Machtergreifung is a German word meaning "seizure of power". It is normally used specifically to refer to the Nazi takeover of power in Weimar Germany on January 30 1933.

The term Machtübernahme ("takeover of power") is also used for this event. Note that when used in German, both Machtergreifung and Machtübernahme retain their more general meanings and are not particularly related to the Nazis. Machtübernahme can be used for any take over of power, whether peaceful and legitimate or violent and illegitimate.

The term Machtergreifung was first coined by the Nazis themselves in order to portray their accession to power as an active seizure (an alternative term used was Nationale Erhebung ("national rising"). Since Adolf Hitler's accession to power was the result of intrigue rather than of an active revolution, the term has been criticized by historians and is sometimes replaced with the term Machtübertragung ("handing-over of power") or, more polemically, Machterschleichung ("sneaking into power").

Another name commonly used for the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 is the Brown Revolution .

The Machtergreifung was followed by the Gleichschaltung, the period to around 1934 characterized by systematic elimination of non-Nazi organizations that could potentially influence people, such as trade unions and political parties.



  • Richard J. Evans: Das Dritte Reich - Aufstieg, München 2004, ISBN 3-421-05652-8
  • Norbert Frei: Machtergreifung. Anmerkungen zu einem historischen Begriff. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte. (VfZ) 31/1983, S. 136–145
  • Gotthard Jasper: Die gescheiterte Zähmung. Wege zur Machtergreifung Hitlers 1930-1934. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main 1986 (Neue Historische Bibliothek), ISBN 3-518-11270-8

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