Early timeline of Nazism

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The early timeline of Nazism begins with its origins and continues until Hitler's rise to power.

Prehistory of National Socialism

  • 1834: The term "Nationalsozialismus" first appears in print, in Börsenblatt für den deutschen Buchhandel on page 36.
  • 1841: German economist Friedrich List's Das Nationale System der Politischen Ökonomie (National System of Political Economy) is published, espousing settlement farming and agricultural expansion eastwards along with economic industrialization manipulated by the state, and the establishment of a German-dominated European economic sphere as part of the solution to Germany's economic woes (predecessor ideas to Nazi imperialism).[1]
  • 1856: French aristocrat and author, Arthur de Gobineau, publishes his Treatise on the Inequality of Human Races in which he divides the human species into three races, black, white, and yellow; arguing therein that racial distinctions form a clear and natural genetic barrier of sorts. Gobineau also wrote that racial mixing would lead to chaos. While not an anti-Semite, his work is often characterized as philosemitic (since he wrote positively about the Jews), but it is still considered an early manifestation of scientific racism. Historian Joachim C. Fest, in his seminal biography entitled, Hitler, claims that Arthur de Gobineau's negative views on race mixing influenced Hitler and thereby, the ideology of National Socialism.[2]
  • 1870: The term "National Socialism" first appears in English, in "The sects of the Russian Church", The North British Review, Volumes 52-53.
  • 1878: Founding year of the anti-Semitic Christian Social Worker's Party by Adolf Stoecker.
  • 1884: "National Socialism" is mentioned in "Fabian Tracts", Fabian Publications, Great Britain.
  • 1888: German jurist and international law reformer, Franz von Liszt argues that criminal characteristics are innate as opposed to being determined by a person's social environment and coins the term, Kriminalbiologie (Criminal Biology),[3] a theory which renders criminals incapable of rehabilitation and would later influence Nazi anthropologists and racial hygiene proponents in their justification for sterilization and euthanasia.
  • 20 April 1889: Adolf Hitler born at Braunau am Inn, Austria.
  • 1891: Formation of Pan-German League ; Wilhelm Schallmayer publishes a treatise on eugenics, espousing that the neglect of a nation's racial fitness could have negative political consequences for a state.
  • 1895: Alfred Ploetz coins the term Rassenhygiene (Racial Hygiene).
  • 1896: The Czech National Social Party is formed.
  • 1897: Franko Stein moves a small periodical Der Hammer from Vienna to Eger.
  • May 1898: Maurice Barrès, while standing as a nationalist candidate for Nancy, France, coins the term "Socialist Nationalism".
  • 1898: German Workers Congress is organized by Stein in Eger (Cheb).
  • 1899: Houston Stewart Chamberlain writes Die Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century), a work which influenced many prominent Nazis. Ludwig Woltmann also publishes a tract asserting the superiority of Germanic people and promotes the need for additional Lebensraum (living space).
  • April 1902: Organization of Nationalistic Labor takes place in Saaz.
  • 15 November 1903: Deutsche Arbeiterpartei in Österreich is formed. (DAP)
  • 1904: Hans Knirsch proposes to add "National Socialist" to the Austrian DAP name, but the proposal is rejected by party congress conferees.
  • 1905: Racial Hygiene Society founded by Alfred Ploetz.
  • 1909: An "All-Austrian" congress of the German Workers’ Party is held in Prague.
  • 1912: Controversial book, Wenn ich der Kaiser wär (If I were the emperor) by Heinrich Class appears, a work which promotes imperialism, rife with Pan-Germanism and antisemitic commentary.

World War I


  • 28 July: World War I breaks out.
  • 2 August: Adolf Hitler receives permission to enlist; joins the 16th Reserve Infantry Regiment in Munich
  • 30 October: Adolf Hitler is transferred to regimental staff as a runner.
  • 1 November: Adolf Hitler is promoted to Gefreiter, the equivalent of a senior private or corporal).


  • Eugenicist Madison Grant publishes, The Passing of the Great Race which promotes the genetic supremacy of the Nordic race while warning of its racial decline, a treatise quickly embraced by members of the German racial hygiene movement.



  • March: Anton Drexler founded a branch of Freien Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden (Free Workers' Committee for a good Peace) league in Munich.[4]
  • 17 July: Adolf Hitler saves the life of the 9th Company Commander.
  • 4 August: Adolf Hitler awarded the Iron Cross, 1st Class.
  • 13 October: Adolf Hitler gassed near Ypres.
  • 7 November: 100,000 workers march on the Royal House of Wittelsbach. Kaiser Wilhelm II flees.
  • 8 November: All 22 of Germany’s lesser kings, princes, grand dukes, and ruling dukes have been deposed. Kaiser Wilhelm told to abdicate.
  • 9 November: Emil Eichhorn, radical leftist of the Independent Socialists, leads an armed mob and seizes the HQ of Berlin; Kaiser Wilhelm consents to abdicate; Social Democrats demand government from Prince Max; Friedrich Ebert assumes the chancellery; First German Republic established.
  • 11 November: First World War ends.
  • 19 November: Hitler discharged from hospital at Pasewalk.
  • December: German conservative organization, Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten founded by former German Army reserve officer and industrialist Franz Seldte in Magdeburg.
  • Mid-December: First Freikorps unit formed; Maercker Volunteer Rifles.


  • January: Independent Socialists and Spartacist League staged large protests, known as the Spartacist uprising; large sections of Berlin seized; German Gov. moved to the city of Weimar.
  • 5 January: German Workers' Party (DAP) is founded from the branch of "Free Workers' Committee for a good Peace" league and the Political Workers' Circle in Munich.[4]
  • 10 January: Battle of Berlin begins; Counter-revolution with Freikorps takes crucial role.
  • 13 January: Battle of Berlin ends.
  • 15 January: Communist leaders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg are murdered by Freikorps officers
  • March: Adolf Hitler finishes job of guarding Russian prisoners.
  • 3 March: 2nd Battle for Berlin; Communists seize Berlin; Gustav Noske appointed dictator of Germany.
  • 7 March: Communist Strike Committee withdraws proclamation and makes peace overtures to government.
  • 10 March: Gustav Noske orders Peoples’ Naval Division disbanded. Battle for Berlin over.
  • 14 April: Freikorps suppress communists in Dresden.
  • 16 April: "Battle" of the Bavarian government troops at Dachau; Communists defeat Republican forces.
  • 18 April: Freikorps suppress communists in Brunswick.
  • 27 April: Battle for Munich occurs between Communists and Freikorps units.
  • 2 May: City of Munich taken; not declared secure until May 6; approximately 1200 Communists slaughtered.
  • 10 May: Freikorps suppress communists in Leipzig.
  • 22 June: German Reichstag ratify the Versailles Treaty.
  • 28 June: Versailles Treaty signed in the Hall of Mirrors (Palace of Versailles).

Weimar Republic


  • 11 August 1919: The Weimar Constitution is announced.
  • 12 September 1919: Adolf Hitler joins the German Workers' Party in Munich, becoming its 55th member.[5][6] In less than a week, Hitler received a postcard stating he had officially been accepted as a party member.[7]
  • Late fall: Freikorps fight the Red Army in the Baltic, eventually retreat in chaos; first Silesian uprising, in which many Freikorps see combat.


  • Many Freikorps were disbanded. Some go underground, to reappear later.
  • January: The DAP grows to 190 members.[8]
  • February: Inter-Allied Control Commission order 2/3 of Freikorps disbanded; DAP changes its name to National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP).
  • 24 February: First public meeting of the DAP. The party announces its first programme, known as the "25 points."
  • 13 March to 17 March: Kapp Putsch
  • 31 March: Adolf Hitler mustered out of the army.[9]
  • April: Government stops paying Freikorps units.
  • 3 April: 21 different Freikorps units, under the command of General Baron Oskar von Watter, annihilate the Ruhr Uprising in five days; thousands killed.
  • 10 May: Dr. Joseph Wirth and Walter Rathenau announce their "Policy of Fulfillment"; not received well by nationalist groups.
  • 8 August: Founding date of the NSDAP
  • 11 August: National Disarmament Law takes effect; disbands civil guards.
  • 19 August to 25 August: Second Silesian uprising, German Freikorps see more combat.
  • 17 December: NSDAP buys its first paper, the Völkischer Beobachter.
  • 31 December: NSDAP party membership was recorded at 2000.[8]


  • Third Silesian uprising; German forces see more combat.
  • Hermann Erhardt forms Organisation Consul, a paramilitary group, out of former members of his banned Freikorps.
  • Eugen Fischer, Erwin Baur, and Fritz Lenz publish the standard work of German racialism, Menschliche Erblichkeitslehre und Rassenhygiene (Human Hereditary Teaching and Racial Hygiene), a work which later helps form part of the scientific basis to the Nazi racial hygiene policies and their euthanasia campaign.[10]
  • February 1921: highly effective at speaking to large audiences—Hilter spoke to a crowd of over 6,000 in Munich.[8]
  • 28 July: Adolf Hitler is elected Vorsitzender (chairman) of the NSDAP with only one dissenting vote. Executive Committee of the party is dissolved. Party Founder Anton Drexler is made "Honorary Chairman" and resigns from the party soon after. Hitler soon begins to refer to himself as "Der Führer" (The Leader).[11]
  • August 1921: NSDAP party membership was recorded at 3,300.[8]


  • Prototype versions of the Hitler Youth form.
  • The Prussian State Health Commission for Racial Hygiene (Preussischer Landesgesundheitsrat für Rassenhygiene) works to centralise the institute's research concerning the practical application of racial hygiene, eugenics and anthropology.[12]
  • 12 January: Adolf Hitler sentenced to three months for disturbance of 14 September 1921.
  • 24 June: Hitler incarcerated; German Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau assassinated, some involved are in the Organisation Consul.
  • July: Inflation hits the German economy: 670 RM = 1 US$
  • 27 July: Hitler released.
  • August: 2,000 RM = 1 USD
  • October: 4,500 RM = 1 USD
  • 28 October: Benito Mussolini establishes his Fascist dictatorship in Italy.
  • November: 10,000 RM = 1 USD
  • 22 November: Dr. Wirth leaves office
  • 27 December: France occupies the Ruhr.


  • 28 January: First Parteitage (Nazi Party Day) held under the slogan Deutschland Erwache (Germany Awake) in Munich.
  • February: Reichsbank buys back RM; stabilizes RM at 20,000 to 1 USD
  • 4 May: RM 40,000 = 1 USD
  • 27 May: Albert Leo Schlageter, a German freebooter and saboteur, executed by a French firing squad in the Ruhr. Hitler declared him a hero that the German people was not worthy to possess.
  • 1 June: RM 70,000-1 USD
  • 30 June: RM 150,000-1USD
  • 1-7 August: Inflation became hyperinflation: RM 3,500,000-1USD
  • 13 August: Dr. Wilhelm Cuno leaves office
  • 15 August: RM 4,000,000-1USD
  • 1 September: RM 10,000,000-1USD
  • 1 September: German Day Rally takes place in Nuremberg
  • 24 September: Chancellor Stresemann ends the passive resistance in the Ruhr; infuriates the nationalists.
  • 30 September: Major Fedor von Bock crushes a coup attempt by the Black Reichswehr.
  • RM 60,000,000-1USD
  • 6 October: Dr. Gustav Stresemann (People’s) forms 2nd cabinet
  • 20 October: General Alfred Mueller marched on Saxony to prevent a communist takeover.
  • General Otto von Lossow in Bavaria is relieved of command by Berlin; he refuses.
  • 23 October: Communist takeover of Hamburg
  • 25 October: Hamburg uprising suppressed
  • 8 November: Beer Hall Putsch
  • 9 November: Beer Hall Putsch quelled.


  • 26 February: Hitler Putsch trial begins.
  • 01 April: Hitler sentenced to five-years at Landsberg prison. From here, Hitler writes Mein Kampf with the assistance of Rudolf Hess.
  • 24 October: France recognizes the Communist state known as the Soviet Union, alarming German conservatives in the process.
  • 20 December: Hitler released from the Landsberg Prison.


  • 21 January: Japan recognizes the U.S.S.R.
  • 24 February: The NSDAP is reformulated.
  • Summer 1925: Vol. 1 of Hitler's Mein Kampf released
  • 7 July: French troops withdraw from the German Rhineland.
  • 14 July: Allied evacuation of the Ruhr valley begins.
  • July-August: Germans are forced to leave Poland and Poles are expedited out of Germany in disputed territories.
  • 11 November: Schutzstaffel created as a sort of praetorian guard for Hitler.
  • 27 November: Locarno Treaties ratified by Reichstag.


  • 04 July: Nazi Party "Re-founding Congress" takes place in Weimar


  • May: Hitler speaking ban lifted in Bavaria.
  • 17 August: Franco-German commercial treaty signed.
  • 20 August: "Day of Awakening" celebrated in Nuremberg


  • 20 March: NSDAP gains 2.6% of the vote in Reichstag elections.
  • 20 October: Alfred Hugenberg becomes head of DNVP


  • 02 August: "Party Day of Composure" occurs in Nuremberg
  • 16 October: Liberty Law campaign officially begins. The Nazi Party joins a coalition of conservative groups under Hugenberg's leadership to oppose the Young Plan.
  • 22 December: The Liberty Law referendum is defeated. Hitler denounces Hugenberg's leadership parlance.
  • Heinrich Himmler appointed chief of the SS. He begins to transform it into a powerful organization


  • September: Hitler at trial of 3 SA Lieutenants disavows the SA goals of replacing the army and hence appeases the army.
  • 14 September: In a milestone election, Nazis gain 6 million votes in national polling to emerge as the second largest party in Germany.


  • 11 May: Austrian Kreditanstalt collapses
  • May: Four million unemployed in Germany.
  • 20 June: Herbert Hoover puts moratorium on reparations.
  • 13 July: German bank crisis.
  • 18 September: Geli Raubal dies.
  • 11 October: Harzburg Front formed of coalition between DNVP, Stahlhelm, and Nazi Party
  • Himmler recruits Reinhard Heydrich to form the 'Ic Service' (intelligence service) within the SS; later in 1932 it was renamed the Sicherheitsdienst (SD).
  • December: Unemployment (Arbeitslosigkeit) reaches 5.6 million in Germany as people become more and more disillusioned with the German government.


  • 13 March: Hitler convincingly defeated by Hindenburg in his first bid for German president.
  • 10 April: Hindenburg reelected to Reichspresident with 53% of the vote. Hitler gains 37% and the communist candidate Thälmann gains 10.2%
  • 13 April: The SA and SS are prohibited from existing by Chancellor Brüning.
  • 30 May: Henrich Bruening (Center) leaves office and is replaced by Franz von Papen.
  • 1 June: Franz von Papen cabinet
  • 16 June: Papen lifts the ban on the SA and SS.
  • 16 June - 9 July: The Lausanne conference takes place.
  • 20 July: "Preußenschlag": Papen dissolves Prussian government.
  • 31 July: Reichstag elections: Nazi party becomes the largest party with 13.7 million votes and acquire 230 out of 608 seats in the Reichstag.
  • 9 August: Konrad Piecuch, a Polish communist activist who took part in Silesian Uprisings against German rule is murdered in Germany by SA; Hitler defends the murderers in German press.
  • 6 November: Reichstag elections: Nazi party loses votes.
  • 17 November: Franz von Papen leaves office.
  • 2 December: Reichswehr General Kurt von Schleicher becomes Chancellor for a very brief period.
  • 18 December: Major dispute between NSDAP figures Gregor Strasser and Hitler erupts. Strasser resigns from the Nazi party.

Nazi Revolution


  • 4 January: Secret meeting between Hitler and Papen occurs.
  • 23 January: Schleicher resigns as Chancellor.
  • 30 January: President Hindenburg appoints Hitler chancellor of a Nazi-DNVP coalition.
  • 1 February: Dissolution of the Reichstag
  • 2 February: Hitler meets with top military leaders, describes his plans to rearm Germany.
  • 17 February: Prussian Interior Ministry permits the shooting of "enemies of the state" under the direction of Hermann Goering.
  • 27 February: Reichstag fire occurred, it was officially blamed on Communists.
  • 28 February: Hitler awarded emergency powers under the presidential decree, Law for the Protection of People and State ("Reichstag Fire Decree"): civil liberties suspended. Gleichschaltung ("coordination"), the process of exerting totalitarian control over Germany, begins. Over the next five months, the Nazis systematically force all opposition political parties to shut down.
  • 5 March: General Elections result in slim majority of Hitler's coalition, though not a majority for the Nazi Party.
  • 9 March: Heinrich Himmler becomes Police President in Munich.
  • 13 March: Joseph Goebbels named Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.
  • 16 March: Hjalmar Schacht takes over the role of President of the Reichsbank from Hans Luther.
  • 17 March: Sepp Dietrich assumes command of Hitler's body guard, the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler.
  • 22 March: Dachau concentration camp opens, begins receiving political prisoners. First Nazi "racial hygiene" office established in the Interior Ministry.
  • 24 March: Enabling Act, passed with help of Catholic Center Party, effectively hands the legislative powers of the Reichstag over to the Chancellor. Act permits Chancellor and cabinet to issue laws without a vote of Parliament and to deviate from the Constitution.
  • 1 April: One day boycott of Jewish shops. Himmler is appointed police commander of Bavaria.
  • 7 April: "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service" - Jewish and Communist inclined workers from the Civil Service purged, around 5% removed in total. Nazi governors appointed to rule the German states. End of federalism. Papen resigns as Reich Commissioner of Prussia.
  • 26 April: Hermann Göring forms the Gestapo (Secret State Police) in the state of Prussia.
  • 1 May: Trade union offices are stormed by SA.
  • 2 May: Trade unions banned from Germany. DAF (German Labor Front) created and headed by Robert Ley
  • 6 May: DAF Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labour Front) is created.
  • 10 May: A large number of Nazi book burnings takes place across Germany.
  • 23 May: Hitler visits Kiel Harbor to see the fleet consisting of the old pre-dreadnought battleships Schlesien, Hessen, and Schleswig-Holstein and the light cruisers Karlsruhe, Königsberg, and Leipzig. He boards Leipzig with leading SS and government officials including General Werner von Blomberg, Admiral Erich Raeder, Hermann Göring, and Franz von Papen.
  • 6 July: At a gathering of high-ranking Nazi officials, Hitler declares the success of the National Socialist, or Nazi revolution.
  • 14 July: Hitler proclaims the Nazi Party "the only political party in Germany." All others banned.
  • 20 July: Reichskonkordat signed with Holy See. Violations by Germany begin immediately.
  • 22 September: The Reich Chamber of Culture is established with Joseph Goebbels becoming its figurehead.
  • 14 October: Germany officially withdraws from the League of Nations.
  • 9 November: Freikorps symbolically pledge allegiance to Hitler in a huge ceremony.
  • 12 November: Reichstag elections occur with the Nazis acquiring 95.2 percent of the vote (unsurprisingly) in a new single-party state.
  • 27 November: Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy) program established.
  • 30 November: The secret state police organization known as the Gestapo which had only previously existed in Prussia is given authority throughout greater Germany.
  • Fall: Hitler reveals to his close associates a plan to annex Western Poland and create a ring of puppet states around Germany without any policies of their own[13]


  • 11 April: Pact of the Deutschland: Hitler persuades the top officials of the army and navy to back his bid to succeed Hindenburg as president, by promising to "diminish" the three-million-man plus SA and greatly expand the regular army and navy.
  • 20 April: Gestapo is transferred from Göring to Himmler & Heydrich, who begin to integrate it into the SS.
  • 16 May: German officer corps endorses Hitler to succeed the ailing President Hindenburg.
  • 30 June - 2 July: Night of the Long Knives or Blood Purge: On pretext of suppressing an alleged SA putsch, much of the brownshirt leadership (i.e. Ernst Röhm) are arrested and executed. Schleicher and other political enemies are murdered. Papen briefly imprisoned; between 150 and 200 were killed. The SS, formerly part of the SA, now comes to the forefront.[14]
  • 13 July: Defending the purge, Hitler declares that to defend Germany he has the right to act unilaterally as "supreme judge" without resort to courts.
  • 2 August: President Hindenburg died. The previous day, the cabinet had enacted the "Law Concerning the Highest State Office of the Reich". This law stated that upon Hindenburg's death, the office of president would be abolished and its powers merged with those of the chancellor.[15] The decree is illegal but goes unchallenged. The army swear oath to Hitler.[16]
  • 19 August: The German people in a plebiscite overwhelmingly (90%) approve merger of the offices of President and Chancellor. Hitler assumes the new title of Führer und Reichskanzler (leader and Reich chancellor). He is now both the head of state as well as the head of the government.[17]

See also



  1. Woodruff Smith, The Ideological Origins of Nazi Imperialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), pp. 30-31, 36, 78-79.
  2. Joachim Fest, Hitler (Orlando, FL.: Harcourt, 2002), pp. 210-211.
  3. Anton Weiss-Wendt and Rory Yeomans, eds., Racial Science in Hitler's New Europe, 1938-1945 (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2013), p. 6.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kershaw 2008, p. 82.
  5. Stackelberg 2007, p. 9.
  6. Mitcham 1996, p. 67.
  7. Kershaw 2008, pp. 75, 76.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Kershaw 2008, p. 89.
  9. Kershaw 2008, p. 93.
  10. Beno Müller Hull, "Human Genetics in Nazi Germany", in Medicine, Ethics and the Third Reich, edited by John J. Michalczyk (Kansas City, MO: Sheed & Ward, 1994), pp. 27-33.
  11. Kershaw 2008, p. 83.
  12. Gretchen E. Schafft, From Racism to Genocide: Anthropology in the Third Reich (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004), p. 47.
  13. Majer, Diemut (2003). Non-Germans under the Third Reich: The Nazi judicial and administrative system in Germany and occupied Eastern Europe with special regard to occupied Poland, 1939—1945. JHU Press. pp. 188–9. ISBN 0-8018-6493-3.
  14. Kershaw 2008, pp. 309–316.
  15. Shirer 1960, pp. 226–227.
  16. Martin Broszat, Hans Buchheim, Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, and Helmut Krausnick, Anatomie des SS-Staates, vol 1. (München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1967), p. 18.
  17. Kershaw 2008, p. 318.


  • Brustein, William (1996). The Logic of Evil, The Social Origins of the Nazi Party, 1925-1933. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. pp. 191–193.
  • Kershaw, Ian (2008). Hitler: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-06757-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Mitcham, Samuel W. (1996). Why Hitler?: The Genesis of the Nazi Reich. Westport, Conn: Praeger. ISBN 978-0-275-95485-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-62420-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Stackelberg, Roderick (2007). The Routledge Companion to Nazi Germany. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-30860-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>