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Which of the following (Reichstag Fire,The Enabling Law,The Night of The Long Knives)...

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phanpal999 | Student, Grade 8 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted September 6, 2013 at 6:25 AM via web

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Which of the following (Reichstag Fire,The Enabling Law,The Night of The Long Knives) was the most important in helping Hitler to take control over Germany?  Explain your answer by referring to all 3 events.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 6, 2013 at 1:34 PM (Answer #1)

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This is, of course, largely a matter of opinion.  There is no way to objectively say which one of these events was most important.  Let us look at the three events briefly to see why each could be considered important.

The first of these events was the Reichstag Fire.  This took place in February of 1933.  The Reichstag Fire allowed Hitler to claim that there was a danger of a communist uprising and persuaded Hindenburg to give Hitler important new powers.  It essentially gave Hitler the power to suspend all political rights and even to take away the property of his opponents.  Not surprisingly, this helped the Nazis win many more votes in the election in March of 1933.

About a month after the fire, and after the elections, the Enabling Act was passed.  It gave Hitler the power to rule by decree.  In other words, there was no longer a need to have the legislature vote on laws.  Hitler could simply issue orders and they would have the force of law.  This law was passed by the Reichstag after the Nazis had prevented all the communist and socialist members from entering the building.

Finally, the “Night of the Long Knives” came about a year later, in June and July of 1934.  This was an internal Nazi affair in which Hitler’s people killed everyone within the party that they saw as a threat to Hitler’s leadership.  There were also some opponents of the Nazis (from outside the party) killed.

All of these were clearly important in giving Hitler control.  I would say that the Reichstag Fire was perhaps the most important because without it, neither of the other events would have been likely to happen.  The “emergency” caused by the fire allowed the Nazis to win more votes and take control of the Reichstag.  It allowed them to essentially put an end to public opposition to their policies.

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