How Hitler And The Nazi Party Convinced Germany To Vote For Fascism

Published August 16, 2017
Updated October 13, 2020

During the election of 1932, the Nazis took power not simply with force, but with the votes of the German people.

Hitler Election Speech
Hitler Election Posters
Hitler Salutes His Supporters
Hitler Election 1932
How Hitler And The Nazi Party Convinced Germany To Vote For Fascism
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Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party didn't simply take Germany by force. They were voted in.

While it's easy to forget or misunderstand this, during the 1932 federal elections, nearly 14 million Germans voted for Hitler, the Nazis, and fascism.

It's a dark, dirty secret of history that we don't like to acknowledge, but the rise of German fascism began with a democratic election. People came out in droves and cast their votes to give the Reichstag to the Nazis — and they really believed that they were making the right choice.

The Nazi Party succeeded by played into the country's worries. At the end of World War I, the country was crippled. They'd been forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles, including its War Guilt Clause, which put the full blame for the war squarely on Germany's shoulders — along with its expenses.

With so much debt to pay off, German money became practically worthless. Five years after the war ended, it took 4.2 trillion German marks to equal the value of one American dollar. People's life savings were so worthless that they burned them as kindling.

The Nazi Party fed upon this desperation. They promised to tear up the Treaty of Versailles, refuse to pay their debts, and take back the land that had been taken from them after the war. The Nazis were angrier and more militant than any other party out there — and as life got harder, that started to appeal to the Germans.

Then, in 1924, a war profiteering and corruption scandal in the German government between former Chancellor Gustav Bauer and the Jewish Barmat brothers merchants brought on a whole new wave of anti-Semitism and distrust in the government.

Hitler's rage-filled ideas of racial superiority then started to seem more palatable to the people of Germany. Slowly, the fascist, racist Nazi Party seemed, to some people, like a solution to the country's problems.

By July 31, 1932, the people were angry. They were full of distrust and racial hatred, and they made their voices heard by going out to the polls and voting for the Nazi Party.

It took a fire in the Reichstag, the death of a president, and a night of executions to make the Nazis' power absolute – but that power originated with the will of the people. Democracy died and fascism rose because the people voted for it.

After this look at the Hitler election of 1932, check out these pictures of the Nazi propaganda machine and life in Nazi Germany.

Mark Oliver
Mark Oliver is a writer and teacher, and father whose work has appeared on The Onion's StarWipe, Yahoo, and Cracked.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.