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‘the Nazi Consolidation of Power Between January 1933 and August 1934 Was Achieved Through the Use of Terror’ Assess the Validity of This View

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Terror can be defined as the use of violence to create extreme fear in order to intimidate people to achieve a political goal. After Hindenburg elected Hitler as Chancellor in January 1933, Hitler wasted no time in fulfilling his Geichschaltung as specified in his ideology. However, it is questionable as to whether he did this entirely through the use of terror or whether he used legislation to justify this. Alternatively, it could have been a mere coincidence of good chance; such as Hindenburg’s timely death in early August, 1934.

It could be argued that the Nazi consolidation of power between January 1933 and August 1934 was achieved through the use of terror as the oppressive measures taken to initiate fear and domination crushed the German people into submission. The Reichstag was called together on the 23rd of March to create a vote for the legal passing of the Enabling Act. Although this was a democratic measure (despite the Communists effectively being wiped out by the police sending them to labour camps and persecuting the leaders), the SA surrounded the Kroll Opera House. This is vastly important as it shows Hitler using the violent SA as a form of terror in order to receive the vote he desperately needed to establish a greater level of control. In addition, all Hitler’s legislation that was passed was in an effort reinforce his control over the government and state as well as intimidate people to conform. This can be demonstrated through the suspension of civil liberties as it vaporised political opponent funds, disrupted organisations, banned newspapers and sent them to concentration camps. The active enforcement of the one-party state made it impossible to express any other political preference apart from the Nazi regime. Moreover, there was the very aggressive propaganda campaign of violence that antagonised Communists further. The judicial system and the police played a key role in this oppression as they were arrested for treason, and given lengthy sentences. This use of terror, reinforced by the state systems, pushed the Communists out of existence and acted as a warning for other political parties. Hence all the parties (excluding the SPD) voting for the Enabling Act to be passed and later the Centre Party voluntarily disbanding (19th July 1933). The increased powers to arrest, the judicial system losing their independence and the abolishment of parliaments were extended repressive measures to scrutinise the people of Germany and provoke fear as the Nazi centralised government centralised the state. They made sure that there was no escape from Hitler’s authority which enabled him to achieve Gleichschaltung as there was no aspect of government he did not control. On the other hand, Hindenburg was still the President and oversaw all what Hitler was doing; he had the final say as to what the Nazi did, despite the Enabling Act. Along with the persistent format of legalisation through the passing of Acts, whether by parliament or decree, it could still be seen as legitimate, despite the terror.

On the other hand, it could be viewed that the Nazi consolidation of power was done entirely by legal means, from 1933 to August 1934. After the Reichstag fire in February 1933 (apparently carried out by a young, Dutch Communist), Hitler strategically used this as an excuse to make the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State by suspending civil and political liberties. However, albeit this was a repressive measure that postponed the rights set up by the Weimar Constitution, it was done under the acceptance of Hindenburg through Hitler’s emergency powers. This suspension of civil liberties were significant in creating the consolidation of power as it enabled the police to have increased powers to arrest, detain without charge to those who were deemed to be a threat and search private premises. In effect, these were used to suppress the Communists and Socialists by disrupting their organisations. The government had the power censor publications and take over state governments who were not acting against the Nazis political opponents. This prevented the participation of Communists and most Socialists in the democratic March elections of 1933. This consequently shows how the legalisation of oppression and terror made it easier for Hitler to reaffirm Nazi power by receiving an overall majority (with DNVP allies) in the Reichstag. Furthermore, the end of democracy with the initiation of the Enabling Act (23rd March 1933) was, ironically, done in a democratic manner as the Reichstag met in the Kroll Opera House and effectively voted themselves out of existence. This Act legally confirmed that Hitler could pass laws by decree (for four years) without the use of the Reichstag. Therefore, this justifies Hitler’s consolidation of power through entirely legal terms. However, at this point, the SA had surrounded the Kroll Opera House, an oppressive measure in order for Hitler to receive the outcome he wanted. This brings

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