Rise of the Nazis episode 2 – The First Six Months in Power: At the start of 1933, Hitler is the chancellor of Germany but he does not have absolute power – there is still a democratic parliament beneath him, a head of state above him and the rule of law hanging over him. Hitler sets his sights on dismantling the German state. When Hitler calls a general election to increase Nazi representation in the Reichstag, Hermann Goring sees an opportunity to impress by taking out the left-wing opposition. Goring orders a raid on the Communist Party HQ in the hope of finding evidence of a planned uprising. He doesn’t find it, but when a fire breaks out in the Reichstag it is an opportunity to pin the blame on the left. Goring then has the green light to use the stormtroopers to brutally round up communists and social democrats – terror reigns in German streets..
Thousands of arrests have been made but to make them legal, Hitler calls on president von Hindenburg and a decree is passed giving the Nazis emergency powers to ban free speech, the right to protest and to arrest without charge. When the Reichstag burned the Nazis persuaded the German people and their president that this was the first sign of a left-wing insurrection. The ensuing fear of left-wing violent lawlessness means that Hitler can push through another law that suspends democracy, allowing him to act without the approval of parliament. Soon, the first laws to restrict the freedom of the Jewish population are passed. One Jewish baker is found dead with a swastika carved into his chest.
Rise of the Nazis episode 2 – The First Six Months in Power
Goring has eradicated the Nazis’ parliamentary opposition. He is rewarded with more power and more prestige. Another Nazi wants this type of power and influence but in early 1933 Henrich Himmler is based in Munich, not Berlin. He is the unassuming, uncharismatic head of an elite force of fanatical Nazis known as the SS. Himmler wants to make the SS the central institution in Germany in charge of political repression. Now that Himmler can arrest perceived Nazi opponents indiscriminately, he needs somewhere to put them.
He gives a press conference regarding the opening of a camp to re-educate political prisoners. It has a capacity of around 5,000. The camp is near the small town of Dachau.
In April 1933 a 39-year-old deputy state prosecutor called Josef Hartinger receives a telephone call. Four detainees have tried to escape from the camp at Dachau, three have been shot dead. Under German law it is Hartinger’s job to investigate these unnatural deaths. He visits Dachau and sees the bodies – he realises something is very wrong. The official story just doesn’t add up and it is strange that all the dead happen to be Jewish. Hartinger is sure these deaths are murders and that they are not an isolated case. He collates enough evidence to implicate the commandant of Dachau in the murders.
This means going up against Himmler, whose power is growing. Himmler is in the process of bringing every state in Germany under SS control. He does not want the wider world to know that Dachau is a place of savage brutality and murder.
Rise of the Nazis episode 2
Hartinger’s boss will not go against Himmler’s authority and shuts his deputy down but Hartinger will not be silenced and files a report. Himmler is worried – the SS does not have the right under German law to kill political opponents. To placate his critics, Himmler fires the commandant and as far as the German public are concerned the concentration camps are benign and humane.
Hartinger’s file goes all the way to Berlin and the killings stop at Dachau – it seems like a victory for the law. But Himmler is starting to impress, and he manages to persuade Hitler to block the legal investigations into Dachau. Now Himmler and the SS feel emboldened and the killings continue.
Göring realises he has to take Himmler seriously and that his grip on power could be under threat, but he has his own secret weapon. He has created a surveillance organisation that listens in on anyone that could move against him. To act on the information gathered, Goring creates a new branch of the secret police, known as the Gestapo.
But Himmler wants Goring’s secret police – this is after all his territory. Goring will not relinquish control. These rivalries mean nothing to Hitler – books are being burned, Jewish people, gay people, intellectuals, anyone held to have anti-Nazi beliefs are disappearing. Germany is well on its way to becoming a Nazi dictatorship, but there is a serious obstacle in Hitler’s way: the country’s elderly president.
Nazism – Rise of the Nazis episode 2
Nazism is the ideology and practices associated with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. During Hitler’s rise to power in 1930s Europe, it was frequently referred to as Hitlerism. The later related term “neo-Nazism” is applied to other far-right groups with similar ideas which formed after the collapse of the Nazi regime.
Nazism is a form of fascism, with disdain for liberal democracy and the parliamentary system. It incorporates fervent antisemitism, anti-communism, scientific racism, and the use of eugenics into its creed. Its extreme nationalism originated in pan-Germanism and the ethno-nationalist neopagan Völkisch movement which had been a prominent aspect of German nationalism since the late 19th century, and it was strongly influenced by the Freikorps paramilitary groups that emerged after Germany’s defeat in World War I, from which came the party’s underlying “cult of violence”.
Nazism subscribed to pseudo-scientific theories of a racial hierarchy and social Darwinism, identifying the Germans as a part of what the Nazis regarded as an Aryan or Nordic master race. It aimed to overcome social divisions and create a homogeneous German society based on racial purity which represented a people’s community (Volksgemeinschaft). The Nazis aimed to unite all Germans living in historically German territory, as well as gain additional lands for German expansion under the doctrine of Lebensraum and exclude those whom they deemed either Community Aliens or “inferior” races.
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Germany from 1933 until his death in 1945. He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming the chancellor in 1933 and then assuming the title of Führer und Reichskanzler in 1934. During his dictatorship, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland on 1 September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust, the genocide of about six million Jews and millions of other victims.
Hitler was born in Austria-Hungary and was raised near Linz. He lived in Vienna later in the first decade of the 1900s and moved to Germany in 1913. He was decorated during his service in the German Army in World War I. In 1919, he joined the German Workers’ Party (DAP), the precursor of the Nazi Party, and was appointed leader of the Nazi Party in 1921. And in 1923, he attempted to seize governmental power in a failed coup in Munich and was imprisoned with a sentence of five years. In jail, he dictated the first volume of his autobiography and political manifesto Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”). After his early release in 1924, Hitler gained popular support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and promoting pan-Germanism, anti-Semitism and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda. He frequently denounced international capitalism and communism as part of a Jewish conspiracy.