Were the Third Reich and Italy totalitarian states?

Essay by usvalerioUniversity, Bachelor'sB, March 2004

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Were the Third Reich and Italy totalitarian states?

First of all it is important to define what a totalitarian state is. The Concise Oxford Dictionary describes a totalitarian state as, "relating to a form of government that permits no rival loyalties or parties, demanding entire subservience of the individual to the state". Therefore I will explore whether the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler and Fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini fit the description above.

What is definitely clear is that when Hitler became chancellor of Germany on the 30th January 1933, he was as Peukert says, "nowhere near being a personal dictator". Papen was vice chancellor, Hindenburg president and there were only 3 Nazis in a cabinet of 11. However as Joll says, "Hitler wanted to remove all rival opposition". Therefore Hitler cleverly coordinated a series of actions that removed all this opposition. On 27 February 1933, Hitler blamed the Communists and a young Dutchman van der Lubbe for setting the Reichstag building on fire, therefore diminishing a lot of the support for the Communists and also as Carr says, "giving Hitler the perfect opportunity to attack them in the future".

The Enabling Law passed by Hitler on 23rd March 1933 meant that Hitler could ignore the constitution and had the power to make laws for four years. Soon after Hitler also ended all self-government by states and also broke all the opposition of the Marxists by replacing the Trades Unions with the German Labour Front.

In July 1933, Hitler passed a law stating that the NSDAP were the only party allowed in Germany. Finally the Night of Long Knives on 30th June 1934 ended almost all opposition to Hitler when SS men, as Peukert says, "swooped on everyone considered to be a threat and shot them after one minute trials".