Berlin – The German parliament Thursday marked 75 years since the law was passed that enabled Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler to rule by decree for his 12 years in power. Hans-Jochen Vogel, a former justice minister for the Social Democrats (SPD), called for democracy to be energetically defended in modern Germany.
Pointing to the persistent phenomenon of neo-Nazi groups, Vogel said: “Those who look the other way or shrug their shoulders are weakening democracy.”
The German parliament passed the so-called “Ermaechtigungsgesetz” by a two-thirds majority over the opposition of the SPD on March 24, 1933, just a month after a fire had badly damaged the parliamentary building, the Reichstag.
Valid for four years, the act, formally known as the “Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Nation,” was renewed in 1937 and remained in force until World War II ended in 1945.
Under its terms, Hitler and his henchmen could ignore the civil liberties provisions in the German constitution and issue decrees without having them passed by parliament.