Understanding how Hitler became German helps us deal with modern-day extremists

This is an interesting read in light of what could be in store with the AfD entering a coalition government in a German state. After all, history repeats itself and not always as a farce.

Excerpt from The Conversation.

The role of Braunschweig

How the Nazis rose to power begins in Braunschweig, a small state in Germany.

Hitler had his mind firmly set on attaining political power in Germany. But he faced a problem: He did not have German citizenship — in fact, he was a state-less immigrant living in Germany.

Hitler was born in Austria, moved to Munich in 1913 and revoked his Austrian citizenship in 1925 to avoid being extradited back to his native country. The normal path to German citizenship was cumbersome and uncertain — and Hitler had a major criminal record, after all, due to his involvement in what’s known as the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923.

The issue became urgent when Hitler wanted to run in the 1932 German presidential election. At the time, his party, the NSDAP (Nazi party) shared power in only one of the German states, the small northern free state of Braunschweig (known as Brunswick in English). Hitler therefore asked his party members in Braunschweig to get him citizenship.

Politics in the state of Braunschweig was more polarized than national politics. The state included a substantive urban working class, traditional small businesses and large rural districts. Nationally, German politics of the 1920s was characterized by a succession of multi-party governments bringing together social democrats (SPD) with parties of the centre and centre right.

In Braunschweig, the SPD governed as a majority from 1927 to 1930 under Prime Minister Heinrich Jasper. The centrist and centre-right parties and representatives of small businesses in the state formed an alliance. They viewed the SPD as their main opponent in the 1930 state election, and resented, among other things, the appointment of SPD members to positions in state administration, schools and the university.

Coalition with Nazis

When the SPD lost its majority in the election while the Nazis rose to third place, the alliance parties formed a coalition with Hitler’s party. This coalition government gave the Nazi party the position of speaker of Parliament and minister of the interior.

The Nazis used these positions to effectively promote their interests, and despite various crises, the coalition held on until 1933. Dietrich Klagges, the minister of the interior from 1931, used his position to harass political opposition, undermine democratic processes, intervene in internal matters of the university, and — critically — to give Hitler his German citizenship.

Election results in Braunschweig and Germany, 1918-1933. Klaus Meyer, Author provided

Full article here.