The Reichstag Fire and the Enabling Act 1933

The Reichstag Fire and the Enabling Act of 1933

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The Reichstag Fire 1933

  • Once he was Chancellor Hitler took steps to complete a Nazi takeover of Germany so he called another election in March 1933 to try to get an overall Nazi majority in the Reichstag
  • Again German cities witnessed speeches, rallies and street fighting - Hitler was using the same tactics as before he was Chancellor but he now had the resources of the state media and control of the streets
  • Even with this success was not guaranteed
  • On 27 February there was a dramatic development - the Reichstag burnt down
  • Hitler blamed this on the Communists and declared it was the start of a Communist uprising
  • He demanded special powers to deal with the situation and Hindenburg gave him them - these powers were used to arrest Communists, break up meetings and frighten votes
  • There were many theories about what caused the fire including an accident, Communist plot and the result of a madman - Many people thought the Nazis may have started the fire themselves
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Enabling Act 1933

  • In the election the Nazis won their largest share of the votes and with the support of the Nationalist Party Hitler had the majority of votes
  • Using the SS and SA he intimidated the Reichstag into passing the Enabling Act which allowed him to make laws without consulting the Reichstag
  • Following the election the Communists had been banned
  • The Catholic Centre Party decided to co-operate with he Nazis instead of being treated like Communists and in return they retained control of Catholic schools
  • The Enabling Act made Hitler a virtual dictator and for the next four years if he wanted a new law he could just pass it - Nobody, not even President Hindenburg could do anything to stop him
  • Hitler was not yet secure as he had seen how the army, judiciary and other groups had undermined the Weimar government and he was not yet strong enough to remove his opponents
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