An article published by historians Wolfram Pyta and Rainer Orth in the upcoming issue of the “Historischen Zeitschrift” is called “Not without alternatives”.

They show that the appointment of Hitler as Reich Chancellor was by no means the only option that Reich President Hindenburg had at the end of January 1933.

Because the “cross-front” concept of the last Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, General von Schleicher, was much more advanced than previously known.

How could things have continued if Hindenburg had made a different decision?

Naturally, one cannot be sure what would have been different with the former head of the Reich organization and thus second man of the NSDAP, Gregor Strasser, as Vice Chancellor at the side of a reigning Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher than under Reich Chancellor Hitler.

But if you apply the rules of the Berlin cultural historian Alexander Demandt for meaningful reflection on alternative history, there are obvious assumptions.

There are likely to be three concrete effects:

In a brown shirt: the NSDAP parliamentary group in the Reichstag in August 1932

Source: picture alliance / akg-images

First, the NSDAP would have collapsed in the spring of 1933 without the bonus of power.

Because in the super election year of 1932 the brown movement had developed into a disparate reservoir for both convinced National Socialists and protest voters;

only in this way did it even reach the enormous number of almost 14 million voters in the Reichstag elections on July 31st.

Afterwards, however, the party leader had rejected the offer of the Reich President to participate in a new government and insisted on the Reich Chancellorship for himself and the full powers of a presidential cabinet (instead of a government supported by parliament).


That disappointed many protest voters - in the Reichstag election on November 6, 1932, the NSDAP lost the approval of two million voters.

When Hitler rejected another offer from the Reich President, this resulted in massive losses in the otherwise politically unimportant Thuringian municipal elections.

Hitler "swore in" parliamentarians in the "Hotel Kaiserhof" in 1932, Gregor Strasser on his left and Joseph Goebbels behind him

Source: picture alliance / akg-images

As a result, on December 8, 1932, at a meeting of officials in Berlin, Hitler threatened to commit suicide if the NSDAP broke up.

Had he implemented that, his movement, which is strongly fixated on him as the “leader”, would soon have become meaningless.

But even if Hitler hadn't committed suicide but had gone into radical opposition to a Schleicher-Strasser government, the prospects were bad for him, because the myth of the undisputed “Führer” would definitely have been damaged.

Especially since the NSDAP was de facto insolvent at the end of 1932.

The constant election campaigns and the decidedly luxurious life of the “Führer”, largely financed by the party (with the enormously expensive headquarters in Munich, the “Brown House”, the large staff of paid escorts and always staying in the most expensive hotel in the area) had them In any case, large financial reserves have never been largely taken up.

There was no state funding for political parties in the Weimar Republic;

all funds came from members and supporters, as contributions, entrance fees to events or for publications.


Second, Germany would certainly have become a dictatorship under a Schleicher-Strasser team - neither were democrats or even supporters of parliamentarism.

Presumably the Weimar Republic would have developed in the same way as the authoritarian regime of the former Habsburg admiral Miklos Horthy in Hungary since 1920, who regarded himself as an “imperial administrator” - a function that would probably also have corresponded to Hindenburg's self-image.

At most, a development like Italy under the fascist Benito Mussolini would have resulted in the first two or three years of his rule from 1922.

Certainly the KPD would have been suppressed, perhaps also the SPD.

Measures hostile to Jews would presumably also have taken place, because a large number of Strasser supporters in the NSDAP were anti-Semites.

However, not nearly as massive as under Chancellor Hitler.

Police on duty at the "Hotel Kaiserhof" in Berlin, the headquarters of the NSDAP in the Reich capital

Source: picture-alliance / akg-images

One can assume that comparatively “moderate” National Socialists such as the Nazi economic expert Walther Funk, Reichstag President Hermann Göring and others would soon have sided with Strasser.

Propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, on the other hand, would certainly have remained loyal to Hitler, presumably also SA chief Ernst Röhm.

But without a realistic prospect of a takeover (and with it the chance of lots of posts and posts), the brown militia would probably have lost many of their supporters soon.

SS chief Heinrich Himmler was not nearly as powerful at the beginning of 1933 as he was in the summer of 1934.


Thirdly, the hurricane of the “National Socialist Revolution” that swept through Germany from January 30, 1933 to the end of the year would certainly have failed to materialize: this was simply not Gregor Strasser's temperament.

Rather, an alliance of “moderate” Nazis, conservative elites and reactionary forces in society would have emerged.

In the medium term, there would probably have been a war of revenge against Poland anyway.

However, rather not a campaign against the continental power France and certainly not against the Soviet Union - both attacks were an expression of Hitler's very personal way of playing vabanque regardless of the risks.

It can also be certain that a Schleicher-Strasser government would not have organized the Holocaust.

Because even many Nazi supporters accepted the pathological racial hatred of Hitler and Goebbels until the beginning of 1933 rather than actively supporting it.

The driving force behind the murder of millions of Jews became younger, often well-trained SS functionaries, whom the Berlin historian Michael Wildt calls the “generation of the absolute”, but for whom the SS only became attractive after Hitler came to power.

However, all thinking about conceivable deviating courses of further events must remain speculation;

the alternative to Hitler was never implemented.

Even so, thinking about it sharpens the understanding of what actually happened.

Gregor Strasser reads his first radio speech on May 31, 1932

Source: picture-alliance / akg-images

Incidentally, the tactics of Schleicher and Strasser in January 1933 had fatal consequences around 17 months later: Both the former Chancellor and the former Reich Organizational Leader of the NSDAP, although they had deliberately held back after Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor, on June 30, 1934 during the " Röhm Putsches ”shot, the former general even with his wife.

Obviously the "Führer" had taken the challenge very badly.

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