The Reichstag building was the seat of the German parliament in Berlin that was opened in 1894. On February 27th, 1933 the building was intentionally set on fire by a Dutch communist named Marinus van der Lubbe. He was a mentally unstable 24 year old immigrant with pyromaniac tendencies. He was found at the scene of the crime and claimed it to be a protest. He was put on trial with four others and found guilty while the others were acquitted. His sentence was execution by guillotine.

van der Lubbe on trial
van der Lubbe on trial
Reichstag on fire

There was much debate and historical evidence that he was aided and or coerced by members of Hitler’s SA brown shirts. What isn’t debated is that Hitler who was still Chancellor at the time used the event as a false flag to blame his main political enemies the communists.

“This is a God-given signal! If this fire, as I believe, turns out to be the handiwork of Communists, then there is nothing that shall stop us now crushing out this murder pest with an iron fist.” said Hitler upon seeing the fire. The next day President Paul von Hindenburg at the urging of Hitler, signed the Reichstag Fire Decree:


Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State of 28. February 1933

On the basis of Article 48, Section 2, of the German Constitution, the following is decreed as a defensive measure against Communist acts of violence that endanger the state:

§ 1 Articles 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 searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property are permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.

§ 2 If any state fails to take the necessary measures to restore public safety and order, the Reich government may temporarily take over the powers of the highest state authority.

§ 3 State and local authorities must obey the orders decreed by the Reich government on the basis of § 2.\

§ 4 Whoever provokes, appeals for, or incites the disobedience of the orders given out by the supreme state authorities or the authorities subject to them for the execution of this decree, or the orders given by the Reich government according to § 2, can be punished – insofar as the deed is not covered by other decrees with more severe punishments – with imprisonment of not less than one month, or with a fine from 150 to 15,000 Reichsmarks. Whoever endangers human life by violating § 1 is to be punished by sentence to a penitentiary, under mitigating circumstances with imprisonment of not less than six months and, when the violation causes the death of a person, with death, under mitigating circumstances with a penitentiary sentence of not less than two years. In addition, the sentence may include the confiscation of property. Whoever provokes or incites an act contrary to the public welfare is to be punished with a penitentiary sentence, under mitigating circumstances, with imprisonment of not less than three months.

§ 5 The crimes which under the Criminal Code are punishable with life in a penitentiary are to be punished with death: i.e., in Sections 81 (high treason), 229 (poisoning), 306 (arson), 311 (explosion), 312 (flooding), 315, paragraph 2 (damage to railways), 324 (general public endangerment through poison). Insofar as a more severe punishment has not been previously provided for, the following are punishable with death or with life imprisonment or with imprisonment not to exceed 15 years:

1. Anyone who undertakes to kill the Reich President or a member or a commissioner of the Reich government or of a state government, or provokes such a killing, or agrees to commit it, or accepts such an offer, or conspires with another for such a murder;

2. Anyone who under Section 115, paragraph 2, of the Criminal Code (serious rioting) or of Section 125, paragraph 2, of the Criminal Code (serious disturbance of the peace) commits these acts with arms or cooperates consciously and intentionally with an armed person;

3. Anyone who commits a kidnapping under Section 239 of the Criminal Code with the intention of making use of the kidnapped person as a hostage in the political struggle.

§ 6 This decree enters into force on the day of its promulgation.

Berlin, 28. February 1933

The Reich President von Hindenburg
The Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler
The Reich Minister of the Interior Frick
The Reich Minister of Justice Dr. Gürtner

Campaign poster for Hitler blaming the communists for the Reichstag
Campaign poster for Hitler blaming the communists for the Reichstag


Immediately following this decree the SA began rounding up thousands of communists and outlawing the communist party thereby eliminating Hitler’s main political opposition. He still lacked 31 votes to have a two thirds majority so he passed (in the absence of several members of the Social Democrats who were in hiding) the Enabling Act of 1933 which basically enabled him to become dictator. Of course he assured he would only use these new powers in “emergencies.” This law effectively dissolved the Reichstag procedures of parliament. On July 14th, 1933 all parties other than the Nazi party were abolished. In August of 1934 President Hindenburg died and in his place Hitler declared himself Fuhrer.
Law to Remove the Distress of the People and the State (The Enabling Act)
The Reichstag has passed the following law, which is, with the approval of the Reichsrat, herewith promulgated, after it has been established that it meets the requirements for legislation altering the Constitution.

Article 1. National laws can be enacted by the Reich Cabinet as well as in accordance with the procedure established in the Constitution. This also applies to the laws referred to in Article 85, Paragraph 2, and in Article 87 of the Constitution.

Article 2. The national laws enacted by the Reich Cabinet may deviate from the Constitution as long as they do not affect the position of the Reichstag and the Reichsrat. The powers of the President remain undisturbed.

Article 3. The national laws enacted by the Reich Cabinet shall be prepared by the Chancellor and published in the Reichsgesetzblatt. They come into effect, unless otherwise specified, the day after their publication. Articles 68-77 of the Constitution do not apply to the laws enacted by the Reich Cabinet.

Article 4. Treaties of the Reich with foreign states which concern matters of national legislation do not require the consent of the bodies participating in legislation. The Reich Cabinet is empowered to issue the necessary provisions for the implementation of these treaties.

Article 5. This law becomes effective on the day of its publication. It becomes invalid on April 1, 1937; it also becomes invalid if the present Reich Cabinet is replaced by another.

Reich President von Hindenburg
Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler
Reich Minister of the Interior Frick
Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs Baron von Neurath
Reich Minister of Finances Count Schwerin von Krosigk

Source of Reichstag Fire Decree and Enabling Act at:
Reichstag Fire Decree
Enabling Act of 1933