Tag Archives: Nazi

Hitler becomes Fuhrer

How Hitler became Führer after Hindenburg’s death

On the 2nd August 1934, the 86 year old German Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg died of lung cancer and Adolf Hitler became both the Führer and Reich Chancellor of the German People.

The move effectively merged the offices of both the President and Chancellor into one role, and therefore completed what the Nazis referred to as Gleichschaltung (or “Co-ordination”) by establishing Hitler as both Germany’s head of state and head of government.

Interfering with the post of President was illegal under the terms of the 1933 Enabling Act, and although Hitler merging the two positions removed any political checks and balances of his personal domination of Germany, a plebiscite held 17 days later on the 19th August saw an enormous 90% of people approving of the change.

Hitler’s assumption of the role of Führer also allowed the Nazi Party to more actively pursue its promotion of the ideology of Führerprinzip. This stated that Hitler possessed absolute control over the German government. Supported by a propaganda machine that relentlessly pushed the slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer – which translates as “One People, One Empire, One Leader” – the Führerprinzip also confirmed the Nazi Party’s complete control over every element of German society. This ranged from local government to factories and even to the management and control schools, although in terms of government it sometimes meant that officials were reluctant to make decisions without Hitler’s personal input or approval. It was also used by Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials to argue that they were not guilty since they were only following orders.

Hitler becomes Fuhrer

How did Hitler consolidate his rule?

An extract from a 1980s documentary called “Hitler’s Germany” – part of the 20th Century History series of documentary programs. Transferred from an VHS tape, so quality is variable but it’s watchable and well presented.

Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany

Inside the Nazi State – Supporters

This documentary episode presents the recollections and opinions of a number of people who supported Hitler and the Nazis.  It’s particularly interesting to see the reasons they give for why they supported them.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Triumph of the Will

Nuremberg Rally 1934: Triumph of the Will

This is a link to a full copy of the Nazi-produced propaganda film Triumph of the Will. I have set this clip to begin at the part where the SA, NSKK and SS Party formations offer an oath of loyalty and fealty to Hitler. In his speech, Hitler references the Night of the Long Knives and reassures the SA that they are not under threat.

 

Saar Plebiscite

The Saar plebiscite and reunion with Germany, 1935

On the 13th January 1935, the Territory of the Saar Basin voted to reunite with Germany. Having been administered by the League of Nations for 15 years following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the overwhelming plebiscite result of over 90% in favour of reunification surprised many observers.

In 1918 the Saar Basin was a heavily industrialised area, boasting a large number of coal mines. Following the Treaty of Versailles the area was occupied and governed by France and Britain under the auspices of the League of Nations. France was also given exclusive control of the coal mines. However the Treaty called for a plebiscite to decide the long-term future of the Saar region after a period of fifteen years.

By the time of the plebiscite Adolf Hitler had come to power in Germany, which had led a number of Nazi opponents to move to the area since it was the only part of Germany free from their rule. They were keen for the area to remain under the League’s administration, but maintaining the status quo was unpopular with ordinary Germans.

Meanwhile the Nazis began an intensive pro-Germany campaign led by propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. As early as 1933, complaints that the Nazi campaign amounted to a “reign of terror” had been noted by American political scientists Sarah Wambaugh, one of the members of the commission overseeing the plebiscite. Although the Nazis did tone down their tactics by the end of 1934, the League of Nations provided a peacekeeping force to monitor the plebiscite.

Voter turnout plebiscite was 98%, with 90.8% voting to re-join the German Reich.

Nazi Parade

Nazi Control of Germany 1933-1945 (podcast)

This podcast examines the three broad ways through which the Nazis secured control of Germany.  These are categorised as ‘the stick’ (repression and force), ‘the carrot’ (positive social and economic effects), and propaganda.

The first method of control outlined in the podcast is repression, which began following the Reichstag Fire in 1933.  The four key areas of repression are explained: Nazi control of the police and courts, the SS and the use of concentration camps, and the Gestapo.

Secondly, the episode explains how Nazi achievements were used to maintain support for the party.  Particularly achievements that ensured support included such things as assistance to farming communities (e.g. the Reich Entailed Farm Law) and more jobs and improved working conditions for industrial workers.  Middle-class support was secured through the removal of the threat of Communism.  Big-business was also very supportive due to being able to secure large government contracts, and the fact that trade unions had been banned by the Nazis in 1933.  Remilitarisation and large-scale public works projects also secured wide public support for the Nazis.

Thirdly, the podcast assesses the impact of propaganda on the German population.  An explanation is given of the role of the Reich Chamber of Culture, before describing specific propaganda achievements such as the effect of the radio, the use of films, and the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

The podcast ends with some tips on how to answer a question about Nazi control in Germany by explaining how the three factors worked together to support each other.

          

The SS

The foundation of the SS: an overview

The SS was established on the orders of Adolf Hitler to act as his personal bodyguard. He had been released from prison the previous December, having been found guilty of treason following the failed Munich Putsch, and was keen to ensure his safety when attending party functions and events.

The SS was technically a division of the longer-established SA, but the group’s loyalty to Hitler meant that over time it grew to be the dominant organisation. This came about under the leadership of Heinrich Himmler, who was appointed Reichsfuhrer-SS in January 1929. He transformed the SS from a small bodyguard of less than 300 members into a private army containing over 50,000 men by the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933.

Membership of the SS was reserved for those men who would loyally and unquestioningly serve Hitler and the Nazi Party, and who met the SS’s strict racial policy. Through racial selection of both SS members and their spouses, the Nazis hoped to create an ‘elite’ community of people with an ‘Aryan-Nordic bloodline’.

The Night of the Long Knives in June 1934 removed any remaining authority the SA once had over the SS. A month later Hitler formally separated the two organisations, meaning that the SS became answerable to him alone. As the organisation grew even further under the Nazi dictatorship, separate SS subdivisions were established within a sprawling bureaucracy.

By the end of the Second World War the SS had responsibilities that stretched from policing and the collection of intelligence to running Nazi concentration and death camps.

Speeches by Goebbels

This video presents an edited collection of speeches given by Josef Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief, in which he presents his views on the role of propaganda in the Nazi regime.

Nazi Book Burning

Hitler’s Germany 1933-36 (Home Policy)