Hitler's next step was to get the Reichstag to pass a law known as the Enabling Act that would give him unlimited power. Under the Weimar Constitution this needed a two-thirds majority. Hitler managed to obtain this by excluding the 81 Communist deputies and by persuading the 73 deputies of the Catholic Party to vote in favour of the Act. Only the Social Democratic deputies spoke up against the measure, heckled throughout by armed SA men who had flooded into the chamber.
Democracy in Germany bad ceased to exist. Within weeks of the passing of the Enabling Act other political parties were banned. Trade unions were suppressed, their funds and offices taken over by the Nazi German Labour Front. Press, radio and cinema were subject to total Nazi control, under the supervision of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Propaganda Minister. Books disapproved of by the regime were flung on to bonfires to be publicly burnt.
Democrats, Jews and other opponents of Hitler fled the country. They included some of the greatest Germans of their day: the scientist Albert Einstein; the writer Thomas Mann; the playwright Berthold Brecht; the conductors Otto Klemperer and Bruno Waiter. Others were arrested, killed or sent to prison or to the newly established concentration camps. The Gestapo (secret state police) and SS (protective squads) struck terror into the hearts of opponents of the regime.