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Study Notes

The Reichstag Fire

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 12 Dec 2017

The Reichstag Fire was the burning of the German Parliament on the 27th February 1933. At the scene a Dutch communist Van der Lubbe was found and blamed for starting the fire. Hitler used this as justification for the instigation of Article 48 which granted emergency powers. Hitler persuaded President Hindenburg that Germany was on the brink of a communist rebellion and that Hitler should be able to pass the Reichstag Fire Decree.

This decree allowed Hitler to remove the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) as a party, have its leaders arrested and imprison or execute them. This was the beginning of a police state in Germany. Hitler continued to rule using Article 48 and Hindenburg to slowly remove opposition to his Chancellorship.

In the March 1933 election, Hitler and the Nazis managed to achieve 288 seats in the Reichstag, which failed to achieve a majority of seats but together with other right wing groups managed to achieve a majority. This new majority and the removal of opposition allowed Hitler to start the legal transformation of Germany into a dictatorship.

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