German presidential election, 1932

German presidential election, 1932

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The presidential election (Reichspräsidentenwahl) of 1932 was the second and final direct election to the office of President of the Reich (Reichspräsident), Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

's head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 during the 1919-1934 Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

. The incumbent President, Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

, had been elected in 1925 but his seven year term expired in May. After two rounds of voting, on the 13 March and the 10 April, Hindenburg was re-elected to a second term of office. His major opponent in the election was Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 of the National Socialist German Workers Party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 (NSDAP).

Under the Weimar system, the presidency was a powerful office and, following his re-election, Hindenburg played an important role in the coming to power of the Nazis, reluctantly appointing Hitler as Chancellor of Germany in January 1933.

Overview


Incumbent President Paul von Hindenburg was 84 years old and in poor health - never enthusiastic about the presidency (or public office in general), Hindenburg had planned to stand down after completing his first term. However, the prospect of Adolf Hitler being elected President of Germany persuaded the reluctant incumbent to seek a second term.

Despite only becoming a German citizen (and thus eligible for public office) on 25 February 1932, Hitler hoped to use the presidency to aid him in his goal of over-throwing the democratic system and establishing a totalitarian regime. In the 1925 election
German presidential election, 1925
The presidential election of 1925 was the first direct election to the office of President of the Reich , Germany's head of state during the 1919-1933 Weimar Republic. The first President, Friedrich Ebert, died on 28 February, 1925...

 Hindenburg had been the candidate of the political right and had been strenuously opposed by much of the moderate left and political centre. However, in 1932, this part of the political spectrum decided to unite with the moderate right in supporting Hindenburg, in order to prevent Hitler's election. The support of the moderate Weimar coalition
Weimar Coalition
The Weimar Coalition is the name given to the coalition of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , the German Democratic Party , and the Catholic Centre Party, who together had a large majority of the delegates to the Constituent Assembly that met at Weimar in 1919, and were the principal groups...

 was also encouraged by the fact that, contrary to fears expressed at the time of his election in 1925, Hindenburg had not used his office in an attempt to overthrow the Weimar constitution
Weimar constitution
The Constitution of the German Reich , usually known as the Weimar Constitution was the constitution that governed Germany during the Weimar Republic...

, as Hitler now aimed to do.

Although Hitler lost the presidential election of 1932, he succeeded Hindenburg as head of state only two years later, when Hindenburg's death brought his term to a premature end in 1934. After the president's death Hitler abolished the office entirely to replace it with the new position of Führer und Reichskanzler ("Leader and Reich Chancellor"), and cement his dictatorship.

The 1932 election was the second of only two presidential elections of the Weimar period. When the modern office of German Federal President
President of Germany
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...

 was established in 1949, following the restoration of democracy in West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

, it was decided that the president would be chosen indirectly by means of a Federal Convention
Bundesversammlung (Germany)
The Federal Convention is a special body in the institutional system of Germany, convened solely for the purpose of electing the German Federal President , either every five years or within 30 days of a president's resignation, death or removal from office.The Bundesversammlung includes the entire...

 consisting of parliamentarians and state delegates. To date, therefore, the 1932 election was the last occasion on which a direct presidential election has occurred in Germany.

Results


During the Weimar Republic, the law provided that a candidate needed to receive an absolute majority of votes (i.e. more than half) in the first round of a presidential election in order to win. If no candidate achieved such a majority, then a second ballot would occur in which the candidate supported by a plurality of votes would be deemed elected. It was permitted for a group to nominate an alternative candidate in the second round but, unlike in 1925, in 1932 this did not occur.

First round

Candidate Votes (%) Party membership
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

18,651,497 (49.6) Incumbent with no party affiliation
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

11,339,446 (30.2) National Socialist German Workers Party or Nazi Party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 (NSDAP)
Ernst Thälmann
Ernst Thälmann
Ernst Thälmann was the leader of the Communist Party of Germany during much of the Weimar Republic. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1933 and held in solitary confinement for eleven years, before being shot in Buchenwald on Adolf Hitler's orders in 1944...

4,983,341 (13.2) Communist Party of Germany
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

 (KPD)
Theodor Duesterberg
Theodor Duesterberg
Theodor Duesterberg was a leader of the Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten, in Germany prior to the Nazi seizure of power.-Background:Born the son of an army surgeon in Darmstadt, Duesterberg entered the Prussian Army in 1893 after training in the cadet corps. In 1900, Duesterberg was part of the...

2,557,729 (6.8) German National People's Party
German National People's Party
The German National People's Party was a national conservative party in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. Before the rise of the NSDAP it was the main nationalist party in Weimar Germany composed of nationalists, reactionary monarchists, völkisch, and antisemitic elements, and...

 (DNVP)


Turnout was 86.2%.

Second round






Candidate
Votes (%)
Party membership

Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

19,359,983 (53.1)Incumbent with no party affiliation
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

13,418,517 (36.7)National Socialist German Workers Party or Nazi Party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 (NSDAP)
Ernst Thälmann
Ernst Thälmann
Ernst Thälmann was the leader of the Communist Party of Germany during much of the Weimar Republic. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1933 and held in solitary confinement for eleven years, before being shot in Buchenwald on Adolf Hitler's orders in 1944...

3,706,759 (10.1)Communist Party
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

(KPD)


Further reading

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