There is much evidence that Hitler was an inspiring leader who had a keen understanding of the common German people - the Volk - and used his unrivalled public oratory skills to win over audiences all over Germany to vote for him and his party. This, coupled with his astuteness when dealing with other politicians, undoubtedly contributed to him coming to power. However it is unlikely that Hitler would have ever succeeded in his goal of becoming chancellor if it was not for the poverty and starvation that stemmed from the global economic crisis of the Wall Street crash and his exploitation of the situation by promising what the people desired most - ‘Bread and Work’.
In the late 1920s and early ‘30s, during election campaigning for the Weimar parliament, Hitler understood that without the support from the peasant class, he would not be able to get enough votes to come into power. As a result, Hitler toured the length and breadth of Germany, speaking to anyone that would listen to him and converting them through his expertise in public speaking and tailoring his words to suit the audience he was addressing. We know this because Joseph Goebbels book “Der Führer als Redner” (The leader as a speaker) addresses the fact that when Hitler:
“Spoke to a meeting filled primarily with his political opponents… he was rejected. For two hours he struggled with the stubbornness of his audience, addressing all their problems and objections until at the end there was only thundering agreement, jubilation and enthusiasm. As he concluded, someone yelled from the highest row: “Hitler is Columbus!”
Hitler was obviously an extremely persuasive and compelling speaker, but that alone wasn’t enough to be elected. To supplement this, he engineered his campaign around simple messages containing what the Volk desired the most – ‘Bread and work’ – and opened Nazi soup kitchens in rural areas, which no other parties were doing at the time. Even the name ‘Nationalist Socialist German Worker’s Party’ was designed to attract as many people as possible, as nationalists would not usually support a socialist party and vice versa.
The rigorous campaigning and all of Hitler's hard work paid off, as the Nazi party made substantial gains but they fell slightly short of a majority, and were therefore not totally in control of the government.
In the Reichstag, seats were allocated via a proportional representation system, which meant that Germany was constantly governed by a coalition. This had many advantages in theory, as it meant that both right and left wing parties could work together to find the best solution Germany’s problems, but when it was put into practice, parties with different viewpoints could not effectively work together, creating a weak and unstable government. During the fourteen years of the Weimar Republic, nine elections were held, two in each of the years 1924 and 1932.
Hitler however, used his shrewd understanding of politics to play off his opponents– Von Schleicher and Von Papen - in this parliament of coalitions in order to win the position of Chancellor for himself and power for his party.
In early 1933, Von Schleicher offered Hitler the position of Vice-Chancellor to ensure his government had a workable majority in parliament with the support of Hitler’s Nazi party; but Hitler was politically clever enough to not want to be associated with a failing governing party, or as a subordinate to Von Schleicher’s weak Chancellor. He refused the office, and instead gambled on being asked by Von Papen to fill the top job of Chancellor if his Nazi parliamentarians supported Von Papen’s party and formed the government. Hitler risked losing his chance at being in government, but it paid off, as shortly thereafter he was offered the top job by Von Papen and President Hindenburg. Both naively believed that they could control…