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NSDAP – Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (Weimar Germany #AtoZChallenge)

Because of its prominence in the European history of the XX century, it’s tempting to consider the Nazionalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeitpartei (German National Socialist Workers Party) more powerful then all the other right-wing movements of its time. In fact, it was a very small, mostly regional, not very influential party for most of the Weimar history. What really singled it out from all the other similar movements was its leader: Adolf Hitler.

The republic time saw the birth of a myriad of political entities with right inclinations, both parties and movements. In 1920 alone at least 74 of these parties could be counted on the political scene and among them the NSDAP (with a different name at the time), which had been founded on 5 January 1919 in Munich.
All these groups considered themselves revolutionary because they hated everything about the old regime, but they actually had many things in common with the reactionary forces, including most keywords: order, discipline, people, nation, antisocialism and anti-Semitism. They also had ideas in common with the bourgeoisie, notably the domination of the masses by the elites and the technocratic optimization of both society and state. To some extent, they even have points of contact with the Left since they advocated equality for all German citizens and the protection of the workers.

Adolf Hitler

Hitler, who joined the NSDAP in 1920, didn’t say anything different from what all others of these parties said, but after he became chairman in 1921, what made the difference for the party was his great oratorical talent and his passion. The movement’s strong military feel, its uniforms and the military parades, its willingness to use street violence as a means of assertion, attracted many who, like Hitler himself, were war veterans and who often had been members of the violent Freikorps in the first years of the republic. In the same 1921, Hitler formed his own paramilitary force, the Sturmabteilung (Strumtruppen) and in 1923 he tried to take the government of Bavaria with a coup – The Kapp Putsch.

But the putsch failed, and Hitler was arrested. He did face the death penalty for treason, but he had many friends among the Bavarian politicians and police, as well as in the powerful Reichswehr and they protected him. His trial became an opportunity for the movement. Hitler’s passionate political diatribe in the courtroom received significant coverage, and this helped to get the movement out of its regional environment and acquire a more national profile.

"The NSDAP wasn't very different from so many other right-wing parties of the Weimar Republic. What really singled it out was its leader, Adolf Hitler #History #Germany #WWI #WWII Share on X

When Hitler was released in 1924, he immediately realised the climate of the nation had changed entirely. The economic and political situation had stabilised, and people were far less likely to listen to old revolutionary formulas. He decided then to renovate the party. He changed the name to NSDAP (choosing every element of the name very carefully so that it would promote the party’s popularity) and upgraded its agenda. No more would they try to acquire control through a revolution, but they would win seats in the Reichstag and seize power from within the parliamentary system.

The great opportunity came in 1929 with the economic crises. After the Wall Street Crash, the US recalled all their capitals from Europe. Germany had been surviving the many economic crises, and the reparations cost mostly through the Dawes Plan. When that help ceased, it was a national disaster.

In those difficult circumstances, capitalists took notice of the Nazi’s rhetoric against the usual enemies: the Treaty of Versailles, the Jews, the incapable republican regime. The republic seemed unable to solve this most recent, most devastating crises, but Hitler’s passionate oratory made them believe the Nazi may be able to. So, alongside so many working and middle-class people desperate for a solution, the capitalistic powers of Germany started supporting the Nazi party, who gladly accepted their financial support behind closed doors while carrying on the usual populist policy in the open.

In the election of 1930, the NSDAP had a huge success, becoming the second biggest party in Germany, but when Hitler demanded the Chancellorship, he was denied. Enraged, he abandoned his carefully built public persona and burst out in a violent tirade. It cost the NSDAP the following election. Scared by Hitler’s illiberal outburst, German voters turned to the Communists. But Hitler once again played his cards shrewdly. He used the Communists’ result to spread the old fear of a Bolshevik conquest of Germany. The industrialists were the most scared by this possibility, and they lobbied because Hitler be made Chancellor. Although his reluctances, president Paul von Hindenburg finally used the constitutional provision which allowed him to jump the parliament and decided by himself.

At age forty-three, Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.


Alpha History – Why the Weimar Republic failed
Alpha History – Rise of the NSDAP
Alpha History – The National Socialists (NSDAP)
International Socialism – Divided they Fell: The German Left and the Rise of Hitler
Jewish Virtual Library – The Nazi Party: Background and Overview
John D. Clare – Who voted for the Nazis? (electoral history of the National Socialist German Workers Party)
Reviews in History – The German Right in the Weimar Republic

Walter Laqueur, Weimar, A Cultural History 1918-1933. Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd. London, 1971
Gunther Mai, Die Weimarer Republik, C.H. Beck Verlag, Munchen, 2009

Weimar Germany - NSDAP (AtoZChallenge 2018) The NSDAP (The Nazi Party) was a very small, mostly regional, not very influent party for most of the Weimar history. What really singled it out from all the other similar movements was its leader: Adolf Hitler.


  • Birgit
    Posted April 16, 2018 at 05:48

    It was just a whole series of issues/problems that had Hitler come to power. My grandfather would talk,he was a working class man and he said Hitler knew what he was doing because for the first time, the working class could own a car, the Volkswagen, he allowed the average kid the ability to go to school and invented Kindergarten and he thought up the Autobahn. He said that was how he convinced the people to vote for him and he and Oma were scared. It is so sad and so sickening

    • Post Author
      Posted April 16, 2018 at 09:25

      That was certainly part of his winning stategy. I don’t think it was the only reason why he gathered so much power, but it was certainly a big part with regards to the working class.
      Here in Italy, Fascism did the same thing, and I suppose all totalitarian regimes in Europe acted the same way. They gave to people what they wanted and told them what they wanted to hear.
      And honestly, I think this is the reason why today, when a party tell us exactly what we want to hear, we should be extra careful.

      • Birgit
        Posted April 17, 2018 at 22:44

        Oh gosh…I agree with everything you say and considering what is happening in the States and now, in Ontario, Canada…see Doug Ford..I am worried

  • Anabel Marsh
    Posted April 16, 2018 at 13:58

    How interesting. I wonder how different history would have been if Hitler had been executed in 1923.

    • Post Author
      Posted April 16, 2018 at 18:29

      I wonder it too. Because his personality sure allowed him to guide history in the direction it did. But it’s also ture that he could do it because the circumstances where right for it.

  • Tarkabarka
    Posted April 16, 2018 at 18:21

    Way too close to home, right about now…

    The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales

  • Kristin
    Posted April 16, 2018 at 20:05

    I agree, too close. Well, on this depressing note, I guess I will go finish up my “O” post.

  • Hilary
    Posted April 16, 2018 at 20:20

    Hi Sarah – this is such an interesting series … and oh yes if Hitler had been put to death; but history has its way … as we are finding out – but you are doing such a great job here – cheers Hilary

    • Post Author
      Posted April 17, 2018 at 14:15

      Thanks, Hilary.
      That’s actually what I think, history has its ways. We may spculate ‘what its’, but there is always a reason why things went as they did. That’s my feeling, anyway.

  • Margot Kinberg
    Posted April 16, 2018 at 23:10

    It’s so very fascinating – and troubling at the same time! – how one person with charisma can have so much influence. There were, of course, a host of factors that influenced the party’s rise to power. But it’s also disturbing to think of the influence that that one particular person had.

    • Post Author
      Posted April 17, 2018 at 14:18

      It can’t be denied. There were so many parties/movements similar to the NSDAP in the Weimar Republic, all saying the same things. But Hitler was much more convinsing.
      Then again, he certainly had the characteristics, but he also found very favorable circumtances.

  • Karen
    Posted April 16, 2018 at 23:46

    Scary to think how something that started so small grew into something so large and terrible.

  • Debs
    Posted April 19, 2018 at 10:03

    Growing up, I recall that being described as charming was a positive thing. Now it’s more often seen as manipulative behaviour. Charisma seems to be heading that same way. Once viewed as a golden quality, now considered hypnotic – and in a negative, manipulative manner. Interesting reading as always Sarah.

    A-Zing this year at:
    Normally found at:

    • Post Author
      Posted April 19, 2018 at 11:38

      I’ve never noticed that Charisma is taking up any negative notes. But I do know that once it was most only used as a positive characteristic. Now it’s more neutral.

  • Nancy Hill
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 00:58

    So topical. So troubling. No concentrated power will ever look out for the people. Why can’t people understand this.

    • Post Author
      Posted May 4, 2018 at 08:51

      True, eh? We always think that this time it will be different.

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