Character of the Nazi Party? Up to 1933. Between party members/voters. ( Why voters voted for them)
Throughout Europe Liberalism and democracy was in danger of extinction during the 1920’s and thirty’s. Communism, Fascism and authoritarian style movements were gaining momentum. By 1939 undemocratic regimes all ready outnumbered constitutional democracies. Germany especially was crippled with economic problems and political uncertainty. Hyperinflation was the cause of much of this civic unrest.
Hitler did not actually found the Nazi party. He joined the National Socialist German workers party or (NSDAP) which later changed its name to the Nazi party. Its membership increased dramatically from about two hundred to two thousand by the end of 1920.Party branches began to grow and spread throughout Germany. Hitler through his powerful oratory and popularity managed to abandon the old style democratic form of leadership in favour of a more authoritarian rule. By the eve of the Munich Putch, the now so called Nazi party had already established a reputation as a ‘rough party.’ Hitler served a not too uncomfortable five years in prison for his role in the Putch, however upon his release went about restructuring and re-organizing the party. The problem with Hitler’s trail is that he became a well known personality; propaganda played on this and used it in Hitler’s favour. It’s important to note that at this time Germany was not a centralized state and communists were actually members of many governments throughout the Weimar republic. Hyper inflation meant that the German economy was on the brink of collapse and so too was democracy , to many voters the Nazi’s were the best chance to stop a perceived communist takeover.
The Nazi’s enthusiastic resort to violence distinguished them from many of the other parties. Unlike communist violence the Nazi’s did not aim its aggression at the police. Since communists were prone to attacking police, the Nazi’s gained a gradual drift of police sympathies. Many citizens hoped for a newer and better government, however they did not wish to see the total breakdown of law and order. Many Nazi sympathizers were also members of church committees, of business, sporting clubs, etc and they indirectly domesticated an extremist party.
Contempt for the political class was compounded by the view that political parties divided Germany into artificial confessional, ideological and social camps. Any party which promised consensual transcendence and national deliverance would gain support, especially when that party denied being a political party at all. As many people had become disillusioned by political party’s the Nazi’s managed to portray themselves as a movement rather than a political party. Nazi’s members worked hard to infiltrate interest groups and also created parallel organisations which gave the impression that the Nazi party was a party which listened to the people. This also reflected a totalitarian aspiration, in a sense that the Nazi’s believed that no area of life was to remain free from politics.
The Nazi’s had separate organisations for student groups. Unlike many people students had time to be active in politics and by 1930 Nazi students had a majority in the unions of nine major universities. Of course these students would then graduate to become lawyers, professors, teachers etc and they would play a useful role in lending Nazism a degree of respectability. The way the Nazi’s presented themselves is an indication of their character. Take the uniform, which transformed young men, otherwise unremarkable in their work cloths transformed them into authority figures. Nazi marches and torch lit processions added a sense of action and progressiveness.
A line of anti-Semiticism descent from Luther to Hitler is easy to draw. Both men were obsessed with a universe inhabited by the Jew. Luther’s later writings were evoked by the Nazi’s when they came to power. Luther’s anti Jewish writing’s and Hitler’s racial policies are not merely coincidental. Hatred of the Jew derives from Christian anti-Semiticism but German Anti-Semiticism had more roots than Christianity alone. German Anti-Semiticism was a product of German nationalism. This nationalism arose from defeat in the Napoleonic wars, in despair lacking military and economic power Germany struggled to locate a shared identity. German backward-lookingness emerged. It is because of this focus on the past that Germans never warmed to Jewish emancipation as it was a far too radical idea. Wherever the French occupied German lands Jews were the beneficiaries which would in turn give rise to an Jewish economic Anti-Semiticism.
The deficiencies and limitations of the existing parties must party explain the extraordinary success of the Nazi party, who from in 1928 when from a vote of just 2% to a vote of 37% in little over four years. The national socialist began as an urban party and had initially neglected rural areas, but it’s surprising success that the party enjoyed in the 1928 election meant that it paid more attention to agriculture. Also DNVP who were actually keen on getting rid of the Weimar republic, there were not parliamentarian minded, they were not Nazi’s but they were authoritarian minded. Here we can see that democracy was weakening in the Weimar republic. In the years preceding 1933 the Weimar government forced by a paralyzed government had resorted to ruling by the use of decrees. In a sense this would make it easier for the German people to accept Hitler’s authoritarian style of government. Anti Semiticism was never a conscious electoral debate. Hitler was a vague as possible when it came to naming a party programme. The programme was really Hitler, and Hitler’s newly found fame from his trial after the Putch and his failed presidential campaign undoubtedly attracted many voters.