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Impact of Nazi rule

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Establishing the totalitarian state

By 1933 Hitler was one large step closer to his goal of having complete control of Germany. Before the March elections of that year he had been made Chancellor - the second most powerful political job in Germany. Using the powers that the job gave him, he actively sought to increase his power even more.

Destroying the Reichstag

In February 1933, the Reichstag building was burned down. Hitler blamed the Communists for the fire and arrested the party's 81 officials. After the March elections, using the fire as an excuse, Hitler banned his greatest rivals, the Communist party.

The Enabling Law

At the March elections the Nazi party was the largest single political party. After suspending the Communists, and using his storm-troopers (the SA) to intimidate members of the other parties, Hitler had the two-thirds majority in the parliament he needed to suspend the country's constitution.

This meant Hitler now had the power to issue new laws without consulting parliament.

  • He made the Nazis the only legal political organisation in the country. The other parties were banned or dissolved themselves.
  • No-one could now challenge the Nazis legally, which made opposition very dangerous. Opponents of the Nazis had to work in secret, and some fled abroad.

Suppressing all opponents

In April 1933, the parliaments of the German states (Lander) were replaced by Nazi governors who could appoint and dismiss officials and judges.

  • Anti-Nazis or Jews were removed from the civil service.
  • In May 1933, trade unions were banned and replaced by the Labour Front.
  • In June 1934, in the 'night of the long knives', Ernst Rohm, leader of Hitler's storm troops was killed, along with 400 of his men. This ensured the German army would be loyal to Hitler and showed that even Nazi supporters were not safe if Hitler doubted their absolute loyalty.

In August 1934, President Hindenburg died. With the support of the army, and with no one left to oppose him, Hitler combined the role of President with that of Chancellor and assumed the title of Fuhrer (Leader) of Germany.

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GCSE Bitesize: Nazi Germany (mp3 audio)

GCSE: Nazi Germany (pdf script)

What was it like to live in Nazi Germany?

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