Consolidation of Nazi Power
Nazi Consolidation of Power 1933-34 The consolidation of power by the Nazi’s was absolute and effective in the years 1933-34 in Germany. Hitler used a range of events such as the Reichstag fire and Hindenburg’s death to act as a catalyst to achieve his final goal, as the undisputed Fuhrer, by august of 1934. Also the passing of certain laws such “the protection of People and State Act” and the “Enabling act” gave the Nazi’s further power to consolidate their position as the only party in Germany.
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The Reichstag fire served as the point wherein action could be launched and was the first real step to Hitler consolidating the Nazi’s power. As the fire was suspected to have been caused by a Dutch communist, the Nazi Party used this to justify the banning of all communist publications and made 4000 arrests. Hindenburg was shaken by the fire, with Hitler convincing him the state was in distress, and forcing him into signing the ‘Protection of People and State Act’ which suspended people’s basic freedoms.
Thus Hitler was already using the inherent flaws of the Weimar republics constitution notably article 48 to defy its very democratic principles, whilst simultaneously providing himself with power. After the 1933 elections in which the Nazi party won 340 seats, Hitler held a lavish ceremony at Potsdam to symbolically assert his power. Potsdam was the ancient city of Frederick and thus by holding the ceremony at Garrison church and not in Berlin, the Nazi party was making the statement that they were the heirs to the pre-war glorious Germany.
Hitler himself played a vital role in the preceding as he greeted field marshal and President Hindenburg with a low bow and a handshake thus reinforcing the “symbolic tie between the old and the new. ”(Mason). Therefore this was another factor that led to Nazi’s consolidating of their power in 1933-34. ‘The law for the removal of Distress of People and State’ or more commonly known as the enabling act was another factor that drove Nazi’s power consolidation.
The act placed the country on a permanent state of emergency to give the government the ability to pass laws regardless of the Reichstag. However since this was a change to the constitution it needed a 2/3 majority vote by the Reichstag. This was achieved through a climate of intense intimidation and fear as the SA surrounded the room, chanting “we want Bill or fire and murder” Thus Nazi held the power to instigate any law they needed such as ‘The coordination of the civil Servants’ which effectively removed all Jews and left wing activists from the Bureaucracy.
Therefore the Nazis were consolidation their power. Another factor that led to the Nazis absolute power was Hitler’s leadership. Since the Munich Beer Hall Putsch (Nov 1923) the future Fuhrer realised that the army needed to support the Government as it was the only factor remaining, who had the power to overthrow the Nazi’s. When the SA became a threat with over 3 million members in 1933, Hitler was pushed into action by Hindenburg who told on 21st June 1934 that either he dealt with the SA or power would be handed over to the army.
Hitler’s act of betrayal in ordering the SA purge (Night of the Long Knives) where Rohm and other SA leaders were murdered by Hitler became a decisive factor in the consolidation of Nazi power as it showed that there was nothing Hitler wouldn’t do to maintain and consolidate his power. However the final consolidation of power arrived at Hindenburg’s death. The old 85 year old signed an Act combining the offices of President and Chancellor, before his death.
Therefore once he died on the 2nd of August 1934, Hitler was able to assume the position as head of the army. This was the last essential phase of his grasp for power, as each soldier in the army swore an oath of allegiance to Hitler personally which included the phrase that they were “willing to give up their lives for the Fuhrer”. Therefore by August 1934, Hitler had become the undisputed leader of Germany, as he had acquired the Army’s support.
Finally an amalgamation of these factors led to the consolidation of power for the Nazi party between 1933-34. External events such as the Reichstag Fire and Hindenburg’s death were used to the Nazi’s advantage as these were decisive factors when combined with Hitler’s leadership and circumvention of the constitution, by using its clauses to his advantage.