“Gleichschaltung” or coordination is a term coined by the National Socialists, which actually downplays the massive restriction of fundamental rights and freedoms. Immediately after Hitler’s still fully legal assumption of power on January 30, 1933, the National Socialists set about “coordinating” all of public and private life in Germany, especially in the domains of politics, social organizations, economics, the media and culture.
Concretely this meant that every not explicitly Nazi – not to mention dissident and critical – current and opinion was suppressed and forbidden. Organizations were frequently absorbed by equivalent Nazi organizations.
Some important stages on the road to stifling every form of pluralism and personal freedom in 1933 were:
February 28, 1933: The “Reichstag Fire Decree” suspends important basic rights.
March 23, 1933: The parliamentary system is abolished by means of the “Enabling Act” and the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches is eliminated.
April 5, 1933: The “Reich Committee of German Youth Associations” is replaced by the “National Socialist Youth Leader Council” under Baldur von Schirach. Youth organizations are thus “coordinated”.
April 7, 1933: Reich governors are appointed in the states of the German Reich. This is the beginning of the replacement of a federal state by centralized unitary state.
May 2, 1933: Free unions are disbanded or incorporated in the “German Labor Front” on the day after “International Workers’ Day” (May 1).
May 10, 1933: Books by left-wing, liberal and Jewish authors are burned in Berlin and numerous other German cities at the initiative of German student bodies, which are dominated by the National Socialist Students’ Association.
June-July of 1933: Following the suppression of the KPD, the SPD is banned. Every remaining party –with the exception of the NSDAP of course – disbands or is forced to do so. Members of right-wing parties are partly provided opportunities to join the NSDAP.
September 13, 1933: All agricultural operations, associations and institutions are compulsorily merged in the “Reichsnährstand” or Reich Food Corporation by law.
September 22, 1933: The “Reich Chamber of Culture Law” “coordinates” and thus de facto censors all culture and news media.
The measures that made life in Germany uniform were accompanied and enforced by pressure and terror. Proactive obedience as well as “self-coordination” also occurred in part. The paramilitary “National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK)”, an automotive association that also absorbed the ADAC, is one example of the integration of even seemingly quite nonpolitical domains of life in “Gleichschaltung”.