How did Hitler consolidate his power?

Following his appointment as Chancellor in January 1933, Hitler began to consolidate his power.

  • Reichstag Fire (27th February 1933)

The Nazis blamed the Reichstag burning down on the communists. As a result, Hitler was granted emergency powers, also known as the ‘Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the Nation and the State’.

On the 7th of March, the Communist Party was banned, with the Nazis citing the Reichstag Fire as the reason for this.

  • New Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda created (13th March 1933)

  • Enabling Act implemented (24th March 1933)

  • Civil Service Law (7th April 1933)

The Civil Service Law banned certain groups of people from civil services, such as Jews and Communists.

  • Banning of Parties (March–July 1933)

On the 7th of March, the Communist Party was banned, with the Nazis citing the Reichstag Fire as the reason for this.

In June 1933, the Socialist Party was banned.

On the 14th of July, a Law against the Formation of New Parties was implemented.

  • Reichskonkordat signed with the Vatican (20th July 1933)

  • Reichstag dissolved (14th October 1933)

  • Centralisation of power (January–August 1934)

On the 30th of January 1934, the Law for the Reconstruction of the State abolished Germany’s state governments, with the exclusion of Prussia, which remained separated by the Polish corridor.

On the 30th of June, the Night of the Long Knives began where Hitler centralised the leadership of the Nazi Party and secured his power by eliminating threats, such as the SA and its leader; Ernst Röhm.

Finally, on the 2nd of August, President Hindenburg died, and Hitler officially combined and assumed the role as Führer and Reich Chancellor on the 19th of August.

What obstacles did Hitler have to overcome in order to secure his leadership?

  • The head of Government, President Hindenburg.

Hitler waited for Hindenburg, the President of Weimar Germany at the time, to die as his Presidency was the only obstacle to Hitler's rule. After Hindenburg passed away, Hitler held a vote, and then combined the roles of Chancellor and President, giving him complete totalitarian rule over Germany as Führer.

  • Nazi Party’s paramilitary, the Sturmabteilung, and especially their leader, Ernst Röhm.

The problem with Ernst Röhm was not just that he was gay (which went against Nazi belief and policy) but that he held too much power. Therefore, on the 30th of July, during the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler had his personal SS kidnap and murder Rohm. As the SA were loyal to Ernst Röhm, Hitler had feared that collectively, the SA could overthrow him. Therefore, he had the major SA leaders murdered and then disbanded the SA.

  • Opposition parties

Hitler used legislature to ban the Communist and Socialist Parties from partaking in elections, deeming them enemies of the state. This removed the potential threats to his power as these two political groups were arguably the largest parties outside the Nazi’s, receiving 38% of the votes collectively in November 1932. Furthermore, on the 14th of July, he put a law into place banning the formation of new parties.

  • Religion

Hitler signed the Reichskonkordat with Pope Pius XI on the 20th of July 1933 in which the Catholic Church promised to keep out of political affairs, in return for Hitler agreeing to their independence. This was necessary because the church had a very powerful influence. He also took control of the Protestant Church, converting it to the Reich Church.

  • The Weimar Government’s Reichstag

Hitler used both violence and legislature to remove the Reichstag as an obstacle. On the 27th, the Reichstag Headquarters burnt down, and he was able to gain power through the Reichstag fire as he convinced Hindenburg to grant him emergency powers through the ‘Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the Nation and the State’. Furthermore, on the 14th of October, he dissolved the Reichstag, removing the influence those in power who could vote against him.