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The era of National Socialism

Hitler did not come to power on the back of a major election victory but he would not have become Reich Chancellor in January 1933 had he not been the leader of the strongest party. At the last Weimar Republic Reichstag elections on November 6, 1932 the National Socialists had lost two million votes compared with the July 31, 1932 elections, while the Communists gained 600,000 thereby reaching the magic number of 100 Reichstag seats. The success of the Communist Party (KPD) whipped up fears of civil war, and it was this fear that was to become Hitler’s most powerful ally, particularly among the powerful Conservative elite. It was their recommendation to Hindenburg that Hitler had to thank for the fact that on January 30, 1933 the Reich President appointed him to the position of Reich Chancellor at the head of a predominantly conservative cabinet. Terror against anyone who dissented was not a sufficient means to hold on to power during the 12 years of the Third Reich. Hitler was able to beat unemployment within a matter of years primarily through a rearmaments program, thereby winning the support of large sections of the working classes. As a result of the ruthless exploitation of workers and natural resources in the occupied territories he had been able to spare the German masses the hardships they had had to endure after the First World War (The First World War), ensuring that he could count on their support even during the Second World War. The major successes in foreign policy during the pre-War years, headed by the re-occupation of the de-militarized Rhineland in March 1936 and the Austrian “Anschluss” in March 1938 meant that Hitler’s popularity was to reach record levels in all classes of society.

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