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HIST2134 The Third Reich through Documents, 1933-1945

HIST2134 The Third Reich through Documents, 1933-1945

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HIST2134 The Third Reich through Documents, 1933-1945

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  1. HIST2134The Third Reich through Documents, 1933-1945 Lecture 3: ‘Seizure of Power’ and ‘Co-ordination of the Will’, 1933/34 5 February 2013

  2. ‘Seizure of Power’ (‘Machtergreifung’) Phase 1: Jan-Mar 1933: Hitler’s government → Reichstag elections Phase 2: Mar–Jul 1933: Consolidation/Coordination (Gleichschaltung) Phase 3: Jun-Aug 1934: ‘Night of the Long Knives’ (Röhm Putsch’)

  3. Phase 1: Jan-Mar 1933 (1) Hitler legally appointed Chancellor by President Hindenburg: Art. 53 Weimar Constitution)(30 Jan 1933) Hitler’s government: 3 NSDAP (Hitler, Frick, Göring) in key positions + 8 DNVP Conservatives Conservatives’ fatal miscalculation about Hitler’s ruthlessness !

  4. Phase 1: Jan-Mar 1933 (2) SA (Brown-shirts) terror + NSDAP propaganda General enthusiasm + weak resistance Nazis’ legal power base: ‘Presidential Government’ (Art. 53 Weimar Constitution) ► Dissolution of Reichstag + election campaign ► Hitler’s promises + Führer myth ► Subduing Prussia: Civil servants + police force purged ► Reichstag fire (27 Feb) ► Decree for the Protection of People and State (28 Feb) ► Final ‘democratic’ Reichstag elections (5 Mar)

  5. Phase 1: Jan-Mar 1933 (3) Reichstag elections (5 March): NSDAP 43,9% + Conservative DNVP 8% ► Results disappointing for Nazis ► NS strongholds: Rural regions ≠ urban-industrial- Catholic regions ► New NS propaganda term coined: “The National SocialistRevolution” → Phase 1 of ‘Seizure of Power’ completed

  6. Phase 2: Mar-Jul 1933 (1) Consolidation/Co-ordination (Gleichschaltung): Destruction of Weimar’s political system Dissolution of established networks → Possible with legal means + force + with general attitude of non-resistance ► Main areas: Federal states, professional + cultural associations, political parties

  7. Phase 2: Mar-Jul 1933 (2) SA terror: Concentration camps + persecution of political opponents & Jews ‘Day of Potsdam’(21 Mar) ► Propaganda term ‘National Reconciliation’ (but without opponents SPD & KPD) ► Hitler’s ‘Third Reich’ (Drittes Reich) proclaimed successor of Bismarck’s ‘Second Reich’ ► Strong position of Conservatives (Hindenburg + aristocracy + DNVP) on surface but already totally undermined = A well-staged NS propaganda show

  8. Phase 2: Mar-Jul 1933 (3) Enabling Act(Ermächtigungsgesetz) (24 Mar) 444 Yes ≠ 94 No (SPD) = Formal legalisation of NS regime by Reichstag majority ↓ Final steps of consolidation/coordination → Phase 2 of ‘Seizure of Power’ (‘Machtergreifung’) completed (14 Jul)

  9. Phase 3: Jun-Aug 1934 ‘Night of the Long Knives’ (‘Röhm Putsch’) Röhm’s ideas of SA as national army ≠ Hitler’s interest in regular army SA’s push for ‘second NS revolution’ ≠ Hitler’s wish to consolidate power Growing Conservative’s dissatisfaction with dictatorial NS rule ► NSDAP’s double-hit against SA + Conservatives (30 Jun) → Strengthened Führer myth: Hitler as ‘Saviour’ vs. SA → Established closer relationship Hitler & Army leadership → Begin of SA’s gradual replacement by SS ► President’s office († Hindenburg, 2 August) merged with Chancellor/Führer → Phase 3 of ‘Seizure of Power’ (‘Machtergreifung’) completed

  10. Why did German bureaucracy & society cooperate with Hitler’s government? Hitler’s serious image as statesman ≠ impression of him as wild NS agitator Strong wish for authoritarian government ≠ Weimar’s instable party system Self-interest in possible gains: Hope for own social + material achievements Miscalculations about Hitler’s ruthlessness

  11. Conclusion ‘Seizure of power’ + consolidation/coordination = No NS master-plan ≠ Result of real & faked crises, chaos, conflicts, terror, particular power interests, strong ambition for power, historical accidents … = Transfer of power ≠ ‘seizure of power’