Nazi Control and Dictatorship, 1933-39:

  • Created by: Katye2310
  • Created on: 20-06-20 08:25

The Reichstag Fire 1933:

Now the Nazis and Hitler were in power, they used every opportunity, legal and illegal, to remove any opposition and secure a dictatorship. 

The Reichstag fire of 27th February 1933, Marinus van der Lubbe was arrested and killed for starting the fire - some people believed the Nazis had started the fire deliberately. 

  • A lone Dutch Communist was executed for starting the fire but Hitler siezed the opportunity to accuse the Communist Party of a conspiracy against the government. Four thousand communists were arrested.
  • It gave Hitler an excuse to issue a Decree for the Protection of the People and the State, giving him powers to imprison political opponents and ban opposition newspapers.
  • He persuaded Hindenburg to call an election in March 1933 to secure more Nazi seats.
  • The Nazi party managed to secure two-thirds of the seats by using the emergency powers to prevent the communists from taking up their 81 seats.
  • Hitler was now able to take up the constitution. 
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The Enabling Act 1933:

Hitler proposed the Enabling Act 1933 to destroy the power of the Reichstag and give himself total power to make laws. It stated that:

  • The Reich Cabinet could pass new laws. The laws could overrule the constitution. Hitler would propose the laws. 

Result - Germany would no longer be a democracy. 

Hitler expected resistance to the act and so used the SA to intimidate the opposition. The vote was won by the Nazis, 444 to 94. 

Effect of Enabling Act on Trade Unions and Political Parties:

The Enabling Act allowed Hitler to get rid of opposition to Nazis. Local Government was closed down on 31st March 1933 and reorganised with Nazi majorities. Completely abolished in January 1934. Trade Unions were replaced with the German Labour Front. Many union officials were arrested on 2nd May 1933. Other Political Parties, in May 1933, the SDP and Communist Party offices and funds were taken by the Nazis. In July 1933, other political parties banned.

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Hitler Becomes Fuhrer: (1)

Hitler continued to assert his authority and power. Key events occured in 1934 which led to Hitler declaring himself Fuhrer. 

Why Rohm and the SA were a threat to Hitler:

  • Rohm did not like Hitler's policies.
  • Many of the SA were bitter as they felt undervalued and angry because many were still unemployed, but they were loyal to Rohm.
  • The SA was much bigger than the army and the army feared Rohm wanted to replace them. 
  • The leaders of the ** wanted to reduce the size of the SA to increase their own power.

The **: (the Schutzstaffel):

The ** was set up by Hitler in 1925 to act as his bodyguards. They were a select group run firstly by Schreck and then by Himmler. They appeared menacing in their black uniforms. 

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Hitler Becomes Fuhrer: (2)

The Night of the Long Knives: - Hitler decided to rid himself of the threat of Rohm and the SA. He did this by inviting Rohm and 100 SA leaders to a meeting in the town of Bad Wiessee on 30th June 1934. It was a ruse - when the leaders arrived they were arrested by the **, take to Munich and shot. After the arrests, von Papen's staff were arrested and his home surrounded. Von Papen was no longer able to watch what Hitler was up to. Further killings occured, including that of von Schleicher. It was thought that not many people fully realised how many people were being killed - many were relieved that the power of the SA had been curtailed. 

Death of Hindenburg: - President Hindenburg was the only person senior to Hitler. In August 1934, he died. Within hours, a Law Concerning the Head of State merged the offices of Chancellor and President to create a new office of Fuhrer. Fuhrer means leader and Hitler used propaganda to ensure that he looked all powerful. The 'Heil Hitler!' Nazi salute made people swear loyalty to him personally, and he was portrayed as having superhuman, heroic qualities. 

Army Oath of Allegiance: - The day Hindenburg died, Hitler announced the army should swear an oath of allegiance to him, not to Germany. 

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A Police State:

A police state is when a government uses the police to control everyone's lives. The Nazis used the **, SD and the Gestapo to do this. Anyone Nazis were suspicious of could disappear, at any time. They could be killed or taken to concentration camps.

Policing: - Hitler set up his own security forces as he realised not all the existing German police supported him. These forces run by the Nazi Party, not by the government. Their main weapon was fear.

The **, Protection Squad, were set up by Heinrich Himmler in 1925. Led by Himmler and wore black uniforms. They controlled all Germany's police and security forces and acted outside the law. Members had to marry 'racially pure' wives. They ran the concentration camps. 

The SD, Security Squad, were set up by Heinrich Himmler in 1931, led by Reinhard Heydrich. They wore uniforms and spied on all opponents of the Nazi Party, both at home and abroad. 

The Gestapo, Secret State Police, were set up by Hermann Goering in 1933 and led by Reinhard Heydrich. They wore plain clothes and spide on people. They prosecuted people for speaking out against the Nazis and sent people to concentration camps and used torture. 

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The Legal System:

Hitler controlled the legal system so that meant it was very difficult for anyone to oppose him. He did this by controlling the judges. 

  • All judges had to belong to the National Socialist League for the Maintenance of the Law.
  • All judges had to favour the Nazi Party in any decision.

He also did this by controlling the law courts:

  • He abolished trial by jury - only judges able to decide if someone innocent or guilty.
  • Set up a People's Court to hear all treason cases. Trials held in secret and judges hand-picked.

Concentration Camps:

The first camp was built at Dachau in 1933 to house the growing number of people being arrested. Camps were built in isolated areas so no one could see what was going on. Many more were built. Inmates were made up of political prisoners and undesirables, such as prostitutes and homosexuals, and minority groups like Jews. Inmates were treated very badly and forced to do hard labour. 

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Policies Towards Churches: (1)

The Nazis wanted total loyalty to Hitler and his beliefs. The churches were potentially a threat to his power and therefore Hitler needed to control the churches' influence. Hitler's strategy was to try and consolidate his power before openly attacking the influence and power of the churches in Germany. His ultimate goal was to replace the churches with a Nazi-based religion. 

Nazi Beliefs:

  • Hitler as all-powerful leader.
  • Aryan racial superiority.
  • War, military discipline and violence important.
  • Dominance of the strong over the weak. 

Christian Beliefs:

  • God as the ultimate authority.
  • Everyone equal in the eyes of od.
  • Peace is what everyone should strive for. 
  • The strong should look after the weak. 
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Policies Towards Churches: (2)

The Catholic Church: - Hitler worried that the Catholic Church would oppose him as Catholics were loyal to the Pope, usually suppoted the Catholic Centre Party and sent their children to Catholic schools and the Catholic youth organisation.

The Concordat: - In July 1933, Hitler agreed with Pope in a Concordat that Catholics were free to worship and run their own schools in return for staying out of politics. However, Hitler broke his promise and priests opposing the Nazis were harassed and/or sent to concentration camps; Catholic schools had to remove Christian symbols and were later closed; and Catholic youth organisations were banned. 

The Protestant Churches: - Two Protestant churches were formed during the 1930s. The Reich Church was founded in 1933 and was made up of about 2000 Protestant churches. It supported the Nazis and was led by Ludwig Muller. It has some membrs that wore Nazi uniform and called themselves German Christians. The Confessional Church was founded in 1934 and was made up of about 6000 Protestant churches. It opposed the Nazis and was led by Martin Niemoller. It was also repressed by the Nazis. 

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Propaganda and Censorship:

Hitler wanted to use propaganda (information to spread ideas) and censorship (government control over what people see, hear, and read) to create a generation of people loyal to Nazi regime and its values. Joseph Goebbels - Reich Minister of Propaganda 1933-1945 - played a central role as Nazi Minister of Enlightenment and Propaganda. He was a master at spreading Nazi ideas in a subtle as wel as an unsubtle way. He essentially controlled newspapers, the radio, book publishing, film, and the arts.

Methods of Censorship:

  • Public buring of books by Jewish writers or others who disagreed with Nazi views.
  • Radio producers, playwrights, filmmakers, and newspapers, were told what to say.
  • Newspapers opposing the Nazis were closed. 
  • Only radios that couldn't recieve foreign stations were made. 

The Reich Chamber of Culture: - Set up in 1933 and overseen by Goebbels, this monitored all aspects of culture and made sure they were consistent with Nazi ideas. The Nazis wanted grand and classical architecture, particularly the work of Albert Speer; artisits to be members of a Reich Chamber of Visual Arts; to listen to traditional German composers like Beethoven and Bach. 

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Methods of Propaganda:

Hitler featured in much propaganda, either with a photograph or his name or title.

  • Posters showing Nazi beliefs were displayed everywhere.
  • Huge Rallies and Military Parades were held, projecting a power and strength that would either make Germans proud of their country or fill them with terror depending on their viewpoint. 
  • The Cinema showed propaganda films, but mainly entertainment films that had subtle Nazi messages.
  • Hitler made Radio Speeches which were played through loudspeakers in factories, cafes and on the streets. Entertainment programmes contained Nazi ideas and beliefs.
  • The Nazis encouraged Artists and Playwrights to produce work highlighting Nazi ideas. 'Degenerate' art, such as modern art and jazz music, was banned.
  • The Olympic Games held in Berlin in 1936 was the ideal event to promote Nazi ideologies such as Ayran superiority. It was also an opportunity to present Nazi Germany in a good light. It was well organised and a grand spectacle. 
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Church Opposition:

The extent of support for the Nazi regime differed between groups and individuals. Although Hitler tried to suppress opposition from the churches, there were still Catholic priests and Protestant ministers and pastors who preached against Nazi policies.

How Pastors and Priests Opposed the Nazis:

  • 6000 Protestat pastors joined Niemoller's Confessional Church as a protest against Nazi policy, only 2000 remained in the German Christian Church.
  • About 800 pastors were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
  • 400 Catholic priests spoke out and were arrested and imprisoned in the Priests' Block at Dachau concentration camp.

How Much Opposition Was There?:

Opposition to the Nazis by church leaders was difficult because it was so dangerous to speak out openly. However, attendance at Christian churches remained high throughout the period, in spite of the Nazis' attempt to curtail the churches. 

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Pastor Martin Niemoller

One of the main church opponents of Hitler was Martin Niemoller, but he didn't always oppose the Nazis.

  • Pro-Nazis:
  • Niemoller voted for them in the 1924 and 1933 elections as he felt the Weimar Republic needed a strong leader.
  • He didn't oppose Nazi restrictions on Jews.
  • He wanted to be let out of prison to fight on the side of the Nazis in the Second World War.
  • Against Nazis:
  • He didn't like Nazi interference in the Protestant Church.
  • He opposed the Nazi restrictions on Jews becoming Christians.
  • He set up the Confessional Church in 1934.
  • Very Against Nazis:
  • Niemoller was arrested many times for speaking out against the Nazis and Hitler between 1934 and 1937.
  • He was sent to a concentration camp in 1938 where he stayed until 1945.
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Niemoller Sermon:

Niemoller preached this sermon to remind church leaders of the importance of speakinng out against Nazi policies.

First they came for the Socialists,

and I did not speak out 

because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists,

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no-one left to speak for me.

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Youth Opposition: (1)

Another group that opposed the Nazis was the young. Some young people set up secret groups or refused to conform to what the Nazis wanted from them. 

The Edelweiss Pirates:

  • They were made up mainly of boys who copied an American style of clothing (checked shirts and white socks).
  • They were formed in the late 1930s, possibly as a consequence of Nazi policies enforcing Hitler Youth membership.
  • The Alpine flower, the Edelweiss, was used as their symbol.
  • They were mainly based in working-class districts of large cities. 
  • They read and listened to banned music and literature and wrote anti-Nazi graffiti.
  • They taunted the Hitler Youth.
  • They went on hikes and camping expeditions in the countryside to get away from Nazi restrictions. 
  • By 1939 they had 2000 members.
  • The Nazis were not threatened by their activities.
  • They sang 'Smash the Hitler Youth in twain, our song is freedom, love and life'.
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Youth Opposition: (2)

The Swing Youth:

Another group of young people similar to the Edelweiss Pirates was the Swing Youth. Like the Pirates, they chose not to conform to Nazi ideas. They liked wearing American clothes. They listened to American music and watched American films. They gathered to drink alcohol, smoke and dance. They organised illegal dances attended by thousands. Unlike the Pirates, they were largely made up of children from wealthy famililes with the money to buy records and their own record players. 

How Effective was Youth Opposition up to 1939?:

It was limited to:

  • Writing anti-Nazi graffiti. Telling anti-Nazi jokes. Attacking the Hitler Youth.
  • Listening to banned music. Wearing American-style clothing.

The motives of the youth opposition groups were cultural rather than political and their numbers were limited.

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