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The Structure of the Nazi State What characteristics would you expect Hitlers government to have?

Key questions that you need to be able to answer: What was the structure of the German state in 1933 when the Nazis took power? How effective was the process of Gleichschaltung? What was the structure of the Nazi state? What was the role of Hitler in the government of Germany? Where did power lie in the Third Reich? What was the relationship between Party and state? How chaotic was the Nazi state? Was chaos the reason for the radicalisation of policies? How significant was Terror in ensuring conformity? How significant was Propaganda in ensuring conformity? How important were key figures such as Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Speer and Bormann?

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Historiographical debates: 1. Historians have debated extensively! whether the Nazi state was a) Totalitarian [traditional view] b) Polycratic (many overlapping states) [revisionist view] This interpretation is sometimes divided into those historians who consider the Nazi state was deliberately polycratic and those who think that is was essentially just a chaotic confusion of competing powers. You need to be able to make a decision and be able to argue your case. The decision you make will be influenced by your interpretation of the 2nd historiographical debate: 2. Historians have also debated whether Hitler was master of this state, whatever form it took, or a weak dictator. There are 4 broad interpretations: a) Hitler was master of the Third Reich [intentionalist view traditional] b) Hitler was a weak dictator [structuralist view broadly revisionist] c) Hitler was in charge and deliberately allowed chaos and competition in order to maintain his dominance [sometimes called the compromise view] d) For bonus marks!...the Marxist view that Hitler was the pawn of the industrialists (no surprises there!)

But first

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The structure of the German state in 1933: Weimar Government Before Hitler, Germany was run in accordance with the most democratic constitution ever written. The German people directly elected their President, representatives in the Reichstag (central Parliament) and representatives in the Reichsrat (assembly of local governors). The Reichsrat could give advice and reject new laws, but could be overridden by the Reichstag. The President could appoint a Chancellor and dissolve the Reichstag in order to call new elections. He commanded the army and, in an emergency, he could rule by decree. The Chancellor proposed laws to the Reichstag and was invariably a person who the President felt would be best able to engender cooperation amongst the disparate parties of the Reichstag. In all his decisions, the President was advised by his Cabinet, a group of senior advisors. In addition, Germany was dominated by the autocratic agrarian elites (Junkers). Their interests were represented in the Reichslandbund, vehemently anticommunist and extremely powerful the influence of this body on Hindenberg had greatly contributed to the fall of Schleicher and appointment of Hitler. It was also significant that the Junkers dominated the Army, the Reichswehr; 3 out of 5 generals were aristocrats. The army had remained neutral under Weimar and Hitler appointed Blomberg as Minister of
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Defence on 30 Jan 1933 in order to generate positive military support for his claim to power. However, Blomberg also wanted the army to remain neutral and outside of the Nazi party. Greatest opposition could come from this quarter. Less powerful than the Junkers were the capitalist industrialists: Krupp, Loewe, Wolfe, Kirdorf, Flick and Mercedes-Benz families who, between them, controlled iron, coal, steel, armaments, chemicals and car industries! The old bureaucracy of the Civil Service also remained in place in 1933. The Civil Service had grown in power during the period when government was conducted by presidential decree under Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution. These Civil Servants were largely right-wing autocrats, although with more a DNVP focus than an NSDAP, and expected government to carry on in this non-parliamentary fashion. It is important to remember that Hitlers achievement of power was a legal revolution, not a bloodletting. So the existing power structures remained once Hitler became Fuhrer. Given that conservatism was the defining characteristic of the Germany elites at this time, Hitlers policies, at least initially, had to be cautious and disguised by a legal faade in order to maintain alliances with conservative interests in politics, business and army.

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However, by the end of 1934, democracy had been destroyed and replaced by a dictatorship with Hitler as supreme leader. Though Nazi Germany was a totalitarian regime, there has been much historical debate about the true nature of government structure. Traditional View This view maintains that the administration of the Third Reich was tight and carefully structured, with Hitler in full control of the whole process. It also maintains that the Third Reich was a model of efficiency, with a fully Nazified system of government. Nazi Germany used to be seen alongside Stalins Russia as the classic case of a totalitarian regime. Commentators have pointed out that people were attracted to Hitler and his regime because it Revisionist View More recent Historians (since the 1960s) have shown that the reality of Hitlers governmental structure was chaotic, rather than orderly. Hitler had not destroyed the existing system of government in 1933/34 but built on top of the old structure. Interior Minister, Wilhelm Frick, drew up schemes for major administrative reform but Hitler was not interested in developing a new coherent structure. The result was administrative chaos, as overlapping institutions (at national and local level) duplicated

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looked and was perceived to be well organised. The Fuhrers will meant law, thus there was no space for a formal power or decision-making structure.

functions, and lack of clear demarcation of responsibility led to conflict. This form of government is known as polycratic. It has also been described as feudal (remember Year 7?!) in that Nazi leaders owed ultimate loyalty to Hitler. Each leader (level) would be competing for Hitlers attention. In return he allowed them to build up their own power bases, especially key individuals such as Goering, Himmler and Goebbels.

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How was the Nazi state structured? Williamson claims that Hitler had no immediate blueprint for constructing a specifically Nazi state in 1933..[he] merely took over the existing state and either occupied the key national and local positions with the Nazis or ensured they were in reliable hands Read what follows and decide how far you agree with this. You may go further and decide that Hitler had no intention of creating a specifically Nazi state, simply subordinating the existing structures to the overall will of the Party, or that Hitler was incapable of creating a Nazi state, because he was a weak dictator. Keep reflecting on these different possibilities as you read. You will be expected to keep revising your views and adding to your argument during the course, as you find out more about the nature of the Third Reich. 1. Continuing Traditional Structures Bodies such as the Reichstag and Reich Cabinet continued to exist but were virtually powerless; Hitler had no interest in calling cabinet meetings; in 1933 he called 72, in 1936 just 6. The main administrative body was the Reich Chancellery, which took over the co-ordination of
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policy from the cabinet. It drew up most of the laws and regulated the passing of legislation. However, it was not straightforward: at one stage there were 5 offices in the Reich Chancellery all claiming to represent Hitler! There was a great contrast in the representation of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin (1938): It was housed in a new massive building that symbolised order and power whilst inside was chaos! Significantly, however, Lammars, Chief of the Reich Chancellery, controlled access to Hitler. The Civil Service remained largely intact. Mainly because a. It was professional and efficient and was initially protected from party interference by Interior Minister, Frick. b. Hitler did not want to endanger his compromise with the traditional elites on which his regime was initially based c. The party was initially too radical, unwieldy, divided and inexperienced to compete with the civil service. The calibre of party members had also declined as the membership rapidly increased in the first half of 1933. d. Hitler didnt want to divert time and energy away from central goals of employment and rearmament towards restructuring the civil service!

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Over time, the civil service continued to exist, albeit subject to revision in line with the Nazi aim of gleichschaltung (co-ordination): Jews and political dissidents were purged through the Law for the Restoration of a Professional Civil Service (1933) Hess controlled all appointments from 1935: party membership became compulsory in 1939. Increasingly the civil service became subordinate to the Nazi machine. Its role increasingly became the implementation and enforcement of Nazi decrees. The civil service became progressively less efficient as it became more dominated by the Nazi Party; bureaucracy increased because the Nazis were addicted to paper work. In addition, it became weakened by the establishment of new agencies that took over responsibilities previously held by the Civil Service departments. Local government: Regional government was beset by the same issues of inefficiency, confusion and overlapping authorities as central government. Each of the Lander (regions) retained its traditional official Minister-President or PM. After the legislation of 1934 had ended the autonomous (independent)
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powers of state legislatures, the Minister-President became subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior. However, their authority was overlapped by that of the 10 Reichsgovernors (an office of state). These 10 governors were selected from the most important party Gaulieters. (Just to clarify; as part of the reorganization of the party 1924-29 the Party had divided Germany into Gaue, or regions. Each region was managed by a Gauleiter; basically party branch managers, responsible for all political and economic activities, civil defence and the mobilisation of labour within the district. The Gauleiter controlled all the local District Group Cells and Block leaders, creating a vertical chain of command from the Gaue to Hitler. Appointing the 10 most influential Gauleiters to state roles was a means of both rewarding loyalty and coordinating the offices of party and state.) The job of the Reichsgovernors was to ensure that Hitlers policies were fully implemented. However, the absence of clearly demarcated lines between the roles of the Gauleiters and the Minister-President led to frequent conflicts. 2. Auxiliary Institutions Whilst Hitler continued with the traditional practice of having government departments led by individual ministers, he also appointed special agencies to perform certain roles, e.g. Office of the 4 Year Plan (1933). These offices overlapped and conflicted with

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traditional state institutions such as defence, economy and employment. For example; The General Inspector for German Roads (Rodt) overlapped some of the functions of the traditional Minister for Posts and Transport (Rubenach). The Youth Leader of the Reich (von Shirach) duplicated the functions of the Minster for Education (Rust). The Reich Minister for Propaganda, Goebbels, competed with Rosenberg as the agent supervising the Nazi Weltanschauung, Otto Dietrich as the Nazi press chief and Philipp Bouhler as head of a Censorship office. Auxiliary institutions were also used to by-pass the traditional legal and court systems. The established courts remained, but were increasingly superceded by the new Peoples Court and the Special Courts created in March 1933. Lawyers were coordinated in the German Lawyers Front. The new penal code ordered judges to act according to popular feeling. The existing law was debased, and arbitrary actions were taken by authorities outside the law. (Hite and Hinton) Even within the courts, as new laws were made by decree, rather than by the Reichstag, the process of law became increasingly interpretative interpretation in line with Nazi values of course.
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3. Party Institutions It is very interesting to note that despite the fact that Nazism was a one-party system, the Party did not, in fact, take over the pre-existing State structures, rather operated alongside or overlapped. This is despite the Dec 1933 Law to Ensure the Unity of Party and State, which did little to clarify the relationship between the two. This may well be because, as Evans & Jenkins have claimed, in 1933 the party was too divided and too lacking in genuine administrative ability to create a proper Nazi state and so a dual system had to remain. On the other hand, you might argue that Hitler was pursuing a cautious approach in order to ensure he didnt alienate the traditional elites, upon whose compromises he depended initially. The process of Gleischchaltung could be, therefore, interpreted as the gradual move towards homogeneity of the government, administration and legal and judicial processes, intended from the outset. For example, party agencies such as the Hitler Youth, RAD, DAF, KdF, etc were initially established to shadow, marginalize or by-pass state/nongovernmental agencies. In time, non-Nazi agencies were abolished: The Free Trade Unions were abolished on 2nd May 1933 and replaced by the Nazi DAF (Deutsche Arbeit Front) led by Robert Ley.
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The Nazis began to challenge non-Nazi youth organisations. Membership of the Hitler Youth became compulsory in 1936. Attendance at meetings was more than 80% of German youth in 1939.

Alternatively, given that many institutions of party and state continued to overlap throughout the Nazi period, you might choose to interpret this duplicity as a deliberate move by Hitler. As Evans & Jenkins have force further was suggested to Hitler his allowed this Social confusion to flourish because the only unifying obedience person. Darwinism in action. You will need to make a decision about this, but not until you understand more of the wider debate. Finally, whilst technically party agencies, there are a number of offices which can be seen almost as another layer of personnel who were outside the scope of both the normal ministries and parallel bodies. These included the Office of the Deputy Fuhrer and the SS/Gestapo/SD complex under Himmler. Initially Hitlers personal bodyguard, the SS, led by Heinrich Himmler grew into one of the most powerful blocs in the dictatorship. The organization was administered by Oswald Pohl. The SS (Schutzstaffel) can almost be seen as a state
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within a state from 1939 (this is a widely accepted historiographical argument). The SS represented Nazi ideological and racial purity and was the main instrument in the Terror State. Concentration camp guards led by Theodor Eicke formed a separate SS unit known from 1936 as SS Totenkopfverbarde (SS Deaths Head Units). Further information about Gleichschaltung: In addition to the streamlining of institutions, the policy of Gleichschaltung (co-ordination) also included the following elements: The purging of political opponents (and Jews more of that later) from public life. The conservative von Neurath was replaced by the Nazi von Ribbentrop as Foreign Minister in 1938. The conservative Schacht, who had masterminded the German economic recovery from 1933 to 1936, was sidelined and resigned (November 1937). He was replaced as Minister for Economics and Plenipotentiary-General for Economy by the more pliable Funk.

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The creation of a one-party state: the Centre and Conservative Parties (DVP, DNVP) willingly dissolved: the Social Democrats were outlawed in July 1933. Removal of parliamentary government: The Reichsrat (Upper House) and state parliaments were dissolved in January 1934. Bringing the army under control: Leading military dissidents von Blomberg, the Defence Minister and von Fritisch, the Commander in Chief were purged in February 1938. 44 other Generals were retired or transferred and younger more Nazi inclined officers were promoted. You will notice, however, that this took a long time. The army initially escaped the process of Gleischchaltung any suggestions as to why? Hitler became Commander in Chief of all the Armed Forces. The ultra-loyalist Keitel became head of the personal command of Wehrmacht and von Brauchitsch became its Commander in Chief. Neutralising the church

Essentially, one could argue that all professional bodies were Nazified by 1936.
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You need to reflect on -was the policy of Gleichschaltung a process whereby a brand new system of government was implemented? -was it a process whereby existing administrative structures were revised along Nazi principles? was it rather a method for removing opposition with minimum distraction from the central aims of rearmament and re-employment? -did a confusion of powers (Carr) exist which allowed for individuals to dominate their private empires without regulation, resulting in an almost Darwinist struggle for survival; the state was not ruled by the Party, especially between 1933 and 1939, but by individuals who, while claiming to be Nazi, were really concerned with personal pursuit of ambition. Evans & Jenkins p.192 -if so, was this confusion of powers deliberate? To help us to answer these questions, we must look at the role of Hitler and the roles of propaganda and terror in the government of the Reich.

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The Nazi State The Nazi state was certainly not a monolithic structure: power was divided between several different overlapping and often competing systems.

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HITLER

Traditional Institutions

Auxiliary Agencies Extra bodies normally created on top of existing state/party ones to perform specific roles

Nazi Party Organisations

Cabinet

Office of the Four Year Plan (est.1933)

DAF

Ministries ie Labour, Economics, Transport, Education

Hitler Youth

Propaganda Ministry (est.1933)

Womens League

Police, Army, Judiciary, Civil Service, Reichstag

Peoples Court

SS, SA, League of German Lawyers (and from 1939 it is possible to view the SS as a further state within a state)

Elected State Assemblies (abolished)

Reich Governors

Gauleiters

Question 1 (a) style source-based question Source A Everyone who has had the opportunity to observe it knows that the Fuhrer can hardly dictate from above everything which he
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intends to realise sooner or later. On the contrary, up till now everyone with a post in the new Germany has worked best when he has, so to speak, worked towards the Fuhrer. Very often and in many spheres it has been the case in previous years as well that individuals have simply waited for orders and instructions. Unfortunately, the same will be true in the future; but it is in fact the duty of everybody to try to work towards the Fuhrer along the lines he would wish. Anyone who makes mistakes will notice it soon enough. But anyone who really works towards the Fuhrer along his lines and towards his goal will certainly both now and in the future one day have the finest reward in the form of the sudden legal confirmation of his work. Werner Willikens, State Secretary in the Reich Ministry of Agriculture. Statement made to meeting of state agricultural representatives on 21 Feb 1934 Source B In the twelve years of his rule in Germany Hitler produced the biggest confusion in government that has ever existed in a civilised state. During his period of government he removed from the organisation of the state all clarity of leadership and produced a completely opaque network of competencies. It was not laziness or an excessive degree of tolerance which led the otherwise so energetic and forceful Hitler to tolerate this real witchs cauldron of struggles for position and conflicts over competence. It was intentional. With this technique he systematically disorganised the upper echelons of the Reich leadership in order to develop and further the authority of his own will until it became a despotic tyranny Otto Dietrich, Hitlers press chief. Published in his Memoirs 1955

Use sources A and B and your own knowledge Comment on the usefulness of Sources A and B in explaining the confusion of powers within the Nazi State
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Generic Markscheme Unit 4 Question 1 (a) L1. You paraphrase or quote parts of the source without explaining what these extracts show/suggest about the issue. Your answer is based on the content of the source rather than the provenance [1-2 marks] L2. You make comments about the utility (usefulness) of the sources, using your own knowledge to put parts of the source into context [3-5 marks] L3. You draw conclusions about the extent of utility (usefulness) of the sources, in relation to the issue raised, using your own knowledge to put parts of the source into context. You consider the provenance of the source as well as the content [6-8 marks] L4. You present a clear and sustained judgment on the extent of utility of the sources in relation to the specific issue. To consider the extent of the utility you must have considered both the uses and the limitations in relation to the issue. You consider the provenance of the source as well as the content [9-10 marks]

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