Reasons for the growth in support of the Nazi Party

In 1928, the Nazis had only 12 seats in the Reichstag; by July 1932 they had 230 seats and were the largest party.

Representation of Nazi seat growth, with 12 seats -1928 and 230 seats -1932

The appeal of Hitler and the Nazis

Three factors that helped the Nazi rise to power: The role of the SA, The Appeal of Hitler and Propaganda

The Nazis continued to put forward their 25-Point Programme agreed in the early 1920s and thus had broader social and geographical appeal than the communists, who only really appealed to the industrial workers in Germany’s cities. Support came from:

  • wealthy businessmen: frightened by the increase in support for the communists, they began to finance Hitler and the Nazis
  • the middle-class: alarmed by the obvious failure of democracy, they decided that the country needed a strong government and gave their votes to Hitler
  • nationalists: they blamed the legacy of the Treaty of Versailles and reparations for causing the depression and so lent their support to the Nazis
  • rural areas: Nazi support was particularly strong amongst both middle class shopkeepers and artisans, farmers and agricultural labourers

The effects of propaganda

Photo of Joesph Goebbells

Nazi propaganda was controlled by Joseph Goebbels and had three mains themes:

  • The Führer cult. Hitler was always portrayed as Germany’s saviour – the man who would rescue the country from the grip of depression.
  • Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community). This was the idea that the Nazis would create one German community that would make religion or social class less relevant to people.
  • Scapegoating the Jews (and others) for Germany’s ills. Jews were often portrayed as sub-human, or as a threat to both the racial purity and economic future of the country.

Hitler was a great speaker with an extraordinary power to win people over. Goebbels' propaganda campaign was very effective and brought huge support for the Nazis by targeting specific groups of society with different slogans and policies to win their support.

The work of the SA

Photo of Hitler and other SA leaders at a rally in Germany, circa 1934.

The SA played a part in the Nazis’ increasing popularity by:

  • intimidating the Nazis’ political opponents – especially the communists – by turning up at their meetings and attacking them
  • providing opportunities for young, unemployed men to become involved in the party
  • protecting Hitler and other key Nazis when they organised meetings and made speeches

Attacking the Treaty of Versailles

The Nazis had consistently attacked the Treaty, calling it a Diktat that had been imposed on the German people, not only by the victorious Allies, but also by the new Weimar government who had signed it. Hitler promised to discard the restrictions of the Treaty and restore Germany’s armed forces and its position of strength and pride in international affairs. Hitler also promised to ignore the payment of reparations.