Monday, January 11, 2021

Practical Politics: Never Let a Reichstag Fire Go To Waste

 Back in October's "Political Chat" I was a bit disingenuous, faux-naïf, political ingenue:

Thinking about dipping a toe into the political waters.
Although political commentary seems easy enough—we see all sorts of investment/finance folks doing it, we're just learning so please be gentle.
Let's begin with Henri the Existentialist Cat:...
...Well that didn't seem too difficult. No wonder everyone gravitates to political stuff. 
Let's see if we can take it up a notch. Maybe Germany 1919 - 1933, Rosa Luxemburg to the Enabling Act:
„Spät kommt Ihr — Doch Ihr kommt!"
Whoa, there's that Austrian dude quoting Freddie Schiller in the Kroll Opera House. 
This political commentary gig might be harder than I thought, I might actually have to know stuff....
I do actually know some stuff. The Schiller quote was used by Hitler regarding Otto Wels, chairman of the Social Democratic Party accepting some of the Nazi's points on reparations and lack of responsibility for WWI:
"You come late—Yet you come"
The Parliament was meeting in the Opera House because the Reichstag, across the Königsplatz, had burned less than four weeks previously. It had been an active month:

Feb 20 Meeting with big business

Feb 27 Legislature building burns 

Feb 28 Reichstag Fire Decree

March 5 German Election

March 23 Enabling Act passed and signed.

The Secret Meeting of 20 February 1933 was to raise money for the election 13 days hence and to reassure the business oligarchs that section 230 would not be repealed private property would be respected.
Here's the U.S. Holocaust Museum's page on the fire itself:
On February 27, 1933, the German parliament (Reichstag) building burned down. The Nazi leadership and its coalition partners used the fire to claim that Communists were planning a violent uprising. They claimed that emergency legislation was needed to prevent this. The resulting act, commonly known as the Reichstag Fire Decree, abolished a number of constitutional protections and paved the way for Nazi dictatorship.....MORE
And their page on the decree issued the following day. It gets to the point right out of the gate:
In virtue of Article 48(2) of the German Constitution, the following is decreed as a defensive measure against communist acts of violence endangering the state:
Article 1
Sections 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until further notice. Therefore, 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, warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations, as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.....

Article 5
The crimes which under the Criminal Code are punishable with penitentiary for life are to be punished with death: i.e., in Paragraphs 81 (high treason), 229 (poisoning), 306 (arson), 311 (properties), and 324 (general poisoning).

Insofar as a more severe punishment has not been previously provided for, the following are punishable with death, life imprisonment, or 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 Paragraph 115(2) of the Criminal Code (serious rioting) or under Paragraph 125(2) of the Criminal Code (serious disturbance of the peace) commits the act with arms or cooperates consciously and intentionally with an armed person;

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

This decree is in force from the day of its announcement.

Berlin, February 28, 1933

Although the Enabling Act was the more famous of the two pieces of legislation, in large part because it guaranteed that no other political party would ever again win a German general election, thus cementing the dictatorship in power, the Reichstag Fire Decree was what allowed all that was to follow. 
There was one more piece of the plan, implemented nine days later, specifically targeting their enemy's businesses:
April 1 Boycott of Jewish Businesses
The one-day boycott didn't have much effect but was the first of many and revealed just how far the Nazis were willing to go to crush those they disagreed with