You are on page 1of 2

“Hitler established a dictatorship by legal means” Explain why you agree or disagree with this view.

A dictatorship is an autocratic government which only has one ruler, known as the dictator. Hitler gradually turned Weimar Germany into Nazi Germany from 1933-34. He achieved this by using legal and illegal means. Hitler tried to be as legal and democratic as possible on his path to Fuhrer, but was not afraid to use violence and illegal means too, such as in the Night of the Long Knives. After the Reichstag was burnt down by Marinus van der Lubbe in 1933, President Hindenburg signed in the Reichstag Fire Decree (or the Decree for the Protection of the People and State) This decree banned the Communist party, which gave the Nazi’s an overall majority in elections so they were the biggest party. The RFD also reduced the civil rights of ordinary people in Germany, and allowed the Nazi’s to imprison anyone who opposed them. The RFD was signed in legally by Hindenburg, although what it stood for was completely illegal, as banning a political party was completely against democracy and was therefore illegal. It was the RFD which gained the Nazi’s the overall majority they needed to change the constitution, by banning the communists it gave Hitler an overall majority. After the RFD, Hitler used his paramilitary SS and SA to intimidate the Reichstag to vote for the “Enabling Act” at the Kroll Opera House. The EA said that the Nazi cabinet could rule without the Reichstag, so effectively the Reichstag voted itself out of existence. It was the EA that turned Germany into a single party state or a legal dictatorship, because Hitler could rule by himself now, without the interference of the Reichstag. The EA was passed by 441 votes to 94. As the communists were banned by the RFD, they could not participate in this vote. It is unclear whether the EA was legal or illegal, as it was signed into action legally by a vote, but the Reichstag was forced into this by intimidation from the SS and SA, so the legality of the signing of the EA is debateable. However, its terms are completely illegal as it turns Germany into a totalitarian, single party state.

so Hindenburg may have only signed the RFD into action due to pressure from Hitler. in which case it was not signed into action legally.It is debateable as to whether Hitler created a dictatorship legally or illegally. but the Reichstag was intimidated by the SS/SA. It is difficult to gauge people’s response to this intimidation as there could be outside factors which made the Reichstag sign the EA. so they may have only signed it due to this intimidation. Both the RFD and EA were signed into action legally. which would have been illegal. . Also. In conclusion I believe Hitler came to power by using illegal means more than legal means as he used pressure to force through his policies. Hitler used the burning down of the Reichstag to make the communists appear threatening to the eyes of the population.