Examine the importance of each of the following in the rise to power of Hitler: popular support for their aims; underestimation by opponents; economic conditions.

 From the November 2014 paper 2 DP History exam


From the markscheme:

 “Popular support for their aims”: candidates are required to identify the specific aims of the selected aspiring leader. Whether these aims were significant in garnering popular support – and why – needs to be addressed and supported by reference to specific evidence of how such support was manifested. Popular support can, in the case of Stalin, also be taken to mean popular support within the party, since Stalin’s rise occurred in a single-party state where, arguably, mass support was less important. The aims of the selected leader could be considered in relation to economic aims, attempts to address issues of political instability etc. In the case of Stalin, the proclaimed aim to continue the legacy of Lenin could be considered. For Hitler, the aims outlined in Mein Kampf may be discussed and the appeal of extreme nationalism in the wake of the First World War. 

Hitler directed his speeches towards all sections of German society with varying degrees of success. “Underestimation by opponents” requires candidates to identify those individuals, parties, and institutions within the state that were hostile to the aspiring leader and to explain what errors were made by them in building an effective barrier to the rise of the aspiring leader. For Stalin the succession dispute (already underway even before Lenin’s death) should be well known with reference to the Triumvirate, the lack of effective opposition from Trotsky and his supporters and the failure of party leaders such as Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin, Tomsky, Rykov etc to appreciate the nature and extent of the threat posed. For Hitler underestimation could be addressed by reference to the lack of a united front by the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) to counter the rise of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) (and why) as well as the failure of parties such as the German National People’s Party (DNVP) and the Centre Party (Zentrum) to recognise the dangers posed by a regime led by Hitler. The collaboration and underestimation by leading figures such as von Hindenburg and von Papen by 1933 could also be examined. 

“Economic conditions” requires identification of specific problems faced by the state and the inability of the existing leaders to adequately deal with them. Such problems allowed aspiring leaders to put forward policies and/or promises that were appealing to a party or population that sought security and material benefits. 

For Stalin, the mixed reactions to the New Economic Policy (NEP) may be discussed, as well as his proposal for Socialism in One Country. For Hitler, the impact of high unemployment, the failure of banks and fears of a repetition of the inflationary crisis of 1923, would be relevant. Specific details are required to support arguments.

 Example 1 (written under timed exam conditions by an excellent former student)

Example 2: