However, historian Geoff Layton appears to disagree. He states that “Although the idea of Nazism as a form of totalitarianism held great sway in the 1950s, such a view is not now so readily accepted. ” However, he also said that “there emerged in the SS an organisation which was the mainstay of the Third Reich” which would supports the view that force was the main factor in keeping the Nazi Party in power.
This essay intends to analyse the significance of force as a tool to stay n power, through their creation of a Police State, the reformation of the German Courts as well as their elimination of both external and internal political opposition and their indoctrination of the German youth. It will also be necessary to analyse the various other factors which were employed by the Nazi Party between 1931 and 1939 such as control of the economy. Central to the forceful methods the Nazi Party used was undoubtedly their creation of a Police State.
The SS, or Schutzstaffeln, was formed in 1925 as an elite bodyguard, due to Hitler’s uncertainty regarding the loyalty f the SA, or Sturmabteilung. The SS had several functions, the first of these being as an internal security service. The SS police, the SD, worked in conjunction with the Gestapo to perform arrests and often interrogations by way of torture, and murder on citizens who were viewed as opponents of the regime. A separate sector, the Totenkopfverbande, or Death’s-head Unit, had the duty of guarding the concentration camps.
The concentration camps were initially created in 1933 to hold political prisoners and opponents. The SS also provided elite troops who were fanatically loyal o the Fјhrer to fght alongside the Wehrmacht. This meant that Germany, and more significantly, the Nazi Party, always had supporters in the army, meaning they were highly unlikely to face mutiny. Crucially, the SS were also in charge of the genocide against Jews, and this was furthered by their status as an example of “racial purity. ” The Police system of Nazi Germany was extremely well organised, though it had many branches and subsections.
Initially split into the SS and the Police, there were several further splits. The Police consisted of, of course, the regular Police, however, this also onsisted of the Security Police, under which fell the Criminal Police and, more significantly, the Political Police, or Gestapo. It is no secret that the regime used extreme cruelty as a means of policing, and in fact, Hermann Goring stated that men who used firearms in their “duty’ would benefit from his protection, as well as saying that those who failed in this “duty’ would be punished.
In 1936, all of the police powers were united under Heinrich Himmler as Chief of Police. This police force was answerable only to Hitler himself and as such, had considerable powers. It was, ssentially, above the law, as its actions were not “open to review’ by the These extensive powers placed the Gestapo in a strong position of almost boundless authority. If there was any doubt regarding a person’s loyalty or ability to fit into the Nazi regime, the Gestapo could punish them as they saw fit. To go against the Party was almost always fatal, and this certainly contributed to the “low profile” kept by many anti-Nazis.
Alongside this went the atmosphere of fear which was prevalent in Nazi Germany. The country under Nazi rule was permeated with Nazi spies and nformers, making it almost impossible to talk openly for fear of being overheard and harshly punished for any oppositional views. In this way, much of the potential opposition to the Nazi regime was suppressed, as it was extremely difficult to share any oppositional views. As such, little opposition was expressed, and this effect was further abetted by the terrible punishments of torture, interrogation and murder which were performed on those citizens who became outspoken.
It is also possible to see how far the influence of the SS extended, as historian Andrew Boxer explains that he “network of concentration camps became the basis of a vast SS economic empire controlling enterprises involved in quarrying, brick-making, forestry, clothing, furniture and even soft drinks. ” The SS in itself was far more than a barbaric police division; it was an institution. This is supported by historian Geoff Layton, who says that the SD system “not only preserved the Nazi regime by its brutal and repressive policies of law enforcement, but gradually extended its influence into the vital areas of military and economic affairs.
In this way it became the key interest group in the Third Reich. ” However, the power of the SS would have been greatly reduced were it not for the reformation of the German courts. The system known as “Independence of the Judiciary’ requires that the Judicial system is not influenced by politics or the Government, so as to prevent the Government from persecuting opponents through the Justice system. However, in 1933-4, all anti-Nazi and Jewish Judges were sacked to ensure verdicts were in keeping with Nazi ideology.
Judges who were thought to have een “too lenient” or to have “misconducted” trials were severely admonished, and in some cases, Hitler was known to “correct” sentences. From 1934, cases of “treason” were transferred to “People’s Courts” which were run by Nazi Judges. This meant, of course, that opponents could be dealt with without any semblance to genuine law. By 1935, people could be tried for “Acts hostile to the National Community’ without having violated any written law. This essentially meant that the Nazis could punish anyone beneath the guise of a legal procedure.
People could also be convicted as enemies of the state” as a result of their racial origins or their “mentality hostile to the state. ” Two particular concepts were also created, known as “protective custody’ and “preventive arrest”, which were used to Justify the detention of people who had completed their sentences or who had been acquitted by the regular court. These violations of the Judicial system allowed for the removal of any known or suspected opponents, which helped to secure the Nazi rule. The political measures taken by the Party must also be taken into consideration.
Firstly, it is necessary to examine the olitical events outside the party which helped the Nazis to keep power. A political coup for the Nazis was the Reichstag fire of 1933. This destroyed the Parliamentary building and was blamed on a young, Dutch Communist named Marinus van der Lubbe. The man was of questionable sanity and was possibly framed; however the German Communists, including leaders of the German Communist Party on grounds of conspiracy to stage a putsch. This meant that the Nazis managed to increase their share of the vote significantly.
In the 1933 election, the rules were significantly bent o favour the Nazis, and the Power of the State was turned against anti-Nazi parties, as the left-wing parties were disadvantaged. Once the Nazi Party was in power, the next step in their political domination was the elimination of any remaining political opposition. The KPD and SPD, both left-wing parties, were banned, and many other parties dissolved themselves. In March 1933, the Nazi Party successfully campaigned for the Enabling Act, which would allow Hitler to govern for four years without consulting the Reichstag.
However, at the time of the proposal, the SS were present, hus presenting a distinct threat to those who may vote against it. This was another step along the road to a dictatorship. As of July 1933, a law was passed which stated that the Nazi Party was the only party in the Reich. This meant that there was no other option for the people of Germany. There were no longer any other political parties to replace the Nazis, so the Nazis remained in power. To quote historian Andrew Boxer, “German democracy had been destroyed in less than six months. Another central aspect of this internal political change was undoubtedly the Night of he Long Knives, on the 30thof June 1934. This was an internal purge of members of the SA, as Hitler saw them as, in short, too independent. SS men shot around 400 people, including Ernst Rohm, the leader of the SA, and several other senior members. This asserted Hitler’s power within the Party, making the Nazi Party inevitably stronger from the inside, as Hitler had removed those whom he suspected may be potentially disloyal, or even simply too free-thinking.
The Nazi regime was irrefutably strengthened by the indoctrination of the German youth. Hitler clearly aw the significance of loyal, Nazi youth, saying in a speech in November of 1933: “When an opponent declares, ‘l will not come over to your side, ‘l calmly say Your child belongs to us already… What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community. ” This was, though chilling, certainly true, and great focus was placed on youth policy.