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

To what extent was the authoritarian nature of the n**i regime an aberration in the context of German history in the years 1848-1949?

Extracts from this document...


Literature Review To what extent was the authoritarian nature of the n**i regime an aberration in the context of German history in the years 1848-1949? Factual Summary In addressing the issue outlined in the title, some key terms must first be clarified. Authoritarianism involves a political system in which individual freedom is held as subordinate to the power and authority of the state, centred either in a leader or leaders, typically unelected by the people, possessing exclusive and arbitrary power. Political theorists have added various stipulations and details to this definition over the years, but the aforementioned description is generally agreed upon. While it is clear that, throughout the period 1848-1948, Germany could never be described as being fully authoritarian, there is certainly evidence of strong authoritarianism in Germany, particularly in Adolf Hitler's n**i Germany. From the quashing of pluralism to racialist policies to the complete lack of constitution, there is an unequivocally strong authoritarianism working at the heart of n**i Germany, indeed authoritarianism spilling over into totalitarianism. What must be ascertained is whether this authoritarianism was an aberration in the context of German history or whether it was a logical development of what had preceded it, the word 'aberration' simply alluding to an irregularity without precedent, something which deviates from normal course. ...read more.


In short, the state had become synonymous with the economy itself. Balfour feels that the authoritarian elements in n**i Germany spilled over into totalitarianism, and he makes a point of contrasting the traditional authoritarianism in Germany against the brutal totalitarianism of n**i Germany. Indeed, concerning the introduction of laws which secured individual personal liberty between 1872 and 1883, he stated that Germany had its own form of Liberalism, or 'Rechstaat', which replaced the previously authoritarian state, 'Obrigkeitstraat'. This seems to go against the theory of Sonderweg. Adam feels that Vansittartism, a wartime sentiment which warned of a pattern of German aggression so deeply rooted in its history that Hitler wasn't an aberration, but a logical development of this aggression, emphasised several key facets which supported the theory of Sonderweg: cultural and political conditioning toward authoritarianism and militarism, popular support for the n**i regime, and the weakness of the German opposition, albeit only when stripped of its wartime polemic. A. J. P. Taylor feels that, due to the lack of national middle class in Germany (and the opportunity passed up in the first years of Charles V) meant that there was a continuous, uninterrupted and steady advance of authoritarianism and absolutism from the early 16th century till the late 17th century. ...read more.


A. J. P. Taylor concedes this: "I had taken the line, perhaps somewhat exaggerated by wartime feelings, that Germany had not been democratic even in Weimar Germany and the Hitlerism, far from being an aberration, grew out of what had come before". While his point is valid in some ways (especially considering the role of Article 48 in enabling Hitler), the Sonderweg theory does not seem realistic. Adam's fairly objective account of Vansittartism takes into account that it shows evidence of continuities only when stripped of its "wartime polemic". Maybe the pro-Sonderweg argument, then, is fuelled too much by wartime feeling to be fully justified. It seems that the pro-aberration argument is more accurate and an easier position to justify, as solid proof is used to highlight discontinuities between Imperial Germany and n**i Germany. It may be most prudent to say that, while elements of authoritarianism were certainly existent throughout the period, and while certain elements could be observed throughout, the scale of authoritarianism in n**i Germany was unprecedented, with Imperial absolutism being replaced by Hitler's iron totalitarianism, making the authoritarianism in Germany an aberration only in terms of its scale, with certain continuities from Imperial Germany, but not as many as the Sonderweg argument relies upon. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 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 AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How successful were Nazi economic policies in the years 1933-45?

    4 star(s)

    Germany had endured an impressive economic recovery within the years 1933-1936; however, two underlying worries remained. These were the fear that rapid increase in demand would rekindle inflation and the fear that a rapid increase in demand would lead to the emergence of a balance of trade deficit.

  2. Hitler and the Nazi Regime - revision sheet.

    Totalitarianism: the aim and the extent to which it was achieved A. What was the nature of Hitler's Leadership Style? On will - Hitler's o All others were subservient Decision making in the 3rd Reich - inspired by Hitler's personal whim rather than by administrative procedures Only source of

  1. How far was the holocaust a long term plan of nazi racial policy?

    and with these stringent measures in place there was a mass exit of Jews from Germany. Wasserstein suggests around 40,00020 Jews relocated to Palestine between 1933 and 1938 under the Havaara Agreement. Furthermore, "By the end of 1938 an estimated 150,000 Jews had emigrated"21 to either Palenstine or 'safe' parts

  2. Hitlers Germany

    To the approximately 66,000,000 Germans, were added close to 8,000,000 nationals of other countries, liberated from concentration camps and labor camps. These were later joined by thousands of infiltrees who came trekking into Germany-Jews from Poland and the USSR, and anti-Communists, taking advantage of disorganized conditions to flee from the Soviet dictatorship.

  1. To what extent did the Nazi regime overturn the Weimar education system?

    Germany?s defeat and that Hitler is the one who will revenge the unfair Treaty of Versailles. In geography, the children were taught about the land that according to the Nazis belonged to Germany as Lebensraum, the land that Great Germany would conquer.

  2. Within the context of the years 1871 -1990, to what extent was Hitler the ...

    Through propaganda Hitler expressed his anti Semitism views and he emphasised his hatred for democracy. Hitler ensured more people learnt about his policies through posters, speeches, rallies as well as the media. Hitler used propaganda to persuade the German masses that the Jews were to blame for Germany?s downfalls and that Hitler was their last hope.

  1. To what extent was Wilhelmine Germany an entrenched authoritarian state?

    The Bundesrat could theoretically make constitutional changes and reject military/constitutional issues with 14 votes. However, this is evidence of the subtlety of the Kaiser?s authoritarian control. Although the Bundesrat could in theory make constitutional changes, and even during the Daily Telegraph affair when calls from the Reichstag for constitutional limitations

  2. Free essay

    Propaganda was a critically important tool used to the control the masses in Nazi ...

    Two workplace schemes, 'Strength through Joy' and 'Beauty of Labour' were introduced to improve working conditions, and increase productivity of workers by organising their leisure time. 'Strength through Joy' was initially created to recompense workers after the loss of trade unions and poor wages.

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