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The Fight | Article

Nazis in the News: 1933

Berlin, 1933: Hitler Becomes Chancellor

In January 1933, Adolf Hitler, a popular German politician who had launched his career in the beer halls of Munich, reached the top of German government in a political compromise.

Known for inflammatory speeches and for his stances against Jews and Communists, Hitler won supporters by speaking out against the post-World War I terms that had punished Germany. Those terms, written in the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, weakened the German military, seized control over some of its industry, and took away some of its territories.

In the U.S., Hitler's rise was front-page news and, for some, cause for worry.

The [Philadelphia] Evening Bulletin, January 30, 1933
Hitler Selected as Chancellor in Divided Cabinet

Adolf Hitler today was named Chancellor of Germany and the Republic has entered upon an adventure whose ending cannot be foreseen.

Hitler, 43-year-old chief of the National Socialists or Nazis, is not dictator of Germany and insofar his dream has not come true.

Hitler Amazing in Action
It is obvious that the old Field Marshal [and President, Paul von Hindenburg] does not in the slightest degree intend to give Hitler a carte blanche or allow him to install Fascism and a permanent dictatorship of his Brown-shirts, if it can be prevented.

The question is, can it be prevented?

The President wants to tame Hitler and make him serviceable to a national conservative, but not to a Fascist State. Hitler has obviously other notions and, whatever controls President von Hindenburg may have thought well to spin around him, the fact remains that his appointment as Chancellor is a stupendous event.

In approximately 14 years Hitler has brought into being the greatest popular movement Germany has ever seen -- one of the greatest that history registers. This insignificant appearing little man with a Charlie Chaplin moustache is one of the world's greatest demagogues and a first class politician....

Hitler's energy is simply colossal; he is the hardest working politician in Europe. His capacity for traveling and speechmaking -- he can talk, hour after hour to a crowd which he has managed to lay hold of and will not let go -- is unrivaled in the contemporary world.

Controls Gigantic Organization
His importance does not lie in anything he says, but in the fact that he has managed to organize and capitalize on all of the many sorts of dissatisfaction that honeycomb contemporary Germany.

Furthermore, he controls an enormous party organization....

From time to time he has declared his intention of repudiating the Versailles Treaty, the reparations, and all other "unjust burdens" which the Allies place upon his country.

"Heads will roll!" he shouted in one speech, and the slogan has echoed through many campaigns. Lately, however, there have been indications of moderation.

The Cleveland Press, January 30, 1933
Hindenburg Names Hitler Chancellor after Compromise

Adolph Hitler rose to power in Germany today on the rising tide of his militant Fascism.

The desperate political experiments of the last two years were culminated when President Paul Von Hindenburg entrusted the chancellorship to the fiery little Austrian from Munich, foe of Jews and Communists and leading exponent of a belligerent German nationalism....

U.S. Unruffled by Hitler Rise
Washington, Jan. 30 -- High authorities here regard with complacence Adolph Hitler's rise to power in Germany.

Official comment was withheld on his appointment today on the ground that it was an internal German affair. But several authorities indicated they had faith that Hitler would act with moderation compared to the extremist agitation on his recent election campaigning much of which was regarded outside Germany as highly "inflamatory."

Hitler once promised that when he attained power "heads will roll." He has denounced the Treaty of Versailles and been regarded in France and Poland as a potential threat to the peace of Europe. But many authorities here believed his acquisition of power might be better for Germany and for Europe that the alleged menace of his shadow constantly hovering near power as it has for two years. Experts based this belief on past events showing that so-called "radical" groups usually moderated, once in power.

The Cleveland Press, January 31, 1933
Herr Hitler

Appointment of Hitler as German chancellor may not be such a threat to world peace as it appears at first blush... In any event, it is important to remember that Hitler is a tool of the big industrialists, the Ruhr magnates, who have helped to finance his movement and furnished most of the brains for its leadership. Though those industrialists are nationalists, it is not likely that they will permit Hitler to provoke a foreign war at this time.

The [Chicago] Daily Jewish Courier, February 6, 1933
Race Fanaticism and Anti-Semitism

For the race fanaticism which is raging today in Europe and especially in Germany, the Jews are an alien, hostile, entirely inferior race...

An Adolf Hitler proudly proclaims, "A people of pure race, conscious of its blood, will never be enslaved by the Jew." This statement is just as characteristic of the blind nationalism and race fanaticism of the Hitler movement, as it is in opposition to reason...

But, the worst of it is that the masses give credence to such madness, and in times of chaos as today, place more trust in such perversions than in religion and logic or in the ideals of religion -- humanity and the rapprochement of peoples. There is no rational answer to the irrationalism of this race ideology which incites hatred and annihilation.

Berlin, 1933: The Enabling Act
After becoming Chancellor, Adolf Hitler consolidated his power rapidly. Amid unrest and political intimidation, including an attempt to burn down the Reichstag (Germany's legislative building), the Nazis emerged from the March 5, 1933 election with majority control of the Reichstag.

The new group of legislators passed the Enabling Act on March 23, legally granting Hitler dictatorial power for a term of four years. (The end of the term would not be observed.)

Opposition was quickly squashed. Hitler removed power from the German states and centralized it in Berlin. Labor unions were abolished, as were political parties other than the Nazi party. And a campaign against German Jews -- one percent of the nation's population -- began. At the same time, Hitler's propaganda minister waged a campaign to assure the world the stories of anti-Semitism were false.

In the U.S., newspapers reported on events with a watchful eye.

The Cleveland Press, March 24, 1933
Act Gives Hitler Absolute Power

The enabling act giving Adolf Hitler, chancellor of Germany, four years of absolute power of dictator, provides:

CHANCELLOR will proclaim laws without signature of president.
NO REFERENDUM on laws and they will not need the approval of the Reichstag.
TREATIES in absolute control of dictator.
BORROWING power and budget making rests with cabinet without parliamentary approval.
LAWS proclaimed by the chancellor may deviate from the Constitution so long as they do not infringe upon the institutions of the Reichstag.

The Cleveland Press, March 24, 1933
Hitler, Facing Boycott, Hits 'Propaganda'

The Hitler government, confirmed yesterday as an absolute dictatorship for four years, turned its attention today to the twin problems of answering atrocity reports abroad and meeting threats of an economic boycott by Jewish business men in foreign lands...

An immediate answer to the atrocity reports came from the Hitlerite newspaper, Voelkischer Beobachter, which announced that the government would take drastic measures against newspapers disseminating such reports... The suggested action included exclusion of the newspapers from mail facilities in Germany...

The Cleveland Press, March 25, 1933
Nazis Round Up Jews, Emigres Since the War

Freeze Bank Accounts of Those Trying to Flee to Poland, Russia

Conflicting stories as to whether the Jews are being persecuted in Germany continued to come out of the censored realm today...

Police in the Palatinate (Rhenish Bavaria) have ordered all Jews who migrated there after 1914 to report to police headquarters, and the bank deposits and passports of the many who attempt to flee the country instead of obeying that order are being confiscated...

Hermann Goering, Chancellor Adolph Hitler's chief aid, appealed to the press today for fairness in reports on conditions in Germany. He said foreign propaganda alleging atrocities on German Jews was more likely to harm them than help them.

"None of the stories really are true," he said.

He admitted he saw two people very badly beaten, but added it was "for reasons which in the United States would have led to lynching" He said neither the Reich nor the Prussian government intended to pass discriminatory laws, and never would allow a person to be persecuted because he is a Jew.

The world should recognize, Goering said, that Germany stemmed the Communist deluge and saved Occidental culture...

Germany newspapers were bitter in their denunciations of the American press yesterday and today. Over their front pages were spread charges that the American newspapers were willfully spreading propaganda.

The German newspapers characterized the stories of anti-Semitic atrocities as being reminiscent of the stories circulated in America to whip up the war-hatred during the early days of the World War.

The Cleveland Press, March 25, 1933
The Week in World Affairs

by F. H. Sterbenz

The week brought a flood of charges, chiefly among recent emigres, that Jews are being persecuted in Germany. Reports tell of the closing of Jewish shops, the forced resignations of Jewish physicians and surgeons, professors and musicians, and many instances of physical violence....

The German government, however, denounced the reports as being false, said Germany is quiet, prepared to take action against correspondents.

The Cleveland Press, March 25, 1933
Hitler Terror

Hitler atrocities against Jews and political opponents in Germany have provoked great waves of protest in virtually all civilized countries.

There is nothing much our government or any foreign government can do, except to insist on the protection of its own citizens unlucky enough to be caught in Germany at such a time. That is the convention of international law -- one government does not interfere, as a rule, with another sovereign government in the treatment of the latter's subjects.

This rule, however heartless it may appear at first glance, has in general worked for peace between nations; otherwise, nations would constantly be in danger of drifting into war over domestic disputes.

But this does not mean that effective action is impossible. the kind of mass protest now arising against the terror is apt to be more effective in the long run than foreign governmental action. When Americans cancel their sailings on German ships, when the English boycott German goods, as they are now doing, the pressure becomes very acute even on a Hitler. Even those German business interests which have helped to raise him to power may realize their folly.

The Cleveland Press, March 27, 1933
Nazis Renew Drive On Jews; Boycott Shops

Anti-Semitism Blamed on Attempts to "Smirch" Germany's Recovery

Retaliatory measures against Jews in Germany were decided on by the Nazi Party today to balance what it calls "atrocity propaganda" being circulated in foreign countries...

Retaliation will take the form of a boycott of Jewish goods and shops, a sharp reduction of the number of Jewish students permitted at German universities and curtailment of the licenses granted to practicing Jewish physicians and lawyers...

Several thousand supposedly dangerous persons, mostly Communists, are held in various prisons all over the country, and are becoming a problem. One solution considered is placing them in concentration camps until the situation calms down, when disposition can definitely be made of them...

The campaign will be encouraged by mass meetings and newspaper articles which will keep the anti-Semitism question alive... [Reports indicated] special campaign committees would be formed tomorrow to start a wave of propaganda "to enlighten the nation about the facts of the role the Jews play in Germany..."

In the meantime ousting of Jews from influential positions in Germany will be continued "until the house is cleansed," but not by means of a pogrom. Dr. Ernst Hanfstaengl, chief of the foreign press section of Chancellor Hitler's organization, said in a statement today,

"If we had wanted to conduct a pogrom against the Jews, it would all have been over now," he said.

"The Jews who already have been ousted were put out because they were morally and politically unfit to safeguard German interests."

Jews "Too Influential"

Asked the basis of the current wave of anti-Semitism in Germany Dr. Hanfstaengl said,

"In the last 14 years Jewry has achieved positions of influence which it has grossly misused morally, financially and politically in an unheard-of manner, with the result that the German people crumbled morally, financially, and politically."

"The same Jewry now is seeking to smirch Germany's renaissance.

"Anti-Semitism is not based on strictly religious grounds and is not directed against the Jewish faith as such. However, all German Christians resent and denounce the fact that the Jews have been the chief advocates of atheism. They have influenced the workers' children through the Communist youth organizations, of which they are the leading spirit..."

Resent Rise to Power
The Nazis particularly resent instances where Jewish immigrants -- estimated at 160,000 since 1914 -- have risen to positions of commercial and financial power...

The preponderance of Jews in municipal and state hospitals, many of which have more than 50 percent Jewish staffs, as well as the heavy post-war incursions in the legal, educational, administrative, and cultural fields, also is resented by the Nazis.

The success of the Jews... is bitterly contrasted with unemployment and hunger among millions of others in Germany. The Nazis seemingly are convinced that virtually all of the 600,000 Jews in Germany are well fed and have good positions.

The [Philadelphia] Evening Bulletin, March 27, 1933
Germany Moves To Halt Humors

Joseph Goebbels, chief of propaganda, announced today that as a result of a conference with Chancellor Hitler his department will launch "sharp counter-active measures" against those responsible for reports of atrocities against German Jews...

Konstantin von Neurath, German Foreign Minister, today sent the following cablegram to Cardinal O'Connell, of Boston:

"According to newspaper reports representatives of the Catholic clergy will take part in large protest meetings at Madison Square Garden in New York, and elsewhere, tonight against alleged pogroms against German Jews."I beg to assure your Eminence that such allegations are devoid of all foundation.

"The recent national revolution in Germany, which aims at stamping out the Communist danger and cleaning the public life of Marxist elements, has proceeded with exemplary order. Case of disorderly conduct have been remarkably few and trifling."Hundred of thousands of Jews carry on their lives throughout Germany as usual...

"I would deplore it if the Catholic clergy should lend a hand in action against Germany's good name."

Baron von Neurath... said Jewish "propagandists" abroad are giving "the impression that they actually halt at nothing, not even lies and calumny, to fight the present German government."

The Cleveland Press, March 27, 1933
U.S. Finds Nazis Virtually End Mistreating German Jews

The American embassy in Berlin reports that physical mistreatment of Jews in Germany has been "virtually terminated."

The report was summarized by Secretary of State Hull in a letter to two Jewish leaders, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise of New York City and Cyrus Adler of Philadelphia.

Answering a criticism that the report from Germany sounded as though it had been written by the German Foreign Office, the State Department said today it was intended to render the best possible service to the Jews in Germany in the light of the official facts that have come to the United States...

The findings, briefly summarized in Mr. Hull's letter last night, were:

For a short time there was "considerable physical mistreatment" of Jews by Hitler's brown-shirted Nazis...

Some Jewish stores were picketed and Jewish professional men discriminated against...

Hitler, as leader of the Nazi party, called on his followers to maintain law and order, and to avoid molesting foreigners, disrupting trade and the creating of embarrassing international incidents....

The [Philadelphia] Evening Bulletin, March 27, 1933
The American government will not protest the mistreatment of Jews in Germany in as much as official reports indicated this has stopped.

Nevertheless, Secretary of State [Cordell] Hull assured the American Jews who requested an official investigation that he would continue to watch the situation closely...

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