The establishment of the nazi dictatorship- booklet 1


How did the Nazis establish a dictatorship?

  • January 1933= Hitler chancellor but his power was shared and incomplete- In the cabinet only 2 out of 12 were Nazis (apart from hitler)
  • Nazi didn't have majority in the reichstag and only held office at pleasure of president (could have been stopped at this early stage)

Non nazi members of gov co-operated with Hitler (civil service, army and leaders of bussiness and banking). There are number of explanations to why hitler was not stopped...

  • Hitlers early caution- lulled people into a flase sense of security by giving the impression he would always act within the law
  • Bolshevik revolution-people seemed convinced that as Hitler said a danger of a Bolshevik revolution.
  • People thought they could manipulate Hitler- powerful elements in the population belived this.

What made the transion to a Nazi dictatorship easier?

The breakdown of parlimentary demmocracy and the carrying out the work of the gov by Presidental decreee under hindenburg.

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The election of 1933

Making full use of the lastest technolgy Hitler made a broadcast to the German people on 1st Febuary (1933). To Change weimar constution Two thirds majority in Reichstag was essential! So to gain support hitler called for a general election for 5th March 1933.

In his campaign he foucsed on....

  • A very serious danger to the republic of a communist uprising.
  • Despite early caution the SA were stepping up its pace of actities on the streets.

What effect did the Reichstag fire have?

  • 27th Feburay 1933 the Reichstag buliding in Berlin was gutted by fire and a young dutch communist Marinus Van der Lubbe was caught in the buliding and addmitted responsibilty
  •  Van der Lubbe said he was acting alone but as put on trial with 4 others for conspiracy.
  • expolited fears of a communist uprising to justify the arrest of KPD politicans (left)
  • Hitler persauded president to declare a state of emergancy and to pass emergancy laws.
  • Still failed to gain 50% of votes (even with support of nationlists)
  • Day of postdam 21st of march
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'The legal Revolution' (consolidation)

Hitler's election campaign

  • made no referance to anti-semitism or his plans for foregien expansion
  • Stressed danger of a communist uprising

The communists were in fact rather quiet and the Nazis were driven to fabricate proof of an impending communist putsch by raiding a communist party HQ.

How did the Nazis use the fire to their advantage?

  • Hitler persauded Hindenburg to pass the emergancy 'Decree for the protection of the people and the state' (febuary 1933) which provided the semi-legal foundation for the rule of terror and intimidation that was about to begin.

Hitler was given the following powers by the decree...

  • Communists and enemies of the regime could be arrested.
  • Free speech and free association was suspended.
  • Press could be censored.
  • Central gov could (for duration of emergancy) take control of the Lander (states).
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Consolidation after election

At the elections of March 1933 the Nazi only won 43.9% of the votes and only had the majority on the strengh of their alliance with the nationlist party and were still far short of the two thirds needed to change the constiution.

How did Hitler use the emergancy decree powers to help this?

  • Arrested 81 communist deputies and some social deputies.
  • Gained support from Centre party and placed the intimdating presence of the SA and ** in reichstag buliding.
  • These things allowed him to get the Enabling Law passed which virtually ended the weimar constution.

Enabling Law (act) 24th March 1933

  • The chancellor was allowed to make laws for 4 years without the consent of the Reichstag.
  • Only the SPD socialists voted againsit it (other parties didn't oppose hitler)
  • It gave Hitler the means to establish dictatorial rule.
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Making Germany a One party state

Law againsit the formation of parties (July 1933)

  • Outlawed communists and socialist and all other politcal parties were declared illegal.
  • By accepting the law well established organisations (Catholic Center Party) dissolved themeselves and accepted Nazi dictatorship.

Gleichschaltung= by autum 1933 every organisation was brought under Hitlers ultimate control. (except- Army, presidnecy and churches)

What contributed to Hitler's success?

  • His rallies, speeches and constant appeals for unity gave him the air of being the leader of an irresistable revolution which despite its displays of brutallity was the force bringing around the spirtual and economic renewal of Germany.
  • Oppistion was formidible but divided and crippled by underestimating the dynamism of the Nazi movement.

The vatcan, nationlist party, big bussiness, the reichsweher, the trade unions and the SPD thought that by appesing hitler they could ride out the storm and salvage the esstials nesscary for their survial.

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Trade Unions

Trade unions could have been Hitler's most formidable oppenents but their numbers had been hit badly by the slump.

  • Leaders of socialist trade unions hoped to salvage the esstials of their organisation by assuring Hitler that the would not meddle in politics and limit themselves to protecting the economic and social welfare of their members.

How did the Nazis outmanoeuver union leadership?

  • Goering appealed over the heads of union leadership to the workers.
  • He declared 1st May a national holiday in honur of labour
  • invited workers to celebaotry processions
  • 2nd May the SA and ** occupied trade union offices throughout Germany
  • Both unionised and non unioised workers were entrolled in the new 'German Labour Front (DAF)'
  • Strikes banned

Hitler ensured that the DAF did not become the Genuine voice of the workers by handing over responsiblity for fixing wages and  preserving industrial peace to the specially created 'Trustees of Labour' (responible to the Ministry of Labour).

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Co-ordinating Germany

The Lander Assembiles were co-ordinated

  • April 1933 10 Reich Governers were appointed whose function was to ensure the polices of the chancellor were carried out in the states.
  • The state police came under Nazi orders
  • Himmler became cheif of police as well as head of the **.
  • January 1934- The state assemblies were abolished and the state governments were suborinated to the central gov.

The Civil Service

  • April 1933- brought under control by the 'Law for the Re-establishment of the professtional civil service'
  • Jews and officers who were suspected of being disloyal were dismissed.
  • Nazi took control of appointments, dismissals and promotions.
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Press and Big Business


  • By spring 1933 Goebbels as Minister of propganda controlled broadcasting and press releses.
  • In Steptember 1933 all 'intellectual workers' were forced to join the Reich Chamber of culture.
  • May 1933- The Ministry of the Interior compelled German states to introduce new school syllabuses.
  • All teachers and lecturers assocations were affiliated to the National Socialist Teachers Organisation.

Big Business

  • won over by anti-socialist polices e.g. banning trade unions, banning strikes and by the increse in production through rearmerment.
  • The employers associations were welded into the estate of german industry
  • Early 1934- whole of german business was regrouped under Reich economic chamber.
  • Businessmen and indutrialists were able to manage their own affairs and keep more radical members out of key positions.
  • Army won over by promise of rearmerment and nationlist aims.
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The Church

Hitler stopped oppistion from the Catholic Church by sighning a concordat with church leaders in July 1933.

It appeared to guarante reilgous freedom but it became undermined once the catholic population of the Saar had voted for their inclusion in the Reich in the Plebiscite of 1935.

Reichskirche (national church)

  • set up in an attempt to co-ordinate the the Protestant Lutherian Church.
  • Bishop Otto Muller a comitted Nazi was appointed as the Head.
  • was imedaitly challenged by a strong dissident group.
  • in 1935 Hitler removed Muller and created a new deparment of state affairs.

Confesstional Church

  • Formed by a strong dissident group.
  • Despite considerable persecution the confesstional church managed to surive.
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Summary of Consolidation of power

What had Hitler achived?

  • The enabling act now meant there was no legal way to replace him.
  • His conservative, liberal and socialist oppenants were divided, demoralised and weakened by repression.
  • Oppenats were intimdated from violence 'from below' (SA) and terror 'from above' as the Nazis could now use the power of the state machine.
  • The SA had murdered and estimated 500 people in 1933.
  • By the end of 1933 over 100,000 politcal opponats had been arrested.
  • Elite politicans who had sough to use Hitler had been outmanovered.

Only potenial threat came from the Army, but it had comitted itself to the new government.

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Hitlers control over the Nazi Party

Once power appeared to have been estabilshed firmly, radical elements within the Nazi Party began to assert themselves- in particular the SA.


  • Established in 1921 under Ernst Rohm (a professtional soilder who felt betrayed at the end of the war and became active in Nationalist politics).
  • Grown quickly and responsible for much of the violence in weimar Germany.
  • by 1933 it had 3 million members.

The 'Second Revolution' (socialist nature)

Prominent left wing members among the SA urged hitler to lauch a second revolution.

  • Rohm was a radical and disliked the 'bourgeois' society and wanted to reorder germany.
  • Wanted to merge the 3 million strong SA (brown flood) with the Army (grey rock) into a vast new people's milita.

Neither rohm or gregor strasser had a clear view of what 'socialist' germant they wanted (suggested they just wanted to gather power for themselves)

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Why did Hitler need to deal with internal oppositi

  • The demands for a second revolution  (however limited) were alraming bussiness owners and landownig interests who Hitler was trying to attract to the party.
  • Hitler had been very careful to cultivate support from the army (most powerful groups) by promises to rearm and re-equip and expand the military.- Rohm's plans to merge the SA and army undermined this policy.
  • Hitlers ultimate goal was to establish power without any rival to challenage his postion.- vital that he dealt with any opptsiotion within his own party (rohm).
  • Hitler's own credibility as Fuherer would be undermined if he did not act the SA.
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The night of the Long Knives, 29th June 1934

Many of the SA leaders had gathered at a lakeside hotel in Bad Wiesse. They were dragged from their beds and taken to the Nazi headquaters where they were shot.

At the same time in Berlin and other cities the ** moved on others who Hitler disliked or feared.

  • The scheming schleicher was killed
  • the potential rival gregor strasser
  • hitlers old ememy of 1932 Gustav von Kahr.
  • Rohm died in the blood bath.
  • Most historians say 90 were murdered including over 50 SA leaders.

Hitler proudly defended his actions to the Reichstag and took full responsibility.

He said he was defending Germany againsit a plot by Rohm and the degenrate Homosexuals around him. 

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What were the consequences of the Night of the Lon

1. Removal of SA leadership meant its power was reduced so there would no longer be a merger with the Army.

  • Army grateful for preventing this.

2. Hitler's control over party was firmer than ever.

  • any possibilty of the socialist parts of the programme being implemented was a very disstant possibility

3. SA reduced meant that Hitler relied increasingly on Himmler and the ** for all matters relating to secrity.

  • after June 1934 it became one of the most powerful organisations in Nazi Germany.
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The Assumption of total power

Under the terms of the ennabling act the rights of the Reich president were untouched.On the 1st August with Hindenburg very near to death.....

  • Hilter insisted that all ministers put their names to a law determing that on the death of Hindenburg the office of Reich President would be combined with those of Reich Chancellor.
  • The 'Law on the Head of the state of the German Reich'. (Bloomburg sighned)

When Hindenburg died Hitler would automatically become Supreme comander of the Armed forces.

  • The possibilty of the army appealing over the head of the government to the Reich supreme comander disappered.

2nd August= Hindenburg died- Army swore an oath to Hitler.

19th August= Combination of Pres and Chancellor were put to public in a plebiscite (89.9% yes and turnout of (95.7%)

Hitler= Constitutionally unlimited powers (Head of state, Head of gov, Leader of party & Supreme comander of the armed forces.)

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Key interpretations of consolidation of power

Hitlers appointment as chancellor

  • Hitlers personality
  • Politcal Intrigue (role of Hindenburg and Von Papen)
  • Nazis were the largest party.
  • The Nazis may have peaked in popularity.

Reichstag fire

  • Nazis were to blame
  • communists were to blame.
  • Van der Lubbe acted alone.

The Night of the Long Knives

  • prevented merger.
  • Prevented a second socialist revolution.
  • Secured hitlers leadership by removing potenial rivals. 
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Interpretations 2

Why Hitler was not opposed over the night of the long knives?

  • Genuine support for his actions 
  • fear
  • propaganda
  • Didnt think Hitler was responsible.
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Really good for getting a brief overview of the facts. Atrocious spelling though. Took me ages to fix it all.

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