holocaust, jewish, extermination, concentration camp, shoah, auschwitz, belzec, treblinka, monowitz, birkenau, night of the long knives,
deportations, judenrat, majdanek, westerbork, chelmno, vught, wannsee, theresienstadt, roma, sinti, night of the broken glass, extermination camps, nazi´s,
hitler, jews, diaspora, jewish council, judenrat, transportation, birkenau, ghetto, hans vanderwerff, sion soeters, aktion reinhard, terezin, himmler, david irving
holocaust denial, holocaust lest we forget, jews, synagogue, oswald pohl, odilo globocnik, deportations, judenrat, majdanek, westerbork, chelmno, vught,
wannsee, theresienstadt, roma, sinti, night of the broken glass, extermination camps, nazi´s, hitler, jews, diaspora, jewish council, judenrat, transportation,
birkenau, ghetto, hans vanderwerff, sion soeters, aktion reinhard, terezin, himmler, david irving, holocaust denial, holocaust lest we forget, jews, synagogue,
oswald pohl, siegfried seidl, protectorate, bohemia, moravia, murmelstein, karl rahm, anton burger, karl hermann frank,
When Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933 it was believed that only he could cement together a coalition with Hugenberg's DNVP and possibly the Center Party to gain majority in the Reichstag. A reluctant Hindenburg, who was the president of the Weimar Republic, was made to believe that Hitler's radical tendencies could be checked by the fact that von Papen held the vice-chancellorship. Other conservative leaders would control important ministries, such as those of war, foreign affairs, and of economics. The Nazi Party was restricted to holding the chancellorship and the as yet powerless ministry of the interior. On the other hand Hermann Göring, who was granted ministerial status without portfolio, was appointed interior minister for the state of Prussia. This gave him supreme control over the largest police force in Germany, a fact that would literally give him power over life and death of millions of people. Not the least over the Jewish people.
The Nazis brought with them an ideology that professed to champion the common man whom they portrayed as victimized in a world controlled by Jews. Anti-Semitism and notion of German racial superiority were at the core of this ideology. Heading the list was the humiliation associated with Versailles. Not far behind was the resentment of big business, banking institutes, department stores, and labor. As well, Nazi objection to divisiveness and suggested inefficiency fostered by political parties.
Neither the 25 point Nazi party program issued in 1920, nor Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf - My Struggle written in 1925 while in prison, contained clear principles of how a new Germany would be structured under the Nazis. However, Hitler and his loyal propagandists had communicated clearly that certain changes would be fundamental and come at the expense of Germany's racial enemies. Racially superior Germans were to be gathered into a tightly knit racial community called Volksgemeinschaft, - Society for the people in which divisions of party and class would be transcended in a spirit of racial harmony. A harmony that would necessarily exclude people of inferior blood. The logic of this thought required a solution to what the Nazis called the Judenfrage - Jewish question. At the very least it called for a reversal of the trend, more than a century old, of Jewish assimilation into the allegedly superior German nation and into German cultural and economic life. As for Germany's position in international affairs, Hitler had clearly spoken of Germany's need for Lebensraum - living space in the east. But first, there was the need to smash the yoke of the hated Treaty of Versailles.
Whether the Nazis would get a chance to implement their ideological objectives depended upon whether they would be able to tighten their slim hold on the reins of power. Liberals, socialists, and communists remained bitterly opposed to Hitler's Nazi ideas. Important segments of business, the army, and some churches were to varying degrees suspicious of the measures he might take. In the end it was a combination of daring and brutality over and against the weakness of his opponents. And of the many instances of extraordinary good luck that allowed Hitler to establish his totalitarian dictatorship. The Center Party refused to join the Nazi-DNVP coalition in January of 1933. Hitler demanded and got elections for a new Reichstag.
The elections, which were held on 5 March 1933, were preceded by a brutal campaign in which Nazi stormtroopers, under the command of Ernst Röhm, figured prominently. Hitler took advantage of the Reichstag - German Parliament fire of 27 February 1933, which was blamed on the work of a dazed Dutch communist named Marinus van der Lubbe, to suspend all civil liberties and arrest Communist as well as other opposition leaders. Despite a campaign of terror the Nazis Party did not win a majority, gaining only 43.9 % of the total. However, the 8 % acquired by the DNVP was enough for both parties to hold to and use the majority op seats in the Reichstag. At its first meeting on 23 March the Reichstag, under tremendous pressure from the SA-Sturmabteilung - Storm Brigade and from the SS-Schutzstaffel - Protective Echelon led by Heinrich Himmler, voted in favor of the Enabling Act which gave Hitler the desired power to ignore the constitution.
Within two weeks after passing the Enabling Act, Nazi governors were sent out to bring the federal states into line, and a few months later the states themselves were abolished. On 7 April 1933 the civil service and the universities were purged of socialists, democrats, and Jews. On 2 May the trade unions were disbanded and replaced by what the Nazis called a Labor Front. In the meantime Göring had begun refashioning the political arm of the Prussian police into a secret political police called the Gestapo - Geheime Staatspolizei - Secret Police to serve the Nazi cause. A process that was duplicated by Himmler with the Bavarian police.
The brutality with which Hitler chose to meet any alleged challenge to his authority became evident in his dramatic ordering of the murder of the SA leadership on the Night of Long Knives, 30 June 1934. Röhm's stormtrooper street thugs had provided useful muscle during the party's long years of struggle, but their continuing inclination for unruliness, Hitler feared, could invite the army's intervention and therewith his own overthrow. To head off this possibility, Hitler engaged the loyal Himmler, who used his SS to purge the SA of dozens of its leaders including Hitler's longtime friend Ernst Röhm. The next to last step in Hitler's seizure of power came on 2 August 1934 when, upon the death of President Hindenburg, he appropriated for himself the powers of the presidency and combined these powers with that of the chancellorship. The final step came in February of 1938 when Hitler took personal command over the three branches of the German armed forces. Kristallnacht - Night of the broken glass, 7 November 1938, was a night of violence orchestrated against the Jewish people and their properties in Germany. It was the beginning of the end for Europe's Jewish communities.