chapter
22 Pages

(A) SEIZURE OF POWER AND GLEICHSCHALTUNG, 1933–5

When Hitler was appointed Chancellor on 30 January 1933 by President von Hindenburg, he became head of a coalition government of ‘national concentration’, in which conservatives seemed clearly to predominate. Apart from Hitler there were at the outset only two Nazis in the Cabinet. Wilhelm Frick became Minister of the Interior; Hermann Göring was at first Minister without Portfolio and on 28 April became Minister of Aviation. Göring also took over the Prussian Ministry of the Interior on an acting basis, and on 10 April became Prime Minister of Prussia, the largest state in the Reich. Nazi membership of the Cabinet was increased by one when Joseph Goebbels, on 13 March, became head of the newly created Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, but to the outward eye this scarcely affected the balance of power. For, in addition to what appeared to be the strong men of the government-Hugenberg, Minister for the Economy and Agriculture, and von Papen, ViceChancellor and Reich Commissar for Prussia-the government contained four more members of Papen’s ‘Cabinet of barons’: von Neurath, the Foreign Minister, Count Schwerin von Krosigk, Minister of Finance, Gürtner, Minister of Justice, and Freiherr von Eltz-Rübenach, Minister of Posts and Communications. Together with von Blomberg, the Army Minister, and Seldte, the Stahlhelm leader who became Minister for Labour, these members of the ‘old guard’ were expected to keep the Nazis under control and ensure conservative policies. Papen’s idea of taming Hitler seemed to have succeeded. ‘We have roped him in’ (wir haben ihn uns engagiert). In these terms von Papen dismissed conservative misgivings on the subject of Hitler and Nazism, and his self-confident assessment was accepted by most observers at home and abroad. ‘In two months we’ll have pushed Hitler into a corner, and he can squeal to his heart’s content.’