How Hitler ACTUALLY Came to Power

Inevitably, there are a ton of comparisons between Trump and Hitler, and just as inevitably, someone points out that Hitler was democratically elected. Well, he wasn’t. I’m going to try to explain exactly what happened here, with just enough context to give you the wider view. Or, you could just read the Wikipedia article.

The German Federal Elections of 1932

The Nazi Party got a plurality of seats in the election of July 1932, but not a majority. Therefore, a coalition government needed to be formed, because that’s what happens in a parliamentary system. President Paul von Hindenburg had appointed right-wing Franz von Papen to the post of Chancellor the month before, but Hitler was unwilling to work with Papen unless he was given the chancellorship instead. Since a government couldn’t be formed, another election had to be held in November. The Nazis actually lost seats in that election, but not enough to form a government without them.

Hitler Gains Power by Appointment

Papen resigned, and Hindenburg was petitioned to select Hitler as a replacement. Hindenburg instead appointed Kurt von Schleicher, who was just as unable as his predecessor to govern. Hitler convinced Papen to push for his appointment and offered him the vice-chancellorship, so along with a few others pushing in the same direction, Hindenburg made Hitler chancellor in January 1933. No elections, no democratic process, just good old fashioned political maneuvering.

Why would the people at the top of the government allow this to happen when they knew it was a bad idea? Well, Hindenburg could always depose Hitler, and he only brought two of his cronies with him. Then, as February ended, the Reichstag burned. Hitler got Hindenburg to suspend civil liberties in the face of the attack, arrested the opposition Communists, and the Nazis took their seats. The rest is history.

Lessons for Trump?

There aren’t any here. Whether you agree with the comparison or not, Hitler’s rise to power isn’t like Trump’s at all. The latter’s rise appears to have been largely politically effortless (in the worst sense of the word), while Hitler had been a part of German politics for years. Trump also doesn’t have to convince or wheedle anyone to get power, he’ll have it handed to him in January.

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