‘Essentially a Weak Dictator' Do You Agree with This View of Adolf Hitler

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‘Essentially a weak dictator' do you agree with this view of Adolf Hitler 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, Hitler as the strong leader above the political fray. Presented as a positive image at the time, this picture of the regime was simply given a different, negative shading in post-war representations of the Third Reich as totalitarian, with one leader, one party and one ideology dominating the population through a monopoly of the means of propaganda and coercion. This image of Hitler as the almost archetypal ‘strong dictator' has perhaps pervaded popular images of Hitler ever since, as well as presenting a continuing thread in the historiography. Yet even contemporary observers recognised that the structures of power in the Third Reich were not quite this simple, and the duality of old state structures and new Party organisations led Ernst Fraenkel, for example, to speak of a ‘dual state'. Later historians, such as Edward Peterson, have focused on what they perceive as the ‘limits of Hitler's power' and have characterised Hitler as being a ‘weak' dictator. The evidence for Hitler as ‘weak' dictator rests in part on his style of political leadership and the changing institutional structure of politics. When not ‘enacting power', as in the party rallies and public ceremonies, Hitler appeared to lack interest in the day-to-day details of policy and legislation. Cabinet government fell into disuse, and on many matters Hitler tended simply to agree with the last person who had succeeded in ‘catching his ear', or having a word with him when he was in a good mood. Patterns of political decision-making appear to have become increasingly haphazard, and competing centres of power proliferated, characterised by personal rivalries and animosities. Powerful underlings developed their own empires. All this would suggest that Hitler's role was...
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