• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Himmler and the SS illustrate the total power that Hitler had over Germany. How far do you agree with this viewpoint?

Extracts from this document...


Himmler and the SS illustrate the total power that Hitler had over Germany. How far do you agree with this viewpoint? Traditionalist historians would agree with this interpretation of Hitler's Germany, viewing it as a totalitarian state supported by terror and repression. Undoubtedly, one of the most powerful instruments of this policy was the SS, created in 1925 as Hitler's personal bodyguard. This role expanded as the Schutzstaffel developed into a mass organisation under Heinrich Himmler's careful leadership and grew to represent one of the most powerful and feared tools of the Nazi State with 240,000 members by 1939, allowing it to achieve dominance in the Third Reich. Under Hitler's authorisation, the SS became an auxiliary police force and was able to take suspects into 'protective custody.' This allowed the Nazi's to target any opposition and by 1939, approximately 385,000 German's had been convicted and imprisoned for political crimes without trial. This is one example which illustrates the power the Nazi's imposed through their stringent policy of terror. Their persecution of non-conformists allowed Nazism to increase its hold over Germany with little opposition. ...read more.


This could be used to illustrate the structuralist view that Hitler didn't hold as much sole power over Germany as had previously been thought and that major decisions were influenced more by the structure of institutions and general trends and events in the course of German history than by Hitler himself. Another interpretation, which suggests that the SS isn't an example of the total power that Hitler held over Germany, is that it was a feudal regime. Kershaw stresses the importance of key party leaders such as Himmler and the increase in cumulative radicalism in policymaking rather than the influence of Hitler himself. This again is a structuralist view in that Kershaw is stressing the importance of broader context and structures in the operation of the Nazi state suggesting that the power came from below Hitler. However, despite this, he doesn't deny the influence of Hitler over Germany, just the fact that perhaps it wasn't a smoothly run efficient structure. While the above interpretations look at whether Hitler did really have power over Germany and ultimately, whether or not the SS illustrates this, there is also evidence to show that perhaps the Nazi party didn't have total control over the state. ...read more.


The evidence I have cited above would suggest, to some extent that this is not the case. Despite this, I believe that Hitler's regime was based on a mixture of popular support and co-operation as well as on an intrusive and arbitrary employment of terror. In most cases, the SS managed to quell opposition thus increasing the Nazi's power over Germany. On the other hand, whether or not Hitler really did hold total power over Germany is also heavily debated. Nazi Germany was certainly dominated by Hitler but the power was spread out among his key leaders with much policymaking power passing below. Although intentionalists would disagree with this arguing that Hitler was firmly in charge of all major decisions, he didn't hold total power over Germany, particularly from the point of view of Nazism and terror, as the SS established a vast power base through which it created it's own 'order.' This demonstrates that the SS does not illustrate Hitler's immense power over Germany as although it was a Nazi organisation of which Hitler was the key activator, he did not specifically initiate all policy and did not intervene in all areas. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Germany 1918-1939 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Germany 1918-1939 essays

  1. "Supreme opportunism was the key to unification" How far would you agree with ...

    The Prussian economy was built on "Coal and Iron" which provided the money, transport and munitions for successful war. Economic prosperity was brought by the development of heavy industry in which there were big profits to be made. Also good road and rail networks and a good education system created the 'German' infrastructure.

  2. adolf hitler

    Threatening and beseeching, with small pleading hands and flaming steel-blue eyes, he had the look of a fanatic. Presently my critical faculty was swept away he was holding the masses, and me with them, under a hypnotic spell by the sheer force of his conviction.

  1. To what extent was the SS a "state within a state"? How powerful was ...

    Himmler tried to gain mastery over as many areas of politics as possible ad by the outbreak of war the SS had influence in four large areas of Nazi Germany. With regard to the area of domestic security the SS had achieved a monopoly based upon three instruments of power;

  2. Thr opposition of the Church.

    These after all were for the most part anti-Communist and identifiable with the Western Political scene in subsequent decades after the war. Historical analysis of Leftist activity in Germanys Third Reich for the most part ends with the KPD's structural demise. At best Communist Resistance is mentioned only in passing.

  1. How and why do Historians approaches to the MunichAgreement differ from each other?

    Hobsbawm gives the impression that Germany was somewhat just in demanding change as he writes of 'the failure of Britain and France...' Both authors attach a considerable amount of importance to the long term effects of the Treaty of Versailles.

  2. Where Did Power Lie in the Third Reich?

    The unions had now lost all political power and the workers were overpowered by the DAF. The final strand that in essence could pose a problem was the threat of other political parties. Hitler wanted a dictatorship. The Communists were already limited after the Reichstag fire and on 22nd June 1933 the Social Democrats were also banned.

  1. The SS (Schutzstaffel).

    Himmler was also the chief of the Gestapo, which was the German Police force. The Gestapo solidified its reign of terror over the Jewish citizens during the period of the Second World War. By 1936, Himmler was able to grow this organization to about 50,000 people, which included the members of the SS and the Gestapo.

  2. Guide to The Nazi SS (Schutzstaffel).

    In October 1939 the SS RuSHA ( Rass- und Siedlungshauptamt, central office for race and resettlement) began deporting about 1 million Poles, replacing them with German-speakers from the Baltic states and eastern Europe. In May 1940, after Himmler had sent Hitler a memorandum calling for the deportation of the Jews,

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work