on Hitler and his actions following his invasion of Poland, the roots of his power over the German Confederacy and his rise to prominence is well documented in the decade preceding his invasion. Most significantly, Hitler gained control first of the Nazi party, using the momentum gained from public resentment of the Treaty of Versailles and the economic crisis of 1930. The following analysis will closely analyze the impact of Hitler when he ascended the German government as the German Chancellor. It is a day that represents a historical tipping point upon which Hitler was able to gain authoritarian control over Germany and later on, much of Europe as well. This analysis will examine the historical context of Hitler's ascent and his rise to German Chancellor by looking at the reactions to his election from primary sources as well as the significance of his victory from a broader historical perspective.

Background on the time period

When Adolf Hitler ascended the German political ladder, the country was in a state of crisis. Germany had conceded tremendous reparation rights at the Treaty of Versailles. As a result, Germany not only conceded major economic and strategic land, but also agreed to pay reparations of 132 billion marks. The majority of German citizens saw this as a grave injustice and the majority believed in the "dagger stab legend," that while Germany was undefeated in the field, they were destroyed by civilian leaders and communists within the home front. In addition to the resentment of defeat from World War I, Germany was also suffering from one of the worst financial disasters of modern history.

Several factors led up to the election of Hitler as the Chancellor of Germany. First, the escalation of xenophobia within Germany especially towards to the Communist regime and the Jews allowed Hitler a point of entry in his anti-Semitic and anti-communist rhetoric. It allowed him to position himself as a true nationalist, something that the Weimar Republic could not consistently uphold due to their reparation agreements. In addition, the destruction of the German infrastructure from both a territory and economic resources perspective led to a dramatic depression that fueled German anger towards the defeat of the First World War and also increased interest in anti-status quo rhetoric. These two major events helped Hitler establish a beachhead within German politics that quickly allowed the National Socialist party to gain power within Germany. Hitler was also a major beneficiary of circumstance, when he tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the government, he was given unlimited time to explain his actions at his trial. This became the tipping point of Hitler's popularity since it allowed him to explain his Nationalism oriented political doctrine to a very large German audience. The result of the trial is that it thrust Hitler into the spotlight as a legitimate alternative to the Weimar Republic and also allowed him to draw massive readership for Mein Kempf.

The rise of the Nazi's and their war-driven mentality brought significant fear for France and Great Britain. Both countries feared that war would break out if the Nazi's took control of the German government. When the Nazi party want the majority within the German legislature, their fears were legitimized and further concerns over Hitler's intentions were expressed in Hitler's messages.

Personal perspective on Hitler

Hitler's rise to power in Germany was extremely alarming to the majority of European nations as well as the United States. This was especially evident in their reaction to the emergence of Hitler as Germany's Chancellor. The New York Times reports on March 3rd, 1933, "Hitler's victory shock French" (NYT, 1933); one of the biggest concerns for France at the time was the emergence of anti-reparations culture that was emerging from Hitler's regime. They feared that the Nazi party would immediately repudiate the Treaty of Versailles and continue towards a militant path once they took control. Frenchmen "were disgusted" by the election of Hitler to the Chancellor position due to his already enormous influence as head of the Nazi party within the German Legislator. Although 1933 was still relatively far away from the start of the Second World War, it was evident that Europe already felt a sense of foreboding in the rise of Hitler.

At the same time however, the sentiment of fear was not universally shared by the European community. Many supporters of Germany would arise within the European community, while others remained unphased by his rise to the German Chancellorship. Italy for instance, welcomed the expansion of Nazi power within Germany. The National Socialist party movement has "given so many indications of sympathy for the Italian Fascist regime that the appointment of Adolf Hitler to the Chancellorship of Germany could not but produce sentiments akin to joy throughout Italy" (NYT, Jan 31, 1933). The Italians saw the rise of Germany as the staging point for a continental ally in its plan to bring centralized government and anti-democratic systems to Europe. Mussolini especially, saw Hitler's rise to the Chancellor position as a lynch pin for his plans to expand Italy's sphere of influence. Other nation-states that welcomed the rise of the Hitler regime included Prussia and Austria, two nations that were formally part of the German Confederacy but were fragmented following World War I. Hitler's ascent meant that Germany was developing a very distinct and powerful identity once again. It allowed for a strong central government at immediately validated the "slighted and maligned" attitudes of the victorious French and British during the Treaty of Versailles.

The reaction of the British and American governments was distinctly negative, but it did not display the same level of France which had a direct border threat from Germany. Both Great Britain and American newspaper mediums used language coated with disapproval of Hitler's ascent but none went into extreme repudiation of his power status or actions. The Times of London published many articles that detailed the plan of Hitler's mission to be "the salvation of the German People" (the Times of London, March 10, 1933). The article went into detail on how Hitler planned to eliminate communism and increase economic prosperity. Although the tone of the piece was derogatory, the writer was sent directly to Berlin to report on Hitler, thus it is evident that Hitler had a very strong presence and interest within the British news medium. Both the British and the Americans were concerned about German expansion from an ideological perspective rather than a physical one. Germany at the time of Hitler's ascent had a very weak economic infrastructure in addition to strong political and unity issues. Therefore neither nation-state felt a significant physical threat from the rise of Hitler. Instead, he feared that his ideology of Nazism and fascist loyalties would be a perversive force in European politics. One of Hitler's central aims as he became Chancellor was to eliminate the parliamentary system within Germany and to destroy "democratic ideology and Marxism" from German society (NYT, March 10, 1933). Hitler used very strong words in his attack on democracy, including a "war on democracy" to end legislative government and instead build a "greater Reich" to rival past empires. It can be seen from the primary text that while many countries were worked about the ascent of Hitler, they saw his rise in an ideology sense rather than the military juggernaut that he would inevitably become.

One interest group that had an extremely strong reaction to the rise of Hitler however, was the Jewish minority. In a New York Times article shortly after his rise to Chancellorship, Rabbis stated that the feared "Hitler as enemy of the Jews." His elevation within the Jewish community was viewed as a peril for all Jews within the nation, the article reports that many Jewish communities had already set up support groups to begin welcoming immigrants and relatives from Germany (NYT, February 6, 1933). This was an extremely prescient move as in the months after; Hitler would establish his first concentration camp and eventually institute his scheme to "cleanse" Germany of racial impurity.

Contrast against the Nazi's winning

Hitler's victory of the Chancellorship was a subsequent follow-up to perhaps a more significant change within German politics, the rise of the National Socialist party to a majority during early 1932. The National Socialist Party gained a majority within the Legislature for the first time in the June elections; as a result they were able to the force the German government to grant official recognition for Hitler as the major force within German national policy. The New York Times reported that the "German Contest" was viewed by many as the primary transition between the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Nazi's. There was international outrage at the ascent of the National Socialist Party, especially within the French… [END OF PREVIEW]

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