On 27th February 1933 there was an attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin that became known as the Reichstag fire. Some people have theorised that it was actually the Nazi’s that started the fire for their own gain. The Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State was a short-term decree issued in direct response to the fire, which eradicated the power of the Reichstag. It invalidated the rights of the German people and was used as a legal basis of imprisonment of political opponents. It also allowed them to arrest who they ‘believed’ to be responsible for the fire, so they couldn’t participate in the Enabling Act vote, allowing it to be passed. Through the decree, Hitler gained more power, as there were fewer opponents. Furthermore, the decree made censorship legal, which helped in the consolidation of power, as they were able to repress information about other political parties and to steer news towards the Nazi’s.
The Enabling Act was then passed in March 1933. It was a more permanent decree that allowed Hitler’s government emergency powers to rule for four years. The act marked the end of true democracy and was a massive leap in Hitler’s seizure of power. The act was significant as it allowed Hitler to justify any and all actions of the Nazi party legally. Following the Enabling Act actions that would secure Nazi power that would have been illegal were now legal as Hitler changed the law to suit himself. Despite the Act being legal, Hitler used illegal means to pass it. The Enabling act required a two-thirds majority in the Reichstag vote, so they used violence and intimidation in order to ensure it was passed. There were Nazi supporters in the square