Reichstag Fire

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(27 Feb. 1933)

Less than a month after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, the German parliamentary building, the Reichstag, burnt down. The balance of scholarly opinion is that the Nazis were not involved in the planning or execution of this, and that the arsonist arrested at the scene of the crime, Marinus van der Lubbe, acted on his own. At first, the Nazi leadership was confused and uncertain how to react. Hitler then seized upon the opportunity to pass an Emergency Act on 28 February 1933, which allowed him to imprison SPD and Communist Party activists and MPs. Having seriously restricted his most important opponents, he called elections on a pretext of ‘national emergency’. He failed, however, to get the absolute majority he desired, which necessitated the Enabling Act.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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