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Third German Empire 1933-1945 (Third Reich)

Deutsches Reich

Last modified: 2019-02-17 by pete loeser
Keywords: third reich | nsdap | swastika |
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[Third Reich 1933-1945 (Germany)]   3:5     Image by Mark Sensen and António Martins
Flag adopted on 14th March 1933 as co-national flag, 15 September 1935 as national flag


Flags used between 1933-1945: See also:

Introduction: Third German Empire 1933-1945
Deutsches Reich (Third Reich)

On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor with a cabinet in coalition with the German National People's Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP, a reactionary, largely monarchist party). Not long after, a fire broke out and largely destroyed the Reichstag building. The Nazis claimed this fire was part of a Communist coup attempt. Taking advantage of this, the government quickly called an election which gave the Nazi - German National government a majority in the parliament. The government quickly banned the Communist party (which gave the Nazis a majority without the German Nationals) and in July abolished all parties other than the Nazis.
Norman Martin, 15 Dec 1997

Immediately after the March 1933 elections, new flags were created, including the Swastika Flag (Hakenkreuzfahne) which was used until 1945. However, its use and its incorporation into other flags and ensigns were modified after the elections of late 1935. Notice that all of the "national flags" were replaced or modified. The rank\ flags of the Navy, which the Weimar Republic had taken over from the Empire, were however left unchanged. Interestingly enough, the Arms were not changed until 1935.
The second period of Nazi era flags starts late in the year 1935, when the Nazis again changed almost all of the German flags.
Norman Martin, Jan 1998

Actually the new flags were not introduced officially until 14 March 1933, although this usage may have formally started earlier.
Norman Martin, 17 Nov 2001

Evolution of the Administrative Regions in Germany 1918-1945

     The following is the explanation of the evolution of the administrative regions in Germany during the period of time 1918-1945. Following the defeat of Imperial Germany in 1918, Germany was made a republic (1918-1933), officially called the Deutsches Reich (German Realm) and colloquially known as Weimar Republic (Weimarer Republik). At first it was divided into 24 Ländern (states). Through several administrative changes these Ländern were combined and evolved. In the "first phase" (before the NSDAP [National Socialist German Workers Party] had enough political power to have control of the country and its government), the Ländern were reorganized into 18 Ländern as can be seen here. The NSDAP was first established during the early 1920s and banned in 1923. Then, in 1925, in what we can call the "second phase" (source #1) (source #2) the Bavarian authorities lifted the ban on the NSDAP and it was formally re-founded as a party on February 26, 1925 and started to legally gain seats in Parliament, first in the 1928 Federal elections, then increasingly in the 1930 Federal elections, and finally in the 1932 Federal elections.
     During this time of expansion for the party it was regionally sub-divided into a number of Gaue (districts) (singular: Gau), first into 33, later 43 Gebiet (Territories). They were named after the medieval Territorialstaat (Territorial constitution) of Charlemagne. (source) These Partei-Gaue (Party Districts) (source) corresponded to the Reichstag (Realm Parliament) constituencies of the time.
     In the November 1932 Federal Elections the NSDAP won the largest parliamentary majority of votes (230 of 608 seats) and on January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler, the Partei Führer (Party Leader) (source), was named Chancellor of Germany (as Head of Government). Then during the 1933 Federal Elections, although the NSDAP gained a majority of votes (43.9%), they failed to win an absolute majority. However, the Reichstag fire on February 27, 1933, gave Hitler a way to seize "emergency powers" using President Hindenburg's signing of the Reichstag Fire Decree, Hitler was able to basically suspended most civil liberties.
     The Ermächtigungsgesetz vom 24. März 1933 (Enabling Act of March 23, 1933), formally titled Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich (Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich), an amendment to the Weimar Constitution gave the German Cabinet - in effect, Chancellor Adolf Hitler - the power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag. The Enabling Act gave Hitler plenary powers and thus he assumed the post of Reich Führer (Empire Leader) and became the de jure Dictator of Germany (source).
     Thus Germany had evolved into a totalitarian state, the Third Reich. That same year, the Gleichschaltungsgesetze (District Laws) were passed that included:

  1. The Erstes Gleichschaltungsgesetz, full name Vorläufige Gesetz zur Gleichschaltung der Länder mit dem Reich (Provisional Law on the Equalization of States within the Empire) of March 31, 1933 (source), dissolved the State parliaments except the recently-elected Prussian parliament, which the NSDAP already controlled. The same law ordered the State Parliaments reconstituted on the basis of the votes in the last Reichstag election (with the exception of Communist seats), and also gave the State governments the same powers the Reich government possessed under the Enabling Act
  2. The Zweites Gesetz zur Gleichschaltung der Länder mit dem Reich vom 7. April 1933 (Second Law for the Coordination of the States within the Empire of April 7, 1933), which deployed one Reichsstatthalter (Reich Governor) in each State, apart from Prussia. These officers, responsible to Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, were supposed to act as local proconsuls in each state, with near-complete control over the State governments.
  3. The Berufsbeamtengesetz (BBG), full name Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums (Law on the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service), of April 7, 1933, which enabled the "co-ordination" of the civil service which in Germany included not only bureaucrats, but also school teachers and professors, judges, prosecutors and other professionals at both the Federal and state level, and authorized the removal of Jews and Communists from all corresponding positions.
  4. The Gesetz über den Neuaufbau des Reiches (Law for the Reconstruction of the Empire) of January 30, 1934, briefly known as the Reichs - Neuaufbaugesetz (Empire Reconstruction Act), which for the first time de-federalized the country for the first time in its history and centralized both its government and its unitary status as a State, dominated by a single political party.
  5. The Gesetz gegen die Neubildung von Parteien (Law against the formation of new parties) of July 14, 1933, prohibited all political parties, which formally ended parliamentary democracy in the country.
  6. The Gesetz zur Sicherung der Einheit von Partei und Staat (Law for Securing the Unity of Party and State ) of December 1, 1933, established the one (political) party system.
Sources: #1, #2, and #3.
Thus, all organizations, both governmental and civilian, came under the complete control of the NSDAP run government, and all of these organizations then were forced to incorporated the same administrative structure as the NSDAP. From that time on their chapters were referred to as Gaue.
Esteban Rivera, 16 February 2019


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