Welcome to the A World Without Hitler ATL
This timeline explores the fate of the world if Adolf Hitler was killed before he reached any historical significance.
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In this ATL, Adolf Hitler is shot dead at the First Battle of Ypres (1914); in OTL the battle reduces Hitler's company to 42 out of 250, so it is possible that if Hitler had simply been standing in a different part of the line, he would have been shot. His death does not affect the First World War in any way, as one more soldier dead meant little in such a catastrophe of death. After the war, in OTL, Hitler returns to Munich and joins and later leads the German Worker's Party (DAP), before it became the NSDAP. In this ATL, with Hitler's absence and lack of interest or motivation towards its other members, the DAP remains an even smaller party with little to no support.The party also does not perform the Munich Putch, which in OTL created some publicity for the party. Therefore their lack of input means that the 1920s proceed almost exactly as they did in OTL, the differences are not apparent until the start of the great depression, where in OTL the Nazis jump to become the second largest political party.
Without competition on the right-wing political front from the DAP, which never achieves any great support without Hitler's charisma and due to the occultist nature of some of its members, the German National People's Party (DNVP) eats significantly into the votes the Nazis would have received in OTL, as well as many former more moderate DAP members joining the party. The German Communist Party (KPD) was also increasing in support, however it remained smaller than the Social Democratic Party (SPD) which lost some support but remained the most important party for a while. As the KPD and SDP continued to argue between each other, the working classes could not unite against the DNVP in any leftist coalition, meaning the DNVP continues unopposed. However, the DNVP remains more moderate than the OTL Nazis, or even their OTL counterparts, due to a greater emphasis on conservativism rather than fascism (in OTL the party shifted farther right partially due to an alliance with the Nazis, before this they were closer to the more liberal German People's Party). While the DNVP does remain the second largest party in the 1930 election, it does not make as much of a massive jump as the Nazis did in OTL, largely due to their image as an upper class party not resonating with the working classes. However, the SDP remains the largest party. The election results in a break-up of the ruling democratic parties' coalition, and President Hindenburg appointing a minority government acting through the president's emergency powers.
The DNVP, after the 1930 election, see that as the SDP and their allies are declining, they have a chance to become the largest single party, and thus to become leaders of German politics. Their political propaganda campaign, largely designed by Josef Goebbels, try to show a shift towards Anti- Semitism, Pan-Germanism and a more Nationalist ideology. They remain less extremist than the Nazis were, but the campaign focused its efforts against the treaty of Versailles- and promised an end to Germany's mounting financial problems through re-armament and remilitarisation. This went to further increase popular support from the unemployed and other members of the working classes, nobody wanted a repeat of the Hyperinflation crisis of 1923. This campaign allows the DNVP to become the largest single party by the time of the 1932 election, gaining 40% of the vote compared to 25% for the SPD and 15% for the KPD. Hindenburg still managed to gain a narrow victory in May, but shortly afterwards he shifted towards the political right, replacing the chancellor with Franz Von Papen. Although in OTL the DNVP supported Von Papen, their desire to become the ruling party leads them to dismiss Von Papen's leadership. A second election is held in November, with the leader of the DNVP Alfred Hugenburg demanding a position as chancellor, which Hindenburg continued to refuse. The election saw a small decline in DNVP votes, but the drop was largely insignificant, and they remained the largest political party by far. Hindenburg finally relented, and agreed to make Hugenburg chancellor.
Now that the party was in power, they push to stop paying reparations and to rearm Germany. At the 1933 League of Nations disarmament conference, Hugenburg demands that Germany should be allowed to rearm, or that all other nations should significantly disarm. Britain and several other nations are largely prepared to let Germany rebuild some military, but France demands that a weak Germany is the only way to keep peace in Europe. The conference results in Germany being allowed to rebuild parts of its army, but it could not be more than a quarter the size of the French army. Hugenburg then stopped paying the reparations payments, partly to keep a good image of his party for the German voters, and argued that Germany had been forced to pay too much, and that the treaty had judged the payment as punishment, not as how much the allies needed.
On the 27th of November 1933, a Dutch Communist, Marinus Van der Lubbe, burned down the Reichstag building. The DNVP blame a Communist plot, and with Hindenburg's permission ban the Communist Party. They also use their paramilitary wing to attack Communists in their homes, and much anti-Communist and anti-socialist propaganda is based around it. The German government also vote in favour of the Reichstag fire decree, giving Hugenburg extra power and allowing the arrest without trial of suspected Communist plotters.
In the March 1933 Election the removal of the Communist Party and the shaming of the SDP give the DNVP a slight majority of the vote, allowing it to rule without any need of a coalition. The party then begins to attempt to establish a single-party state, passing laws to grant Hugenburg even more power. The SDP was banned, and most other parties were either banned or assimilated. By July, the DNVP is the only legal party.