Nazi Germany - timeline
30th Jan - Hitler becomes chancellor
27th Feb - Reichstag fire
March - 5th - Elections
23rd - Enabling act
30th June - 1st July - Night of the long knives
August 2nd - Hindenburg dies
Jan 1933_______________GLEICHSHALTUNG_______________August 1934
The Reichstag Fire - 27th Feb 1933 : details
Hitler organised elections for early March - determined to gain a strong majority in the Reichstag (by gaining working class voters from the communists). Hitler had been trying to provoke the communists into appearing as a threat but they had not risen. Evening of the 27th Feb - Reichstag was set alight as soon as Hitler and Goebbles arrived they proclaimed the fire to be the work of the communists. In the building they found Van der Lubbe (young Dutchman with connections to the communist party - simple with a fascination for fire) with matches and firelighters - arrested, put on trial with 4 others and executed.
Could one person have set fire to the Reichstag building with matches and firelighters? Nuremburg trials - experts testified there were chemicals present (after WWII many people wanted to blame the Nazi party).
CONSEQUENCES: that night Goering's Prussian police arrested and imprisoned 4000 communist leaders. Hitler convinced Hindenburg to passs an emergency decree suspending all the articles in the constitution which guaranteed personal liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of press & freedom of assembly. Police had powere to ban meetings, search houses, close newspapers, round up political opponents & send them to conc. camps & death penalty decreed for many crimes. This "Emergency Decree" stayed in place for 12 years.
WE CANNOT CONCLUSIVELY SAY WHO SET FIRE TO THE REICHSTAG BUT IT WAS VERY FORTUNATE FOR THE NAZI PARTY.
Night of the Long Knives: 30th June - 1st July 1934
The S.A - had been vital in bringing the Nazis to power. The leader of the S.A (stormtroopers) was Ernst Röhm. He wanted the S.A to become the nucleus of the new army and for the S.A men to have pensions too. End of 1933 - S.A numbered over 2 million good for street brawls of early 1930's but not a liability to Hitler. When Hindenburg died, Hitler would need the support of the old army (the only group left who could stand up to him) in order to become President. The old army hated the image of the rowdy S.A and after years of waiting under the Treaty of Versailles, wanted to claim their place as the centre of the new army, they were happy to accept the men of the new army but not under the control of Röhm.
Hitler tried to negotiate with Röhm and granted the S.A a pension but he would not back down on the issue of the army.
Events: 30th June-1st July 1934 - 400 of the leaders of the S.A were seized and shot.
Hitler's position was greatly strengthened by the murders, the army supported him when Hindenburg died, helped him become President and swore an oath of allegiance to him.
Consequences of the Night of the Long Knives:
Hindenburg passed an emergency decree (using article 48) 'Protection of people and state'. This gave Hitler the power to imprison without trial, ban meetings, suspend press etc. The Nazis also increase their propaganda which vilifies communists.
Hitler wanted to be able to rule Germany without the interference of the Reichstag. To do this he needed to change the Weimar constitution which required a 2/3 majority vote in the Reichstag. The new law would be the Enabling Act 'Law for the removal of distress of people and Reich'.
Enabling Act - 23rd March 1933
Hitler achieved this majority by arresting communists, the threat of arrest and Hindenburg who promised the centre part Hitler would not use the powers of the enabling act without Hindenburg's consent. THE REICHSTAG HAD VOTED THEMSELVES OUT OF EXISTENCE.
Clauses of the enabling act: Gave the government NSDAP power to enact laws for 4 years without agreement of Reichstag. The government could change the constitution and make treaties with foreign states. Laws were to be drafted by the Chancellor and come into power the day after publication.
GLEICHSHALTUNG (Co ordination of the masses) - timeline
1933 - The civil service was purged. (Removed anyone of Jewish ancestry, Left-wing sympathisers and those loyal to old Weimar Gov. - Gov. now controlled & ran by Nazis.
28th Feb - Communists banned April - Admission to the legal profession was regulated and undesirables removed. Legal system now under control of Nazis 2nd May - Trade unions abolished 22nd June - SPD banned 5th July - Centre party disbanded itself. 14th July - Hitler passes "Law against the formation of parties", Nazi party the only Lawful political party in Germany. By July 1933 there were about 27,000 people in conc. camps e.g. people in connection with Reichstag fire, outspoken politicians, trade unionists and anyone who posed a threat to the Nazis. Sept - Journalism, music, theatre & radio work brought under the Reich Ministry of Culture (Goebbles) Oct - Any journalists who were not Nazi sympathisers lost their jobs. (Press now controlled by Nazis).
Between April 1933 and Jan 1934 state governments were abolished (except Prussia).
Hoover's attempts to deal with the depression:
Problem: people hungry and homeless - need help & jobs: Government schemes - $4,23 Million to create jobs e.g. Hoover dam: Intended to reduce unemployment & create cheap sustainable power - reducing prices for businesses. Was quite effective, but only created local jobs in Colorado. Step in the right direction but more money was needed to provide a created number of jobs. Hoover believed RELIEF was the responsibility of the state governmentsand private charities. (state gov. did not have enough money).
Problem: Businesses failing because banks won't lend them money: The Reconstruction Finance Corporation 1932 - provided loans totalling $1500 Million to businesses to help them recover. Too little too late, not enough people buying goods from recovering businesses.
Problem: Food prices falling. Farmers' income very low. The Farm Board - bought surplus farm produce to keep prices up. Intended to reduce overproduction. Had little effect as the slide in prices was so great and the board didn't have enough money.
Problem: Can't sell manufactured goods to foreign countries. Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act 1930 - Increased custom duties on a wide range of imported foodstuffs & manufactured items (by 50%). Intended to encourage people to buy (cheaper) American-made goods. Few people could afford goods anyway, Foreign countries retaliated by raising tariffs against American goods - trade fell further.
Problem: Employers paying low wages. Workers have no money to buy goods. Voluntary agreements, Hoover encouraged employers to make voluntary agreements with their workforce to keep wages up & production steady. These didn't work.
Coordination of Voluntary efforts: Get volunteers to clothe, food & house citizens who can't help themselves. Not very, many cities were nearly bankrupt from operating RELIEF programmes.
Hoover offered no real solution for falling demand of goods which led to businesses collapsing or cutting back on production and staff.
Hitler had 3 mains aims: To reduce unemployment, to build up German armaments and industry & rearm etc, to make Germany economically self-sufficient.
Dr Hjalmar Schacht devised The New Plan: Imports were limited, Made trade agreement with individual countries (eg. Hungary exchanged butter, raw materials etc. for industrial products in 1934). Government spending - channelled into a wide range of industries. Unemployment was reduced: work creation projects (eg. building autobahns). Conscription to army. Dismissed Jews and political opponents from certain jobs & replacing them with unemployed people.
Replaced by Goering: Aim to prepare Germany for war in 4 years. Increase production of raw materials needed for rearmament: coal, iron ore, metal and explosives. Persuades big businesses to produce key synthetic raw materials e.g.. rubber. Reduce imports further. Tighten controls on prices and wages. Used forced labour if needed. Build new industrial plants such as the Hermann Goering Works (huge mining and metal works)
The Government poured billions of Reichmarks into the four-year plan . In 1939 Germany still depended on foreign imports 1/3 of it's raw materials. The only way for Germany became fully self-sufficient was to conquer countries which could provide the raw materials and food it needed.