What did the legal revolution enable Hitler to do?
- Destroy democracy and establish a dictatorship
Reichstag Fire 27 February 1933
- Fire in the parliament building; suspected to be started by Marinus Van der Lubbe (Dutch Communist)
- However, the Nazis took this oppotunity to blame the fire on a German Communist Party (KDP), a openly revolutionary-style organisation, arguing that it was part of a conspiracy to destroy Germany
- RESPONSE- President Hindenburg issued a decree, removing people's civil rights. He took away German people's right to free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom from arrest, among other things. This allowed the Nazis to arrest and harrass their political opponents.
- KDP Communist Party was banned shortly after
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Reichstag Elections and Enabling Act
Reichstag Elections 5 March 1933
- These elections were characterised by Nazi Stormtroopers (SA)
- Nazis called the elections themselves, hoping to win two thirds majority, in order to pass a law changing the German consititution. However, Nazis only gained 44% majority. Even with the support of Nationalists, they still needed support of the Catholic Centre Party (ZP) to pass the Enabling Act.
- The Nazis agreed to sign a concordat with Pope, in order to win the Centre Party support.
The Enabling Act 23 March 1933
- This gave Hitler power to issue decrees without consulting the Reichstag.
- He claimed it was necessary to provide Gremany with strong decisive leadership.
- This gave Hitler power to establish a dictatorship and one-party state.
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Creating a one party state
- KDP (Communist) and SDP (Socialist) were banned
- Conservative and liberal political parties voluntary dissolved themselves
- Nationalist Party merged with the Nazis
- July 1933- Law against the formation of new parties was passed
- Nazis used violence in order to consolidate their power, which they claimed had been legally authorised-to smash their political opponent on the LEFT (Communists)
- Hermann Goering (Prussian Minister of the Interior)- an order was issued to him 17 February 1933- instructing them to co-operate with the Nazi Party, and authorised them to shoot communists.
- He later reccruited 50,000 auxiliary police to attack the Nazis' political opponents. As a result, 10,000 political opponents of the Nazi Party were imprisoned and concentration camps were established. As well as the closure of 100s of left-wing papers.
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Problem of the SA
- Hitler's Government was essentially a coalition of radical Nazis and traditional conservatives.
- To gain and remain in power, he required the support of these tradition conservatives, thus, Hitler co-operated with these forces in government, the civil service and the army.
- However, the SA and their violent anticts were an increasing embarassment to Hitler as they undermined his respectable image, thus, Germany's conservative elite and the German people were concerned Hitler seemed unable to curb SA lawlessness.
- The SA became a major threat to Hitler when leader Ernst Rohm wanted Hitler's Government to create a Social Revolution. He also wanted the SA to merge with the German Army (became known as the SS). This alarmed members of the Conservative elite because the SA were renound for trouble (street violence).
- Because Hitler needed the support of Conservative elite, he refused Rohms demands, thus, tension grew between Rohm and Nazi Party leadership.
- 1934- Hitler needed to act to ensure that the Army Leadership (Conservative elite) supported him in taking on President Hindenburg's remaining power as he came close to death. Thus, the accumulation of events that occured 30 June 1934; The Night of the Long Knives.
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The Night of the Long Knives 30 June 1934
- Hitler acted in order to ensure conservative elite support, and therefore the future of his own government.
- Members of the SS (German 'People's' Army) arrested and murdered Rohm and the other SA leaders. The SS then brought the SA under its control, they became independant of the SA. Other political opponents of the Nazis were also murdered.
- Hitler's actions consolidated his position as leader of party and state because: he removed threat within the Nazi Party, and won over all power conservative critics.
Hindenburg's death 2 August 1934
- Consequently, following Hindenburg's death, the Whermacht (SS) swore an oath of allegiance to Hitler as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
- As a result, he won a great deal of support from the German people, as the purge seemed to save Germany from Rohm's social revolution.
- He now became known as 'Fuhrer'.
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