July 14th in German History: All Non-Nazi Political Parties Are Banned

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The New York Times reports the banning of political parties in Germany.

One of the several steps Hitler took in his takeover of Germany was the Gleichschaltung, or co-ordination. This process saw the Nazi Party take full control over Germany’s government, society, and administration. A significant part of this was the banning of all other political parties on July 14th, 1933.

The primary Opposition to the Nazi Party before it came to power came not from the large social democrat or conservative parties, but rather from the KPD, or German Communist Party. Paramilitary groups from the Nazis and the Communists often clashed in the streets, and it was the growth of the Communist Party during the Great depression that helped to push conservative and even moderate Germans towards acceptance of Nazi rule. After Hitler was granted dictatorial powers by the enabling act, he turned on both conservatives and liberals, seeing any organized political movement that was not the Nazi Party as a threat. Thus, he passed the “Law Against the Founding of New Parties” which banned current parties and the formation of new ones. In doing so, Hitler essentially ended any organised open political opposition within Germany.

Banning parties did not, however, mean that non-Nazis ceased to exist. Many conservative leaders would spent the next twelve years either within the Nazi government or in seclusion if they had spoken against the regime too harshly before it came to power. After the war, many would hold prominent positions in the government, and reform the parties so recently dissolved. The banning of parties in Nazi Germany serves as a reminder that in a truly free country, any party, no matter how hateful its ideology, should be allowed to operate, lest those in power use the precedent of banning some parties to ban even more.

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