January 30th 1933
Adolf Hitler was appointed Germany’s Chancellor on January 30th 1933. Little is known about what Hitler thought about the day but his future propaganda minister,Joseph Goebbels, kept a diary and his entries for January 30th 1933 give a good insight into what went on during that chaotic day.
In the November 1932 election for the Reichstag, the Nazi Party had gained most seats (196) but did not have a big enough number of Reich deputies to form a government. The largest parties after the Nazis were the Social Democratic Party (121) and the Communists (100). The thought of these two parties forming a left-wing coalition was unacceptable to the ailing President, and former Field Marshal, Hindenburg. It was the president’s right to appoint a chancellor and traditionally this was the leader of the largest party. If Hindenburg appointed Hitler he would have found it impossible to govern with such a large bloc of votes on the left. However, at this stage, parties politically to the right of centre remained wary of Hitler and he had no interest in sharing power with anyone. Hindenburg therefore appointed an army general, Kurt von Schleicher, to be Chancellor. Schleicher had a military background and found himself out of his depth as a political leader. Political deadlock occurred and the general political chaos that existed in Berlin suited Hitler as he touted himself to be the best man to sort it out.
The diary entry made by Goebbels for January 26th 1933 stated that:
“Von Schleicher’s position is definitely shaken. The last word lies with the President of the Reich.”
On the next day’s entry Goebbels noted that Hitler had a meeting with the Farmer’s Federation and that “all of these have taken up their stand against Schleicher. There is only one way out. Hitler must become Chancellor.”
In fact, Schleicher resigned on January 28th and Goebbels wrote that “nobody is left but the Leader (Hitler)” and that “the Leader’s assurance is marvellous. Once again he has been proved right.” On the same day, von Papen was sounded out by Hindenburg about forming a cabinet with Hitler. Von Papen was a conservative but his many friends warned him about going into such a political pact with Hitler. However, a rumour circulated that von Schleicher was going to use the army for a coup and “I (von Papen) made up my mind to get the cabinet (with Hitler) formed as quickly as we could.”
Goering apparently told Hitler that he would be appointed Chancellor on January 30th with the only issue causing any form of issue was Hitler’s belief that he could not work with the Reichstag that was formed in the November 1932 and that a new election had to be called.
On January 30th 1933, Goebbels made the following entry into his diary:
“Torturing hours of waiting. At last a car draws up. The Leader is coming. A few moments later he is with us. He says nothing and we all remain silent also. His eyes are full of tears. It has come! The Leader is appointed Chancellor of Germany. The final decision has been made. Germany is at a turning-point in her history.”
Von Papen is said to have commented on January 30th:
“No danger at all. We have hired him for our act. In two months time we’ll have pushed Hitler so far into a corner, he’ll be squeaking.”
While Hitler is not known to have recorded the events that unfolded after Hindenburg had offered him the position of Chancellor, Goebbels did. He wrote that a torch light procession through Berlin started at 19.00 and went on until 01.00 the next morning. The procession included the SA, Hitler Youth, “men and women with children held up high to see the Leader’s window.” Hitler took the salute of the procession at a window at the Chancellory building. A radio broadcast caught presumably members of the SA singing: “When the blood of the Jews spurts from our knives, everything in the world will be twice as fine.” Goebbels ended the entry for January 30thwith the words “Germany has awakened!”
However, the Nazi propaganda machine had yet to embed itself into Germany. It is said that there was no official photographer at the parade and that any film or photos that emerged were staged on the following day.