Was the Great Depression the main reason why the Nazi Party grew between 1929 and 1932?

Last Updated: 13 Jan 2021
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In my opinion, I believe that the Great Depression was the most significant factor towards the growth of the Nazi Party as this was the time when the Nazi Party grew rapidly from only 12 seats in May 1928 to 107 in September 1930 and became the second largest party in Germany, following after the KPD. This was down to the economic crisis in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash, which weakened the Weimar Republic by discrediting its policies, consequently making the democratic politics less popular.

The government seemed powerless to stop the depression, especially because Stresemann, an influential democratic politician, had died in October 1929. The government knew that they couldn’t print any more money due to the hyperinflation back in 1923 so Chancellors, Muller and Bruning, raised taxes, cut wages and reduced unemployment benefit. However this resulted in the unemployment rate continuing to rise to 6 million by early 1933.

The German economy was extremely vulnerable at this point, as they had lost their short-term foreign loans so beggars, bootlace sellers and match sellers preoccupied the streets of Berlin and the government became the ‘scapegoat’ for these economic disasters. There was now less support for the Weimar Republic than ever before and middle class democratic parties associated with the Republic declined and people turned to extremist alternatives such as the Nazis, which led to a rapid increase in votes. Therefore, it is clear to see that the Great Depression was the main reason why the Nazi Party grew between 1929 and 1932.

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Furthermore, Nazi Propaganda is less important than the Great Depression towards the growth of the Party but also had a large part to play as Goebbels’s propaganda techniques marked a new approach in electioneering. The Nazis used ‘up to date’ technology such as loudspeakers, which were placed in every workplace and public area to ensure that everyone heard the Nazi’s views and cheap radios made sure the Nazis could gain votes from distant areas such as East Prussia without even having to travel there.

They also began to use modern vehicles like cars and aeroplanes, not only for the practical purpose of transporting Hitler quickly between places, but also to project a contemporary statesman-like image. This form of propaganda was particularly used in the Presidential campaign of 1932 where Hitler came second after the re-elected Hindenburg. The Nazis also showed their mastery of propaganda by using mass rallies to create an atmosphere so emotional that all members of the audience would have to give in to them.

These concert-like events included uniforms, torches, music and flags to intensify the effect. One of the Nazis most well known methods of propaganda was their slogans, both vague and direct, for example, “to make Germany great again” which appealed to everyone and anyone or “blood and soil” which was directed purposely at farmers, persuading them that the Nazis really cared for them and would try their hardest to improve their facilities.

Ultimately, Nazi Propaganda was necessary for the acquisition of power by Hitler and the growth of the Party, however by itself it was not enough in view of the Nazi Party’s failure to achieve and absolute majority. In addition, the Sturmabteilung, otherwise known as the SA, storm troopers of brown shirts, were also of crucial importance to the increase in Nazi votes as they were used at mass rallies to provide an image of strength to attract anti-communists voters and at the same time, intimidated political opposition and even the government as they held a well deserved reputation for thuggery.

By 1932 the SA had become a large force of 300,000 and by early 1933 the only alternative to Nazi-inspired civil war appeared to be Hitler becoming Chancellor. Therefore, the SA was one of the main reasons for the growth of the Nazi Party, although it was not the most important. Finally, the growth of the Nazi party would have never happened without the vital role played by the fear of Communism.

Ordinary Germans, particularly businessmen and farmers, were frightened of the Communists taking over in their own country. Communists didn't believe in religion, so this worried churchgoers too. From the start, Hitler said he would fight Communism and he sent his own private army, the SA, to fight with Communists hence by 1932, persistent street violence between the extremists of left and right was taking hold in cities and in the month of July 1932 alone, 86 people were killed as a result of these political fights.

Hitler gained much support from the middle and upper classes, which included businessmen, landowners, and factory owners and so on because he promised to deal with the Communist threat. Therefore, it is clear to see that this factor played a major role in the Nazi Party’s growth however, in my opinion, it is the least important out of the four factors that I have stated. In conclusion, none of these factors can be viewed in isolation and the Nazi Party wouldn’t have grown as much as it did without the combination of all of these factors as they link together.

In many ways, although the Great Depression is the most important factor, the growth of the Nazis would never have happened without the other three factors, especially the use of Goebbels’s propaganda techniques, as these aided the Nazis into becoming better known so people could turn to them as extremist alternatives to the middle class democratic parties associated with the Weimar Republic after the Depression.

Also, without the help of the SA and the fear of communism, the German population may have turned to other parties instead of the Nazis. Another link is that the fear of communism helped set up the importance of the SA as their violent actions towards the communists showed their strength to appeal to anti-communist voters and began to intimidate the Nazi’s challengers. Therefore, ultimately all the reasons are closely connected and without each other, thing may have turned out very differently for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

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Was the Great Depression the main reason why the Nazi Party grew between 1929 and 1932?. (2016, Aug 24). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/was-the-great-depression-the-main-reason-why-the-nazi-party-grew-between-1929-and-1932/

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