Hitler's Rise to Power: Timeline

Nazi Ascent
Adolf Hitler ascending the steps at Buckeberg flanked by banner-carrying storm troopers who display the Nazi swastika. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

This timeline covers the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, from an obscure group to rulers of Germany. It is meant to support our narrative of Germany’s interwar period.

1889

20 April: Adolf Hitler is born in Austria.

1914

August: Having avoided serving in the military before, a young Hitler is enthused about the start of World War One. He joins the German military; an error means he can remain there.

1918

October: The military, fearing the blame from inevitable defeat, encourage a civilian government to form. Under Prince Max of Baden, they sue for peace.

11 November: World War One ends with Germany signing the armistice. 

1919

23 March: Mussolini forms the fascists in Italy; their success will be a huge influence on Hitler.

28 June: Germany is forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles. Anger at the treaty, and the weight of reparations, will destabilize Germany for years.

31 July: A socialist interim German government is replaced by the official creation of the democratic Weimar Republic.

12 September: Hitler joins the German Workers’ Party, having been sent to spy on it by the military.

1920

24 February: As Hitler becomes increasingly important to the German Workers’ Party thanks to his speeches, they declare a Twenty-Five Point Program to change Germany.

1921

29 July: Hitler is able to become chairman of his party, which is renamed the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, or NSDAP.

1922

30 October: Mussolini manages to turn luck and division into an invitation to run the Italian government. Hitler notes his success.

1923

27 January: Munich holds the first Nazi Party Congress.

9 November: Hitler believes the time is right to stage a coup. Aided by a force of SA brownshirts, the presence of WW1 leader Ludendorff, and browbeaten locals, he stages the Beer Hall Putsch.

It fails.

1924

1 April: Having turned his trial into a grandstand for his ideas and become known across Germany, Hitler is given a derisory five-month prison sentence.

20 December: Hitler released from jail, having written the start of Mein Kampf.

1925

27 February: The NSDAP had gone away from Hitler while he was absent; he reasserts control, determined to pursue a notionally legal course to power.

25 April: Prussian, aristocratic, right-leaning war leader Hindenburg is elected president of Germany.

July: Hitler publishes Mein Kampf, a ranting exploration of what passes as his ideology.

9 November: Hitler forms a personal bodyguard separate from the SA, called the SS.

1927

10 March: the ban on Hitler speaking is lifted; he can now use his mesmeric and violent speechmaking to convert voters.

1928

20 May: Elections to the Reichstag yield just 2.6 of the vote to the NSDAP.

1929

4 October: The New York Stock Market begins to crash, causing a great depression in America and round the world. As the German economy was made dependant on the US by the Dawes plan and after, it begins to collapse.

1930

23 January: Wilhelm Frick becomes interior minister in Thuringia, the first Nazi to hold a notable position.

30 March: Brüning takes charge of Germany via a right-leaning coalition. He wishes to pursue a deflationary policy to counter the depression.

16 July: Facing defeat over his budget, Brüning invokes Article 48 of the constitution which allows the government to pass laws without Reichstag consent. It is the start of a slippery slope for failing German democracy, and the start of a period of rule by Article 48 decrees.

14 September: Boosted by the rising unemployed, the decline of centre parties and a turn to both left and right extremists, the NSDAP get 18.3% of the vote and are the second largest party in the Reichstag.

1931

October: The Harzburg Front is formed to try and organise Germany’s right into a workable opposition to the government and the left. Hitler joins.

1932

January: Hitler is welcomed by a group of industrialists; his support is broadening and gathering money.

13 March: Hitler comes a strong second in the presidential elections; Hindenburg just misses out on election on the first ballot.

10 April: Hindenburg defeats Hitler at the second attempt to become President.

13 April: Brüning’s government ban the SA and other groups from marching.

30 May: Brüning is forced into resigning; Hindenburg is talked into making Franz von Papen chancellor.

16 June: The SA ban is revoked.

31 July: The NSDAP poll 37.4 and become the largest party in the Reichstag.

13 August: Papen offers Hitler post of vice-Chancellor, but Hitler refuses, accepting nothing less than being Chancellor.

30 August: Hermann Göring, long a leading Nazi and a link between Hitler and the aristocracy, becomes President of the Reichstag, and uses this to manipulate events.

6 November: In another election, the Nazi vote shrinks slightly.

21 November: Hitler turns down more government invites wanting nothing less than to be Chancellor.

2 December: Papen is forced out, and Hindenburg is influenced into appointing the General, and prime right wing manipulator Schleicher, chancellor.

1933

30 January: Schleicher is outmanoeuvred by Papen, who persuades Hindenburg than Hitler can be controlled; the latter is made chancellor, with Papen vice-chancellor.

6 February: Hitler introduces censorship.

27 February: With elections looming, the Reichstag burns thanks to a communist extremist. 

28 February: Citing the attack on the Reichstag as evidence of mass communist intent, Hitler passes a law ending civil liberties in Germany.

5 March: The NSDAP, riding on the communist scare and aided by a now tame police force boosted by masses of SA, poll 43.9%. They ban the communists.

21 March: ‘Day of Potsdam’ - The Nazis open the Reichstag in a carefully stage managed act which tries to show them as heirs of the Kaiser.

24 March: Thanks to threatening the Reichstag, Hitler has the Enabling Act passed; it makes him a dictator for four years.

14 July: With other parties being banned or splitting, the NSDAP is the only political party left by law.

1934

30 June: Night of the Long Knives – dozens killed as Hitler shatters the power of the SA, which had been challenging his goals. SA leader Röhm is executed after hoping to merge his force with the army.

3 July: Papen resigns.

2 August: Hindenburg dies. Hitler merges posts of chancellor and president.