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To what extent was Nazi Germany a totalitarian state?

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Introduction

To what extent was Nazi Germany 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. ...read more.

Middle

" A government monopoly of the media and culture used for propaganda." Undoubtedly, propaganda was vitally important to the Nazis and the German people were constantly subjected to it, whether it was during Hitler's rise to the top or when he was trying to indoctrinate the people of Germany. The propaganda was very organised, spreading the Nazis views and policies, and creating the 'ideal' that was the Volksgemeinschaft. However, looking back at that time, it is hard to establish whether or not the propaganda was entirely successful. This is because Hitler wanted propaganda to be everywhere, and he took away the basic rights that the people had, so there are no opinion polls available, and no neutral newspapers. Historians cannot fully justify that the mass of propaganda produced at that time actually worked. Indeed many people seemed to support the Nazi regime (or perhaps had no other alternative) but how many were actually serious hard-core Nazis? The role of the propaganda in Hitler's view was that it must be the link between the government and the people, thus, it was touching on ideals and beliefs that were already popular with them. So, it concentrated on the media, arts and social propaganda such as the radio, buildings for the thousand years Reich, and the banning of degenerate art. There was a limited impact of propaganda. It was hugely successful when it was touching on hugely popular beliefs such as the undoing of the Treaty of Versailles, or the Foreign policy. ...read more.

Conclusion

From 1936 the eagle and swastika had to worn on judges' robes. So the existing law was debased, and authorities outside the law took arbitrary actions. " Government control of the economy" The state intervened in the economy to end unemployment and basic economic issues. It didn't get rid of the government department and so created a sideline department. The control that the Nazi party had led to popular policies and successes such as the drop in unemployment. There was disagreement in who was in control of the economy between Schacht the founder of 'the new plan' and Goering's 'four year plan' which shows that the control was not centralised in one department. By looking at these points we can see that the Nazi party were successful in controlling certain areas but were not successful in everything as Historian Stephen Lee says: " In theory the Nazi state was totalitarian in that it eradicated institutions allowing of the formal expression of dissent and opposition and then proceeded to use the SS and Gestapo to pick off individual acts of anti Nazi behaviour. By and large this combined process was successful. Yet, the fact that oppositions did develop in such a variety of forms indicates that totalitarianism was only party successful" I believe this statement is true, as the evidence clearly shows. Hitler was not the tyrant that everyone believed him to be, especially when there is opposition to his party and their ideals. It shows that even with all the propaganda, and control of institutions, people cannot easily be dictated. ...read more.

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