Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 23, 1933: Hitler’s Enabling Act

“History is usually interesting and always relevant”- American Angle

On March 23, 1933, Chancellor Adolf Hitler successfully signed into law the Enabling Act of 1933. The new law in German was titled, Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich.

Translation: Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Nation.

The passing of the Enabling Act was the end of democracy in Germany and established the legal dictatorship of Adolf Hitler.

How Did Adolf Hitler get the Enabling Act Passed?

Prior to the vote, Hitler stood before the Reichstag (German Parliament) and delivered one of his many charismatic speeches.

"The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures," Hitler told the Reichstag.

He also promised to pivot toward unemployment and to promote peace with other nations. Chancellor Hitler was still 31 votes short, he had to persuade the German Center Party to approve this measure.

On March 23, 1933, the Reichstag met in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin to consider passing Hitler's Enabling Act. On the day of the vote, storm troopers lined the hallways of the house where the vote would take place, glaring menacingly at anyone who might vote against Hitler’s measure.

Storm troopers not relying on Hitler’s speeches alone to sway the members, employed strong arm tactics and chanted, "Full powers, or else! We want the bill, or fire and murder!”

Hitler falsely claimed that this new law was not tantamount to the abolition of the Reichstag.

One man, Otto Wells spoke out in opposition and said, "We German Social Democrats pledge ourselves solemnly in this historic hour to the principles of humanity and justice, of freedom and socialism. No enabling act can give you power to destroy ideas which are eternal and indestructible."

Adolf Hitler responded, "You are no longer needed! The star of Germany will rise and yours will sink! Your death knell has sounded!"

In the end, Chancellor Hitler secured the votes needed to pass the measure. Deputies from the Nazi Party, the German National People’s Party, and the Centre Party voted in favor of the act, 441 for, only 84, the Social Democrats, against.

Upon passing the new law, the Nazis leapt to their feet clapping, stamping, shouting, and broke into the Nazi anthem, the Hörst Wessel song. They achieved what Hitler had wanted for years; to tear down the German Democratic Republic legally and end democracy.

The Enabling Act gave Hitler a base from which to carry out the first steps of his National Socialist revolution.

“The Government, being resolved to undertake the political and moral purification of our public life, are creating and securing the conditions necessary for a really profound revival of religious life.” - Adolf Hitler, March 23, 1933.


Enabling Act.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 23 Mar. 2010 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/186351/Enabling-Act>.

“Hitler’s Enabling Act.” The History Place. 2010. 23 Mar. 2010http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/enabling.htm.>

“The Enabling Act (March 24, 1933).” German History, Documents and Images. 2010. GHDI. Documents - Building the Nazi Regime. 23 Mar. 2010 < http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=1496>.

No comments: