The Rise of the Nazi Party
The rise of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) was swift and far from certain. Support for Hitler and his Nazi Party only took off after the full impact of the Wall Street Crash (October 1929) was felt on Weimar Germany. Up to this point the Nazis had been a noisy but far from important part of the Reichstag that was dominated by the Centre and Socialists parties along with the traditional nationalist parties found in Weimar at the time. However, the great leap in unemployment throughout Weimar Germany and the seeming inability of the Weimar government to be able to control it mean that those without hope turned to the Nazi Party or to the Communist Party. It can be argued that without the economic chaos caused by the Wall Street Crash, the Nazis may have remained a small and politically insignificant party. However, Hitler put his case to the German people in very simple terms: other Weimar politicians when given the chance of saving Germany had failed – all he needed was the one chance to prove himself. It was a message that clearly had a marked impact in terms of the support the Nazi Party received at elections.
Election of May 4th 1924: the Nazis (standing as the National Socialist Freedom Movement) received 6.5% of the popular vote and 32 seats in the Reichstag out of a total of 472 seats.
Election of December 7th 1924: the Nazis (standing as the National Socialist Freedom Movement) received 3% of the popular vote and 14 seats in the Reichstag out of a total of 493 seats.
Election of May 20th 1928: the Nazis received 2.6% of the popular vote and 12 seats in the Reichstag out of a total of 491 seats.
Election of September 14th 1930: the Nazis received 18.3% of the popular vote and 107 seats in the Reichstag out of a total of 577 seats.
Election of August 31st 1932: the Nazis received 37.3% of the popular vote and 230 seats in the Reichstag out of a total of 608 seats.
Election of November 6th 1932: the Nazis received 33.1% of the popular vote and 196 seats in the Reichstag out of a total of 584 seats.
Election of March 5th 1933: the Nazis received 43.9% of the popular vote and 288 seats in the Reichstag out of a total of 647 seats.
Prior to the Wall Street Crash, in 1928 the Nazis polled less than 3% of the popular vote. Weimar Germany appeared to be stable, prosperous and was now a welcomed member of the European community. Just four years later the vote for the Nazis had increased to just over 37% of those who voted. However, even at its peak in March 1933, the Nazis never managed to attain over 50% of the votes cast at an election, which indicates that they were never as popular throughout Germany as their propaganda tried to portray.