We all know that after 9/11 the Patriot Act (and new law) was constructed to give the U.S.A. more power in combating Islamic terrorists (the war on terror).

After the fire in the Reichstag in Nazi Germany, the Enabling act (a new law) ensued which was meant to give Hitler absolute power (thereby abolishing the Reichstag) to fight (arrest, torture, kill) the communists who were seen as terrorists.

In the U.S.A. too, people could be arrested more easily (Bush didn't take absolute power though), tortured (Guantanamo Bay), and killed in faraway lands (think of Afghanistan).

I know a question comparing the U.S.A. and Nazi Germany lies very sensitive but I really can't see any difference in changing the law and using the change for political reasons.

Many people though believe the Nazis put the building themselves on fire, as many people nowadays believe that the 9/11 terrorist attack was a U.S.A. government conspiracy. The F.B.I. knew already four days before the attack what was going to happen. And what to think about W.T.C. number seven? Etc.

Can we say these two acts stand on equal footing?

  • No, the Enabling Act of 1933 main intention was to grant the government (executive branch) general legislative powers otherwised reserved to parliament (Reichstag), whereas the Patriot Act did not. The Patriot Act does not grant the the executive branch legislative powers to enact laws, thus bypassing Congress as the Enabling Act of 1933 did. Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 8:03
  • @MarkJohnson So the difference is that the enabling act gave Hitler absolute power, while the patriot act took freedom from the people? Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 8:13
  • No, Congress (legislative branch and representatives of the peaple) granted the executive branch authority to deal with a specific problem within a specific scope, whereas the Reichstag granted the executive branch legislative powers without restrictions. It like comparing a cherry with a cherry tree. Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 8:35
  • @MarkJohnson It like comparing a cherry with a cherry tree. That's a good one! So the patriot (nationalistic?) act is a subset of the enabling act? Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 8:44
  • No, the Patriot Act was a (over)reaction of a open society that had become vulnerable because of that openness. The Enabling Act of 1933 was the result of a planed development of the previous 10 years to abolish the existing system. Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 9:23

1 Answer 1



The Enabling Act was a law by which the Reichstag effectively abolished itself - adding legislative power to the government (Article 1, sentence 1). Government laws would be prepared by the Chancellor (Adolf Hitler) and published in the Reichsgesetzblatt (Artical 3, sentence 1). The law expires on the 1st of April 1937 or after the forming of a new government (Artical 5, sentence 2).
Given the suppression and intimidation of members of that body it is likely that the law itself was unconstitutional. With this legal facade, the Nazis proceeded to institute a militaristic, undemocratic and illegal regime.

The Patriot Act did not amend the constitution and is subject to all the constitutional constraints on legislative and executive power. It delegated powers to the President that were within the constitutional power of the congress to so delegate. In particular, it did not in any way transfer legislative power to the executive; that would be unconstitutional. Further, it did not purport to put the powers of either branch beyond judicial review.

  • But in both cases, the acts were meant to give more possibilities to those in power to combat a supposed opponent [communists, extremists, Islamic extremist, who are (were) both supposed to be a threat to society]. Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 8:36
  • @descheleschilder “why” is a political question, not a legal one
    – Dale M
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 9:58
  • Where do I ask "Why?". Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 11:16
  • What an Act was “meant” to do is a political question - what it “does” is a legal one
    – Dale M
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 11:17
  • 1
    @DescheleSchilder This is a law forum and deals with the laws as written. What the intention behind it was is politics and what came out of it is history. The Enabling Act of 1933 was extended twice (to 1st of April 1941, 10th of May 1943) and became moot on the 26th of April 1942 when Hitler was granted absolute power. The political goal was to abolish the democratic system founded by the Weimar constitution of 1919. Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 9:06

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