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Nazi Germany

Nazi Germany

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Published by yshailz

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Published by: yshailz on Dec 06, 2010
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07/11/2013

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The Reichstag Fire had given Hitler the opportunity to damage the reputation of theCommunists and to heighten the reputation of the Nazis.
The election of March 1933 and the decision of the Nationalist Party to join with theNazis had given Hitler control of the Reichstag.
OPPORTUNISM –
Hitler wasted no time. On 23
rd
March he introduced an
ENABLINGACT 
which would allow him to have complete power in Germany. However, this lawneeded to be approved by the whole Reichstag.
INTIMIDATION –
Great pressure was put on the other parties in the Reichstag bythe Nazis. A. By using the Law for the Protection of the People and State, Hitlerbanned the Communists from taking their seats. B. Members of the Social Democratswere beaten up by the SA, and many were too scared to turn up to the voting.
The result of these tactics was that the Enabling Law was passed.
The Enabling Law gave Hitler the power to pass any laws without consulting theReichstag, and without the approval of President Hindenburg.
After March 1933 the Reichstag only really met to hear speeches by Hitler. Theauthority of all other political parties had been swept away.
In the next elections, the Nazis were the only party allowed to stand.
The removal of other political parties became formal in July 1933 when Hitlerintroduced the
Law Against the Formation of New Parties
.
This law stated that the Nazi Party was the only party allowed to exist in Germany.
It laid down severe punishment for anyone who tried to set up another party. Germanywas now a one-party state (a dictatorship).
Trade unions were also abolished and their offices destroyed. Workers, or companiesno longer had a political voice against the Nazis.
Leaders of political parties and trade unions were arrested and moved to labour camps.
Hitler made sure that all posts in government were held by Nazi supporters.
Nazi officials were put in charge of the local governments which ran the states ofGermany.
Hitler made sure that all civil servants and judges were Nazi supporters. Anyone whowasn’t was removed from office.
Hitler soon had complete control of Germany and its political, administrative and legalsystems.
 
Once Hitler had control of Germany he didn’t need the SA anymore. He was also worriedthat they might be a threat to his leadership.
The SA leader Ernst Roehm wanted the SA to have total control of the German army. Thiswould make him more powerful than Hitler.
Hitler decided that Roehm must be stopped, or the Nazis ran the risk of losing the supportof the army.
On 30
th
June 1934 the
Night of the Long Knives
took place. Hitler claimed that the SAwas plotting to seize power and ordered the SS to arrest hundreds of SA leaders. Theywere rounded up and shot.
Hitler told the Reichstag that he had done all this to “save the nation” from threat.
The only person with higher power than Hitler was the President, Hindenburg.
On 2
nd
August 1934, Hindenburg died aged 87.
Immediately Hitler declared that he was
President
, as well as being
Chancellor
and
Headof the German army.
These positions meant that Hitler could now give himself the title of
“Fuhrer”.The Nazi control of Germany was now totally complete. All areas of opposition had beenremoved by one method or another.
Democracy and the Weimar Republic
Democracy
is the form of government that has come to prevail in the majority of states at the beginningof the Twenty First Century. Democracy means ‘rule by the people’ and was first tried in some of thecity-states of Ancient Greece. The essential point of democracy is that people are able to choose who theywish to be their rulers.In 1919, Germany became democratic for the first time. Up until the end of the First World War,Germany had been ruled by the
Kaiser
. Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated and government passed from royalhands to an elected government known as the
Weimar Republic
. This was so-called because the Germancapital, Berlin was under the control of 
Communists
and the new government was forced to meet inWeimar instead.The Weimar Republic was a democracy. The German people voted for 
Members of Parliament
torepresent them in Parliament (
Reichstag
). The political party that gained a majority large enough to winvotes formed the
government
. The leader of that party became the Prime Minister (
Chancellor
) andministerial posts were given to other prominent members of the party. To keep a check on the actions of the new government, a head of state (
President
) was elected. This person did not run Germany on a dayto day basis that was the Chancellor’s job. The relationship between Chancellor and President was similar 
 
to the relationship between Monarch and Prime Minister in the UK today. In 1933 Hitler took both positions (President and Chancellor) illegally, and gave himself the title of Fuhrer.The Weimar Republic faced many problems. One of the worst was the fact that German political partiesfound it difficult to win enough votes to gain an overall majority in the Reichstag. This meant thatwhenever there was a vote, to pass a new law for instance, no single political party had enough MPs to push a law through on its own. The Weimar Republic had too many political parties representingrelatively small sections of the population. What was needed were fewer parties with widespread appealso that one could get enough support to form a strong government that could pass laws and make changesto the benefit of the German people. The solution to this problem was for political parties to make
coalitions
i.e. share power. The problem was that these coalitions were often temporary and they found itdifficult to agree.Another problem was that the Weimar Republic was generally blamed for surrendering in 1918 andsigning the Treaty of Versailles. Many political extremists, particularly the
right-wing
groups such as the Nazis, picked up this theme. Germany had no tradition of democracy in 1919 and there was no reason tosuggest at this point that it would survive for long. The Weimar Republic faced serious competition fromCommunist,
left-wing
revolts in major cities such as Berlin and from right-wing,
paramilitary
groupssuch as the Nazis who were supported by wandering bands of ex-servicemen called
freikorps
. Tocompound the mess Germany faced severe economic difficulties that made many ordinary Germans look to strong extremist groups to solve Germany’s problems rather than to the relatively weak, but moderateand democratic Weimar Republic.Despite these difficulties, the Weimar Republic began to enjoy some success under Gustav Stresemanwho dominated it from 1923-1929. However, democracy in Germany was far too weak to survive themortal blow that was inflicted by the world-wide economic depression that was caused by the Wall St.Crash of 1929. Germany suffered badly and by 1933, many Germans were prepared to support the Naziseven if it meant an end to democracy.Democracy had triumphed in 1918. By 1939 there were very few democracies left in Europe and the restof the world. Communists and fascists had delivered credible alternatives and democracy was viewed asweak and out-dated by many. The dark days of the mid-century crisis seemed to indicate that democracyhad failed and would be swept away. Nevertheless democracy survived and by the end of the century ithad become the dominant political ideal once more.In October 1929, Stresemann, the most able minister in the government, died of a heart attack. Hewas only 51 years old. Soon afterwards, the American stock market centred on Wall Street in NewYork, collapsed. The effects of this were felt across the world and the period became known as theDepression.
The main features of the Nazi totalitarian dictatorship were:
The one-party state was a police state where the power of the authorities was supreme.
Law and order was tightly controlled by the SS and Gestapo.

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