The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                           of the
               International Military Tribunal
                           For The
             Trial of German Major War Criminals

               His Majesty's Stationery Office

                                                    [Page 5]
                    THE SEIZURE OF POWER
In the eight years that followed the publication of Mein
Kampf, the NSDAP greatly extended its activities throughout
Germany, paying particular attention to the training of
youth in the ideas of National Socialism. The first Nazi
youth organisation had come into existence in 1922, but it
was in 1925 that the Hitler Jugend was officially recognized
by the NSDAP. In 1931 Baldur von Schirach, who had joined
the NSDAP in 1925, became Reich Youth Leader of the NSDAP.

The Party exerted every effort to win political support from
the German People. Elections were contested both for the
Reichstag and the Landtage. The NSDAP leaders did not make
any serious attempt to hide the fact that their only purpose
in entering German political life was in order to destroy
the democratic structure of the Weimar Republic, and to
substitute for it a National Socialist totalitarian regime
which would enable them to carry out their avowed policies
without opposition. In preparation for the day when he would
obtain power in Germany, Hitler in January, 1929, appointed
Heinrich Himmler as Reichsfuehrer SS with the special task
of building the SS into a strong but elite group which would
be dependable in all circumstances.

                                                    [Page 6]

On 30th January, 1933, Hitler succeeded in being appointed
Chancellor of the Reich by President von Hindenburg. The
Defendants Goering, Schacht, and von Papen were active in
enlisting support to bring this about. Von Papen had been
appointed Reich Chancellor on 1st June, 1932. On 14th June,
1932, he rescinded the decree of the Bruening Cabinet of
13th April, 1932, which had dissolved the Nazi para-military
organisations, including the SA and the SS. This was done by
agreement between Hitler and von Papen, although von Papen
denies that it was agreed as early as 28 May, as Dr. Hans
Volz asserts in "Dates from the History of the NSDAP", but
that it was the result of an agreement was admitted in
evidence by von Papen.

The Reichstag elections of 31st July, 1932 resulted in a
great accession of strength to the NSDAP, and von Papen
offered Hitler the post of Vice Chancellor, which he
refused, insisting upon the Chancellorship itself. In
November, 1932, a petition signed by leading industrialists
and financiers was presented to President Hindenburg,
calling upon him to entrust the Chancellorship to Hitler;
and in the collection of signatures to the petition Schacht
took a prominent part.

The election of 6 November, which followed the defeat of the
Government, reduced the number of NSDAP members, but von
Papen made further efforts to gain Hitler's participation,
without success. On 12th November, Schacht wrote to Hitler:

     "I have no doubt that the present development of
     things can only lead to your becoming Chancellor.
     It seems as if our attempt to collect a number of
     signatures from business circles for this purpose
     was not altogether in vain .."

After Hitler's refusal of 16 November, von Papen resigned,
and was succeeded by General von Schleicher; but von Papen
still continued his activities. He met Hitler at the house
of the Cologne banker von Schroeder on 4th November, 1933,
and attended a meeting at the Defendant Ribbentrop's house
on 22 January, with the Defendant Goering and others. He
also had an interview with President Hindenburg on 9th
January, and from 22nd January onwards he discussed
officially with Hindenburg the formation of a Hitler

Hitler held his first Cabinet meeting on the day of his
appointment as Chancellor, at which the Defendants Goering, Frick, Funk, 
von Neurath, and von Papen were present in their official capacities. On 
28th February, 1933, the Reichstag building in Berlin was set on fire. 
This fire was used by Hitler and his Cabinet as a pretext for passing 
on the same day a decree suspending the constitutional guarantees of 
freedom.  The decree was signed by President Hindenburg and countersigned 
by Hitler and the Defendant Frick, who then occupied the post of Reich 
Minister of the Interior. On 5th March, elections were held, in which the 
NSDAP obtained 28 seats of the total of 647.
The Hitler Cabinet was anxious to pass an "Enabling Act"
that would give them full legislative powers, including the
power to deviate from the Constitution. They were without
the necessary majority in the Reichstag to be able to do
this constitutionally. They therefore made use of the decree
suspending the guarantees of freedom and took into so-called
"protective custody" a large number of Communist deputies
and Party officials. Having done this, Hitler introduced the
"Enabling Act" into the Reichstag, and after he had made it
clear that if it was not passed, further forceful measures
would be taken, the act was passed on 24th March, 1933.

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