The Nazi Government
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“Although Nazi government was confused and chaotic, it worked because it was guided by one ideology and because Hitler always retained ultimate control.”
Examine the validity of this statement.
By 1945 there is no doubt that Hitler ” had produced the biggest confusion in government that has ever existed in a civilized state”, by establishing a Nazi Political system with no bureaucratic chain of command or defined areas of responsibility. However, whether Hitler was a masterful schemer who encouraged administrative chaos to enhance his own power, or a weak dictator, and at best a good opportunist is debatable.
The Validity of this statement is support by the traditional interpretation of Hitler as a strong leader, who retained ultimate control through the use of his “omnipotent power of the Fï¿½hrer, abrogating all state and legal norms and sanctioning all deeds”. However, it could be argued that the traditionalist interpretation of Hitler was nothing more than an myth, enhanced by propaganda, which served to reinforce the German tradition of an authoritarian leadership. Moreover, it could be argued that Hitler’s role in the third Reich was synonymous to that of a Monarch’s.
He offered his subordinates an overall vision of his aims, and left the interpretation and implementation of those aims to them. Hitler had effectively reduced his role to that of a figurehead, where by he took no active role in administrative tasks. This left Hitler in a position of ignorance, which in turn made him increasingly dependant upon his subordinates to keep him informed critical issues concerning Germany and her people. For example, the Krisallnancht incident of 1938, which was a result of Goebbles suggestion to exploit the people’s feelings of anti-Semitism to realize Hitler’s vision. The fact that Hitler had to take prompting from others to achieve his own aims indicates he was a weak dictator. However, on the other hand it could be argued that, even though Gobbles was the brains behind the operation, his power saw limited by his need for Hitler’s support. The fact that Goebbels sort “Hitler’s approval”, before the implementation of Kristallnacht serves to reinforce this notion. This, in turn, indicates that even with Hitler’s lack of involvement he still managed to retain absolute control.
Moreover, it could be said that his lack of participation in the conventional routines of government placed him in a position of strength, not weakness, since by remaining aloof he protected himself from criticism. Thus, he presided over a chaotic system with no clear cut channels of responsibility he could take credit for the most successful policies, whilst separating himself from those policies which proved to be less popular. In this respect, Hitler was a strong dictator in a position of power, where by he had others to implement his will and at the same time blame for the failures within this own government. On the other hand, it could be said, that if Hitler was weak in any respect, it was not due to his incompetence, but sheer laziness.
The validity of this statement is challenged, when considering the idle nature of Hitler’s character. It could be argued that, the chaotic system did not work as a result of being guided by one ideology, simply because there was no clear sense of it. For example, Hitler promoted the notion of a “united family”, yet his propaganda aimed at youths achieved the complete opposite, by take the children away from the family. Thus creating internal conflict within families, instead of extinguishing them. Moreover, Hitler claimed to believe that the group was more important than the individual, yet he had establish a political system that encouraged officials to put themselves before there own party. This in turn served to limit the efficiency of the Government, since officials were too busy competing amongst themselves to concentrate on achieving the aims of the party. It could be said that Hitler’s laziness was the cause of the ambiguous nature of nazi Ideology. In childhood Hitler had been described as “an idle, unmotivated, underachieving” student.
These qualities in Hitler were reflected in his ideology. Instead of using his initiative to come up with a more original ideology he simply promoted more extreme explicit versions of already existing views that had already be aspect amongst the general population well before the Nazi era. For example, the church’s belief that contraception should not be used, was a belief very similar to of Nazism. Moreover, the very emblem of Nazism, the Swastika, serves to emphasize the Hitler’s laziness, considering he had taken the swastika from an image of Genghis Kahn he saw in a book. This suggests that the role of ideology, in respect to the success of the chaotic system, should not be exaggerated.
This in turn makes the validity of this statement questionable. On one hand, it could be argued that Hitler’s true strength laid in his weakness. His laziness made him inclined to promote a more traditional form of ideology, which proved to be more successful than the revolutionary policies of Nazism. On the other hand, it could be argued, that there was no strength found in Hitler’s lack of originality. He had gone for a tradition approach towards ideology as a means by which to appease both the elite and industrialists who he depended upon to maintain his power. This suggests that in truth the elite influenced policies, and therefore ultimate power laid with the Junkers, not Hitler. He was just an “easily manipulated pawn of the wealth class”. On the other hand, it could be argued that, although the Elite may have influenced Nazi policies more than Hitler did, over time his popularity enable him to reduce the power on the Elite. This in turn gave him more freedom and put him in an, increasingly, powerful position. In this respect the validity of the statement is reinforced.
The Fï¿½rher principle portrayed Hitler, from the moment he arrived to power, as a man above and beyond the normal head of state. This in turn serves to justify his lack of involvement politically, whilst at the same time dismissing the notion that his lack of involvement politically made him a weak leader. No matter who you were within the party or state, you were answerable to Hitler. This in itself indicates his ultimate power. Hitler was seen above both the party and the very law itself. Take, for example, the Euthanasia programme of 1938. Although Hitler had written a note authorising the Euthanasia program, technically it was illegal because it had not been authorised in a law. However, is overwhelming popularity, reinforced by the Fï¿½rher principle, which claimed he was infallible, had basically allowed him to get away with murder. It could be argued that he at least possessed the appearance of a strong dictator. However, on the other hand it could be argued, that his true weakness laid not in the way others perceived him but the way he perceived himself. ” The day on which Hitler started to believe his own myth marked in a sense the beginning of the end of the 3rd Reich”.
It could be concluded that, the polycratic nature of the 3rd Reich was deliberately extended by Hilted, partly in order to “divide and rule”, and party due to his belief that “social Darwinism” would lead to the best people triumphing anyway. On the other had his could be argued that. Hitler was a weak dictator who was not fully in control. Rather than implementing a plan, worked out years prior to his arrival into power, Hitler responded to the circumstances in which he found himself. The Nazi government evolved into a system of chaos not because he wanted it to be so , but because he did not have the power to streamline the system. Moreover, it could be said, that whether the chaotic system was intentional all not is irrelevant, since either was he was position that worked towards his advantage.