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Day of Potsdam. March 21, 1933 (Tag von Potsdam).
This pompous ceremony celebrated the opening of the Reichstag, which was elected on March 5, 1933, a month after Hitler became Chancellor. Hitler and Goebbels picked Potsdam, the old Prussian capital outside Berlin, as the venue. They chose March 21st because, 62 years earlier on that day, Otto von Bismarck had convened the first Reichstag of the "Second Reich." The entire event was broadcast on radio to present the Third Reich as the legitimate heir to the Kaiser's Reich and weaken objections to Hitler’s seizure of power.
The Day of Potsdam was introduced with religious services. The Evangelical deputies (including Göring) worshiped in the Church of Saint Nicholas (Nikolaikirche). The Catholics had their own special mass in the parish church. But Hitler and Goebbels, both nominally Catholic, stayed away from the mass because the German bishops were upholding a ban against the Nazis
The main event was a state ceremony in the Potsdam Garrison Church (Garnisonkirche), the site of the Prussian royal tombs. Eighty-five year old Reich President Paul von Hindenburg and Chancellor Hitler both spoke. Hindenburg wore his field marshal’s uniform. Hitler, in a cutaway, looked like an officious headwaiter. A solemn handshake between Hindenburg, ramrod straight, and Hitler, head humbly bowed, sealed the "marriage of old grandeur and new power." This, by the way, was the same Hindenburg who, a few weeks earlier, had said he would make Hitler a postmaster so that Hitler could lick stamps with Hindenburg’s picture on them.
Hindenburg laid a wreath on the Garnisonkirche tomb of Frederick the Great as a 21-gun salute was fired. Then, together with Hitler, the old Field Marshal reviewed a parade of Reichswehr, police, SA, SS, and Steel Helmet units. The festivities ended with the return of the deputies to the Kroll Opera House, where the Reichstag was convened. Two days later, the Reichstag accepted the Enabling Law and relinquished its own power.
Hitler addresses Hindenburg and members of the new government in the Garnisonkirche:
"The National Uplift Government is determined to fulfill the task it has taken over for the German Volk. Therefore, the government appears before the German Reichstag today with the ardent wish to find support within the Volk to carry out its mission."
[Die Regierung der nationalen Erhebung ist entschlossen, ihre vor dem deutschen Volke übernommene Aufgabe zu erfüllen. Sie tritt daher heute hin vor den Deutschen Reichstag mit dem heißen Wunsch, in ihn eine Stütze zu finden für die Durchführung ihrer Mission.]
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