Hitler's Reichstag speech promoting the Enabling Act bill
The Reichstag Fire Decree is the common name of the Order of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State issued by German President Paul von Hindenburg on February 28 1933 in direct response to the Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933. The decree nullified many of the key civil liberties of German citizens. With Nazis in powerful positions in the German government, the decree was used as the legal basis of imprisonment of anyone considered to be opponents of the Nazis, and to suppress publications not considered "friendly" to the Nazi cause. The decree is considered by historians to be one of the key steps in the establishment of a one-party Nazi state in Germany.
The decree was not accompanied by any written guidelines from the Reich government; this omission gave wide latitude in interpreting the decree to Nazis like Göring, who as Prussian interior minister was in authority over the police forces in Germany's largest province.
Just over three weeks after the passage of the Reichstag Fire Decree, Hitler's National Socialists further tightened their grasp on Germany by the passage of the Enabling Act. This act gave Hitler's cabinet the legal power to decree laws without being passed by the Reichstag - effectively making Hitler a dictator.
The Enabling Act was passed by Germany's Reichstag and signed by President Paul von Hindenburg on March 23, 1933. It was the second major step, after the Reichstag Fire Decree, through which Chancellor Adolf Hitler legally obtained plenary powers and established his dictatorship. It received its name from its legal status as an enabling act granting the Cabinet the authority to enact laws without the participation of the Reichstag for four years.
Under the Act, the government had acquired the authority to pass laws without either parliamentary consent or control. Unprecedentedly, these laws could even deviate from the Constitution. The Act effectively eliminated the Reichstag as active players in German politics, though the existence of the body, alongside that of the Reichsrat and of the office of President were protected under the Act. Together with the Reichstag Fire Decree, it transformed Hitler's government into a legal dictatorship.
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