Enabling Act of 1933

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Adolf Hitler
The Enabling Act (German: Ermächtigungsgesetz) was a 1933 Weimar Constitution amendment that gave the German Cabinet—in effect, Chancellor Adolf Hitler—the power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag. It passed in both the Reichstag and Reichsrat on 23 March 1933, and was signed by President Paul von Hindenburg later that day. The act stated that it was to last four years unless renewed by the Reichstag, which occurred twice. The Enabling Act gave Hitler plenary powers. It followed on the heels of the Reichstag Fire Decree, which abolished most civil liberties and transferred state powers to the Reich government. The combined effect of the two laws was to transform Hitler's government into a legal dictatorship.

The formal name of the Enabling Act was Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich ("Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich"). It was enacted by the Reichstag (meeting at the Kroll Opera House), where non-Nazi members were surrounded and threatened by members of SA and SS. The Communists had already been repressed and were not able to vote, and some Social Democrats were kept away as well. In the end, most of those present voted for the act, except for the Social Democrats, who voted against it.

After being appointed chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933, Hitler asked President von Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag. A general election was scheduled for 5 March 1933. A secret meeting was held between Hitler and 20 to 25 industrialists at the official residence of Hermann Göring in the Reichstag Presidential Palace aimed at financing the election campaign of the Nazi Party.

The burning of the Reichstag, depicted by the Nazis as the beginning of a communist revolution, resulted in the presidential Reichstag Fire Decree, which among other things suspended freedom of press and habeas corpus rights just five days before the election. Hitler used the decree to have the Communist Party's offices raided and its representatives arrested, effectively eliminating them as a political force.

Although they received five million more votes than in the previous election, the Nazis failed to gain an absolute majority in parliament, and depended on the 8% of seats won by their coalition partner, the German National People's Party, to reach 52% in total.

To free himself from this dependency, Hitler had the cabinet, in its first post-election meeting on 15 March, draw up plans for an Enabling Act which would give the cabinet legislative power for four years. The Nazis devised the Enabling Act to gain complete political power without the need of the support of a majority in the Reichstag and without the need to bargain with their coalition partners.

This page was last edited on 18 June 2018, at 10:28 (UTC).
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enabling_Act_of_1933 under CC BY-SA license.

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