Heil Hitler

Photo: German children making the Nazi salute

Photo Courtesy CC & C / Agentur Karl Hoeffkes

German children, ca. 1930s

With the demise of President Hindenburg in August 1934, Hitler takes his final step towards dictatorship. Inheriting the presidency, he then consolidates the offices of President and Chancellor into one single position of absolute power—Führer and Chancellor of Germany—essentially giving one man, himself, total control over both state and government. The consolidation is approved in a public vote by nine to one.

The next morning's New York Times prints: "The endorsement gives Chancellor Hitler, who four years ago was not even a German citizen, dictatorial powers unequaled in any other country, and probably unequaled in history since the days of Genghis Khan. He has more power than Joseph Stalin in Russia, who has a party machine to reckon with; more power than Premier Mussolini of Italy who shares his prerogative with the titular ruler; more than any American President ever dreamed of. No other ruler has so widespread power nor so obedient and compliant subordinates. The question that interests the outside world now is what Chancellor Hitler will do with such unprecedented authority."