Germany’s descent into Nazism was a multi-decade process that began with the end of WWI and ended in 1934 when government and society came under the complete control of the Nazi Party. One of the most significant steps in this process occurred on July 29th, 1921, when Adolf Hitler took control of the Nazi Party.
One thing that most people don’t know is that Adolf Hitler was not the founder or the first leader of the Nazi Party. That distinction belongs to Anton Drexler, who founded the German Worker’s Party in January of 1919. Drexler founded the party with the attention of making Germany a nationalist and vaguely socialist country. The party was very small initially, and had fewer than one hundred people when Hitler joined in September of that year. However, once Hitler joined he began to rapidly grow the Party’s base of support. His fiery and impassioned speeches attracted a myriad of dissatisfied Germans and by 1920 the newly renamed National Socialist German Worker’s Party had over 2,000 members. Hitler also began to emphasize the already existent antisemitism and gradually turned the party’s message away from socialism as he became the face of the movement. However, a crisis began when, in 1921, members of the executive committee made plans to merge with the German Socialist Party. Hitler opposed this, and on July 11th he returned from a fundraising trip to tender his resignation. The other leaders knew that the loss of Hitler would destroy the Party’s support. Thus, when Hitler offered to rejoin if he was allowed to replace Drexler as leader, the party Congress voted 533 to 1 in favor of the proposal. Hitler would thus become Fuhrer of the Nazi Party, and in little over a decade would become Fuhrer of Germany.
Hitler’s meteoric rise within the ranks of the Nazi Party and eventual takeover of Germany shows just how dangerous the combination of skill and pure moral evil is. Hitler used his rhetorical ability to advance his own reputation and power, with the ultimate goal of enforcing his vision on Germany and on the world. Evil alone is not enough, rather, it must be paired with great talent in order to inflict great harm.