How did Hitler consolidate power from 1933?
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Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and then managed to maintain in power until the end of the Second World War. This was due to many strategies and policies inflicted by the Nazis. For example, the Enabling Act, eliminating all political threats, Nazi propaganda, and strength in economy and backing from businesses. The Enabling Act was formed on 23 March 1933. The SS intimidated all the remaining non-Nazi deputies, resulting in the Reichstag voting for Hitler to have the right to make his own laws within the ‘Four Year Plan’. The law was passed by 444 votes to 94, only the SPD opposed it. The law greatly strengthened Hitler’s position in the Cabinet as the President’s signature was no longer needed for passing any degrees of legislations. On the 22 April Joseph Goebbels observed that ‘the Fuhrer’s authority in the Cabinet is absolute’. Due to the Enabling Act Hitler was able to legally take power, managing no to break a law, which is important because his rise to power is therefore seen to be legitimate.
This helped Hitler consolidate power as it ensured that no one would be able to stand in his way from that point onwards. In order to avoid threats from opposition, Hitler simply eliminated others who opposed him, or caused any threat to his power, for example, due to their size or ideologies. A primary example for this is what Hitler did to the Trade Unions. On the 2 May the SA and SS occupied trade unions offices throughout Germany, and leading trade union officials were beaten up and put into concentration camps. These unions were consequently replaced by the German Labour Front (DAF), in which all workers and employers had to enrol. A similar event happened towards the SPD on the 21 June. With an agreement that gave Catholicism the independence necessary to survive, the centre party was dissolved in July. The main reason the pope and the German Catholic bishops agreed to this is because they saw Hitler as a defence against the dangers of communism. The State Party and the DVP were so small that Hitler had no problem getting rid of them.
The Nationalists (DNVP) on the other hand, were coalition partners of the Nazis and believed they would be able to control Hitler. However, this was an illusion, as they were outmanoeuvred by Hitler, at the end of June the party agreed to be dissolved. The Stahlhelm, the right-wing Ex-soldiers’ League, which was closely linked to the DNVP, was incorporated into the SA at the end of June. Due to all of these actions, there was little to no official opposition to the Nazi regime which therefore ensured there was no threat to be overthrown. Hitler heavily used propaganda to enforce pro-Nazi ideologies on the population. The Nazis had little difficulty in controlling education, the media and the cultural life of the Reich. News coverage in the newspapers and on the radio was favourable to the government. The aims of Nazi propaganda were to vilify the enemy, for example the Jews or Communists.
Hitler wanted to create a ‘Volksgemeinschaft’ in order to create unity between the Germans. Hitler profoundly highlighted racial purity, advertising the ideal Aryan family; blond, blue eyes and many children. He heavily promoted families having numerous amounts of children as he believed the children were the future, and would one day make fine soldiers. The main aim was of the propaganda was to boost Hitler as the peoples champion, consequently creating the ‘Hitler Myth’, where the population believed he was a lot greater than he was, calling him a ‘heroic’ leader. The purpose of Nazi propaganda was to indoctrinate the people. The Nazis wanted to destroy the individual, for example they created an ‘Einetopf tag’, which grouped communities together to all eat out of ‘one pot’ as the direct translation. Hitler encouraged the unity of the people, specifically racial unity.
Through their propaganda the Nazis managed to create an image of power, for example, presenting mass construction of weapons and portraying a booming industry and again, showing Hitler as a great leader. Propaganda helped Hitler consolidate power as it increased the support he received from the public and made the country seem greater than it was, simply without faults. Therefore it gave the citizens of Germany nothing to complain about. For the Nazis to have business support and to have a strong economy was imperative. Employers, business associations and agricultural interest groups were all forced into a single organisation under Nazi control. Businessmen and industrialists rapidly declared their loyalty to the regime and were therefore coordinated into the Reich Chamber of German Industry. They were, however, allowed to manage their own affairs and were not subordinated to the Nazi Party, which was an appealing aspect for businesses. On 1 June it was recommended that German Industry should pay a special ‘Adolf Hitler donation’ to express their gratitude for the elimination of trade unions.
Big business was, as the historian Norbert Frei said, putting up ‘a clear marker of its independence’. Regimes that the Nazis inflicted in order to help the economy were functions such as ‘Beauty of Labour’. Hitler also increased leisure time for workers, which in turn increased production. Workers, the majority of the population, felt more valued as they were given status and there was now less class division also. The aim of the was to be able to financially with hold the system, as the majority of the Nazi parties money came from big businesses it was crucial that they backed Hitler. In order to have such a booming economy Hitler understood that he had to treat the workers well. One can compare this to Soviet Russia’s strategy to strengthen their economy by eliminated weekends.
The result of this was the overall decrease in yield. Proof of Germanys increase in economy, in 1933 unemployment was at 6 million whereas in 1939 it was merely nothing at 302,000. Overall the Nazis had many methods to achieve and then maintain power in Germany. Hitler had many Nazi groups in order to reinforce and carry out laws passed and assert that the population abided by them, for example, the SA, the SS and the Gestapo. All these groups injected fear into the community as well, creating a fear to rise up against Hitler and the Nazis. The severe treatment of Hitler’s enemies had a role as well, for example the Jews and Kristallnacht. Therefore the public were either unable or simply apathetic to resist against Hitler.