18 Major Events During Adolf Hitler's Rise to Power
18 Major Events During Adolf Hitler’s Rise to Power

18 Major Events During Adolf Hitler’s Rise to Power

Larry Holzwarth - October 21, 2018

18 Major Events During Adolf Hitler’s Rise to Power
Hitler’s dominance of the German political apparatus was admired by American supporters in the German American Bund. Wikimedia

16. Hitler controls nearly all aspects of German society

By 1935, the Nazi Party – and by extension its head, Adolf Hitler – controlled nearly all of Nazi society with the notable exception of the churches. Many of these also fell into compliance with Nazi philosophy, particularly in regards to policies concerning Germany’s Jews. Others continued to resist, though often covertly, concerned with the prevalence of the Gestapo and its many spies throughout German society. Throughout the remainder of the 1930s and in fact throughout the ensuing war in Europe, the Nazi regime sought to suppress dissent from the churches and religious schools through the issuance of decrees which eliminated Christian symbols and ceremonies, and which attempted to create a national religion by combining the Christian protestant churches under state control.

A special barracks was erected at the Dachau concentration camp for the imprisonment of clergy, eventually more than 2,700 members of the clergy were imprisoned there, more than 2,500 of them Catholics. Other clergymen of all faiths vanished into Gestapo cells and were never seen again. Hitler promised not to interfere with the practice of religion when he assumed power, a promise he immediately broke, and suppression continued throughout his regime. It was one area of German life which he could not completely bring under his control, though efforts to do so continued until the collapse of the Reich in 1945. Hitler decided not to implement plans for the complete destruction of Christianity in Germany until after the war, when he intended to restore the pagan rituals of Germanic history under a thirty point plan which included replacing the Christian cross with the swastika and the bible with Mein Kampf.

18 Major Events During Adolf Hitler’s Rise to Power
Rather than remain in occupation of the Rhineland France began work on its Maginot Line, here being inspected by American troops in 1944. US Army

17. Hitler’s territorial ambitions begin in the Rhineland

The Versailles Treaty had established that German military forces and fortifications would not be allowed in the area known as the Rhineland, and that Allied forces would not withdraw from the region until 1935. In fact the Allies withdrew their occupation troops in 1929 (British) and 1930 (French) as part of the negotiations over the German payment of war reparations. The year before the French withdrew they began construction of the series of forts along the French frontier which became known as the Maginot Line. For the first half of the 1930s French, Italian, British, and Soviet diplomats maneuvered over various means of containing Germany within its borders, and in 1935 France and the Soviet Union signed a treaty of alliance, which the Germans declared was a violation of the Versailles Treaty.

By 1935 the German economy was again faltering, with inflation and food shortages driving up prices and German support of the Nazi regime falling, especially in the larger cities. Hitler, desirous of a prestige building foreign policy victory, decided to remilitarize the Rhineland in January 1936. Although Goering counseled against the decision and even attempted to persuade Mussolini to dissuade the Fuhrer, the German army marched into the Rhineland beginning in March, 1936, supported by Luftwaffe aircraft. Hitler followed his coup by offering to return Germany to the League of Nations and offered a treaty of non-aggression to the French. France, which was most threatened by the German move, did nothing to oppose it militarily, and Hitler knew from that point that his other territorial desires in Europe were feasible.

18 Major Events During Adolf Hitler’s Rise to Power
A German postage stamp commemorating the Anschluss, which gave Germany access to badly needed raw materials for their ongoing military buildup. Wikimedia

18. The Anschluss unites Germany and Austria

When Hitler wrote Mein Kampf he stated within it his intention to unite Germany and Austria, despite several formerly Austrian territories being occupied by the Italians. As he moved towards annexing Austria Mussolini at first opposed him, until he was personally reassured by the German Chancellor that there would be no demands for the cession of territory by Italy. Hitler’s desire to annex Austria into the Reich has long been explained as being motivated by the desire to unite all of the Germanic people but in fact he had more mercenary reasons for absorbing the Austrian state. Austria was wealthy in many of the materials needed by the ever-increasing German military buildup, including iron and textiles, magnesium, and other products required of the German economy and growing war machine. The primary means by which Hitler convinced the Austrians to support him was through propaganda.

The slogan, Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer was displayed prominently in Germany and Austria, and the Austrian Nazi Party used tactics similar to those it had used successfully in Germany to terrorize opponents and shape public opinion. The Austrian government responded by rounding up Nazis and imprisoning them, leading to a German boycott of Austria. In the mid-1930s Hermann Goering was the loudest voice in Germany calling for Austrian annexation. By 1937 both Austria and Czechoslovakia were targets for German military takeover, to be plundered for their raw materials and industrial bases. Hitler eventually seized Austria though the threat of military invasion and conquest, which was covered by a referendum which established the desire of the Austrian people to join the Reich. Opposition was rapidly suppressed by the SS. The plebiscite vote to ratify annexation was held throughout Germany and Austria and was claimed by the Nazis to represent over 99% approval.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Hitler: 1889-1936”. Ian Kershaw. 1999

“Hitler: A Study in Tyranny”. Alan Bullock. 1962

“Where Ghosts Walked: Munich’s Road to the Third Reich”. David Clay Large. 1997

“Press and Politics in the Weimar Republic”. Bernhard Fulda. 2009

“The Making of a Nazi Hero: The Murder and Myth of Horst Wessel”. Daniel Siemens. 2013

“The European Economy Between the Wars”. Charles H. Feinstein. 1997

“The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”. William L. Shirer. 2011

“Germany: Second Revolution?” Time Magazine staff reports. July 2, 1934

“The law that enabled Hitler’s dictatorship”. Marc von Lupke-Schwarz, Deutsche Welle. March 23, 2013. Online

“Hitler endorsed by 9-1 in poll on his dictatorship, but opposition is doubled”. Frederick T. Birchall, The New York Times. August 19, 1934

“The Nazi Conscience”. Claudia Koonz. 2003

“Hitler Youth: 1922-1945, An Illustrated History”. Jean-Denis Lepage. 2008

“Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of his Evil”. Ron Rosenbaum. 1999

“Germany Reborn”. Hermann Goering. 1934

“Franz von Papen Memoirs”. Franz von Papen, translated by Brian Connell and Andre Deutsch. 1952

“The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-1945”. John S. Conway. 1968

“Hitler, Intelligence and the decision to remilitarize the Rhine”. Zach Shore, Journal of Contemporary History. January 1999

“Inside the Third Reich”. Albert Speer. 1997