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Sa Purge - June 1934

Oct 08, 1999 1040 Words
The Nazi consolidation of power was a gradual process that took place in many steps and was due to many factors, although a great deal happened in the first few months of Hitler's rule. However, the purge of the SA in June 1934 was a major turning point as it tremendously increased Hitler's power over the state. <br>

<br>By the time Adolf Hitler was elected as Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, the consolidation of power was not having the desired effect. Hitler immediately called another election, and using his newly acquired power, his first step was to ban all newspapers and political meetings, particularly those of the Communists (KPD). He also dissolved the Prussian parliament, which effectively gave Hermann Goring complete control of 60% of Germany's police force. The police support of the Nazi Party was the backing for a violent terror campaign against other political parties, again particularly against the KPD. <br>

<br>This campaign of terror resulted in the Reichstag fire, blamed on the Communists. Some historians believe the fire was started by the Nazis, and was all a ruse to lose more Communist votes and exploit fears of a mass left-wing uprising. Whatever the case, Hitler claimed that the Communists were trying to intentianally thwart the Nazis' election campaign. He asked President Hindenburg for extra powers to deal with any potential hazards, prompting Hindenburg to issue the Decree for the Protection of People and State. This law allowed the government to arrest people at will and also take over provincial governments, and was the first step towards a totalitarian government. It allowed the Nazis to completely smash the Communist election campaign and gain more seats in the Reichstag. <br>

<br>Despite this mass terror campaign, the nazi party still failed to win the majority of seats in the election, gaining under 44% of the votes. However, a majority was eventually gained by the Nazi's winning the support of the Nationalist Party, as well as continuing campaigns of intimidation and scare-mongering. In the March election the Nazi party claimed just over half of the seats in the Reichstag, making them the largrest political party in Germany. <br>

<br>However, the Nazis were not voted for in many Catholic and working-class areas of Germany. This did not stop their drive for power – they simply took control of the state governments and persuaded the Reichstag to pass an Enabling Law, which would give Hitler national power for the next four years. Under SA and SS persuasion, the Catholic party agreed to join the Nazis in voting for the Law to be passed. As only the socialists were voting against it, the majority gained was over two-thirds and Hitler now had the power of a dictator. <br>

<br>Now that Hitler was able to make his own laws, he set about reorganising the German political system so that it was essentially "Nazified." Towards the end of March 1933, Hitler closed down the state parliaments and reorganised them as in the Reichstag, effectively making sure that the Nazis were the largest party in each parliament. He also appointed new Nazi governors to each state, who personally had the power to make and pass state laws. <br>

<br>All trade union offices were closed down and thousands of union officials and representatives were arrested. The union organisations subsequently became the Nazi-run German Labour Front. New political parties were forbidden; parties that fiercely conflicted with the Nazi movement were banned and their leaders arrested, whilst other parties were simply dissolved. Schools were forced to introduce new syllabuses, and media was carefully controlled. By 1934, Germany was a completely autocratic, one-party state. Hitler had wiped out most of his opponents, and his only rivals outside his own party were the Stormtroopers. <br>

<br>At this time Germany had two armies; the normal state army and the military wing of the Nazis – the two-million-strong Stormtroopers (SA). The SA had helped Hitler take power by terrorising his opponents, and now that the Nazis were the most powerful force in Germany, they wanted a bigger role. Their leader, Ernst Röhm, wanted to merge the SA with the regular army, leaving them both under his absolute control. The regular army were not happy with this arrangement, and Hitler was alarmed as a merger would make Röhm the most powerful man in Germany. <br>

<br>Röhm had enemies in the Nazi movement, most notably Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler. The two of them helped to persuade Hitler that something must be done; as Hitler also knew he could not afford to lose the support of the army generals. He finally acted against the SA on 30 June 1934; Röhm and approximately 400 other leaders of the SA were murdered by the SS and army, known as the Purge of the SA, or Night of the Long Knives. Htiler also ordered the murders of the former Chancellor, von Schleicher, and Gregor Strasser, one of his old rivals. <br>

<br>The purge of the SA was a very important step in the Nazi consolidation of power as Hitler had succeeded in wiping out the only real threat to his power and had also gained the support of the army. Shortly after the purge of the SA, Hitler formally explained to the Reichstag his reasons for doing so, omitting the details of the victims who had not been involved with the SA. A law was also passed that made Hitler's actions perfectly legal. <br>

<br>The purge of the SA therefore resulted in a closer alliance between the Nazi state and the army, giving Hitler greater power than ever before. Upon President Hindenburg's death on 2 August 1934, Hitler combined the roles of Chancellor and President to become "Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor", or Fuhrer. On the same day, every member of the army swore an oath of loyalty to him. The only people left in the Nazi state who had the power to oppose Hitler – the people with guns – had sworn complete and total loyalty and obedience to him. Therefore, the purge of the SA had ultimately resulted in Adolf Hitler's unchallengeable power in Germany.

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