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The fire started in the Reichstag building, the assembly location of the German Parliament.A Berlin fire station received an alarm call that the building was on fire shortly after .The unprecedented element of the Enabling Act was that the Chancellor possessed the powers.An Enabling Act was only supposed to be passed in times of extreme emergency and had only been used once, in 1923–24 when the government used an Enabling Act to end hyperinflation (see hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic).He was arrested, as were four communist leaders soon after.Hitler urged President Paul von Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree to suspend civil liberties and pursue a "ruthless confrontation" with the Communist Party of Germany.
The Bulgarians were known to the Prussian police as senior Comintern operatives, but the police had no idea how senior they were: Dimitrov was head of all Comintern operations in Western Europe.Despite the best efforts of the firefighters, most of the building was gutted by the blaze. The firefighters and police inspected the ruins and found twenty bundles of flammable material (firelighters) unburned lying about.At the time the fire was reported, Adolf Hitler was having dinner with Joseph Goebbels at Goebbels' apartment in Berlin.When Goebbels received an urgent phone call informing him of the fire, he regarded it as a "tall tale" at first and hung up.
Only after the second call did he report the news to Hitler.The fire was used as evidence by the Nazi Party that communists were plotting against the German government.