8. Hitler’s Role in the Nazi State“Hitler Myth”
external image germany-cult-of-personality-jesus-hitler.jpgAn example of propaganda, where Hitler is depicted as a glorified figure.

Kershaw attributes the “Dynamism and momentum of Nazi rule” and the “political integration of the Third Reich” to the “adulation of Hitler by millions” →The Hitler Myth.
Hitler himself had much more support than the Nazi party and the fuhrerprinzip was crucial to the overwhelming degree of plebiscite support the Nazis enjoyed over the years. Therefore Hitler's rule was charismatic and not institutional; "It depended on the readiness of others to see herioc qualities in him"
Intentionalist Historians
Argue that Hitler set himself up as the ‘master of the Third Reich’ (Rich).
And that he deliberately cultivated a chaotic political structure to ensure and increase his own power. “The system of antagonism between the rival agencies was resolved solely in the key omnipotent position of the Fuhrer” (Bracher).
Structuralist Historians
Argue that Hitler was instrumental in developing a political scene of “cumulative radicalisation” – Kershaw. In which the institutions and systems operating below him applied and extended his ideals in an environment of competitively “working towards the Fuhrer.” → Tied to idea of the “Fuhrer Myth.”
This led to increasing brutality and ambition on behalf of the regime.
Kershaw argues that Hitler was “at least in part a victim of the forces”.
Hitler still played an important role in the propaganda side of things (The Hitler Myth).
However, Goebbels, in his capacity as minister for propaganda was “responsible for the spiritual direction of the nation.” Using this vague directive, he took it upon himself to expand and manipulate Hitler’s audience.
  • Radio: By 1934, 6 million radios were in circulation – an increase of 1 million each year.
  • Goebbles’ ministry pioneered the use of music and speeches, and managed Hitler, constructing sit-in audiences to heighten his radio speaking appeal.
  • Hitler also used large rally's such as the Nuremburg rally's to promote the distinct faceof Nazism.

9. Nazism as totalitarianism
Karl Friedrich’s Six Point Syndrome:
1. Elaborate Ideology
  • Ideology a ragbag of notions based on:
    • Racism and anti-Semitism
    • Volkesgemeinshaft
    • Lebensraum
2. Single mass party
  • Yes, but power did not rest with Nazis, but rather in a chaotic system of affairs dominated by the omniscient Fuhrer in connection with the Fuhrer myth and his popularity.
    • Power brokered to individuals.
    • Chaotic “cumulative radicalisation.”
3. System of terror
  • Integral to Nazis
    • SS and Gestapo
    • Night of the Long Knives
    • “The first condition of power lies in the constant and uniform application of force” (Hitler).
4. Monopoly of mass media
  • Control over 70% of newspapers
  • Monopoly over radio:
    • 6 million sets produced by 1934
    • Set so that they couldn’t receive overseas broadcast
    • 70% of households owned
5. Monopoly on weapons
  • Yes, through control of the army
6. Central control on economy
  • Piecemeal legislation
  • Competition encouraged
  • Industrialists had a voice

Argument for:
  • Nazi's subverted democratic constitution and removed all opposition:
  • Enabling Act of 25th March 1933- necessary powers to outlaw SPD and trade unions
  • KPD forced underground
  • Nazi- Catholic Concordat 1933- subjugation of potentially dangerous influential opponent to Nazism

  • Anti- Intellectualism prevalent within Nazi ideology- typical of Totalitarian rule. "The result of anti-intellectual sentiment is a society of one mind, and of one opinion- not because everybody always agrees with one another, but because all dissenting opinion has been filtered out" (Stackelberg)
  • Anti- intellectualism is more than the banishment of values from society: it is also about what values that society uses to fill the void. In Nazi Germany extreme emotionalism, unconditional lovalty to authority, and rampant intolerance emerge -> used as a means to control.
  • "Without the intellectual spirit to think independently and contest authority, the government obtains an unnatural amount of power" (Kengas)

  • Repressed education, compulsory (intimidation) engagement in society, contribution to the state (a Hitler youth members worth was determined by perceived benefit to the state).
  • The chaos did not undermine Hitler's power.

Argument against:
  • Hitler was weak/ lazy/ chaotic/ polycratic
  • Some resistance was present - society not completely turned to Nazism
  • Big business retained control
  • 1933 37% vote for Nazis / 1934 Plebiscite 90% for Hitler
  • Totalitarianism is an over-simplification - too many other factors.

10. The role of propaganda, terror and repression; SA and SS; opposition to Nazism
Role of Propaganda
To influence the German people to accept the Nazi regime. The Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was Dr Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels' propaganda machine controlled the press, the radio, literature, music, theatre, art and the cinema. The idea of Volksgemienschaft (People’s Community), anti Semitism and the ‘Hitler myth were constant themes in Nazi propaganda.
“It is the task of state propaganda to simplify complicated ways of thinking so that even the smallest man in the street may understand” (Joseph Goebbels, March 1933)
Role of Repression
Repression of Art: Revert to the Imperial art style of the old regime; revolutionary art forms e.g. modernism and realism were associated with “decadent” Jewish-Liberal culture; they were replaced with wholesome, romantic images of rural life and volksgemeinschaft.In July, 1933, the Bauhaus school of architecture was closed in Berlin. Writers who were critical of the regime such as Thomas Mann were forced to resign from posts in the Academy of Arts.
The trend of control over the arts:
Hitler (on art): “The artist does not create for the artist. He creates for the people.”
Goebbels (on writers): “Now the pen has been compelled to serve the nation like the sword and the plough.”
The need for a formal system of censorship was mostly unnecessary as artists were either purged or “self-censored” (Welch).
Role of Terror
The Nazi Party developed highly organised and efficient organisations that were used to terrorise the population. There were no attempts to hide activities of the SA, SS and Gestapo because terror was more effective if it was seen to be happening.
SA- Sturm Abteilung
In 1921 Adolf Hitler formed his own private army called Sturm Abteilung (Storm Section). The SA were instructed to disrupt the meetings of political opponents and to protect Hitler from revenge attacks. Captain Ernst Rohm of the Bavarian Army played an important role in recruiting these men, and became the SA's first leader.
When Ernst Rohm left Germany to work in Bolivia in 1925, Heinrich Himmler took over the leadership of the SA. However, in 1931 Hitler recalled Rohm to Germany and asked him to head the SA. In just over a year Rohm expanded it from 70,000 to 170,000 members. By 1934 the SA had grown to 4,500,000 men.
SS- Schutz Staffel
The SchutzStaffel or SS was formed in April 1925 as a section of the SA and functioned as a personal bodyguard for the NSDAP leader, Adolf Hitler.
The SS was considered to be an elite force and membership was restricted to those who were pure Aryan Germans.
On 6th January 1929 Heinrich Himmler was appointed leader of the SS. Himmler was an ambitious man and set about building up membership of the SS.
The state secret police, responsible for internal security. Gained a reputation for ruthlessness and efficiency as it carried out surveillance and sought to identify the enemies of the state. The Gestapo had the power to imprison people without the need for judicial procedures. Depended on informers and reports from citizens. The informers from the general population that kept the Gestapo and the terror state functioning.
Opposition to Nazism
  • Edelweiss Pirates
      • Young people from the working class
      • Rejected and picked fights with the Hitler Youth
      • Put anti-Nazi slogans in public places
      • Assisted people fleeing from the authorities
      • Lifestyle of rejection of Nazism
      • When arrested, Himmler (SS) ordered 13 to be publicly hanged in Cologne
  • The White Rose
      • Founded by Hans and Sophie Scholl from University of Munich (both were later guillotined in 1943)
      • Demanded an end to the regime
      • Grew to a large group of students who printed and distributed pamphlets
  • Swing Youths
      • Wealthy teenagers
      • Listened to jazz music from the UK and US
      • Avoided contact with Hitler Youth
  • Church
    • Catholic Church signed Concordat with Nazi Party
      • 1937 – Pope Pius XI- Speaks out against German policy of Euthanasia
      • Euthanasia program cancelled after 70 000 impaired Germans had been killed. Resumed a year later secretly.
The lack of lack of effective opposition “atomisation of German society.”
“Atomisation" of society: breaking down natural bonds of duty and responsibility between individuals and replacing them with a reliance on the state
Popularity of Regime – Saar Plebiscite of 1935 – Over 90% voted in favour of reincorporation into the Reich.


11. Social and Cultural Life in the Nazi State: role of Hitler Youth, women, religion


  • Role: To provided support and Children to the German Nation, National Socialism at play:
    • Domesticated Kinder Kirche und Küche (Children, Church and Kitchen)
    • ‘The mission of women is to be beautiful and to bring children into the world’(Goebbels)
      • this was indoctrinated onto Girls form an early age
  • Rewarded to produce childern:
    • Law for the Promotion of Marriage – June 1934: 1000 reichsmark loan to married couples, ¼ repayed per baby born
    • Awarded Crosses for the number of children they had:
      • Bronze for four, Silver for six and Gold for eight
  • Lebensborn(1936)
    • unmarried single mothers where sent homes where the children where fostered to german couples
      • this was only provided to women who fell pregnant to SS men out side of marriage
      • only for the racially pure


  • Marriage rate increased by 20% between 1933 to 1939
  • Birth rate increased:
    • 14.7 births per thousand in 1933 (970 000 babies)
    • 20.4 Births per thousand in 1939 (1 400 000 babies)


  • The Employmentrate for women in Germany was 400% higher than in USA when Hitler came into power. This all changed:
    • Women in the workforce regressed. 800 000 women in the workforce left between 1933-5
  • Women in politics declined.
    • In Weimar Germany women had enjoyed absolute equality with men.
    • Equality in workforce, vote and rights to public office.
    • Germany had more female members of parliament than any other European country.
  • Only unmarried women over 35 could occupy civil service positions.
  • Despite clear discrimination, many women were supportive of Nazis. They accepted different roles.

Hitler Youth:

  • Was designed by the Nazi party to:
    • to control and shape the entire youth
      • resulted in heavy influence on youth
  • Different programs for different ages:
    • 6 to 10 to join the Pimpf(little fellows)
      • aim was to progress
    • 10 to 14 the Jungvolk(young people)
      • these boys were involved in hiking and map reading ect. (essential skills for a solider)
      • where taught the Nazis ideals
    • At the age of 14 the children where given:
      • the blood and honour dagger and where emitted into the Hitler Youth (indoctrination)
  • By 1939 there where 7.2 million children in the hitler youth
  • December 1936: compulsory membership 10-19y/o boys
  • League of German Girls (children) à Faith and Beauty (adolescent)
    • instilled role of women as values to be upheld
  • Nuremburg Rally: 54 000 youths – nationalism
    • ‘My German Youth! Today you must belong to Germany alone...You are a link in the chain of German destiny’ – Hitler, May Day 1935


  • National Socialism as a state religion for everybody
  • Nazis banned most religions or insured there un-involvment in Germany
    • Concordat (signed 1933)→ indicative of the power of the Church, Nazis saw it as a rival force
      • Not directly attacked but phased out of influence
    • Resulted in Catholics more easily dispersed due to lack of global headquarters eg. No Vatican
  • Nazism promoted the idea that religion divided society into opposing sectors à Nazism promoted harmony and state wellbeing

12. Nazi racial policy; anti-Semitism: policy and practice to 1939
Nazi racial policy progressed constantly in the period 1933 to 1939. Anti-Semitism was the central, consistent theme of Nazism.


  • Jews had great acceptance by 19thC
  • Loyal in ww1 over 100,000 died
  • In Germany, Jews made up 1% of population
  • For some, Jews represented challenge to nationalism

  • Hitler believed civilizations and nations decline when they fail to maintain the purity of their race
  • If Aryans were creators of culture, then Jews were destroyer
  • Linked hatred of Jews to communism

Four Distinct Phases:

  • Vilification: The deliberate attempt to revile Jews (aimed to make Germans dislike/mistrust/fear Jews)
  • Discrimination: Laws were progressively passed, depriving Jews of their rights (eg citizenship)
  • Seperation: The progressive removal of Jews from the community (eg Law Against Overcrowding of German Schools, 1933, limited numbers of Jewish children at German schools)
  • Extermination: The killing of Jews in extermination camps (6 million by 1945)

After 1933 persecution of the Jews began. This was gradual and consistent and increased in both severity and degree in the years up to 1939. It can be seen that in 1933 began in a vilification phase and moved to a discrimination phase in 1939 before the war. Hitler displayed his racist beliefs through the Nazi party and furthermore, through their propaganda, policies, education and youth.

Hitler quotes:
  • “A parasite in the body of other nations, contaminating the purity of the blood, exploiting and corrupting the nation.”
  • ‘Humans do not perish from lost wars but from the loss of that power of resistance that is characteristic only of pure blood.”

Anti-Semitism Timeline
  • April – One day boycott of Jewish business
  • September – The Hereditary Farm Law banned Jews from owning farmland.
  • September – Nuremberg Laws announced:
Law of the Protection of German Blood and German Honour – prevented Jews marrying Germans.
Reich Citizenship Law – Jews lost their right to German Citizenship.
  • August – Racism scaled back for Berlin Olympics
  • July – Jewish doctors only allowed to treat Jews.
  • September – Jewish lawyers lose right to work
  • September – All Jews had to add either ‘Sarah’ or ‘Israel’ to their names.
  • November 9-10 – Kristallnicht: around 100 Jews killed, 1000 shops destroyed and all synagogues burned down across German towns and cities.
  • Hitler declares in Reichstag that a war will result in the “Destruction of the Jewish race in Europe”.
  • Anti-Semitic feelings far more intense in smaller towns and rural villages.
  • Evidence that middle class did not approve of Jewish racial policies.
Followed a pattern of Vilification, Discrimination and Separation.

E.g. of Vilification: Der Sturmer a publication by Nazi sadist Julius Streicher, vilifying Jews often with strong sexual undertones. Circulation in 1930s was over 700 000.

Other Radical Policies
Study of improving human race through selective breeding.
Nazis implemented the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Progeny in 1933 resulted in the sterilisation of 300 000 Germans.
Operation T4 launched in September 1939 resulted in 140 000 killings