Nazi political & governmental change 1933-1945

  • Created by: izzzyftz
  • Created on: 18-12-17 14:04

Legal ways Nazis consolidated their power

Enabling Act 1933 - this allowed Hitler to pass laws without opposition of presidential or cabinet power. First steps to a dictatorship, bypassed parliamnet, made it easy to bring in a new law within 24 hours. 

Law for Reconstruction of the state - this removed state governments which were replaced by Reich governors (MAJOR CHANGE). Its significance was that it centralised Hitler's power and dismantled Germany's federal system of government. 

Law against formation of New parties 1933 - KPD and SPD were already banned at this time, but this law meant that no new political parties could bring themselves in unless they were of Nazi origin (creation of a one party state). 

1 of 10

Forceful ways Nazis consolidated their power

Seizure and closure of trade union offices (may 1933) - Removed a powerful and well organised potential threat to the Nazi regime. Dissolved the people's opposition within trad eunions. Replaced with the passive DAF (nazi trade union). 

Result of the Reichstag fire - Hitler ordered teh SA and ** to arrest and attack 4,000 KPD

Night of the long knives (June 1934) - Hitler's ** attacked the SA and instilled fear into nation. This rhained the support from the army as the ** killed Rohm (corrupt leader of army and SA). 

May Day Holiday - Trade union offices seized; all unions incorporated into new German labour front. 

New ministry for public enlightenment and propaganda 1933 - Goebbels appointed as head, exercised control of all media. 

2 of 10

Persuasive ways Nazis consolidated their power

Concordat with Catholic Church 1933 - The Catholic Church agreed to not oppose th political and social aims of the Nazi party. 

Hitler appointed chancellor 1933 - only 3 Nazis in cabinet when he was appointed so wasn't forceful. President Hindenburg agrees to dissolve Reichstag with the Enabling Act. 

Reichstag fire - the results of the fire came as luck for Hitler; he could now exploit the fact that the communists started the fire and make it seem as if teh Nazis were the saviours and peacemakers of the nation to the public - he made it seem that if the communists were bad, the Nazis must be good

Other measures - very few changes to original cabinet of Januray 1933, Germany withdrew from disamament conference and from LoN. 

3 of 10

C of power - Weimar and Nazis


Legal - Both governments used emergency powers to impose their rule and by-pass the Reichstag. Hitler used these powers to suppress communists, ebert to suppress bavarian socialist republic 1919. 

Violence - Both used Paramilitary unofficial forces who worked outside of the law and with great brutality to suppress revolts. Ebert used Freikorps on Spartacists in 1919, Hitler used the ** and SA against KPD after the Reichstag fire in 1933. 


Legal - Weimar republic did not suppress state powers (until 1932 when von papen overruled state rule in Prussia), but Hitler removed them completely (and almost immediately) through law in January 1934. 

Violence- For Weimar, the use of violence was always reactive but for the Nazis it was always pre-emptive. E.g. Ebert suppressed the Sparacist uprisings with FK, Hitler used ** to attack SA at the Night of the long knives

4 of 10

Key constitutional changes introduced by Nazis

- Power of pres; the role of chancellor and president were merged into the role of Fuhrer from August 1934. 

- Power of central and state gov.; Hitler's imediate removal of state governmental powers in Jan 1934 and replacement of these elected govs. with Nazi govs. was a major change.

- Power of Parliament (both houses) - Due to enabling act and the one party state, the Reichstag played only a minor role in gov., endorsing Nazi laws. In 1942 it voted to dissolve itself and hand over all power to Hitler. 

- Role for voting and elections; Elections were less frequent (1933, 1936, 1938) and were linked to referendum questions e.g. remilitarisation of Rhineland, Anschluss. Only candidates on an approved Nazi list could stand in elections (one party state). 

5 of 10

Key constitutional changes introduced by Nazis (2)

- Political parties and their role; From July 1933 a one party state emerged. Purged radical wing of party in 1934 (night of the long knives). Regional party leaders, gauleiters, became increasingly powerful. Their were also parallel party and governmental organisations such as Hitler youth. 

- The nature of elections; Most elections combined a plebiscite question with voting for a list of Nazi candidates for the Reichstag. Turnout and support always seemed to be high and were conducted in an atmosphere of intimidation (** were stood around booths etc). Ballot rigging was common. 

6 of 10

Institution changes

Ways the institutions changed; 

Judiciary - People's court tried political crimes & New Reich Chamber of Lawyers set up. Loyalty oath imposed and non cooperative judges forced to retire. 

Civil service - Purged of jews and socialists in 1933, all had to be party members from 1934. 

Education ministry - undermined by party Hitler youth organisations. 

Ways the institutions stayed the same;

The main institutions (army, judiciary, civil service) had not been reformed in the Weimar years, were often hostile to the democratice republic and were dominated by conservative elites, e.g. favourable treatment for the right in legal cases (judiciary). Some independence remained until mid 1930s ie Reichstag fire accused mostly acquitted. The Nazis mostly left institutions untouched. 

7 of 10

Nature of Nazi rule

1. It was a polycratic system; there were rival and overlapping areas of responsibility. For example, there were 5 different offices representing Hitler, not obvious which office did what. 

2. This led to 'authoritarian anarchy' or a chaotic style of government. For example, there was often cases of faction fighting. Gauleiters reported directly to Hitler, but the Minister of interior - Frick - tried to impos regional laws which the Gaulieters disagreed with and they had spats over this. 

3. The structures of the old Weimar sytem were left intact but the new Nazi organisations or projects were superimposed on them. For example, the police and the new Gestappo or **, or even the ministry of justice and the new peoples courts. 

4. After the Rohm purge, Hitler could rely on the loyalty of his main lieutenants. 

5. The main policy ideas originated with Hitler but he played very little part in the practicalities of carrying them out. For example, Schact was the minister of economics, but the 4 year plan was given to Goering to lead. 

6. The direct power of Hitler and the party over the institutions increased over time. For example, Reichstag voted to dissolve their power and give it to Hitler in 1942. 

8 of 10

The role of police, Gastapo and repression

The Nazi Police State was to ensure that everybody did as they were told – or paid the price. The Nazi Police were controlled by Heinrich Himmler and his feared secret police – the Gestapo – did as it pleased in Nazi Germany

In Nazi Germany the police were allowed to arrest people on suspicion that they were about to do wrong. This gave the police huge powers. All local police units had to draw up a list of people in their locality who might be suspected of being “Enemies of the State”. This list was given to the Gestapo who had the power to do as it liked. A lot of the time beatings and threats took place if people stepped out of line. They had an aura of violence and intimidation. 

If arrested, you weould be sent to a concentration camp, and these were deliberately barbaric. Before 1939, deaths in them occurred but they were not common. The idea was that anybody who had been in one, once released, would ‘advertise’ the fact that they were not places where people wanted to go. This was another way of ensuring that people kept their ideas to themselves.

9 of 10

Main developments in the war years

Changes in party and institutions; 

Gauleiters became increasingly more powerful at the start of the war - Made commisioner for the Defence of the Reich in sept. 1939. Bormann also rose from relative unimportance to being very important; he controlled Hitler's diary and issued the Fuhrer's orders. The gauleiters became subordinate to Bormann. The regime became more bureaucratic and young party members replaced the older ones. 

The army; 

After war broke out, dissension seemed treasonable. After the NotLK, hitler promised that the army would be the only militray force in germany, however the ** seemed to only rise in power throughout the war years, later becoming Waffen **, numbering 14,000 in 1938. In 1939 the force had 3 divisions and was expanded to 35 by 1945 so it rivalled the power of the army. After the army bomb plot of 1944, there was a major purge of army officers. An estimated 200 officers were killed as a result. 

10 of 10


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Nazis 1933-45 resources »