How Hitler became Chancellor, 1932-33

The chain of events that led to Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor on 30 January 1933 is a complicated one.

Chancellors in this period were normally weak because proportional representation made it hard for political parties to gain a majority of seats meaning the Chancellor found it difficult to control the Reichstag. By 1932 President Hindenburg had to use Article 48 to pass almost every law.

It was against this backdrop that the events of 1932 ad 1933 unfolded.

Major events leading to Hitler becoming Chancellor


April – Presidential election. Hitler came second to Hindenburg, who won 53 per cent of the vote to Hitler’s 36.8 per cent.

May – Brüning resigned as Chancellor. Hindenburg appointed Franz Von Papen, a conservative, as his replacement.

July – Reichstag elections. The Nazis became the largest party with 230 seats. Hitler demanded to be made Chancellor but Papen remained.

November – Reichstag elections called by Von Papen to try to win a majority in parliament. Nazis lost 34 seats but remained the largest party with 196 seats.

December – Von Papen resigned. Hindenburg appointed Kurt Von Schleicher, an army general, as Chancellor. Von Schleicher tried to split the Nazis by asking a leading Nazi called Gregor Strasser to be his Vice Chancellor. Hitler forced Strasser to decline.


January – Von Papen and Hindenburg turned to Hitler, appointing him as Chancellor with Von Papen as Vice Chancellor. They believed they could control Hitler and get him to do what they wanted.

Hitler's speech as Chancellor of Germany

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