The Malicious Practices Act 1933
The Malicious Practices Act was passed on the 21st March 1933 in Nazi Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. It was part of a series of events that occurred within 1933, which marked the brutality and resilience of the Nazi party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

. From here on life for thousands of Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 would be controlled and monitored for those dubbed as ‘social outcasts’. Not only were many killed; others were forced into concentration camps in order to allow the German economy
Economy of Nazi Germany
World War I and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles with its severe reparations imposed on Germany led to a decade of economic woes, including hyperinflation in the mid 1920s...

 to flourish and eradicate opposition to the Nazi Party. The Act in particular portrayed some of the Nazis key political and philosophical policies.


The Malicious Practices Act was a desperate measure introduced to rid the German state of its ‘oppressors’ and ‘enemies’.
In particular, the Nazi state imposed new legislation that made it illegal to speak wrongly of, or criticise the regime and its leaders. The two key guidelines were that of Protective Custody and Preventative Custody.
Preventative Custody was aimed at the undesirables within society, for example paupers
Eugenics is the "applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population", usually referring to human populations. The origins of the concept of eugenics began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance,...

, homosexuals and Jews. Those who were unfortunate enough to fall into this category could be arrested even if an offence had not been committed.
Protective custody, however, was aimed at the regimes political opponents, in particular those from the left, such as the communists and socialists. The state made it apparent that those who failed to comply with Nazi ideology and politics could be arrested for the ‘protection of the state’. In particular this was in an attempt to eliminate other political parties from German politics and eradicate their presence permanently.
A circular of the Reich and Prussian Minister of Interior, produced on 14 December 1937 stated:

(a) “those to be considered A-Social are persons who demonstrate through behaviour towards the community, when may not in itself be criminal, that they will not adopt themselves to the community
The following are examples of A-Social,
Persons who through minor, but repeated, infractions of the law demonstrate that they will not adapt socialist state, e.g. beggars, tramps, whores, alcoholics with contagious diseases, particularly transmitted diseases, who evade the measures taken by the public health authorities”


After being appointed Chancellor on 30 January 1933, Hitler still faced huge problems. The Nazi party at this time only held a third of all seats in the Reichstag
Reichstag (Weimar Republic)
The Reichstag was the parliament of Weimar Republic .German constitution commentators consider only the Reichstag and now the Bundestag the German parliament. Another organ deals with legislation too: in 1867-1918 the Bundesrat, in 1919–1933 the Reichsrat and from 1949 on the Bundesrat...

, thus lacking an overall elected majority. As such the Nazis looked at ways to gain support and elections were called for on 5 March 1933.
At this point Hermann Goering became one of Hitler’s key allies during the period. He was appointed Minister of Interior and sought ways to improve Nazi support. His initial success through bargaining came in the form of donated support from industrialists, who supported the Nazis by providing them with 3million Reichmarks.
Goering was ruthless in his attack on the German state police. He quickly began sacking senior police officers in order to replace them with key Nazi supporters. Alongside this, he infiltrated the police force by recruiting 50,000 members of the SA
-Organizations:* S.A. , a type of corporation in various countries* Salvation Army, a Christian denomination founded by William Booth* Sewickley Academy, a private school in the United States...

 to work as Auxiliary Police, (later to be known as The Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

). Their uniformed presence alone gained the support of ordinary Germans who sought change. Nevertheless their existence brought fear and intimidation amongst the others, something which came to head on 27 February 1933.

The Reichstag Fire
Reichstag fire
The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on 27 February 1933. The event is seen as pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany....

, which took place on 27 February 1933, was the perfect pretext for the Nazis to launch an attack on their fiercest rivals, the Communists and other left wing parties. Nonetheless the Decree that followed, “Decree of the President of the Reich for the Protection of People and State
Reichstag Fire Decree
The Reichstag Fire Decree is the common name of the Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State issued by German President Paul von Hindenburg in direct response to the Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933. The decree nullified many of the key civil liberties of German...

” (otherwise known as The Emergency Decree) prevented the communists and socialists from taking part in the Election campaign. This was pursued through the mass arrests of political party leaders and the closure of party newspapers.

Specific Measures

Although there had been a surge of violence and intimidation exerted by the Nazis prior to the passing of the Act, it was by no means as violent and resilient.
Mass arrests were introduced in order to round up members of the socialists and communist parties.
“ Around 10,000 Communists and Socialists were arrested in March and April. By June, the numbers in ‘protective custody’-most of the workers- had doubled. A good number of those arrested were the victims of denunciations by neighbours of workmates. So great was the wave of denunciations following the Malicious Practices Act of 21 March 1933 that even the police criticised it”
Homosexuals in particular were hard done by through the act, as they were subject to the implications of both guidelines. Above all, they did not fit into the Nazis ideal for the German race and as such were seen as a direct threat to the Nazi’s policy of Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung , meaning "coordination", "making the same", "bringing into line", is a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control and tight coordination over all aspects of society. The historian Richard J...



On the 22 March 1933; Dachau concentration camp was officially opened, in order to “ concentrate the enemy into a restricted place”.
“Its dreaded name soon became a byword for the largely unspoken horrifying events known or presumed to taken place within its walls”.
Yet time has shown that conditions within concentration camps were harsh, dangerous and eventually, murderous.
The Nuremberg laws
Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

 were also introduced to stamp out any Jewish presence. Passed in 1935 at the annual party rally, the laws had two basic aims. Firstly the Law for the protection of German blood and German honour was passed, which prohibited marriage and extra marital intercourse between Jews and Germans. Secondly the Reich Citizenship Law was also passed, which stripped Jews of their citizenship. However anti-Jewish prejudice and violence did not end here, with events radicalising during Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and...

 on 10 November 1938.
Finally, the passing of the Enabling Law would have been fairly impossible without the Malicious Practices Act. As the SA
-Organizations:* S.A. , a type of corporation in various countries* Salvation Army, a Christian denomination founded by William Booth* Sewickley Academy, a private school in the United States...

 and SS had surrounded the representative buildings no elected officials were able to vote other than the Nazis and their supporters. As such the Act was passed with ease and consequently this gave Hitler complete dictatorial powers, hence beginning the radicalisation and implementation of total Nazi rule.


Although the Malicious Practices Act was an implementer of violence and intimidation within the Nazi state, it is essential to ask whether the measures outlined can be seen as responsible for the persecution of ‘outcasts’ within Nazi society. A key part of Nazi historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

 is that of public denunciations, influenced by the presence and intimidation of the Gestapo and Nazi officials. A huge debate has emerged over the importance of these denunciations as it has been suggested that they were dramatically influential. It is important to understand that the topic is hugely emotive, as German people cannot own up to their participation and responsibility, with regards to these denunciations.
Nonetheless one has to come to a judgement as to whether the German people were influenced through coercion or consensus with respects to public denunciations.
These in particular can be seen as heavily influenced by the Malicious Practices Act and the corresponding events such as the opening of Dachau and Kristallnacht.
Nevertheless this is an area of Nazi history that is still in its early stages and debatable, as such is requires in-depth analysis and research.

See Also

  • Espionage Act of 1917
    Espionage Act of 1917
    The Espionage Act of 1917 is a United States federal law passed on June 15, 1917, shortly after the U.S. entry into World War I. It has been amended numerous times over the years. It was originally found in Title 50 of the U.S. Code but is now found under Title 18, Crime...

    , Subversive Activities Control Act 1950 (US)
  • Inciting subversion of state power
    Inciting subversion of state power
    Inciting subversion of state power is a crime under the law of the People's Republic of China. It is article 105, paragraph 2 of the 1997 revision of the People's Republic of China's Penal Code....

  • Article 58 (RSFSR Penal Code)
    Article 58 (RSFSR Penal Code)
    Article 58 of the Russian SFSR Penal Code was put in force on 25 February 1927 to arrest those suspected of counter-revolutionary activities. It was revised several times...

    (Soviet Russia)
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