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Rise of the Nazi Party

Before 1929, the Nazi party was considered a fringe, far-right party that had very little popular support. This changed with the worldwide economic depression, as millions of Germans found themselves out of work and still humiliated by Germany’s defeat in World War I a decade earlier. Anger and impatience with the government’s perceived inaction, coupled with a sense of desperation and helplessness, set the stage for Adolf Hitler’s rise in popularity.

Along with promising the German public a return to traditional values and economic strength, he and other orators in the Nazi party redirected the anger of the people to the Jews, socialists, and communists, whom he used as scapegoats for all the nation’s problems. Their clever use of propaganda and the fraught economic conditions gave the Nazis a majority in the German parliament, and through a questionable and non-electoral process, Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. Within a month, constitutional civil rights were suspended, and from there the government was quickly consolidated and any remaining illusion of democracy was dissolved.

Both inside and outside Germany, the term “Third Reich” was often used to describe the Nazi regime in Germany from January 30, 1933, to May 8, 1945.