, Research Paper
Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933 but Hitler did not have the absolute power he desired as the Nazi Party were in a coalition government with the German Nationalists. The Nationalists had nine out of the twelve ministers in power whereas the Nazis only had three. The two Nazi ministers were Herman Goering, Minister of the Interior of Prussia, and William Frisk, Minister of the Reich and Hitler was Chancellor. Hitler called for new elections to take place on 5th March 1933 as he wanted a majority in the Reichstag for him to pass laws to give himself power. Hitler was still very weak in terms of power and had many difficulties to overcome in order to gain complete power. Hitler still did not have a majority in the Reichstag and the Nazis only had three seats in the Cabinet. The President who appointed Hitler could remove him at any time, like Hindenburg had done on many occasions. Von Papen his vice-chancellor was also out to get power for himself and wanted to get rid of Hitler and thought he could do so by pushing him into the proverbial corner. Hitler did not control the army who could also take control using Martial Law and Hitler still did not have the total support of the public as he had not yet delivered on his promises. Hitler also did not have full control of his own party and the S.A. because some of the members wanted Hitler to stick to the left-wing ideas of National Socialism and so he needed to reinforce his own power in his own party and also in the State.
During the election campaign the whole power of the state was used by the Nazis to gain the majority they wanted in the Reichstag. Hitler tried to scare the Germans into voting for him by warning them of a Communist revolution and the Nazis were the only party capable of destroying Communism. All of Hitler s speeches had frightening messages and these messages were reinforced by the Josef Goebbals propaganda machine. His use of posters got the message across to ordinary Germans who better understood pictures than speeches. Hitler s speeches were heard all over Germany as he used modern transport that is the aeroplane to go to all parts of the country and tell them of his beliefs. He also used to give speeches on the radio and so nearly the whole population of Germany could here him.
The main weapon in the election campaign was Herman Goering , the man who controlled Prussia. He used his power to eliminate the opposition mainly Communists. Goering recruited 50,000 S.A. members to the Police. These men now had white armbands to wear over their brown shirts. The police were ordered to use force,
“Police officers who make use of firearms in their duties will benefit from my protection; those who fail in their duty will be punished ” [Source 61 Goering s order to the Prussian Police from (1)]
With this in mind the Prussian police attacked the communists at first but then other opposition parties as well. The victims of these attacks were unprotected as if the police were attacking them no one could help them.
One incident during the run up to the elections help the Nazis put away most of the Communist Party. This incident was the Reichstag Fire which occurred on the night of 27 February, nearly a week before the elections were to take place. The fire was supposedly started by Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch communist, but it is believed that the Nazis themselves started the fire but this is not yet proven. Whoever started the fire we may not know but the Nazis made full use of this incident. They arrested 4000 communists and anti Nazis only hours after the fire. This also reinforced the message of Communists were bad to the ordinary people and so the Nazis gained the good majority, as the Communists could not take part in politics while they were imprisoned, in the March Elections and could now pass the laws they wanted to. Hitler also got Hindenburg to sign a decree which took away certain civilian liberties, this act was called The Decree for the Protection of the People and the State . Hitler used it to control the media and used it to ban opposition party newspapers and only allow Nazi Party Publications into circulation.