Nazi Terror


After Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in January 1933, he moved quickly to turn Germany into a one-party dictatorship and to organize the police power necessary to enforce Nazi policies. He persuaded his Cabinet to declare a state of emergency and end individual freedoms, including freedom of press, speech, and assembly. Individuals lost the right to privacy, which meant that officials could read people's mail, listen in on telephone conversations, and search private homes without a warrant.
Hitler also relied on terror to achieve his goals. Lured by the wages, a feeling of comradeship, and the striking uniforms, tens of thousands of young jobless men put on the brown shirts and high leather boots of the Nazi Storm Troopers (Sturmabteilungen).Called the SA, these auxiliary policemen took to the streets to beat up and kill some opponents of the Nazi regime. Mere fear of the SA pressured into silence other Germans who did not support the Nazis.
On March 31, 1933 Adolf Hitler replaced elected officials in state governments with Nazi appointees. One of the first steps in establishing centralized Nazi control in Germany was the elimination of state governments. Hermann Goering, a leading Nazi, became the minister-president of Prussia, the largest German state. By 1935, state administrations were transferred to the central government in Berlin.

SS Guards

Nazi Storm Troopers (SA) and police occupied the offices of trade unions in May of 1933. Trade union officials and activists were terrorized. The trade unions' records were impounded and their assets seized. The unions were forcibly merged with the Nazi organization, the German Labor Front. Independent labor representation is was abolished.

In July 1933, all political parties except the Nazi party were dissolved. The Nazi party was the only political party permitted in Germany, a situation that lasted until the military defeat of Germany in 1945. Germany became a one-party dictatorship. Membership in the party increased to 2.5 million in 1935, and ultimately to 8.5 million by 1945.

Adolf Hiltler signed an agreement with the Vatican that it believed would prevent the persecution of Catholics in Germany. The treaty between the German government and the Vatican (the highest authority in the Roman Catholic church) guaranteed Catholics the freedom of private religious practice, but dissolved Catholic political and trade union organizations. The Vatican (which had the status of a sovereign state) was the first state to formally recognize the legitimacy of Adolf Hitler's government. Despite the treaty, the Nazis continued to persecute Catholic religious and cultural organizations, priests, and schools.