Revision Diary

Hitler's Rise to Power


Early career of Hitler; founding of the Nazi Party; Mein Kampf; Munich Putsch; decline in support in the Stresemann years.

Inability of the Weimar Republic to cope with the Depression.

Growth in support for the Nazis, 1929-1933; and its reasons; elections of 1932; invitation to lead coalition government, 1933.


Make sure you have detailed factual knowledge about AND HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT the following issues and topics:


Hitler and the growth of the Nazi Party to 1933

1.  A summary of Hitler's early career.

2.  An account of Hitler's beliefs.

3.  The story of the Munich Putsch

4.  The story of Hitler's rise to power, 1929-33

5.  The reasons why Hitler came to power


and that you are able to explain:





Hitler and the growth of the Nazi Party to 1933


Hitler's Early Career


•    Hitler, after a troubled youth (including a period as a tramp in Vienna which fixed his political and racial theories), joined the German Army during WWI - where he became a war hero.

•    He could not accept the defeat of Germany and believed the 'Stab in the Back' theory, and blamed the 'November Criminals'.

•    Hitler joined Anton Drexler's German Workers' Party in 1919 while working as an Army spy.

•    Hitler became friends with General Ludendorff

•    He was financed by the newspaper owner Ernst Hanfstaengl


•    During the crises of 1923, the membership of the Nazi Party grew from 6,000 to 55,000.

•    The Nazi Stormtroopers (SA) grew quickly.

•    In November 1923, Hitler attempted the Munich Putsch.   He failed and was sentenced to Landsberg prison.

•    He used the trial as a chance to publicise his beliefs.

•    He used his time in prison to write Mein Kampf, and to plan a new strategy - to get elected to power.   He:

•    reduced the number of SA

•    put Goebbels in charge of propaganda

•    promised businessmen he would destroy the Trade Unions

•    started the Hitler Youth.

•    The Nazis appealed most to the middle class (farmers, small businessmen), as well as to nationalists and fascists.   It recruited relatively poorly from the workers and intellectuals.


•    During the prosperity of the late 1920s, support for the Nazis fell.

•    In 1924, the Nazis had 32 Reichstag members/ in 1928, only 12.



Hitler's Beliefs


(Foul Nazi Racists Should Suck A Lemon)

Hitler's beliefs - 'National Socialism' - can be found in his speeches, in the Nazi's Twenty-five Point Programme, and in Mein Kampf (1924).   They included:

•    Fascism - a strong central government and control of the newspapers.   Opposition parties and Trade Unions should be abolished.

•    Nationalism - all German-speaking people should be united in one country; the Treaty of Versailles should be abolished; Germany should be the dominant world power; and there should be special laws for foreigners.

•    Racism - Jews should not be German citizens and immigration should be stopped.

•    Scapegoats - the November Criminals, the Jews and the Communists were to blame for all Germany's problems.

•    Socialism - eg farmers should be given their land; pensions should improve; and public industries such as electricity and water should be owned by the state.   (Note that Hitler's 'socialism' lessened when he started to be funded by big business.)

•    Autarky - Germany should be self-sufficient.

•    Lebensraum – to expand into Poland and Russia to get ‘Living Space’.



Munich Putsch


•    Crisis of 1923 (invasion of Ruhr/ hyperinflation/ rebellions).

•    Nazi party had been growing - SA getting restless.

•    Anger of right-wing when Stresemann called off the General Strike.

•    Hitler emulating the example of Mussolini's march on Rome, 1922

•    In Bavaria, Kahr (State Commissioner), Lossow (Army Commander) and Seisser (Chief of Police) had planned a march of 15,000 soldiers on Berlin.   They asked Hitler to help, but then tried to call it off.


8 Nov 1923

•    Hitler interrupted the Beer Hall meeting, and forced Kahr, Lossow and Seisser at gunpoint to agree to support him.

•    The SA took over the Army HQ (but NOT the telegraph office).

•    Jews were beaten up, and the offices of the anti-Nazi Munich Post newspaper offices trashed.

•    Kahr, released by Hitler, called in the police and army.

9 Nov 1923

•    The Nazis marched on Munich.   

•    Stopped by police in Residenzstrasse, 16 Nazis were killed.   

•    Ludendorff was arrested.   

•    Hitler hid, then fled (he was arrested 2 days later).


1.   Disaster - Hitler was arrested, put on trial for treason, imprisoned for 9 months and forbidden to speak in public.

2.   Trial - Hitler turned his trial into a publicity opportunity = became a national right-wing hero. 

3.   Mein Kampf - While he was in prison, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, in which he set out his beliefs = sold in millions, making Hitler the leader of the right-wing opponents of Weimar.

4.   Strategy - Hitler realised that he would not gain power by rebellion = new strategy to gain power by being elected.



Hitler's Rise to Power


•     In 1929, Wall Street (the American Stock exchange) collapsed, and America recalled all its foreign loans.   This caused an economic depression in Germany.   Unemployment rose to 6 million.

•     In July 1930 Chancellor Brόning cut government expenditure, wages and unemployment pay (the wrong thing to do during a depression).

•     The Depression pushed Hitler towards power:

•     Anger and bitterness caused many workers to turn to communism, but this frightened wealthy businessmen = they financed Hitler.

•     Many middle-class people were alarmed by the chaos = they decided Germany needed Hitler.

•     Remember that Hitler had been building up the Nazis electoral machine/ propaganda since 1924.


•     The Nazis rose in importance: in 1928, they had 12 seats in the Reichstag; in July 1932 they had 230 and were the largest party.

•     The government was in chaos - President Hindenburg had to use Article 48 to pass almost every law.   He dismissed Brόning in 1932.   The next Chancellor (Papen) lasted six months, the next (Schleicher) only two months.

•     But note that the depression DID NOT bring Hitler to power.   In the November 1932 elections the Nazis got fewer (only 196) seats.  

•     Hitler contemplated suicide - he thought it was all over.


•     In the end, Hitler was GIVEN power.

•     In January 1933, Hindenburg and Papen offered the Nazis an alliance, with Hitler as vice-chancellor.   Hitler demanded to be chancellor.   They agreed, thinking they could control him.

•     Hitler became Chancellor, and immediately set about making himself absolute ruler of Germany using Article 48.



Why Hitler Came to Power



1.   Long-term bitterness - anger about WWI and the Treaty of Versailles.

2.   Ineffective Constitution - Proportional representation crippled the government.   Many people in Germany wanted a return to dictatorship – there was no one who was prepared or able to fight to stop Hitler.  

3.   Money - The financial support of wealthy businessmen gave Hitler the money to run his propaganda and election campaigns (e.g. Schacht, Thyssen, Krupp, Faben, Schroeder PLUS Ford, du Pont, Harriman & Co., Union Banking).

4.   Propaganda - Goebbels persuaded the German masses to believe that the Jews were to blame and that Hitler was their last hope.

5.   Programme - Hitler promised everybody something, so they supported him.

6.   Attacks on other parties - by the Stormtroopers: opponents kept quiet simply because they were scared of being murdered.

7.   Personal Qualities - a brilliant speaker, his eyes had a peculiar power, good organiser, self-belief kept him going.

8.   Economic Depression - people wanted someone to blame, and looked to extreme solutions – Hitler offered them both.

9.   Recruited by Hindenburg - In the end, Hitler did not TAKE power at all – he was given it in a shady deal by Hindenburg.


Revision Focus

This is a Paper 2 topic, so you need to have factual KNOWLEDGE IN DEPTH but also a degree of understanding which will allow you in the exam to write MULTI-CAUSAL EXPLANATIONS of the key issues.



e-books on the Hitler's Early Career and Hitler's Rise to Power, as well as a detailed account of the Munich Putsch.



Online revision sheet