Photo Gallery The Nazis Take Berlin

In the mid-1920s, Joseph Goebbels was given the difficult task of fostering support for the still-small Nazi Party in Berlin, "the reddest city in Europe besides Moscow." But, by 1933, a combination of street brutality and political smarts succeeded in catapulting the party past rival parties.
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In 1926, later propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels was sent to Berlin, the German capital, to foster support for the growing Nazi Party. It was no easy task. At the time, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) enjoyed a majority of voter support.

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Goebbels speaks to a brigade of SA members in Berlin's Lustgarten in 1934. The road to this point was long. In the May 1928 election to the Reichstag, as the German parliament was called, only 39,000 Berliners, or 1.6 percent of the city's population, voted for Hitler's party.

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Berlin's Nazis waged a political war on two fronts. One front was against the Social Democrats and the established parties running the city and the country. The other was against the communists. Supporters were energized by the killing of Horst Wessel, a prominent Nazi propagandist, in 1930, who became a martyr for the Nazi cause.

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Goebbels stands behind Hilter during a speech. One of the Nazis' major accomplishments was draining support away from the left-wing parties by addressing their rhetoric toward the struggling working class and championing a Marxism-free "socialism of action" marked by hot soup and solidarity. Goebbels promised the "right to work" and "a socialist Germany that gives bread to its children once again."

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The Nazis went from having almost no support in Berlin when Goebbels arrived in 1926 to being the leading party. In the Reichstag election of March 1933, the Nazis would secure 31.3 percent of the vote in Berlin, more than any other party.

Foto: DER SPIEGEL
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Only those who paid close attention to what Goebbels was saying could divine where the journey was about to go under Nazi leadership. Here, Hitler salutes SA troops during a parade in Nuremberg in 1936.

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