In January 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany but his real aim was to become a dictator. Before he could realise his ambition, he needed to gain enough seats to be in a position strong enough to allow him to make the changes that would lead to his goal. He convinced President Hindenburg to call a new Reichstag election for March 1933. This set off a series of events that ended with Hitler becoming Führer.
|Date||Events||How this helped Hitler to gain power|
|27 Feb - 5 Mar 1933||Reichstag Fire and Reichstag election: on 27 February the Reichstag building was set on fire. A Dutch communist, van der Lubbe, was caught red-handed in the burning building. Days later in the election 44 per cent of the population voted for the Nazis, who won 288 seats in the Reichstag – still not an overall majority. Hitler had to join with the nationalists to form a majority.||Hitler used the fire to persuade Hindenburg to pass an emergency law restricting personal liberty. This enabled him to imprison many communist leaders, which stopped them campaigning during the election. Although the Nazis the did not gain the overall majority that Hitler had hoped for in the Reichstag, it gave them enough seats - after Hitler had arrested all the communist deputies and the other parties had been intimidated by the SA - to pass the Enabling Act.|
|23 Mar 1933||The Enabling Act: with the communist deputies banned and the SA intimidating all the remaining non-Nazi deputies, the Reichstag voted by the required two-thirds majority to give Hitler the right to make laws without the Reichstag’s approval for four years.||Arguably this was the critical event during this period. It gave Hitler absolute power to make laws, which enabled him to destroy all opposition to his rule. This removed the Reichstag as a source of opposition.|
|7 Apr 1933||Nazi officials were put in charge of all local government. ‘Alien elements’ (people from other countries) in the civil service, courts and education were removed from their positions.||The Nazis got rid of any potential opposition in positions that could prove influential, eg judges. They also got rid of people they thought were ‘undesirables’ – like the Jews.|
|2 May 1933||Trade unions were banned. Instead, German workers were now expected to join the new German Labour Front (DAF).||Trade unions could unite people to protest – therefore the Nazis had got rid of a potential form of opposition. They also destroyed a possible form of sympathy and support for their arch-enemies, the communists.|
|14 Jul 1933||Political parties were banned: only the Nazi party was allowed to exist.||Banning political parties made Germany a one-party state and destroyed democracy in the country. This removed other parties as a source of opposition.|
|Jan 1934||All state governments were taken over.||Hitler could centralise all policy and make sure different states listened to him and did as he wished. It encouraged even more nationalism in Germany. Possible dissent (disagreement) was lessened as the state governments couldn’t lead people as they had once done.|
|30 Jun 1934||Night of the Long Knives: Many members of the SA, including its leader Ernst Röhm, were demanding that the Nazi party carry out its socialist agenda and that the SA take over the army. Hitler could not afford to annoy businessmen or the army, so the SS (Hitler's personal bodyguards) murdered around 400 members of the SA, including Röhm, along with a number of Hitler's other opponents like the previous Chancellor, von Schleicher.||This destroyed all opposition to Hitler within the Nazi Party and gave power to the brutal SS. It also showed the rest of the world what a tyrant Hitler was. This removed any internal Nazi Party opposition to Hitler.|
|19 Aug 1934||Hitler became Führer: when Hindenburg died, Hitler declared himself jointly president, chancellor and head of the army. Members of the armed forces had to swear a personal oath of allegiance not to Germany, but to Hitler.||This formally made Hitler the absolute ruler of Germany. This neutralised any sources of opposition to Hitler within the army.|
Hitler also extended his power in other ways:
By the autumn of 1934 Hitler was in complete control of Germany.