Why Did Germans Vote for the Nazi Party?
GRADE LEVEL AND APPLICABILITY: 7–12
SUBJECTS: World History, US History, European History, Political Science, Citizenship, Holocaust Studies
TIME REQUIRED: 1–2 days
Based on an exercise from Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior (Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation. Brookline, MA, 1994) and John M. Good’s The Shaping of Western Society: An Inquiry Approach (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. New York, 1968).
Learners new to this history may assume that all Germans or all Nazi voters were antisemites. They may have a simplistic view of the Nazi rise to power. Also, study of the Holocaust often starts with the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor. This lesson encourages consideration of the realities in Germany after World War I and how the Nazi party attracted voters throughout this period.
Antisemitism was a central and prominent tenet of Nazi ideology. However, voters in any election may focus on a single issue, prioritize their responses, embrace all policies, or ignore stated political views depending on current events, campaign literature, and personal beliefs and situations. This was true throughout the period leading up to 1933. Thus, students will consider that there may have been multiple reasons to support the Nazis.