The Nazis gain power

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Between 1929 and 1932, support increased for parties with extreme solutions to Germany’s problems. While the communists promised to give the unemployed and working classes control of the country and ownership of industry, the Nazis were seen as the strongest group capable of preventing what others saw as the threat of communism.

The political system made it very difficult for the democratic parties to keep governments in power. People began to blame the political parties for Germany’s problems. Extremist groups proposed drastic measures, and these seemed more appealing to people desperate for solutions.

As democratic governments failed to deal with Germany’s problems, the Nazis looked to many to be the strongest option. In the election of July 1932 the Nazis won 37 per cent of the vote. This made them the largest single party in the Reichstag. Hitler, as their leader, demanded to be made Chancellor, that is head of the German government. However, President Hindenburg mistrusted Hitler’s motives, so was keen to avoid giving Hitler power.

Eventually, Franz von Papen, hoping to return to a position of power, proposed making Hitler Chancellor with himself as Vice-Chancellor. Only two other Nazis would be allowed government posts, with the remaining jobs going to the moderate parties. Fear of communism helped this plan. President Hindenburg was persuaded that Hitler could be kept under control as the Nazis had lost votes in an election in November 1932.

On 30 January 1933 Hitler was made Chancellor. Von Papen boasted that: “in two months, we will have pushed Hitler into a corner so that he squeaks”.