Hitlers Consolidation of Power

Government Changes

Although the Nazi takeover was the beginning of a National Socialist revolution, there were differences within the party as to the next steps and what needed to happen. Many Nazis, including the SA felt that the political power gain was not the most important step, and this caused deep divisions. Hitler’s view was to gain dictatorial power, eliminate opposition and then a takeover of institutions.

Creation of a One Party State

Hitler did not want any other political parties, as he saw the Nazis as the racial core. He wanted to work towards the Volksgemeinschaft - in which there was no party other than the Nazi party. Since the Reichstag fire the KPD had been essentially disbanded and banned, with members in exile or concentration camps. The SPD continued to voice their opposition to Hitler and the Nazis until they were outlawed as a party hostile to the state in June 1933. The DNVP and the Centre Party dissolved themselves, and a law was passed in July 1933 outlawing the creation of any new political parties.

Centralisation of Power

Hitler’s next move was to turn the federal republic and make all the institutions run from the centre. It removed the power of the states to run their money, education, police forces etc and meant that it was all run from government, giving HItler and the Nazis more power over everything. The Nazi party introduced their own structure and way of ruling at both national and state level. At state level they had leaders called Gauleiters ensuring policy was stuck to, but the relationship between national and state run things was never clearly defined.

Control of Civil Service

Under the Kaiser, the civil service were as important to the running of the state as the soldiers. They were conservative-minded and disliked the Weimar Republic, so welcomed Hitler’s rule, as they believed that the conservative cabinet would keep the civil service powers and ensure the Nazis were restrained. This was not the case, and the Nazis viewed the civil service as another obstacle, so many members were forced to resign, being replaced with SA members instead.

Night of the Long Knives 1934

The Night of the Long Knives involved the violent purge of certain members of the Nazi Party from June 30th to July 2nd in 1934. Called the Nacht der langen Messer in Germany, this event occurred over a series of days and entailed the Nazi regime’s murder of those Hitler considered to be political enemies. In particular, those targeted belonged to the Strasserist, a left wing faction of the Nazi Party that Hitler distrusted. Those killed during these events included Ernst Rohm, Kurt von Schleicher, Gustav Ritter von Kahr, and Gregor Strasser.

After the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler had eliminated both real and perceived opposition in the Nazi Party. He was able to put his main loyalists in charge of various operations in the German government and further expand his ability to control the government and the populace.

Hindenburgs Death August 1934

Hindenburg knew that he was close to death, as he was very unwell, and had written a political will in which he called for the restoration of the monarchy. Hitler knew that this was his final obstacle and the matter of Hindenburg’s succession was of great importance to him. Hitler knew that as long as Hindenburg was alive he would not have absolute power, as the army owed allegiance to the president and the president could therefore remove HItler from power. This was something that Hindenburg, supported by Von Papen, considered doing as they were concerned by the excess of the SA and wanted them and Hitler to be bought under control. This is what triggered Hitler to get rid of the SA and therefore there were no objections to Hitler becoming Hindenburg’s successor and he then merged the role of president and chancellor.