February 20, 1933– The Secret Meeting
That elfin Nazi Adolf Hitler and 25 German businessmen and industrialists met at the official residence of president of the Reichstag, Hermann Göring, in Berlin, the Reichstagspräsidentenpalais (try and say that swiftly 10 times). The purpose of the meeting was to raise funds for the election campaign of the Nazi Party.
Do you kids know about gay German industrialist Friedrich Alfred Krupp? Well, his son-in-law, Gustav Krupp Von Bohlen Und Halbach was one of men at that meeting where Göring gave a short speech before introducing Hitler who gave a rousing 90-minute speech arguing that only he and the Nazi Party could make Germany Great Again. He leaned hard on the idea that bad people had the ability to seep across the borders and enter society, filling the minds of German citizens with poisonous thoughts. Hitler said the German national identity and building the nation’s military defense were his priorities.
The overlapping of business and political parties made the industrialists accountable for the outcome of the election. The industrialists knew this and were in favor of the man they had already invested in. The higher Hitler rose, the more powerful the industrialists became with him.
After being appointed Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, Hitler asked President Paul von Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag. The general election was scheduled for March 5, 1933.
The Reichstag building was burned to the ground just six days before the election, with the Nazis blaming the Communists. The Reichstag met at the Opera House, and the arson lead to the passing of in the Reichstag Fire Decree, which suspended civil liberties and habeas corpus rights. Because it was a national emergency, Hitler used the decree to have the Communist Party’s offices raided and party members arrested, effectively eliminating them as a political opposition. Hitler said:
This is a God-given signal. If this fire, as I believe, is the work of the Communists, then we must crush out this murderous pest with an iron fist.
With Nazis in powerful positions in the German government, the decree was used as the legal basis for the imprisonment of anyone considered to be opponents of the Nazis, and to suppress publications not considered “friendly” to the Nazi cause. The decree was one of the keys to the establishment of a one-party Nazi state in Germany.
Although they received five million more votes than in the previous election, the Nazis failed to gain an absolute majority in the Reichstag, and they used the 8% of seats won by their collaborators, the German National People’s Party, to give them a slim majority of 52%.
The Nazi Party had hoped to achieve a 2/3 majority, so they passed The Enabling Act of 1933, (Ermächtigungsgesetz), a constitution amendment that gave Hitler total, absolute power without the involvement of the Reichstag (the German legislative body). The Enabling Act was formally the “Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich”.
Hitler had his cabinet, made up of very wealthy men, in their first post-election meeting on March 15, draft the official Enabling Act which gave Hitler total power for four years. The Enabling Act was devised by those damn Nazis to gain complete power without the need of the support of a majority in the Reichstag. Nearly everyone in the Reichstag voted for the Enabling Act, the Social Democrats were the only hold-outs. Because of the shrewd care that Hitler took to give his dictatorship an appearance of legality, the Enabling Act was renewed twice, in 1937 and 1941. Its renewal was a publicity stunt because, by then, all other political parties had been outlawed.
Under the Enabling Act, Hitler could pass laws without parliamentary consent or control. These laws could even deviate from the Constitution. The Reichstag still existed, but merely as a stage for Hitler’s speeches. The Enabling Act restricted the right of Assembly and eliminated privacy in mail, telephone conversations and telegrams.
In October 1933, Joseph Goebbels‘ (think Sarah Huckabee Sanders, only prettier) Propaganda Ministry assumed control over the German Press. Goebbels described Jews and other groups that opposed the Nazi government as ”enemies of the people”. All editors and journalists had to register with the Reich Press Chamber to work in their field and they had to follow the mandates and instructions handed down by Goebbles, who also controlled schools, universities, film, theatre, and radio. 4,000 people were arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Nazis immediately after the Enabling Act.