How and Why Hitler, Nazis and the Third Reich came to Power

Adolf Hitler’s rise to power began in Germany in September 1919[a] when Hitler joined the political party known as the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (abbreviated as DAP — German Workers’ Party); the name was changed in 1920 to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei — NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers’ Party, commonly known as the Nazi Party). This political party was formed and developed during the post-World War I era. It was anti-Marxist and was opposed to the democratic post-war government of the Weimar Republic and the Treaty of Versailles; and it advocated extreme nationalism and Pan-Germanism as well as virulent anti-Semitism. Hitler’s “rise” can be considered to have ended in March 1933, after the Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act of 1933 in that month; president Paul von Hindenburg had already appointed Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933 after a series of parliamentary elections and associated backroom intrigues. The Enabling Act—when used ruthlessly and with authority—virtually assured that Hitler could thereafter constitutionally exercise dictatorial power without legal objection.

Adolf Hitler rose to a place of prominence in the early years of the party. Being one of the best speakers of the party, he told the other members of the party to either make him leader of the party, or, he would never return. He was aided in part by his willingness to use violence in advancing his political objectives and to recruit party members who were willing to do the same. The Beer Hall Putsch in November 1923 and the later release of his book Mein Kampf (usually translated as My Struggle) introduced Hitler to a wider audience. In the mid-1920s, the party engaged in electoral battles in which Hitler participated as a speaker and organizer,[b] as well as in street battles and violence between the Rotfrontkämpferbund and the Nazi’s Sturmabteilung (SA). Through the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Nazis gathered enough electoral support to become the largest political party in the Reichstag, and Hitler’s blend of political acuity, deceptiveness and cunning converted the party’s non-majority but plurality status into effective governing power in the ailing Weimar Republic of 1933.

Once in power, the Nazis created a mythology surrounding the rise to power, and they described the period that roughly corresponds to the scope of this article as either the Kampfzeit (the time of struggle) or the Kampfjahre (years of struggle).

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