Hitler held his first Cabinet meeting on the day of his appointment as Chancellor, at which the Defendants Göring, Frick, Funk, Von Neurath, and Von Papen were present in their official capacities. On 28 February 1933 the Reichstag building in Berlin was set on fire. This fire was used by Hitler and his Cabinet as a pretext for passing on the same day a decree suspending the constitutional guarantees of freedom. The decree was signed by President Hindenburg and countersigned by Hitler and the Defendant Frick, who then occupied the post of Reich Minister of the Interior. On 5 March elections were held, in which the NSDAP obtained 288 seats of the total of 647. The Hitler Cabinet was anxious to pass an "Enabling Act" that would give them full legislative powers, including the power to deviate from the Constitution. They were without the necessary majority in the Reichstag to be able to do this constitutionally. They therefore made use of the decree suspending the guarantees of freedom and took into so-called "protective custody" a large number of Communist deputies and Party officials. Having done this, Hitler introduced the "Enabling Act" into the Reichstag, and after he had made it clear that if it was not passed, further forceful measures would be taken, the act was passed on 24 March 1933.

The Consolidation of Power

The NSDAP, having achieved power in this way, now proceeded to extend its hold on every phase of German life. Other political parties were persecuted, their property and assets confiscated, and many of their members placed in concentration camps. On 26 April 1933 the Defendant Göring founded in Prussia the Geheime Staatspolizei, or Gestapo, as a secret police, and confided to the deputy leader of the Gestapo that its main task was to eliminate political opponents of National Socialism and Hitler. On 14 July 1933 a law was passed declaring the NSDAP to be the only political party, and making it criminal to maintain or form any other political party.

In order to place the complete control of the machinery of Government in the hands of the Nazi leaders, a series of laws and decrees were passed which reduced the powers of regional and local governments throughout Germany, transforming them into subordinate divisions of the Government of the Reich. Representative assemblies in the Laender were abolished, and with them all local elections. The Government then proceeded to secure control of the Civil Service. This was achieved by a process of centralization, and by a careful sifting of the whole Civil Service administration. By a law of 7 April it was provided that officials "who were of non-Aryan descent" should be retired, and it was also decreed that 'officials who because of their previous political activity do not offer security that they will exert themselves for the national state without reservation shall be discharged." The law of 11 April 1933