Organisation of the Nazi Party

1. Hitler’s Role

a. His skills as orator.

b. Note his charismatic leadership –

  • belief in his own importance in Germany’s future
  • demonic willpower
  • speeches – timing
  • expression
  • content
  • “hypnotic” gaze
  • identification with the people in their emotions and expectation
  • his importance in holding the Party together

c. He virtually re-founded the Party in 1925, based upon the Führerprinzip. Cohesion and discipline was important in preventing the break up of the Party 1932-1933.

d. He personally designed the flag.

e. He recognised the importance of propaganda and was prepared to use every modern means available to spread the message during election campaigns.

2. Party Organisation

a. The country was divided into Gaus (areas), each headed by a Gauleiter, appointed by Hitler and subordinate to him but with considerable local freedom.

b. Associated organisations were set up for women, young people, students, lawyers, factory workers. Especially important was the “Nazi Welfare Organisation” which ran soup kitchens for people in distress.

c. Central propaganda machine under Goebbels.

d. Stress on local contacts. Nazis targeted key individuals in local communities, hoping they would influence others. (Note the example of Northeim)

e. Growing membership allowed for door-to-door campaigning and leafleting. Distribution of posters was widespread.

f. Considerable effort was made to train speakers. Over 6,000 had been trained by 1933. Speakers were licensed by the Party to ensure quality and were provided with booklets on policies and techniques.

g. Use of a variety of strategies and modern technology: mass rallies; marches in uniform; music; lighting; disciplined enthusiasm; loudspeakers; film; slides; plans. Once in power they had access to radio and films. Their newspaper was the “Völkischer Beobachter”.

h. They had a powerful message:

– volksgemeinschaft

– an end to economic ills

– Germany first

– strong leadership

– smash Communism and Jewish interests

– end Versailles

– secure lebensraum

i. An alliance with Alfred Hugenberg (DNVP) over opposition to the 1929 Young Plan, gave Hitler access to Hugenberg’s vast media empire and to funds, enabling the Party to compete more effectively in elections. Through this, Hitler won apparent respectability, campaigning side by side with an established political party on a popular issue.

j. Most Party funds came from ordinary members and charges made for attending meetings. Some industrialists provided money, notably Thyssen, but this was not a major factor in success. Efficient cash collections made the Nazis better off than less well organised parties of the right.

k. The Nazis organised special sections to appeal to particular interest groups – students, lawyers, doctors, teachers, self-employed craftsmen and small businessmen. They also made a concerted effort to win farming votes. Walther Darré drew up an agrarian programme in 1930. The Nazis told the farmers what they wanted to hear: that their way of life was morally superior to urban life and should be preserved. The Nazi Party was therefore quick to take advantage of local grievances and to respond to national and regional issues.

3. The Role of the SA

Formed as the Sportabteilung 1920 (sports department) intended primarily to protect Nazi speakers, it was re-named Sturm-Abteilung 1921. By 1933, membership was 500,000. Brown shirts came from cheap, surplus German army tropical shirts, which were used after 1924.

– Röhm led them

“Since I am an immature and wicked man, war and unrest appeal to me more than good bourgeois order.”

· over half came from the working class

· many were ruffians and bullies

· distributed pamphlets

· protected meetings

· used violence against Communists

· Brüning banned them in 1932. (They paraded instead without shirts)

· Papen allowed them back in an attempt to win Nazis support in June 1932

· many died as a result in street battles, nearly 100 in July1932 alone

· the SA focused attention on Hitler’s determination to ban Communism: it appeared that he at least was doing something about it

· the SA created the impression of discipline and firm government

· fear of the SA persuaded some in power to bring Hitler into government, so that he would control the SA

4. Conclusion

Nazi success at the polls lay in combination of charismatic leadership; detailed Party organisation at a local level; impressive displays of unity and discipline; their powerful message of future national unity and pride, and terror tactics employed to intimidate the opposition and to coerce support. The example of Northeim gives a good indication of how these different factors could be employed. It must be remembered, however, that only 37% of Germans ever voted for Hitler. Many remained unpersuaded. Hitler’s appeal was not universal nor was it inevitable that the tide of public support would bring him to power, as he later claimed.


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Weimar Germany Lessons and Teachers Resources

Rise of Hitler revision chart 1-9 GCSE Exam Preparation. Usefulness of Sources: the SA and Nazi methods of control.
Revision exercises@ Life in Nazi Germany 1-9 GCSE History Revision Guide Weimar and Nazi Germany
Teaching resource: How did the Nazi’s rise to power?

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Weimar Constitution 1919-1923: Years of Crisis?
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The Munich Putsch Hyperinflation in Germany, 1923
Reparations Did the Economic Crisis of 1923 help the Nazi’s?
Origins of the Nazi Party 1924-1928: A Golden Era?
Gustav Stresemann German Foreign Relations 1919-1932
Germany in the Great Depression Rise of the Nazi Party
Failings of the Weimar Republic Totalitarian Regime in Nazi Germany
How did Hitler consolidate power? Mein Kampf
Nazi methods of control Opposition to the Nazi Regime
Organisation of the Nazi Party Fuhrerprinzip
Kristallnacht Youth and Education
Goering and the 2nd 4 Year Plan Anti-Jewish Boycott, 1933
Nazi Anti-Semitism DAF (The German Labour Front)
Propaganda in Germany 1919-39 Economic Policy of the Nazi Party
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Economy under Nazi rule Articles, Resources and Documentation relating to the Economy under Nazi rule
The Holocaust History Teachers’ Resources

Revision Diagrams

Was the Weimar Republic Doomed from the outset? To what extent did Germany recover under Stresemann?
The Nazi Party up to 1929 How did Hitler become Chancellor of Germany?
Who gained from Nazi rule?

Revision Diagrams

Was the Weimar Republic doomed from the start? |To what extent did Weimar recover under Stresemann?
How did the Nazi Party develop up to 1929? How did Hitler become Chancellor?
How did Hitler become Chancellor? How did the Nazi’s create a Totalitarian State?


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