A question many have wondered is how did the German people allow someone like Adolf Hitler to gain so much power and commit so many atrocities?
To understand the answer to this question one must understand what Germany was like after WWI.
“The treaty that ended WWI in 1919 had 440 clauses, 414 of them were devoted to punishing the Germans. Berlin had become a swamp of depravity. Everyone and everything was for sale. Money was worthless, jobs were scarce, and vigilantes ruled the streets.” The Germans were already suffering so much economically, and when Wall Street crashed in 1929, Germany suffered even more. The German people were looking for a leader that could bring them out of this depression and restore their honor in their country.
On November 8th 1923 Hitler tried to incite a revolution in Munich to take over Germany. He failed, but it was this revolution that made him a national figure almost overnight. The “Munich Savoir” as the headlines read, had a persuasive line about German honor, rights for workers, and a new society. His followers grew in numbers rapidly as they believed that “a man has arisen to lead the Fatherland to a brighter future”.
By the middle of 1929 Germans had only two options if they wanted change. One was to join the communists, the other was to join the Nazi party. In 1932 Hitler ran for presidency, received 11 million votes, and lost. By February 10th 1933, even though the Nazi’s never had more than 37% of the vote, the Nazi party was the biggest political party in Germany, so the German leaders installed Hitler as Chancellor. His first speech after being given this authority was so inspiring that Nazi party offices had so many membership requests they had to suspend admission.
Although Hitler was made chancellor he still did not have complete control of Germany. However, two weeks later in Berlin Germany’s parliament was set on fire. Even through no one knows who started it Hitler blamed his rivals the communists. He printed a story about their threat to the people and that the fire was a signal to revolt. Within 24 hours of the fire freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of public assembly were suspended. With in days of the fire thousands of communists were arrested. Many of them were sent to Dachau, the first concentration camp that opened on March 22, 1933.
With no one left to stop the Nazi majority in German parliament, parliament voted to consolidate all power in Hitler. From the time he became chancellor to the time he was made dictator was 52 days.
Soon after, the Nazi’s boycotted all Jewish businesses in Germany, at the bottom of every newspaper was printed in red “Jews are Germany’s Misfortune”, and Hitler began youth camps where children were brainwashed and indoctrinated to hate and despise the Jews.
In 1936, Berlin hosted the Olympics. Hitler instructed that all of the signs be taken down that prohibited Jews. He also instructed the people to very tolerant of foreigners. This left visitors with the feeling that Germans were a kind and tolerant people.
Little by little Hitler removed opposition and changed the way that the German people felt about Jews through cultivation. Hitler also had little opposition from the Germans because the economy stated to improve and Germany was a good place to live once again. Through this process Hitler gained complete control over Germany.