HITLER'S RISE TO POWER

Night of the Long Knives and the Reichstag Fire

Night of the Long Knives and the Reichstag Fire

The Night of the Long Knives

Night of the Long Knives - History GCSE RevisionA secondary problem that Hitler had was that he didn’t have total control over his own political movement. There were certain individuals in the Nazi Party who had believed in the socialist part of national socialism, and what Hitler to bring in reforms that would benefit workers. At the same time, there were others who wanted the Nazi paramilitary, the SA, to take over the army.

Hitler saw both these ideas as dangerous, as he still felt he needed to be friendly to businessmen and the military. So between 30 June and 2 July 1934, he arranged for the SS – his own personal, elite military unit that swore an oath of loyalty to Hitler – to murder key opponents in the SA, including its leader. The SA was no longer a threat to Hitler, and the SS took over many of the SA’s old responsibilities.

President Hindenburg dies in August 1934 – and Hitler takes the opportunity to declare himself President as well as Chancellor. And also head of the armed forces. Basically he’s now officially in charge of everything; more than ever, he’s the Fhrer.


The Reichstag Fire

Reichstag Fire 1933 - History GCSE RevisionOn 27th February 1933, a Dutchman named Marinus van der Lubbe set the Reichstag (the German parliament building) on fire. Van Der Lubbe was apparently a Communist, though many people maintain he was either mentally ill or set up by the Nazis. But the important thing here is that the event was a golden opportunity for Hitler to declare a national crisis and use the powers of Article 48. He convinced the President, Paul von Hindenburg, to pass the Reichstag Fire Decree, which allowed groups suspected to be involved in the fire to be rounded up and put in prison without trial. Hitler interpreted this as meaning all of the Nazis opponents; hundreds of communists were arrested, making it impossible for them to campaign in the election.

An election took place in March 1933. In spite of Hitler making use of the fire to get rid of his opponents, the Nazis did not get an overall majority in the Reichstag.