1932 German presidential election

The 1932 German presidential elections were held on 13 March (first round) and 10 April (second round run-off).[1] They were the second and final direct elections to the office of President of the Reich (Reichspräsident), Germany's head of state under the Weimar Republic. The incumbent President, Paul von Hindenburg, first elected in 1925, was re-elected to a second seven-year term of office. His major opponent in the election was Adolf Hitler of the Nazi Party (NSDAP).

Under the Weimar system, the presidency was a powerful office. Hindenburg, who deeply distrusted and personally detested Hitler, had been motivated to run for a second term primarily by a desire to stop Hitler from winning the presidency. Nevertheless, following his re-election, Hindenburg failed to prevent the Nazis from assuming power. Two successive federal elections left the Nazis as the largest party in the Reichstag and anti-Weimar parties in control of a majority of its seats. Under this political climate, Hindenburg reluctantly appointed Hitler as Chancellor of Germany in January 1933.

German presidential election, 1932

13 March and 10 April 1932
  President Hindenburg Adolf Hitler 1936 (foto carnet) Bundesarchiv Bild 102-12940, Ernst Thälmann (scrap)
Nominee Paul von Hindenburg Adolf Hitler Ernst Thälmann
Party Independent NSDAP KPD
Popular vote 19,359,983 13,418,517 3,706,759
Percentage 53.0% 36.8% 10.2%

Reichspräsidentenwahl 1932 zweiter Wahlgang
Results of the second round, by candidates with largest share of votes in percent, according to constituencies.

President before election

Paul von Hindenburg


Paul von Hindenburg


Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13355, Berlin, Reichspräsidentenwahl, Wahlwerbung
Political advertising in Berlin, 10 April 1932

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 his first term. However, the prospect of Adolf Hitler being elected President of Germany persuaded the reluctant incumbent to seek a second term. The German government of Chancellor Heinrich Brüning had developed plans to evade direct elections by a Reichstag resolution to extend Hindenburg's time in office and arranged significant concessions to be made to Hitler's Nazi Party and the German National People's Party (DNVP) under chairman Alfred Hugenberg. However, both party leaders, unified in the Harzburg Front alliance of October 1931, rejected his proposals.

In the 1930 federal election, the Nazi Party had dramatically increased its number of seats in the Reichstag. Despite becoming a German citizen (and thus eligible for public office) only on 25 February 1932, Hitler hoped to use the presidency to overturn the Weimar Constitution and establish a dictatorship. In view of that threat, the Social Democrats and Brüning's Centre Party would support Hindenburg – in contrast to the 1925 presidential election, when the non-partisan 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 to prevent Hitler's election. The support of the moderate Weimar coalition 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 to subvert the constitution, as Hitler now aimed to do.

Brüning recognized that only a general support from the right would induce Hindenburg to announce his readiness for candidacy. He therefore arranged the formation of a "Hindenburg committee" chaired by the Berlin mayor Heinrich Sahm, publishing a declaration of support to Hindenburg as the candidate of national unity and German Volksgemeinschaft. The writer Gerhart Hauptmann, painter Max Liebermann, Artur Mahraun, leader of the Young German Order, the industrialist Carl Duisberg, as well as the former ministers Otto Gessler and Gustav Noske were among the signatories of the appeal, which convinced Hindenburg to run. The liberal German People's Party and the German State Party also declared their support. The Social Democratic leaders Ernst Heilmann and Otto Braun (himself a candidate in the 1925 election) despite the initial resistance of the party's left wing, were able to launch a broad electoral campaign and received the support of the Iron Front alliance, including the democratic Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold association, the Free Trade Unions (ADGB, AfA-Bund) and the Arbeiter-Turn- und Sportbund organization.

Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13191, Hugenberg und Duesterberg
Hugenberg (left) and Duesterberg on a DNVP election rally in the Berlin Sportpalast, March 1932

On the far-right, the Harzburg Front collapsed, when the DNVP nominated the Stahlhelm leader Theodor Duesterberg as its own candidate. Duesterberg immediately faced a massive defamation campaign by the Nazis, who, however, still had to procure German citizenship for Hitler. The problem was settled (in the second attempt) by Dietrich Klagges, Nazi state minister in Brunswick, when he appointed him a government official.

As in 1925, the Communist Party nominated Ernst Thälmann. Backed by the Communist International, it was hoped that he would gain support from left-wing Social Democrats disgusted by Hindenburg's character. Indeed, leftist splinter parties such as the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany and the Internationaler Sozialistischer Kampfbund organization declared their support, as did intellectuals like Carl von Ossietzky.


Reichspräsidentenwahl 1932 - 1. Wahlgang
Election ballot

Under the electoral law, a candidate who received an absolute majority of votes (i.e. more than half) in the first round was elected. If no candidate received a majority, then a second round would be held. In the second round, the candidate receiving a plurality of votes would be elected. A party was permitted to nominate an alternative candidate in the second round, but in 1932 this did not occur (unlike 1925).

In the first round on March 13 no candidate obtained an absolute majority of the votes cast, though Hindenburg with 49.6% failed only by a narrow margin. He scored higher election results in traditional Social Democratic and Centre strongholds such as the Prussian Rhine Province or Saxony. Hitler's results were a great disappointment to him, nevertheless the Nazi Party recorded further gains compared with the 1930 Reichstag election. The expectations of the Communists presenting "the only left candidate" were not fulfilled, nevertheless they continued their fight against the policies of the Social Democrats and nominated Thälmann for the second round on April 10.

Hindenburg, Hitler, and Thälmann competed in the second round, after Dusterberg had resigned. DNVP and Stahlhelm abstained from making any recommendations, while the Agricultural League and the industrialist Fritz Thyssen declared themselves in favour of Hitler. Hindenburg was elected president by an outcome of 53%, while Hitler significantly increased his result by more than two million votes compared to the first round, largely benefiting from Duesterberg's withdrawal.

Candidate Party First round Second round
Votes % Votes %
Paul von Hindenburg Independent 18,651,497 49.6 19,359,983 53.0
Adolf Hitler Nazi Party 11,339,446 30.1 13,418,547 36.8
Ernst Thälmann Communist Party 4,938,341 13.2 3,706,759 10.2
Theodor Duesterberg Stahlhelm 2,557,729 6.8
Other candidates 116,304 0.3 5,474 0.0
Invalid/blank votes
Total 37,603,317 100 36,490,761 100
Registered voters/turnout 43,949,681 85.6 44,063,958 82.9
Source: Nohlen & Stöver


Hindenburg, who owed his election to the support of the Social Democrats, took office with little enthusiasm. On May 29 he dismissed his intercessor Chancellor Brüning and appointed Franz von Papen, a declared anti-democrat, his successor. Although Hitler lost the presidential election of 1932, he achieved his goals when he was appointed chancellor on 30 January 1933. On February 27, Hindenburg paved the way to dictatorship and war by issuing the Reichstag Fire Decree which nullified civil liberties. Hitler succeeded Hindenburg as head of state upon his death in 1934, whereafter he abolished the office entirely, and replaced it with the new position of Führer und Reichskanzler ("Leader and Reich Chancellor"), cementing his rule.

The 1932 election was the second of only two direct presidential elections of the Weimar period. When after World War II the modern office of German Federal President was established in 1949, following the restoration of democracy in West Germany, it was decided that the president would be chosen indirectly by means of a Federal Convention 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.

Further reading

  • Falter, Jürgen W. (1990), "The Two Hindenburg Elections of 1925 and 1932: A Total Reversal of Voter Coalitions", Central European History, 23: 225–241, doi:10.1017/S0008938900021361.
  • Jones, Larry Eugene (1997), "Hindenburg and the Conservative Dilemma in the 1932 Presidential Elections", German Studies Review, 20 (2): 235–259, doi:10.2307/1431947.
  • Pietrusza, David 1932: The Rise of Hitler and FDR: Two Tales of Politics, Betrayal and Unlikely Destiny (2015)


  1. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p762 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
1932 presidential election

The 1932 presidential election may refer to:

Chilean presidential election, 1932

German presidential election, 1932

United States presidential election, 1932


Braunschweig (German pronunciation: [ˈbʁaʊ̯nʃvaɪ̯k] (listen); Low German: Brunswiek [ˈbrɔˑnsviːk]), also called Brunswick in English, is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany, north of the Harz mountains at the farthest navigable point of the Oker River which connects it to the North Sea via the Aller and Weser Rivers. In 2016, it had a population of 250,704.

A powerful and influential centre of commerce in medieval Germany, Braunschweig was a member of the Hanseatic League from the 13th until the 17th century. It was the capital city of three successive states: the Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1269–1432, 1754–1807, and 1813–1814), the Duchy of Brunswick (1814–1918), and the Free State of Brunswick (1918–1946).

Today, Braunschweig is the second-largest city in Lower Saxony and a major centre of scientific research and development.

Free State of Brunswick

The Free State of Brunswick (German: Freistaat Braunschweig) was a state of the German Reich in the time of the Weimar Republic. It was formed after the abolition of the Duchy of Brunswick in the course of the German Revolution of 1918–19. Its capital was Braunschweig (Brunswick).

Hitler über Deutschland

Hitler über Deutschland (English: Hitler over Germany) was the name of a campaign stunt and film for Hitler's run in the 1932 German presidential election. During this tour Hitler would visit as many as five cities in one day, addressing rallies of tens of thousands of people.Afterwards the tour was made into a silent film and photographs taken by Heinrich Hoffmann were published in a photobook. It was an inexpensive booklet that was printed in 500,000 copies.

Klaus Fuchs

Emil Julius Klaus Fuchs (29 December 1911 – 28 January 1988) was a German theoretical physicist and atomic spy who, in 1950, was convicted of supplying information from the American, British, and Canadian Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union during and shortly after the Second World War. After nine years' imprisonment in Great Britain, he re-migrated to East Germany where he resumed his career as a physicist and scientific leader. While at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Fuchs was responsible for many significant theoretical calculations relating to the first nuclear weapons and, later, early models of the hydrogen bomb.

The son of a Lutheran pastor, Fuchs attended the University of Leipzig, where his father was a professor of theology, and became involved in student politics, joining the student branch of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), and the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold, the SPD's paramilitary organisation. He was expelled from the SPD in 1932, and joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). He went into hiding after the 1933 Reichstag fire, and fled to the United Kingdom, where he received his PhD from the University of Bristol under the supervision of Nevill Mott, and his DSc from the University of Edinburgh, where he worked as an assistant to Max Born.

After the Second World War broke out in Europe, he was interned on the Isle of Man, and later in Canada. After he returned to Britain in 1941, he became an assistant to Rudolf Peierls, working on "Tube Alloys"—the British atomic bomb project. He began passing information on the project to the Soviet Union through Ruth Kuczynski, codenamed "Sonia", a German communist and a major in Soviet Military Intelligence who had worked with Richard Sorge's spy ring in the Far East. In 1943, Fuchs and Peierls went to Columbia University, in New York City, to work on the Manhattan Project. In August 1944, Fuchs joined the Theoretical Physics Division at the Los Alamos Laboratory, working under Hans Bethe. His chief area of expertise was the problem of implosion, necessary for the development of the plutonium bomb. After the war, he returned to the UK and worked at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell as head of the Theoretical Physics Division.

In January 1950, Fuchs confessed that he was a spy. A British court sentenced him to fourteen years' imprisonment and stripped him of his British citizenship. He was released in 1959, after serving nine years, and emigrated to the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), where he was elected to the Academy of Sciences and became a member of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) central committee. He was later appointed deputy director of the Institute for Nuclear Research in Rossendorf, where he served until he retired in 1979.

List of elections in 1932

The following elections occurred in the year 1932.

Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten

The Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten (English: "Steel Helmet, League of Front Soldiers", also known in short form as Der Stahlhelm) was one of the many paramilitary organizations that arose after the German defeat of World War I. It was part of the "Black Reichswehr" and in the late days of the Weimar Republic operated as the armed branch of the national conservative German National People's Party (DNVP), placed at party gatherings in the position of armed security guards (Saalschutz).

Parliamentary elections
Presidential elections
European elections
Germany German presidential elections
Weimar Republic (1919–1933)
East Germany (1949–1960)
Federal Republic of Germany (since 1949)

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.