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Adolf Hitler

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Adolf Hitler

Hitler in 1937 Fhrer of Germany In office 2 August 1934 30 April 1945 Paul von Hindenburg Preceded by (as President) Karl Dnitz Succeeded by (as President) Chancellor of Germany In office 30 January 1933 30 April 1945 Paul von Hindenburg President Franz von Papen Position vacant Deputy Preceded by Kurt von Schleicher

Succeeded by Joseph Goebbels Reichsstatthalter of Prussia In office 30 January 1933 30 January 1935 Franz von Papen Hermann Gring Prime Minister Preceded by Succeeded by Born Died Office created Office abolished Personal details 20 April 1889 Braunau am Inn, AustriaHungary 30 April 1945 (aged 56) Berlin, Germany Austrian citizen until 7 April 1925[1] German citizen after 25 February 1932


National Socialist German Workers' Party (19211945) Other political German Workers' Party (1920 1921) affiliations Eva Braun Spouse(s) (2930 April 1945) Politician, soldier, artist, writer Occupation See Adolf Hitler's religious views Religion Political party Signature Military service German Empire Reichsheer 19141918 Gefreiter 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment World War I Iron Cross First Class Iron Cross Second Class

Allegiance Service/branch Years of service Rank Unit Battles/wars Awards

Wound Badge

Adolf Hitler (German: [adlf htl] ( listen); 20 April 1889 30 April 1945) was an Austrianborn German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP), commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and dictator of Nazi Germany (as Fhrer und Reichskanzler) from 1934 to 1945. Hitler is commonly associated with the rise of fascism in Europe, World War II, and the Holocaust. A decorated veteran of World War I, Hitler joined the German Workers' Party, precursor of the Nazi Party, in 1919, and became leader of the NSDAP in 1921. In 1923, he attempted a coup d'tat, known as the Beer Hall Putsch, in Munich. The failed coup resulted in Hitler's imprisonment, during which time he wrote his memoir, Mein Kampf (My Struggle). After his release in 1924, Hitler gained popular support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and promoting Pan-Germanism, antisemitism, and anticommunism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda. After his appointment as chancellor in 1933, he transformed the Weimar Republic into the Third Reich, a single-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of Nazism. His aim was to establish a New Order of absolute Nazi German hegemony in continental Europe. Hitler's foreign and domestic policies had the goal of seizing Lebensraum ("living space") for the Germanic people. He directed the rearmament of Germany and the invasion of Poland by the Wehrmacht in September 1939, leading to the outbreak of World War II in Europe. Under Hitler's rule, in 1941 German forces and their European allies occupied most of Europe and North Africa. These gains were gradually reversed, and in 1945 the Allied armies defeated the German army. Hitler's supremacist and racially motivated policies resulted in the systematic murder of eleven million people, including nearly six million Jews. In the final days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, Hitler married his long-time mistress, Eva Braun. On 30 April 1945, less than two days later, the two committed suicide to avoid capture by the Red Army, and their corpses were burned.


1 Early years o 1.1 Ancestry o 1.2 Childhood o 1.3 Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich o 1.4 World War I 2 Entry into politics o 2.1 Beer Hall Putsch o 2.2 Rebuilding the NSDAP 3 Rise to power o 3.1 Brning administration

3.2 Appointment as chancellor 3.3 Reichstag fire and March elections 3.4 Day of Potsdam and the Enabling Act 3.5 Removal of remaining limits 4 Third Reich o 4.1 Economy and culture o 4.2 Rearmament and new alliances o 4.3 The Holocaust 5 World War II o 5.1 Early diplomatic successes 5.1.1 Alliance with Japan 5.1.2 Austria and Czechoslovakia o 5.2 Start of World War II o 5.3 Path to defeat o 5.4 Defeat and death 6 Legacy 7 Religious views 8 Health 9 Family 10 Hitler in media 11 See also 12 Footnotes 13 References o 13.1 Sources 14 External links

o o o o

Early years
Hitler's father, Alois Hitler (18371903), was the illegitimate child of Maria Anna Schicklgruber. Alois's birth certificate did not name the father, so the child bore his mother's surname. In 1842 Johann Georg Hiedler married Anna. After she died in 1847 and he in 1856, Alois was brought up in the family of Hiedler's brother Johann Nepomuk Hiedler.[2] It was not until 1876 that Alois was legitimated and the baptismal register changed by a priest before three witnesses.[3] While awaiting trial at Nuremberg in 1945, Nazi official Hans Frank suggested the existence of letters claiming that Alois' mother was employed as a housekeeper for a Jewish family in Graz and that the family's 19-year-old son, Leopold Frankenberger, had fathered Alois.[4] However, no Frankenberger, Jewish or otherwise, was registered in Graz during that period.[5] Historians doubt the claim that Alois' father was Jewish.[6][7] At age 39, Alois assumed the surname "Hitler", also spelled as "Hiedler", "Httler", or "Huettler"; the name was probably regularised to its final spelling by a priest. The origin of the

name is either "one who lives in a hut" (Standard German Htte), "shepherd" (Standard German hten "to guard", English "heed"), or is from the Slavic words Hidlar and Hidlarcek.[8]


Adolf Hitler as an infant (c. 18891890)

Hitler's mother, Klara Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 at the Gasthof zum Pommer, an inn in Ranshofen,[9] a village annexed in 1938 to the municipality of Braunau am Inn, Austria-Hungary. He was the fourth of six children to Alois Hitler and Klara Plzl (18601907). Adolf's older siblings Gustav, Ida, and Otto died in infancy.[10] When Hitler was three, the family moved to Passau, Germany.[11] There he acquired the distinctive lower Bavarian dialect, rather than Austrian German, which marked his speech all of his life.[12][13][14] In 1894 the family relocated to Leonding (near Linz), and in June 1895, Alois retired to a small landholding at Hafeld, near Lambach, where he tried his hand at farming and beekeeping. Adolf attended school in nearby Fischlham. Hitler became fixated on warfare after finding a picture book about the FrancoPrussian War among his father's belongings.[15][16]

The move to Hafeld coincided with the onset of intense father-son conflicts caused by Adolf's refusal to conform to the strict discipline of his school.[17] Alois Hitler's farming efforts at Hafeld ended in failure, and in 1897 the family moved to Lambach. Hitler attended a Catholic school in an 11th-century Benedictine cloister, the pulpit of which bore a stylized swastika symbol on the coat of arms of Theodorich von Hagen, a former abbot.[18] The eight-year-old Hitler took singing lessons, sang in the church choir, and even entertained thoughts of becoming a priest.[19] In 1898 the family returned permanently to Leonding. The death of his younger brother, Edmund, from measles on 2 February 1900 deeply affected Hitler. He changed from being confident and outgoing and an excellent student, to a morose, detached, and sullen boy who constantly fought with his father and teachers.[20] Alois had made a successful career in the customs bureau and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps.[21] Hitler later dramatised an episode from this period when his father took him to visit a customs office, depicting it as an event that gave rise to a unforgiving antagonism between father and son, who were both strong-willed.[22][23][24] Ignoring his son's desire to attend a classical high school and become an artist, in September 1900 Alois sent Adolf to the Realschule in Linz.[25] (This was the same high school that Adolf Eichmann would attend some 17 years later.)[26] Hitler rebelled against this decision, and in Mein Kampf revealed that he did poorly in school, hoping that once his father saw "what little progress I was making at the technical school he would let me devote myself to my dream."[27] Hitler became obsessed with German nationalism from a young age.[28] Hitler expressed loyalty only to Germany, despising the declining Habsburg Monarchy and its rule over an ethnicallyvariegated empire.[29][30] Hitler and his friends used the German greeting "Heil", and sang the German anthem "Deutschland ber Alles" instead of the Austrian Imperial anthem.[31] After Alois' sudden death on 3 January 1903, Hitler's performance at school deteriorated. His mother allowed him to quit in autumn 1905.[32] He enrolled at the Realschule in Steyr in September 1904; his behaviour and performance showed some slight and gradual improvement.[33] In the autumn of 1905, after passing a repeat and the final exam, Hitler left the school without showing any ambitions for further schooling or clear plans for a future career.[34]

Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich

The Alter Hof in Munich. Watercolour by Adolf Hitler, 1914

From 1905, Hitler lived a bohemian life in Vienna, financed by orphan's benefits and support from his mother. He worked as a casual labourer and eventually as a painter, selling watercolours. The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna rejected him twice, in 1907 and 1908, because of his "unfitness for painting". The director recommended that Hitler study architecture,[35] but he lacked the academic credentials.[36] On 21 December 1907, his mother died aged 47. After the Academy's second rejection, Hitler ran out of money. In 1909 he lived in a homeless shelter, and by 1910, he had settled into a house for poor working men on Meldemannstrae.[37] At the time Hitler lived there, Vienna was a hotbed of religious prejudice and 19th-century racism.[38] Fears of being overrun by immigrants from the East were widespread, and the populist mayor, Karl Lueger, exploited the rhetoric of virulent antisemitism for political effect. Georg Schnerer's pan-Germanic antisemitism had a strong following and base in the Mariahilf district, where Hitler lived.[39] Hitler read local newspapers such as the Deutsches Volksblatt, that fanned prejudice and played on Christian fears of being swamped by an influx of eastern Jews.[40] Hostile to what he saw as Catholic "Germanophobia", he developed an admiration for Martin Luther.[41] The origin and first expression of Hitler's antisemitism have been difficult to locate.[42] Hitler states in Mein Kampf that he first became an antisemite in Vienna.[43] Hitler's close friend, August Kubizek, claimed that Hitler was a "confirmed antisemite" before he left Linz.[44] Kubizek's account has been challenged by historian Brigitte Hamann, who writes, "of all those early witnesses who can be taken seriously Kubizek is the only one to portray young Hitler as an antisemite and precisely in this respect he is not trustworthy."[45] Several sources provide strong evidence that Hitler had Jewish friends in his hostel and in other places in Vienna.[46][47] Hamann also notes that no antisemitic remark has been documented from Hitler during this period.[48] Historian Ian Kershaw suggests that if Hitler had made such remarks, they may have gone unnoticed because of the prevailing antisemitism in Vienna at that time.[49] Historian Richard J. Evans states that "historians now generally agree that his notorious, murderous anti-Semitism emerged well after Germanys defeat [in World War I], as a product of the paranoid 'stab-in-theback' explanation for the catastrophe".[50] Hitler received the final part of his father's estate in May 1913 and moved to Munich.[51] Historians believe Hitler left Vienna to evade conscription into the Austrian army.[52] Hitler later claimed that he did not wish to serve the Habsburg state because of the mixture of "races" in its army.[51] After he was deemed unfit for servicehe failed his physical exam in Salzburg on 5 February 1914he returned to Munich.[53]

World War I
Main article: Military career of Adolf Hitler At the outbreak of World War I, Hitler applied to serve in the German army. He was accepted in August 1914, likely as the result of a clerical oversighthe was still an Austrian citizen.[54] Posted to the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 (1st Company of the List Regiment),[55][54] he served as a dispatch runner on the Western Front in France and Belgium,[56] spending nearly half his time well behind the front lines.[57][58] He was present at the First Battle of Ypres, the

Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras, and the Battle of Passchendaele, and was wounded at the Somme.[59]

Hitler with his army comrades of the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 (c. 19141918) He was decorated for bravery, receiving the Iron Cross, Second Class, in 1914.[59] Recommended by Hugo Gutmann, he received the Iron Cross, First Class, on 4 August 1918,[60] a decoration rarely awarded to one of Hitler's rank (Gefreiter). Hitler's post at regimental headquarters, providing frequent interactions with senior officers, may have helped him receive this decoration.[61] Though his rewarded actions may have been courageous, they were probably not highly exceptional.[62] He also received the Black Wound Badge on 18 May 1918.[63]

Adolf Hitler as a soldier during the First World War (19141918) During his service at the headquarters, Hitler pursued his artwork, drawing cartoons and instructions for an army newspaper. During the Battle of the Somme in October 1916, he was wounded either in the groin area[64] or the left thigh by a shell that had exploded in the dispatch runners' dugout.[65] Hitler spent almost two months in the Red Cross hospital at Beelitz, returning to his regiment on 5 March 1917.[66] On 15 October 1918, Hitler was temporarily blinded by a mustard gas attack and was hospitalised in Pasewalk.[67] While there, Hitler learnt of Germany's defeat,[68] andby his own accounton receiving this news, he suffered a second bout of blindness.[69]

Hitler became embittered over the collapse of the war effort, and his ideological development began to firmly take shape.[70] He described the war as "the greatest of all experiences", and was praised by his commanding officers for his bravery.[71] The experience reinforced his passionate German patriotism and he was shocked by Germany's capitulation in November 1918.[72] Like other German nationalists, he believed in the Dolchstolegende (Stab-in-the-back legend), which claimed that the German army, "undefeated in the field," had been "stabbed in the back" on the home front by civilian leaders and Marxists, later dubbed the "November criminals".[73] The Treaty of Versailles stipulated that Germany must relinquish several of its territories and demilitarise the Rhineland. The treaty imposed economic sanctions and levied heavy reparations on the country. Many Germans perceived the treatyespecially Article 231, which declared Germany responsible for the waras a humiliation.[74] The Versailles Treaty and the economic, social, and political conditions in Germany after the war were later exploited by Hitler for political gains.[75]

Entry into politics

Main article: Adolf Hitler's political views After World War I Hitler returned to Munich.[76] Having no formal education and career plans or prospects, he tried to remain in the army for as long as possible.[77] In July 1919 he was appointed Verbindungsmann (intelligence agent) of an Aufklrungskommando (reconnaissance commando) of the Reichswehr, to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate the German Workers' Party (DAP). While monitoring the activities of the DAP, Hitler became attracted to the founder Anton Drexler's antisemitic, nationalist, anti-capitalist, and anti-Marxist ideas.[78] Drexler favoured a strong active government, a "non-Jewish" version of socialism, and solidarity among all members of society. Impressed with Hitler's oratory skills, Drexler invited him to join the DAP. Hitler accepted on 12 September 1919,[79] becoming the party's 55th member.[80]

A copy of Adolf Hitler's German Workers' Party (DAP) membership card At the DAP, Hitler met Dietrich Eckart, one of its early founders and a member of the occult Thule Society.[81] Eckart became Hitler's mentor, exchanging ideas with him and introducing him to a wide range of people in Munich society.[82] To increase its appeal, the DAP changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party NSDAP).[83] Hitler designed the party's banner of a swastika in a white circle on a red background.[84]

Hitler was discharged from the army in March 1920 and began working full time for the NSDAP. In February 1921already highly effective at speaking to large audienceshe spoke to a crowd of over 6,000 in Munich.[85] To publicise the meeting, two truckloads of party supporters drove around town waving swastika flags and throwing leaflets. Hitler soon gained notoriety for his rowdy, polemic speeches against the Treaty of Versailles, rival politicians, and especially against Marxists and Jews.[86] At the time, the NSDAP was centred in Munich, a major hotbed of anti-government German nationalists determined to crush Marxism and undermine the Weimar Republic.[87] In June 1921, while Hitler and Eckart were on a fundraising trip to Berlin, a mutiny broke out within the NSDAP in Munich. Members of the its executive committee, some of whom considered Hitler to be too overbearing, wanted to merge with the rival German Socialist Party (DSP).[88] Hitler returned to Munich on 11 July 1921 and angrily tendered his resignation. The committee members realised that his resignation would mean the end of the party.[89] Hitler announced he would rejoin on the condition that he would replace Drexler as party chairman, and that the party headquarters would remain in Munich.[90] The committee agreed; he rejoined the party as member 3,680. He still faced some opposition within the NSDAP: Hermann Esser and his allies printed 3,000 copies of a pamphlet attacking Hitler as a traitor to the party.[90][a] In the following days, Hitler spoke to several packed houses and defended himself, to thunderous applause. His strategy proved successful: at a general membership meeting, he was granted absolute powers as party chairman, with only one nay vote cast.[91] Hitler's vitriolic beer hall speeches began attracting regular audiences. He became adept at using populist themes targeted at his audience, including the use of scapegoats who could be blamed for the economic hardships of his listeners.[92][93][94] Historians have noted the hypnotic effect of his rhetoric on large audiences, and of his eyes in small groups. Kessel writes, "Overwhelmingly ... Germans speak with mystification of Hitler's 'hypnotic' appeal. The word shows up again and again; Hitler is said to have mesmerized the nation, captured them in a trance from which they could not break loose."[95] Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper described "the fascination of those eyes, which had bewitched so many seemingly sober men."[96] He used his personal magnetism and an understanding of crowd psychology to his advantage while engaged in public speaking.[97][98] Alfons Heck, a former member of the Hitler Youth, describes the reaction to a speech by Hitler: "We erupted into a frenzy of nationalistic pride that bordered on hysteria. For minutes on end, we shouted at the top of our lungs, with tears streaming down our faces: Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil! From that moment on, I belonged to Adolf Hitler body and soul".[99] Although his oratory skills and personal traits were generally received well by large crowds and at official events, some who had met Hitler privately noted that his appearance and demeanour failed to make a lasting impression on them.[100][101] Early followers included Rudolf Hess, former air force pilot Hermann Gring, and army captain Ernst Rhm. The latter became head of the Nazis' paramilitary organisation, the Sturmabteilung (SA, "Stormtroopers"), which protected meetings and frequently attacked political opponents. A critical influence on his thinking during this period was the Aufbau Vereinigung,[102] a conspiratorial group formed of White Russian exiles and early National Socialists. The group, financed with funds channelled from wealthy industrialists like Henry Ford, introduced him to the idea of a Jewish conspiracy, linking international finance with Bolshevism.[103]

Beer Hall Putsch

Main article: Beer Hall Putsch

Drawing of Hitler (30 October 1923) Hitler enlisted the help of World War I General Erich Ludendorff for an attempted coup known as the "Beer Hall Putsch" (also known as the "Hitler Putsch" or "Munich Putsch"). The Nazi Party had used Italian Fascism as a model for their appearance and policies. Hitler wanted to emulate Benito Mussolini's "March on Rome" (1922) by staging his own coup in Bavaria, to be followed by challenging the government in Berlin. Hitler and Ludendorff sought the support of Staatskommissar (state commissioner) Gustav von Kahr, Bavaria's de facto ruler. However, Kahr, along with Police Chief Hans Ritter von Seisser (Seier) and Reichswehr General Otto von Lossow, wanted to install a nationalist dictatorship without Hitler.[104] Hitler wanted to seize a critical moment for successful popular agitation and support.[105] On 8 November 1923 he and the SA stormed a public meeting of 3,000 people that had been organised by Kahr in the Brgerbrukeller, a large beer hall in Munich. Hitler interrupted Kahr's speech and announced that the national revolution had begun, declaring the formation of a new government with Ludendorff.[106] Retiring to a backroom, Hitler, with handgun drawn, demanded and got the support of Kahr, Seisser, and Lossow.[106] Hitler's forces initially succeeded in occupying the local Reichswehr and police headquarters; however, Kahr and his consorts quickly withdrew their support and neither the army nor the state police joined forces with him.[107] The next day, Hitler and his followers marched from the beer hall to the Bavarian War Ministry to overthrow the Bavarian government, but police dispersed them.[108] Sixteen NSDAP members and four police officers were killed in the failed coup.[109] Hitler fled to the home of Ernst Hanfstaengl, and by some accounts contemplated suicide.[110] He was depressed but calm when arrested on 11 November 1923 for high treason.[111] His trial began in February 1924 before the special People's Court in Munich,[112] and Alfred Rosenberg became temporary leader of the NSDAP. On 1 April Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment at

Landsberg Prison.[113] He received friendly treatment from the guards; he was allowed mail from supporters and regular visits by party comrades. The Bavarian Supreme Court issued a pardon and he was released from jail on 20 December 1924, against the state prosecutor's objections.[114] Including time on remand, Hitler had served just over one year in prison.[115]

Dust jacket of Mein Kampf (19261927) While at Landsberg, Hitler dictated most of the first volume of Mein Kampf (My Struggle; originally entitled Four and a Half Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice) to his deputy, Rudolf Hess.[115] The book, dedicated to Thule Society member Dietrich Eckart, was an autobiography and an exposition of his ideology. Mein Kampf was influenced by The Passing of the Great Race by Madison Grant, which Hitler called "my Bible".[116] The book laid out Hitler's plans for transforming German society into one based on race. Some passages implied genocide.[117] Published in two volumes in 1925 and 1926, it sold 228,000 copies between 1925 and 1932. One million copies were sold in 1933, Hitler's first year in office. [118]

Rebuilding the NSDAP

Hitler (left), standing behind Hermann Gring at a Nazi rally in Nuremberg (c. 1928)

At the time of Hitler's release from prison, politics in Germany had become less combative, and the economy had improved. This limited Hitler's opportunities for political agitation. As a result of the failed Beer Hall Putsch, the NSDAP and its affiliated organisations were banned in Bavaria. In a meeting with Prime Minister of Bavaria Heinrich Held on 4 January 1925, Hitler agreed to respect the authority of the state: he would only seek political power through the democratic process. The meeting paved the way for the ban on the NSDAP to be lifted.[119] However, Hitler was barred from public speaking, [120] a ban that remained in place until 1927.[121] To advance his political ambitions in spite of the ban, Hitler appointed Gregor Strasser, Otto Strasser, and Joseph Goebbels to organise and grow the NSDAP in northern Germany. A superb organiser, Gregor Strasser steered a more independent political course, emphasising the socialist element of the party's programme.[122] Hitler ruled the NSDAP autocratically by asserting the Fhrerprinzip ("Leader principle"). Rank in the party was not determined by electionspositions were filled through appointment by those of higher rank, who demanded unquestioning obedience to the will of the leader.[123] The stock market in the United States crashed on 24 October 1929. The impact in Germany was dire: millions were thrown out of work and several major banks collapsed. Hitler and the NSDAP prepared to take advantage of the emergency to gain support for their party. They promised to repudiate the Versailles Treaty, strengthen the economy, and provide jobs.[124]

Rise to power
Main article: Adolf Hitler's rise to power Nazi Party election results[125] Total Votes, Reichstag Date Notes votes percentage seats 1,918,300 6.5 32 Hitler in prison May 1924 907,300 3.0 14 Hitler released from prison December 1924 810,100 2.6 12 May 1928 September 6,409,600 18.3 107 After the financial crisis 1930 13,745,000 37.3 230 After Hitler was candidate for presidency July 1932 33.1 196 November 1932 11,737,000 During Hitler's term as chancellor of 43.9 288 March 1933 17,277,180 Germany

Brning administration

Hitler and NSDAP treasurer Franz Xaver Schwarz at the dedication of the renovation of the Palais Barlow on Brienner Strae in Munich into the Brown House headquarters, December 1930 The Great Depression in Germany provided a political opportunity for Hitler. Germans were ambivalent to the parliamentary republic, which faced strong challenges from right- and leftwing extremists. The moderate political parties were increasingly unable to stem the tide of extremism, and the German referendum of 1929 had helped to elevate Nazi ideology.[126] The elections of September 1930 resulted in the break-up of a grand coalition and its replacement with a minority cabinet. Its leader, chancellor Heinrich Brning of the Centre Party, governed through emergency decrees from the president, Paul von Hindenburg. Governance by decree would become the new norm and paved the way for authoritarian forms of government.[127] The NSDAP rose from obscurity to win 18.3% of the vote and 107 parliamentary seats in the 1930 election, becoming the second-largest party in parliament.[128] Hitler made a prominent appearance at the trial of two Reichswehr officers, Lieutenants Richard Scheringer and Hans Ludin, in the autumn of 1930. Both were charged with membership in the NSDAP, at that time illegal for Reichswehr personnel.[129] The prosecution argued that the NSDAP was an extremist party, prompting defence lawyer Hans Frank to call on Hitler to testify in court.[130] On 25 September 1930 Hitler testified that his party would pursue political power solely through democratic elections,[131] a testimony that won him many supporters in the officer corps.[132] Brning's austerity measures brought little economic improvement and were extremely unpopular.[133] Hitler exploited this by targeting his political messages specifically at people who had been affected by the inflation of the 1920s and the Depression, such as farmers, war veterans, and the middle class.[134] Hitler had formally renounced his Austrian citizenship on 7 April 1925, but at the time did not acquire German citizenship. For almost seven years Hitler was stateless, unable to run for public office, and faced the risk of deportation.[135] On 25 February 1932 the interior minister of Brunswick, who was a member of the NSDAP, appointed Hitler as administrator for the state's delegation to the Reichsrat in Berlin, making Hitler a citizen of Brunswick,[136] and thus of Germany.[137] In 1932 Hitler ran against von Hindenburg in the presidential elections. The viability of his candidacy was underscored by a 27 January 1932 speech to the Industry Club in Dsseldorf,

which won him support from many of Germany's most powerful industrialists.[138] However, Hindenburg had support from various nationalist, monarchist, Catholic, and republican parties, and some social democrats. Hitler used the campaign slogan "Hitler ber Deutschland" ("Hitler over Germany"), a reference to both his political ambitions and to his campaigning by aircraft.[139] Hitler came in second in both rounds of the election, garnering more than 35% of the vote in the final election. Although he lost to Hindenburg, this election established Hitler as a strong force in German politics.[140]

Appointment as chancellor
The absence of an effective government prompted two influential politicians, Franz von Papen and Alfred Hugenberg, along with several other industrialists and businessmen, to write a letter to von Hindenburg. The signers urged Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as leader of a government "independent from parliamentary parties", which could turn into a movement that would "enrapture millions of people".[141][142]

Hitler, at the window of the Reich Chancellery, receives an ovation on the evening of his inauguration as chancellor, 30 January 1933 Hindenburg reluctantly agreed to appoint Hitler as chancellor after two further parliamentary electionsin July and November 1932had not resulted in the formation of a majority government. Hitler was to head a short-lived coalition government formed by the NSDAP and Hugenberg's party, the German National People's Party (DNVP). On 30 January 1933 the new cabinet was sworn in during a brief and simple ceremony in Hindenburg's office. The NSDAP held three of the eleven posts: Hitler was named chancellor, Hermann Gring was named minister without portfolio, and Wilhelm Frick was appointed minister of the interior.[143]

Reichstag fire and March elections

As chancellor, Hitler worked against attempts by the NSDAP's opponents to build a majority government. Because of the political stalemate, he asked President Hindenburg to again dissolve the Reichstag, and elections were scheduled for early March. On 27 February 1933, the Reichstag building was set on fire. Gring blamed a communist plot, because Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe was found in incriminating circumstances inside the burning building.[144] At Hitler's urging, Hindenburg responded with the Reichstag Fire Decree of 28 February, which suspended basic rights and allowed detention without trial. Activities of the

German Communist Party were suppressed, and some 4,000 communist party members were arrested.[145] Researchers, including William L. Shirer and Alan Bullock, are of the opinion that the NSDAP itself was responsible for starting the fire.[146][147] In addition to political campaigning, the NSDAP engaged in paramilitary violence and the spread of anti-communist propaganda in the days preceding the election. On election day, 6 March 1933, the NSDAP's share of the vote increased to 43.9%, and the party acquired the largest number of seats in parliament. However, Hitler's party failed to secure an absolute majority, necessitating another coalition with the DNVP.[148]

Day of Potsdam and the Enabling Act

On 21 March 1933 the new Reichstag was constituted with an opening ceremony at the Garrison Church in Potsdam. This "Day of Potsdam" was held to demonstrate unity between the Nazi movement and the old Prussian elite and military. Hitler appeared in a morning coat and humbly greeted President von Hindenburg.[149][150]

Paul von Hindenburg and Adolf Hitler on the Day of Potsdam, 21 March 1933 To achieve full political control despite not having an absolute majority in parliament, Hitler's government brought the Ermchtigungsgesetz (Enabling Act) to a vote in the newly elected Reichstag. The act gave Hitler's cabinet full legislative powers for a period of four years and (with certain exceptions) allowed deviations from the constitution.[151] The bill required a twothirds majority to pass. Leaving nothing to chance, the Nazis used the provisions of the Reichstag Fire Decree to keep several Social Democratic deputies from attending; the Communists had already been banned.[152] On 23 March, the Reichstag assembled at the Kroll Opera House under turbulent circumstances. Ranks of SA men served as guards inside the building, while large groups outside opposing the proposed legislation shouted slogans and threats toward the arriving members of parliament.[153] The position of the Centre Party, the third largest party in the Reichstag, turned out to be decisive. After Hitler verbally promised party leader Ludwig Kaas that President von Hindenburg would retain his power of veto, Kaas announced the Centre Party would support the Enabling Act. Ultimately, the Enabling Act passed by a vote of 44184, with all parties except the Social Democrats voting in favour. The Enabling Act, along with the Reichstag Fire Decree, transformed Hitler's government into a de facto legal dictatorship.[154]