Germany History – The Third Reich Part II

To calm the apprehensions aroused by his abrupt move, Hitler insisted in various declarations on the will for peace of the new Germany and began negotiations for a non-aggression pact with Poland, while denying any intention of revenge: on this point the electoral campaign in grand style, directed by the Minister of Propaganda, J. Goebbels. The plebiscite of 12 November 1933 gave these results: out of 43,452,613 votes there were 40,601,577 in favor (95%), 2,100,765 against and 750,271 null. 95% of those eligible had voted. The simultaneous election of the new Reichstag on a single list of ten names (including the names of the National Socialist leaders as well as those of F. von Papen and A. Hugenberg), gave similar results.

After the plebiscite, German foreign policy evidently aimed at getting out of isolation. While refusing to participate in the discussions in Geneva relating to the Saar question, the German government took the initiative of direct negotiations with France on the question of disarmament: negotiations which, if they did not lead to an agreement, served, at least, to determine the points. substance of the dispute: duration of the agreement, counting of the numbers, German request to immediately possess defensive weapons.

The rapprochement with Poland led to a new convention on January 26, 1934, for which the two governments undertook for 10 years to resolve pending issues directly and peacefully. With Austria, on the other hand, relations became even more tense; to the complaints of the Austrian government for National Socialist intrusions and the threat of an appeal to the League of Nations, A. Hitler on January 30 replied in a polemical tone and in a substantially negative way. After other Austrian protests and the bloody Viennese days of February, France, England and Italy published a joint declaration on the 17th in which they reaffirmed their intention to safeguard the independence of Austria.

With regard to the interior, alongside the winter assistance work, an adjustment policy took place. Some of the misdeeds of the monarchists were quickly liquidated and their associations dissolved and banned. The Reichstag, convened on January 30, 1934, passed a law by which the legislative representations of the Länder were suspended and the central government was authorized to enact new constitutional laws. Under this law, the Reichsrat, the federal council of the Reich, in which the individual states were represented in proportion to their population, was abolished. Also suppressed were the diplomatic representations of the Länder in Berlin.

The most important provision in the social field for the arrangement of employment relationships was the law of January 20, 1934, which, also applying in this field, beyond the principles of honor, fidelity, responsibility, hierarchy, solidarity, also the ancient Germanic concepts of leader (Führer) and later the faithful (Gefolgschaft), wanted to give the life of companies an ethical character.

According to homeagerly, the new system conceives the company as a hierarchical community governed by a responsible head, the entrepreneur, assisted, as regards the internal life of the company, by a “council of trust” (Vertrauensrat). The boss decides in front of the workers, who owe him loyalty; but he must take care of their well-being, as he must keep in mind the interest of the national community. The “council of trust”, appointed by the employees on a list proposed by the head and trustee of the National Socialist corporate groups and made up of elements registered with the Labor Front and of sure national faith, must settle disputes, assist workers, suggest measures suitable for improving productive activity and working conditions. Against the provisions of the chief, the council may appeal to the district labor trustee, who has the power to modify them. In each district a court of honor, presided over by a magistrate, will function as a labor court. Among the penalties provided there is also the denial of the ability to be head of a company. In general, the most important point in the relationship between entrepreneur and employees is that of honor.

During 1934 the Nazi regime faced some settlement crises, which resulted in a further centralization of powers and a strengthening of its team. The political struggle between right and left had been transferred to the heart of the party itself and its organizations: a conflict of tendencies and ambitions, also connected to phenomena of corruption, resulted in the arrest and execution of Ernst Röhm on 30 June. chief of staff of the SA departments, of a considerable number of senior hierarchs linked to Röhm himself, of the ex-chancellor K. von Schleicher and of some personalities of the ancient right and the Catholic center. Hitler assumed full responsibility for the repression. As a result of the crisis, the SA departments were reduced in number, while the SS formations gained importance (Relays of protection), promoted to an autonomous department, and their leader H. Himmler, placed at the head of the German police. The Reichswehr, through the mouth of Minister W. von Blomberg, expressed its gratitude for the repression of a movement essentially directed against it.

On 2 August the old Marshal von Hindenhurg, president of the Reich, passed away. Hitler immediately assumed supreme power, unifying in his person the office of head of state and that of chancellor, but replacing the title of president of the Reich with that of Reichsführer. By order of Minister von Blomberg, the army and navy swore an immediate oath of allegiance to the new head of state. On 19 August a plebiscite sanctioned the decision with 38 million votes out of 43 million voters.

This centralization of powers corresponded to the process of unification of the entire national life. On February 7, the nationality of the Länder was abolished, in the sense that there were now only direct citizens of the Reich. Shortly thereafter, the financial and postal administrations were unified. On 7 December the judicial sovereignty was taken away from the states with the abolition of their ministries of justice. Finally, a law on the lieutenants of the Reich abolished the functions of the presidents of the ministers of the states, which were entrusted to the lieutenants. However, they were assimilated to the superior provincial presidents of Prussia, that is, to administrators of states in the name of the Reich. Germany was thus divided into 22 districts: 12 Prussian provinces and 10 Länder (Bavaria, Saxony, Württemberg, Thuringia, Rhenish Hesse, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Lubecea, Oldenburg-Bremen, Brunswick-Anhalt, Lippe-Schaumburg-Lippe). A special regime was maintained in Prussia, where the Führer had directly delegated the Prime Minister H. Göring, but where a number of ministries were certainly merged with the corresponding Reich ministries.

Germany History - The Third Reich 2