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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), Germanymarker's head of state during the 1919-1934 Weimar Republicmarker. The incumbent President, Paul von Hindenburg, 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 of the Nazi Party (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.


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 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' 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, 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 ("Führer 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 was established in 1949, following the restoration of democracy in West Germanymarker, 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.


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 18,651,497 (49.6) Incumbent with no party affiliation
Adolf Hitler 11,339,446 (30.2) National Socialist German Workers Party or Nazi Party (NSDAP)
Ernst Thälmann 4,983,341 (13.2) Communist Party of Germany (KPD)
Theodor Duesterberg 2,557,729 (6.8) German National People's Party (DNVP)

Turnout was 86.2%.

Second round

Candidate Votes (%) Party membership
Paul von Hindenburg 19,359,983 (53.1) Incumbent with no party affiliation
Adolf Hitler 13,418,517 (36.7) National Socialist German Workers Party or Nazi Party (NSDAP)
Ernst Thälmann 3,706,759 (10.1) Communist Party (KPD)

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