The Inter-War Period 1933
The defence of the Great Wall of China was a campaign between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan which began on the 1st January 1933. During this campaign, Japan successfully captured the Inner Mongolian Province of Rehe from the Chinese warlord Zhang Xueliang and annexed it to the new state of Manuchuo, whose southern frontier was thus extended to the Great Wall of China.
In Germany, on the 30th January 1933, the new cabinet was sworn in during a brief ceremony in President Paul von Hindenburg’s office. The Nazi Party (NSDAP) gained three posts, Adolf Hitler was named chancellor, Wilhelm Frick as Minister of the interior and Hermann Göring as Minister of the Interior for Prussia. Hitler had insisted on the ministerial positions as a way to gain control over the police in much of Germany. When Hitler came to power in January 1933, he inaugurated an aggressive power base designed to give Germany economic and political domination across central Europe. Hitler’s diplomatic strategy in the 1930s was to make seemingly reasonable demands, threatening war if they were not met. When opponents tried to appease him, he accepted the gains that were offered, then went on to the next target. As chancellor Hitler worked against attempts by the NSDAP’s opponents to build a majority government. Because of the political stalemate, he asked Hindenburg to again dissolve the Reichstag, and elections were scheduled for early March 1933.
Before any elections took place in Germany the Reichstag building was set on fire on the 27th February 1933. Hermann Göring blamed a communist plot, however, the consensus of opinion of most historians was that the fire was started by the Nazi Party. At Hitler’s urging President Hindenburg responded with the Reichstag Fire Decree on the 28th February 1933. The decree gave the president the power to take emergency measures to protect public safety and activities of the German Communist Party (KPD) were suppressed. Preceding the election Hitler’s private army, the S.A., roamed the streets terrorising political opponents and engaging in paramilitary violence and spreading anti-communist propaganda.
The First inauguration of Franklin D Roosevelt as the 32nd President of the United States of America was held on Saturday 4th March 1933. The inauguration took place in the wake of Democrat Roosevelt’s landslide victory over incumbent Herbert Hoover in the 1932 presidential election. With the nation in the grip of the Great Depression, the new president’s inaugural speech was broadcast on several radio networks, which set the stage for Roosevelt’s radical economic proposals to lead the nation out of the Great Depression. He placed the blame squarely on the greed and short-sightedness of bankers and businessmen for the Great Depression, which created the 25% unemployment figure when he assumed office. His aim was to get people back to work and if faced correctly it could be achieved but it had to be done quickly and not merely by talking about it.
Election Day, in Germany on the 6th March 1933, the Nazi share of the vote increased to 43.9% and the party acquired the largest number of seats in the parliament. Even so, Hitler’s party failed to secure an absolute majority and had to invite the German National People’s Party (DNVP) to form a coalition government. Hitler systematically took control of all the state governments. On the 21st March 1933` the new government was constituted with an opening ceremony in Potsdam. This ”Day of Potsdam” was held to demonstrate unity between the Nazi movement and the Old Prussian military together with the elite citizens. Hitler attended the ceremony in a morning coat and humbly greeted Hindenburg. To gain a two-thirds majority, allowing him to pass any laws, Hitler formed an alliance with the Nationalist party and declared the communist party illegal. On the 23rd March 1933, the government passed the “Enabling Act”, giving Hitler the power to make decrees with the status of law, and ending elections. With the passing of the ”Enabling Act began the process of transforming the Weimer Republic into a Nazi Germany a one-party dictatorship based on the ideology of National Socialism. Hitler aimed to eliminate Jews from Germany and establish a New Order to counter what he saw as an injustice of the post-Great War international order dominated by Britain and France.
On the 20th March 1933, Germany’s first concentration camp, Dachau, was completed. It was located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory northeast of the medieval town of Dachau, located northwest of Munich in Bavaria. The camp was opened by Heinrich Himmler and was originally intended to hold political prisoners. The camp then was enlarged to include forced labour and eventually the imprisonment of Jews. German and Austrian criminals were also included as were foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded. Prisoners lived in constant fear of brutal treatment and terror detention including standing cells, floggings, the tree or pole hanging and standing for long periods. The Dachau camp system grew to include nearly 100 sub-camps which were mostly work camps.
The Enabling Act was a 1933 Weimar Constitution amendment that gave the German Cabinet, which in effect was Chancellor Adolf Hitler, the power to enact laws without the involvement of The Reichstag. The constitution was passed on the 23rd March 1933 and was signed by President Paul von Hindenburg. The Enabling Act gave Hitler enormous powers which abolished most civil liberties and transferred state powers to the Reich government.
On the 24th March 1933 the London newspaper The Daily Express printed an issue with the headline “Judea Declares War on Germany.” This resulted in the Anti-Nazi boycott of German products to foreign critics of the Nazi Party. This was in response to an organised campaign of violence and boycotting undertaken by Hitler’s Nazi Party against the Jews of Germany. Those in the United Kingdom, United States and other places worldwide who opposed Hitler’s anti-Semitic polices developed the boycott accompanying protests to encourage Nazi Germany to end the regimes often-expressed anti-Jewish attitude.
On the 27th March 1933 Japan left the League of Nations over the League of Nations’ Lytton Report. The five member commission headed by Victor Bulwer-Lytton announced its conclusion that Japan had been the aggressor in its invasion of Manchuria which should still belong to China. They argued that the puppet state of Manchukuo was not truly independent and should not be recognised. For many years before the World Wars the great colonial powers of Europe argued who would “own” the Far East. There were various agreements as to who would take which part in the divided Far East. The League of Nations was seen as nothing more than an Old Boy’s Club that existed to further the imperialist agendas of its members. They were biased in favour of the major powers and came down hard on smaller nations but ignored the excesses of the major powers. Japan came face to face with this hypocrisy when it invaded Manchuria and was reprimanded by the League of Nations and threatened with sanctions. Russia had done pretty much the same thing in 1904 which led to the first Russo-Japanese war.
The Nazi boycott of Jewish shops and businesses began on the 1s t April 1933, and was claimed to be a defensive reaction to the Jewish boycott of German goods, which had been initiated in March 1933. The boycotting of Jewish businesses were largely unsuccessful as the German people continued to use them. The Nazis were determined to undermine the viability of Jews in Germany which resulted in the early governmental actions that culminated in the “Final Solution”. It was a state-manged campaign of ever increasing harassment, arrests, systematic pillaging and forced transfer of business ownership to the Nazi Party. The owners of these businesses were classified as “Jews” and were ultimately murdered.
In Germany on the 26th April 1933 the Gestapo secret police was created by Herman Göring. Gestapo was the abbreviation of Geheime Staatspolizei and the official Secret State Police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe. The force was established by combining the various security police agencies of Prussia into one organisation. The Gestapo agency played a key role in the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe during the Second World War.
In Germany on the 2nd May 1933 Adolf Hitler’s Stormtroopers occupied all trade union headquarters. The unions represented a barrier against the Nazi effort to control the lives of the people and made it a priority of eliminating trade unions in Germany. Union leaders were arrested, union funds were confiscated and former union leaders were prevented from finding work. This was one of the first acts of Hitler and the Nazis, who had just come to power in Germany in January 1933.
The Tanggu Truce was signed between China and Japan on the 31st May 1933, setting the ceasefire conditions between the two states after the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. China acceded to all Japanese demands, creating a large demilitarized zone inside Chinese territory.
In Germany on the 21st June 1933 all non-Nazi parties were banned as only the Nazi Party were allowed to exist. Subsequently, on the 14th July 1933, the Nazi party became the official party of Germany.
In Rome on the 20th July 1933, the Vatican’ secretary of state, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli and Germany’s vice chancellor, Franz von Papen, formally signed a concordat between the Holy See and the German Reich. The Pope ratified the agreement two months later on the 10th September 1933 which specified the church’s rights in the Reich. The political significance of the signing of the concordat was ambiguous, as Hitler interpreted it to mean that he had won the church’s approval. He saw the approval as being proof of international recognition of his Nazi regime.
The Haavara Agreement was an agreement between Nazi Germany and Zionist German Jews signed on the 25th August 1933. The agreement was designed to help facilitate the emigration of approximately 60,000 German Jews to Palestine between the years 1933 to 1939.
Leo Szilard was a Hungarian-German-American physicist and inventor who conceived the idea of the nuclear chain reaction on the 12th September 1933. He patented the idea of a nuclear reactor in 1934 and in late 1939, he wrote the letter for Albert Einstein’s signature which resulted in the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb. By the time America had developed the atomic bomb, Szilard had become an American citizen. In his later life he was treated for cancer using his design for the cobalt 60 treatment equipment. He needed further treatment which was later increased to give higher radiation levels. The cancer never returned and this treatment became standard for many cancers and is still used today.
In Geneva on the 19th October 1933, Chancellor Adolf Hitler ordered the German delegation to leave the Disarmament Conference. Germany withdrew from the League of Nations. The reasons being that Germany was already disarmed while other countries were refusing to disarm.
On the 24th November 1933, under the German ”Law against Dangerous Habitual Criminals” the police arrested anyone not classified as ”Aryan”. The Nazi party implemented their vision of a new Germany, one that placed ”Aryans” at the top of the hierarchy of races, namely blond hair and blue eyed. Jews, Gypsies and Negroes were ranked as social inferiors. The off-spring of any mixed-marriage were also included. The party also viewed prostitutes, beggars, chronic alcoholics, homeless, unemployed as vagrants and imprisoned them in concentration camps.