Hitler consolidated his power, January 1933 by legal means. How far do you agree with this statement? In 1933, 30th January, Hitler was appointed chancellor, by Hindenburg, the German president, so that the Nazi-supporting public would follow him. Hindenburg hoped that if he could get Hitler successfully under reigns that these masses who supported him would also fall into line and this would lead to a stable Germany. Hitler used his new position as chancellor to legally achieve his goal; his high position meant he had a strong influence on everything that happened in the Reichstag and the constitution. Hitler used Goering to order the police to co-operate with the SS and SA on 17th February. This gave Hitler more control over who was arrested and who was not so he could ignore Nazi crime and focus on his political rivals. This weakened the support towards the other parties in the Reichstag and so made it unfair in the Reichstag due to proportional representation. Just over a week later the Reichstag was burnt to the ground. The next day the Nazis blamed the fire on the communist van der Lubbe who was ‘caught red handed’ on the scene of the crime which gave Hitler the perfect excuse to state it was a communist attack on democracy itself and so followed through with the communists being banned from the Reichstag and so greatly reducing his opponents.
Hindenburg was persuaded to use article 48 to allow Hitler’s army to arrest and hold any suspects without trial. It also allowed Hitler to take control of regional governments. The police and Hitler’s armies then arrested every suspected communist, broke up all communist meetings and made the public think that communism was the enemy. This proved to the public that Hitler was trying to save Germany from the apparent threats. Over 4000 opponents of the communist party were arrested and held without trial but all was made legal by the passing of article 48. On the 5th March the Reichstag elections were held. After the recent attack on the Reichstag the Nazi party used slogans like “the war against Marxism”. The public saw Hitler as a protector and saviour. The SA were also used to line the voting booths and were watching who each person voted for. This intimidated the voters and they knew if they did not vote for the Nazi party they would be beaten by the storm troopers. The Nazi part got 52% of the votes and had 288 seats in the Reichstag, however the communist parties still got 81 seats. The majority of the communist and other Reichstag members were arrested so the Reichstag was mostly Nazi supporting.
Other means that Hitler used to consolidate power was on the 13th march when he appointed Joseph Goebbels as the head of the ministry of propaganda. This was legal but then Goebbels went on to take control over the media and he banned all newspapers that did not support for the Nazi party. This was harsh but was vital to Nazi domination; this stopped the public seeing that the Nazis could be blamed for the fire which would have lost them many votes. Furthermore On the 24th march the enabling act was agreed by attaining 2/3 majority of Reichstag votes, due mostly to the Nazi opponents being held without trial. This was legal but it went totally against the democracy. Hitler now could change Germany and become a dictator. On the 1st May all workers were given the day off, but then the next day Hitler banned all trade unions and forced the workers to work for the new German Labour Front (DAF).
Again this was legal due to Hitler’s power but was very harsh because the workers were happy with their unions. They were now forced to work for the Nazis. He then also made an agreement between the government and the church to protect religious freedom but the catholic church were forced out of politics. This was harsh but was the last step for the Nazi party to have control. . The army who Hitler needed on his side were cautious of the SA who were very powerful and a threat. On the 30th June he had all the SA leaders and officers executed along with other remaining rivals like Von Schleicher in “the night of long knives”. This final action by Hitler eliminated his most prominent rivals and helped him retain and consolidate his power.
Hitler was mainly legal in how he consolidated his power; he used the president’s emergency powers and his own position to change Germany. However many of his changes were carried out harshly but as the Nazis eliminated many rivals there was not much other political parties could do to stop him. His main consolidation of power was when he eliminated all his opposition for example the communists through the manipulative propaganda created from the Reichstag fire. The brutal intimidation techniques used by the SA many people believe to be illegal but within certain view points, you could also claim this was borderline legal through many different laws for example Article 48 and so I conclude that Hitler consolidated his power through legal means, even if these were achieved through harsh intimidation.
Courtney from Study Moose
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