How Did Hitler Get People to Follow Him?

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Hitler was an extremely gifted orator who knew what his audience wanted to hear and how to package it. His appeal was especially strong in a nation torn apart by World War I and the Great Depression.

An enormous part of Hitler’s appeal was his selection of scapegoats. His first scapegoats were the nations that had punished Germany after World War I. According to The Holocaust Explained, “Hitler used his skills of oratory to appeal to the patriotism of the German people by promising to break free of the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles.” Hitler vowed to return Germany to its former glory and to deliver it from the clutches of the Great Depression which had ravaged the country with famine and unemployment. Hitler also used Jews as scapegoats, attacking them in fiery speeches, blaming them for the world financial collapse and claiming that they undermined German society from within.

In the years immediately preceding World War II, Hitler seemed to deliver on many of his promises. The economy improved, and Germany’s military rebounded dramatically. Even territories in Czechoslovakia and Austria were brought into the German fold. Hitler’s vision of Germany’s future seemed to be coming true. In his speeches and in Nazi propaganda, Hitler wove together fear, romantic idealism and just enough truth to appeal to people’s actual situations and to suggest that his own leadership was infallible.