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The Establishment Of Hitler's Dictatorship And Its Legality

1313 words - 5 pages

The Establishment of Hitler's Dictatorship and Its Legality

The career of Adolf Hitler was marked by a spectacular rise to power.
He went from being a nobody in the streets of Vienna to the supreme
leader of one of the most powerful nations on earth. Hitler came to
power through a combination of legal means and backroom politics. The
events leading up to the rise of the Nazis and Hitler are prime
examples of the myriad of factors intertwining in the area of social
action. Economists view the economic conditions as the major reason
for the downfall of the Weimar republic and the rise of the Nazis but
political scientists like to point out the constitutional structure of
the Weimar constitution. According to some it is one of the great
ironies of history that (they think that) Hitler came to power through
legal means.

Nazi domestic policy can be broken into three phases beginning with
1933-34. During these years, Hitler consolidated his authority through
the destruction of all other political parties, "co-ordination" of all
aspects of German life, and the liquidation of dissent among Nazis and
conservatives. After taking office as chancellor, Hitler quickly out
maneuvered Papen and the conservative nationalists.

The Reichstag Fire, February 1933

A new Reichstag election was scheduled for early March 1933. Only a
few days before the election, on February 27, the Reichstag building
was partially destroyed by fire. The Nazis may well have set the
blaze, but they blamed the Communists, charging that the Communists
were plotting to seize power. Hitler convinced Hindenburg to take
strong action against the supposed Communist threat, and the president
suspended freedom of speech and the press and other civil liberties.

March 1933 Election

The Nazis stepped up their harassment of their political opponents,
and the March 5 election was held in an atmosphere of fear and
intimidation. Polling 44 percent of the votes, the Nazis won 288 seats
in the Reichstag. With the support of their conservative nationalist
allies, who held 52 seats, the Nazis controlled a majority of the 647
member Reichstag. The Nazi majority was even more substantial, since
none of the 81 Communist deputies were allowed to take their seats.

The Enabling Act, March 1933

On March 23, 1933, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which gave
dictatorial authority to Hitler's cabinet for four years. Armed with
full powers, Hitler moved to eliminate all possible centers of
opposition. His policy is known as Gleichschaltung, which translates
literally as coordination. In this context, however, it meant more
precisely subordination, that is, subordinating all independent
institutions to the authority of Hitler and the Nazi Party.

It was the Enabling Act of March 23, 1933, which in a legal way

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