The dependent upon the other to transition from a

The Nationalsozialistische Deutsche
Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP), better known as the Nazi Party, is regarded
throughout history as a party of evil. From annexation of countries to
annihilation of entire groups of people, the Nazi Party is responsible for
heinous acts of violence and countless war crimes throughout World War II. This
negative connotation can be largely attributed to the influence of Adolf Hitler
during his tenure at the head of the political party. Prior to Hitler joining
the party, it was a fledgling group of German workers intent on nothing more
than having their voices heard in the Reichstag. The success of the group and
of Hitler throughout his political career are codependent, as one could not
have risen to power without the other. The symbiotic relationship shared by
Hitler and the NSDAP created a legacy that is unmatched by any other
organization or individual in modern history. Without the NSDAP, Hitler
would have never gained the platform from which to spew his nationalistic
rhetoric. Without Hitler’s electric personality and oration skills, the NSDAP
would have reached more than a few hundred members and a handful of seats in
the Reichstag. Each entity was dependent upon the other to transition from a
soldier with no prospects to dictator, and from a small group of men to a
political powerhouse.

Through his life, Hitler always harbored an
anti-Semitic view, which grew as he aged. Even before joining the DAP, Hitler
sought like-minded individuals, which resulted in him trying to join the Deutschsozialistische
Partei (DSP), or German Socialist Party, in the middle of 1919. Under the
guise of a reporter attempting to write a paper on the DSP, Hitler attempted to
join their ranks, though military personnel were not supposed to have political
ties. Thomas Weber, a professor of history at the University of Aberdeen,
recently uncovered a document showing where Hans Georg Grassinger gave his
official testimony stating how he turned Hitler away from the DSP. In his work,
Weber states:

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If Hitler would have joined the DSP,
history would have been drastically different, and World War II may never have
come to pass. Since he was in fact turned away, Hitler began to look for
somewhere else to belong, attempting to focus on his fledgling military career,
rather than leave the service.

The “perfect storm” of conditions that led to
Hitler’s rise, as well as the rise of the NSDAP, can be traced back to the Fall
of 1919, when a young Hitler, feeling dejected after being turned away from the
DSP, was asked to join the ranks of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP),
or German Worker’s Party by his superiors in the military.2 Hardly a
political party, this group was made up of about forty men at its inception,
and did not exceed two hundred within its first year. Early in its history, the
organization falsified membership counts, documenting Hitler as member 555,
though there were little more than fifty listed members.3 Anton
Drexler is credited with founding the DAP and achieving the reach of the party
prior to Hitler’s oratory skills drawing in larger crowds, with help from Karl
Harrer shortly after the organization was created in early 1919.

Anton Drexler started his adult life working in
labor fields prior to developing an interest in politics. In 1918, Drexler
formed a league called Der
Freie Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden, or Free Workers’ Committee for a Good Peace.
After this failed attempt at establishing a political footing, Drexler went on
to create the Politischer Arbeiterzirkel, or Political Workers’ Circle,
and later, the DAP. He was anti-Semitic and shared a lot of the same values
that Hitler did in regard to a nationalistic government and restructuring the
country as a whole. Because he developed a strong relationship with Hitler,
Drexler mentored Hitler through his early political career.4

Having been ordered to investigate this group by
his superiors, Hitler, a newly appointed Verbindungsmann, or
intelligence agent in the army, joined the DAP in an investigative capacity.5
Little did his military superiors know, but Hitler joining the DAP would give
him the platform on which to build a career as an orator, leader, and
ultimately, dictator. Hitler’s first DAP meeting was in a cellar of a beer
hall, called Sternecker Brau, in Munich, on September 12, 1919.6
Seeing how Drexler commanded a crowd, and appreciating his anti-Semitic
rhetoric, Hitler quickly became enamored with the DAP. Though it was illegal
for an enlisted military member to be involved in a political party, Hitler was
given permission by his commanding officer, Karl Mayr, to join as a mole in the
organization. Not long after joining the DAP, Hitler was released from the Reichswehr,
or German Army, and began to dedicate himself fully to the political party
with high hopes for the future. Because Hitler had fulfilled his military
service in World War I, his release from the Reichswehr is comparable to
a discharge in the United States Military.

About one month after his membership became
official, on October 16, 1919, Hitler gave a speech at the Hofbräukeller,
a small restaurant in Munich. Drexler admired Hitler’s skills as an orator and
the anti-Semitic propaganda that Hitler was able to spread, that Drexler
advanced Hitler to the position of Chief of Propaganda for the DAP. Hitler
liked being in a position where he could promote nationalistic rhetoric, while
also feeling like he was making a difference, and graciously accepted the title
in early 1920. He later said:

 

Crowds
flocked to see Hitler give his famous beer hall speeches and party leadership
was pleased because they were able to add members to the DAP swiftly. By
February, Hitler drew in crowds of over two thousand, and DAP membership
climbed at a staggering rate. Thanks to Hitler’s ability to captivate an
audience, the political party was able to gain traction with the people and
develop into a contender within the Reichstag by the next set of elections, and
in the years to come.

 

On February 24, 1920, in an effort to draw more
public support and be more relatable overall, the DAP changed its name to Nationalsozialistische
Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP), or National Socialist German Worker’s
Party. Placing themselves upon this national platform meant a wider base and
more party growth. Thankfully the NSDAP had Adolf Hitler to spread their
message, along with his own political views. The NSDAP was wholly dependent on
Hitler’s ability to speak to crowds as a means to encourage membership, while
Hitler needed the stage the NSDAP afforded him to spread his ideas and feel
like he was making a change in the political atmosphere of the country he loved
so dearly. Even so early in the party’s history, the codependent nature between
Hitler and the NSDAP was evident, and it would only continue to grow.

By the end of 1920, party membership had reached
over two thousand, with more members being drawn in by Hitler’s personality and
speeches than ever before. He fed on the energy of the crowds, bringing more
electricity to each speech, and more party members with it. The more he spoke
in front of ever-growing crowds, the more Hitler would inject his own political
opinions into his speeches. Even in the formative stages of the NSDAP, Hitler’s
speeches were being monitored by police, because they could already see the
effects they were having on people, while also noticing the somewhat
controversial nature. Still, Hitler’s speeches appealed to a wide audience, because
he knew how to command a crowd and play on the struggles that they were
experiencing, while assuring them that the he, along with the NSDAP, would make
a difference in their lives. Though the Nazi Party was still in a delicate
place, they began to propagate Aryan ideals, as well as instituting policies
that would later become mandatory through the Nuremberg Laws. With Hitler’s
words to lead them, the Nazi Party called for “racially pure” members as early
as 1920.9

 Hitler had
been giving speeches for a little over a year, drawing thousands every time he
spoke. By June of 1921, a rebellion broke out in the NSDAP while Hitler was on
a fundraising mission with Dietrich Eckart in Berlin. A mutiny of sorts, Nazi
officials called to vote for a merger between two parties without Hitler at the
meeting or to have any real knowledge of the meeting taking place. Though he
was not yet the head of the political party, Hitler had a considerable amount
of control within the organization. Angered by his party’s desire to merge with
the Deutschsozialistische
Partei (DSP), or German Socialist Party, and the fact that the
merger was discussed in secret, Hitler submitted his resignation, leaving the
party to fend for themselves, on July 11, 1921.10
He was aware that the party needed his skills as an orator to survive, so
Hitler used his resignation as a bargaining chip to get the Nazi officials to
bow to his demands.

Realizing what it would do to the NSDAP if
Hitler left them and stopped speaking on their behalf, effectively crippling
and ending the party without him, the senior party officials struck a deal with
Hitler to rejoin. His terms to rejoin the party included being given the seat
of Party Chairman, replacing Drexler, and keeping the headquarters of the party
in Munich. Of course, the party leadership had no choice but to accept these
terms and grant Hitler a renewed membership, on July 26, if they wanted to
retain a political standing at all within the Reichstag.11
The effects of the rebellion in June 1921 detail the most obvious dependency of
the NSDAP on Adolf Hitler as a figurehead, as well as the drastic
transformation from Chief of Propaganda to Party Chairman that Hitler underwent.

Beginning to have a thirst for power, as
Chairman, Hitler dissolved the committee and appointed himself the sole leader
of the party, a position he would hold until 1945, at the time of his death.
The title of Führer was first used to describe Hitler within the confines of
the NSDAP in the early 1920s.12
As the Führer, or leader, of the NSDAP, the party members followed the
principle of Führerprinzip, or the
leader principle, which dictates that they follow the Führer’s word even more
closely than the word of God. With this control over the NSDAP, Hitler would
spread his views throughout the party and the nation, using the NSDAP to
further his political desires while the party used Hitler to build their
membership and continue to gain seats in the Reichstag.

Through 1921 and 1922, party membership
continued to climb ever higher. Hitler was able to appeal to anyone, from the
out of work young man to the war veteran with a hunger for meaning after his
service. Hitler had been both of these men in his life, and spoke with a
certainty that drew people in. He convinced incoming NSDAP members that the
issues in Germany stemmed directly from the liberal government after World War
I, and insisted that a more rigid and far reaching government was necessary for
the success of the country. The beer halls where the speeches were held helped
to recruit members as well. Men were drawn in by the free beer and stayed to
listen to Hitler’s speeches, which struck a chord with them. Two notable
members that joined during this formative era were Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler.13
These men went on to have a personal relationship with Hitler and become high
ranking officials in the Nazi government.

  

 Both the
Hitler Youth and the early version of the Schutzstaffel (SS)
were formed in 1922, which developed a means to indoctrinate youth and police
the population, respectively. The Nazi Party used both organizations to further
their ideologies of nationalism and a pure society, with intimidation as a
primary tactic. The Jugendbund, a
youth-based organization, was founded to train the para-military forces
initially, but grew into the Hitlerjugend,
or Hitler Youth. The SS was the para-military force that Hitler and the NSDAP
developed in an effort to create a police state within the party.

Interestingly, the Hitler Youth was similar to
the Boy Scouts organization, though the ideologies were completely differently.
Members of the Hitler Youth dressed in uniforms, had their own flag, and
participated in group training exercises similar to that of basic training
exercises. One of the primary tenets of the Hitler Youth was the indoctrination
of racism. The Nazi Party was able to enforce their ideologies on the younger
members of society through schools, likened to preparatory academies. By 1923,
over 1000 boys between the ages of 14 and 18 had joined the Hitler Youth, with
more to come in the future.15
With so many young men joining the organization, Hitler and the NSDAP had
seemingly secured a position in the future of German political movements.

 

With beginnings as a volunteer militia called the Saal-Schutz, the
Schutzstaffel was a para-military
force started by the NSDAP to provide security during party meetings and events.
With only eight members at the beginning of 1923, the SS was small, yet
effective in policing the Nazi events. Having grown through 1923 and undergoing
some name changes, the SS still was not exactly what Hitler or the NSDAP had
hoped to create in their twisted sense of a military. The early versions of the
SS crumbled immediately after the Beer Hall Putsch in the winter of 1923, but
would eventually rebuild and become stronger than ever before in the years to
come.

The Beer Hall Putsch proved to be one of the
greatest developments for both Hitler and the NSDAP. On the night of November
8, 1923, the NSDAP attempted to seize power in Munich and Bavaria.17 With
party membership totaling over 50,000, Hitler felt as though the Nazi Party had
the strength to take their place in government through force. This coup d’état
was unsuccessful, but showed the size and strength of the Nazi Party,
intimidating the German government. The headlines alone were reason enough to
attempt the seizure of power, but Hitler and Nazi leadership saw more than just
the spread of their ideas. Though Hitler was able to retreat and avoid being
arrested immediately after the coup was squashed, he was still apprehended on
November 11, 1923, and sent to Landsberg Prison to serve his sentence for
treason. While incarcerated, Hitler went on to modify the tactics of the party
after seeing what was and was not effective during the putsch.

Sentenced to five years for his transgressions,
Hitler was only in Landsberg Prison from April 1, 1924 to December 20, 1924.18
His sentence was shortened due to an impending parole date, his good behavior
while imprisoned, and pressure from Nazi leaders on the Weimar government. While
in prison, Hitler did not live a life of a traditional inmate. He was given
special treatment including visitors and mail from Nazi supporters. Many
historians credit the time in Landsberg to Hitler’s success as a political
leader, because he was able to dictate Mein Kampf, his autobiography, to Rudolph Hess, and
take the time to develop is political ideology. The time in Landsberg allowed
him to reflect on the shortcomings of the party and the failed putsch.

Because of the coup the Nazi Party executed,
and the resulting imprisonment of several Nazi leaders, trails went on through
the early portion of 1924.20
Hitler’s trial, as the head of the Nazi Party, was highly publicized and lasted
well over a month. Because he was afforded this platform, Hitler used the
opportunity to spread his nationalistic rhetoric, managing to draw in more
support each time he spoke. The transcripts and newspaper articles showed
Hitler as a concerned citizen and the pro-Aryan language was absent from his
speech. While Hitler could have faced deportation to Austria, he was spared
thanks to the Austrian government saying that his service in the German Army
voided his citizenship, which he renounced officially in April 1925.21 During
Hitler’s imprisonment, the German government dissolved the Nazi Party and
banned it reforming. Still, Nazi members operated under the Deutsche Partei (DP), or German Party through 1924 and 1925
with little success keeping the party organized without the leadership in place.22

Hitler’s main realization during his stay at
Landsberg was that the Nazi Party benefitted from seeking power legitimately
rather than through sheer force. Since the party had been banned, Hitler
personally went to the government and asked that the party be given the right
to reform on February 16, 1925. Ten days later, on February 16, 1925, the Nazi
Party was given permission to reform, with certain restrictions imposed upon
them. The Nazi Party could not form, endorse, or otherwise be associated with
any para-military or police organization, such as the Schutzstaffel.23
Hitler went on to have his “bodyguard” reform soon after, but this was just a
ruse to rebuild the SS without the German government finding issue with his
political movements.

Throughout the later portion of the 1920s, the
Nazi Party was focused on gaining seats in the Reichstag and building their
political party through legitimate means. They attempted to challenge elections
in the Reichstag and Landtage, or legislature, in 1924 and 1928, but they were
not successful in this. While the Nazi Party did not hold many seats in the
Reichstag, they had members joining constantly and a strong base built. While
the economy was strong and Germany was rather prosperous in the late 1920s,
Hitler was still able to recruit new members with the tactics he had used
before. These tactics being promising a better and stronger

 Germany.

By 1929, with a strong political base
established and seats in the Reichstag, the Nazi Party was thriving. The Great
Depression struck the world as a whole in 1929, which essentially proved
Hitler’s point of needing a stronger country, with the government needing to
lead by example. Though it is not known whether Hitler was able to predict the
changes in the global economy, German citizens felt as though he could when the
Great Depression settled in. In their minds, the other shoe finally dropped,
and they had to focus on rebuilding Germany and attempting to get out of the
financial struggles the Great Depression landed every country in. Unemployment
and businesses being forced to close down caused more members to join the party.
They did not have anything better to do than go drink the free beer, and when
Hitler spoke, his words resonated with them.

Hitler and the Nazi Party officers held a
deep-seated hatred for the Jewish people, and Hitler finally found an
opportunity to place blame on them after the onset of the Great Depression.
Historically, Jewish people have been accused of usury, or lending money at
astonishingly high interest rates.24
Because of this, Hitler blamed the financial crisis and business closures on
the Jewish people residing in Germany and surrounding countries, as well as
blaming them for the Great Depression around the world. His plan to start an
attack on the Jewish people, and others of non-Aryan blood, was in the works
already, though the country was not yet aware, nor did they know what would
result from Hitler’s hatred. Hitler had used anti-Semitic rhetoric in the past
during speeches, which drew many in, but the Nazi Party as a whole, and the
incoming members, developed this utter and complete hatred for the Jewish
People, as Hitler had.

Propaganda played a large part in the success
of the Nazi Party and Hitler. In a twisted sense of innovation, the Nazi Party
used speeches, written works, paintings, and even Advent calendars as a means
of indoctrination. The propaganda worked to strengthen the image of the Nazi
Party, as well as push their ideologies on the public.25 Perhaps
the first example of Nazi propaganda was Hitler’s own work, Mein Kampf. It took time for book sales
to grow, but by 1933, Hitler had sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
Propaganda in Nazi Germany attacked the Treaty of Versailles, further persecuted
the Jewish people, and even called for euthanasia of the disabled.

The year 1930 brought success to the Nazi
Party, even though the German populous was struggling. Because they were able
to garner so much support from Germany’s citizens, the Nazi Party won over 18%
of the Reichstag in the September elections.27
This made them the second largest party, with only the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, or Social Democrats, above
them. With other political parties weakened, the Nazi Party stood out more, and
would continue to gain support in the coming years. With the financial and
political crisis becoming worse daily, more people looked to the Nazi Party for
a solution. The obvious support prompted Hitler to run for President in March
of 1932, but he lost to the incumbent President, Paul von Hindenburg.

Hindenburg, after being pressured by several
politicians and members of the press, appointed Hitler as Chancellor on January
30, 1933. Hitler accepted, and shortly after being appointed Chancellor, On
February 27, 1933, the Reichstag caught fire after an act of arson. Though there
was speculation about who caused the fire, there was no denying that protective
actions must be taken, at least in the eyes of the Nazi Party.

Hitler struggled to get approval from the other
parties to obtain more power, so he essentially tricked the Reichstag into the
“Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and
the Reich,” also known as the
Enabling Acts, which granted him what were basically dictatorial power to
“help” Germany after this tragedy, and were enacted on March 24, 1933.28
He told them that giving him more power would allow him to protect Germany and
the Reichstag from more issues. This was supposed to be a temporary measure,
lasting only four years unless the Reichstag voted to extend it, but Hitler
managed to retain dictatorial power for over a decade after the Enabling Acts
had passed, by making sure the act was renewed two more times.

Hitler and Hindenburg had grown close working
together, and Hindenburg had started to trust Hitler having power within the
Reichstag. With Hindenburg’s support, Hitler and the Nazi Party worked to
demolish the Weimar Republic, telling Hindenburg the monarchy would return. Instead,
the Reichstag was full of Nazi pomp and circumstance. When the Reichstag
opened, the Nazi Party put on a show for the rest of the parties, making their
presence and position known.29
During this transitional period, Hitler did convince Hindenburg to make
improvements through Germany that would benefit the country as a whole. Roads
and other infrastructure was improved and creating jobs for those affected by
the Great Depression.

Post-appointment to the seat of Chancellor,
Hitler could stand on his own politically. He no longer needed the NSDAP as a
footing, but still maintained a relationship with the party. The NSDAP had
transitioned from a political party to so much more. Hitler turned the party
into a government, police force, created a youth organization within the party
(Hitler Youth), and changed Germany completely. Because the Nazi Party changed
into an entire government, along with everything else, Hitler and the Nazi
Party had become less dependent on one another, but more connected than ever
before.

 

With the death of Hindenburg on August 2, 1934,
Hitler gained control of the government through a plebiscite naming him the
head of the German government and officially granting him the title of Führer.31 The
Third Reich was alive and well, and went on to govern Germany for twelve years.
Other political parties were outlawed, effectively making the entire Reichstag
Nazi members. Even though Hitler and the Nazi Party were no longer inherently
dependent upon one another, both entities continued to bolster one another
through the Third Reich. In a way, they stayed dependent on one another through
the period, because Hitler needed the SS and other organizations within the
Nazi Party and the party needed Hitler to be a strong leader.

From 1919 to 1933, the Nazi Party and Hitler
were almost entirely dependent on one another for success. If one minute factor
would have been different, history as we know it would have changed forever. In
a matter of fourteen years, Hitler and the Nazi Party rose faster and higher
than anyone could have predicted, all because they had the support of each
other and had twelve years of cooperation following the ascent. The
relationship between Hitler and the NSDAP was entirely codependent, yet
successful in its own way. Because they depended so heavily on one another, and
achieved their goals in the process, fascist governments were squashed and the
world as we know it was forever changed.