By Marshall Cavendish Corporation
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Additional resources for Countdown to Catastrophe
Most political observers, however, did not expect Hitler to bring many changes to Germany. They were wrong. Hitler was determined to secure all power to himself. After the Reichstag fire, parliament gave emergency powers to Hitler. Now he could pass laws without a vote of parliament. Still, Hitler called another election. He hoped that the Nazis could gain an outright majority of the vote. But the election in March 1933 disappointed him. The Nazis won 44 percent of the vote. They were the largest party, but did not gain a true majority.
America’s economy grew rapidly during Coolidge’s presidency. The stock market rose higher and higher. There were some warning signs of trouble ahead. But Americans spent their money freely, assuming the good times would go on forever. Banks made loans easier to get. Consumer debt rose sharply. It became very popular to borrow money to buy stocks. United States Unemployment as a percentage of working population There was a steep rise in unemployment between 1928 and 1939. 30% 20% 10% 0 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 THE UNITED STATES BETWEEN THE WARS 41 From Boom to Bust In 1927, President Coolidge decided not to run for reelection.
Hitler’s great skill was in public speaking. Within three years the party had grown from one hundred members to more than 5,000. Hitler established the Sturmabteilung (SA), or storm troopers. They were organized like a small army. They engaged in street fighting, especially against the Communists. Hitler also shaped the ideas and goals of the party. Hitler claimed that Germany had been “stabbed in the back,” and that Jews and Communists were destroying the country. He did not hide his hatred for democratic government.