STRUCTURED QUESTION PRACTICE 3: "Part C Questions"

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Which was the more important in allowing Hitler to strengthen his power in 1933-34,
the Enabling Act or the Night of the Long Knives? Explain your answer.
I believe the Night of the Long Knives was more important than the Enabling Act in allowing Hitler to strengthen his power in
1933-34, because the Night of the Long Knives warned any rivals of the consequences of challenging Hitler’s leadership, and
got key groups such as the army on his side.
The Night of the Long Knives took place on the 30th June 1934. SA leaders were rounded up by the SS, and many were
executed, including the leader of the SA, Ernst Röhm. Hitler did this because he needed to please the Army generals, who were
worried about the SA becoming the future German Army. The SA were also proving to be embarrassing at times, as their
violent conduct, which had been so useful in getting Hitler into power, was now seen as unnecessary. Hitler believe that Röhm
wanted to claim power for himself, and with the power of the SA, and if united, the army behind him, Röhm would pose a
genuine threat to Hitler. All these reasons led to Hitler ordering the Night of the Long Knives. By doing so, the SA were
removed as a threat, as their soldiers either joined the SS, led by the loyal Heinrich Himmler, or the German army. The army
were so grateful to Hitler, that following President Hindenburg’s death, they swore an oath of personal loyalty to Hitler. It also
showed any rivals that Hitler would deal with opposition ruthlessly, even within his own party.
The Enabling Act was crucial in strengthening Hitler’s position as Chancellor. Following the Reichstag Fire in February and the
new elections that followed, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act in March 1933, whereby Hitler could now pass any law
without going through the German parliament. Hitler now had dictatorial powers, and the Reichstag had virtually voted itself
out of existence. This meant that Hitler alone would decide on matters, and his decisions were final. This went a long way in
removing opposition, and strengthening his position.
Overall however, the Night of the Long Knives was more important. Despite his position as ‘dictator’ following the Enabling Act,
groups such as the SA and army still posed a threat to Hitler, and a coup could have taken place. By removing both these
obstacles, Hitler not only strengthened his position, but sent a clear message to any other potential rivals.

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