Hitler's Germany


History Unit 2.2

Background to Hitler becoming Chancellor

In October 1929, Gustav Stresemann, the minister who helped create the Dawes and Young Plans, died. 

Shortly after this, the Wall Street Crash occurred, meaning the whole world was affected by America's economy failure. Germany was hit especially badly because of

  • the £6.6 Billion of reparations from the 1919 Treaty of Versailles
  • the fact that America withdrew all of its loans

This caused trade to stop, businesses to close. Germany was in an economic depression.

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History Unit 2.2

How the Depression affected Germany and the Nazis.

  • 6 million Germans were unemployed in 1933 --> Hitler promised to make jobs for the unemployed, and to give business owners and farmers money to hire help --> People supported this as people needed jobs and many businesses went bankrupt after the wall street crash. 
  • Anger resurfaced about still having to pay for reparations and the unfairness of the ToV --> Hitler promised to destroy the ToV and end reparations --> People liked this as there would be no hyperinflation, more money and they would be less likely to starve. 
  • Support for Communism and more extremist views increased --> Hitler's SA beat up opponents to Nazis such as communists --> People wanted to restore Germany to its former glory through Nazis or Communism it didn't matter.
  • The Weimar Government had constantly changing party leaders --> The "Hitler Over Germany" Campaign told peopl that he would be a strong leader and save germany --> People had lost hope in traditional parties so were willing to root for more extreme parties like Nazis. 
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History Unit 2.2

Lead up to Hitler becoming Chancellor.

May 1928: 12 Nazi seats compared to 54 Communist seats

September 1930: 107 Nazi seats, comapred to 77 Communist seats, due to Gustav Stressemann's death in October 1929 (Failure of the Dawes and Young plan and the Wall Street Crash) there was mass unemployment causing more extremest views.

1931: Heinrich Bruning raised taxes but ended up making the economy worse

July 1932: 230 Nazi seats to 89 Communist seats, making the Nazis the largest single party in the Reichstag.

April 1932: Hindenburg won presidency against Hitler, 19 million to 13 million.

November 1932: 196 Nazi, 100 Communist seats.

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History Unit 2.2

How and Why Hitler became Chancellor in 1933.

  • After this build up, Hindenburg made Franz Von Papen Chancellor who was a member of the Centre Party, he was heavily disliked by the army and would need to be replaced, so Von Schleicher became Chancellor in December 1932.
  • Von Schleicher didn't gain enough support from the public so was removed after 8 weeks.
  • Hindenburg and Von Papen needed to join in coalition for their party to be able to run (as they thought they could control him), so they asked Hitler to be Vice Chancellor but he refused.
  • On the 30th of January 1933, Hindenburg put Hitler as Chancellor and brought Von Papen's supporters into government, thinking they could both control him.
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History Unit 2.2

The Reichstag Fire.

On 27th Feburary 1933, the reichstag building was set on fire. A Dutch Communist was found inside with matches in his pocket, Marius or Marinus Van Der Lubbe. Anti-Nazi groups have said since that it was so convenient to the Nazis that it was probably done by the SA and Van Der Lubbe could have also been easily set up as he was of 'limited intelligence'.

Hitler benefited either way, as he claimed that this was the proof of a Communist plot, he persuaded Hindenburg to sign an emergency decree, the Law for the Protection of the People and the State. This decree ended all freedoms. Police and SA arrested Communist leaders, their meetings were broken up and other political opponents to Nazis suffered too. 

At the same time, propaganda such as the "Hitler Over Germany" campaign ecnouraged German people to vote for Hitler. In the March 1933 election Hitler gained 44% of voters, gaining 288 seats, with the help of the Nationalist Party of 52 seats the Nazis had the majority of the Reichstag. 

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History Unit 2.2

The Enabling Law.

  • On March 23rd 1933, Hitler introduced the Enabling Law, allowing him to create laws without consulting the Reichstag or the President.
  • This needed approval from two-thirds of the Reichstag as the constitution was being changed 
  • Hitler banned Communist members as of the terrorist threat (81 people)
  • Social democrats were threatened by the SA so most didnt turn up
  • The law was passed 444 to 94
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History Unit 2.2

The Removal of Political Opposition.

  • Communists were arrested by Police and the SA, specifically leaders, they stopped meetings and newspapers. (February 1933)
  • Social Democrats were banned in June 1933
  • The Law against the formation of new Parties was passed, making Germany a one party state in July
  • Trade Unions (that were ususally anti-Nazi) were abolished with their offices destroyed
  • Politcal Party Leaders were arrested and imprisoned in labour camps

How did Hitler take control over Germany's Political and Legal Systems?

  • He put Nazis in important governmental positions, and soon all ministers and local government officials were Nazis
  • Many Judges and civil servants were pro-Nazi and those who weren't were removed adn replaced
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History Unit 2.2

The Night of the Long Knives.

Hitler needed to get rid of the SA as it was a thret to his control, this is because:

  • It was undisciplined, many people were just thugs.
  • Many were homosexual, such as their leader Ernst Roehm, which clashed with Hitler's new image of respectability.
  • Roehm wanted to take over the major industries as he was more of a socialist than Hitler, but at this tim ehe had won support of all leading industrialists and didn't want to lose this support.
  • Mainly however, Roehm wanted the SA to control the Army in Germany. Hitler did not want this because it would make him less poweful than Roehm. He chose to keep the army and its leaders rather than Roehm and the SA 

On June 30th 1934, on 'the Night of the Long Knives', Hitler claimed the SA were plotting to seize power, and he ordered the ** to arrest and shoot the leaders. Hudreds were killed. At the same time Von Schleicher, the former Chancellor was killed to remove and further opposition. In July, Hitler explained his actions to the Reichstag and accepted this claim as 'saving the nation'. 

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History Unit 2.2

The Death of Hindenburg.

President Hindenburg was now the only person with more power than Hitler. On 2nd August 1934, Hindenburg died at the age of 87.

When this happened, Hitler declared himself President as well as Chancellor and took the "Führer and Reich Chancellor".

The German army also swore to an oath of loyalty to Hitler himself.

Now the only opposition to Hitler had promised to support him. 

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History Unit 2.2

The One-Party State.

The ** or Schutz-Staffel started as a small private bodyguard for Hitler, with over 50,000 members by 1934. It was led by Heinrich Himmler and they were totally devoted to Hitler. They had power to search homes and confiscate property and send people to concentration camps without a trial. Death Head Units ran concentration camps.

The Gestapo, the State Secret Police, had authority to spy on people, read their mail and tap into phones. Gestapo also tried to get people to incriminate themselves by pretending to be disloyal to the government.

Some Historians say that Hitler was a "weak dictator", that he was only percieved as all powerful and the Nazi government was actually chaotic. This is shown as the 'Edelweiss Pirates' and 'White Rose' movements came out as war broke out, but before that there was little opposition.

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History Unit 2.2

Concentration Camps.

After 1933 concentration camps were established to detain political prisoners. With the six large ones being: Dachau, Sauchsenhausen, Buchenwald, Flossenbürg, Mathausen and Ravensbrück.

Camps were initially strict but by 1939 became places of torture and murder. After 1939 to assist the war effort prisoners were used as slave labour to help with the war effort. These camps also became easy extermination camps.

The police were controlled by the **, all judges were re-appointed and had to take an oath of loyalty to Hitler, therefore using courts for political as well as criminal cases. 

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History Unit 2.2


Joseph Goebbels was the Minister for Propaganda and controlled most of the media in Germany.

  • Newspapers had only 'pro-Nazi' stories, editors had fixed headlines and over 1,500 anti-Nazi newspapers were shut down by 1934.
  • All local radio stations were taken over by Goebbels. Radio recievers were made cheaply only allowing German stations to be picked up. Loud speakers were put in public areas playing the Radio.
  • Over 100 Nazi censored films were created a year with special films for young people biased towards the Nazis.
  • At the 1936 Olympic Games, Nazis tried to show the 'Superior' Aryan Race, but the black American Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals, showing up the Nazis.
  • After 1933, Nazi rallies were very large and extravagant, such as the Nuremburg rally held every year in August. By the mid 1930's Hitler was mobbed by teebage girls with 'Love for the Fürher'. 
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History Unit 2.2

The Church.

Hitler wanted the support of churches by making a Concordat in 1933 that Nazis would stay out of Catholic church business and Nazis would let them be. However, with Protestant churches they were made into Reich Churches which was dominated by Nazis.


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