When the President of the Reich, HindenburgPaul von Hindenburg was a German field marshal during World War I and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934, appointed Hitler Reich chancellor on the 30th of January 1933 the National Socialist were still opposed by a majority of the German National Peoples’ Party in parliament. The forming of Hitler’s cabinet was mainly due to the former Reich Chancellor von PapenFranz von Papen served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in between 1933 and 1934. He persuaded Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as Chancellor in a cabinet not under Nazi Party domination who had mediated between the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and the National Peoples’ Party ever since the beginning of January 1933. Von Papen was certain that an imperious government could only be introduced with the aid of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party; however he aimed to keep the National Socialists away from key positions. Radicalisation was benefited by the so called SturmabteilungThe Sturmabteilung (SA) acted as the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party. They provided protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies and disrupted the meetings of the opposing parties (SA) that was permanently subject to Hitler’s party and intimated political opponents.
The constitution of the Weimar Republic lacked one important law that could have secured the order of state. This law is nowadays known as “article 79” in the German Basic law. As it did not exist in the 1930s the Weimar Republic had constantly been threatened in its existence, thus the National Socialists could reshape the state into a dictatorship within months. The radical approach of the SA forced the political opposition to give up any resistance.
Emergency regulation laws
The Reichstag fireThe Reichstag fire was an attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on 27 February 1933. This event was used as evidence by the Nazis that the Communists were plotting against the German government of the 27th of February 1933 prompted the new government to invalidate the constitution by overthrowing the President of the Reich, Hindenburg. A law “for the protection of people and stateThe Reichstag Fire Decree was a direct response to the Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933. It was used as the legal basis for the imprisonment of anyone considered to be opponents of the Nazis” was passed. From then on political opponents were persecuted, as for example the communists, who were accused of setting fire to the Reichstag. Hitler used the Sturmabteilung as additional police forces and justified the detention of his political opponents. In the election of the 5th of March 1933 the National Socialist German Workers’ Party gained 44% of all votes. This showing clearly that the political opposition was afraid of the radical approach the National Socialists were taking and thus dissipated their parties themselves1.
Day of Potsdam
The new government was officially introduced on the 21st of March 1933 on the so called Day of Potsdam. As Hitler was still met with mistrust by many people he highly symbolically bowed in front of Hindenburg. He thus clarified that he still considered Hindenburg as ruler in Germany. He gained important sympathies in the population and inspired hope for a peaceful policy. However he declared the Enabling ActThe Enabling Act of 1933 (23th March) gave the Hitler Cabinet power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag of 1933 only two days later, thereby enabling the government to pass laws without the assent of parliament. In addition to this Hitler repealed the division of powers and expanded his power gradually over time2.
Prohibition of the Social Democratic Party
At the time the only opponent of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party were the Social Democrats, who aimed to preserve democracy. On the 2nd of May 1933 member of the SA and the SSThe Schutzstaffel (SS) was the major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. It grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the largest and most powerful organizations in the Third Reich occupied several offices of the trade unions and arrested their members. The uncompromising procedure assumed by the National Socialists eventually convinced all opposition members to give up their resistance and to tolerate the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. After the Social Democratic Party had been banned the German Labour FrontThe German Labour Front replaced the various trade unions of the Weimar Republic was founded, thus forcing all workers to adept to the National Socialists’ ideology.