What do you understand by the term 'totalitarian state'? Illustrate your answer with reference to Germany under Hitler

Essay by dath00daCollege, Undergraduate March 2004

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Totalitarianism is characterised by strong central rule that attempts to control and direct all aspects of individual life through coercion, repression and propaganda. The state achieves popularity through a strong, charismatic leader.

To establish whether Hitler's state lives up to this term, different aspects of individual life, political, social and economic need to be analysed and in conclusion, what extent they live up to being a 'totalitarian' state according to this criteria. In addition to this, there is the debate on whether Hitler was in fact a weak dictator rather than a strong one. If this is the case, the term totalitarian is not accurate. In order for it to be so, Hitler and his state must be seen to be living up to the characteristics and definition of the term, 'The state achieves popularity through a strong charismatic leader.'

By analysing social aspects of Hitler's Germany, it can be established whether the term totalitarian is accurate.

In terms of social life under the Nazis, 'It was a movement and an ideology that aimed to exercise power so as to transform German society'(1). This argument is expressed by Layton, whose book is used as an A-level resource. Therefore, we can rely on it as being a synthesis of the most up to date research. Nevertheless, there are similar leading Historians, such as Traynor, who lives up to the views of a structuralist, who put forward the argument that Hitler and the Nazis '...did very little to promote genuine social change'(2). Recent historians, such as Traynor and Layton, tend to be structuralists as opposed to intentionalists, who believed Hitler was 'master' as well as viewing him as central to foreign and race policies. Gradually, historical research revealed characteristics of Hitler, which painted him as a weaker character. Overall, the argument...