Under the leadership of Adolf Hitler , the party came to power in Germany in and governed by totalitarian methods until That year Hitler also formulated a point program that became the permanent basis for the party.
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The program called for German abandonment of the Treaty of Versailles and for the expansion of German territory. These appeals for national aggrandizement were accompanied by a strident anti-Semitic rhetoric.
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Under Hitler the Nazi Party grew steadily in its home base of Bavaria. It organized strong-arm groups to protect its rallies and meetings. These groups drew their members from war veterans groups and paramilitary organizations and were organized under the name Sturmabteilung SA. In Hitler and his followers felt strong enough to stage the Beer Hall Putsch , an unsuccessful attempt to take control of the Bavarian state government in the hope that it would trigger a nationwide insurrection against the Weimar Republic.
The coup failed, the Nazi Party was temporarily banned, and Hitler was sent to prison for most of Upon his release Hitler quickly set about rebuilding his moribund party, vowing to achieve power only through legal political means thereafter. However, it was the effects of the Great Depression in Germany that brought the Nazi Party to its first real nationwide importance. The rapid rise in unemployment in —30 provided millions of jobless and dissatisfied voters whom the Nazi Party exploited to its advantage. From to the party vastly increased its membership and voting strength; its vote in elections to the Reichstag the German Parliament increased from , votes in to about 14,, votes in July , and it thus emerged as the largest voting bloc in the Reichstag, with members 38 percent of the total vote.
By then big-business circles had begun to finance the Nazi electoral campaigns, and swelling bands of SA toughs increasingly dominated the street fighting with the communists that accompanied such campaigns.
On July 14, , his government declared the Nazi Party to be the only political party in Germany. Nazi Party membership became mandatory for all higher civil servants and bureaucrats , and the gauleiters became powerful figures in the state governments. The party came to control virtually all political, social, and cultural activities in Germany. Its vast and complex hierarchy was structured like a pyramid, with party-controlled mass organizations for youth, women, workers, and other groups at the bottom, party members and officials in the middle, and Hitler and his closest associates at the top wielding undisputed authority.
There have been minor Nazi parties in other countries such as the United States , but after Nazism as a mass movement was virtually nonexistent. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind.
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See Article History. Read More on This Topic. Britannica Quiz. Start your free trial today for unlimited access to Britannica. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Its platform was a clever, if contradictory, mixture of socialism, corporatism, and virulent assertion in foreign policy. Although the party opposed antisemitism and had Jews among its leaders, very few German Jews voted Communist.
During the crisis of the last Wemar years the parties voting strength grew substantially as it attracted support from the growing ranks of the unemployed. Some of its leaders were converts to democracy and republicanism, but the party was firmly supportive of the Weimar Republic and resistant to militarism and antisemitism. While the party fits on the left side of the political spectrum, it stressed its moderation. Unfortunately for the Weimar Republic, this party received its greatest vote totals in and saw its support erode for most of the Weimar period.
The Nazi rise to power
Contributing to the decline of the Democratic Party were the untimely deaths of Max Weber and Friedrich Naumann, its most prominent leaders. Yet, in spite of its declining support, the party played a significant role during the Weimar years, and was an eager participant in coalition governments. The party also attracted the more conservative elements among the white collar clerical and retail sales workers. It was militaristic, resistant to republican government, opposed to attempts to fulfill the terms of the Versailles treaty, and antisemitic.
It lacked the rural base of the nationalists and was more moderate in its nationalism and less extreme in its antisemitism. The party had a core group which was willing to support and participate in Weimar coalition government, and these reform conservatives kept Gustav Stresemann as party leader. The National Socialists initially attracted young men who had been in the military and had not been able to reintegrate themselves into the civilian society and economy.
The party also drew support from members of the lower middle class, shopkeepers, artisans and white-collar workers. The party was unequivocally opposed to the Weimar Republic and in its members led by Hitler tried unsuccessfully to seize the government by force. After this failed attempt the party reverted to a strategy of gaining power through the electoral process without ever changing its fundamental opposition to democracy and republican government.
Antisemitism and the threat that the Jews represented to Germany were at the core of the Nazi ideology. During the later twenties, the base of National Socialist support expanded considerably. Although most of the top leaders of the party including Hitler were Catholic, and the party had begun in Catholic Munich, fewer Catholics proportionally voted for the party than did Protestants. This voting pattern was the result of the Catholic Church urging its members to avoid supporting the Nazis.
This Catholic Church opposition to the Nazis would be dropped once Hitler achieved power. By , the Nazis had become the most popular political party and they had the largest legislative delegation. Money was a necessity for building and maintaining a large political organization. Hitler needed money to support paramilitary groups, stage rallies, publish newspapers, print posters and buy radio time.
Historians have argued about how Hitler and the Nazis raised their money. Even in the s left wing critics of Hitler such as the artist John Heartfield had seen him as a creature of industrialists such as Hugo Stinnes. However most historians today take the position most clearly expressed by Henry Turner and dispute these claims.
Nazi Party - Wikipedia
Turner argues that most industrialists and financiers supported more moderate political leaders such as Gustav Stresemann and only began to supply Hitler with money in the early s when he looked like a winner and they saw the communist threat growing. Turner sees a generous party membership, often with very limited personal means, as the source of the major funding for the party during its growth period. Turner rejects the idea of any support for Hitler from Henry Ford. The Social Democratic Party SPD drew its support from blue-collar trade union skilled workers, and at times from more progressive white-collar workers and intellectuals.
While the party had proportionally more Protestant than Catholic supporters, it did attract Catholic workers. In some parts of Germany landless farm workers voted for the party. German women from working class families voted for the Social Democratic Party in large numbers. From to , the Social Democratic Party was the party that received the most votes in national elections and had the largest legislative delegation. The SPD was committed to further reform of Weimar society and hoped to eventually make the institutions and economy of Weimar more egalitarian.
This party was a bulwark of the Republic and was the most active opponent of antisemitism during the Weimar years. Examine some of the political choices and decisions made by leaders in Weimar Germany that shaped the history of the Republic. Investigate some of the factors that contributed to the success and stability of the Weimar Republic in Students examine how choices made by individuals and groups contributed to the rise of the Nazi Party in the s and s. Add or Edit Playlist. Related Content.
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