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German History in Documents and Images
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SA Stormtroopers Burn a Black, Red, and Gold Flag in the Streets of Berlin (January 30, 1933)
In January 1933, many Germans had no reason to suspect that the new cabinet under Hitler would prove successful, since the period from May 1928 to November 1932 had seen four dissolutions of the Reichstag and just as many cabinet changes. But Hitler viewed the chancellorship as the first step toward the construction of a dictatorship and prophesied that he would hold the office for the rest of his life. On the evening of January 30, 1933, and in the days that followed, the National Socialists marked the dawning of a new era by staging enormous victory parades in Berlin and other cities. The parades drew thousands of members of the SA [Sturmabteilung or Storm Detachment], the SS [Schutzstaffel or Protection Squadrons], and the Steel Helmet [Stahlhelm] veterans’ organization, who celebrated their triumphant victory alongside enthusiastic civilians. Particularly impressive was the show that Goebbels organized in the capital. An estimated 60,000 people participated in an hours-long torchlight parade through the government quarter, and the event reverberated in press and radio reports throughout the country. There were other direct indications that Hitler's government would not be of the usual kind. In Berlin and other cities, Nazi supporters burned black, red, and gold flags – the symbol of the hated Weimar Republic – and engaged in street battles with Communists and other political opponents.