The Enabling Act: even more power for Hitler

March 23, 1933 Berlin

On 23 March 1933, the German parliament voted in favour of the ‘Enabling Act’ by a large majority. The Act allowed Hitler to enact new laws without interference from the president or the Reichstag (German parliament) for a period of four years.

In his speech on that day, Hitler gave those present the choice 'between war or peace'. It was a veiled threat to intimidate any dissenters. With 444 votes in favour and 94 against, the Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act. Only the Social Democrats voted against it. The vote could hardly be called democratic: The Reichstag was surrounded by members of the SA and the SS, the armed branches of the NSDAP. The Communist Party was absent because its members had been arrested or were on the run. Twenty-six Social Democrats did not vote for the same reason.

This law allowed Hitler to rule Germany as a dictator from then on.