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August 2, 1934: Adolf Hitler becomes President of Germany

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On this day 87 years ago, Adolf Hitler became the leader of Germany.

But he didn’t obtain the position by popular vote.

It was the death of President Paul von Hindenburg that saw Hitler move up the ranks of the German government.

On the same day of Mr von Hindenburg’s death, August 2, 1934, the German parliament (Reichstag) enacted a law that enabled Chancellor Hitler to replace Hindenburg as president.


Hitler announced to the country that the offices of chancellor and president were to be merged to create one position, the Führer und Reichskanzler (leader and chancellor), and that he would occupy this new role.

This marked the end of Germany’s democratic government and the beginning of Hitler’s dictatorship.

Nazi Germany holocaust
Recent research suggests the Nazi regime killed about 11 million non-combatants. Photo: Getty

Hitler controlled Germany from this day until April 1945. He used his unlimited power to try to exterminate all Jews in Europe.

The same law that made Hitler chancellor also made it possible for him to push laws and changes through the Reichstag without question.

He created a one-party political system in Germany, controlled solely by the might of the Nazi Party.

In September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, largely considered the impetus for World War II, with Britain and France declaring war on Nazi Germany in retaliation.

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His attention on dismantling Poland and eastern Europe was fuelled by a deep-seated belief that Jewish people, among others, were the true enemy of the German people.

The Holocaust sought to kill as many Jewish people (and other ‘undesirables’) to bring freedom back to Germany, Hitler declared.

Concentration camps and extermination camps claimed the lives of millions, and some – like Auschwitz – still stand today as a haunting reminder of one of the modern world’s darkest periods.

Hitler’s dictatorship was deemed the second deadliest in history after that of Mao Zedong.

Recent research suggests the Nazi regime killed about 11 million civilians.

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