Once we get to power, we will never give it back unless we're taken out of our offices as dead corpses

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From prime minister to dictator

Hitler used his new authority and acted swiftly. His friend Goebels once said "Once we get to power, we will never give it back unless we're taken out of our offices as dead corpses". 12 years later he and Hitler indeed finished their careers as dead corpses, but at this moment, in 1933, they were just seizing power.

At that night the Nazis celebrated their victory by marching outside the government offices. The next morning they took control of the police. They expanded the secret police with Nazi officers. Four days later Hitler used his emergency authority to issue an order that allowed the government to close newspapers and ban public gatherings. In February 28th, after a month in power, Hitler issued two more emergency orders that "temporarily" allowed the Nazi-controlled police to bypass the legal system, which practically means that Hitler "legally" abolished ALL human rights (the order specified a long list of rights which were "canceled"), and gained total power. This order remained valid until the end of World War 2.

A month later, while surrounded by armed Nazi militia, the German Reichstag (Congress) voted to pass its legislative authority to Hitler. This allowed him to change the constitution, and passed the legislative authority of the president to Hitler. It was a move that cancelled legal government and gave Adolf Hitler total power. He was now "Der Fuhrer", The Leader. The opposition leaders were murdered, or fled.

It took Hitler five months from the day he was appointed prime minister to complete the official establishment of a totalitarian police state in formerly democratic Germany. The actual change was much faster, because right from the beginning the Nazis practically ruled by using brutal force that murdered or permanently imprisoned anyone who dared to express disagreement. Every German quickly realized that anyone the Nazis dislike disappears, quickly and permanently. And so began an age of total terror that continued until the end of World War 2.

Adolf Hitler - Dictator of Germany

In order to ensure his total personal control, Hitler designed a regime in which each power center had a rival parallel, or even two. Internal security for example, was the realm of not only the regular police, but also of the S.A militia, the S.S (the Nazi party's other private force that sworn personal loyalty to Hitler), the GESTAPO (security police). Hitler encouraged the rivalries under him. Each senior Nazi spied after his peers. They all informed Hitler. In addition to the regular army, a small "private" army, the "Waffen SS" was formed, and so on. He started working mainly at nights, no longer wrote anything by himself, and made all major decisions in private meetings, or alone. All his orders were verbal, never written.

Hitler didn't have an economical policy, but he did have a national policy - he wanted Germany to fully re-arm itself as soon as possible. That, and the natural strength of the German economy, reduced unemployment in 3 years to none, and later even created shortage of workers. While he allowed the Nazi party to brutally dominate all other aspects of life, he kept it away from the industry and the military, because for his intended war he wanted them both to reach peak performance as soon as possible.

By the mid 1930s Adolf Hitler was a brutal, but successful and popular dictator. Everyone was employed again, and national dignity was restored. Employment was full partly because a huge chunk of the national budget was spent on very massive military production, the Nazi police state regime created a huge number of new jobs in the multiple police and party organizations, and also a very large number of former workers, both jews and political enemies, were now prisoners in large "Concentration camps".

Pre-war expansion

Now Hitler was ready to begin a dramatic series of daring expansion moves. Each of those moves that succeeded without starting a war further enhanced Hitler image as a political-strategic genius, and increased his daring self-confidence. The main reasons for those successes were that the deeply pacifist war-traumatized Great Britain and France, which always preferred appeasement over confrontation, and Hitler, who made no mistakes until the end of 1938, repeatedly used two excuses for his expansion:

  1. "This is/was a German territory" or "There is a German population there that should be united with Germany"

  2. "This is my last demand, so why don't you accept it. You will not start a war for that".

There was only one problem with the appeasement policy which repeatedly accepted Hitler's moves. Hitler was not going to stop, and he could not be appeased. The active pacifism in Britain and France was so strong that the British government pressed France to significantly reduce the size of the French army, the British labor party opposed re-armament right until the war started, and in France there was a campaign to reduce the duration of military service by half. The few warning voices, like that of Winston Churchill, were ignored.

Hitler's pre-war expansion steps were:

  • In January 1935 he sent the German military to the neutral Saar region.

  • In March 1936 he sent the German military to the demilitarized Rhine region.

  • In March 1938 he annexed Austria

  • In October 1938 he annexed the western part of Czechoslovakia.

  • In March 1939 he annexed the rest of Czechoslovakia.

At that point Hitler's popularity in Germany significantly decreased. The German public which applauded the unification with the ethnic German population of Austria, was now really worried of war. But as a total dictator Hitler was not dependent on public support, so its loss did not slow him at all.

Hitler thought that his actions will not start a war with Great Britain. He intended to head East, through Poland, and finally be in position to execute the next step of his global plan, to attack the Soviet Union. Since he was not going to stop, and since Great Britain and France began to negotiate a military pact with the Soviet Union, Hitler made a very surprising move. He signed a non-aggression pact with his near future prey, the Soviet Union, in which the two dictatorships also secretly agreed that they will both invade Poland and divide it between them.


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