by Anita Dittman and Jan Markell
(authors of Trapped in Hitler’s Hell)
Adolf Hitler came to power because the confused and senile President Hindenburg permitted it. In the early 1930s, Germany was in the throes of the economic depression that had begun on Wall Street in October 1929. The depression’s effects had been felt in Germany almost immediately; by 1933 nearly one third of the country was unemployed.
During the 1930 elections, the Nazis made the most noise because they were violently anti-communist and had the backing of wealthy German industrialists. Scoring giant gains in the Reichstag, Germany’s legislative assembly, their representation jumped from twelve to one hundred and seven.
By 1932, the Nazis had become even stronger as they rallied around the leadership of Adolf Hitler. With his staff, Hitler traveled to every village and hamlet to gain votes, his unemployment bandwagon gaining so much support that the Nazis more than doubled their parliament seats.
Then Hitler was offered the German vice-chancellorship peacefully and legally. He refused. He wanted nothing short of the chancellorship, which would give him power almost equal to Hindenburg-s. Later in 1932, he was offered the full chancellorship, with limited conditions. Again he held out, protesting the conditions.
By then Germany’s streets were loud with riots and political fights. Brown-shirted Nazis fought all opponents–particularly left-wing ones–openly in the streets as well as in dark alleys.
Finally in January of 1933 Hitler was made the chancellor of a coalition government; Hindenburg, nearly eighty-five and no longer able to read, remained president. A torchlight parade was held on January 30th. A new era of history had opened–the era of the Third Reich. German democracy was dead. But with nearly six million unemployed, Germany had only a lukewarm devotion to democracy anyway.
The Nazi appeal contained a lot of idealism. The idea of living in a strong, virile country appealed to everyone, particularly the young. Everyone was wide open to the propaganda that assured relief from depression, inflation, and other tremendous hardships, and Nazism promised a near-welfare state.
Hitler was totally underrated by his opponents. The Communist and Social Democratic parties felt sure his incompetence would quickly be revealed and that the Nazis would topple with little impact. Hardly anyone expected the Third Reich to burn its swastika across Europe’s landscape…. (From Trapped in Hitler’s Hell)
Deception, Lies and Disinformation by Berit Kjos