Presentation on theme: "Gleichschaltung – the consolidation of society under Nazi control Local government – power centralised under Nazi control Local state govs. abolished."— Presentation transcript:
Gleichschaltung – the consolidation of society under Nazi control Local government – power centralised under Nazi control Local state govs. abolished March 1933; powers assumed by Nazis in Berlin Upper House of the Reichstag abolished 1934 State governors appointed to run each state; responsible directly to Berlin All opposing political parties banned by July 1933 Trade unions banned; replaced by the German Labour Front, May 1933 Law Against the Formation of Parties, July 1933 Repression of opponents through terror and acts of law First concentration camp under SS control at Dachau, March 1933 Jews and political opponents removed from the Civil Service, April 1933 Night of the Long Knives – SA leaders and other opponents eliminated; June 1934 Civil and political liberties suspended by ‘For the Protection of the People and State’ decree, March 1933 Hitler assumes both offices President and Chancellor as ‘Fuhrer’ – Aug. 1934 Armed forces oath of personal loyalty to Hitler, Aug. 1934 Plebiscite held (Nov. 1934) on Hitler’s new powers: 90% vote in favour (43m votes)
David Low’s sardonic comment in 1934 on the Night of the Long Knives
WAS HITLER ABSOLUTE MASTER OF GERMANY? The idea that Hitler was the all-powerful dictator of Germany from 1933 onwards does not stand up to analysis. His authority – up to 1938, at least – was limited by a variety of factors: his largely lazy, sometimes indecisive character, the influence of the elites who helped to put him in power, opposition elements inside the Nazi Party (up to 1934)the Christian Churches; the civil service. Hitler’s power was limited between 1933 and 1934 Hitler was able to establish a powerful dictatorship by August 1934 and absolute power by the end of 1938 His personal authority was not seriously challenged until the last days of the Second World War. Throughout this period he was the source of all key decisions on matters of policy and ideology.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS OF THE NAZI PERIOD? The Intentionalists: Intentionalist historians support the traditional view of the Hitler dictatorship. This sees Hitler as a strong dictator who controlled the Nazi state and subordinates as he wished ( or as he intended). He achieved this by a policy of ‘divide and rule’ of his subordinates – making them compete against each other for his approval and support. Divided in this way, they could not challenge his supreme authority. The Structuralists: Structuralist historians argue against the view of Hitler as the all- powerful ruler in a well-ordered Nazi Germany. They argue that Hitler’s rule was chaotic and confused because he avoided making day-to-day decisions, and left these to his subordinates. His authority was limited by the need to win the support of powerful groups such as businessmen, army leaders, or by the existing structures of society, such as the Christian Churches. They argue that Hitler was ‘a weak dictator.’ Conclusion: there is no doubting Hitler’s huge personal authority and power during the Nazi period but Hitler had to operate in a political situation in which compromises and limits on that authority were inevitable – as they are for any ruler or political leader.