Hitler, Adolf

The 1929 economic crisis and the breakthrough of the NSDAP

In that same year, the first signs of an end to the economic progress in recent years appeared. There were a striking number of bankruptcies in the agricultural sector as a result of the steadily decreasing prices of agricultural products, unemployment rose again to over 3 million and there were increasing conflicts between workers and factory owners. Moreover, the German economy depended heavily on the Americans by many short term loans. American money was largely responsible for the revival of the German economy in the mid 20s. There were however few internal investments and social unrest was great, even in those golden years. Confidence in the Weimar democracy was low, not many people had feelings for the Weimar Republic, meaning that only a minority would want to defend that same republic and its values.

Riding on the increasing economic malaise, popularity of the N.S.D.A.P. rose again. Between October 1928 and October 1929 the number of members increased from about 100.000 to 150.000. In rural areas in particular the party had ever more followers but from a lesser sector as well, such as students, came more support. That could be attributed to the role of Baldur von Schirach (Bio Von Schirach), the chairman of the N.S.D.S.B. (Nationalsocialistische Deutsche Studentenbund or Nationalsocialist German Students Union).

The N.S.D.A.P. presented herself very actively; campaigning was intensified with numerous meetings at various places in Germany. She presented herself as a young and dynamic party while Hitler worked himself up to a much appreciated speaker in the higher rightist-conservative circles. Captains of industry could agree with the overt attacks on the politics of the Weimar Republic. Hitler spoke about the: "disastrous economic consequences of democracy" and the restoration of power and unity in Germany. He saw his prognoses confirmed: "It has all gone just as we have predicted," he said at the end of March 1929 full of malicious pleasure, "The German economy is all but dead." Despite the obvious increase of the importance of the party, she was still far removed from conquest of power. That required more.

Those circumstances occured when on October 24th, 1929, the New York Stock Exchange crashed. The global consequences were interminable. As a result of the crisis, many loans could not be paid back and banks went out of business. This resulted in a snowball effect: the deteriorating econmy plunged into a depression. As a result of the ensuing deflation, trades collapsed and subsequently a large part of the world ended up in a low conjuncture. The Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression were the largest financial crisis of the 20th century. The crisis Hitler needed was a fact.

The economic crisis turned into a system crisis where the State itself was being questioned. There already was little sympathy for the Weimar Republic but this feeling turned into hatred. Hatred towards the policy of the Ďred governmentí, against the Communists, against the Jews, against Ďthe systemí. Democracy itself was at stake. Moreover, the psychological consequences must not be underestimated. The German population had suffered heavily during the past years and this new crisis, overshadowing anything gone before, broke the mental resilience of many people. A general feeling of doom and the belief that the end of time was imminent, grew amongst many people, even among those who were not directly affected by the crisis. Many felt betrayed and abandoned. Under these circumstances, the message of the N.S.D.A.P. did not miss its mark.

At least as important as the hate message of the Nazis was the hope Hitler gave the Germans. In these insecure times, the call for a strong leader became louder and louder and no one else but Hitler managed to profile himself so well as the political Messia who would drag the Germans out of the swamp on the road to a new society, to new national greatness. A German worker stated: "The terrible depression threatened to impale all economic life. Thousands of factories closed their doors and hunger was a daily companion of the German worker. In addition to that, Jews maintained an artificial shortage. (Ö) As for myself and just like many others, I had lost everything I owned and so I joined the nationalsocialist party in early 1930."

Numerous people found their way to the N.S.D.A.P. and that showed in election results. The major breakthrough came with the elections for the Reichstag in September 1930. In the run-up to the elections, Joseph Goebbels, freshly appointed Reichspropagandaleiter (propaganda leader) launcherd a massive propaganda campaign: more than 34.000 meetings were held. Central themes this time were not the attacks on Jewry or the ideas about Lebensraum (although these were discussed often enough) but the hatred towards the Weimar Republic and the new, still to be established Volksgemeinschaft (Peopleís Community). This made the N.S.D.A.P. more attractive to citizens of all classes and interests.

The result was a real landslide: the N.S.D.A.P. jumped from 2.6% and 12 seats in the 1928 elections to 18.3% and 107 seats in 1930. Some 6.5 million Germans had voted for Hiter. The Nazi train had really departed now.


From the Greek: demos (the people) kratein (rules). Democracy is a form of government elected by the majority of the people in which the people can check on the leaders and have the government resign in case a majority of the people no longer agrees with the government.
Middle Eastern people with own religion that lived in Palestine. They distinguished themselves by their strong monotheism and the strict observance of the Law and tradition. During World War 2 the Jewish people were ruthlessly persecuted and annihilated by the German Nazis. . An estimated 6,000,000 Jews were exterminated.
ďLiving spaceĒ. Nazi term indicating the need for the overpopulated German lands to expand.
Military intelligence service.
Abbreviation of a national socialist.
Often misleading information used to gain support among supporters or to gain support. Often used to accomplish ideas and political goals.
Weimar Republic
Name for the German republic from 1919 until 1933. Hitler ended the Weimar republic and founded the Third Reich.

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Despite the disappointing election results, HItler continued traveling across the country tirelessly to spread his political message.
(Source: GHDI)

The papers informed about the Wall Street Crash, October 1929.
(Source: Public domain)

Gigantic inflation in Germany: you can burn your stove longer with your money than with the wood you can buy with it.
(Source: AdsD der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung)

During the Great Crisis in the early 30s, Hitler manages to present himself increasinlgy as the saviour, April 1932.
(Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-14271B / CC-BY-SA 3.0)


Translated by:
Arnold Palthe
Article by:
Gerd Van der Auwera
Published on:
Last edit on:
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