March 1933 German federal election

Federal elections were held in Germany on 5 March 1933, after the Nazi seizure of power on 30 January and just six days after the Reichstag fire. Nazi stormtroopers had unleashed a widespread campaign of violence against the Communist Party (KPD), left-wingers,[1]:317 trade unionists, the Social Democratic Party of Germany,[1] and the Centre Party.[1]:322 They were the last multi-party elections in Germany until 1946.

March 1933 German federal election

 Nov 1932 5 March 1933 (1933-03-05) Nov 1933 

All 647 seats in the Reichstag
324 seats needed for a majority
Registered44,685,764 0.7%
Turnout39,655,029 (88.7%) 8.1 pp
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Adolf Hitler Otto Wels
Arthur Crispien
Hans Vogel
Ernst Thälmann
Leader since 29 July 1921 1919 October 1925
Last election 33.1%, 196 seats 20.4%, 121 seats 16.9%, 100 seats
Seats won 288 120 81
Seat change 92 1 19
Popular vote 17,277,180 7,181,629 4,848,058
Percentage 43.9% 18.3% 12.3%
Swing 10.8 pp 2.1 pp 4.6 pp

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Leader Ludwig Kaas Alfred Hugenberg Heinrich Held
Party Centre DNVP BVP
Leader since September 1928 1928 27 June 1924
Last election 11.9%, 70 seats 8.3%, 51 seats 3.1%, 20 seats
Seats won 73 52 19
Seat change 3 1 1
Popular vote 4,424,905 3,136,760 1,073,552
Percentage 11.3% 8.0% 2.7%
Swing 0.6 pp 0.3 pp 0.4 pp

Electoral results by constituencies

Chancellor before election

Adolf Hitler

Chancellor after election

Adolf Hitler

The 1933 election followed the previous year's two elections (July and November) and Hitler's appointment as Chancellor. In the months before the 1933 election, brownshirts and SS displayed "terror, repression and propaganda [...] across the land",[1]:339 and Nazi organizations "monitored" the vote process. In Prussia 50,000 members of the SS, SA and Der Stahlhelm were ordered to monitor the votes by acting Interior Minister Hermann Göring, as auxiliary police.[2]

The Nazi Party (officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party or, in German, NSDAP) registered a large increase in votes in 1933 and gained a Reichstag majority together with its coalition partner, the German National People's Party (DNVP). This was the first time since 1930 that a governing coalition had held a parliamentary majority. However, despite waging a campaign of terror against their opponents, the Nazis only tallied 43.9 percent of the vote on their own, well short of a majority to govern alone.

This would be the last contested election held in Germany before World War II. Despite now holding a bare working majority in the Reichstag, Hitler wanted more. Two weeks after the election, he was able to pass an Enabling Act on 23 March with the support of all non-socialist parties, which effectively gave Hitler dictatorial powers. Within months, the Nazis banned all other parties and turned the Reichstag into a rubberstamp legislature comprising only Nazis and pro-Nazi guests.