World War II

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What factors led to the rise of the Nazis and their power?

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The primary reason for the Nazi party's rise to power was economic desperation. Before the Great Depression hit Germany and put millions out of work, the National Socialist party of Germany was a fringe party on the far political right. Many people equated the depression to Germany's defeat in World War I, and general consensus, particularly among the working class, was that the Parliament was impotent to solve any economic crisis.

Hitler was a powerful and charismatic master of oration and rhetoric, and he won the working class and the disenfranchised middle class over to his cause by promising to restore Germany to its former glory by reinstating traditional values as well as providing jobs and economic stability for all. The Nazi party played on the insecurity of being defeated in the previous world war, and promised to restore the country to a land with a grand destiny.

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Economic catastrophe played a major role in the Nazi rise to power. Just when Germany seemed to be getting back on its feet, it was hit hard by the Great Depression. All of a sudden, thousands of businesses went to the wall, creating mass unemployment; inflation soared, with people needing millions of marks to pay for basic food items. To many, it seemed that the Weimar system of liberal democracy had failed and that a new, radical alternative must be found.

People were so desperate for change that they were prepared to listen to political parties previously dismissed as cranks and extremists. The Nazis were one such party. The dire economic situation engulfing Germany created an ideal opportunity for the Nazis to exploit, which they did. Hitler successfully played upon Germans' economic and social insecurities, especially the lower-middle classes, who suddenly found themselves dragged down to the level of the proletariat. To the unemployed, Hitler offered work; to the farmers, land; and to business, an opportunity to make profits without the threat of industrial action by labor unions.

In their economic policies the Nazis cynically promised something for everyone—everyone who wasn't Jewish, of course—as a means of gaining power. Hitler had absolutely no intention of fulfilling many of these promises, but the prospect of national prosperity appealed to many, and in the seeming absence of a viable alternative, millions of Germans were prepared to give the Nazis a chance.

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The Nazi rise to power had several factors starting with the end of World War ! and the Treaty of Versailles.  This treaty punished the German people so harshly that it set up the climate of rebellion and the desire for a leader who would restore German pride and the culture of invincibility. During the 1920's Hitler consolidated his group, wrote Mein Kampf, and quietly disposed of his rivals.  When Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany in 1933, he immediately began to build both his army and navy which was in direct violation of the treaty.  The world ignored his annexation of land and did what they could to appease him hoping that it would be enough to avoid war.  Neville Chamberlain of Britain was a perfect example of the policy of  appeasement.  Hitler was a mesmerizing speaker who made use of propaganda in a way never before seen to convince the German people to adopt their views such as using the Jews as scapegoats to blame for the failures of WWI.  Hitler was ruthless in his rise to power, killing off his rivals as needed. After his election, he targeted Communists as a threat to his power and eliminated them.  Elected in a democratic society, he changed his title to Fuhrer and became the supreme leader in a dictatorship with most of the people devoted to him and his ideas to restore Germany to power in the world.  

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