How and why was Hitler able to consolidate his position by 1934?

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Harpreet Sekhon

How and why was Hitler able to consolidate his position by 1934?

From 1933 to 1934 the Nazis consolidated power using a mixture of violent and legal methods. There were many factors which enabled Hitler to establish his desired role as Fuhrer, which the new Nazi state revolved around.  Three major factors were the new laws passed, the Night of the Long Knives, and the death of President Hindenburg.  These in turn led Hitler to successfully consolidate his position not only within the Nazi party, but also Germany itself.  


For Hitler to consolidate his position Goebbels set about creating the cult image of Hitler as a national hero who was uniting National Socialism with the forces of old Germany. Goebbels arranged a ceremony at Potsdam Garrison Church, in the presence of president Hindenburg, the crown price, son of the exiled Kaiser and many of the army’s leading generals, with the aim of reassuring people that Hitler could be trusted.  Before the new Reichstag met, a dedicatory service was to be held in the Garrison Church, the new regime was to be pledged to ‘the spirit of Potsdam’ and Hindenburg and Hitler were to shake hands over the tomb of Frederick the Great.  Hindenburg had handed over his command to Hitler. 

Another way that Hitler was able to consolidate his position was the Enabling Act. Passage of this Act would give Hitler dictatorial powers for it transferred, for a period of four years, power from the Reichstag to the government. It gave the Chancellor, rather than the President, the right to draft laws and sign treaties with foreign states. It was passed by an overwhelming vote of 441 to 94.  This was achieved because the communist deputies were banned and the Nazis won the support of the Centre Party.  Their 74 deputies were won over to vote for the Enabling Act by a number of reasons.  Franz von Papen, a leading member of the Centre Party was Vice-Chancellor and his influence was reassuring.  Hitler had also promised that he would not restrict Catholic influence in education.  Additionally, many catholic deputies were intimidated by the threats of the SA and had no wish to suffer the same fate as the communists.  Only the much-harassed SPD deputies voted against the Enabling Act. Laws issued under the Enabling Act abolished the powers of the Lander legislatures and subordinated the state Ministers President to the Ministry of the Interior in Berlin.  This destroyed the entire federal system which had been a crucial part of the Weimar constitution.  As a result of this act, the Reichstag ceased to play an active role in politics and Weimer’s remaining political parties became out of date.  Within three months of becoming chancellor, Hitler had become independent of his conservative allies and the first phase of his seizure of power was completed. 

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Hitler’s next task was to make himself supreme by getting rid of those who would challenge his authority. Armed with his newfound dictatorial powers to govern by decree, he launched a policy of Gleichshaltung. Hitler attempted to coordinate all aspects of German political and social life under Nazi control.  He put this into practise by ensuring the government had control of all key aspects of society, so that there would be little opposition.  The regime developed organisations that the Germans had to join, for example German Labour Front and Hitler Youth.  This ensured the regimes control and that the ...

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