Certainly terror and violence can be said to have played an integral part in bringing about the Nazi’s consolidation of power, as violence was such an important part of Nazism and was never far from the surface. However there were also other factors such as legality, tactical alliances and the successful use of propaganda which in effect contributed a vast amount to the Nazi’s consolidation of power, the Nazis deployed propaganda effectively as a means of deceiving the political nation of their real intentions and significances of their actions, which ultimately led to their consolidation of power.
Terror and violence were prominent factors in allowing the Nazis to consolidate power in 1933, for the reason that violence still had an impact on political developments, even the negotiations between Hitler, Von Papen and Hindenburg took place against the backdrop of well publicized acts of SA brutality. In May 1933 SA members stormed trade union headquarters and disbanded it. This violence led many leaders of the SPD to flee abroad and in June its party was officially banned and the 3000 that remained were arrested and a number were killed.
This ultimately portrays the brutality of the Nazis, which effectively contributed to their consolidation of power. After the Reichstag fire the police were given the powers to detain suspects indefinitely without reference to the courts. The decree ‘For the protection of the people and the state’ was used to justify the arrest, imprisonment and often torture of thousands of political opponents, and on 23 March 1933 Hitler presented the Enabling Act to an intimidated Reichstag in order to consolidate Nazi power.
The Reichstag passed laws which voted itself out of existence; the communists were barred from voting. The brutality of the Nazis’ bought Hitler four years of a dictatorship. The Nazis managed to use terror with efficient ruthlessness and after the Enabling Act was the destruction of local state government; state governments were dissolved and ordered to reconvene with membership that reflected the recent, by the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, Jews and political opponents of the Nazis were thrown out of the civil service.?
The enabling act gave Hitler dictatorial powers which consequently led to the opening of Dachau, a concentration camp outside Munich, where the Nazi’s political prisoners were held in ‘protective custody’. It also gave Hitler the power to suspend civil rights, removing the free press, freedom of speech and the right to freedom of association. It further gave Hitler the power to harass and attack the KPD and the SPD during the March 1933 elections.
Political violence during this stage enabled the Nazis to win a record 43. 5% of the popular vote. This therefore highlights how the Nazi’s used terror as a way of consolidating power, as well as highlighting how the enabling act was one of the main reasons for the Nazis consolidation of power. This is because it allowed Hitler to gain dictatorial power by imprisoning his opponents, rigging elections and suspending civil rights.? Propaganda was another important tool for the consolidation of power.
As Goebbels was largely responsible for bringing Hitler to the centre of the political stage, he was rewarded on 13 March 1933, with the position of Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, which gave him total control of the communications media – which was the radio, press, publishing, cinema and the other arts. From this, a new generation of manipulation was brought forth. Once the takeover was complete, the propaganda ministry was split up into several different departments.
Anyone, who produced, distributed, broadcasted, published, or sold any form of cinema, media, press, or literature had to first join one of the departments and then follow all rules of the department head. That person was usually Joseph Goebbels. Therefore, without a license to practise their businesses, all artists, writers, publishers, producers, or directors could not work or do any business in their field. Also along with these guidelines, came the prohibition of all Jewish newspapers, radio, and cinema.
Certainly, due to the eradication of anti-Nazi publications and media in general, the public must have felt that the general mood of all the media was pro-Nazi. Therefore by disagreeing they would step out of the public mood, and the terror of not conforming due to the total propaganda they were subjected to contributed greatly to the consolidation of power in Nazi Germany. This terror was accentuated further by direct acts of rebellion against the old order, such as the book burning during the spring of 1933. ? Goebbels’ propaganda portrayed the government’s actions as necessary to deal with a national emergency.
Potsdam Day, which featured not just Hindenburg and Hitler, but also many generals, was an orchestrated piece of propaganda, aimed at demonstrating the unity and popularity of the government and the acceptance of the Nazis by traditional conservative elements. Following the success of the Nazis and Conservatives in the Reichstag elections, Potsdam Day was propagandized as a ‘day of national unity’. Hitler and Hindenburg appeared before huge crowds together to send out the message of Nazi and conservative unity, which ultimately legitimized Nazi rule.
To conclude, it appears that the Nazi’s use of terror and violence played a highly significant role in the consolidation of the party’s power in 1933. Through extreme measures of propaganda and intimidation, the party was able to deal with political opponents to maintain control of people’s social, political and working lives, to the extent where Germany became a country where it was unsafe to do or say anything critical of the government. Although not all propaganda was designed for intimidation, the way Hitler consolidated power in 1933made people fearful of opposing him, granting the Nazis absolute control of national and local government.