Was Hitler Truly in Charge of the Third Reich?

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After World War Two (WW2) had ended and the dust began to settle over the Nazi Regime, historians began to try and analyse the monstrosities that had occurred in Nazi Germany and how such a disaster could possibly occur in one of the most developed countries in world. Most historians of the time believed that Hitler was the main cause of the Holocaust and the rise of the Nazi’s. They also thought that without Hitler at the forefront of the Nazi regime the events of the passed 12 years would have never taken place. Historians with this viewpoint were named internationalists. Then in the 1960’s a new theory developed, structuralism. Structuralists worked on the basis that Hitler was not a great dictator. They believed that it was the state that Germany was in after World War One (WW1), and the German people themselves who were more of a factor in the success of Nazi Germany. In this essay these two viewpoints will be discussed to find out if Hitler was just a Weak Dictator or indeed Master of the Third Reich.

One of the main points that will need to be analysed is Hitler’s distribution of power. In Nazi Germany a polycratic government was established. Hitler delegated power to other key Nazi Officials including Himmler, Göring and Hess. However it was not set out that one man would have one job and be set to work on one area of government. Hitler duplicated positions, giving 5 top Nazi officials all the same task to complete. Not only was this wasting valuable resources with 5 men thinking on the same topic but it also created chaos in government with all 5 men trying to battle to win Hitler’s approval or otherwise possibly face his wrath. It also seemed to show Hitler’s limitations, showing that he needed ‘sympathetic subordinates’ to make and pass laws.

Despite this, internationalists would argue that this was a stroke of genius by Hitler, because by duplicating positions it meant that he was able to get 5 different options and then could just pick the one he believed to be the best. Not only did it strengthen his position, but it also weakened his opposition as instead of forming a party against Hitler, they began to fight amongst themselves as they disagreed on political issues.

Furthermore by delegating different people with power did not weaken his power whatsoever, because Hitler was Führer, and at the beginning of the Nazi regime he made it so that the Führer’s power was greater than political power. Saying that he was the ‘executor of the nations common will’. The Führer’s’ power made it possible for him to pass any law he wanted, even if it was controversial, like the Sterilisation Law.

However it was not just with high ranked Nazi officials that Hitler would delegate power, he also gave power to Gauleiter’s, who acted as the top Nazi officials in more localized areas. Unlike his representatives in government though, the people who took on the responsibility of a Gauleiter were often not trained whatsoever, instead they were just companions who were strong supporters of the Nazi Party and had helped Hitler become Führer.

Nonetheless even though some of the Gauleiter were under trained Hitler did deal directly with his Gauleiter, appointing them personally, reviewing them and removing anybody whose loyalty he doubted.

Others would argue that it was also a good idea to employ Gauleiter’s, not just because Hitler could not single-handily control every single corner of the country himself, but also because the Gauleiter would be able to bring in and carry out Hitler’s policies in small areas. Local people would incorporate them into their own lives; the ideas would grow until the German population accepted it as the norm.

Weighing up the evidence of Hitler’s distribution of power, it would seem that Hitler was in fact a Master of the Third Reich because although he did distribute power, he still had total control of the country because of “Führer’s power”. Not only did he have full power but he...
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