Consolidation of Power

Consolidation of Power

Hitler’s Rise to Power

  • The Enabling Act passed in 1933 played a critical role in Hitler’s consolidation of power. It allowing Hitler and his cabinet to enact laws without the approval of the Reichstag, effectively making Hitler a legal dictator.
  • Hitler’s use of propaganda was significant. Joseph Goebbels was appointed as Propaganda Minister, and used state-controlled media to establish a ‘Führer cult’ around Hitler, cementing his control over the state.
  • The Night of the Long Knives in 1934 was a crucial point. Hitler ordered a purge of the SA (Storm Detachment), a paramilitary organisation of the Nazi Party, eliminating potential rivals and consolidating his power.

Institutional Changes and Measures

  • Hitler established the leadership principle, or Führerprinzip, meaning all decisions descended from Hitler and were unquestionable. This principle solidified his absolute power within the party.
  • The Law for the Reconstruction of the State dissolved state parliaments and transferred their powers to the Reich governor, centralising Hitler’s power further.
  • The Gestapo (Secret State Police) was a tool for Hitler to deal with opposition and resistance. Fear of arrest and internment without trial reinforced Hitler’s control.

Control Over Youth and Education

  • Through the Hitler Youth and the League of German Maidens, the Nazi Party directly influenced young people, fostering a generation loyal to Hitler’s ideologies.
  • Traditional school curriculums were replaced with one that focused on physical fitness and Nazi propaganda, ensuring ideological indoctrination from a young age.

Persecution of Enemies and Minorities

  • Hitler pursued a policy of anti-Semitic laws and actions that marginalised Jews, blaming them for Germany’s downfall.
  • The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 stripped Jews of their rights as German citizens, providing a pseudo-legal foundation for further persecution.
  • Political opponents, such as Communists and Social Democrats, were arrested and sent to concentration camps, eliminating opposition and creating a climate of fear.

Cultural and Social Changes

  • Hitler implemented the policy of Gleichschaltung or coordination, bringing all aspects of life under the control of the party, including youth organisations, trade unions, and the press.
  • Hitler promoted the Aryan race as superior and this ideology became entrenched in German society.
  • Nazi propaganda painted a cohesive picture of cultural unity, however in reality, Germans had varied opinions and experiences under the Nazi regime. This notion is key to avoid over-generalisations about life in Nazi Germany.