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Hitler, Frick, and von Papen granting amnesty "For
B. Control Acquired
(1) On 30 January 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of the German Republic.
(2) After the Reichstag fire of 28 February 1933, clauses of the Weimar Constitution guaranteeing personal liberty and freedom of speech, of the press, of association and assembly, were suspended. The Weimar Constitution contained certain guarantees as to personal freedom (Article 114), as to inviolability of the home (Article 115), and as to the secrecy of letters and other communications (Article 117). It also had provisions safeguarding freedom of speech and of the press (Article 118), and of assembly (Article 123), and of association (Article 124). The Reich President was authorized, “if public safety and order in the German Reich are considerably disturbed or endangered,” to take steps to suspend “the Fundamental Rights” established in Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153. (Article 48 (2) ). (2050-PS)
On 28 February 1933, the Nazi conspirators, taking as their excuse a fire which had just destroyed the Reichstag building, caused to be promulgated a Decree of the Reich President suspending the constitutional guarantees of freedom. This decree, which purported to be an exercise of the powers of the Reich President under Article 48 (2) of the Constitution, and which was signed by the Reich President, Hindenburg, the Reich Chancellor, Hitler, the Reich Minister of the Interior, Frick, and the Reich Minister of Justice, Guertner, provided in part:
“Sections 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until further notice. Thus, restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press, on the right of assembly and the right of association, and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic communications, and warrants for house-searchers, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed." (1390-PS)
(3) The Nazi conspriators secured the passage by the Reichstag of a “Law for the Protection of the People and the Reich",
giving Hitler and the members of his then Cabinet plenary powers of legislation. At the first meeting of Hitler's Cabinet on 30 January 1933, passage of an Enabling Law (Ermaechtigungsgesetz) was discussed, and suppression of the Communist Party was considered as a means for securing the majority requisite for this and other purposes. (351-PS) Since such a law involved a change in the Constitution it was governed by Article 76 of the Weimar Constitution which provided : “The Constitution may be amended by law. The acts of the Reichstag amending the Constitution can only take effect if two-thirds of the regular number of members are present and at least two-thirds of those present consent.” (2050-PS) At the first meeting of the Hitler Cabinet on 30 January 1933, both Hitler and Goering favored early dissolution of the Reichstag and new elections in an effort to achieve a majority for the new Cabinet. (351-PS) This course was followed and new elections for the Reichstag were held on 5 March 1933, at which 288 Nazi were elected out of 647 members (2514PS).
Taking advantage of the Presidential decree of 28 February 1933 suspending constitutional guarantees of freedom, Goering and other Nazi conspirators immediately caused a large number of Communists, including party officials and Reichstag deputies, and a smaller number of Social Democratic officials and deputies to be placed in “protective custody”. (2324-PS; 2573-PS; L-83) Thus all Communist deputies and a number of Social Democratic deputies were prevented from attending the new session of the Reichstag. On 9 March 1933, Frick announced that the Communists would be prevented from participating in the first session of the Reichstag on March 21st, because of their being more usefully occupied. (2403-PS) As Frick cynically stated :
"When the Reichstag meets the 21st of March, the Communists will be prevented by urgent labor elsewhere from participating in the session. In concentration camps they will be re-educated for productive work. We will know how to render harmless permanently sub-humans who do not
want to be re-educated." (2651-PS) At a meeting of the Reich Cabinet on 15 March 1933, the problem of securing the necessary two-thirds majority in favor of an Enabling Act was again considered. Frick stated his belief that the Act would have to be broadly conceived, in a manner to allow for any deviation from the clauses of the Constitution of the Reich. Goering thought the two-thirds majority would be forthcoming and that if necessary some of the Social Democrats could be excluded from the room during the voting. (2962-PS)
At a meeting of the Cabinet on 20 March 1933, there was further discussion of means for securing the majority and quorum necessary to secure passage of the Act (2963-PS). On 23 March, Hitler spoke in favor of an Enabling Law proposed by the Nazi conspirators and in the course of the debate said:
"The Government insists on the passage of this law. It expects a clear decision in any case. It offers to all the Par-. ties in the Reichstag the possibility of a peaceful development and a possible conciliation in the future. But it is also determined to consider a disapproval of this law as a declaration of resistance. It is up to you, gentlemen, to make the
decision now. It will be either peace or war." (2652-PS) Thus subject to the full weight of Nazi pressure and terror, the Reichstag passed the proposed law, 441 deputies voting in its favor, and 94 Social Democrats being opposed (2579-PS). The following day, the law was promulgated. It provided:
“The Reichstag has resolved the following law, which is,
becomes invalid when the present Reich Cabinet is replaced
by another.” (2001-PS) The time limit stated in the law was twice extended by action of the Reichstag and once by decree of Hitler. (2047-PS; 2048-PS; 2103-PS)
On 29 June 1933, Dr. Hugenberg resigned as Reich Minister of Economy and as Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture (351-PS). Thereafter, other members of the Cabinet resigned from time to time, and new members were added. The Reich Cabinet continued to exercise, on numerous occasions the plenary powers conferred on it by the law of 24 March 1933. (See Section 3 of Chapter XV for further material on the Reich Cabinet.)
(4) The Nazi conspirators caused all political parties, except the Nazi Party, to be prohibited. After the Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933, the organization of the Communist Party was destroyed. On 9 March 1933, the Reich Minister of the Interior, Frick, announced that the Communists would be prevented from taking part in the opening of the Reichstag on 21 March 1933, because of their seditious activity. On 26 May 1933, a law was promulgated, signed by Hitler and Frick, providing for the confiscation of Communist property. (2403-PS; 1396-PS)
After suspension of the Constitutional guarantees of freedom on 28 February 1933, numerous restraints were imposed on the Social Democratic Party, including the arrest of a number of its leaders and Reichstag deputies. The backbone of this party was broken by the occupation of the trade union buildings and the smashing of free trade unions in May 1933. On 22 June 1933, the Social Democratic Party was suppressed in Prussia (2403PS). On 7 July 1933 a Reich decree eliminated Social Democrats from the Reichstag and from the governing bodies of Provinces and Municipalities. (2058-PS)
On 14 July 1933, provisions of the Law of 26 May 1933 confiscating Communist property were made applicable to assets and interests of the Social Democratic Party and its affiliated organizations, “and also to assets and interests which are used or destined to promote Marxist or other activities found by the Reich Minister of the Interior to be subversive to people and state.” (1388-PS) Faced with similar pressure, the other German Parties either dissolved or combined with the Nazis (2403-PS).
The Nazi conspirators then promulgated a law declaring the Nazi Party to be the only political party in Germany and making it criminal to maintain any other political party or to form a new political party. This law, which was signed by Hitler, Frick, and Guertner, provided in part:
other regulations.” (1388-PS)
“The political parties have finally been abolished. This is a historical occurrence, the meaning and implication of which one cannot yet be fully conscious of. Now, we must set aside the last vestige of democracy, particularly the methods of voting and making majority decisions which today are used in local governments, in economic organizations and in labor boards; in its place we must validate the responsibility of the individual. The achievement of external power must be
followed by the inner-education of the people Later in the same speech, Hitler said:
“The Party has become the State. All power lies with the Reich Authorities." (2632-PS)
(5) The Nazi conspirators caused the Nazi Party to be established as a para-governmental organization with extensive and extraordinary privileges. On 1 December 1933 the Reich Cabinet promulgated a law designed for “Securing the Unity of Party and State". It was signed by Hitler and Frick, and provided :
1. After the victory of the National Socialistic Revolution, the National Socialistic German Labor Party is the bearer of the concept of the German State and is inseparably the state.
2. It will be a part of the public law. Its organization will be determined by the Fuehrer. "Art. 2 The deputy of the Fuehrer and the Chief of Staff of the SA will become members of the Reichs government in order to