To What Extent Was Hitler a Totalitarian Dictator?

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 Essay Title: To What Extent Was Hitler a Totalitarian Dictator?

Before I begin to answer the question, “to what extent was Hitler a totalitarian dictator”, I must first expand on the meanings of these two widely used political terms. In the “Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopaedic Dictionary”, the definition of totalitarian dictator is as follows: “Totalitarian (adjective). Of, pertaining to, régime which permits no rival loyalties or parties and arrogates to itself all rights including those normally belonging to individuals.” In short, totalitarian means a political system that has complete control over all aspects of people’s lives. The very same tome that I previously quoted from contains this definition of dictator: “Dictator (noun). Absolute ruler, usually temporary or irregular, of a State; person with absolute authority in any sphere.”  These terms elaborated on, I will attempt to explain and dissect all aspects of Hitler’s dictatorship and comment on how each of them contributed to Hitler’s complete control.

On the twenty-seventh of February 1933, the Reichstag burnt down. The Reichstag was much like the House of Commons, with the Reichstrat acting in a similar way to the House of Lords. A Dutch communist by the name of Marius Van de Lubbe was caught near to the scene in possession of matches and firelighters. He was taken away by the Nazis and ‘questioned’. He is reported to have confessed, and was tried for treason. This gave an excuse for the Communist party to be banned from the government an thus eliminated opposition to Hitler as the Communist party was the second largest in Germany, and contributed to his rise to complete control by providing him with a viable scapegoat and disposing with a major rival.

Also in 1933, the Enabling Act was passed. This allowed a single person, in this case Hitler, the chancellor, complete control over a country in crisis. These measures may seem quite harsh but the idea of the Enabling Act is quite a common one, having been used in Germany for five years and being used at the same time in the USA. The Enabling act allowed Hitler to pass laws without them having to go through parliament, thus decreasing the time taken to actually do something. One of the first things Hitler did was to ban all other political parties. This eliminated all political opposition and allowed him to have complete control by removing any objectors to the Nazi régime.

When Hitler banned all the political parties, the first party to be banned was the communist KPD. The socialist SPD party was then banned, and a ‘Law Against the Formation of Parties’ was passed, removing the threat of any new upstarts threatening the Nazis. The leaders of socialist and communist parties were put in concentration camps, as well as half of the members of the parties. This allowed Hitler to have complete control by showing the people of Germany what he was made of and preventing any opposition.

On the weekend of the twenty-ninth to the thirtieth of June 1933, Hitler and the SS broke into a hotel in Bad Wiessee where Ernst Röhm and other senior members of the SA were staying and arrested them on account of treason – plotting to overthrow Hitler. They were taken to Munich and executed along with about 400 others. The SA wasn’t disbanded, but remained intact, however lower than the SS. Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS had told Hitler that the SA were planning to overthrow Hitler and seize power for themselves. Röhm was annoyed at Hitler’s view that the SA were only needed for parades and rallies, and this fuelled the rumours of treason. 2 months after this, Hitler was appointed head of state by a public vote by 38 million to       41/4 million votes. This eliminated opposition by reducing the risk of mutiny in the ranks and helped Hitler to gain complete control by getting rid of people that may have caused problems if they hadn’t been removed.

Nazi Germany was a police state. There were two main groups: The SS or Schutzstaffel and the Gestapo or Geheime Staatspolizei. The SS was formed in 1925 from a group of Hitler fanatics and it was originally part of the SA. All of the members SS had to be fit, strong Aryan men. Part of the training was to nurture a puppy from birth, and then when the final exam approached, candidates were given a gun to shoot the puppy with. If they did, they were in; if they didn’t…they weren’t. As I said in the previous section, the SS were led by Heinrich Himmler and were extremely loyal to Hitler. There were seven sub-divisions of the SS: the Order Police (regular police); the RHSA (security head office for the Reich); the General-SS; the Death’s Head Units (in charge of concentration camps); the Waffen-SS (fought alongside the regular army); the Office for Strengthening of German-hood (racial policies, especially in occupied territories) and the Race and Resettlement Office. People were very respectful of the SS and all of its sub-divisions. Many Germans wanted to join the SS for the sense of being wanted it instilled in them – the majestic black uniform made them feel part of something important. After the depression, there was a serious shortage of national pride – any kind of pride for that matter; and being in uniform brought some of that back. The Gestapo, set up in 1933 by the Prussian Minister of the Interior, was the German secret police. They had sweeping powers over the whole of Germany and were extremely feared among the population. For example, the Gestapo could make arrest citizens on suspicion and send them directly to concentration camps without explanation, trial or chance of appeal. The head of the Gestapo, appointed in 1936, was Richard Hedrick – Himmler’s deputy. This meant that the Gestapo was effectively under the SS’s control. Modern research shows that most ordinary Germans believed the Gestapo to be more powerful than they actually were – this had the effect of making people inform on each other because they thought that the Gestapo would find out anyway. The presence of the SS and the Gestapo eliminated opposition to Hitler by putting anti-Nazis into concentration camps and generally keeping everybody in check. This allowed Hitler to have complete control by using fear to manipulate the German peoples and by making sure that their were no uprisings or non-sympathisers by taking them out of the picture altogether.

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Hitler was a flagrant anti-Semitist. He blamed Jews for nearly everything: the state of the economy, the loss of WWI and even the death of Jesus Christ. The Jews were a fairly easy target and they only, at the time, made up 1% of the population so any protests could be easily quashed. Jews were normally very well educated so they tended to hold well-paid jobs – in fact; they made up 16% of all lawyers and 10% of all doctors. In March 1933, the SA were ordered to turn people away from Jewish owned business. In 1935, an ...

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