First NAZI Referendum: Withdrawing from the League of Nations (November 1933)


Figure 1.--

Elections did not end in Germany after Hitler seized power. What ended were competitive free elections in which opposition parties were allowed to contest the NAZIs with access to an independent media and the votes were actually counted correctly. Hitler's who railed against democracy allowed four votes during his 12 years in office. His preferred form of election was the referendum. And he organized four different referendums. Hitler preferred referendums because they could be focused on issues which even non-NAZIs might agree with him. Also they did not threaten his control of power as a real election might have. The First Referendum focused on the League of Nations, an institution most Germans associated with the hated Versailles Peace Treaty (November 12, 1933). Specifically it called on the German people to ratify Hitler's decision to withdraw from the Geneva Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations. The referendum was posed using the familiar Du rather than the formal Sie. Hitler was seeking to suggest an inimate relationship with the German people. [Rommelfanger, p. 144.] The German press reported that 96 percent of registered voters participated and 95 percent voted "Ja". It is not known what the actual vote was. Surely the yes vote would have been high even it had been a competive vote, 95 pecent obviously suggests the tally was manipulated. The press even reported that 2,154 of 2,242 inmates at the Dachau concentration camp voted "Ja". The issue chosen was well calculated. The sole challenge to Hitler's control of Germany was the Army and Hitler correctly calculated that both these decesions would be well received by the Army. This referendum was held in conection with a carefully controlled Reichstag election.

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Created: 1:37 AM 1/29/2012
Last updated: 1:37 AM 1/29/2012