The rise of the Nazi Party and its consolidation of power

How did the Nazis consolidate their power during 1933-1934?


Hitler as Chancellor

30 January - Hindenburg appoints Hitler as Chancellor but:

  • only three out of 10 ministers were members of the Nazi party
  • the Nazis had less than half the seats in the Reichstag
  • Hindenburg could dismiss Hitler at any time.

The Significance of the Reichstag Fire

Marinus van der Lubbe

Marinus van der Lubbe

4 February - Every party and every public meeting banned from criticizing the Nazi Government.

27 February - The Reichstag Fire. Marinus van der Lubbe arrested. The Nazis blame the Communists – according to the Nazis, the fire was a Communist plot to destroy the government. Hindenburg announces additional powers – The Law for the Protection of the People and the State.

28 February - Suspension of all civil rights and personal freedom. Political prisoners can be held in custody indefinitely, without a hearing. By April, 25,000 political prisoners in Prussia alone.

The March election

5 March - The Nazi Party wins 43.9 per cent of the vote, which equates to 288 seats in the Reichstag. Hitler forms a coalition with the National Party (8 per cent). The Communist party wins 81 seats.

5-9 March - The Nazis gain power in the Lander province.

20 March - Himmler establishes the first concentration camp, in Dachau.

The Enabling Act

23 March - The Reichstag passes the Enabling Act. Hitler had to persuade at least 91 members to vote in favour of the act.

As a result, 444 members voted, which was just over two-thirds of members. Only 94 voted against him. What does this show? Not everyone supported the Nazis. 'Gleichschaltung' means bringing into line.

Removal of civil rights

31 March - Every provincial parliament is shut down. They are reorganised to have the same constitution as the Reichstag – the Nazis are therefore in control.

7 April - Managers appointed for each province - they are all members of the Nazi party. They are given the right to appoint and dismiss officers.

How did the Nazis consolidate their power during 1933-1934?


30 January – Dissolution of the provinces.

2 May – Dissolution of the Trade Unions - their offices broken into in all parts of the country, and a number of officers arrested. They merge to become the 'German Labour Front', managed by the Nazis.

10 May – The Nazis occupy the Social Democratic Party’s offices, destroy the party’s newspapers and take its money.


Democracy or Dictatorship (PDF file 437 kb)

Moving towards dictatorship

22 June – The Social Democratic Party is banned, other parties dissolve soon afterwards.

14 July – A law is passed to make every party illegal apart from the Nazi party.

12 November – A new 'election' to the Reichstag is held. The Nazis win 92.2 per cent of the vote. What does this show? Not everyone in Germany supported the Nazi party.

The events and consequences of the Night of the Long Knives

30 June – The Night of the Long Knives. Röhm and members of the SA, together with opponents of the Nazi party, are arrested and shot without trial.

Membership of the SA

August 192930,000
November 193060,000
January 1931100,000
January 1932291,000
August 1932445,000
January 1933425,000
August 19332,000,000
January 19343,000,000
The SA – its strengthsThe Army – its strengths
Had helped Hitler rise to power.Joining the SA reduced its power.
Hoped to benefit / gain. Some were unemployed and wanted a job.Professional soldiers.
Leaders wanted influential jobs.Hitler needed the support of army officers and generals.
Röhm wanted to merge the SA with the army.Röhm was more powerful than Hitler.

Hitler becomes Führer

2 August – Hindenburg dies.

Why did Hitler succeed?

Why did Hitler succeed?

The SA and the Army

The SAThe Army
Leader: Ernst RöhmLeader: General von Blomberg, 1935 (head of the army, navy and air force)
Sturm-Abteilung / Stormtroopers / Brown shirtsThe Treaty of Versailles had reduced the army from 500,000 to 100,000.
The majority of the members were unemployed, some of them former soldiers.Professional soldiers, disciplined - given high status in Germany.
Established in 1921A non-Nazi power in Germany
Purpose: to interrupt the meetings of Nazi opponentsPurpose: to protect the country
Important to Hitler:
  • protected Nazi supporters
  • distributed propaganda leaflets
  • very organised, therefore had a good reputation (although some didn’t like their violence).
Important to Hitler:
  • disciplined
  • managed to reduce unemployment by creating a larger army
  • necessary in order to control Germany.
The problem for Hitler:
  • By 1934, Hitler was in power, governing as dictator - the SA was no longer needed.
  • Röhm was ambitious - he was a threat to Hitler.
  • Röhm wanted the SA to merge with the army to form the People's Army.
The problem for Hitler:
  • Generals such as von Schleicher could attempt to overthrow Hitler, by organizing a putsch.
  • There was tension between Hitler and the army because of the SA.
Solution: The Night of the Long Knives, 30 June 1934. Around 180 Nazi leaders are killed.Solution: The army was only willing to support the Nazi government if the SA its lost power. Swore a pledge of allegiance to Hitler after the Night of the Long Knives, 30 June 1934.


The SA and the Army (PDF file 473 kb)

Röhm's Objectives: to make the SA the people’s army, to occupy German industry and to replace the current army.

When Hitler was released from prison in 1924, he established his own personal guards, the SS: Schutzstaffel. The principal role of the SS was to protect the Nazi leaders. In 1929, there were fewer than 300 members of the SS whilst the number of SA members was growing. Henrich Himmler, the head of the SS, changed their uniform to black and began carefully selecting who could join.

Hitler wanted to become President, as well as Chancellor. In order to succeed, he needed the army’s support. The army generals were only willing to support him if he destroyed the SA, which was now 10 times bigger than the army. Hitler destroyed the SA on the Night of the Long Knives.

On 2 August 1934, Hindenberg died and Hitler became Führer. The army believed that Hitler would turn to them for support after rising to power. They were wrong. Hitler came to depend more on Himmler and the SS.

Back to Revision Bite