NAZI PARTY'S RISE TO POWER

EXHIBIT

The Weimar Republic was a period of great uncertainty in Germany. While the Social Democrats controlled the weak government, a number of left-wing and right-wing parties emerged during the period. There was a growth of communist and socialist organizations seeking to emulate the example of Russia. Meanwhile, the Nazi Party formed in 1920 along with other right-wing groups. It was a political party known for its energy, as young members stood on the streets handing out pamphlets and propaganda.

Adolf Hitler became the party leader in 1921 and then in 1923 attempted and failed to take over the Bavarian government in the Beer Hall Putsch.  This led to Hitler's imprisonment and his authorship of Mein Kampf. By 1928, the party had won over only 2.8% of the electorate in the Reichstag elections.

 

After Germany's Great Depression, the Nazi Party really built its strength especially as the Social Democratic party cut unemployment benefits and over 5 million people were without work. Policemen loyal to Hitler marched through the streets vocalizing their support for change. In the 1930 elections the Nazi Party won 107 seats in the Parliament and then in the 1932 elections it won 230 representatives, making it the leading party in the Reichstag, although it did not have the majority of seats.

 

Thus, in many ways the German people elected the Nazis into power through democratic means. In 1933, the Nazi Party cemented its rule when the German president appointed Adolf Hitler as chancellor of the government, the most powerful position.

Click here for a Rise of Nazi Party timeline

Here are some specific questions you may want to think about as you peruse the Nazi Party's Rise to Power exhibit:

    • The Nazi Party gained power through a democratic election. While it did not gain a majority of seats, it gained a plurality. What explains why many ordinary Germans chose to vote for the Nazi Party?

    • What elements of the Nazi Party Platform may have appealed to voters who did NOT hate Jews?

    • What elements of the Nazi Party Platform may have appealed to voters who DID hate Jews?

    • What questions does this raise for you about the Holocaust?

Begin by viewing the stories of Joseph and Myra's families and then move on to the artifacts. In this exhibit, you will encounter the following artifacts:

    • Artifact 1: Nazi Party Platform

    • Artifact 2: A video called "Path to Nazi Genocide"

    • Artifact 3: An article called "How Fascism Works."

JOSEPH'S TEENAGE YEARS
MYRA'S TEENAGE YEARS
Nazi Party Platform

ARTIFACT 1

We demand the following:

  1. A union of all Germans to form a great Germany on the basis of the right to self-determination of peoples.

  2. Abolition of the Treaty of Versailles.

  3. Return lands lost in World War I and colonies to give German adequate living space.

  4. German blood as a requirement for German citizenship. No Jew can be a member of the nation.

Guiding Questions:

  • What elements of the Nazi Party Platform may have appealed to voters who did NOT hate Jews?

  • What elements of the Nazi Party Platform may have appealed to voters who DID hate Jews?

  • What role did German nationalism play in this party platform?

PATH TO NAZI GENOCIDE

ARTIFACT 2

Length: 13:18

 

Recommended viewing times: 6:40-13:18

Guiding Questions:

  • What did Hitler attempt to do in 1923? 

  • What ideas did he write down (while in prison) in his book Mein Kampf?

  • What percentage of the vote did the Nazis win in 1933? 

ARTICLE: WHAT IS FASCISM?

ARTIFACT 3

“Fascism” is a word that gets tossed around pretty loosely these days, usually as an epithet to discredit someone else’s politics.

One consequence is that no one really knows what the term means anymore. 

Guiding Questions:

  • What do you think Professor Stanley means when he says fascism is about "using a certain technique to acquire and retain power?"

  • What are the three main techniques that Professor Stanley identifies?

  • How did Hitler and the Nazis use each of those techniques?

  • Professor Stanley says that fascism "flourishes in moments of great anxiety." How does that help explain the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany?

ADDITIONAL READING

FACING HISTORY'S
RISE OF NAZI PARTY

UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST

MEMORIAL MUSEUM