Adolf Hitler became the 55th member of the German Workers Party (DAP) in 1919. He was impressed with their talk of race superiority and their anti-Jewish and capitalist beliefs. He grew increasingly powerful and in 1920 changed the parties name to the National German Socialist Workers Party (NSDAP), or the Nazi party. In 1921 Hitler became chancellor of the Nazi party and re-shaped it. It grew from just 12 seats in the Reichstag in 1928 to 107 seats in 1930.
In March 1930, Heinrich Brüning was chancellor but he was unpopular and unsuccessful in rescuing Germany from its economic crisis. Franz Von Papen was then appointed chancellor but again struggled to find the support he needed to maintain his majority. In an attempt to prevent Hitler becoming chancellor, President Paul Von Hindenburg appointed Kurt Von Schleicher as chancellor but he also failed to make a positive impact. All of these chancellors struggled to rescue Germany from economic crisis and faced fierce opposition. With each of these appointments, Hitler had asked to become chancellor and was denied each time. On 30th January 1933, after Schleicher’s plans had lost confidence with the Reichstag, Hindenburg agreed to sanction a coalition between the Nazi party and Nationalist party and appoint Hitler as chancellor. Even though this gave Hitler more power and influence over the Reichstag and the way Germany was run, he could be dismissed at any time under Article 48 and he was only allowed 3 important cabinet minister posts. These went to Papen who was given the role vice chancellor (believing he could control Hitler), Hermann Göring was made Minister for the Interior of Prussia and Minister Without Portfolio and Wilhelm Frick became Minister of the Interior for Germany. All of these members, except for Papen, were prominent Nazi Party members.
27th February 1933: Reichstag Fire – A Dutch communist, Marinus van der Lubbe, sets the Reichstag buildings on fire. He was caught in possession of matches and firelighters and executed.
28th February 1933: The Decree for the Protection of the People and State – The Reichstag fire was used by Hitler as evidence of a communist plot and he persuaded Hindenburg to declare a state of emergency. Through this Hitler could now issue decrees and the first was The Decree for the Protection of the People and State. He used this to suspend civil rights and liberties, imprison political opponents and ban undesirable media.
March 1933: Dachau - The first concentration camp is built in Dachau. Located on the old ground of a munition factory, this is where Hitler sent those who opposed him and his Nazi regime. Over time other groups were interred such as Gypsies, Jehovah Witness’ and Homosexuals. The number of Jewish inmates also increased as the prosecution of Jews increased. In 1938 there were 10,000 Jewish men interred. The Totenkopf (part of SS) were permitted to torture and execute inmates and force them into labour and other business enterprises. By 1939 there were 6 concentration camps. After 1939, the number and size of camps grew considerably and they were used for the mass murder (genocide) of ‘undesirable’ groups.
5th March 1933: General Elections – Hitler had now imprisoned many of his competition and persuaded Hindenburg to call an election hoping to gain more seats. The Nazi party won 288 seats (43.9%) and by forming a coalition with the Nationalist parties and by denying the communist party their 81seats, the Nazi Party now had a two-thirds majority in the Reichstag.
24th March 1933: The Enabling Act – As a result of the Reichstag Fire, Hitler has the Enabling Act passed. Its full title was the ‘Law for the Removal of the Distress of People and Reich’ and, with most of the opposition imprisoned or banned and the others bullied and intimidated, it gained 444 votes with only 94 against (by the Social Democrats). This Act gave Hitler the legal right to make his own laws for the next four years without the need for consent. This marked the end of democratic rule and of the Weimar Republic.
31st March 1933: Länder (state regions) - All regions had their own parliament which ran local government such as education and police. Hitler had control of the Reichstag but not the Länder parliaments. Hitler dissolved the Länder parliaments and in April he allocated his own governors who were loyal to him to run each region. The Länder parliaments were completely abolished in January 1934 and replaced by Berlins central Ministry of the Interior.
2nd May 1933: Trade Unions – Hitler worried that they could undermine the government through strikes and making demands. Hitler used his new powers to ban trade unions and make strikes illegal. In their place he created the German Labour Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF) which became the largest organisation in Nazi Germany with 22 million members. Hitler now had control over German workers.
14th July 1933: Political parties banned – This ensured there was no opposition and made Germany a one-party state. It also meant that the German people could no longer vote Hitler out in an election.
2nd November 1933: General Election – With most of Hitler’s opposition imprisoned, intimidated or banned from voting, the Nazi party win 92.2% of vote. Although a significant win, it shows there was still opposition to the Nazi regime.
30th June 1934: Night of the Long Knives – Hitler organised a meeting with Röhm and other SA leaders in a Bavarian hotel. Röhm and the SA were arrested by heavily armed SS and taken to Munich where they were executed. Over the coming days, several other ‘threats’ were eliminated including Gregor Strasser and General Von Schleicher. To try and justify the murders, Hitler said that they had all been planning a takeover of government in a ‘second revolution’. An estimated 400 SA and opposition were executed. These actions ensured the continued support of the German army leaders, industrialists and meant the SS was now controlled by Himmler and therefore completely loyal to carrying out Hitler demands.
August 2nd 1934: President Hindenburg dies- Hitler declared himself Führer (ruler) and was now in complete control of Germany and its affairs.
Make sure to check out our music video on "Hitler's Rise to Power: Consolidation of Nazi Power", try to remember every lyric, and then have a go at our test!
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