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Elizabeth Cook

How far do you agree that Hitlers regime was a consensus


dictatorship? (Explain your answer using sources 4, 5 and 6 and your
own knowledge of the issues related to this controversy?

A consensus dictatorship is one that suggests Hitlers regime was surrounded by


a general agreement. This would propose that all German people were in
cooperation with the Nazi regime and agreed with the concepts which were both
enforced and promoted by the regime. It is believed that many came to an
agreement based upon the concept of scapegoats, something emphasised within
source 4 which suggests Hitler aimed to win over the hearts and minds of all
non-Jewish Germans through the isolation of those deemed as racially unfit.
However it has also been suggested that many simply conformed out of fear,
source 5 infers that many were simply scared of the state and withheld their
views in order to avoid the methods of torture used by the likes of the SS.
However, despite the emphasis upon terror in source 5, source 6 suggests that
despite the methods of terror these were to have little effect upon most
ordinary Germans and they found little difficulty in conforming.
Source 4 published in 2007 by Robert Gellately states that Hitlers hybrid form
of government can be called a consensus dictatorship; this suggests that there
was an agreement surrounding the regime with many in support of Nazis ideas.
From source 4 I can understand that all non-Jewish Germans were in agreement
with the Nazi aim to exclude Jews and those deemed racially unfit. This
suggests that Hitlers interests revolved around creating a pure and strong
Germany which only contained and supported pure Germans. However, this
source also suggests that Hitler was heavily concerned with his popularity and
believed that his political authority as a dictator had to be based upon this.
Source 4 appears to disagree with source 5 as it states that Hitler was contempt
towards the soviet-style dictators and the terror they used on their own people,
this suggests that his consensus dictatorship was simply based on communal
bonding over the exclusion of the racially unfit. However, source 5 suggests that
conformity was achieved simply because of the terror installed into the people
with the SS ability to arrest and torture, something feared by many. The SS were
a police organisation headed by Heinrich Himmler under the Nazi party, despite
their initial development as security they soon became one of the most
influential organisations within the Third Reich and were extremely important in
encouraging conformity through terror. Therefore I agree with source 5 in its
suggestion that fear and terror were existent throughout Hitlers regime.
Source 5 published in 1991 by Mary Fulbrook suggests that conformity within
Hitlers regime was simply achieved as a result of terror. Fear of arrest, and fear
of informers, led to public conformity this suggests that Hitlers dictatorship was
not a consensus one and the support provided by the people was perhaps not
always genuine, with many simply cooperating for their own protection. Source 5
proposes this further as it states many Germans lived a double life and withheld
their real views and feelings. This suggests that Hitlers dictatorship was far

Elizabeth Cook
from a general agreement and many kept their expression extremely private
due to fear of the SS and their ability to arrest, torture and murder, an ability
which was to enforce fear into the lives of many Germans. This disagrees with
source 4 which suggests that Hitler disagreed with the concept of terror used by
the soviet style dictators. Stalin was heavily involved with terror and used this to
encourage compliance amongst the Russian people something which source 5
also suggests Hitler did. However, source 6 agrees with source 5 to some extent
as this also suggests that there was an element of terror within the regime,
although unlike source 5 it suggests that this posed little threat to ordinary
Germans.
Source 6 suggests that there was agreement with the regime to some extent.
However, it does not suggest that terror was the reason for compliance in the
same way as source 5 as it makes it implicit that terror did not affect all lives.
Eric A. Johnson states that most Germans enjoyed their lives during the
peaceful years of national socialist rule due to improvements in both
employment and the economy. He also proposes that despite the awareness of
the persecution affecting groups such as the Jews and communists it did not
inflict terror directly upon them and therefore it is something they simply read
about and did not experience. This lack of compassion for those affected may
have also derived from the heavy use of Nazi propaganda which was headed by
Joseph Goebbels. Propaganda had the ability to influence and encourage beliefs
amongst the people and was used to Hitlers advantage in creating scapegoats
as well as ensuring those who were nationally German that they were safe and in
a better position as a result of the regime. Source 6 also suggests that many
were aware of the changes such as danger for those who did not comply and
increasing police presence, however it suggests that most found little difficulty
in conforming. This infers that Hitlers dictatorship was consensus to some
extent as most Germans appeared to find no difficulty in adjusting to the Nazi
regime with only some complaining privately. This agrees with source 5 which
also suggests that most were private with their expression and withheld their
real views and opinions concerning Hitlers dictatorship.
Overall I believe that Hitlers dictatorship was consensus, many Germans came
together and bonded regarding the exclusion of the racially unfit. I believe that
this worked in Hitlers favour as scapegoats are particularly successful in times of
socio-economic downturn as it allows the people to attribute blame. It is also
suggested that terror was responsible for conformity, despite this being a
forceful method it worked as despite private disagreements as far as the regime
was concerned the people agreed with Hitler and whether or not this was out of
fear had little effect on the party. However, this was not genuine which suggests
that his dictatorship was privately despised and therefore may encourage
difficulties experienced later on within the regime. Finally it has also been
suggested that people found little difficulty in conforming as the terror used did
not have a direct effect on them, this suggests that people were aware of the
constant changes but were prepared to ignore these in order to abide by the
laws which they felt were protecting them.

Elizabeth Cook

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