In 1921 Adolf Hitler became the leader of the Nazi Party. He was a firm believer in Germany and wished to return it to a time of power and prestige. Hitler’s chance came in 1929 with the death of Stressman and the Great Depression marking an end to Weimar’s Golden Age. With great civil unrest and rampant levels of unemployment, the German public began looking for answers. Hitler grasped this opportunity, persuading the public that all the solutions lay with him and his dynamic party, offering wild promises such as full employment. With this growing support, Hitler’s Nazi party began its rise to power and by 1933 they held the majority of seats in the Reichstag. President von Hindenburg came under pressure from some very influential power groups and appointed him Chancellor. Some people believed that Hitler "could be tamed" but within a very short period he proved them wrong and created a powerful totalitarian state.
On the 30th of January 1933 Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. His first act was to call a general election, which in his mind was to be the last. He used the power of the state to gain publicity. He also used an illegal campaign of street intimidation, believing that “Possession of the streets is key to the to the power of the state”. Prior to the election, a Dutch Communist, Van der Lube, set the Reichstag on fire, Hitler used this as an excuse to pass the decree for the protection of the People and state. This limited civil liberties and gave police special powers. Hitler used this to remove some of his sternest Opposition from the Reichstag. Despite all this The Nazis went onto secure only 43.9% of the votes, but with the support of the Nationalist Party (53 seats), they held a narrow majority in the Reichstag.
With the power of the state now fully behind Hitler, He proposed the Enabling Law, which gave him the right to rule by decree, full dictatorial powers. Once again he used intimidation to ensure it’s passing and on the 23rd of March, through democratic and parliamentary means, Hitler became the sole dictator of Germany and began his process of Gleichschaltung, whereby all aspects of German life were brought under Nazi Control. He acted quickly and by June all opposition parties were non-existent and the Reichstag was dissolved. All trade unions were abolished and in their stead the DAF led by Dr. Ley. Rigid censorship was introduced, led by Joesef Goebells. He abolished all freedom of the arts and filtered what went into the mind of the German people.
Nazism also had a profound effect on Education. Indoctrination of the Youth became consistent policy of the state. Children were taught that Germany was the greatest country in the world, “ Deutschland, Deutschland, über alles”. This indoctrination was centered in Hitler Youth Movements. By 1934 such movements had swollen to sizes of over 7 million. The youth of Germany preached absolute loyalty to the State. Hitler decided his state should abandon religion believing Nazism should be the only creed of the German people. This was dealt with in 1933 with the signing of a concordat with the church. This stated that neither would meddle in the others affairs.
The Gestapo were a state police that held special powers. It was an Organization that existed not to protect the people but the state. Individual Liberties were at an absolute minimum. All had to conform to the Nazi view.
By 1934 Hitler faced only 2 possible threats, the army (the only thing remaining that could remove Hitler from his position) and the other from within his own party, Ernst Rohm and the SA. Rohm demanded the Nazi revolution continue and he began to openly threaten Hitler. Hitler acted swiftly. On the “ Night of the Long Knives”, the deaths of over 400 (including Rohm) were ordered and the SA was absorbed into the Army. This eradicated both the threat of the SA and appeased the Army (who had felt wary of the SA), now offering unconditional obedience. Hitler ratified the killings to the public by saying that he alone “was responsible for the fate of the German people” This indicated clearly Hitler’s full dictatorial powers. This Message was re-enforced in August 1934, when upon the death of Hindenburg, Hitler merged the office of chancellor and President and became Fuhrer. Germany was now beyond question under the complete control of Adolf Hitler. This was ratified by a plebiscite that gave him an approval rating of 96%.
This Confidence in the Regime was borne partly from Confidence in the Economy. In 1932 he had promised to solve the economic crisis, Over the course of his reign, Hitler was to be proved true, bringing the country much economic success and stability. This was done through two 4-year plans. A huge scheme of Public Infrastructure and armament production ensured that the Problem of employment so Rampant in 1932, had all but disappeared by 1939. Dr Schacht, President of the Reichsbank, oversaw the provision of adequate finance, Income, Tax Concessions and State Loans. German Industry was soon back on its feet. Such material progress hastened the rise of Germany back into the position of a respectable nation again and this was showcased to the world in the 1936 Olympics.
In Conclusion from 1933 to 1939 Hitler had created a purely totalitarian state. Everything had succumbed to Nazi Rule, the industry, the church and the minds of the German people. Germany was a police state where the Individual existed for the state, merely a cog in the Nazi machine. A state which worked if you worked with it, a state of which Hitler was the Supreme Ruler.