How did the Nazis consolidate their regime?
The whole process of Gleichschaltung and the
creation of the Nazi Dictatorship
• Role of Hitler.
• Organisation of the Nazis.
• SA and violence (Propaganda by deed).
• Support and reasons for support.
• Political Intrigue.
• Failures of Weimar.
Choice of message
Recognition of importance of
propaganda (incl. mass rallies)
Hitler was not
with Hindenburg in
August 1932 where he
demanded to be made
Hitler’s style and
Nazis did as well in some areas where
they did not have mass rallies as
where they did.
• Party organised into Gaue (local areas).
• Headed by a Gauleiter- who was appointed by Hitler and had
orders, but also got some degree of independence depending
on his area.
• Organisations built up for young people, women, students,
lawyers, factory workers.
• Nazi Welfare Organisation- soup kitchens and food donations.
• Centralised propaganda machine but taking into account local
circumstances and building up local contacts- e.g. butcher/
teacher. Direct mailing and pamphlets and posters.
• Training speakers. 6,000 through the Nazi speaker training
school by 1933.
• Technology- loudspeakers, slideshows, films and planes (Führer
• Message= Volksgemeinschaft
It gave the Nazis a presence across the
country, but explains why they were
bankrupt by the Nov 1933 election.
• “We must struggle with ideas, but if necessary, also with
• 500,000 by 1933. Brown shirts, swastikas etc.
• Röhm led- eager, radical socialist Nazi, into unrest and
disorder (problems later).
• Young men- joined because they hated communism/ loved
Hitler/ unemployed/ attracted to violence/ purpose in life/
smart uniform and accommodation/ comradeship.
• Propaganda hander-outers, protector of Nazi meetings,
driving Communists from the streets.
• SA casualties became martyrs.
Group Specific message Success
Farmers Special benefits to offset
collapse of agricultural
Unemployed and industrial
Bread and worked. Some inroads made.
Mittelstand Limiting control of large
Industrialists Playing down fear of
nationalisation and state
control of economy.
although leads to split in
the party only solved with
Night of the Long Knives
Ability to reach specific groups...
• Führer cult.
• German nationalism.
o November Criminals
o Communists (Soviet Union)
• Socialist message of National Socialism?
Use of the army/
Propaganda Use of Nazi
Support from the
from the Church
• Problems with his position: Hitler only had
three Nazis in cabinet, the coalition
government did not have a majority in the
Reichstag and Hindenburg had proved quite
whimsical when it came to appointing and
dismissing his Chancellors.
• HOWEVER: Hitler had proved persistent and
a skilful politician and the Nazis- persistently
popular. The alternative was civil war or a
coup by the communists. Goering was
minister of the interior in Prussia and had
responsibility for the police, meaning he
could persecute Nazi opponents. Goebbels
could exploit state facilities (radio/ press) to
Use of the police
although, it is worth noting that one reasons for Nazi success is the lack of a viable
• The intention of the Cabinet was to eliminate the Reichstag entirely
and to achieve a ‘legal’ revolution. Election called (ignoring a
possible pact with the Centre Party).
Hitler use of the
act under Article 48
to forbid political
Hitler appealed to the
nation in terms of
and the restoration of
Reichstag fire leads to
Hindenburg signing a
Nazi drafted ‘Law for
the Protection of the
German People and
Hitler also promised the army
that: a) respect the army's
traditions and political
neutrality and b) to rearm,
reintroduce conscription and
conquer eastern Europe.
• Held in an atmosphere of fear following the
Reichstag fire. Violence and terror
dominated the meetings, in Prussia, Goering
enrolled 50,000 into the police (most SA and
SS members and 69 people died).
• The Nazis had three million Reichsmarks
from big business to wage their campaign.
88% turnout (suggesting influence and
intimidation of the SA and corruption by
officials) and the Nazis gained 288 seats. Still
not the 305 majority and not the two thirds
majority of the Reichstag required for a
• However, 3/4 voters had moved to the right
and did not support the Republic.
• 23rd March- the Enabling Act got passed,
allowing Hitler to make laws without
involving the Reichstag or the President.
Hitler achieved his two thirds majority by:
arresting KPD deputies and twelve of the
SPD, promising the Centre Party he would
protect the rights and privileges of the
Catholic Church and promising the middle
class political parties that the institutions
they held dear (Reichstag, Reichsrat,
Presidentcy and Lander would eventually get
their powers back) and violence if they
didn't support him (the SS surrounded the
Opera House where they were meeting and
the SA lined the corridors inside). The SPD
were the only group to oppose and the law
• 31st March: Coordination Law. The Lander
(federated states independent from central
government) Diets (local parliaments) were
reconstituted to reflect the share of different
parties in the Reichstag by it didn't mater
because the Reich governors were appointed
with powers to make own laws. They were
usually the Nazi Gauleiters in any case. The
diets were dissolved in January 1934.
• 1 May: Nazis created a national holiday in honour of National
• 2 May: SA and SS occupied trade union offices throughout
Germany, beating up leading trade union officials and putting them
in concentration camps. Unions replaced by the German Labour
Front (DAF) in which all workers had to enrol.
• 7 May: leader of the DNVP, Ernst Oberfohren (already forced to
resign by the Nazis) found dead in home. Official verdict suicide.
State Party and DVP already closed down.
• 10 May: assets and files of SPD were seized. Book burning
ceremonies organised (by students) in university towns. 'Offensive'
books (e.g. anti war, written by Jews or left wing authors) were
burned in the streets. Ministry of the Interior compelled German
states to introduce new syllabuses into schools and universities. All
teachers' and university lecturers' associations were affiliated to the
National Socialist Teachers Organisation.
Violence/ national control
• 1 June: Special 'Adolf Hitler donation' from
German industrialists to say thanks for eliminating
the trade unions- in the hope that the Nazis would
not ask them for more money. They were
attempting to stay independent.
• 21 June: SPD banned- accompanied by violence
and incarceration in concentration camps.
• 14 July: Concordat signed between Vatican and
government guaranteeing religious freedoms for
Catholics, its own administration rights and
allowing Catholic schools- Article 31 of the
Concordat banned youth clubs and other church
social groups. The Catholic Centre Party was
• July: Hitler announced the end of the 'legal
revolution' leading to a rift with the SA.
but do they
• Spring: Hindenburg ill- Hitler needed to make
sure he succeeded Hindenburg to protect his
position. He needed the support of the army.
Some nationalists were already having doubts.
• Early summer: Von Papen warned of a second
revolution from the SA.
• 21 June: Hitler told by Von Blomberg
(Defence Minister) that if he failed to control
the SA, Hindenburg would hand over power to
• 29 June: Hitler summoned SA leaders for
a meeting in Wiessee (Bavaria).
• 30 June/1 July: Night of the Long Knives.
Execution of leading SA members-
including Rohm.1 August: Hindenburg
died. The army did not put up any
opposition to Hitler combining the
offices of Chancellor and President.
• 19 August: Plebiscite confirmed Hitler's
combination of Chancellor and
President. Army swore a personal oath
of loyalty to him. Autumn: Arrest of two
Protestant bishops who were opposing
the coordination of the Protestant
churches. Crisis- independent Confessing
Church set up in October.
of the army
• July: Ministry of Church Affairs set up- failed to
coordinate German Protestants who remained
divided into three main groups- the German
Christians (under Muller, fanatical Nazi), the
Confessing Church and the mainstream churches
(who were trying to both cooperate and preserve
• 14 July: Law against the New Formation of Parties
passed. All social groups supposed to be under
National Socialist control.
No more political parties, but was all
opposition dealt with.