Why did the German Military and Police not intervene during the years of NSDAP ascend?
The German military was basically bought off. The German government and military believed that they could deal with Hitler politically and that it was his para military arm which was the real threat.
The Brown Shirts (SA or Sturmabteilung) were the Nazi's largest paramilitary branch in the early 1930's and played a prominent role in the Nazi's rise to power through intimidation. The SA had grown to 3 million members. The German Army (Reichswehr) was limited by treaty to only 100,000 men. The Brown shirts lead by Ernst Röhm used to like to refer to themselves as the "people's army" and began floating the idea that they should absorb the professional German Army given they were 30 times its size. The German army as you can imagine found this proposal alarming. Likewise German President Paul Hindenburg was similarly alarmed at the SA's tactics during 33 elections and early 34 and he warned if Hitler didn't moderate the SA he would dissolve the government and declare martial law. There were other reasons but that's the gist of it. The military agreed to look the other way if Hitler purged this movement which the military believed was the larger existential threat to their power.
So Hitler solitified himself in the government of Hindenburg and with the German Military and silenced one of his major rivals within the Nazi Party with a bloody crackdown on the SA; June 30 – July 2, 1934. The Night of the Long Knives
In 1933, General Werner von Blomberg, the Minister of Defence, and General Walther von Reichenau, the chief of the Reichswehr's Ministerial Department, became increasingly concerned about the growing power of the SA. Röhm had been given a seat on the National Defence Council and began to demand more say over military matters. On 2 October 1933, Röhm sent a letter to Reichenau that said: "I regard the Reichswehr now only as a training school for the German people. The conduct of war, and therefore of mobilization as well, in the future is the task of the SA."
President Hindenburg informed Hitler in June 1934 that if a move to curb the SA was not forthcoming, then he would dissolve the government and declare martial law.
Remember Hitler and the Nazi's did not come to power by democratic means. They never won the majority of the seats in the Reichstag, they never were invited to form a government, nor did they attract political allies and form a coalition government of which they were the leaders. They were invited into a coalition government and then seized power.
@Mark Johnson You have to take the distrust that existed between the (Sozial Democratic) government and those (police, army) that had to inforce these laws into account. The police were state based organizations and the army was a 'state inside the state'. So the control of the national government was over both organizations was minimal.
That's an interesting comment. I don't know if I'm in a position to appreciate your point. From my perspective the military was political but they weren't out of control. The German military saw a vacum created by the instability of the Weimar Republic and they were trying to influence how the impending vacuum would be filled.
- Hindenburg was 85 in 1933 and was the force which held the republic together. Everybody understood his days were numbered and everybody was trying to figure out what was going to happen next.
- Hitler's Nazi's or NSDAP had more seats in the Reichstag (Germans Parliament) than any other party but not a majority.
- Hitler's NSDAP party were so poorly thought of by all the other political parties in Germany that even with control of as much as 37% of the seats in the Reichstag, they were not able to form a majority; or even participate in the government prior to Jan 30, 1933.
From the Militaries perspective Hitler and the NSAP was just another political organization and could be managed if they were separated from the Brown Shirts / SA who were causing all the civil unrest and threatening the military's future.
The Social Democrats who had lead the previous coalition government which excluded the Nazi's and their seats in the Riechstag. At the end of 1932 believed they had their own formula to control Hitler. Hitler was motivated to compromise because:
- In the July 31, 1932 election Hitler's NSDAP controlled 230 seats or 37% of the Reichstag and were excluded from participation in the government.
- In the Nov 31, 1932 election Hitler's NSDAP support was dwindling. They controlled only 196 seats.
So Hitler who still had the largest number of seats, settled for just 3 cabinet seats out of 21 leaving the Social democrats with the majority of the cabinet seats and in real control of the government. Or so they thought. They all underestimated Hitler.