Sunday, October 17, 2010

Essay on Nazi Seizure of Power

Essay on Nazi Seize of Power

The ideology of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party is presented in considerable detail in Hitler’s Mein Kampf and William Sheridan Allen’s Nazi Seizure of Power. The NSDAP used Hitler’s ideology and made them the focus of their party. These beliefs were crucial to the spread of the Nazi party in Germany. They were also used to determine who could join the party destined to seize power with the failure of the Weimar Republic.

One of the main attractions of the Nazi party was that the Nazis presented themselves as the salvation for the masses hurt by the Great Depression. With the coming of the Great Depression, many political divisions formed in the Weimar Republic among the member parties of the Grand Coalition. Eventually the Grand Coalition collapsed over the issue of unemployment insurance for workers that were laid off by the advancing depression. In response to this failure, Paul von Hindenburg named Heinrich Bruenig chancellor, but this did little to help the situation of the average German citizen. At first the depression was hardly felt in the city because there was very little industry in Northeim. However, the Depression directly affected the working classes and scared many of the middle classes who feared the downward spiral of the world depression. “In fact, at the beginning of 1929 there were just five members of the Nazi party in Northeim, too few to even constitute a local group, the lowest formal unit of the NSDAP.” (Allen, 25) Allen argues that Ernst Girmann, the local leader of the Nazi party, used the Great Depression effectively to rally the people to the Nazi cause. They played on peoples fears of what the winter would bring and what evils will the Weimar government continue to let happen. In 1931, the Nazi party opened a soup kitchen to try and fight the Great Depression in Northeim. This soup kitchen fed many of the unemployed workers as well as kept SA and party members fed.


In response to the Great Depression, the Nazi party launched a new propaganda campaign in the Northeim region with the goal of gaining people to their side against the evils of capitalism. The party held many meetings for the locals lead by speakers from outside the area that talked about how the Nazi party would save the middle class from the evils of capitalism. Large numbers of people suffered during the Great Depression and saw their entire economic security wiped away by it. Many people joined the Nazi’s because the party was so adamantly against the Weimar Republic and people associated their suffering with the failure of the Bruenig to do anything to help. They saw the Nazi party as the answer to their problems as well as their country’s economic problems.

Also, many members of the middle class feared a revolution by the lower classes and a loss of their social status since the lower class were the ones most effected by the depression. In Weimar Germany, class status was very important to people. Class division translated into political division and many people joined the Nazi party because they believed the party could protect them from a lower class revolution. As the depression continued from 1930 to 1932, the middle class became more radicalized and many joined right wing extremist groups. Nazi propaganda provided simple explanations for Germany’s economic collapse. That collapse was the result of the failure of the Weimar Republic. Hitler also blamed the Communists, who wanted a revolution to undermine typical German values, and he blamed the Jews, who stood for Marxism, the Weimar system, and much of big business. Although these arguments were unethical they were extremely effective in gathering people to the NSDAP cause. Hitler and the Nazi party did an excellent job of playing on people’s fears and recruiting people to their side. Although there were very few Jews in Northeim, there was still a small amount of anti-Semitic behavior. Allen claims that although the people were not particularly anti-Semitic in nature, they quickly learned to accept it because it came along with the Nazi party. Allen claims that most people recognized a Jewish problem, but the Northeimers did not know exactly what to do about the problem. That is why many joined the party because they believed the Nazis had the clear answer to the Jewish problem.

Next, the Nazi party was very much a Volkspartei or a people’s party. “The speaker declared that German Christianity had received a blow from the Weimar constitution, which he said pointed directly towards Bolshevism. He described the Nazi goal as the folkish, organic, God fearing man.” (Allen, 89) Allen discusses how the Nazi party clearly claimed that German Christianity and its ideals were under attacks from outsider. This fear of an outside invasion by groups perceived as non-German or Aryan was a fear of many people. Hitler stressed many times that the Aryan race was pure and that it should be kept pure from Semitic infiltration. In Mein Kampf, Hitler clearly outlined his hatred for the Jews explaining how they were the cause for many of the problems facing the German people. “With satanic joy in his face, the black-haired Jewish youth lurks in wait for the unsuspecting girl whom he defiles with his blood, thus stealing her from his people.” (MK, 325) This is an example of how Hitler and the Nazi party used people’s fears to rally them to their cause. Hitler blamed many of Germany’s problems on the Jewish race. This anti-Semitic message helped to recruit people to their cause, especially when Hitler blamed them for the evils of the Great Depression as well as the failure of Germany to win World War I. This hatred of the modern Jew comes from his early experiences with people like Karl Lueger who was the mayor of Vienna while Hitler lived there. Lueger successfully used the anti-Semitic message to gain votes for his Christian Socialist party.

Hitler and the Nazi party suffered from the fact that they were viewed as an extremist group that was openly hostile to the Republic. It was no secret that Hitler blamed the Weimar government for Germany’s collapse in World War I and the evils of the Depression. The Nazi party used force and openly fought with anyone that opposed it. The SA, which was the muscle of the party, offered an answer to former World War I soldiers who could not give up the violence of the war. In fact, the government so feared the actions of the SA and the Nazi party that each was banned several times during the Weimar period. This negative image the SA gave the Nazi party kept many people from joining the party because most people did not want to associate with such violent groups. However, the Nazi parties image changed when Hitler decided to work with Hugenberg against the Young Plan. Hitler displayed his distaste for the Weimar government and its attempts to repay the war dept to the Allies. Hitler did not believe that Germany should pay the Allies and called anyone that attempted to pay them traitors to Germany. This cooperation with other parties made the NSDAP look more respectable and brought the German party to the national scene.

One of the main things that kept the Nazi party growing and which brought many people into the party was the brilliant use of symbolism. The main symbol of the Nazi party was the swastika, which is an ancient Sanskrit symbol. The NSDAP adopted this because it was easily associated with ancient Aryan culture. The Nazi swastika was black, which symbolized these ancient Aryan ideals, on a red background that symbolized the social ideals of the party. The white on the banner symbolized the national ideals of the party. Hitler spent lots of time organizing and developing these symbols to give his party a sense of unity and togetherness. “You constantly saw the swastika painted on the sidewalks or found them littered by pamphlets put out by the Nazis. I was drawn by the feeling of strength about the party, even though there was much in it which was highly questionable.” (32) Allen claims that the swastika was constantly seen made the Nazi party seem a lot bigger that it actually was. This attracted large numbers of youth who wanted to join something that was bigger than themselves.

Many who joined the Nazis were ex-soldiers attracted to the Nazis because they offered a strong resistance to Marxism and Capitalism, as well as being an extension of the German army. These veterans could go to the Nazi party and use their skills to help the party and were quickly placed into the SA. The party was crucial for helping many of these ex-soldiers who were out of work and who needed to find meaning in their lives. Being a member of the Nazi party was a full time job and Hitler was more than willing to use these people’s skills effectively in his rise to power.

The most important feature of the Nazi party was the fact that Hitler was the central figure of the party. After Hitler’s release from Landsberg prison for the failed Beer Hall Putsch, he decided to focus the party on winning power legally. One of the first steps he instrumented was making everyone in the party loyal to him and to him alone. This was instrumental because it kept himself as the central guiding figure of the party and it kept people bound by their oaths of loyalty from rebellion against his leadership. This kept the Nazi party intact and functional with a passionate leader guiding the party towards its goal.

Hitler’s leadership was crucial to the NSDAP’s rise to power. Hitler was a very passionate man who took his goals and achieved them. Hitler’s ideology was crucial to the success of the Nazi party in Weimar Germany. In many ways, Hitler was a cult leader, and like any good cult leader he knew how to manipulate people and events to serve his objectives.

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