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Adolf Hitler and The National Socialists: A Case Study in Political Constructivism

ABSTRACT Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party gained and maintained power by adopting the philosophy of constructivism and applying it to political leadership. The Nazi leader took advantage of every situation which made his approach to morals and politics dependent on the climate of public, national, and international opinion at the time. This situational relativist approach can be considered constructivist in nature. Therefore, by selectively exploring the coups of Hitler and his henchmen the constructivist, unstructured nature of National Socialism will become apparent. By Mark Mraz Mark Mraz is an assistant professor of education at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. He holds a PhD in C& I Social Studies Education from The Pennsylvania State University. Mark teaches social studies methods and foundations courses at Slippery Rock. Prior to coming to the University, He taught history and social studies for 29 years at the St Marys Area School District in St. Marys, Pennsylvania.

Assistant Professor of Education Slippery Rock University Secondary Education Department 208D McKay Hall Slippery Rock, PA 16057 Email:mark.mraz@sru.edu Phone: 724-738-2288

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Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1126363

Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists: A Case Study in Political Constructivism

Introduction Adolf Hitler and his national socialist movement gained and maintained power by adopting the philosophy of constructivism and applying it to political leadership. The Nazi leader took advantage of every situation which made his approach to morals and politics dependent on the climate of public, national, and international opinion at the time. An example of this contrived policy can be seen in the Nazi’s attempt to create a religion, the Reich Church. However, the general German public adhered to their Christianity and Hitler was forced back down when faced with severe prevalent resistance, thereby allowing the people to keep their religious beliefs (Goldenhagen). Undoubtedly, this situational relativist approach can be considered Constructivist. Therefore, by exploring a selective array of the major coups of Hitler and his henchmen; the constructivist unstructured nature of National Socialism is apparent. According to Hitler, in one of his many private diatribes to his inner circle of disciples, the ultimate goal of his whole policy was quite clear. Hitler’s employment of Machiavellian tactics can be seen as implied constructivism. Hitler stated: Always I am concerned only that I do not take a step from which I will perhaps have to retreat, and not take a step that will harm us. I tell you that I always go to the outermost limits of risk, but never beyond. For this you need to have a nose more or less to smell out; “What can I still do?” … In a struggle against an enemy, I do not summon an enemy with force of fight. I don’t say: “Fight!” because I want to fight. Instead I say , “I will destroy you! And now. Wisdom, help me to maneuver you into a corner that you cannot fight back, and then you get the blow to the heart. (Rosenbaum, 382). This passage suggests that Hitler had a goal in mind but the means to the end

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Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1126363

involved a series of constructed scenarios to back his opponents into a position of weakness by giving them no room to maneuver. This is exactly what he did when he took over Austria, the Rhineland, and Czechoslovakia. Hitler harangued, browbeat, and got a vast territory without firing a shot. This weaving and bobbing like a prize fighter on the world stage of geo-politics is dangerous for both the winner and loser. Because the relativity of the circumstances can be misconstrued as vital to the national interest.. This situational contrived metaphysics of the whole history of the National Socialist Workingmans Party’s rise to...
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