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group of eleven men including Chancellor Adolf Hitler sixth from the left. The men are all wearing dark suits with the exception of one man who is wearing a tan trench coat.

Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: With the German economy reeling from the Great Depression, the fragile Weimar Republic parliamentary government was collapsing. At this time Hitler and his minions, striving for legitimacy, focused less on antisemitism, and more on the broken system of government. Hitler ran for president against Paul von Hindenburg, the World War I hero. While the Nazis won 37 percent of the seats in the Reichstag, Hitler was not able to secure a majority of votes to become president. Hindenburg emerged narrowly triumphant against Hitler in another round of voting. However, Hitler would ultimately come to power when von Papen and other conservative elites convinced Hindenburg to appoint Hitler chancellor. They believed that while Hitler was an outsider with no experience in government, he could successfully pull together a right-wing coalition of conservatives and nationalists. Importantly, they felt he could be easily manipulated and sidelined, while they could set an agenda that would prevent Germany from sliding toward communism. Hindenburg ultimately relented, and Hitler became chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, thus commencing his ascent to power.

The mysterious Reichstag fire of February, 1933-conjectured to have been set by the Nazis themselves- was blamed by them on communists. Hitler wasted no time in exploiting the occasion to persuade the enfeebled Hindenburg to sign the Enabling Act, thus suspending individual and civil liberties, bypassing parliamentary rule, and rationalizing silencing those deemed enemies of the state. The Enabling Act of March, 1933 would lead implacably to the total Nazification of the German state. On the so-called Night of the Long Knives (June 30 to July 2, 1934) Hitler and other Nazi stalwarts executed Ernst Roehm, the leader of the Brown Shirts, and minimally 85 others deemed political enemies. With Hindenburg’s death in August 1934, Hitler consolidated power by merging the presidency and the chancellorship. He was now the Fuhrer, Germany’s dictator.

This press photograph, taken on the afternoon of Hitler’s appointment to Chancellor, shows Ernst Roehm standing directly behind Hitler as “chief of staff of the S.A. Hauptmann Roehm’ (Staabschef der S.A. Hauptmann Roehm).” After the Night of the Long Knife and the execution of Ernst Roehm, all evidence of his affiliation with the Nazi movement was erased, including retouching this photograph. Images published after July 1934 show him missing from this group photograph. A similar effort to erase Roehm from German history occurred with eliminating his appearance in the 1933 Nazi propaganda film Der Sieg des Glaubens.

The caption on the back is partially incorrect: shown in the photo from left to right are: Otto Wagener, Wilhelm Kube, Hanns Kerrl, Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler, Ernst Roehm, Hermann Goering, Walther Darre, Heinrich Himmler, Rudolf Hess, Seated Wilhelm Frick. Press caption attached to the back. Presse-Photo GMBH, Berlin.


7 x 5"


Hitler, Hindernburg, Reichstag fire, Enabling Act, Night of the Long Knives, Ernst Roehm, Weimar Republic



Press Photograph by Heinrich Hoffman of Hitler as Newly Named Chancellor of Germany with his Confederates



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