Hitler's Rise to Power: A Timeline

Timeline of Hitler's rise to power

ThoughtCo.

Adolf Hitler's rise to power began during Germany's interwar period, a time of great social and political upheaval. Within a matter of years, the Nazi Party was transformed from an obscure group to the nation's leading political faction.

1889

April 20: Adolf Hitler is born in Braunau am Inn, Austria-Hungary. His family later moves to Germany.

1914

August: Hitler joins the German military at the start of World War I. Some historians believe this is the result of an administrative error; as an Austrian citizen, Hitler should not be allowed to join the German ranks.

1918

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

November 11: World War I ends with Germany signing an armistice.

1919

March 23: Benito Mussolini forms the National Fascist Party in Italy. Its success will be a huge influence on Hitler.

June 28: Germany is forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles, which imposes strict sanctions on the country. Anger at the treaty and the weight of reparations will destabilize Germany for years.​

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

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

1920

February 24: Hitler becomes increasingly important to the German Workers’ Party thanks to his speeches. The group declares a Twenty-Five Point Program to transform Germany.

1921

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

1922

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

1923

January 27: Munich holds the first Nazi Party Congress.

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

1924

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

December 20: Hitler is released from jail, where he has written the beginning of "Mein Kampf."

1925

February 27: The NSDAP had moved away from Hitler's influence during his absence; now free, he reasserts control, determined to pursue a notionally legal course to power.

April 5: Prussian, aristocratic, right-leaning war leader Paul von Hindenburg is elected president of Germany.

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

November 9: Hitler forms a personal bodyguard unit separate from the SA, known as the SS.

1928

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

1929

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

1930

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

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

July 16: 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.

September 14: Boosted by the rising unemployment rate, the decline of center parties, and a turn to both left and right extremists, the NSDAP wins 18.3 percent of the vote and becomes the second largest party in the Reichstag.

1931

October: The Harzburg Front is formed to try to organize Germany’s right wing 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.

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

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

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

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

June 16: The SA ban is revoked.

July 31: The NSDAP polls 37.4 percent and becomes the largest party in the Reichstag.

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

August 31: Hermann Göring, long a leading Nazi and a link between Hitler and the aristocracy, becomes president of the Reichstag and uses his new power to manipulate events.

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

November 21: Hitler turns down more government offers, wanting nothing less than to be chancellor.

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

1933

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

February 6: Hitler introduces censorship.

February 27: With elections looming, the Reichstag is set on fire by a communist.

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

March 5: The NSDAP, riding on the communist scare and aided by a now tame police force boosted by masses of SA, polls at 43.9 percent. The Nazis ban the communists.

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

March 24: Hitler passes the Enabling Act; it makes him a dictator for four years.

July 14: With other parties banned or splitting up, the NSDAP becomes the only political party left in Germany.

1934

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

July 3: Papen resigns.

August 2: Hindenburg dies. Hitler merges the posts of chancellor and president, becoming the supreme leader of Nazi Germany.