Nazi Germany As A Totalitarian State

2216 words - 9 pages

Nazi Germany as a Totalitarian State

Goebbels once said "the aim of the Nationalist Socialist Revolution
must be a totalitarian state, which will permeate all aspects of
public life"

In reality to put this into practise was a lot more difficult. From
the outside, people assume that the Nazis had brainwashed every German
citizen during their reign. By booking more closely, through Germanys
archives we can see a better picture of what Germany was really like.
Totalitarian states must have a number of things, primarily being one
main leader, government control of all aspects of life and create
committed members of state.

In 'Weimar and Nazi Germany' by John Hite and Chris Hinton, they give
us the essential features of a totalitarian regime. In order to see
how well the Nazis achieved this, it is better to go through the key
points one by one.

" A one party state, led by one powerful leader, the centre of a
personality cult"

Hitler achieved a one party state in July 1933 by banning other
opposition parties. However these opposition parties had underground
parties: the SDP had the Berlin Red Patrol and the KDP had the red
orchestra, so Hitler didn't completely get rid of his opposition. A
major area of debate about the 3rd Reich concerns the role played by
Hitler. There are two schools of thought. The traditional view is that
Hitler was the all-powerful dictator, he made all the decisions and
disciplined his followers into implementing his wishes. Hugh Trevor
Roper and Bullock back this view. The Revisionalist view is that
Hitler was weak dictator, and was not involved in the decision making
process. Other Nazis such as Himmler, Goering and Goebbels made
decisions. This practise of rule lead to chaotic government with many
Nazi ministers fighting over position and policies. Historians who
believed this view are Mommsen and Broszat.

However, the current consensus is that he was a bit of both. The Nazi
policy reflected Hitler's overall vision. He didn't initiate many
policies (i.e. a ' non-interventionalsit dictator'). Kershaw believes
that Hitler's view was uncontested and there was no effective
opposition to him. His image as an infallible leader was kept, as he
didn't get involved in faction fighting which came with this chaotic
government. This lead to the people of Germany liking Hitler more than
the actual party. When dealing with potential rivals he was certainly
not weak. He was the source of power if you wanted to get ahead in the
party, and so you had to be careful with your actions. For instance,
Goebbels was cold shouldered in the 'good years' until Hitler needed
him again in 1942 to produce propaganda to unite the German people
when the war was looking bad. A chaotic government suited him as it
fitted in with his personality, and he didn't want to be...

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