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To what extent was Hitler a totalitarian dictator?

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Introduction

To what extent was Hitler a totalitarian dictator? A totalitarian dictator is a leader of a one party state who has complete control over all aspects of society. Adolf Hitler used three main methods to control the German people: - the law, terror, and persuasion. After his failed 1923 Munich Putsch (violent uprising), he realised that the only way to gain and keep power was through using the legal system already in place to his advantage. In 1933 Hitler's right wing party - the Nazis - was the largest party in the Reichstag (German parliament). He did not, however, have an overall majority and he needed to change this to allow him to gain more power, therefore he joined forces with the Nationalist party and was appointed chancellor by President Hindenburg. It was hoped that through this appointment Hitler could be controlled. Hitler tried to consolidate his power through a general election. During his campaign he used all the facilities of the state (press and radio) to try and convince Germans to vote for him. Senior police officers were replaced with trusted Nazis and Hitler's private armies - the SA and SS - broke up meetings of opposing political parties but the Nazi party did still not have an overall majority. ...read more.

Middle

Due to this many nuns and priests were sent to concentration camps. The protestant church cooperated at first until the government tried to set up a Reich church with Nazis as Reich bishops. Again protests led to concentration camps. One set of laws enforced an anti-Semitic policy. Hitler blamed the Jews in Germany for all the nation's problems. As a result he introduced the Nuremberg laws. These meant that Jewish people did not have citizenship and couldn't marry or have sexual relations with non-Jews. A Jew was classed as anybody with at least one Jewish grand parent. All these laws however would have been useless if they were not backed up. Hitler reinforced them with the use of terror. The main organisations which did use terror were the SS and the Gestapo. Anybody that tried to resist Nazi rule would be terrorised into behaving, sent to concentration camps or killed. The Gestapo were told to use any means necessary, including torture, to extract confessions. They were assisted in this by the SS who dispensed many beatings. It was thought that tolerance meant weakness and 'enemies of the state' would destroy the unity of Germany. Therefore they should be prevented from causing damage. One way of doing this was by detaining 'undesirables' in concentration camps such as Dachau near Munich. ...read more.

Conclusion

How many houses at 15,000 marks each could have been built at that amount?" Teachers lived in fear of being reported to the Gestapo by children of convinced Nazis for straying from the party line. The whole A group called the Hitler youth also tried to persuade young people. From the ages of 6-18 boys were involved in organisations which first took them on hikes and camping trips and then taught them about military matters. Girls joined the League of German Maidens and learnt about a woman's sole concerns - kinder, kirche, kuche (children, church, children). The Strength Through Joy movement was used to encourage the workforce to strive towards Hitler's dream of self-sufficiency. There were a number of after work activities organised and very productive workers could qualify for a cruise. Despite all these measures there was still resistance to Hitler's policies. Socialists, intellectuals, the church and some army officers were extremely opposed to the Nazi ideas. There were also sets of alternative youth organisations. Gangs such as the Navajos, Kittelbach Pirates and most importantly the Edelweiss Pirates all caused the Nazis problems. These gangs would ambush Hitler Youth patrols. They also helped distribute propaganda dropped by Allied aircraft. In conclusion, it is true to say that although Hitler did have a lot of control over the German people, he didn't have it all his own way. ...read more.

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