Today is January 30th, 2017, 84 years after Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. This is the first entry in a series that month by month documents the rise of the Third Reich that would end in the deaths of 50 million people in a world conflagration. I will keep personal commentary to a minimum. If there are factual parallels to today, such as losing the popular vote in November and being appointed leader in January anyway, I will mention them. I will avoid drawing conclusions about the parallels that imply we in the US are on a similar glide path to Nazi Germany. You can draw your own conclusions.
Hitler did not win the popular vote in November of 1932. He lost by about 2%. But the government was stalemated and the only solution that seemed tenable was to go ahead and appoint Hitler as Chancellor and then keep a close eye on him. The Wikipedia account follows.
“Hindenburg, intimidated by Hitler’s growing popularity and the thuggish nature of his cadre of supporters, the SA (or Brownshirts), initially refused to make him chancellor. Instead, he appointed General Kurt von Schleicher, who attempted to steal Hitler’s thunder by negotiating with a dissident Nazi faction led by Gregor Strasser. At the next round of elections in November, the Nazis lost ground—but the Communists gained it, a paradoxical effect of Schleicher’s efforts that made right-wing forces in Germany even more determined to get Hitler into power. In a series of complicated negotiations, ex-Chancellor Franz von Papen, backed by prominent German businessmen and the conservative German National People’s Party (DNVP), convinced Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as chancellor, with the understanding that von Papen as vice-chancellor and other non-Nazis in key government positions would contain and temper Hitler’s more brutal tendencies.
“Hitler’s emergence as chancellor on January 30, 1933, marked a crucial turning point for Germany and, ultimately, for the world. His plan, embraced by much of the German population, was to do away with politics and make Germany a powerful, unified one-party state. He began immediately, ordering a rapid expansion of the state police, the Gestapo, and putting Hermann Goering in charge of a new security force, composed entirely of Nazis and dedicated to stamping out whatever opposition to his party might arise. From that moment on, Nazi Germany was off and running, and there was little Hindenburg or von Papen—or anyone—could do to stop it.”
The checks and balances in place were not enough. There was resistance early on but it was beaten back.