Then you go on to correctly quote from the events of the definitely manipulated 1933 election, which took place in March, 1933 - nearly two months after Hitler became Chancellor. Hindenburg asked Hitler to become Chancellor on the basis of the results of the July and November 1932 elections.
But that really didn't have much to do with Hitler's dismantling of the Weimar Republic, did it?
Yes it was instrumental. Hitler becomes Chancellor on 30 Jan 1933. Then on 27 Feb 1933, just before the March 1933 parliamentary election, the Reichstag Fire breaks out and the Nazi's claim immediately that there was a Communist revolution occurring. Hindenburg signs the Reichstag Fire Decree the next day, effectively declaring martial law and suspension of civil liberties. In states (Land) that are run by the Nazi's (which were many), Communists were summarily arrested and the Communist party and press banned. In states not run by the Nazi's they were just banned.
Then the parliamentary election takes place. As Malcom pointed out, in Nazi dominated places places like East Prussia, a state ruled by Herman Goering, the election was manipulated. Even under those circumstances it was insufficient to gain an absolute majority so the Nazi's partner with Hugenberg's smaller Nazi party. Then they had an absolute majority in the Reichstag.
Then the Nazi's push the Enabling Act through in late March, 1933 (just after the election) which effectively enabled Hitler's cabinet to declare law. This seemed okay because not everyone in the cabinet was a Nazi (Fritz von Papen, for example, former Chancellor who was put there to keep an eye on Hitler) and because the Reichstag could actually overturn the decree. In practice that didn't happen. Hitler was made effective dictator just after
the notorious election of March 1933 and the Nazi's had effectively taken over! But that's okay because President Hindenburg is still alive and under the Weimar constitution the President has strong powers. Still the Nazi's began creating Dachau in March 1933 and sending political prisoners there (and not just Communists). Then in 1934 Hindenburg dies. Instead of an election, Hitler abolishes the office of the President, declares himself Fuehrer and Chancellor and has the military take a personal oath to him. The military complies.
Until that moment Hitler had completely used the legal framework of the Weimar Republic to destroy it.
Yes, it allowed him into a key position in the government from which to do so - but did the German electorate vote for him to do so?
My German friends say no. The Nazi's only got just under 45% of the parliamentary vote on their own in March 1933. That is huge in a parliamentary system. So I would have to retort that the German people did in fact vote for the Nazi policies in 1933. They had elections after that that were essentially just one party elections. But even though the election was manipulated, the German people did vote for the Nazi's and with Hugenberg's smaller Nazi party (which itself was a source of opposition earlier and later) they were able to legally rule.
My understanding is that it was through a well-played series of political maneuvers and getting the military to back him, ultimately - which decided not to oppose him for various reasons.
Political maneuvers - many of them were legal and many weren't (until they finally dominated the courts after March 1933 there were some legal judgements against Goering in Prussia for example). But the key elements of Hitler's assumption of power were all strictly legal until he abolished the office of the President. At which point the military should have executed a coup but didn't. Why? Most of their leaders had believed that the Nazi's had stopped a Communist revolution. However the military itself was ambivalent about Hitler and the Nazi's.
All of those things were outside of elections and often illegal, really (such as using paramilitaries and police to suppress or eliminate opponents). I don't know why people focus so much on the elections. It was the failure of the government to maintain itself in the face of Hitler's illegalities that led to totalitarianism.
As noted, at times before March 1933 the courts declared some Nazi actions illegal. But mostly they were on the border. Then after the Enabling Act what they did was completely legal. Political parties were banned legally and their leaders legally arrested and sent to concentration camps, All legal. All done in the name of public safety and to keep a revolution from happening.
In the end, Goering's comment during the Nuermberg Trials that it is easy to get the people to do what you want by declaring an emergency and that democracy itself is not immune to these tactics wasn't cynicism. He was telling the truth. This is apparently where Snowden eventually decided to take the action that he did. In the name of safety and defense against terrorism, the NSA has used loopholes in the law to technically spy on it's own people: a clear violation of it's mandate. So is this valid and does Snowden have a point?
_________________Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes
"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche