In 1929, Adolf Hitler was a strange combination of has-been and never-was. The fame and following he’d garnered after his failed 1923 coup d’etat–and subsequent jailing and publication of his autobiography (Mein Kampf)–had severely waned. His Nazi party had a paltry number of seats in Parliament and showed no signs of picking up steam.
The 1929 diaries of the British ambassador to Germany, reflecting upon Hitler’s career trajectory after his imprisonment, read, “He [Hitler] was finally released after six months and bound over for the rest of his sentence, thereafter fading into oblivion.”
Unbeknownst to most, and largely lost to the scrapheap of history, are the machinations and fateful miscalculations of a small number of men who helped pull Hitler from oblivion and back into the spotlight. These are the men without whom Hitler wouldn’t have become the Hitler we know.
Rest assured, with each of these men, it’s not a case of the butterfly effect: Each of these men, in a thoroughly concrete and direct way, helped make Hitler chancellor on January 29, 1933–and you’ve probably never even heard their names.
1. The Bureaucrat Who Fudged The Law And Allowed Hitler To Run For Office In The First Place
Hitler was thus able to run for the presidency, make a name for himself and announce his presence on the national political scene (more on that later). It’s hard to overstate the fact that history might have been changed forever if not for one little bureaucratic loophole.