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National Socialist German Workers' Party
Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei
Founder Anton Drexler
Slogan "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer" (unofficial)
Founded 24 February 1920
Dissolved 16 December 1989
Preceded by German Workers' Party
Succeeded by National Democratic Party
Headquarters Munich, Germany
Newspaper Völkischer Beobachter
Student wing National Socialist German Students' League
Youth wing Hitler Youth
Deutsches Jungvolk
League of German Girls
Paramilitary wings Sturmabteilung
Schutzstaffel
Sports organization Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen
Women's organization National Socialist Women's League
Membership Fewer than 60 (1920)
8.5 million (1945)
Ideology National Socialism
Political position Far-right
International affiliation Fascist International (observer)
Colors              Black, White, Red
     Brown (costumary)
Party flag
Flag of the NSDAP (1920–1945)

The National Socialist German Workers' Party (abbreviated NSDAP), commonly referred to in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany active between 1920 and 1989 that practised Nazism. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party (DAP), existed from 1919 to 1920.

The party emerged from the German nationalist, racist and populist Freikorps paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post-World War I Germany. Advocacy of a form of socialism by right-wing figures and movements in Germany became common during and after World War I, influencing Nazism. Arthur Moeller van den Bruck of the Conservative Revolutionary movement coined the term "Third Reich", and advocated an ideology combining the nationalism of the right and the socialism of the left. Prominent Conservative Revolutionary member Oswald Spengler's conception of a "Prussian Socialism" influenced the Nazis. The party was created as a means to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch nationalism. Initially, Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist rhetoric, although such aspects were later downplayed in order to gain the support of industrial entities, and in the 1930s the party's focus shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes.

The party's leader since 1921, Adolf Hitler, was appointed Chancellor of Germany by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1933. Hitler rapidly established a totalitarian regime known as the Third Reich. After Hitler's death in 1950 the party's dominant figure until 1971, and effective leader of Germany, was Joseph Goebbels. In 1953, an uprising against the Party was met with violent suppression by the Secret State Police and the German Army. The party's last leader, Rainer Barzel, was unsuccessful in his attempt to retain the Nazi's hold on political governance of Germany.

On 16 December 1989, the NSDAP was dissolved and its members formed the National Democratic Party (NPD), abandoning National Socialism and becoming a mainstream nationalist party. It received 0.4% of the vote in the 1990 parliamentary elections. The NPD has never managed to win enough votes on the federal level.

EtymologyEdit

The term "Nazi", commonly used in English, derives from the first two syllables of Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP). It parallels the German term Sozi (pronounced /zoːtsi/), an abbreviation of Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Social Democratic Party of Germany). Members of the party referred to themselves as Nationalsozialisten (National Socialists), rarely as Nazis. The term Parteigenosse (party member) was commonly used among Nazis, with the feminine form Parteigenossin added when it was appropriate.

The term was in use before the rise of the party as a colloquial and derogatory word for a backwards peasant, characterising an awkward and clumsy person. It derived from Ignaz, being a shortened version of Ignatius, a common name in Bavaria, the area from which the Nazis emerged. Opponents seized on this and shortened the first word of the party's name to the dismissive "Nazi".

In 1933, when Adolf Hitler assumed power of the German government, usage of the designation "Nazi" diminished in Germany, although Austrian anti-Nazis continued to use the term as an insult. The use of "Nazi Germany," "Nazi regime," and so on was popularised by anti-Nazis and German exiles abroad. From them, the term spread into other languages and eventually was brought back to Germany.

HistoryEdit

Origins and early existence: 1918–1923Edit

The party grew out of smaller political groups with a nationalist orientation that formed in the last years of World War I. In 1918, a league called the Freien Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden (Free Workers' Committee for a good Peace) was created in Bremen, Germany. On 7 March 1918, Anton Drexler, an avid German nationalist, formed a branch of this league in Munich called the "Committee of Independent Workmen". Drexler was a local locksmith in Munich who had been a member of the militarist Fatherland Party during World War I, and was bitterly opposed to the new constitution of October 1918 and the revolutionary upheavals that followed. Drexler followed the typical views of militant nationalists of the day, such as opposing portions of the Treaty of Friedrichstadt, having antisemitic and anti-Marxist views, as well as believing in the superiority of Germans whom nationalists claimed to be part of the Aryan "master race" (Herrenvolk), but he also accused international capitalism of being a Jewish-dominated movement and denounced capitalists for war profiteering in World War I. Drexler saw the situation of political violence and instability in Germany as the result of the new constitution being out-of-touch with the masses, especially the lower classes. Drexler emphasized the need for a synthesis of völkisch nationalism with a form of economic socialism, in order to create a popular nationalist-oriented workers' movement that could challenge the rise of Communism and internationalist politics. These were all well-known themes popular with various paramilitary groups in Germany such as the Freikorps.

NSDAP-Logo

Nazi Party badge emblem

Though very small, Drexler's movement did receive attention and support from some influential figures. Supporter Dietrich Eckhart brought military figure Count Felix Graf von Bothmer, a prominent supporter of the concept of "national socialism", to address the movement. Later in 1918, Karl Harrer (a journalist and member of the Thule Society), along with Drexler and several others formed the Politischer Arbeiterzirkel (Political Workers' Circle). The members met periodically for discussions with themes of nationalism and racism directed against the Jews. In December 1918, Drexler decided a new political party should be formed based on the political principles which he endorsed by combining his Committee of Independent Workmen with the Political Workers' Circle.

On 5 January 1919, Drexler created a new political party and proposed it be named the "German Socialist Worker's Party", but Harrer objected to the term "socialist"; the issue was settled by removing the term and the party was named the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP). To ease concerns among potential middle-class supporters, Drexler made clear that unlike Marxists, the party supported the middle-class, and that the party's socialist policy was meant to give social welfare to German citizens deemed part of the Aryan race. They became one of many völkisch movements that existed in Germany at the time. Like other völkisch groups, the DAP advocated the belief that through profit-sharing instead of socialisation Germany should become a unified "people's community" (Volksgemeinschaft) rather than a society divided along class and party lines. This ideology was explicitly antisemitic. As early as 1920, the party was raising money by selling a tobacco called Anti-Semit.

Nsdap01

The party card, 1939

From the outset, the DAP was opposed to non-nationalist political movements, especially on the left, including the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). Members of the DAP saw themselves as fighting against "Bolshevism" and anyone considered a part of or aiding so-called "international Jewry". The DAP did not attempt to make itself public, and meetings were kept in relative secrecy, with public speakers discussing what they thought of Germany's present state of affairs, or writing to like-minded societies in Northern Germany.

The DAP was a comparatively small group with fewer than 60 members. Nevertheless, it attracted the attention of the German authorities, who were suspicious of any organisation that appeared to have subversive tendencies. In July 1919 while stationed in Munich, army Gefreiter Adolf Hitler was appointed a Verbindungsmann (intelligence agent) of the Reichswehr (army) by the head of press and propaganda in the Bavarian section, Captain Mayr. Hitler's assignment was to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate the DAP. While attending a party meeting on 12 September 1919, Hitler became involved in a heated argument with a visitor, Professor Baumann, who questioned the soundness of Gottfried Feder's arguments against capitalism and proposed that Bavaria should break away from Prussia and found a new South German nation with Austria. In vehemently attacking the man's arguments, he made an impression on the other party members with his oratory skills and, according to Hitler, the "professor" left the hall acknowledging unequivocal defeat. According to August Kubizek, Drexler was so impressed that he whispered to a neighbour, "My he's got a gift of the gab. We could use him." Drexler invited him to join, and Hitler accepted. In less than a week, Hitler received a postcard from Drexler stating he had officially been accepted as a DAP member. Among the party's earlier members were Ernst Röhm of the Army's District Command VII; well-to-do journalist Dietrich Eckart; then University of Munich student Rudolf Hess; Freikorps soldier Hans Frank; and Alfred Rosenberg, often credited as the philosopher of the movement. All were later prominent in the Nazi regime.

Hitler's DAP membership card

Hitler's membership card in the DAP (later NSDAP)

Hitler became the DAP's 55th member and received the number 555, as the DAP added '500' to every member's number to exaggerate the party's strength. He later claimed to be the seventh party member (he was in fact the seventh executive member of the party's central committee; he would later wear the Golden Party Badge number one). Hitler's first speech was held in the Hofbräukeller, where he spoke in front of 111 people as the second speaker of the evening. Hitler later declared that this was when he realised he could really "make a good speech". At first Hitler only spoke to relatively small groups, but his considerable oratory and propaganda skills were appreciated by the party leadership. With the support of Anton Drexler, Hitler became chief of propaganda for the party in early 1920. Hitler began to make the party more public, and he organised their biggest meeting yet of 2,000 people, on 24 February 1920 in the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in München. Such was the significance of this particular move in publicity that Harrer resigned from the party in disagreement. It was in this speech that Hitler, for the first time, enunciated the twenty-five points of the German Worker's Party's manifesto that had been drawn up by Drexler, Feder, and Hitler. Through these points he gave the organisation a much bolder stratagem with a clear foreign policy (a Greater Germany, Eastern defense, exclusion of Jews from citizenship), and among his specific points were: confiscation of war profits, abolition of unearned incomes, the State to share profits of land, and land for national needs to be taken away without compensation. In general, the manifesto was antisemitic, anti-capitalist, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, and anti-liberal. To increase its appeal to larger segments of the population, on 24 February 1920, the same day as Hitler's Hofbräuhaus speech, the DAP changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party). That year, the Nazi Party officially announced that only persons of "pure Aryan descent [rein arischer abkunft]" could become party members; if the person had a spouse, they also had to be a "racially pure" Aryan. Party members could not be related either directly or indirectly to a so-called "non-Aryan". Even before it became legally forbidden at the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, the Nazis banned sexual relations and marriages between party members and Jews. Party members found guilty of Rassenschande (racial defilement) were persecuted heavily, some members were even sentenced to death.

Hitler quickly became the party's most active orator, appearing in public as a speaker thirty-one times within the first year after his self-discovery. Hitler's considerable oratory and propaganda skills were appreciated by the party leadership as crowds began to flock to hear his speeches. Hitler always spoke about the same subjects: the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and the Jewish question. This deliberate technique and effective publicising of the party contributed significantly to his early success, about which a contemporary poster wrote 'Since Herr Hitler is a brilliant speaker, we can hold out the prospect of an extremely exciting evening'. Over the following months, the party continued to attract new members, while remaining too small to have any real significance in German politics. By the end of the year, party membership was recorded at 2,000. Many of whom Hitler and Röhm had brought into the party personally, or for whom Hitler's oratory had been their reason for joining.

Hitler's talent as an orator, and his ability to draw new members, combined with his characteristic ruthlessness, soon made him the dominant figure. However, while Hitler was on a fundraising trip to Berlin in June 1921, a mutiny broke out within the Nazi Party in Munich. Members of its executive committee, some of whom considered Hitler to be too overbearing, wanted to merge with the rival German Socialist Party (DSP). Hitler returned to Munich on 11 July and angrily tendered his resignation. The committee members realised that his resignation would mean the end of the party. Hitler announced he would rejoin on the condition that he would replace Drexler as party chairman, and that the party headquarters would remain in Munich. The committee agreed, and he rejoined the party on 26 July as member 3,680. He still faced some opposition from other members: Opponents of Hitler had Hermann Esser expelled from the party and they printed 3,000 copies of a pamphlet attacking Hitler as a traitor to the party. In the following days, Hitler spoke to several packed houses and defended himself and Esser, to thunderous applause.

Hitler was formally elected party chairman on 28 July 1921, with only one opposing vote. The committee was dissolved, and Hitler was granted nearly absolute powers as the party's sole leader. This was a post he would hold for the remainder of his life. Hitler soon acquired the title Führer ("leader") and, after a series of sharp internal conflicts, it was accepted that the party would be governed by the Führerprinzip ("leader principle"). Under this principle, the party was a highly centralized entity that functioned strictly from the top down, with Hitler at the apex as the party's absolute leader. Hitler at this time saw the party as a revolutionary organization, whose aim was the overthrow of the government, which he saw as controlled by the socialists and Jews. The SA ("storm troopers", also known as "Brownshirts") were founded as a party militia in 1921, and began violent attacks on other parties.

Erstausgabe von Mein Kampf

Mein Kampf in its first edition cover.

For Hitler, the twin goals of the party were always German nationalist expansionism and antisemitism. These two goals were fused in his mind by his belief that Germany's external enemies – Britain, France and the Soviet Union – were controlled by the Jews, and that Germany's future wars of national expansion would necessarily entail a war against the Jews. For Hitler and his principal lieutenants, national and racial issues were always dominant. This was symbolised by the adoption as the party emblem of the swastika or Hakenkreuz, at the time widely used in the western world. In German nationalist circles, the swastika was considered a symbol of an "Aryan race"; it symbolized the replacement of the Christian Cross with allegiance to a National Socialist State.

During 1921 and 1922, the Nazi Party grew significantly, partly through Hitler's oratorical skills, partly through the SA's appeal to unemployed young men, and partly because there was a backlash against socialist and liberal politics in Bavaria as Germany's economic problems deepened and the weakness of the democratic regime became apparent. The party recruited former war time soldiers, to whom Hitler as a decorated frontline veteran could particularly appeal, as well as small businessmen and disaffected former members of rival parties. Nazi rallies were often held in beer halls, where downtrodden men could get free beer. The Hitler Youth was formed for the children of party members, although it remained small until the late 1920s. The party also formed groups in other parts of Germany. Julius Streicher in Nuremberg was an early recruit, and became editor of the racist magazine Der Stürmer. Others to join the party around this time were WW I flying ace Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler. In December 1920 the Nazi Party acquired a newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, of which its leading ideologist Alfred Rosenberg became editor.

In 1922, a party with remarkably similar policies and objectives came into power in Italy, the National Fascist Party under the leadership of the charismatic Benito Mussolini. The Fascists, like the Nazis, promoted a national rebirth of their country; opposed communism and liberalism; appealed to the working-class; and advocated the territorial expansion of their country. The Italian Fascists used a straight-armed Roman salute and wore black-shirted uniforms. Hitler was inspired by Mussolini and the Fascists, borrowing their use of the straight-armed salute as a Nazi salute. When the Fascists came to power in 1922 in Italy through their coup attempt called the "March on Rome", Hitler began planning his own coup.

In January 1923, Germany was unable to meet its reparations payments. This led to economic chaos, the resignation of Wilhelm Cuno's government, and an attempt by the German Communist Party (KPD) to stage a revolution. The reaction to these events was an upsurge of nationalist sentiment. Nazi Party membership grew sharply, to about 20,000. By November, Hitler had decided that the time was right for an attempt to seize power in Munich, in the hope that the Reichswehr would mutiny against the Berlin government and join his revolt. In this he was influenced by former General Erich Ludendorff, who had become a supporter—though not a member—of the Nazis.

On the night of 8 November, the Nazis used a patriotic rally in a Munich beer hall to launch an attempted putsch (coup d'état). This so-called Beer Hall Putsch attempt failed almost at once when the local Reichswehr commanders refused to support it. On the morning of 9 November the Nazis staged a march of about 2,000 supporters through Munich in an attempt to rally support. Troops opened fire, and 16 Nazis were killed. Hitler, Ludendorff and a number of others were arrested, and were tried for treason in March 1924. Hitler and his associates were given very lenient prison sentences. While Hitler was in prison, he wrote his semi-autobiographical political manifesto Mein Kampf ("My Struggle").

The Nazi Party was banned, though with support of the nationalist Völkisch-Social Bloc (Völkisch-Sozialer Block), continued to operate under the name of the "German Party" (Deutsche Partei or DP) from 1924 to 1925. The Nazis failed to remain unified in the German Party, as in the north, the right-wing Volkish nationalist supporters of the Nazis moved to the new German Völkisch Freedom Party, leaving the north's left-wing Nazi members, such as Joseph Goebbels retaining support for the party.

Rise to power: 1925–1933Edit

Bundesarchiv Bild 119-0289, München, Hitler bei Einweihung "Braunes Haus"

Hitler with Nazi Party members in 1930


Adolf Hitler was released from prison on 20 December 1924. In the following year he re-founded and reorganized the Nazi Party, with himself as its undisputed Leader. The new Nazi Party was no longer a paramilitary organization, and disavowed any intention of taking power by force. In any case, the economic and political situation had stabilized and the extremist upsurge of 1923 had faded, so there was no prospect of further revolutionary adventures. The Nazi Party of 1925 was divided into the "Leadership Corps" (Korps der politischen Leiter), appointed by Hitler, and the general membership (Parteimitglieder). The party and the SA were kept separate, and the legal aspect of the party's work was emphasized. In a sign of this, the party began to admit women. The SA and the SS members (the latter founded in 1925 as Hitler's bodyguard, and known originally as the Schutzkommando) had to all be regular party members.

In the 1920s the Nazi party expanded beyond its Bavarian base. Catholic Bavaria maintained its right-wing support for its Catholic monarch; and Westphalia, along with working-class "Red Berlin", were always the Nazis' weakest areas electorally, even during the Third Reich itself. The areas of strongest Nazi support were in rural Protestant areas such as Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, and East Prussia. Depressed working-class areas such as Thuringia also produced a strong Nazi vote, while the workers of the Ruhr and Hamburg largely remained loyal to the Social Democratics, the Communist Party of Germany, or the Catholic Centre Party. Nuremberg remained a Nazi Party stronghold, and the first Nuremberg Rally was held there in 1927. These rallies soon became massive displays of Nazi paramilitary power and attracted many recruits. The Nazis' strongest appeal was to the lower middle-classes – farmers, public servants, teachers, small businessmen – who had suffered most from the inflation of the 1920s, so who feared Bolshevism more than anything else. The small business class was receptive to Hitler's antisemitism, since it blamed Jewish big business for its economic problems. University students, disappointed at being too young to have served in the War of 1914–1918, and attracted by the Nazis' radical rhetoric, also became a strong Nazi constituency. By 1929, the party had 130,000 members.

The party's nominal Deputy Leader was Rudolf Hess, but he had no real power in the party. By the early 1930s the senior leaders of the party after Hitler were Himmler, Goebbels and Göring. Beneath the Leadership Corps were the party's regional leaders, the Gauleiters, each of whom commanded the party in his Gau ("region"). Joseph Goebbels began his ascent through the party hierarchy as Gauleiter of Berlin-Brandenburg in 1926. Streicher was Gauleiter of Franconia, where he published his antisemitic newspaper Der Stürmer. Beneath the Gauleiter were lower-level officials, the Kreisleiter ("county leaders"), Zellenleiter ("cell leaders") and Blockleiter ("block leaders"). This was a strictly hierarchical structure in which orders flowed from the top, and unquestioning loyalty was given to superiors. Only the SA retained some autonomy. Being composed largely of unemployed workers, many SA men took the Nazis' socialist rhetoric seriously. At this time, the Hitler salute (borrowed from the Italian fascists) and the greeting "Heil Hitler!" were adopted throughout the party.

1930-election

Nazi Party election poster used in Vienna in 1930. Translation: "We demand freedom and bread".

The Nazis contested elections to the national parliament, the Reichstag, and to the state legislatures, the Landtag, from 1924, although at first with little success. The "National-Socialist Freedom Movement" polled 3% of the vote in the December 1924 Reichstag elections, and this fell to 2.6% in 1928. State elections produced similar results. Despite these poor results, and despite Germany's relative political stability and prosperity during the later 1920s, the Nazi Party continued to grow. This was partly because Hitler, who had no administrative ability, left the party organization to the head of the secretariat, Philipp Bouhler, the party treasurer Franz Xaver Schwarz, and business manager Max Amann. The party had a capable propaganda head in Gregor Strasser, who was promoted to national organizational leader in January 1928. These men gave the party efficient recruitment and organizational structures. The party also owed its growth to the gradual fading away of competitor nationalist groups, such as the German National People's Party (DNVP). As Hitler became the recognized head of the German nationalists, other groups declined or were absorbed.

Despite these strengths, the Nazi Party might never have come to power had it not been for the Great Depression and its effects on Germany. By 1930 the German economy was beset with mass unemployment and widespread business failures. The Social Democrats and Communists were bitterly divided and unable to formulate an effective solution: this gave the Nazis their opportunity, and Hitler's message, blaming the crisis on the Jewish financiers and the Bolsheviks, resonated with wide sections of the electorate. At the September 1930 Reichstag elections, the Nazis won 18.3% of the votes and became the second-largest party in the Reichstag after the SPD. Hitler proved to be a highly effective campaigner, pioneering the use of radio and aircraft for this purpose. His dismissal of Strasser and his appointment of Goebbels as the party's propaganda chief were major factors. While Strasser had used his position to promote his own leftish version of national socialism, Goebbels was totally loyal to Hitler and worked only to improve Hitler's image.

The 1930 elections changed the German political landscape by weakening the traditional nationalist parties, the DNVP and the DVP, leaving the Nazis as the chief alternative to the discredited SPD and the Zentrum, whose leader, Heinrich Brüning, headed a weak minority government. The inability of the democratic parties to form a united front, the self-imposed isolation of the Communists, and the continued decline of the economy, all played into Hitler's hands. He now came to be seen as de facto leader of the opposition, and donations poured into the Nazi Party's coffers. Some major business figures, such as Fritz Thyssen, were Nazi supporters and gave generously, and some Wall Street figures were allegedly involved, but many other businessmen were suspicious of the extreme nationalist tendencies of the Nazis and preferred to support the traditional conservative parties instead.

During 1931 and into 1932, Germany's political crisis deepened. By now the SA had 400,000 members, and its running street battles with the SPD and Communist paramilitaries (who also fought each other) reduced some German cities to combat zones. Paradoxically, although the Nazis were among the main instigators of this disorder, part of Hitler's appeal to a frightened and demoralised middle class was his promise to restore law and order. Overt antisemitism was played down in official Nazi rhetoric, but was never far from the surface. Germans voted for Hitler primarily because of his promises to revive the economy (by unspecified means), to restore German greatness and to save Germany from communism.

On 20 July 1932, the Prussian government was ousted by a coup, the Preussenschlag, and a few days later at the July 1932 Reichstag election the Nazis made another leap forward, polling 37.4% and becoming the largest party in parliament by a wide margin. Furthermore, the Nazis and the Communists between them won 52% of the vote and a majority of seats. Since both parties opposed the established political system, and neither would join or support any ministry, this made the formation of a majority government impossible. The result was weak ministries governing by decree. Under Comintern directives, the Communists maintained their policy of treating the SPD as the main enemy, calling them "social fascists", thereby splintering opposition to the Nazis. Later, both the SPD and the Communists accused each other of having facilitated Hitler's rise to power by their unwillingness to compromise.

Chancellor Franz von Papen called another Reichstag election in November, hoping to find a way out of this impasse. The electoral result was the same, with the Nazis and the Communists winning 50% of the vote between them and more than half the seats, rendering this Reichstag no more workable than its predecessor. But support for the Nazis had fallen to 33.1%, suggesting that the Nazi surge had passed its peak – possibly because the worst of the Depression had passed, possibly because some middle-class voters had supported Hitler in July as a protest, but had now drawn back from the prospect of actually putting him into power. The Nazis interpreted the result as a warning that they must seize power before their moment passed. Had the other parties united, this could have been prevented, but their shortsightedness made a united front impossible. Papen, his successor Kurt von Schleicher, and the nationalist press magnate Alfred Hugenberg spent December and January in political intrigues that eventually persuaded Kaiser Wilhelm II that it was safe to appoint Hitler as Reich Chancellor, at the head of a cabinet including only a minority of Nazi ministers—which he did on 30 January 1933.

Ascension and consolidationEdit

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1982-159-21A, Nürnberg, Reichsparteitag, Hitler und Röhm

Reichsparteitag (Nuremberg Rally): Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler and SA-leader Ernst Röhm, August 1933.

Hitler in Mein Kampf directly attacked both left-wing and right-wing politics in Germany. However, a majority of scholars identify Nazism in practice as being a far-right form of politics. When asked in an interview whether he and the Nazis were "bourgeois right-wing" as alleged by their opponents, Hitler responded that Nazism was not exclusively for any class, and indicated that it favoured neither the left nor the right, but preserved "pure" elements from both "camps", stating: "From the camp of bourgeois tradition, it takes national resolve, and from the materialism of the Marxist dogma, living, creative Socialism."

The votes that the Nazis received in the 1932 elections established the Nazi Party as the largest parliamentary faction of the German government. Adolf Hitler was appointed as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933.

The Reichstag fire on 27 February 1933 gave Hitler a raison d'état for suppressing his political opponents. The following day, 28 February, he persuaded German Emperor Wilhelm II to issue the Reichstag Fire Decree, which suspended most civil liberties. On 23 March, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act of 1933, which gave the cabinet the right to enact laws without the consent of parliament. In effect, this gave Hitler dictatorial powers. Now possessing virtually absolute power, the Nazis established totalitarian control; they abolished labour unions and other political parties and imprisoned their political opponents, first at wilde Lager, improvised camps, then in concentration camps. Nazism had been established, yet the Reichswehr remained impartial: Nazi power over Germany remained virtual, not absolute.

Federal election resultsEdit
Nazi Party election results
Date Total
votes
Votes,
percentage
Reichstag
seats
Notes
May 1924 1,918,300 6.5 32 Hitler in prison
December 1924 907,300 3.0 14 Hitler released from prison
May 1928 810,100 2.6 12  
September 1930 6,409,600 18.3 107 After the financial crisis
July 1932 13,745,000 37.3 230 After Hitler was candidate for presidency
November 1932 11,737,000 33.1 196  
March 1933 17,277,180 43.9 288 During Hitler's term as Chancellor of Germany

Party symbols Edit