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To What Extent Can Nazism in Power Be Seen as Totalitarianism in the Period 1933-1939?

In: Historical Events

Submitted By lionelliu
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According to Fredrich’s “six point syndrome”, a totalitarian state must consist of an official ideology, a single mass party, terroristic police control, monopoly control of the media and arms and central control of the economy. During the Nazi Reich between 1933-1939, under Hitler as Fuhrer (supreme leader), the Nazi regime was able to successfully achieve aspects of totalitarianism by exerting tight control of the media and police; leading to control of certain aspects of German social, political, legal, economical and cultural life. However, there are significant features of the Nazi regime that simply fail to fit Friedrich's six, all encompassing concepts of totalitarianism.

Central to the concept of totalitarianism is an official ideology encapsulating a monolithic party led by an omnipotent, almost God-like figurehead. Whilst Hitler, supported by the Fuhrer myth, certainly fits the totalitarian leader definition, the Nazi Party structure contradicts the characteristics of a coordinated central party. Within, power rested on individuals and not in party structure; leading to increasingly fragmented party policy and intensifying interpersonal frictions as individuals radicalised in attempts to please the Fuhrer. In this structure, accountable and rational decision making in the long term became impossible; leaders lost any sense of stability and improvised agencies and policies to enact the amorphous will of the leader. The most radical policy of all, the extermination of the Jews, arose as the outcome of this structure as the internally competitive dynamics generated more and more radical and ultimately self destructive policies. The "institutional anarchy" of the regime, in diametric opposition to Stalinism and more conventional forms of totalitarianism, resulted in it becoming "increasingly divorced from reality in the process of decision-making" according...

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