Reichstag Fire – arrested 5,000 communists. Communist party banned.
1933 Enabling Law allows Hitler to pass laws without discussion by Reichstag.
June 1933 Social Democratic Party banned. Other parties dissolved themselves.
July 1933 Nazi Party declared the only lawful political party in Germany.
1934 Night of the Long Knives, Hitler removes opposition from within the party.
August 1934 Hitler makes himself Fuhrer on Hindenburg’s death. Army took an oath of loyalty to Hitler.
Weak and Divided opposition
The socialists and communists had been Hitler’s greatest opponents. Many were imprisoned after Reichstag fire. After 1933 any other political parties were banned. Those free set up anti-Nazi groups. But their secret headquarters were frequently raided by SA, SS and Gestapo.
Political rights and personal freedoms ended. Anyone who opposed the Nazis was persecuted.
Individual church ministers such as Bonhoeffer and Niemoller paid heavily for speaking out against the Nazis
Threat and coercion were common in Nazi Germany. Trade unions were banned
Threatening propaganda was used in posters, newspapers, radio, films and theatre plays to discourage opposition. There was a network of spies and informers in public and work places.
The SA, SS and Gestapo ( Secret Police) commanded by Heinrich Himmler organised all intimidation in Germany. By 1939 camps such as Buchenwald and Dachau were full of ‘political prisoners’. Over 250,000 entered the camps from 1933-39, including socialist, democrats, communists, trade unions, Jews Catholics, protestants, homosexuals. Thousands of political executions took place.
Paid informants worked for the Gestapo.
1934 the People’s Court tried treason cases in secret. Many were imprisoned without trial.
Many people ‘put up’ with the Nazis to avoid persecution and even joined the Party to help gain jobs, without being true loyal members.
Hitler came to power when Germany was beginning to recover from the Great Depression.
Businessmen profited from expansion of armed forces and public work schemes. They were freed from trade unions and communist threat.
Farmers benefited from self sufficiency policy. Prices of agriculture products were fixed, allowing a reasonable profit.
Jobs created by re-armament, public work schemes, labour camps for school leavers and jobs in the NAZI party. Persecution of socialists and Jews created jobs. By 1938 Hitler unemployment was just 250,000.
Although wages were low, hours long and strikes illegal. Workers were given ‘Strength through Joy’ activities which organised cheap holidays, outings and evening classes.
Nazis avoided unpopular policies such as heavy taxation or reduction in consumer goods.
Improved social conditions, slums cleared and new housing built. Rent and food prices controlled so did not rise high.
Olympic Games in Germany in 1936, and public building autobahns gave the Germans pride in their country.
Goebbels used effective propaganda to make people believe everything was good. Rallies, radio, posters, films.
Propaganda made people believe that Hitler was vital for Germany’s success. This reduced opposition.
To make those hostile to the regime believe that it was so powerful that resistance was futile. ( There was little resistance)
Education and Youth Movements
Hitler believed that the young could be more easily influenced than older Germans. Young people had to be educated to be loyal Nazis.
All teachers had to be loyal Nazis and belong to the Nationalist Socialist Teachers’ League.The curriculum was changed to enforce Nazi beliefs.
Only Nazi youth movements were allowed. These taught loyalty to Hitler and Germany.
Children were encouraged to betray ‘disloyal. parents and children.