Hitler's domestic policies

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“Hitler’s control and organization of the Nazi state was less effective that commonly believed” (Mommsen). To what extent do you agree with this statement? (1933-35)

Adolf Hitler became chancellor in January 1933 and was officially recognized as the Führer in August 1934 becoming the ultimate ruler of the German Nazi regime until his suicide in 1945. Hitler was loyal to the Nazi ideologywhereby racism and Social Darwinism were at the heart of Nazism. This obsession of competition between races as well as establishing a hierarchy within the races was implemented to the German population through propaganda. Much of Nazi propaganda was devoted to portraying the regime as a streamlined state, with a pyramid of power culminating in the figure of the Führer at its peak revealing Hitler asthe strong leader Germany desperately needed. The image of Hitler at the time was that of indisputable authority through the “Fürherprinzip” implementing Hitler’s power and absolute control. However the government faced domestic and foreign aversion though any signs of opposition were quickly eradicated.

There are constant debates on Hitler’s effectiveness of his control and organization ofthe Nazi State. Just after the war, representations of Hitler as master of the Third Reich were supported by historians in the 1950’s, such as Bullock. They believed that the regime was ruled by one leader, one party and one ideology dominating the population through the manipulation of propaganda and Hitler’s use of coercion making Nazi Germany a totalitarian state. This image of Hitler as theexemplary “strong dictator” still pervaded as the popular image of Hitler. However, recent historians (1970’s/80’s) dispute this view approaching the debate through the Intentionalist and the Structuralist interpretation. On one hand, Intentionalist’s stress that the essential political decisions were taken by Hitler as he was the prime force in domestic and foreign policy.the historian Jackelreinforces this point through the following quote: “the essential political decisions were taken by a single individual, by Hitler”. Intentionalist historians such as Bracher believe that Hitler’s leadership principle equate Nazism with Hitlerism. They stress the centrality of Hitler’s personality, ideas and strengths regarding the Führer as central to foreign and racial policy. On the other hand,Structuralists stress the limitations on Hitler’s freedom of action as a result of forces operating within the State. Historians such as Hans Mommsen and Martin Brozat argue that, under Hitler, Nazi Germany suffered a leadership crisis. They view Hitler as a “weak dictator” failing to give clear planning and consistent direction, leading to the collapse of ordered government and self-destruction.

Theold view supported by historian’s form the 1950’s focused on the unquestionable political authority the Führer had over the Totalitarian state. Historians such as Bullock believed that the government was efficient, organized and was ultimately controlled and led by Hitler. This totalitarian view emphasized Hitler’s intentions “Weltanschauung” (world views), as being at the centre of thedevelopment of policies in the Third Reich. For “Hitler-centric” historians such as Hildebrand, the Nazi goals of world conquest and racial extermination could only be explained primarily in terms of Hitler's intentions thus marking Hitler as a “strong dictator”. However, these views were set straight after World War II had ended and are now considered outdated. In general, the Nazi party is now viewed asa “medieval court” whereby Hitler was the “king” and his leading subordinates his “barons” forming a hierarchical pyramid with Hitler on top. The “barons” would fight each other for power and Hitler would stay neutral until his subordinates were too exhausted to fight and he would choose the optimum “winner”. This proves the fact that the system is rather chaotic and certainly not a streamlined...
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