In 1932, German President Paul von Hindenburg was asleep in his home. His son woke
him with the news that he had defeated Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler and reelection to
the Presidency. “It will still be true in an hour,” he said as he went back to sleep.
Dismissive of the “Bohemian Corporal” as he called Hitler, Hindenburg hoped making
Hitler Chancellor in January 1933 would appease and quiet him. A year later he was
dead, and Hitler folded the powers of the Presidency into his own. He became Führer, or
leader, of all of Germany. He proclaimed the Third Reich, following a history theory that
German unity would be achieved in the Third Kingdom. After The Holy Roman Empire
and Otto von Bismarck, Adolf Hitler proclaimed his rule would last a thousand years.
The Nazis had always used violence to intimidate their opponents, and once Hitler took
office this did not change. In 1933 Buchenwald Concentration Camp was opened for
political prisoners, and after Hitler became the supreme power thousands were sent there.
At first Jews were not sent; the Nazis first focused on the intelligentsia and their political
In March 1933 the Reichstag was set afire in circumstances that remain mysterious. The
Nazis blamed the Communists and history has blamed the Nazis. This last institution of
the Weimar Republic was shut down, and Hitler used this as an excuse to condemn
Communists and socialists to prison.
Hitler and the Nazis moved against those least likely to defend themselves. Disabled and
mentally retarded Germans were sent away to special “hospitals” where they were
forcibly sterilized and eventually killed.
On April 1, 1933, the Nazis organized a boycott of Jewish business. The SA stood in
front of Jewish businesses and intimidated anyone attempting to enter. The next week
Jews were removed from civil service positions. With the year, “non-Aryans” — anyone
with one Jewish parent or grandparent — were removed from practicing professions like
law, banking, medicine, and journalism.
Goebbels, his Minister of Propaganda, gave out radios to the populace and used the mass
media to misinform German citizenry. All non-Nazi organizations were banned. Church
youth groups, farmers’ unions, labor unions, all were made into affiliates of the Nazi
Party. The Hitler Youth, organizations for children, practiced extreme anti-Semitism and
a highly militaristic regimen. Gender segregated, the young girls were taught to express
their Teutonic virtue in motherhood, and to give Greater Germany children. The boys
played military games, learned map reading, glider training, and field maneuvers. Every
organization, from miners to mothers, held Hitler in cult-like fascination. His memoir
from prison after the failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, Mein Kampf (My Struggle,) sold
thousands of copies.
In 1934, the real moves towards the future of Germany began. Thousands of Nazis