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The Enabling Act 1932/33 – How it was Ushered in

Part of history and learning from history is understanding how past atrocities were committed and what gradual steps ushered in tyranny.

For the Nazi Regime, the Enabling Act of 1933 was one such big step to embedding Nazi tyranny and striking a mortal blow to the last vestiges of the Weimar Republic.

The Enabling Act (German: Ermächtigungsgesetz) of 1933, officially named Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich (lit. ‘Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich’), was a regulation that gave the German Cabinet — in particular, the Chancellor — the powers to make and implement laws without the contribution of the Reichstag or Weimar President Paul von Hindenburg.

Fundamentally, the Enabling Act permitted the Chancellor to bypass the system of checks in the government. The laws under it could violate individual rights endorsed in the Weimar Constitution.

Passed on March 23, 1933, and broadcasted the following day, it became the foundation of Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship.

Since the passing of legislation relied on a two-thirds majority vote in parliament, Hitler and the Nazi Party used intimidation and mistreatment to guarantee their desired outcome.

They prevented all 81 Communists and 26 of the 120 Social Democrats from taking their parliamentary seats, confining them in defensive confinement in Nazi-controlled jails.

Also, they positioned SA and SS members in the Reichstag chamber to threaten the remaining representatives and intimidate them into voting for the legislation.

Eventually, the law passed with more than the required two-thirds majority, with just Social Democrats opposing the vote.

The German Supreme Court never really tested the authenticity of this action.

It acknowledged the majority vote, disregarding the absence of the Communist delegates and the majority of Social Democrats under arrest.

Most authorities were persuaded of the authenticity of the process and didn’t see the reason why the Nazis announced a “Nazi Revolution.”

Eventually, among the few who could have tested Nazi objectives, German judges saw Hitler’s administration as legitimate and viewed themselves as state workers who owed him their devotion.

The Enabling Act was at first adopted for four years but was extended in 1937, 1939 and 1943. It stayed the premise of all regulation all through the Nazi dictatorship and was finally annulled after the submission by Law No 1 of the Allied Control Council on September 20, 1945.


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