Joe Bokeyar Year 12 – Modern History Research Essay
To what extent did the Nazis succeed in establishing a totalitarian state in Germany in the years between 1933 and 1939?
The Nazis succeeded to a great degree in establishing a totalitarian state in Germany in the years between 1933 and 1939.
A Totalitarian state is defined as a government that subordinates the individual to the state and strictly controls all aspects of life by coercive measures. A Totalitarian state aims to establish complete: - political
- and cultural control over their people.
Fascism is a type of right-wing totalitarianism which places importance on the subordination of individuals to advance the interests of the state. It is important for totalitarian states to have a charismatic leader. This makes it easier for the party he stands for to gain power. The Nazis came as close as possible to becoming a totalitarian state in Germany. They operated under a policy of gleichschaltung which was controlling every aspect of the entire German populous. The totalitarian state of Germany was successful to the extent that they deterred any opposition from gaining momentum and promoted official ideology. They gained full control of political, social/economic and cultural power over their people. There were only a few minor factors that would stop it being completely totalitarian. One of these factors being that due to Germany not being self-sufficient it couldn’t function without the help of other countries who provided Germany resources. Another factor was that only a majority of the German populations approved of Hitler as their leader. In order for Germany to be considered a completely successful totalitarian state they must force all people to support them. The Nazi party failed to do this.
Germany was dominated by one political party, the Nazi party. They established power with only 44% percent of the nation’s vote. The commitment to make decisions centralised and loyal to one leader (Hitler) strengthened the Nazis grip on a totalitarianism society. Hitler was focused on power gradually through 1933 and 1934. He did this in part by ordering Goering’s SS and SA to launch assaults on any anti-Nazi parties. In February 1933 Communists were wrongly accused of starting a fire at the Reichstag that was seen as a signal for communist insurrection. Leading up to the elections in March 1933, thousands of communist officials were arrested under Hitler’s orders, In addition to this all communist and socialist newspapers were banned. Following the elections finishing Hitler transferred all the power that the Reichstag had to himself. He did this by excluding and arresting all communist deputies and made arrangements with the other parties. This then gave him the power to effectively overturn the German/Weimar constitution. When the Reichstag met, the communists did not dare attend. All 81 of the communist members of the Reichstag were expelled. All other MP’s were intimidated into giving Hitler the supreme powers to make and suspend laws. All major positions of power were now Nazi party members. The unions were replaced by the German labour front and opponents were imprisoned. Every single political party was abolished except for the Nazis. Germany had become a one party state. In a plebiscite held in November 1933 the results showed that 96.3% of the population supported Hitler. It was in 1934 that Hitler began to turn on rivals within his party. The SA, led by Rohm, was considered too radical, ill-disciplined and working class by Hitler. Within the SA there were 3million members who believed Hitler owed them a debt for helping him in gaining power. They wanted a socialist programme to be implemented. It was believed by Hitler that if he did this, he would lose the support of the industrialists. The German army resented the SA and wanted them disbanded. Hitler made a deal with the army. This deal was that the...
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