Document Analysis





  1. TITLE OF TEXTUAL PRIMARY SOURCE? In which language? Enabling ActSpeech to Reichstag in 1933; Spoken in German

2.WHO/WHICH INSTITUTION OWNS THE DOCUMENT? Adolf Hitler; http://ghdi.ghi-dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=1497

3. TYPE OF TEXTUAL PRIMARY SOURCE: English translation of German speech ;Otto Wels’s Speech against the Passage of the Enabling Act (March 23, 1933), in Paul Meier-Benneckenstein, ed., Dokumente der deutschen Politik, Volume 1: Die Nationalsozialistische Revolution 1933, edited by Axel Friedrichs. Berlin, 1935, pp. 36-38.

4. UNIQUE PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DOCUMENT: N.a. due to electronic version of speech.

5. DATE(S) OF DOCUMENT: March 23, 1933

6. AUTHOR (OR CREATOR) OF THE DOCUMENT; POSITION (TITLE): Adolf Hitler; Leader of Nazi Army

7. FOR WHICH AUDIENCE WAS THE DOCUMENT WRITTEN? German Public

8. KEY INFORMATION ABOUT THIS TEXTUAL PRIMARY SOURCE:
a) List three things the author said that you think are important.

I have three specific quotes that I think are both interesting and important. My reasoning as to why follows each respective quote.

1.”I was the first German who stood up to the untruth of Germany’s guilt for the outbreak of the world war before an international forum, …”

I noted this particular line of the speech because I found it as just another instance where Hitler puts himself above everyone. He was so idolized and spoke as thought he was God himself.

2.”The Weimar Constitution is not a socialist constitution.”

I find this very short statement very interesting for a few very specific reasons. There is a sense of irony with this specific claim; Yes, it is true that the document was not a socialist constitution because both a system of proportional representation was introduced and the president was given immense power. This was the first notable instance in German history that presented a established structure for democratic development, although this was not Hitler’s intention. His end goal for Nazi German was not to rule within a participatory democracy.

3.”We have established equal justice for all and a social labor law.”

Again, I find this line important because of the irony it presents.


b) Why do you think this document was written?

The Enabling Act of 1933 gave the German Cabinet power to create and pass laws without the interference of the Reichstag and the Reichsrat. Essentially gave Adolph Hitler complete and absolute power which was exactly what he wanted. He promised an end to unemployment and pledged to promote peace with France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. But in order to do all this, Hitler said, he first needed the Enabling Act.
c) What evidence in the document helps you know why it was written? Quote from the document.

” As far as my party is concerned, I declare here: we have neither asked for intervention in Paris, nor moved millions to Prague, nor spread exaggerated news abroad. It would be easier to stand up to such exaggerations if the kind of reporting that separates truth from falsehood were possible at home. It would be even better if we could attest in good conscience that full protection in justice has been restored for all. That, gentlemen, is up to you.

The gentlemen of the National Socialist party call the movement they have unleashed a national revolution, not a National Socialist one. So far, the relationship of their revolution to socialism has been limited to the attempt to destroy the social democratic movement, which for more than two generations has been the bearer of socialist ideas and will remain so. If the gentlemen of the National Socialist Party wanted to perform socialist acts, they would not need an Enabling Law. They would be assured of an overwhelming majority in this house. Every motion submitted by them in the interest of workers, farmers, white-collar employees, civil servants, or the middle class could expect to be approved, if not unanimously, then certainly with an enormous majority.

And yet, they first want to eliminate the Reichstag in order to continue their revolution.

 As far as my party is concerned, I declare here: we have neither asked for intervention in Paris, nor moved millions to Prague, nor spread exaggerated news abroad. It would be easier to stand up to such exaggerations if the kind of reporting that separates truth from falsehood were possible at home. It would be even better if we could attest in good conscience that full protection in justice has been restored for all. That, gentlemen, is up to you.

The gentlemen of the National Socialist party call the movement they have unleashed a national revolution, not a National Socialist one. So far, the relationship of their revolution to socialism has been limited to the attempt to destroy the social democratic movement, which for more than two generations has been the bearer of socialist ideas and will remain so. If the gentlemen of the National Socialist Party wanted to perform socialist acts, they would not need an Enabling Law. They would be assured of an overwhelming majority in this house. Every motion submitted by them in the interest of workers, farmers, white-collar employees, civil servants, or the middle class could expect to be approved, if not unanimously, then certainly with an enormous majority.

And yet, they first want to eliminate the Reichstag in order to continue their revolution.”


d) List two things the document tells you about life in the place and at the time it was written.

“The situation that prevails in Germany today is often described in glaring colors. But as always in such cases, there is no lack of exaggeration. As far as my party is concerned, I declare here: we have neither asked for intervention in Paris, nor moved millions to Prague, nor spread exaggerated news abroad.”

“This appears in a declaration that a social democratic-led government issued at the time in the name of the German people before the whole world, four hours before the truce expired, in order to prevent the enemies from marching further. – That declaration is a valuable supplement to the statement by the Reich Chancellor.”


e) Write a question for audiences today that is left unanswered by the document. Was there support of the Enabling Act? How did the German people respond to the speech?

9. Addie Perkins, Norman, OK, March 1, 2019

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