Eight Steps to Becoming Dictator

(Rigged German Election Leads To Psychopath Nazi Fuhrer)


After he became Chancellor in January 1933, Hitler transformed his democratic position into dictatorial power.   Calling an election - and taking advantage of the Reichstag fire - he got the Reichstag to pass the Enabling Act.   Then, using the power this gave him to make his own laws, he set up the Gestapo, banned Trade Unions and opposition parties and (on the Night of the Long Knives, July 1934) removed even the opposition within the Nazi Party.   

       When Hindenburg died, Hitler declared himself Fuhrer.



Simple overview

HistoryLearning - wonderful site

Dr Dennis's model answers - very clear and useful exemplar answers, aimed at OCR students



- Scott Allsop's podcast on Hitler's Rise to Power

- Giles Hill: development of the Nazi dictatorship.



Hitler establishes power - BBC video (watch the second part, after 1933)

Mr Portman's great video


The Hitler of Homes and Gardens - an amazing story!

The History Place - detailed narrative.

Hitler Historiography - what historians have said about Hitler over the years.



1     Reichstag Fire - 27 Feb 1933

The Reichstag (the German Parliament) burned down.  A Dutch Communist named van der Lubbe was caught red-handed with matches and fire-lighting materials.    Hitler used it as an excuse to arrest many of his Communist opponents, and as a major platform in his election campaign of March 1933.   The fire was so convenient that many people at the time claimed that the Nazis had burned it down, and then just blamed the Communists.   Modern historians, however, tend to believe that van der Lubbe did cause the fire, and that Hitler just took advantage of it.


History Place - narrative account  

Spartacus site - detailed

Who did it - suggests possibilities

World Socialist website - asserts that the SA were involved


2    General Election - 5 March 1933

Hitler held a general election, appealing to the German people to give him a clear mandate.   Only 44% of the people voted Nazi, which did not give him a majority in the Reichstag, so Hitler arrested the 81 Communist deputies (which did give him a majority).  

Goering become Speaker of the Reichstag.


Spartacus site - good detail

3    Enabling Act - 23 March 1933

The Reichstag voted to give Hitler the power to make his own laws.   Nazi stormtroopers stopped opposition deputies going in, and beat up anyone who dared to speak against it.     

     The Enabling Act made Hitler the dictator of Germany, with power to do anything he liked - legally.


Spartacus site - good detail

History Place - narrative account

4    Local government - 26 April 1933

The Nazis took over local government and the police.   The Nazis started to replace anti-Nazi teachers and University professors.   Hitler set up the Gestapo (the secret police) and encouraged Germans to report opponents and 'grumblers'.   Tens of thousands of Jews, Communists, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, gypsies, homosexuals, alcoholics and prostitutes were arrested and sent to concentration camps for 'crimes' as small as writing anti-Nazi graffiti, possessing a banned book, or saying that business was bad.  


Simple site 

Spartacus site - good detail

History Place - narrative account

5    Trade Unions banned  - 2 May 1933

The Trade Unions offices were closed, their money confiscated, and their leaders put in prison.   In their place, Hitler put the German Labour Front which reduced workers' pay and took away the right to strike.  


6    Political Parties banned - 14 July 1933

The Law against the Formation of Parties declared the Nazi Party the only political party in Germany.   All other parties were banned, and their leaders were put in prison.  


7    Night of the Long Knives - 30 June 1934

The SA were the thugs who Hitler had used to help him come to power.   They had defended his meetings, and attacked opponents.   By 1934 there were more than a million of them.

     Historians have often wondered why Hitler turned on the SA.   But Hitler was in power in 1934, and there was no opposition left - the SA were an embarrassment, not an advantage.   Also, Rohm, the leader of the SA, was talking about a Socialist revolution and about taking over the army.   On the night of 30 June 1934 - codeword 'Hummingbird - Hitler ordered the SS to kill more than 400 SA men.


Simple site 

Spartacus site - detailed

HistoryLearning - excellent

History Place - narrative account

A homosexual Kristallnacht - this gay website see the Night of the Long Knives as homophobia.


Source A

This David Low cartoon from 3 July 1934 shows Hitler (with a smoking gun) and Goering (shown as Thor, the God of War) glowering at - not the traditional Nazi salute - but terrified SA men with their hands up.   Some SA men already lie dead on the ground.   The caption reads: 'They salute with both hands now'.   

Low was fiercely anti-Nazi, and portrays Hitler as a brazen murderer keeping his men in check by naked fear.

Goebbels is shown as Hitler's poodle.


8     Führer - 19 August 1934

When Hindenburg died, Hitler took over the office of President and leader of the army (the soldiers had to swear to die for Adolf Hitler personally).   Hitler called himself 'Fuhrer'.