A question about Hitler coming to power.

Ok, in this day and age, we, as a people can pretty much investigate an incoming President or other leader. Most of the time we can tell if that person is a raging psychopath before he/she is elected to office.

Did they not see him (Hitler) and his INSANE ass coming back in the day before he was elected? Was he not investigated or anything? Did people not know he was so racist and antisemitic? I mean, how the hell did a person like him become president, because there is no way in hell we could elect the grand wizard of the KKK in this day and age, right?

My question is a rather simple and vague one, but that’s the point. Enlighten me, Dear SDMB.

And a related question-

Hitler was appointed chancellor by Hindenburg. Was he elected to some other post first?

There was never any secret about what Hitler would do. Mein Kampf wasn’t exactly an unknown book, and as the Nazi Party rose to prominence their tactics weren’t exactly subtle.

That leads to two conclusions, equally horrible:

  1. The German people approved of Hitler’s agenda, or

  2. They didn’t care whether he would follow through or not.

This was not a case of a person pretending to be something he was not and then revealing his true colors after he gained power, this was a (mostly) legitimate exercise of power with the backing of the German people.

Sorry about saying “President”. My mind was still in the USA when I was talking about electing high officials.

Hitler was not overly nuts by the standards of his time and place. (Although he did much to set the standards.) He was largely 'politically correct." A lot of German thought what AH was saying made perfect sense. Many more thought he was better than the alternatives.

He was not a strange outrider, he represented a large segment of his society.

Sort of makes you wonder what beliefs we have the will be later thought barbaric.

There were plenty of Americans that got elected to, at least the level of Governor and Senator, by espousing racist hatred that was little different than Hitler’s.

Hitler did run for German president, but was defeated by Hindenberg.

He was asked to be chancellor because he was the head of the largest party in the Reichstag. The feeling was that once he got into power, he would be controlable since he had the responsibility.

His agenda was extreme, but few understood just how far he was willing to go. Antisemitism was a common phenomenon, even among government leaders. Few thought Hitler would really try to exterminate the Jews, however.

He was an elected member of the Reichstag, and leader of the largest party represented in the Reichstag.

Also remember the German economy was totally in shambles even before the Great Depression. During the Great Depression both Germany and the Soviet Union were going along a lot better than the rest of the world.

If you’re hungry, have no work and no future, a job looks better than an idea.

Eleanor Roosevelt made her feelings well known that the USA would turn to dictators if they could solve the economic woes of the world while the democracies struggled. This feeling greatly helped FDR push through his programs with the threat if we don’t do something, the dictators will look better and better.

After WWI Germany was required to pay fees to the Allies for their war expences. That large drain on their ecconomy was destroying the country. I remember seeing in school seeing pictures of people with wheel barrels of money to buy food. Civil unrest and fighting in the streets were common.

Hitler used violence to gain power. If you opposed him you could find your self on the wrong end of a club. As the partys opposition was shut down the party’s power incrreased. It became a choice between hunger and stability.

Went appointed chancellor because of the “emergency” situation he grabed more power. (some what like the emporior in Star Wars).

The head of the natzi party considered Hitler a pupet that he controlled. On the night of the “Long knifes” Hitler eleminated those who helped him come to power. The SS eliminated most of the storm troopers that eliminated those who spoke against the natiz party.

There are some corrilations that still are going on today.

Dunno if its true, but I’ve heard the Nazi’s weren’t really that unique in the Germany of that time for their “thuggish” tactics, and that the other political parties of the Weimar Republic used violence for similar ends.

I think they were better organized.

But the Weimar government was blind in one eye, to use the phrase coined at the time: Leftist thugs were prosecuted vigorously but right-wing thugs were left alone. The Brownshirts took advantage of this disparity in law enforcement.

I think you’re seriously underestimating the extent to which anti-semitism and racism were accepted as perfectly normal human characterisitics. “Blacks? Of course they are sub-human. Jews? Evil and malicious. Why do you ask? This vulgar Hitler fellow goes a little far, perhaps, but he’s fundamentaly sound.”

That’s a big part of it. Many approved of his general orientation but expected something less extreme – perhaps more like a German Franco.

Not at the time, though. He was chairman of the party but didn’t have a seat in the Reichstag. In Germany the positions of party leader, leader of a party’s faction in parliament and candidate for the executive aren’t and weren’t as closely connected as in the Westminster system.
Hitler also wasn’t a citizen until 1932* and that means that besides his failed run for president there wasn’t any real chance to be elected.

(* Actually the history of his naturalization was a bit of a mess, but that’s the generally accepted date.)

Never underestimate the power of people to fool themselves when their perceived prosperity is at stake. Besides the already rampant antisemitism mentioned above I think Hitler was a case of the slow-boiling pot. Early on he was a garden variety racist who continued to escalate the atrocities until it reached the Final Solution.

Huey Long set up an elected fascist dictatorship in Louisiana and was wildly popular with the masses until the day he was assassinated.

Read a biography of him and you will forever give up any notion that it couldn’t happen in America. Fraud, violence, corruption, punishment of enemies and rewards of friends. It’s the same pattern.

The only thing left out was virulent racism. That wasn’t Long’s style. However, you could find governors and senators of the southern states who said and did things that are utterly beyond belief today, yet kept being re-elected to office. All you need is a scapegoat. Hitler has many, Communists, gypsies, and gays in addition to the Jews. If you can find a scapegoat to blame the shortcomings of your rule on, the rest is easy.

The part in the OP about “this day and age” says everything. Hitler didn’t come to power in this day and age. Neither did Long. They couldn’t today in most western countries. But there are plenty of countries in the world today which harbor societies no different than we were in the 1930s, and the election of what we consider to be madmen continues to occur annually because life for the mases continues to be horrible for millions. That’s all that is necessary. Nothing mysterious about it.


I’m fairly sure that Hitler himself was never elected to the Reichstag. Göring was elected to it in 1928 and acted as the party leader therein thereafter in his stead.


Not just in the South. The Klan, America’s Brownshirts, were very active in Indiana and held a good bit of power all around the country immediately before World War II. Both America and Britian had quite explicit fascist organizations (the German American Bund in America and Mosely’s Blackshirts (formally, the British Union of Fascists) in Britian) attempting to keep us out of the war (or, possibly, to enter it on the Nazis’ side) before we’d both committed to destroying fascism.

You can still see this today. Venezuela, the USA, Bolivia, and only a statistical anomaly saved Mexico a couple of years ago. (Canada must be doing well; they recently reformed a government that’s decidedly not populist in nature!)