In the early 1930’s around 5 million Germans were unemployed, in the public’s opinion the Weimar republic was to blame. The majority of the public believed that Germany had not lost the war but in fact were winning it before they were “stabbed in the back” by the “November Criminals,” the politicians who signed the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles had been criticised for causing the continual economic depression in Germany
Before 1929, the majority of the German public were content with their democratic government, and did not have these views; this was when Germany was enjoying a period of relative economic prosperity, fuelled by loans from the United States. The period quickly ended with the Wall Street crash, which was a huge blow to Germany. America recalled all the loans that had helped to rebuild Germany’s economy, which in addition to Germany’s existing unemployment problems caused the operation of German industry to cease increasing unemployment even further.
In addition, Germany’s trading relations with America were severely damaged. Without the American market, the number of exports from Germany decreased dramatically. As in the depression of 1923, the Weimar Republic was held responsible, people became angry, and the “stab in the back” theory, which was a popular idea during the 1923 depression, returned. The German public had completely lost faith in their democratic government. Germans began to turn to more extreme parties such as the communists and the Nazis. Statistics showed that as unemployment went up, support for the Nazi’s grew. In 1928, there were 1. million people unemployed; the figure had risen to 6 million by 1932, the year of the enabling act.
The public’s growing support for the Nazi party was further strengthened by the death of Gustav Stresemann who died on the 3rd of October 1929; Stresemann was considered one of Germany’s most able politicians, well known for bringing Germany out of depression. This death was of huge benefit to the Nazis as, before the event, the successes of Stresemann’s policies had prevented them from gaining popularity, because the policies had always been successful in reducing unemployment, and other economic problems.
Stresemann’s death meant, in the eyes of the public, that the Weimar Republic was now incapable of bringing Germany out of depression. After this event, the German’s support for extreme parties, including the Nazis grew even further. It was not only the unemployed who were attracted to the Nazi party because of this, but also people suffering from the increasing worry of job losses, caused by the depression. If it had not been for the Wall Street crash and Stresemann’s death, the German public would have been content with the Weimar Republic, and would have not have supported the Nazi’s.
Once Hitler had gained popularity, he would not have been able to become chancellor without the help of Franz Von Papen, the existing chancellor in 1932. Von Papen felt that a connection with Hitler and the Nazi party would help him gain support for his own party. In December 1932, President Hindenburg made General Schleicher chancellor of Germany. Von Papen wanted a return to power so he struck a deal with the Nazis. The agreement was that Hitler would be given complete unconditional control of Germany.
A constitutional change this great needed ? majority vote. The Nazi private army surrounded the Kroll opera house where the voting took place shouting, “we want the bill or fire or murder” and communist mps were not allowed into the building. After five years, Hitler used his power to extend it. It is argued however that this was just a natural succession from Hitler becoming popular after the depression and not a reason for him coming into power in itself.