Enabling Act of 1933

The Enabling Act (German: Ermächtigungsgesetz) of 1933, formally titled Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich ("Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich"),[1] was an amendment to the Weimar Constitution that gave the German Cabinet — in effect, Chancellor Adolf Hitler — the power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag. The Enabling Act gave Hitler plenary powers and followed on the heels of the Reichstag Fire Decree, which had 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 act passed in both the Reichstag and Reichsrat on 23 March 1933,[2][3][4] 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 law 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 allowed to be present or 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.[5]

Enabling Act in colour
Hitler's Reichstag speech promoting the bill was delivered at the Kroll Opera House, following the Reichstag fire.

Background

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.[6][7]

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.

Preparations and negotiations

The Enabling Act allowed the cabinet to enact legislation, including laws deviating from or altering the constitution, without the consent of the Reichstag. Because this law allowed for departures from the constitution, it was itself considered a constitutional amendment. Thus, its passage required the support of two-thirds of those deputies who were present and voting. A quorum of two-thirds of the entire Reichstag was required to be present in order to call up the bill.

The Social Democrats (SPD) and the Communists (KPD) were expected to vote against the Act. The government had already arrested all Communist and some Social Democrat deputies under the Reichstag Fire Decree. The Nazis expected the parties representing the middle class, the Junkers and business interests to vote for the measure, as they had grown weary of the instability of the Weimar Republic and would not dare to resist.

Hitler believed that with the Centre Party members' votes, he would get the necessary two-thirds majority. Hitler negotiated with the Centre Party's chairman, Ludwig Kaas, a Catholic priest, finalising an agreement by 22 March. Kaas agreed to support the Act in exchange for assurances of the Centre Party's continued existence, the protection of Catholics' civil and religious liberties, religious schools and the retention of civil servants affiliated with the Centre Party. It has also been suggested that some members of the SPD were intimidated by the presence of the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA) throughout the proceedings.[8]

Some historians, such as Klaus Scholder, have maintained that Hitler also promised to negotiate a Reichskonkordat with the Holy See, a treaty that formalised the position of the Catholic Church in Germany on a national level. Kaas was a close associate of Cardinal Pacelli, then Vatican Secretary of State (and later Pope Pius XII). Pacelli had been pursuing a German concordat as a key policy for some years but the instability of Weimar governments as well as the enmity of some parties to such a treaty rendered the project moot.[9] The day after the Enabling Act vote, Kaas went to Rome in order to, in his own words, "investigate the possibilities for a comprehensive understanding between church and state".[10] However, so far no evidence for a link between the Enabling Act and the Reichskonkordat signed on 20 July 1933 has surfaced.

Text

As with most of the laws passed in the process of Gleichschaltung, the Enabling Act is quite short, especially considering its implications. The full text, in German[11] and English, follows:

Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Reich
Der Reichstag hat das folgende Gesetz beschlossen, das mit Zustimmung des Reichsrats hiermit verkündet wird, nachdem festgestellt ist, daß die Erfordernisse verfassungsändernder Gesetzgebung erfüllt sind: The Reichstag has enacted the following law, which is hereby proclaimed with the assent of the Reichsrat, it having been established that the requirements for a constitutional amendment have been fulfilled:
Artikel 1 Article 1
Reichsgesetze können außer in dem in der Reichsverfassung vorgesehenen Verfahren auch durch die Reichsregierung beschlossen werden. Dies gilt auch für die in den Artikeln 85 Abs. 2 und 87 der Reichsverfassung bezeichneten Gesetze. In addition to the procedure prescribed by the constitution, laws of the Reich may also be enacted by the government[12] of the Reich. This includes the laws referred to by Articles 85 Paragraph 2 and Article 87 of the constitution.[13]
Artikel 2 Article 2
Die von der Reichsregierung beschlossenen Reichsgesetze können von der Reichsverfassung abweichen, soweit sie nicht die Einrichtung des Reichstags und des Reichsrats als solche zum Gegenstand haben. Die Rechte des Reichspräsidenten bleiben unberührt. Laws enacted by the government of the Reich may deviate from the constitution as long as they do not affect the institutions of the Reichstag and the Reichsrat. The rights of the President remain unaffected.
Artikel 3 Article 3
Die von der Reichsregierung beschlossenen Reichsgesetze werden vom Reichskanzler ausgefertigt und im Reichsgesetzblatt verkündet. Sie treten, soweit sie nichts anderes bestimmen, mit dem auf die Verkündung folgenden Tage in Kraft. Die Artikel 68 bis 77 der Reichsverfassung finden auf die von der Reichsregierung beschlossenen Gesetze keine Anwendung. Laws enacted by the Reich government shall be issued by the Chancellor and announced in the Reich Gazette. They shall take effect on the day following the announcement, unless they prescribe a different date. Articles 68 to 77 of the Constitution do not apply to laws enacted by the Reich government.[14]
Artikel 4 Article 4
Verträge des Reiches mit fremden Staaten, die sich auf Gegenstände der Reichsgesetzgebung beziehen, bedürfen für die Dauer der Geltung dieser Gesetze nicht der Zustimmung der an der Gesetzgebung beteiligten Körperschaften. Die Reichsregierung erläßt die zur Durchführung dieser Verträge erforderlichen Vorschriften. Treaties of the Reich with foreign states, which relate to matters of Reich legislation, shall for the duration of the validity of these laws not require the consent of the legislative authorities. The Reich government shall enact the legislation necessary to implement these agreements.
Artikel 5 Article 5
Dieses Gesetz tritt mit dem Tage seiner Verkündung in Kraft. Es tritt mit dem 1. April 1937 außer Kraft; es tritt ferner außer Kraft, wenn die gegenwärtige Reichsregierung durch eine andere abgelöst wird. This law enters into force on the day of its proclamation. It expires on April 1, 1937; it expires furthermore if the present Reich government is replaced by another.

Articles 1 and 4 gave the government the right to draw up the budget and approve treaties without input from the Reichstag.

Ermächtigungsgesetz 1933-03-24 Blatt 1
Act (page 1)
Ermächtigungsgesetz 1933-03-24 Blatt 2
Act (page 2 with signatures)

Passage

Debate within the Centre Party continued until the day of the vote, 23 March 1933, with Kaas advocating voting in favour of the act, referring to an upcoming written guarantee from Hitler, while former Chancellor Heinrich Brüning called for a rejection of the Act. The majority sided with Kaas, and Brüning agreed to maintain party discipline by voting for the Act.[15]

The Reichstag, led by its President, Hermann Göring, changed its rules of procedure to make it easier to pass the bill. Under the Weimar Constitution, a quorum of two-thirds of the entire Reichstag membership was required to be present in order to bring up a constitutional amendment bill. In this case, 432 of the Reichstag's 647 deputies would have normally been required for a quorum. However, Göring reduced the quorum to 378 by not counting the 81 KPD deputies. Despite the virulent rhetoric directed against the Communists, the Nazis did not formally ban the KPD right away. Not only did they fear a violent uprising, but they hoped the KPD's presence on the ballot would siphon off votes from the SPD. However, it was an open secret that the KPD deputies would never be allowed to take their seats; they were thrown in jail as quickly as the police could track them down. Courts began taking the line that since the Communists were responsible for the fire, KPD membership was an act of treason. Thus, for all intents and purposes, the KPD was banned as of 6 March, the day after the election.[16]

Göring also declared that any deputy who was "absent without excuse" was to be considered as present, in order to overcome obstructions. Leaving nothing to chance, the Nazis used the provisions of the Reichstag Fire Decree to detain several SPD deputies. A few others saw the writing on the wall and fled into exile.

Later that day, the Reichstag assembled under intimidating circumstances, with SA men swarming inside and outside the chamber.[15] Hitler's speech, which emphasised the importance of Christianity in German culture,[17] was aimed particularly at appeasing the Centre Party's sensibilities and incorporated Kaas' requested guarantees almost verbatim. Kaas gave a speech, voicing the Centre's support for the bill amid "concerns put aside", while Brüning notably remained silent.

Only SPD chairman Otto Wels spoke against the Act, declaring that the proposed bill could not "destroy ideas which are eternal and indestructible." Kaas had still not received the written constitutional guarantees he had negotiated, but with the assurance it was being "typed up", voting began. Kaas never received the letter.[15]

At this stage, the majority of deputies already supported the bill, and any deputies who might have been reluctant to vote in favour were intimidated by the SA troops surrounding the meeting. In the end, all parties except the SPD voted in favour of the Enabling Act. With the KPD banned and 26 SPD deputies arrested or in hiding, the final tally was 444 in favour of the Enabling Act against 94 (all Social Democrats) opposed. The Reichstag had adopted the Enabling Act with the support of 83% of the deputies. The session took place under such intimidating conditions that even if all SPD deputies had been present, it would have still passed with 78.7% support. The same day in the evening, the Reichsrat also gave its approval, unanimously and without prior discussion.[18] The Act was then signed into law by President Hindenburg.

Consequences

Under the Act, the government had acquired the authority to pass laws without either parliamentary consent or control. These laws could (with certain exceptions) even deviate from the Constitution. The Act effectively eliminated the Reichstag as active players in German politics. While its existence was protected by the Enabling Act, for all intents and purposes it reduced the Reichstag to a mere stage for Hitler's speeches. It only met sporadically until the end of World War II, held no debates and enacted only a few laws. Within three months of the passage of the Enabling Act, all parties except the Nazi Party were banned or pressured into dissolving themselves, followed on 14 July by a law that made the Nazi Party the only legally permitted party in the country. With this, Hitler had fulfilled what he had promised in earlier campaign speeches: "I set for myself one aim ... to sweep these thirty parties out of Germany!"[19]

During the negotiations between the government and the political parties, it was agreed that the government should inform the Reichstag parties of legislative measures passed under the Enabling Act. For this purpose, a working committee was set up, co-chaired by Hitler and Centre Party chairman Kaas. However, this committee met only three times without any major impact, and rapidly became a dead letter even before all other parties were banned.

Though the Act had formally given legislative powers to the government as a whole, these powers were for all intents and purposes exercised by Hitler himself. After its passage, there were no longer serious deliberations in Cabinet meetings. Its meetings became more and more infrequent after 1934, and it never met in full after 1938.

Due to the great care that Hitler took to give his dictatorship an appearance of legality, the Enabling Act was renewed twice, in 1937 and 1941. However, its renewal was practically assured since all other parties were banned. Voters were presented with a single list of Nazis and Nazi-approved "guest" candidates under far-from-secret conditions. In 1942, the Reichstag passed a law giving Hitler power of life and death over every citizen, effectively extending the provisions of the Enabling Act for the duration of the war.[20]

Ironically, two, and possibly three, of the penultimate measures Hitler took to consolidate his power in 1934 violated the Enabling Act. In February 1934, the Reichsrat, representing the states, was abolished even though Article 2 of the Enabling Act specifically protected the existence of both the Reichstag and the Reichsrat. It can be argued that the Enabling Act had been breached two weeks earlier by the Law for the Reconstruction of the Reich, which transferred the states' powers to the Reich and effectively left the Reichsrat impotent. Article 2 stated that laws passed under the Enabling Act could not affect the institutions of either chamber. In August, Hindenburg died, and Hitler seized the president's powers for himself in accordance with a law passed the previous day. Article 2 stated that the president's powers were to remain "undisturbed," which has long been interpreted to mean that it forbade Hitler from tampering with the presidency. A 1932 amendment to the constitution made the president of the High Court of Justice, not the chancellor, first in the line of succession to the presidency—and even then on an interim basis pending new elections.[15] However, the Enabling Act provided no remedy for any violations of Article 2, and these actions were never challenged in court.

British historian Richard J. Evans in his book, The Coming of the Third Reich, argued that the Enabling Act may have been invalid. He contended that Göring's refusal to even acknowledge the Communist seats for the purposes of a quorum was an "illegal act." (It should be noted that even if the Communists had been present and voting, the atmosphere of the sitting was such that the Act would have still passed with, at the very least, 68.7 percent support.) He also argued that the act's passage in the Reichsrat was tainted by the overthrow of the state governments.[16]

Portrayal in films

The 2003 film Hitler: The Rise of Evil contains a scene portraying the passage of the Enabling Act. The portrayal in the film is inaccurate, with the provisions of the Reichstag Fire Decree (which in practice, as the name states, was a decree issued by President Hindenburg weeks before the Enabling Act) merged into the Act. Non-Nazi members of the Reichstag, including Vice-Chancellor von Papen, are shown objecting. In reality the Act met little resistance, with only the centre-left Social Democratic Party voting against passage.

The same film also shows Hermann Göring, the then speaker of the house, begin singing "Deutschlandlied". Nazi representatives then stand and immediately join in with Göring; bizarrely, all other party members join in too, with everyone performing the Hitler salute. In reality, this never happened.

References

  1. ^ Rabinbach, Anson; Gilman, Sander L. (2013). The Third Reich Sourcebook. p. 52. ISBN 0520276833.
  2. ^ "The Reichstag Fire and the Enabling Act of March 23, 1933 | Britannica Blog". blogs.britannica.com. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  3. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "The law that 'enabled' Hitler's dictatorship | Germany | DW.COM 23.03.2013". DW.COM. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  4. ^ Mason, K. J. Republic to Reich: A History of Germany 1918-1945. McGraw-Hill.
  5. ^ Kitson, Alison. Germany, 1858-1990: Hope, Terror, and Revival, pages 153-154 (Oxford U. Press 2001).
  6. ^ Daniela Kahn (2006). Die Steurung der Wirtschaft durch Recht im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland. Das Beispiel der Reichsgruppe Industrie. ISBN 978-3-465-04012-5.
  7. ^ Rüdiger Jungbluth (2002). Die Quandts. Ihr leiser Aufstieg zur mächtigsten Wirtschaftsdynastie Deutschlands. ISBN 3-593-36940-0.
  8. ^ Martin Collier, From Kaiser to Fuhrer: Germany, 1900-45, p131
  9. ^ Klaus Scholder "The Churches and the Third Reich" volume 1 pp 160-1
  10. ^ Letter from Kaas to von Bergen, German ambassador to the Vatican, translation quoted in Scholder, p. 247
  11. ^ Uwe Brodersen, Gesetze des NS-Staates, p. 22
  12. ^ The word government, as used here, means just the chancellor and the cabinet, comparable to the usage of the word in the United Kingdom, and not the entire national government as it is used in the United States.
  13. ^ Article 85 outlined the process by which the Reichstag and Reichsrat approved the Reich budget. Article 87 restricted government borrowing.
  14. ^ Articles 68 to 77 stipulated the procedures for enacting legislation in the Reichstag.
  15. ^ a b c d William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Touchstone Edition, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990
  16. ^ a b Evans, Richard J. (2003). The Coming of the Third Reich. New York City: Penguin Press. ISBN 978-0141009759.
  17. ^ "Adolf Hitler: Compromises with Atheism Destroy Religious, Ethical Values". about.com. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  18. ^ Wheaton, Eliot Barculo (1968). The Nazi Revolution 1933-35. p. 269.
  19. ^ Nationalbibliothek, Österreichische. "ÖNB-ALEX - Deutsches Reichsgesetzblatt Teil I 1867-1945". alex.onb.ac.at. Retrieved 2016-10-14.
  20. ^ "HITLER SEIZES LIFE AND DEATH RULE OF NAZIS (April 27, 1942)". Retrieved 2016-10-14.
Administrative divisions of Nazi Germany

Gaue (Singular: Gau) were the de facto main administrative divisions of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945.

The Gaue were formed in 1926 as Nazi Party regional districts in Weimar Germany based on the territorial changes after the First World War. The Gau system was established in 1934 as part of the Gleichschaltung process, replacing the de jure system of Länder (states) and Prussian provinces, which held no administrative purpose since the Enabling Act of 1933 and were reduced to rudimentary bodies. Each Gau was headed by an administrative leader, the Gauleiter, a high-ranking Nazi Party official with near-autocratic powers.

Germany consisted of 32 Gaue in 1934, eventually peaking at 42 Gaue with regions occupied in 1938 to early 1939 (Austria, Sudetenland, Memelland) and conquered during the Second World War incorporated into existing Gaue or organised as Reichsgaue, a special type of Gau where the Gauleiter also carried the position of Reichsstatthalter. The Gaue system was dissolved on May 8, 1945, following the surrender of Nazi Germany.

Adolf Hitler's rise to power

Adolf Hitler's rise to power began in Germany in September 1919 when Hitler joined the political party known as the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – DAP (German Workers' Party). The name was changed in 1920 to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party, commonly known as the Nazi Party). This political party was formed and developed during the post-World War I era. It was anti-Marxist and opposed to the democratic post-war government of the Weimar Republic and the Treaty of Versailles; and it advocated extreme nationalism and Pan-Germanism as well as virulent anti-Semitism. Hitler's "rise" can be considered to have ended in March 1933, after the Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act of 1933 in that month. President Paul von Hindenburg had already appointed Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933 after a series of parliamentary elections and associated backroom intrigues. The Enabling Act—when used ruthlessly and with authority—virtually assured that Hitler could thereafter constitutionally exercise dictatorial power without legal objection.

Adolf Hitler rose to a place of prominence in the early years of the party. Being one of the best speakers of the party, he told the other members to either make him leader of the party or he would never return. He was aided in part by his willingness to use violence in advancing his political objectives and to recruit party members who were willing to do the same. The Beer Hall Putsch in November 1923 and the later release of his book Mein Kampf (Translation: My Struggle) introduced Hitler to a wider audience. In the mid-1920s, the party engaged in electoral battles in which Hitler participated as a speaker and organizer, as well as in street battles and violence between the Rotfrontkämpferbund and the Nazis' Sturmabteilung (SA). Through the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Nazis gathered enough electoral support to become the largest political party in the Reichstag, and Hitler's blend of political acuity, deceptiveness and cunning converted the party's non-majority but plurality status into effective governing power in the ailing Weimar Republic of 1933.

Once in power, the Nazis created a mythology surrounding the rise to power, and they described the period that roughly corresponds to the scope of this article as either the Kampfzeit (the time of struggle) or the Kampfjahre (years of struggle).

Enabling (disambiguation)

Enable or Enabling can refer to one of the following:

Enabling, a term in psychotherapy and mental health

Enabling technology, an invention or innovation, that can be applied to drive radical change in the capabilities of a user or culture

Enabling act, a piece of legislation by which a legislative body grants an entity power to take certain actions

Enabling Act of 1802, authorized the residents of the eastern portion of the Northwest Territory to form the state of Ohio and join the United States

Enabling Act of 1889, a United States statute that enabled North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington to form state governments and to gain admission as states of the union.

Oklahoma Enabling Act, a 1906 law which empowered the people residing in Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory to elect delegates to a state constitutional convention and subsequently to be admitted to the union as a single state

Standard State Zoning Enabling Act, a 1922 model law for U.S. states to enable zoning regulations in their jurisdictions

Enabling Act of 1933 (Ermächtigungsgesetz), a 1933 Weimar constitutional amendment that gave the German Cabinet the power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag

Rules Enabling Act, a 1934 act of Congress that gave the judicial branch the power to promulgate the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Enabling clause, a clause in the 1979 Tokyo Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

Enabling transformation, a compiler optimization that increases the effectiveness of other compiler optimizations

Enabling Unit, Equal Opportunity Cell based at University College of Medical Sciences and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, DelhiEnable can also refer to:

Enable Software, Inc., a defunct software company located in Ballston Lake, New York

EnABLE software, software used in the oil and gas industry

Geo-enable, the integrated use of Geographic Information

Enable, Limpopo, a town in the Limpopo province of South Africa

ENABLE Scotland, a Scottish charity that supports people with learning disabilities

Enable Ireland, an Irish non-profit organisation providing free services to people with disabilities and their families

Enable (horse), a thoroughbred racehorse, winner of the 2017 Epsom Oaks

Enabling act

An enabling act (German: Ermächtigungsgesetz) is a piece of legislation by which a legislative body grants an entity which depends on it (for authorization or legitimacy) the power to take certain actions. For example, enabling acts often establish government agencies to carry out specific government policies in a modern nation. The effects of enabling acts from different times and places vary widely.

German Cycling Federation

The German Cycling Federation or BDR (in German: Bund Deutscher Radfahrer) is the national governing body of cycle racing in Germany.

The BDR is a member of the UCI and the UEC.

German State Party

The German State Party (German: Deutsche Staatspartei or DStP) was a short-lived German political party of the Weimar Republic, formed by the merger of the German Democratic Party (Deutsche Demokratische Partei, DDP) with the People's National Reich Association (the political wing of the Young German Order) in July 1930.

Hitler Cabinet

The Hitler Cabinet de jure formed the government of Nazi Germany between 30 January 1933 and 30 April 1945 upon the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of the German Reich by president Paul von Hindenburg. Contrived by the national conservative politician Franz von Papen, who reserved the office of the Vice-Chancellor for himself. Originally, Hitler's first cabinet was called the Reich Cabinet of National Salvation, which was a coalition of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and the national conservative German National People's Party (DNVP), it became an exclusively Nazi cabinet when the DNVP was intimidated into dissolving itself.

The Enabling Act of 1933, passed two months after Hitler took office, gave the cabinet the power to make laws without legislative consent for four years. In effect, this power was vested in Hitler, and for all intents and purposes it made Hitler a dictator. After the Enabling Act's passage, serious deliberations more or less ended at cabinet meetings. It met only sporadically after 1934, and last met in full on 5 February 1938. Nonetheless, it grew immensely in size on paper, due to the addition of the commanders of the armed services and several ministers without portfolio.

List of Nazis

A list of notable people who were at some point a member of the defunct Nazi Party (NSDAP). This is not meant to be a list of every person who was ever a member of the Nazi Party. This is a list of notable figures who were active within the party and did something significant within it that is of historical note or who were members of the Nazi Party according to multiple publications. For a list of the main leaders and most important party figures see: List of Nazi Party leaders and officials.

This list has been divided into four sections for reasons of length:

List of Nazis (A–E) : from Gustav Abb to Hanns Heinz Ewers (~ 247 names)

List of Nazis (F–K) : from Arnold Fanck to Kurt Küttner (~ 268 names)

List of Nazis (L–R) : from Bodo Lafferentz to Bernhard Rust (~ 232 names)

List of Nazis (S–Z) : from Ernst Sagebiel to Fritz Zweigelt (~ 259 names)

National Socialist Bloc

National Socialist Bloc (in Swedish: Nationalsocialistiska Blocket) was a Swedish national socialist political party formed in the end of 1933 by the merger of Nationalsocialistiska Samlingspartiet, Nationalsocialistiska Förbundet and local National Socialist units connected to the advocate Sven Hallström in Umeå. Later Svensk Nationalsocialistisk Samling merged into NSB.

The leader of the party was the Colonel Martin Ekström. The party maintained several publications, Landet Fritt (Gothenburg), Vår Kamp (Gothenburg), Vår Front (Umeå), Nasisten (Malmö) and Riksposten.

NSB differentiated itself from other Swedish National Socialist groups due to its liaisons with the Swedish upper class. NSB was clearly smaller than the two main National Socialist parties in Sweden at the time, SNSP and NSAP. Gradually the party vanished.

National Socialist League

The National Socialist League was a short-lived Nazi political movement in the United Kingdom immediately before the Second World War.

Preußenschlag

The Preußenschlag of 1932 (German pronunciation: [ˈpʁɔʏsənˌʃlaːk], Prussian coup), also known in English as the coup in Prussia or the putsch in Prussia, was the takeover of the Free State of Prussia, the largest German state, by Chancellor Franz von Papen, using an emergency decree issued by President Paul von Hindenburg under Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution on July 20, 1932.

It was a major step towards the end of the Weimar Republic, as it later facilitated the Nazification (Gleichschaltung) of Germany after Adolf Hitler's rise to power.

The pretext for this measure was violent unrest in some areas of Prussia and the alleged inability of the Prussian government to handle the matter. The main trigger was the "Altonaer Blutsonntag" ("Altona Bloody Sunday"), a shootout between the SA and Communists in Altona on 17 July 1932, which claimed 18 lives.

It is more likely however that the Prussian government headed by Minister-President Otto Braun, with authority over the powerful Prussian police force, was simply one of the last major forces standing in the way of Papen's plans for nationalist rule.The move was facilitated by the unstable situation of the Prussian government. The centre-left coalition of the Social Democrats, Centre Party and liberal German Democratic Party had ruled Prussia without interruption since 1918, but had lost its majority in the Landtag (state parliament) in the 1932 elections. However, under the Prussian constitution, a government could be removed from office only if there was a positive majority for a prospective successor. This provision, known as a "constructive vote of no confidence," was intended to ensure that a government had sufficient support to govern.

The Communists and National Socialists held over half the seats between them, but would not cooperate with each other or with other parties. Thus, no politically realistic alternative government was possible, and the Braun-led coalition remained in office.

However, Papen also lacked majority support in the Reichstag. His only means to govern was through the emergency provisions of Article 48, and hence via decrees issued by the Reichspräsident Hindenburg, over whom Papen had great influence. The emergency decree of July 20 dismissed the Braun government and declared Papen Reichskommissar (Reich Commissioner) for Prussia, vested in him all the competences of the Prussian ministries, and gave him direct control over the Prussian government.The decree was declared partially unconstitutional on October 25, 1932, by the German Constitutional Court, but only in so far as the formal existence of the Prussian cabinet was concerned. The transfer of power to Papen was upheld, while the Braun cabinet retained the right to represent Prussia in the Reichsrat.

Prussia remained under direct administration of the federal government until April 1933. The Enabling Act of 1933 gave Hitler the effective power to enact legislation (including extraconstitutional laws) without the consent of the Reichstag. One of Hitler's first legislative acts was to dissolve all of the state parliaments (except Prussia's) and replace them with legislatures that were constituted based on the results of the partly-free federal election held in March. Prussia was excluded from this measure because it had held state elections at the same time, with a similar result (a Nazi plurality). With the banning of the Communist and Social Democratic parties, the Nazis now had a majority in the Prussian parliament, which elected Hermann Göring as Minister-President. However, under Hitler's rule, German states were effectively replaced by Nazi Gaue, so Göring's post was largely ceremonial.

The state of Prussia was finally dissolved by the Allies after the end of World War II.

Reichsstatthalter

The Reichsstatthalter (German: [ˈʁaɪçsˌʃtathaltɐ], Reich lieutenant) was a title used in the German Empire and later in Nazi Germany.

Reichstag (Nazi Germany)

The Reichstag ("Diet of the Realm"), officially the Großdeutscher Reichstag ("Greater-German Reichstag") after 1938, was the pseudo-Parliament of the Third Reich from 1933 to 1945. Following the Nazi seizure of power and the passing of the Enabling Act of 1933, it met only as a rubber stamp for the actions of Adolf Hitler's dictatorship — always by unanimous consent — and to listen to Hitler's speeches. In this purely ceremonial role, the Reichstag convened only 20 times, the last on 26 April 1942. The President of the Reichstag (German: Reichstagspräsident) throughout this period was Hermann Göring.

During this period, the Reichstag was sometimes derisively referred to by the German public as the "teuerste Gesangsverein Deutschlands" (the most expensive singing club in Germany) due to frequent singing of the national anthem during sessions. To avoid holding scheduled elections during World War II, in 1943 Hitler extended the term of office of the current Reichstag (elected in late 1938 to serve in 1939–1943) to serve a special eight-year term ending on 30 January 1947.

Reichstag (Weimar Republic)

The Reichstag (English: Diet of the Realm) was the Lower house of the Weimar Republic's Legislature from 1919, with the creation of the Weimar constitution, to 1933, with the Reichstag fire.

Rudolf Breitscheid

Rudolf Breitscheid, (2 November 1874 – 28 August 1944) was a leading member of the Social Democratic Party and a delegate to the Reichstag during the era of the Weimar Republic in Germany.

Breitscheid, the son of a bookshop manager, was born in Cologne. He studied at a Gymnasium (an academically-oriented secondary school) in Cologne. From 1894 to 1898 he studied Economics at the Universities of Munich and Marburg; in 1898 he obtained his doctorate with a dissertation entitled "Land Policy in the Australian Colonies." From 1898 to 1905, he worked as an editor and correspondent for newspapers with a middle-class, Liberal outlook.

Between 1903 and 1908, Breitscheid was a member of the Free-minded Union. In 1908, he numbered among the founding members of the left-liberal Democratic Union (DV) and, until the Reichstag elections of 1912, served as its chair.

After the DV founded in the 1912 elections, Breitscheid joined the SPD, switching five years later to the more leftist splinter faction, the USPD (Independent Social Democratic Party). During the years of the First World War, he was the SPD faction's spokesman for foreign policy, as well as member of the German delegation to the League of Nations. After Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power in 1933 Breitscheid and all members of the SPD present voted against the Enabling Act of 1933. Especially Breitscheid and Otto Wels were singled out later by Konstantin von Neurath as example that acts of terror against different minded persons are a "calumny". He emigrated to France by way of Switzerland, with the help of Alfred Faust.There, efforts were undertaken by the Refugee Committee, under Varian Fry, to get him out of Vichy France, along with Rudolf Hilferding. These efforts were not successful, and in 1941, approximately a year into the German occupation of France, he was arrested by the Gestapo and interned in the Buchenwald concentration camp. The precise details of Breitscheid's last years are known only sketchily. According to the historian Nikolaus Wachsmann he died by friendly fire during an Allied air raid on 24 August 1944. Varian Fry instead believed that Breitscheid was murdered by the Gestapo on the orders of Hitler or another senior Nazi Party official. He is buried in the Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery in the borough of Lichtenberg in Berlin.Today, a plaza in the centre of Berlin is named after Breitscheid, while in Oberhof, Kaiserslautern, Potsdam, Leverkusen, and Dresden, as well other parts of eastern Germany, there are streets bearing his name.

Some of the streets named after him in eastern Germany have, since 1989, been renamed.

Streitbare Demokratie

The wehrhafte, or streitbare Demokratie ("well fortified" or "battlesome democracy") is a term for German politics that implies that the government (Bundesregierung), the parliament (Bundestag and Bundesrat) and the judiciary are given extensive powers and duties to defend the freiheitlich-demokratische Grundordnung ("liberal democratic order") against those who want to abolish it. The idea behind the concept is the notion that even a majority rule of the people cannot be allowed to install a totalitarian or autocratic regime such as with the Enabling Act of 1933, thereby violating the principles of the German constitution, the Basic Law.

Timeline of the Holocaust

A timeline of the Holocaust is detailed in the events listed below. Also referred to as the Shoah (in Hebrew), the Holocaust was a genocide in which some six million European Jews were killed by Nazi Germany and its World War II collaborators. About 1.5 million of the victims were children. Two-thirds of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe were murdered. The following timeline has been compiled from a variety of sources including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Weimar Republic

The Weimar Republic (German: Weimarer Republik [ˈvaɪmaʁɐ ʁepuˈbliːk] (listen)) is an unofficial historical designation for the German state from 1918 to 1933. The name derives from the city of Weimar, where its constitutional assembly first took place. The official name of the republic remained Deutsches Reich unchanged from 1871, because of the German tradition of substates. Although commonly translated as "German Empire", the word Reich here better translates as "realm", in that the term does not in itself have monarchical connotations per se. The Reich was changed from a constitutional monarchy into a republic. In English, the country was usually known simply as Germany.

Germany became a de facto republic on 9 November 1918 when Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated the German and Prussian thrones with no agreement made on a succession by his son Crown Prince Wilhelm, and became a de jure republic in February 1919 when the position of President of Germany was created. A national assembly was convened in Weimar, where a new constitution for Germany was written and adopted on 11 August 1919. In its fourteen years, the Weimar Republic faced numerous problems, including hyperinflation, political extremism (with paramilitaries—both left- and right-wing) as well as contentious relationships with the victors of the First World War. Resentment in Germany towards the Treaty of Versailles was strong especially on the political right where there was great anger towards those who had signed the Treaty and submitted to fulfill the terms of it. The Weimar Republic fulfilled most of the requirements of the Treaty of Versailles although it never completely met its disarmament requirements and eventually paid only a small portion of the war reparations (by twice restructuring its debt through the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan). Under the Locarno Treaties, Germany accepted the western borders of the country by abandoning irredentist claims on France and Belgium, but continued to dispute the eastern borders and sought to persuade German-speaking Austria to join Germany as one of Germany's states.

From 1930 onwards President Hindenburg used emergency powers to back Chancellors Heinrich Brüning, Franz von Papen and General Kurt von Schleicher. The Great Depression, exacerbated by Brüning's policy of deflation, led to a surge in unemployment. In 1933, Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor with the Nazi Party being part of a coalition government. The Nazis held two out of the remaining ten cabinet seats. Von Papen as Vice Chancellor was intended to be the "éminence grise" who would keep Hitler under control, using his close personal connection to Hindenburg. Within months, the Reichstag Fire Decree and the Enabling Act of 1933 had brought about a state of emergency: it wiped out constitutional governance and civil liberties. Hitler's seizure of power (Machtergreifung) was permissive of government by decree without legislative participation. These events brought the republic to an end – as democracy collapsed, the founding of a single-party state began the dictatorship of the Nazi era.

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