On the afternoon of 22 November, US Major Frank B. Wallis, the American prosecutor at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, described “legitimate” steps taken by the NSDAP to seize power.

These events were still fresh in the memory of those assembled in the courtroom. Nevertheless, the prosecutor presented them, substantiating his arguments with documents belonging to Hitler and the NSDAP, including secret protocols.

After the failure of the "Beer Hall Putsch”, also known as the Munich Putsch, in November 1923 in Munich, when Hitler, with the help of machine guns and some two thousand Nazis, marched to the Feldherrnhalle, in the city centre, in an attempted coup to "reach Berlin" (this stage of their history the German Nazis called a revolution,  while those who fell from police bullets where regarded as martyrs), the conspirators were thrown behind bars. It was there that Hitler began writing Mein Kampf and mulled legal ways to gain power.

From 1925 to 1930, the Nazis took part in 30 parliamentary elections at various levels. In 14 elections they did not garner a single seat. In the 1927 Reichstag elections, only 4 percent of the electorate cast their votes for the party - considered almost a statistical error.

The first success was registered by the NSDAP in 1929 at the elections to the Landtag of Thuringia, the parliament of the German federal state of Thuringia, with its capital in Erfurt. The Nazis won 6 seats out of 53, and a future defendant at Nuremberg Trials, Wilhelm Frick, became the Minister of the Interior of Thuringia. By that time, he had been a member of the Reichstag for a year, where he was elected from another party. Having ascended through the ranks to the executive branch, Frick performed a successful bureaucratic operation, a result of which Hitler, an Austrian, acquired the necessary German citizenship.

In the eyes of his descendants, Frick did not become a ‘star’ of the Third Reich,  such as Goering or Himmler, but his merits, or rather, his guilt, are in no way inferior to that of the aforementioned. Frick served for 10 years as Minister of the Interior of Germany, and it was he who “honed” his security department for the needs of the NSDAP and Hitler. And yet he was not good enough for the Fuhrer, who appointed Himmler to take his place in 1943, exiling Frick to Prague.

The victory in Thuringia inspired the Nazis, and they began to enthusiastically recruit supporters, setting them on their "enemies" and tightening the structure of the party. They were so aggressive that the Weimar Republic and Prussian authorities called on civil servants - members of the NSDAP - to exit the party ranks, and forbade them to wear brown shirts. The same was true for Baden-Württemberg. In Bavaria, a ban was imposed on any "political" uniform.

For Hitler's party, these restrictions were no more than  mosquito bites. In the parliamentary elections of 1930, the NSDAP took 107 out of 577 seats in the Reichstag. While this was impressive, it was not the majority and not a constitutional two-thirds. Hitler required a constitutional majority, as he realized that only a constitutional coup would allow him to reach the coveted summit.

Hitler needed new elections. The Nazi faction consistently disrupted the work of parliament with shouts, scandals, bullying and street actions. Chancellor Heinrich Brüning, - an altruist and intellectual, popularly nicknamed “Poor Henry” - could not put up resistance to the show of strength. The Nazis fueled a government crisis, and Democrat Brüning was replaced with Franz von Papen, a future defendant at the Nuremberg Trials, who announced new elections to the Reichstag. It was then that the NSDAP received 230 out of 608 seats.

Again, this was not enough for a majority. There followed a spate of new scandals in the Nazis, a new crisis (von Papen, like his predecessor, "resigned") - and in 1932, another election took place, a result of which saw Hitler's party win only 196 seats. Having lost so many parliamentary seats, the Nazis realized that they were in danger of being evicted from the political arena. Hitler, apparently, realized that speeches and marches alone would not bring him to power. Having entered into an agreement with von Papen, he proposed to the president of the republic, General Paul von Hindenburg, a deal that would see Hitler appointed Reich Chancellor, with von Papen as Vice Chancellor. The agreement was suggested as a way to ensure a calmer atmosphere in the Reichstag, as Hitler's party members would simmer down and provide all possible support for the leaders at the top.

Hindenburg appointed Hitler to become the Reich Chancellor of the Weimar Republic on 30 January, 1933. Less than two months later, on 24 March,  the Reichstag passed a Nazi-written  Enabling Law, or "Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich", according to which all power, including legislative, was transferred to the Reich Chancellor: Hitler. The hall ceremony was attended by armed SA and SS militants. Out of 647 deputies, 535 turned up, the rest either boycotted the meeting, or were arrested, or killed. This law completed the constitutional coup in Germany. In less than two months, all opposition was stamped out in the country, including physically, as were freedom of the press, and the federal structure. During this brief period, the entire state machine was rendered subordinate to the NSDAP. The Nazi Party was recognized as the only political party in Germany.

Prosecutor Major Frank B. Wallis: "Hitler had every reason to say less than five months after his appointment as chancellor (I quote):" The party became a state. "

Witness testimonies were heard. Wallis read out an affidavit from Raymond Herman Geist, American Counsel and First Secretary of the United States Embassy in Berlin, from 1929 to 1939: “In 1933, concentration camps were created, placed under the jurisdiction of the Gestapo. Only political prisoners were kept in concentration camps (...) When the Nazi party won the “elections” in March 1933 (on 5 March, in the absence of any opposition, elections were held, a result of which saw the NSDAP again fail to secure a majority - 43.9 % - author), a widespread rampant persecution of communists, Jews and others began. Crowds of SA people appeared on the streets, "bullying, maiming and even killing people. ”

At that time, the SA was reported to have numbered some 600,000 members, and coasted a small arsenal of handguns and machine guns. A year later, there were three million - an army numerically superior to the regular army, and bound together by rigid military discipline. And if the Reichswehr was subordinate to Hitler as prime minister, then the SA had its own leaders. The Reich Chancellor could not ignore such a threat. A plan was conceived to destroy this dangerous army under the pretext of preventing an SA coup. The case was entrusted to the NSDAP's own power structure – the SS.

The day before the opening of the Nuremberg court hearings,  defendant Frick presented an affidavit of what happened on the Night of the Long Knives on 30 June 1934: “A lot of people were arrested and about 100, possibly more, were executed on charges of treason. They just killed them on the spot. Many were killed, I don't know how many, but even those who had nothing to do with the putsch were killed. These were simply people they didn’t like. For example, Kurt von Schleicher, a former Reich Chancellor. His wife was also killed. Then Gregor Strasser, who was (...) second in the party after Hitler. "

On August 2, of the same year, the 86-year-old president, Hindenburg, died. Hitler quickly declared – in a coincidence missed by none - that literally a day before his death, Hindenburg had signed a law decreeing that in the event of his death, presidential power would pass to the Reich Chancellor, Adolf Hitler. On 19 August, Germany, already wholly in the clutches of the Nazi Party, went to a referendum on the transfer of presidential power to the Reich Chancellor. Garnering 84 percent approval in a totalitarian state was no challenge. Hitler, who never did win an election, immediately declared himself to be the 'Fuhrer'.

by Julia Ignatieva


From the charter of the NSDAP: “Germany can only allow organizations true to the principles of the Fuehrer and the National Socialist understanding of the state and the people, which are an integral part of the party, formed by the party, under its supervision, and so to remain in the future. All others who want to maintain organizational independence should be persecuted as aliens: they must either submit or disappear from public life.” 

From a media speech by Hans Frank: The “ideology of the Führerprinzip in management assumes the following. Always replace the decision of the majority with the decision of one person, whose jurisdiction is precisely defined and whose only responsibility is to the one above him. ”


S.A. Miroshnichenko “Transcript of the Nuremberg Trials”, volume I.