reichstag fire decree

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February 27th 1933: Reichstag fire

On this day in 1933, the Reichstag building in Berlin, which housed the German Parliament, was set on fire. The Nazi government of Adolf Hitler then ordered a thorough hunt to track down the arsonist. The police identified the perpetrator as Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch communist; he and four other Communist leaders were arrested for their supposed role in the blaze. The Nazis used the event as evidence of a Communist plot in Germany, and Hitler urged President Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree to counter the Communist threat. This Reichstag Fire Decree gave Hitler considerable powers, and is considered a pivotal moment in Hitler’s consolidation of power into a one-party dictatorship. Van der Lubbe was found guilty and executed by guillotine on January 10th 1934. However, his role has been questioned by historians with some even suggesting he was not responsible and that the fire was ordered by the Nazis themselves.

The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building (German parliament) in Berlin on February 27, 1933. The Nazis stated that Marinus van der Lubbe, a young Dutch council communist, had been caught at the scene of the fire, and he was arrested for the crime. Van der Lubbe was an unemployed bricklayer who had recently arrived in Germany. The Nazis stated that van der Lubbe had declared that he had started the fire. Van der Lubbe was tried and sentenced to death. The fire was used as evidence by the Nazi Party that communists were plotting against the German government. The event is seen as pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany.

Adolf Hitler, who had been sworn in as Chancellor of Germany on January 30, urged President Paul von Hindenburg (President of the Weimar Republic) to pass an emergency decree, the Reichstag Fire Decree, to suspend civil liberties in order to counter the ruthless confrontation of the Communist Party of Germany; under the decree, most civil liberties in Germany, including habeas corpus, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, the right of free association and public assembly, and the secrecy of the post and telephone were suspended and were never again renewed under the Nazi regime.

After passing the decree, the government instituted mass arrests of communists, including all of the Communist Party parliamentary delegates. With their bitter rival communists gone and their seats empty, the Nazi Party went from being a plurality party to the majority, thus enabling Hitler to consolidate his power through the passage of the Enabling Act, a special law that gave the Chancellor the power to pass laws by decree, without the involvement of the Reichstag; the Nazis devised the Enabling Act to gain complete political power without the need of the support of a majority in the Reichstag and without the need to bargain with their coalition partners.

The measure went into force on March 27, 1933, and, in effect, made Hitler dictator of Germany. [x]

A Warning to the People

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After what happened yesterday, the 9th of November 2016, I felt that I had to write something.

I’m going to tell you a story. No, I will tell you about a situation, about a historic period that is not so different than the moment we’re living in.

To let you undestand this story, we have to came back at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. First of all we have to remember what happened in the last years of the 19th century.

The 19th was a cetury of riots and fights. Many nations fought for indipendency and unity. Italy and Germany are the best examples of what happened in those years.

In the 18th of Jenuary 1871, Germany was unified. For the entire century, philosophers, writers, artist, celebrated the German spirit and nationalist ideals were spreading. This situation is the basis to understand the following events.

So, as I’ve said I was going to tell a story. This story began at the end of the First Wolrd War, in 1919. Officially the war ended with the Treaty of Versailles. It ended thw war against Germany. Infact that Treaty was hard and humiliating for the defeated nation. Germany was forced to disarm, make territorial concessions, and pay high reparations. Germans reacted agaist these conditions as a insult to the nation’s honour. Anyway, they had to pay high reparations. This contributed to impoverish the already damaged economy. The country was devasteted by hunger, uneployment. In addiction inflation  reached appalling  levels so as to reduce the mark to a mere waste paper. The riots,  were the order of the day and the government appeared too weak to stem the protests. The specter of a pro-Bolshevik revolution was always more concrete. In political landscape emerged the figure of Adolf Hitler.  He thought that Jews and Communists were responsible for Germany’s defeat. He was nominated leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. His party had a military organization through the SA that were used during the Munich putsch, a failed coup attempt in 1923 . Hitler was arrested  and in prison he wrote the Mein Kampf, where he explained his ideas. From 1925 to 1928 Hitler and his party began to have more and more consent. Nevertheless the Nazi Party lost the elections in 1932. But thanks to  the line opponent divisions, to clever political moves and delicate alliance mechanisms, Adolf Hitler nominated  on the 30th of Jenuary 1933, Chancellor of the Reich. At this point we have to understand why a nationalist party had such an increasing success. The answer arrives from America: the Great Depression. In the 1929 there was the Wall Street Crash, the most devastating economic depression of the 20th century. It affected worldwide. The Great Depression hit Germany hard. With the Wall Street Crash America was no longer able to finance the loans to help rebuild the German economy.The unemployment rate reached nearly 30% in 1932, reinforcing support for the Nazi and Communist  parties, causing the collapse of Social Democratic party. Hitler ran for the Presidency in 1932, and even if he lost to the  Hindenberg in the election, it marked a point during which both Nazi Party and the Communist parties rose in the following years. Hitler’s success is based of the support of the middle class that was hardly hit by the economic crisis. Farmers and veterans, instead, were attracted by ideals of folk, the mith of purity of blood and and land. On the 30th Jenuary 1933 Hitler gained power.  Using  the pretext of the Reichstag fire , Hitler issued the Reichstag Fire Decree on the 28th February 1933. The decree suppressed much of the civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution of 1919 of the Weimar Republic in the name of national security and the  opponents of the regime, where jailed. At the same time the SA launched a wave of violence against trade union movements, Jews and other “enemies”.(Seems familiar?). He gained his power legally, and was always popular until the end of the regime. He was an incredible speaker, and  with all the media under the control of his propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels, he  was able to persuade Germans that he was their savior from the depression, the communists,  the Treaty of Versailles and the Jews.He wanted to make Germany great again! (It reminds me something). Once he became Führer, his campaing against Jews. In 1935 were promulgate the Laws of Norimberga. According to these laws Jews lost their status of German citizens and were expelled from government employment, professional bodies, and from its economic activities. They were attacked by the propaganda. These restrictions were further exacerbated, especially after the anti-Jewish action of the night between 9 and 10 November 1938, known as the “crystal night”. Since 1941 the Jews were forced to wear a yellow Star of David in public. Well at this point we all know what happend to Jews, gays,opponents, gypsies, disabled people.

I wrote this because nowadays, in the 2016 we’re living in a very similar situation. I felt that we need to remind where fear, desperation and anger could brought us.

As in 1929 we are experiencing a severe economic crisis that has brought poverty everywhere. All citizens are oppressed and want to breath. In addition the recent terrorist attacks, increased immigration have led  increased xenophobia, the fear of foreigners. In the past were the Jews today are the Muslims. Right-wing governments are pressing on these factors to fuel hatred and violence. Not only fear of foreigners but also fear of difference. The members of the LGBT community continue to be discriminated hated, killed, persecuted. Look around, listen to the newspapers, pay attention to your workplace, school, cities. Hatred, bullying, violence are commonplace. The right-wing governments have more and more success.
An economic crisis, poverty, labor crisis, fear, violence, racism, misogyny, sexism. With Trump in power this is what we have, with Trump to power the right-wig of countries are stronger. I do not know what the future holds but analyzing the facts I know what could happen. Please, study the past, do not forget,  not let it happen again. I know it’s hard, I’m afraid too, I found myself being intolerant sometimes, but we are humans. we need to listen to our rationality and remember that we are all equal. 

Adolf Hitler was appointed as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933. On 28 February, he persuaded Weimar Republic President Paul von Hindenburg to issue the Reichstag Fire Decree, which suspended most civil liberties. On 23 March, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act of 1933, which gave the cabinet the right to enact laws without the consent of parliament.

“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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March 23rd 1933: Enabling Act passed

On this day in 1933, the German Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which essentially secured Adolf Hitler’s position as dictator of Germany. The law gave Chancellor Hitler legal powers to establish his dictatorship as it gave the Cabinet the power to enact laws independently of the legislature - the Reichstag. Its formal name was ‘Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich’. Hitler had been appointed Chancellor on January 30th and just before the scheduled election, the Reichstag fire occurred. The Nazis used the incident to suggest a Communist revolution was imminent and passed the Reichstag Fire Decree which suspended civil liberties and habeas corpus. The Nazis failed to gain an absolute majority in the Reichstag, so Hitler drafted the Enabling Act to secure his position. The Nazis pressured and threatened representatives of the Reichstag to pass the bill, positioning SA men and Nazi swastikas in and around the building. With the bill’s passing, Hitler’s dictatorship was assured, and thus began a brutal regime which would last until 1945.

“The authority of the Führer has now been wholly established. Votes are no longer taken. The Führer decides. All this is going much faster than we had dared to hope”
- Joseph Goebbels after the passage of the Act

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February 27th 1933: Reichstag fire

On this day in 1933 the Reichstag building in Berlin, which housed the German Parliament, was set on fire. The Nazi government of Adolf Hitler then ordered a thorough hunt to track down the arsonist. The police identified the perpetrator as Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch communist; he and four other Communist leaders were arrested for their supposed role in the blaze. The Nazis used the event as evidence of a Communist plot in Germany, and Hitler urged President Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree to counter the Communist threat . This Reichstag Fire Decree gave Hitler considerable powers, and is considered a pivotal moment in Hitler’s consolidation of power into a one-party dictatorship. Van der Lubbe was found guilty and executed by guillotine on January 10th 1934. However, his role has been questioned by historians with some even suggesting he was not responsible and that the fire was ordered by the Nazis themselves.

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March 5th 1933: Nazis win German elections

On this day in 1933, the Nazi Party won 43.9% in the German federal elections, more than any other party. The National Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazis’ official name), capitalising on German frustration by promising ‘work and bread’, won 37.3% in the July 1932 elections. The party leader, Adolf Hitler, was appointed Chancellor by President Hindenberg on January 30th 1933, but the Nazis only had one third of seats in the Reichstag. Upon becoming Chancellor, Hitler announced new elections, while the Nazis secured considerable donations to fund their campaign and stacked the police with their supporters. Just before the scheduled election, the Reichstag fire occurred, and young Dutch Communist Marianus van der Lubbe was immediately arrested. The Nazis used the incident to suggest a Communist revolution was imminent, and passed the Reichstag Fire Decree which suspended civil liberties and habeas corpus. Nazi henchmen arrested electoral candidates from the Communist Party, and began a campaign of violence against left-wingers. This climate of intimidation allowed the Nazis to increase their support and win 43.9% of the vote, but this only translated to 288 out of 647 seats - not an absolute majority. In order to secure the party’s position, the Nazis drafted the Enabling Act, which gave Chancellor Hitler legal powers to establish his dictatorship by giving the Cabinet the power to enact laws independently of the Reichstag. The Nazis pressured and threatened representatives of the Reichstag to pass the bill, positioning SA men and Nazi swastikas in and around the building. With the bill’s passing, Hitler’s dictatorship was assured, and thus began a brutal regime which would last until 1945. The March 1933 elections allowed the Nazis to consolidate their rule, and marked the last election to be held under Hitler’s rule.