Hitler Appointed Chancellor of Germany, 1933

The conditions of Hitler’s rise to power and establishment of a single-party state is a subject of much debate among historians. It is also the subject of a test I have tomorrow in my history class. Writing this counts as studying, right?

On January 30, 1933, Hitler appears at the window of the Chancellory and receives a standing ovation from the crowd, via

In my class there was confusion about how, exactly, Hitler came into power of Germany. Some students believed he attained power through an election. This is untrue; he ran for president of Germany in 1932, but lost to Hindenburg, who gained support from the Center and Social Democratic Parties. Other students believed he seized power through force. This is also false (although Hitler did try to seize power in the Munich Putsch of 1923). No, on January 30, 1933, President Hindenburg appointed Hitler as chancellor of Germany because he recognized the growing popularity of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), or Nazi Party, and because he believed that Hitler could be “tamed” if he were surrounded by conservative ministers. Obviously, Hindenburg grossly underestimated Hitler. Many historians believe that this marks the beginning of Nazi Germany, or the Third Reich.

So how does chancellor of the Weimar Republic become the Führer of Nazi Germany? First, the weakness of the Weimar’s constitution helped Hitler consolidate his power. Namely, Article 48 of the constitution allowed the President to take emergency measures without consulting the Reichstag, the parliamentary body. However, it did not define what constituted an emergency. As you can imagine, Hitler exploited this vague article.

On February 27, 1933, a Dutch communist supposedly set fire to the Reichstag building (some contest that the Nazis actually set the fire as pretense for an emergency decree). Then, the Nazis convinced President Hindenburg that the Reichstag fire was a sign that the Communists were plotting against the government and that he should exercise Article 48 and declare an emergency. The next day, Hindenburg signed the Reichstag Fire Decree, which suspended many civil liberties. Hitler used the decree to suppress Communist opposition.

Firefighters trying to extinguish fire at the Reichstag building, via.

In March 1933, Hitler called another election for seats in the Reichstag. He had arrested 4,000 Communist Party leaders and members and used violence and intimidation to suppress opposition to the Nazi Party. However, the Nazis won only 43.9% of the vote, which greatly disappointed Hitler.

Unfortunately, this did not stop Hitler from increasing his power. He passed an amendment to the Weimar constitution called the Enabling Act which allowed the German Cabinet (read: Hitler) to enact laws without the approval of the Reichstag or the president. To gain the “support” needed to pass the act, Hitler’s paramilitary group the Sturmabteilung (SA) surrounded the parliament and intimidated opponents. The law passed with 82.5% of the votes. The Reichstag Fire Decree and the Enabling Act essentially allowed Hitler to run a legal dictatorship.

Upon learning that Hindenburg was on his deathbed, on August 1, 1934, Hitler passed the Law Concerning the Highest State Office of the Reich, which stated that when President Hindenburg died, the powers of president and chancellor would be merged. The next day Hindenburg died and Hitler was declared Führer.

So that is a basic recap of Hitler’s consolidation of power- a series of frustrating events. Now, I have to study Hitler’s rise to power and domestic policy.



Four Freedoms Speech, 1941

On this day in 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his 1941 State of the Union address, which became known as his Four Freedoms speech.

At the beginning of World War II, many Americans were still isolationist, meaning they did not want to get involved in the war brewing in Europe. The Four Freedoms speech is significant because FDR made a departure from traditional American isolationism and tried to convince his country that America should continue to give aid to Britain, which was in the midst of war with Nazi Germany. His argument was that people all around the world deserve four basic freedoms.

Here are the Four Freedoms, as illustrated by Norman Rockwell.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.

Eleven months later, Japan bombed US Naval Base Pearl Harbor and the United States declared war on Japan, thus entering World War II. The Four Freedoms and their respective paintings became part of a war bond campaign (shown above) as they outlined the ideological aims of the United States.

Coco Chanel, 1883

A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.
-Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel (née Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel) was born on this day in 1883– or 1893 as Chanel later claimed– in Saumur, France.

This style icon known for luxury had a very unfortunate childhood. Her mother died when she was very young. Consequently, her father, who made his living as a peddler, sent her to an orphanage where she learned how to sew.

Before she became a designer, however, she was a singer who became known by her nickname, “Coco.” In her 20s, Chanel was in a relationship with Etienne Balsan, and then his friend, Arthur “Boy” Capel. Her relationships with these men helped give Chanel her start in fashion.

Chanel claims the turning point in her career was when she fashioned a dress out of jersey on a cold day. Jersey had been previously used primarily for men’s fashion. However, Chanel’s jersey dress piqued the interest of many women who asked her where she got the dress. Since then, Chanel has been known for her chic, simple, and comfortable designs that have revolutionized fashion by incorporating elements from menswear. And one cannot forget her famous perfume “Chanel No. 5” which is still popular today.

Chanel was born into poverty, but overcame it through her creativity and connections. Although rags-to-riches stories are popular today, Chanel lied about her past because of her era’s stigma of poverty.

Coco Chanel was no doubt a talented and iconic designer, but many people tend to glorify her and overlook the fact that she was a Nazi sympathizer. That’s right. During World War II, Chanel became involved with a Nazi officer. She lost a lot of face for this, as her relationship was seen as a betrayal of France (part of France was, of course, occupied by Germany at the time). She had already shut down her business due to the depression and outbreak of war, but fled to Switzerland for a couple of years as a sort of self-imposed exile.

Chanel returned to fashion in the 70s and eventually achieved great success. And the rest, as they say, is history.


Further reading:



Did you know that Chanel was a Nazi sympathizer or that she was born into poverty? Do you wear Chanel?

Rachel Whiteread Wins British Turner Prize, 1993

The Turner Prize was created in 1984 to celebrate outstanding contemporary artists. The Turner Prize, organized by Tate Britain, goes to a British artist under 50 years of age in recognition of an excellent exhibition or other presentation of their art in the past year. (If you’re interested in British contemporary art or British art in general, check out the Tate collection of British art).

In 1993, Rachel Whiteread became the first woman to win the Turner Prize for her concrete cast of a London house, entitled House. This piece was very controversial, and the night Whiteread won the Turner Prize, she learned it would be demolished. In all fairness, Whiteread contractually agreed to the demolition of House eventually, but she was still dismayed to hear that its time on display was not extended.

House, the cast of an East End of London house about to be demolished, won Whiteread the Turner Prize.

Ironically enough, Whiteread won the K Foundation Art Award for “worst artist of the year” after winning the Turner Prize. Unlike the Turner Prize, the K Foundation was described by author James F. English as “hostile philanthropy,” perhaps trying to prove a point that what some saw as art, others saw as rubbish, or how the Turner Prize was supposedly fixed.

Judenplatz Holocaust memorial, 2000- Another one of Whiteread’s iconic sculptures. This austere concrete structure is an inverted library, meant to evoke harsh and unsettling emotions.

What do you think of Whiteread’s art? Love it? Hate it? Either way, it’s pretty cool how she made a name for herself- and blazed the trail for other women- in the contemporary art world by winning the Turner Prize.

Further reading:

For more information on House and its controversy, this article is excellent.

If you would like to read what Whiteread thought of House, this article is interesting.

Thanks for reading,