The establishment of the Nazi dictatorship, January - March 1933

  • Created by: wika0821
  • Created on: 18-06-21 22:16


Even though H had been made Chancellor, he had not yet become the dictator he inspired to be.

His power was still limited:

- Hindenburg (as President) was above him and had the ultimate power under the constitution. 

- The Nazis were a minority in the coalition gov.

- The constitution (which was still enforced) ensured the rights of German citizens under the law.

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January - March 1933

1 Feb - Hitler dissolved the Reichstag and called for new elections.

27 Feb - Reichstag was on fire.

28 Feb - Decree for the Protection of the People and the State

5 March - Reichstag elections (NSDAP won 43.9% of the vote but were still short of an overall majority).

6 - 7 March - Nazis began taking over state govs.

8 March - First permanent concentration camp was established.

13 March - Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was established.

24 March - Enabling Act is passed.

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Hitler's cabinet

30th Jan 1933 -> H appointed Chancellor, called his 1st cabinet later that day.

NSDAP held 3 posts out of the total 12 ministers (enforces Papen's view that the Nazis would not be able to make major changes).

Papen = Vice-Chancellor + Minister-President of Prussia (Germany's largest state).

Major decisions would be made by the non-Nazi majority who consisted of the old aristocratic elite. 

There were two Nazi Party ministers: Minister of the Interior -> Wilhelm Frick + Minister without portfolio (also the Minister of the Interior in Prussia) -> Hermann Goering.

Minister of Interior -> controls police = Nazi ministers occupied key positions in gov.

Minister without portfolio - a member of a gov. who does not have specific responsibility for a particular gov. department; they can be involved in numerous policy areas. 

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Events after Hitler's appoint.

The evening of Jan 30 1933 -> H stood on the balcony of the Reich Chancellery to review a torchlight procession of around 100,000 Nazi members walking through the streets of Berlin.

This was organised by the Nazi propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels to show that H's appointment as Chancellor was not going to be normal.

It glorified H and emphasised his power and appeal- presented him as the saviour of the German people.

It showed that the accession of Hitler and the Nazi movement would change history forever. 

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Nazi use of terror

The violence of SA -> key role in H's rise to power. He used state resources to expand the SA and its violence and terror became vital weapons in his struggle to eliminate his opposition.

Jan 1933 membership = 500,000 -> grew to 3 mil 1934. 

NSDAP being in power = activities of the SA have legal authority.

Feb 1933, SA and Stahlehm were merged into an 'auxiliary policy'. Regular police were issued orders to not interfere in the activities of the SA.

Frick and Georing played key roles as they were in the control of the police (ref. to topic 11 H's cabinet).

The Nazi 'legal revolution'/ 'revolution from below' unleashed a reign of terror against communist and socialist opponents. They sustained constant assaults on trade union and KPD offices as well as the homes of left-wing politicians. KPD + SPD meetings were broken up.

SPD newspaper condemned NSDAP killings = was banned. / Centre party criticised regime = was banned + SA attacked their meetings. 

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Nazi use of terror

Thousands of communist, socialists and trade unionists were imprisoned in makeshift camps that were set up in old factories or barracks.

1st permanent concentration camp -> 8 March at Dachau near Munich (accommodated over 5000 people).

It became a model for later concentration camps.

July 1933 -> 26,789 political prisoners were arrested by the SA or taken into 'protective custody' (official Nazi terminology) and imprisoned in around 70 camps. 

The use of terror intimidated opponents and created a feeling that Germany was on the brink of a civil war led people to believe that only extraordinary measures could prevent chaos. 

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The Reichstag fire

When H came to power, he convinced Hinden. to dissolve the Reichstag and call a new election in March as he believed that NSDAP could win an outright majority. 

The election campaign resulted in Nazi terror against their opponents. By the 5th of March, the KPD and SPD were weaker than ever before as a result of Nazi terror.

27 Feb 1933 - The Reichstag burnt down.

A young Dutch communist (Marinus van der Lubbe) was arrested and charged with starting the fire.

There have been suspicions that the Nazis started the fire and used Lubbe as a scapegoat to blame communists.

The Nazis benefited from the fire as they claimed that it was a communist plot to start a revolution in Germany.

This crisis allowed H to suspend all civil liberties- meaning that terror was a legal way to suppress his opposition.

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The Decree for the Protection

The Decree for the Protection of the People and the State:

Even though the constitution was still in place, H was able to convince Hinden. to give him 'emergency powers' and suspend the civil and political rights people were guaranteed under the Weimar Constitution. 

The police were given more powers to arrest and detain people without charge if they were believed to be a threat to the safety of the State.

The police had more powers to enter and search private buildings.

The government had the right to censor the media.

H used these to arrest communists and socialists and suppress them by censoring their messages. 

The Decree allowed the central gov. to take over state govs. if they refused to support NSDAP.

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The Decree for the Protection

The use of this decree was supported and justified by Nazi propaganda that claimed Germany was at risk of experiencing a 'German Boleshvik Revolution'.

This allowed the SA to turn to extreme violence to suppress threats.

10,000 communists were arrested in 2 weeks (including most of their leaders).

The KPD had not been banned, members could be charged with treason- many communists were imprisoned.

Civil servants, judges and the police were conservative nationalists and therefore willing to support Nazi terror. 

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March 1933 election


KPD - 81 seats - 12.3% of the vote.

SPD - 120 seats - 18.25% of the vote.


DDP - 5 seats - 0.85% of the vote.

Centre Party - 73 seats - 11.25% of the vote.


DVP - 2 seats - 1.1% of the vote.

DNVP - 52 seats - 8% of the vote.

NSDAP - 288 seats - 43.9% of the vote.

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March 1933 election

The election took place during a time of terror, fear and intimidation.

SA controlled the streets.

SPD and KPD members were imprisoned, their offices destroyed. 

It was impossible to run campaigns as meetings were broken up, posters removed and newspapers banned.  Anyone trying to distribute leaflets was arrested. 

The Nazi propaganda machine flooded the streets with posters, music, films, newspapers, etc.

Despite the violence, the SPD, KPD and Centre had a large amount of support.

64% of voters voted for non-Nazi parties.

NSDAP joined with the DNVP and had now won a majority.

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Postdam day

21st March 1933

This was the ceremony celebrating the re-opening of the Reichstag after it had burnt down in Feb.

H and the National Socialists had almost fully recruited the remaining nationalists in the Reichstag to pass a law that would give H full control over all the functions of gov. Before this could happen, H wanted to use propaganda to portray a glorified connection between the traditional powers of the Old Reich and his new and young movement. 

Goebbels organised the inauguration of this new Reichstag by convincing Hiden. to go to Postdam and bless the new Nazi regime. 

March 21 was a significant date to the old Reich as on this date, Otton von Bismark opened the first all-German Reichstag following the German Unification of 1871.

Garrison church was the resting place of H's hero and one of Europe's most influential monarch- Frederick the Great.

functions to Hitler himself.

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Postdam day

Hitler stepped down from the altar, bowed his head and shook hands with Hiden.

This showed his dedication to the regieme. 

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The Enabling Act

The Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich.

The first meeting of the new Reichstag was to secure the two-thirds majority needed to pass the Enabling Act. This law would allow H to make decisions without the approval of the Reichstag or the President for 4 years.

The Act was passed on the 24th March 1933. H was also given the power to make foreign treaties without approval. 

The KPD could not enter, SA soldiers lined the Hall to intimidate those inside, the DNVP supported NSDAP and the Centre Party was assured that H would not use his powers without consulting Hiden. -> THESE ALLOWED HIM TO WIN THE TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY.

Only the SPD voted against the Act but this was not enough and it became law. After this, the Reichstag rarely met. 

The Enabling Act made H's dictatorship legal. Although it was supposed to be temp. (4 years), it remained a permanent feature of the Nazi regime. 

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1. Hiden. agreed to dissolve the Reichstag and hold an election on the 5th of March 1933.

2. NSDAP terrorised their competitors, making it impossible to campaign and gain support.

3. 27th Feb- Reichstag burnt down. Lubbe (communist) charged. Many people today think the SA was involved. 

4. Nazis benefited from the fire as they accused the communists of trying to start a revolution, this justified the violence the SA used against them.

5. Hiden. granted H emergency powers that suspended people's rights + gave the police more powers + was used to arrest communists and socialists. 

6. Nazis used propaganda to fuel fear of instability and revolution.

7. March election - NSDAP = 43.9% of the vote. Allied with DNVP and won a majority. 

8. Enabling Act became Law and legalised H's dictatorship.

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