The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: holocaust/germany/elections.001

From oneb!!utcsri!utnut!!uunet!!!usc!!decwrl!netcomsv!!erics Tue Apr  6 16:59:59 PDT 1993
Article: 10456 of soc.history
Xref: oneb talk.politics.misc:71704 soc.history:10456
Newsgroups: talk.politics.misc,soc.history
Path: oneb!!utcsri!utnut!!uunet!!!usc!!decwrl!netcomsv!!erics
From: (Eric Smith)
Subject: Re: Hilter and homosexuals
Organization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 241-9760 guest)
References: <15123@optilink.COM>  <15225@optilink.COM>
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1993 15:22:59 GMT
Lines: 106

cramer@optilink.COM (Clayton Cramer) writes:

>, (Eric Smith) writes:

>> (Gene W. Smith) writes:
># #Are you saying that:
># #(1) People voted for Hitler, and he became Reich Chancellor, in good
># #part because he used bully boys to attack communists,
># Hitler did not become become Reich Chancellor because people voted for
># him. I'm not sure if you meant to imply that or not, but I just thought
># I'd bring that up.

>Hitler became Chancellor because people voted for his political
>party.  That's not a huge difference in a parliamentary system.

Your statement is a common misconception, but it just isn't true. In the
German Weimar system, the Chancellor was not necessarily the leader of the
largest Reichstag party; the Chancellor was appointed by the President and
generally was the leader of a coalition of parties who could form an effective
majority in the Reichstag. Beyond that, the implication that Hitler rose to
the Chancellorship because a majority of Germans wanted Nazi rule is false
as well. Before President Hindenburg appointed Hitler Chancellor in January
1933, the German people did not show a particular desire to be led either by
Hitler or by the Nazi party. These are the results of the March 1932 election
for President, the closest Hitler ever came to direct election: Hindenburg
49.6%, Hitler 30.1%, Thaelmann 13.2%, Duesterberg 6.8%. In the runoff election
in April the results were: Hindenburg 53%, Hitler 36.8%, Thaelmann 10.2%.
So we can see that Hitler personally was supported by only about a third of
German voters.

Similarly, the Nazi party never received more than 37% of the vote in
Reichstag elections. That occurred in July 1932. In the November 1932 election
the Nazis *lost* two million votes and 34 seats, down from 230 to 196 out of
the 608 in the Reichstag. Comparitively, the Socialists had 121 and the
Communists 100. The Communists had gained 11 seats, and the German National
party, which had supported the previous government, had picked up a million
of the Nazis' lost votes to gain 15 seats (up to 52). I think the other large
party was the Catholic Center party (I don't know how many seats they had but
I think they were declining), and there were numerous other small parties.
Thus the Nazi vote was on the decline at the time Hitler was appointed

What brought Hitler to power was *not* the demand of the German people for
Hitler or the Nazis to run things, but the inability of the other parties to
put their differences behind them in favor of forming an effective government
for the country. Germany did not have an enduring democratic tradition, and
their parliamentary system lacked effective center parties that favored the
interests of the majority of the population. Instead what they had was a
number of small parties who were unable to put aside their own specific
objectives in order to combine against the Nazis, who were out to end the
democratic process. In fact, part of the problem was that some of the other
parties with substantial representation, like the Communists, were also
out to end the democratic process, but with different results in mind, and
generally didn't mind seeing parliamentary democracy go under.

Germany had already had a non-Nazi Chancellor with a majority coalition
for five months while the Nazis had been the largest Reichstag party, and
there certainly was no danger of a revolution in favor of the Nazis.
If anything the Nazis were starting to get desperate because they had failed
to get enough support to make Hitler President and their popular vote had
begun to decline.

Hitler was not Hindenburg's first choice to be Chancellor, not even his
second choice. First, von Papen had been Chancellor since June 1932. After
the November election when the Nazis *lost* seats, Hindenburg first prevailed
on von Papen to remain as Chancellor. But there were intrigues behind his back
and support for him was lacking. So then Hindenburg turned to von Schleicher,
who became Chancellor for two months. Eventually he too was unable to hold
together a working coalition of parties to oppose the Nazis, who refused to
participate in any government that was not led by a Nazi Chancellor. Some of
the Nazi leadership, particularly Gregor Strasser who was the #2 man in the
party at the time, wanted to participate in a coalition government. But others,
knowing the party's support was waning, figured that their best hope to gain
power lay in undermining the democratic process. Nevertheless, the country
was governed for seven months by Chancellors who were not Nazis, even though
the Nazis were the largest Reichstag party. The failure of these men to
achieve a working coalition was due to the inability of their coalition
parties to work together.

Here's how William Shirer puts it in _The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich_:

   The cardinal error of the Germans who opposed Nazism was their
   failure to unite against it. At the crest of their popular strength,
   in July 1932, the National Socialists had attained but 37 percent of
   the vote. But the 63 percent of the German people who expressed their
   opposition to Hitler were much too divided and shortsighted to combine
   against a common danger which they must have known would overwhelm
   them unless they united, however temporarily, to stamp it out.

True, the German people supported Hitler after he became Chancellor. But
that doesn't change the fact that there was not overwhelming support for him
*before* he was in power. The German people were not crying out for Hitler to
take over, no matter how bad economic conditions were. The leftist parties
(Socialists/Communists) probably had more support in total than the Nazis.
Hitler used the fact that others were passively or actively willing to see
the government paralyzed as a means to taking it over.

Eric Smith
CI$: 70262,3610

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.