Controversy: How Chaotic was the Nazi State?

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How effective was the Nazi government 1933-39 - The Central role of Hitler

Hitler had sole control

  • Popular Historiographical belief following WW2
  • But - most historians recognised an existence of chaos and explained it using the divide and rule principle
  • This is basically arguing that Chaos existed because Hitler wanted only the strongest to survive and weakened his underlings with constant infighting
  • One example is Rohm vs. Himmler and the Night of the Long Knives
  • Hitler seemed to direct Foreign Policy and invaded Poland against the advice of Goring
  • Another example is between Schacht and Goring
  • Schact (Economics Minister) faced a threat to his New Plan with Goring's presentation of the 4 Year Plan (Preparation of the economy for war)
  • The 4 Year Plan one the support of Hitler and the Office of the 4 Year Plan assumed control of many areas inc. Labour Distributions and Raw Materials
  • This undermined Schacht in 1937 who resigned in protest
  • The strongest survived in accordance with Nazi ideology and it was Hitlers support of a proposal which gave the 4 Year Plan its weight
  • N.B. this isn't saying Hitler divided and ruled intentionally, but his dictatorial power meant that support for one proposal led to a division and ruling over the other

Germany was a Polycratic State

  • In the 1970s & 80s revisionist Historians began to look at the structure of the Nazi state
  • The suggested that its chaotic structure was more significant than the role of Hitler
  • The Chaotic structure is demonstrated by the complex relationship between party and state
  • The Reich governors…


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