How did Hitler become Dictator in 1934?

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How did Hitler become Dictator in 1934?

By Richard Ward  

        Hitler, having been appointed Chancellor by President Hindenburg in January 1933 announced himself Führer in August 1934 after Hindenburg’s death. Hitler’s ascent to the position of Dictator was a combination of luck, ruthlessness and the support of Hindenburg before his death in August 1934. There were, previous to Hindenburg’s death several obstacles that prevented his ascension to total command of Germany.

        Firstly, Papen still had a majority in the German cabinet. His eight members to Hitler’s three made it impossible for the Nazis to pass a resolution without the consent of Papen’s ministers. Secondly, there was the small matter of the German army and their unchangeable loyalty to Hindenburg on two grounds. It was required by the Weimar constitution that the army be under the control of the President, and the army kept very close to this article as Hindenburg had been commander of the German army between 1916 and 1918, the last two years of the Great War. The third obstacle was Hindenburg himself. He had only appointed Hitler as Chancellor reluctantly at the request of Papen and, although warmed to the Nazi cause by the damage done to the Communist party and Potsdam day, was not going to give up his own command of Germany to the man he had so famously referred to as ‘that little Austrian corporal’. Fourthly, the Communist party and their paramilitary ‘Red Front’ were particularly strong in Berlin. The Red Front regularly fought on the streets with the SA and stood in the way of any Nazi attempt to grab power. If the Nazis had attempted to grab control of Germany before the death of Hindenburg, they would have been opposed by the Army, the Communists and any other opponents to Nazi rule. The fifth obstacle to total Nazi control was the existence of the other political parties (such as the Centre Party) and the trade unions. These parties controlled the workers.

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        Hindenburg, at over 80, had turned a little senile in his advanced age. Visibly not the great commander of men that he had been, he was set in his antiquated ‘old-right’ views. These did not often agree with Hitler’s ‘new-right’ ideology. This being said, Hindenburg did help the Nazi ascension to total power in several ways. He was won over in part by Hitler’s destruction of the Communist Party after the Reichstag fire in February 1933. Hindenburg was concerned about a possible SA coup after the March 1933 election and so approved the Night of the Long Knives in June ...

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