Two Depression-battered nations confronted destiny in 1932, going to the polls in their own way to anoint new leaders, to rescue their people from starvation and hopelessness. America would elect a Congress and a president-ebullient aristocrat Franklin Roosevelt or tarnished "Wonder Boy" Herbert Hoover. Decadent, divided Weimar Germany faced two rounds of bloody Reichstag elections and two presidential contests-doddering reactionary Paul von Hindenburg against rising radical hate-monger Adolf Hitler.
The outcome seemed foreordained-unstoppable forces advancing upon crumbled, disoriented societies. A merciless Great Depression brought greater-perhaps hopeful, perhaps deadly-transformation: FDR's New Deal and Hitler's Third Reich.
But neither outcome was inevitable.
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