Events of the third reich sources pg 164 1a The role of Hitler and the view of Germans

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Power Spectrum of Hitler


‘The master of the third Reich’



‘Charismatic domination’



‘A weak dictator’




  • Polycratic – there were many different bodies with overlapping existing ministries and Nazi bodies. Often Hitler would create a new ministry if there was a problem that emerged. E.g. ‘The Office of the Four Year Plan’ to fulfill the autarkic aims of the regimes.

  • Feudal – used to describe the dominance of the Nazi leaders at the head of their agencies, a role similar to that of medieval barons leading their followers. Just as the barons owed loyalty to their King, Nazi leaders owed theirs to the Fuhrer, Hitler felt that leaders lower down could build up greater power since he knew their loyalty lay with him.

  • Chaotic –lack of clarity over where control lay.

Historiography: (Do not overuse in exam: historiography vs. history)

Intentionalism – idea that Hitler had a clear doctrine and goal from the start.i.e. he took the power and therefore the major decisions.

Structuralism – idea that the events of Nazi Germany were led by the work of the Party as a whole and not simply the Fuhrer.
ESSAY: ‘The Hitler State’: How valid is this view of the Third Reich?

  1. Direct role of Hitler within the state: dominance within the party and state, and the extent to which he lay down guidelines and decided policies.

  2. How far was other’s power dependant on Hitler.

  3. The nature and impact of the ‘Hitler Myth’.

  4. Extent to which Germany as a country was dominated by Hitler.

Key Points:

  1. Hitler didn’t greatly overhaul Germany’s administration structure.

  2. Old institutions removed but powerless. They adapted to the system.

  3. Power focused in Hitler and supposedly represented the will of the population.

  4. Beneath Hitler –array of confusing state and party institutions cutting across each other but all working roughly towards the lines laid done by him.

  5. Jealous rivalries enhanced Hitler’s power.

  6. Hitler Myth developed – helped him radicalize policy.

  7. Nazi party less admired – used to activate population, not rule.

  8. Complex police system.

  9. Array of fierce repressive machinery to persecute.

  10. Dominated by Hitler but not smoothly run – KERSHAW’S VIEW


Gestapo – a state body, the Prussian secret police.

The SS – a party body, created in 1925 as Hitler’s bodyguard.

The police in Nazi Germany:

  • By 1936 state police forces had been centralized under Himmler as Chief of Police.

The array of agencies:

  1. SA – disarmed and restructured after the Night of the Long Knives. Became a subservient body. Still retained a physical presence in the streets, sometimes beating up alleged non-conformists.

  2. SS – became main terror instrument of the regime.

  3. Gestapo – originally Prussian secret police, eventually covered all of Germany. 1933, SS leader Himmler appointed head, bringing it under SS control.

  4. SD – security police which was the internal security service of the SS, headed by Heydrich; in some ways it was the elite of the elite, ‘we’re de la crème’.

  5. RHSA – (Reich Main Security Department). 1939 – created by and drew together state and party security apparatus into an umbrella organization.

Gestapo / SS Complex



  • The black shirted Schurztuffel were originally Hitler’s bodyguard.

  • 1929- only 280 members, late 1930s it had become a vast organization, a virtual ‘state within a state’.

  • In fact, the Third Reich had been called the ‘SS State’.

  • Used ‘The Emergency Power Decree of February 1933’ (which remained permanently in force) to take suspects into ‘protective custody’.

  • After weakening of the SA, it became the chief police arm of the Nazi Party.

  • It established a vast economic empire mostly as a result of their later control of concentration and extermination camps.

  • 1939 – 240000 members organized into divisions.

  • The feudal nature of the organization caused competition with people like Frick. Himmler succeeded and therefore gained power.

  • Misinterpretation that the SS were EVERYWHERE, in fact a small organization that relied upon the people to succeed – became evident later on.

Noakes and Pridhorm

SS Police system can be seen as a microcosm for the state in general. Did not change things on the surface, i.e. old authorities but in fact these institutions were being drained f power for new organizations which were not restricted by legality whose leaders were dependant on Hitler: i.e. HAD THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS.

  • Pedantic schoolmaster

  • Naïve crank

  • Seemed totally inconsistent in making laws.

  • Used the feudal nature of the system.

  • Coldly efficient bureamerat.

NAZISM can easily be seen as a situation of ‘all for one

and one for all’ but in fact they were the exactly

antithesis – parasitic in nature.

Himmler’s interpretation of Nazism:

  • Pseudo-psychological view on race – purity.

  • Modeled on the Jesuits (‘give us the boy, we will give you the man’) and the Teutonic order.

  • Very strong ideological view on the German race – idea of ‘blood and soil’ – pure peasant stock who deserve land in the Baltic state – ‘Lebensraum’.

  • HATES Christianity, but happy to use religious ideas to create the worship of a Nazi following.

  • Different enemies: Racial – non-Aryans, moral – habitual criminals, homosexuals, etc., ideological – Marxists, liberals, reactionaries.

Did no fit Volksgemeinshaft (National Community)
Hitler Youth:

  • Emphasis to them the idea of breeding Aryans like animals.

  • Wanted a family tree going back to 1650 to test racial ‘stock’.

  • Expected Germans to merely be part of the Fuhrer, not emotionally connected which seems to be oddly converse to what some see of Nazism.


SS role – to protect the state from its enemies – moral, racial and ideological.
Early 1933 – Himmler becomes master of acquiring power – starts off in Bavaria – sets up model concentration camp in Dachau.

Appoints good deputy – Heydrich who runs the SD (Intelligence of the SS) as a duopoly.

After taking control of Bavaria, targets Prussia (2/3 of size of Germany). Has to take on Goering and Frick.

Night of the Long Knives takes place – helps him by getting rid of the SA.

Power Struggle (1934) – Himmler wants Gestapo in Prussia.

1937 – He gets position – Head of the German Police. Technically Himmler was still inferior to Frick (Minister of the Interior) but in practice, he had much more power.

By the middle of 1936 Hitler has intervened to make Himmler head of all police powers – Chief of the German Police.
Gestapo – becomes exceptionally efficient at rooting out all opposition activity. In addition to its own agents they rely on a series of black workers who were on every staircase and is every block of flats to report to the NSDAP as party informers.

They controlled the existing and new concentration camps with a population of 25000 prisoners by September 1934.

Stereotypical Image:

  • Jacques Delame – ‘In no other land… had an organization attained such a comprehensive penetration [of society], possessed so much power.’

  • Fostered an image of itself as the all-powerful Gestapo who brought dread to the immediate population.

  • Was thought to have been ‘everywhere’ – the idea propounded after the war by Germans as an exscuse.

View today:

  • Now seen that the Gestapo wasn’t as strong as originally thought:

  • 1939 only 3000 officers of the 20000 Gestapo were in the SS and most Gestapo officers were recruited from existing police forces.

  • Only 30000 officers at the peak of the Gestapo for the whole country.

  • Activities much more focused an ordinary Germans than the high status ones, even when Hitler realized many of the latter were not committed to the regime.


  • The image of power was immensely important – cooperation of the public greatly influenced the Gestapo.

  • ½ - 80% of denunciations were voluntary – helped create a situation of cumulative radicalization.

Professor Gellately has proven that most of those were personal rather than political. ELEMENT OF GREED. Using policy for personal benefit (e.g. business, unwanted neighbours, etc.)
Forms of Repression

Gestapo, SS-SD, other police, SA, NSDAP, Informers.

Murder, beatings, executions, press censorship, job dismissal, arbitary / admin arrest, concentration camps, sterilization, warnings, intimidation, prison.

Nazi Economic Aims

Important Individuals

Key Measures

Successes and Failures




  • Relate the economy via government spending: public works, subsidies to private firms, rearmament orders.

  • 1934 – New Plan: controls on currency and BILATERAL trade agreements. Government control of wages and prices.

Failure: ‘Balance of Payments’ deficit as: Economic recovery, inc demand for consumer goods. Rearmament, increase demand for raw materials.

Danger of inflation as the was high demand and money supply.

Disagreement over priorities. Schacht favored exports, Goring and Hitler rearmament.

Success: Fall in unemployment.

Increased industrial production.

Increased national income.




Four Year Plan: prepare for war, autarky, increased government controls and rearmament.

Failure: Raw material shortages – ‘overhewat6ing’ – resources can’t keep up.

Some prices rising.




Successful initially, Blitzkrieg (1939-41) – foreign countries used for resources.

6526 PAPER 5B (JUNE ’03)


  1. Explanation of Himmler’s growth in power:\

  • Appointing Heydrich as deputy (SD leader) – i.e. duopoly.

  • Night of the Long Knives.

  • Power struggle vs. Frich and Goring to get Gestapo (Prussia).


  • Autarky

    • self sufficiency

    • war economy / conquest.

  • Unemployment

    • Fell; from 6 million to none.

    • Public works – Autobahns, land reclamation, housing, schools.

    • Recruited through the National Labour Service.

    • Rearmament – Krupps (his wife ‘Bertha’ got the weapon ‘Big Bertha’ named after her), weapons.

    • Armed services – 1935 conscription.

    • Metals – synthetic oil, rubber and textiles (ersatz products).

  • SOL

    • Consumer goods – radios, cars, holidays.

    • Pride in your country – success in the Rhineland and Austria.

    • Work of Schacht / Goring.

    • 1938 Volkswagen (People’s vehicle).

    • BUT – no freedoms / Trade Unions (due to the German Labour Front)

    • 1926-39 42000 million Reichsmarks spent on defence (42b)

  • Rise to Power

    • Middle class; peasant farmers; unemployed; workers.

  • Unemployment

    • (2.5m by 1934 – none by 1939) Public works and points above.

  • Peasants

    • Tariffs – small scale farms kept.

    • Later came to haunt the government due to inefficiency.

  • Small Business – protection against department stores.

  • Big Business

    • No attack (one might think that if truly socialist, these would have been nationalized under state ownership).

    • 1933-36 = 1600 new cartels made.

  • Finance

    • Schacht and ‘MEFO BILL’

    • No reparations.

    • Foreign debts paid in German currency.

    • World trade picked up.


  • While Germany was suffering with its economy in 1933, it mustn’t be forgotten that Germany was always an economic powerhouse in terms of human and natural resources.

  • Employing Schacht become crucial to Nazi recovery since he had the expertise to introduce Mefo Bills (non-inflationary) and Deficit Financing (increasing government spending to increase demand).


  • Germany importing more than exporting → trade imbalance of trade deficit → foreign currency reserves running low.

  • Therefore New Plan introduced to regulate imports and bilateral trade agreements (especially with Balkan States) to reduce need to spend foreign currency and increase Germany’s economic influence over this area.


  • NSDAP late in developing an economic programme of coherence.

  • 1920-25 point programme supported the urban labour lower-middle-classes.

  • Hostile to big business, high finance and stock market.

HOWEVER: with increase in popularity, the need for an economic programme more acceptable to the main power groups increased.

  • 1933 – broad outlines for a programme sourced from two areas: Reformers:

    1. AUTARKY:- therefore creation of a ‘large economic area’. (Grosswirtschaftsraum) i.e. creating a German Trading Bloc, protected by tariff barriers.

  • Prompted by revival of world-wide protectionism after the collapse of the international trading system.

  • Reflected extreme nationalism present in Germany.

  • Idea of ‘MITTELEUROPA’ – key war aim during WWI and revived by Bruning and Papen governments.

1a. DOMESTIC SPHERE: more government intervention in economy. – Deficit spending policy through public works i.e. solve unemployment problem.
CONSEQUENTLY – these views were incorporated by Strasser into the ‘Emergency Economic Program of the NSDAP’ for the 1932 (July) election. This was later replaced by a more moderate program, (dropping the right to work to improve business) but the principals remained unchanged.
Key ideas of policies:

  • Trade → AUTARKY (expecially food).

  • Germany’s economic sphere of influence:- ude of deficit spending.

This first area used for economic reform therefore coincided with the views of the second source for the 1933 outline:

    1. WEHR WIRTSCHAFT (Defence economy)

  • i.e. using the economy as a tool working towards future war (during peacetime).

  • Originated from reflections on WWI and idea that reason for defeat came from lack of economic organization.

  • Limits to the ability of government to impose a defence economy: (i.e. Problems)

  • Morale – need for a good SOL.

  • Persuading private firms to gear towards a war economy without alienating them – cooperation essential.

  • Dependance on reliance on others for industrial materials and foodstuffs.


Regimes increased attempts to reward the strong and punish the weak.

i.e. The new economic model was another ecample of social (or in this case ‘economic’) Darwinism:

  • Business had to gear its activities to the needs of the state.

  • Coincided with ideas of capitalist economics and therefore won support.

CONSEQUENTLY – with winners (generally the bigger and better) and losers (less equipped to produce goods for a war economy) in each economic sector, the NSDAP put members at odds with each other therefore NEUTRALISING centers of opposition.


Overy – Hitler in Power.

Economic success – by 1936/7 no opposition.

    1. Rearmament: 1935 onwards

    2. Political calm: confidence

    3. End of reparations: Autarky

    4. State control

    5. Control of wages / prices

    6. Propoganda – Hitler ‘above’ it

    7. DRIVE FOR WAR – 1936-7 → 23% GNP, 55% Government expenditure on arms.

What was the government’s role?

Influenced by ideology?



Early on made prices higher and cencelled debts for peasants BUT

Focused on the larger farms.

Reich Food estate regulates production, prices, etc.

Gave subsidies.

4YP reduced fertilizer prices, subsidies for mechanization, grants for new cultivated land.

Large farms were necessary for autarky to work.

Blood and soil

Production increased by 20% (1928-36)

Lack of success – urban migration, demand was satisfied ‘fats crisis’ for machines.


‘Reichsgruppe’ –everyone members if they were a firm. However, although industry state controlled, it remains privately owned.

Large firms joined cartels to expand.

Small business went bankrupt.

State control – unity.



Roads – 2000 miles by 1938, new autobahns etc.

Supreme Reich Authority under Todt.


Power of Germany

Trains for troops / Jews.

Railways comparatively neglected.

Places helped prepare for the war.

Boosted employment.


Schacht’s earlier bilateral deals replaced by more stress on Autarky.


Autarky – less importance stressed on external trade.

No major foreign trade growth (good?).


Increased taxes.

Mefo bills and various credit.

Due to increased confidence government could attract loans to maintain budget deficit.

Brilliant financier – a major contribution (1934-36) to recovery.

  • Rearmament

  • Mefo Bills

  • Strict supervision of EXCHANGE AND IMPORTS.


Schacht knows that this deficit financing can’t go on – they’ll just go into another economic crisis. However, with the Nazis and Hitler, they wanted to keep this policy on, focused on a war economy. Therefore along side 1936 balance of payment problems, the focus switched to Goring.

  • Public investment 1933-36 tripled – public work schemes, road building etc.

  • The Mark’s value had 237 different currency depending on the country it was trading with.

  • 1.5 million unemployed (1936).

1936 – unemployment tackled, rise in confidence, substantial recovery.

BUT Schacht concerned with DISTORTED economy – i.e. deficit and balance of payments → calls for more exports.

This was at odds with what Hitler wants.
Goring installed as Head of the Office of the Four-Year Plan.



  • To make Germany ready for war in four years.

  • Wish for food and industry autarky through:

- Ersatz products –i.e. artificial rubber from acetylene and oil from coal. HOEVER, inefficient, 6 tons of coal made one ton of oil.

  • 1939 – Germany still depended on foreign imports for a third of raw materials and therefore another method of autarky emerged – conquest.

  • Goring cuts across existing economic ministries and incolces state-run ministries.


Businesses wanted to stress consumer boom. Hitler disagreed: 1936 debate about direction the economy should take. He feared rearmament would be modest if business and generals had their way.
Launched at the Nuremberg Rally – October 1936.

  • Economy under NSDAP

  • Siege economy.

Germany sustained growth 1936-39 mainly to military.
Two thirds of industrial investment went to war. Really prepared for war – best comparison is the Soviet Union.
Tim Mason

  • Believes that people were about to resist (due to decrease in SOL and consumer goods. Therefore Hitler had to use war as a tactic to gain further resources etc. i.e. conquer and plunder.

  • ‘Bottom-up’ view of history: upward pressure on wages due to labor shortages.

  • Unorthodox Marxist – perhaps prone to exaggerate ‘small’ pieces of evidence.

Richard Overy

  • Economical statistics don’t show a crisis and little social unrest.

  • The war caused, but wasn’t caused by, a crisis.

  • Factors in the decision for war were international, not domestic.
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