The Nazi Rise to Power Explained

The Nazi rise to power can not be attributed to a single person, event or factor. It was a product of several contingencies. A key theme would be that the Nazis, and Adolf Hitler in particular, effectively exploited deep social issues with radical solutions.

The collapse of the German economy in 1929, a product of the Wall Street Crash, led to a polarization of German politics, with both extreme left and right wing parties gaining votes in elections. By 1933, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party was the largest party in Germany.

Graph denotes rise of Nazi party as % share of votes (four main parties) May 1928 – March 1933:

The National Socialist program of extensive state intervention and assertive military actions resonated with a disenchanted, fatigued population. Hitler was an exceptional megaphone for this rhetoric, commanding huge audiences. This, combined with the ruthless suppression of all opposition, facilitated a rapid ascent to power.


Hitler did not relent once he became Fuhrer. He continued to target and eliminate any political opponents, but soon turned his gaze outward to the vulnerable young states around Germany. His justification was the Treaty of Versailles, the source he claimed of Germany’s ills. The European Power’s policy of appeasement would enable Germany to grow rapidly and threaten to take control of all of Europe, and possibly further.

Below is a comprehensive timeline of Hitler’s rise to power that should embellish this brief explanation:

Alex Browne studied History at Kings College London and is an Assistant Editor at Made From History. He specializes in post-war history in the USA and Central America.