Hitler came to power more due to luck than skill.’
To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Your task is to write a 1200 word essay answering the question above. (You should not go more than 10% above or
below the word count.)
In your essay, you should think about the following:
(Economic explanations for Hitler’s rise to power
Social explanations for Hitler’s rise to power
Political explanations for Hitler’s rise to power) Do any of the reasons link to  each other? Can you include this into your writing

Example of links between reasons – Hitler promised to restore national pride to Germans. Not only did German
people think this would bring a greater sense of economic stability, but they would be more united socially. Sections
of German society could begin to rebuild their roots and future. Hitler showed an immense amount of skill in
promoting this as one of his policies during his rise.
Give a brief synopsis of the time period you will cover (around 1921 to 1933, give or take a few years)
Explain (in one sentence) why some people might argue that Hitler came to power through luck.
Explain (in one sentence) why other people might argue that Hitler came to power through skill.
State that it’s a complicated issue and will require close examination of the evidence.
What elements of Hitler’s rise were lucky? Possible ideas to include:
Getting support from the industrialists due to the fear of communism (did he have any control over this?)
Getting off so lightly after the Munich Putsch
Being able to so easily resume his role at head of the party when he got out of Landsberg Prison
The lack of strong political personalities in Weimar to rival him
The harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and the behaviour of the French with the invasion of the Ruhr
The Wall Street Crash and subsequent great depression
The miscalculation of Hindenburg, von Papen and von Schleicher
The Reichstag Fire
The death of Hindenburg
The rise of Fascism across Europe (look at Spain, Portugal and Italy)
What elements of Hitler’s rise were down to his skill? Possible ideas to include:
His public speaking and ability to appeal to all sectors of German society
His choice of entourage
His use of propaganda
His decision to bring democracy down from the inside, rather than try to use force
His choice of topics to focus on (Jews, Treaty of Versailles, Communism etc.)
His writing
Outwitting his political opponents (including opponents within the Nazi party)
Exploiting outside events (such as Wall Street Crash or Reichstag Fire)
What do you think? Was it more luck or skill? Would Hitler have come to power without many of the things in the
luck column, over which he had no control. Or did he exert some control over them? Is it possible to come up with a
deZinitive answer, or could some items I have listed be put in either column, depending on your opinion? Was it a
complex interplay of both luck and skill, and if so, which one played the major part?
‘Hitler came to power more due to luck than skill.’
To what extent do you agree with this statement?
Social Studies – Unit 7 – The rise of fascism
Do any of the reasons link to
each other? Can you include
this into your writing.

In the early 1930s people
increasingly believed that the Nazi
Party was led by a man who could
do something about Germany’s
Hitler was determined to gain
voting support according to the
constitution, rather than risk
losing support with the use of
violent tactics.
The democratic Weimar Republic
seemed incapable of solving
Germany’s problems during the
Depression – people turned instead
to extremist parties such as
Communists and Nazis.
Following the failure of the Munich
Putsch, Hitler had risen from
obscurity to a figure of national
importance in political circles.
The Depression hit in 1929.
Germany was the worst hit country
in the world because it now had to
repay reparations loans (Dawes
and Young Plans) to the USA. The
economy simply could not cope.
The Nazis promised that they
would improve the unemployment
levels of 6 million. They promised
help for employers in increasing
their profits. They were prepared
to promise anything in order to
secure votes.
By the end of 1932 the Nazis were
the largest political party in the
Reichstag. Hitler was in a position
to demand that he be made
Chancellor of Germany. President
Hindenburg refused and instead
offered the job to Von Papen. He
was soon replaced by Von
The Nazis were well organised.
They looked strong and had a well
oiled propaganda machine to gain
support from as many classes of
German people as they could
It was the people of Germany who
provided Hitler and the Nazis with
the support they needed to become
leaders of Germany.
The Stormtroopers (private Nazi
army) beat up political opponents,
especially the Communists, and
smashed up their election
The Nazis promised that they
would make Germany great again
and restore national pride.
Political changes and power shifts
meant that Hitler was able to
become Chancellor of Germany in
May 1933.
Whether started by the Nazis or
not, the Reichstag fire allowed
Hitler to pass an emergency decree
that allowed him to arrest
The state of the economy in
Germany had a huge part to play in
Hitler’s rise to power.
Before the Depression, the Nazis
had little or no support. They were
not taken seriously.
Von Schleicher did not win much
support and resigned after 8
weeks. Hindenburg had no choice
but to invite Hitler to now become
The Night of the Long Knives was
in reality more about the Nazis
gaining the support of the German
military than about the Nazis
destroying the rising power of the
The election in March of 1933
allowed the Nazis to gain a
majority in the Reichstag due to
the support of nationalists such as
Hindenburg and von Papen.
Hitler uses his majority in the
Reichstag to pass the Enabling Act,
allowing him to pass laws without
the Reichstag’s approval.
The Nazis seemed to have a much
stronger leadership than other
political parties such as the Social
Democrats. There was more on
offer for the people of Germany.
Hindenburg’s death signaled the
end of the Weimar Republic
because the office of President and
Chancellor were merged together.
Afterwards, everyone referred to
Hitler as ‘Der Fuhrer’ or ‘The
Hindenburg’s choosing Hitler as
Chancellor rested on two
principles: that without Hitler he
could gain no support from the
Reichstag and that he could control
Hitler. However, he
underestimated Hitler’s political
Nazi propaganda after the
Depression focused on the
unpopular policies of the
government and promises to
restore the economy by cancelling
Versailles. ‘Negative cohesion’ was
often used in the propaganda to
link people’s dislikes and fears of
Jews, Communists and democracy
to the Nazi Party.
The Great Depression caused mass
unemployment in Germany
because the German economy was
reliant on American loans from the
Dawes Plan after 1924.


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