Alfred Hugenberg - Hitler's Rise To Power

Hitler's Rise To Power

In early January 1933 Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher had developed plans for an expanded coalition government to include not only Hugenberg but also dissident Nazi Gregor Strasser and Centre Party politician Adam Stegerwald. Although Hugenberg had designs on a return to government his hatred of trade union activity meant that he had no intention of working with Stegerwald, the head of the Catholic Trade Union movement. When von Schleicher refused to exclude Stegerwald from his plans, Hugenberg broke off negotiations.

Hugenberg's main confidante Reinhold Quaatz had, despite being half-Jewish, pushed for Hugenberg to follow a more völkisch path and work with the Nazi Party and after the collapse of the von Schleicher talks this was the path he followed. Hugenberg and Hitler met on January 17, 1933 and Hugenberg suggested that they both enter the cabinet of Kurt von Schleicher, a proposal rejected by Hitler who would not move from his demands for the Chancellorship. Hitler did agree in principle to allow von Schleicher to serve under him as Defence Minister, although Hugenberg warned the Nazi leader that as long as Paul von Hindenburg was President Hitler would never be Chancellor. A further meeting between the two threatened to derail any alliance after Hugenberg rejected Hitler's demands for Nazi control over the interior ministries of Germany and Prussia but by this time Franz von Papen had come round to the idea of Hitler as Chancellor and he worked hard to persuade the two leaders to come together.

During the negotiations between Franz von Papen and President Paul von Hindenburg, Hindenburg had insisted that Hugenberg be given the ministires of Economics and Agriculture both at national level and in Prussia as a condition of Hitler becoming Chancellor, something of a surprise given the President's well publicised dislike of Hugenberg. Hugenberg, eager for a share of power, agreed to the plan and continued to believe that he could use Hitler for his own ends, telling the Stahlhelm leader Theodor Duesterberg that "we'll box Hitler in". He initially rejected HItler's plans to immediately call a fresh election, fearing that damage such a vote might inflict on his own party but, after being informed by Otto Meißner that the plan had Hindenburg's endorsement and by von Papen that von Schleicher was preparing to launch a military coup, he conceded to Hitler's wishes. Hugenberg vigorously campaigned for the NSDAP–DNVP alliance, although other leading members within his party expressed fears over socialist elements to Nazi rhetoric and instead appealed for a nonparty dictatorship, pleas ignored by Hitler.

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