Events of the third reich sources pg 164 1a The role of Hitler and the view of Germans

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1a) The role of Hitler and the view of Germans:

  • Fuhrerprinzip (Source 2)

  • Sense of community formed around Hitler

  • Being anti-Hitler is being anti- Germany (Source 2)

  • Anti-individual (Source 2) – ‘You are nothing; your nation is everything’ – shows conflict with traditional right wing ideas.

  • Hitler represents the nation (Source 3) – almost religious following. ‘Bearer of the peoples will’. ‘Issue of losing individuality’ (Source 16)

b) The collaboration of the elite with Nazism.

  • Catholic church showing support for Nazis (Source 12) – possibly due to promise made by Hitler in the Enabling Act to protect the Church.

  • Judges making Nazi salute (Source 5).

  • Disgust of elite to Nazism (Source 16).

d) Volksgemeinshaft supporting.

  • 1936 law to support community (Source 9)

  • Subsidized workers’ travel (Source 13).

e) Anti-Semitism

  • Burning Nazi books – ceremonial.

  • ‘Jews are not citizens of the Reich’ – Nuremburg Laws.

  • Source 15 – Mass killing of Jews.



  • Growth of SA – 2.5 million.

  • Fear of second revolution ‘from below’.

  • Ernst Rohm represented the more extreme views of the NSDAP and therefore gained much support.

  • Hitler had to consolidate his power before Hindenburg died – Ernst Rohm would be a possible leader with the absence of Hindenburg.

  • The army had to be on Hitler’s side since both the SA and the army were unstable in their political maneuverings.



Bringing POV of people in line with NSDAP politics, i.e. end of plurism (evengare holding power).

On going through 1930s always something to be brought into line. Mostly in the first two years. Political system was first to be brought into line.
Centralization of Government.

But strong tradition of regional government – each German region had a small parliament.

  1. Dismissed all regional governments.

  2. Told to reconvene with memberships proportional to most recent German Election (March 1933 – Nazis 80%)

  3. State government could pass law without consulting parliament.

  4. Reichstadthateer (usually old gauleiter) – new position – state governor appointed by regime – could overrule everyone.

  5. January 1934 –Reichsrat abolished.

  6. KPD banned after Reichstag fire, February 1933.

  7. SPD, DVP and DNP are banned June 1933.

  8. Law against the formation of new parties passed. N.B. 2nd May 1933 – Trade Unions abolished.

‘Nazification’ of interest groups – members had to leave and join the equivalent group. E.g. teachers joined Nazi teachers union – compulsory but not always done.

Also – civil service – law for restoration of professional civil service.

  • Legal profession purged. New type of courts established – ‘people’s courts’.

  • Protestant church under control of German church.

  • Public forces under Nazi control.

Trade Unions – 2nd May abolished.

Replaced by the German Labour Front (DAF) – Trade Unions for all workers and managers. Officially made ‘to end disputes and promote harmony’ – couldn’t strike etc. demand for a higher wage.
3 Phases::


  2. GLEICHSCHALTUNG – Synchronisation / coordination / bringing into line.

  3. REMOVAL OF INTERNAL ENEMIES – i.e. within the movement itself.

Jan March 1933 – Legal Revolution.

In the end the Enabling Act is passed – giving Hitler dictatorial powers, therefore a revolution.

Stages: calls election, appeal to German people, Reichstag power, suppressing power law.

6th July 1933 – Speech to Reich governors – warning of dangers of a permanent state of revolution. ‘the steam of revolution must be guided into the safe channel of evolution’
Led to fears of Nazis that the party was willing to dilute the RADICAL IDEOLOGY of National Socialism, demands for more radical revolution from the SA.
The Knight of the Long Knives

  • 30th June 1934.

  • Eliminatio: SA – Rohm and main leaders of the SA.

  • Ties with the SS strengthened, everyone of SS – elite nstitution of terror and army.

  • 400 people murdred.

  • SA reduced to propaganda showpiece.

  • Hitler had removed opposition of a 2nd revolution – secured his position for President when Hindenburg died on the 2nd of August.


  • Ernst Rohm (put in prison and was shot two days after NOTLK)

  • Schleicher – killed due to ‘old scores’.

  • Strasser – left wing NSDAP rival.

  • Jung – conservative and monarchist (Hitler knew conservative forces could overthrow him when Hindenburg died).

  • Estimates of deaths range from 400-1000 but it is though that the lesser is amore accurate figure.

How did he get away with it?

  • Fear of being among the dead.

  • Received thanks (Blomberg) for ‘protecting’ the state – vote of confidence.

  • No physical power to challenge him – SA demoralized and stripped of leaders.

SA & SS – The Difference?

SA – Social revolution

SS – Racial revolution – loyal to Himmler.


  • Article 48 and its usage by the Weimar government allowed extremist parties to undermine the system – Hitler’s capture of power was technically legal.

  • Allowing propaganda to criticize agreements such as Locarno, etc. which infact gave Germany a better situation on its borders.

  • The original Treaty of Versailles was seen as a deal that made Germany the scapegoat for the war.

  • The Wall Street Crash scared people into thinking that a repeat of the hyperinflation would happen – lack of confidence in the economy – trust in more extreme parties.

  • People scare of being Chancellor – not confident with parties agreeing.

What was the nature of Nazism to 1933?

  • The NSDAP was in fact far from National Socialism in the sense that it applied its politics to both the business orientated and workers – extremely opportunistic.

  • Atmosphere of fear – SS.

  • Using localized issues to gain support.

JANUARY 1933 – AUGUST 1934

These 18 months was a period of rapid change up to Hindenburg’s death as Hitler proclaimed himself Fuhrer.
Hitler gaining power – ‘LEGAL REVOLUTION’ – consider the spirit of the leader vs. the letter of the law.

30th Jan – Hitler was chancellor.

1st Feb – Appeal to German people – anniversary of national revolution.

-Calls a general election.

- Goring controls Prussia – integrates SA into the police.

27th Feb – Reichstag fire

-Decree from Hindenburg.

5th Mar – election – 44% NSDAP.

21st Mar – Ceremony at Potsdam.

23rd Mar – New Reaichstag.

PROCESS OF NAZIFICATION – Gleishaltung – Coordination

Pseudo-legality – fake legality.

ii) Section 1: Effect on the German people.

  • Most obviously it limits ‘ personal liberty’ as stated in the sense that freedom of speech is made illegal. Consequently, this means that anybody speaking out against the NSDAP could legally be arrested and sentenced.

  • The censorship of the press coupled with liiitations on communications would make negative Nazi focused media and possibly harmful information about the party impossible to leak. As well as this the Nazis could use their control of the media to emphasize anti-communist propaganda, giving readers a skewed sense of daily events.

  • More allowance fore house searching warrants and confiscations would allow Nazis to have the ruling had over everyone. Not only would this create an air of terror due to the ability of the state to look into everyone’s lives, but also the party would be able to make life as difficult as possible for those who chose to fo against the NSDAP.

iii) Section 2 of the decree changes the system of government in Germany by dissolving the true power of individual states in the country. Because the government is now allowed to take emergency powers’ over states, local government was restricted of any power in difficult situations.

iv) Personally, I feel the decree appears rushed in the sense that it is extreme in the change it created for both the German people and constitution. As a result, it surprises me that Hitler didn’t suffer much backlash from the passing of the law, but the fact that the law was passed in itself partially explains why there was more support for the decree than one might imagine.
Rushing and lack of backlash highlights lack of perspective we have as people in a society not threatened by militia and economic downturn?
………..= reference to Hitler’s consolidation of power.


January 1933

  • Hitler offered chancellorship.

  • Hindenburg believed Nazi power could be controlled:

    • Only a small Nazi cabinet (infact had more power than imagined)

    • Hitler’s chancellorship only gave him limited power.

  • They wanted the Nazis to have chancellorship since it gave the Republic popular support.

  • Hitler immediately called for an election – wanted 66.6% of the vote to which was the only way of legally being able to change the constitution.

February 1933

  • Trys to get business support to fund the election (1932). The Nazis were by this time bankrupt.

  • Van Papen suspends SPD from ruling over Prussia (1932).

  • Goring brings in SA /SS / Stalhelm as auxillary police.

  • Reichstag fire – CYNICALLY EXPLOITED.

  • Decree for the Protection of People and State – see supplementary notes.

March 1933

  • Attacks on SPD buildings (& KPD) by SA and SS.

  • Theoretically doesn’t ban SPD votes but doesn’t allow them to sit in parliament – allows communist votes to be split between KPD and SPD.

  • Poor election result – 44.9% - now SPD and Z party appear stronger.

  • 21st March – ‘Day of Potsdam’ – symbolic linkage of the old and new. Nostalgic march to Potsdam, trying to create a revolution style atmosphere. Done to please conservatice elite. Results in very emotional atmosphere – successful event.

  • Enabling Act vote – vote held in opera hall. Concerns over the vote not being ‘quorate’ – i.e. not enough being there to vote legally. However, you had to get permission from Frich to be absent, if not you were marked as present anyway. Therefore with support of the Z party (Catholic promises) and burning of SPD, the Enabling Act was passed.

………..= reference to why Hitler was able to consolidate power.

‘COORDINATION’ (Honeycombing) ‘Gleichschaltung’

Infiltration of Nazis into all aspects of politics.

  1. ‘State’ Government – March 1933 to January 1934.

  2. Political parties – KPD – before election.

    • SPD – June – banned.

    • DNP / DNVP – disbanded themselves.

    • Z – July – self abolition.

    • 14th July – Law for the Formation of the parties. – no more allowed.

  1. Trade Unions

    • 1st May – holiday.

    • 2nd – dissolved.

    • 10th – DAF – ‘Deutsche Arbeitsfront’ Formed as a singular trade union.

    • 16th June 1934 – New Labour Charter – i.e. working conditions (for instance not allowed to strike).

  1. Civil Service Purged


Groups that Hitler consolidated:


Elite / Right wing

SA and the SS

Zentrum party / Catholic Church




Trade Unions

THE NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES ‘ State organized Murder’

30th June 1934.
On the 6th July 1933, Hitler declared an end to ‘revolution’ (he was where he wanted to be). ‘Evolution’ and dilution (of ideology) were necessary… BUT the SA (2 million men) were a thorn in Hitler’s side.
A crisis developed over the winter of 1933-34 – Hitler made a choice, eventually (precipitated by Hindenburg’s imminent death).

    • What happened?

    • Why did it happen?

    • Why did he get away with it?

    • How significant is the event?

Now that Hitler is where he wants to be he knows that the SA is not needed to bully his way into any more prominent positions. He wants to keep the elite happy and get the army’s support.

The SA:

  • Crudely anti-Capitalist.

  • Rechstag seen as ‘the sink of corruption’. Although they still wanted seats.

  • Ernst Rohm wished for a ‘genuine revolution’ i.e. one with change in constitution.

  • Hitler doesn’t want to alienate the elite which could jepordise economic recovery.

  • Hitler told the SA(6 July 1933) that the revolution must end to be replaced with ‘evolution’ – change would still happen but form the top.

Hitler could be seen as ’taming’ the militia.
“The SA, which had been very helpful in the acquisition of power, was now a grave embarrassment under the leadership of the ambitious Rohm and his associates” pg 176, Nazism Sources.
Not the SS come into the picture during 1933-34 with their leader Himmler which as an organization was still nominally part of the SA.
Between 100 and a few hundred were killed. After the night the purge was retroactively legalized.
2nd August – Hindenburg died.

  • LEGALITY’ – went through process of legalizing the murders – in reality pseudo-legality.

  • Act of self defense – idea that they were enemy of the state.

  • Lesser of two evils – SA needed to be destroyed. Prevented greater loss of life in

  • Seen as a ‘brave soldier’ for what he had done, seen as strong.

  • Hindenburg’s approval.

  • Comparison to dictatorship of the Kaiser.

  • Using the Marxists as a scapegoat.


  • Hitler tied to army.


  • As an absolute monarch, Hitler was surrounded by officials competing to implement their leader’s wishes.

  • Hitler’s own involvement in decision making was remarkably lacking. The fuhrer system meant that there was no need for a formal system.

  • He had a haphazard approach to work and spent more time making rumbling monologues to his entourage than discussing detailed policy.

  • Those at the top who could convince their peers that they had Hitler’s power would be the ones to implement their policies.

  • Hitler knew and believed in survival of the fittest – he believed that humans thrive on competition and therefore by having politicians at the top of the NSDAP competing they would do more work for him.

  • This resulted in a highly chaotic state which had many contradictions in its policies.

  • GALEITERS – ‘mini dictators’ acting over state law – proliferated as they competed inefficiently.

  • No cabinet meetins post 1938.

  • Frick wasn’t able to rationalize government – inefficiency with more than one mini dictator running an area of government, e.g. Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Youths and Ministry of Education competed.

Two ideas:

    1. MONOCRATIC – Intentionalists – ‘Hitlerism’ explains the Third Reich.

    2. POLYCRATIC – Structuralists (Functionists and Revisionists). ‘Weak’ dictator (Mommsen thesis). Symbolic Fuhrer – led to spiraling RADICALISATION (1. Weak decision making, 2. Poor implementation.)

KERSHAW – believes in a synthesis of these two ideas – not weak but neither a master.

Mostly preoccupied with foreign affairs and building projects. Had little time for ministers who may only have had a few minister to give him their opinion and therefore get the ‘ORDER OF THE FUHRER’.
Results of the decision making in Germany:

  1. The 1935 Nuremburg laws, anti-Jewish legislation, regularized 1920s idea to remove the Jews from citizenship.

  2. Kristallnacht – 1938. Wave of anti-Jewish attacks instigated by Goebbels after a Jew assassinated a Nazi officer, heightening attacks on Jews which climaxed on the 8th November.

  3. Euthanasia – 1938. ‘Aktion T4’ – following the idea that the weak should be removed and with a letter sent to Hitler from a man begging for his ill son to be put out of his misery, the idea was put into action through Chancellor Secretary Phillip Bouhler.


3rd Jan 1933 – appointed Chancellor.

4th Jan – meeting between von Papen and Hitler – outlined plans for taking power – ‘cooperation’ between Papen and himself. Papen’s followers allowed to participate in Hitler's policies if they supported his policy. Removed of SPD communists and Jews from leading positions. Hindenburg not aware of meeting.

Schleicher’s export and consumer industry friendly policies were met with bitter opposition from heavy industries, who were also suspicious of his policies towards trade unions.

Therefore Hitler appeared as more friendly although von Papen was still first choice.

Mid January –Papen focused on making Hitler Chancellor with him as Vice-Chancellor.

  • Bending the law but never theoretically breaking it – confidence of the elite.

  • Using the semility and wishesof Papen to get his own way – manipulation of Hindenburg.

  • Schleicher’s economic policies tried to gain mass support but alienated powerful interests.

  • Hindenburg never truly forgave Schleicher for proposing Papen’s resignation.

  • Parliamentary majority for Hitler.

  • Although only three Nazis in the cabinet (false confidence for Papen). Hitler had the supreme power in government, Goering (Prussian Minister for the Interior) controlled the police in 60% of the Reich whilst General von Blomberg (Blromberg could sedate the Army from Nazis) was secretely pro-Nazi, and Frick as Reich Minister of Interior.

  • Also Hitler asked for an immediate dissolution of government and a starting point for Chancellorship.

Enabling Act 24th March

Hitler’s consolidation of power post chancellorship…

  • Paralysed government / bankrupt leadership.

Why was he able to consolidate his power?

Other Acts:

  • Reichstag fire – Protection of the People Act

  • Previous undermining use of Article 48 – Enabling Act

  • SA action worried the elite – Gleichschaltung.

  • Belief that NSDAP could be controlled – gradual takeover.

  • Resulting NSDAP action

  • Protection decree 28th February 1933

    • Control of media

    • Dissolving State Power

    • Rushed decree? – Why no reaction?

  • Climate of fear, majority in favour (Catholics), SPD banned = general lack of backlash.

  • SPD ‘banned’ – not technically so SPD and KPD voters would be split but didn’t allow SPD to sit in parliament.

  • Day of Potsdam – elite pleaser *. Old and new – old hated losing the war, not deserved?

  • Gleishchaltung – 14th July

    • Law against Party Formation

    • Deutsche Arbeitsfront (10th May) – reformed trade unions.

    • New labour charter (16th) (e.g. no strikes)

    • Civil Service purged.

  • Night of the Long Knives – ‘state organized murder’.

    • Doesn’t want to alienate the elite while Ernst Rohm wants ‘genuine revolution’ –i.e. constitutional change. Hitler is happy where he is – Risk of Rohm taking over is a military dictatorship – Retroactively legalized.

  • undoubtedly popular with the masses – patriotism and united front for Germany symbolized. Bitterness for not winning the war. Hitler telling people what they want to hear.

Key Terms:

Monolithic, Fuhrer Prinzip, Gleishchultung, pseudo-legality, evolution, cynical exploitation, false sense of security, Hitler myth, polycratic reality?, emotional need.
Monolithic or Polycratic?
Polarised arguments often form simplified opinions regarding Hitler. These arguments are also unrepresentative of general opinion. It is also suggested that the break down of moral barriers was done so quickl since others as well as Hitler encouraged each other on policies, causing a frenzy ofmovement.
The Hitler Myth – the carefully cultivated image of Hitler.

  • Personified the country.

  • Understood German interests.

  • Seen as the architect of Germany’s economic miracle.

  • Defended Germany against enemies – Jews, Bolsheviks, corrupt SA etc.

Why did this myth succeed?

  • Charismatic presentation.

  • Propaganda.

  • Hitler’s sustained post 1933.

  • Satisfied people’s emotional need for a strong government.

  • Fuhrerprinzip was long established.

“Hitler is the bearer of the people’s will; he is independent of all groups… but is bound by laws which are inherent in the nature of his peoples” -Nazi theorist Ernst Huber, 1935.

Only a small minority rejected the myth. Day to day failures could be blamed upon minor leaders. However, as a result, Hitler became freer to make his own radical decisions that eventually weathered his regime.






Historical Approaches


Study Techniques

  • Complete control over law making.

  • Hitler-centric (highly personalized)

  • Lack of visible, legal opposition.

  • No civil liberties

  • No left-wing

  • Army / elite in the pockets of Hitler

  • Goering / Goebbels

  • Himmler / SS

  • Hitler, weak or powerful?

  • Nazi state efficient or chaotic?

  • Holocaust, intentional?

  • Blueprint, master plan?

  • Economics, guns or butter, efficiency?

  • Youth, women, churches? (support)

  • Marxist (class)

  • Biographer (personality)

  • Inevitability

  • Continuities

  • Structuralists (whole picture) vs. Intentionalists (Hitler’s intention)

  • ‘Totalitarianism’

  • ‘Resistance;

  • ‘Fuhrerprinzip’

  • ‘Legality’

  • ‘Gleishchultung’

  • ‘Volksgemeinshaft’

  • ‘Cumulative-radicalisation’

  • ‘Historiography’ (History of historians)


  • Time passage

  • More evidence (E.Gy)

  • Lots of sources (books articles, web)

  • Use of psychology and different models.

  • Evidence problems

  • Best evidence – SOPADE, were able to get hold of evidence



THE HITLER STATE: How valid is this view of the Third Reich?

Areas of Study:

  1. The direct role of the Fuhrer as the leader within the state:

  • Dominance within the party and state.

  • Extent to which he laid down guidelines.

  • Involvement in deciding policies.

  1. How the power of others was dependant upon Hitler.

  2. The nature and impact of The Hitler Myth.

  3. The extent to which Germany was dominated by Hitler.

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