Impact Of Adolf Hitler's Rise To Power

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Before embarking on a political career in 1919, Adolf Hitler had been a nonentity. Yet during the next 26 years he succeeded in gaining and exercising absolute power in Germany, and, in the process arguably became the most destructive dictator of the 20th century. Undeniably, it was a combination of economic crises, the impact of the Great War and the Treaty of Versailles, the instability of the Weimar Republic and Hitler’s own political ability, that lead to his rise to power.

Historian, Ian Kershaw argues that ‘the First World War made Hitler possible.’ This statement has accuracy, as the impact of the Great War was devastating. Germany was virtually bankrupt, as national income declined to one-third of what it had been in 1913. The war
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Prior to the war, Germany was ruled under an Imperial dictatorship of the Kaiser. Contrastingly, the Weimar Constitution attempted to establish arguably the most perfect democratic system of modern times, where no one individual could gain too much power. However it was this very system of proportional representation that lead to its downfall. Based on the ideal of ensuring all political groups would have a fair representation, it meant in reality that no one party ever won an overall majority. This process therefore resulted in coalition governments holding power through tenuous deals, never being able to fulfill the programs they were elected for. Outbreaks of violence in opposition did occur, including the 1919 Spartacist Rising, the 1920 Kapp Putsch and Hitler’s Munich Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. None of these revolts were successful in ending the republic however it did underline that the government was incapable of keeping law and order and respect for it subsequently dwindled. The failed Nazi revolution, also lead Hitler to change his tactics to an appearance of legality. In the years that followed, the NSDAP highlighted the weaknesses of the government through extensive propaganda campaigns blaming it for Germany’s misfortunes and offered instead, a return to a strong authoritarian regime, which could guarantee strict public