Germany’s economic and political problems did not disappear with Adolf Hitler’s assumption of power in 1933, but dramatic and fundamental changes in the conduct of government soon occurred. Only weeks after Hitler became chancellor, a mysterious fi re destroyed the German Reichstag building. Immediately the Nazis denounced it as a Communist plot, and the aging president, Paul von Hindenburg, was prompted to issue a series of decrees seriously curtailing the freedom of speech and press. Despite a temporary loss of voter support in the March election, the NSDAP succeeded in securing passage of the so-called Enabling Act (Gesetz zur Ehebung der Not von Volk und Reich, or Law to Remove the Distress of People and State), which permitted Hitler to issue laws through the cabinet without consent of the Reichstag. The “coordination” (Gleichschaltung) of all German life with the demands of the new regime had begun.