March 23rd 1933: Enabling Act passed

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The Reichstag on the day of the bill

On this day in 1933 the German Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which essentially made Adolf Hitler dictator of Germany. The law gave Chancellor Hitler legal powers to establish his dictatorship as it gave the Cabinet the power to enact laws independently of the legislature (the Reichstag). Its formal name was ‘Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich’. Hitler had been appointed Chancellor on January 30th and just before the scheduled election, the Reichstag fire occurred. The Nazis used the incident to suggest a Communist revolution was imminent and passed the Reichstag Fire Decree which suspended civil liberties and habeas corpus.

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Hitler’s Reichstag speech promoting bill

The Nazis failed to gain an absolute majority in the Reichstag and so Hitler drafted the Enabling Act to secure his position. The Nazis pressured and threatened representatives of the Reichstag to pass the bill, positioning SA men and Nazi swastikas in and around the building. With the bill’s passing, Hitler’s dictatorship was assured, and thus began a brutal regime which would last until 1945.

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Newspaper reports on the bill’s passing

“The authority of the Führer has now been wholly established. Votes are no longer taken. The Führer decides. All this is going much faster than we had dared to hope”Joseph Goebbels after the passage of the act

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