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consent or terror?

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by Chrono, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. Chrono

    Chrono New Member

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    Hi!

    Iam new to this site but I am writing an interpretation question on Nazi Germany, the question is "assess the view that the most important element in maintaining hitler's regime in power between 1933 to 1945 was the consent of the German people" they give 4 interpretation to look at and you need to use your own knowledge..

    Now, I'm not expecting anyone to do this for me, but i'm just looking for some information or insight on the topic. I honestly believe that the public did consent through the methods of propoganda and terror.

    Thank you for the information in advance!

    Chrono
     
  2. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Majority consented eventually willingly. There was of course many dissentors and as you say terror then comes into play. But my own view is the majority consented willingly.
     
  3. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    In the end, people vote (or consent) for the sake of their bank account. Hitler brought Germany out of the post-WWI economic depression, he ended the hyper-inflation, he tore up the economic controls in the Versailles treaty. Germans were working again, the mark had value again, and if the new regime had some militaristic and racist tendencies that you disapproved of, well, it was better than the hunger that followed the first war.
     
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  4. Chrono

    Chrono New Member

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    Thats sort of what I was thinking! In the beginning it was the success of Hitler's policies that got him popularity. Then into war time Germany there was more terror to keep people supporting the Reich as there were defeats such as Stalingrad and France which deflated the Hitler myth! But thank you for just clarifying my view and understanding ;)
     
  5. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    This was a question which exercised a ;lot of people post WW2.

    Psychologists looked at the role of the authorittatioan personality - the F or A type. Were the Germans and Japanese culturally predisposed to aggressive war? This was followed up by the re-education of the Germans.

    Stanley Migram and various others looked at the importance of conformance and social pressure on ordinary people. .i.e Under similar conditions US or British people might have simply gone along with what authority figures told them to do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment The Migram experiments did not include any provision for concentration camps or torture for anyone who refused to comply. There was very little internal resistance to either Nazi or Soviet rule by Germans or Russians.

    Hitlers Willing executioners by Daniel Goldhagen is a long expose of the complicity of ordinary Germans in the holocaust.

    Moral Combat by Michael Burleigh is a history of the moral dimension to WW2
     
  6. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I would surmise that even towards the end of the war, support (for most people) was still a function of personal need rather than something coerced through propaganda or terror. Every German knew what their army had done in Russia. They knew about the massacres, burned cities, mass deportations, starvation, the holocaust. They heard it first or second-hand from soldiers on leave. They heard it from the forced laborers in every town and village. And now they knew the Soviets were coming and that they'd exact revenge for all of that.

    There were plenty of true believers around, but really, I think most people just went along because if benefited them, right up until the end. You can even see that in the Wehrmacht. In the Spring of 45, German troops up against the western allies would put up a fight (for honor, I suppose), then surrender. In the east, they fought to the death - because they knew the Russians would throw them in the same starvation/work camps that they'd thrown Russian soldiers into.
     
  7. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I think personal view points entered into it, too. Even toward the end of the war, many still believed in Hitler. Read Kershaw's The End for more on this.
     
  8. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    When Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 his Nazi Party only garnered 37.4% of the seats in the Reichstag which clearly denotes that he and his party was not the first choice of most German voters. By 1939 it seem clear that the majority of Germans viewed Hitler, his party and its policies in a favorable manner primarily due to the impression that he had delivered on his promises of order, prosperity (work) and pride in being German.

    We should not discount the effectiveness of Nazi propaganda aimed at its population, which in my opinion had a far greater effect in keeping the populace compliant than either the fear of terror from the state or the fear of retribution being inflicted by an victorious enemy.
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I think you mean the July, 1932 election. In the November, 1933 election, the had lost some ground, gaining only 33.1%, and in the March, 1933 election, the had 44% of the votes.

    Further, it depends on how you define "most". However, since Germany did not have the "essentially" two party system of the United States, instead they had several main parties, and these were broken down into even smaller "splinter" groups. As such, the NSDAP was the party that received the "most" votes - followed by the Social Democrats(21.6%), Communists(14.3%), and the German Center Party(12.4%), with the rest of the smaller parties each garnering less than 10%.

    Thus, while the NSDAP did not get the majority of the popular vote, they did get more than any other party, and, from the July 1932 election, were the largest party in the Reichstag.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_election,_July_1932
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_federal_election,_November_1932
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_federal_election,_March_1933

    Of course, with the passage of the "Enabling Act" at the end of March, 1933, Hitler became an essential dictator, and in the November elections, the NSDAP, had 92.1%, with the remaining votes being either against or invalid.
     
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  10. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    I agree with everyone above, but propaganda had a great influence in keeping the minds of the German people on an even keel with the Nazi ideals. The country was in ruin after the Versailles Treaty and German morale was very low. The bohemian corporal gave the German people something to take pride in. I agree that there were dissenters and not all were on board with genocide, but the German people were hungry for leadership and sense of pride for their country. This mindset was a nice staging point for the kind of man Hitler was. Once the seed was planted, it was the perfect storm. Keep in mind, Nazi propaganda were not only posters and rallies, Nazism was ingrained. I had the opportunity to witness a thorough collection of Nazi propaganda ranging from posters, Nazi radios, board games for children, sculptures, children dolls and toys, you name it). And on top of all that, the propaganda ministry (Goebbels) took his time to create images and objects that were aimed at everything Germany wanted to be at that time. Case in point, Hitler in medieval armor, atop his steed with the Nazi banner flying, gave the impression that the party was indestructible. Furthermore, once the people were duped, they were enveloped in fear. Anyway, I'm rambling. I agree with everything above, economy and politics have their place in this discussion, but propaganda coupled with the country's instability was the perfect storm for the Nazis.
     
  11. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    I believe it's more complex than that, "follow the leader" is a very basic human trait and Nazi propaganda made it very clear who the "leader" was generating a large "inertia of consensus" around Hitler and the party. There is a huge grey area between "free choice" support of a government and meaningful opposition, and in a totalitarian state propaganda, national pride, fear of retaliation, lack of an organized opposition to rally to and simple peer pressure interact in complex ways so it's very difficult to separate the effects of each element.

    The post war "demonization" of the Nazis tried to reduce this complex issue to "you either fought the Nazi or were with them", it's just not as simple as that as anyone who has faced government corruption can testify, you are aware of the corruption but lack the means to do anything about it short of civil war, and almost any government is better than civil war . Most people, even when presented with "proof" (and I very much doubt the rather efficient Nazi propaganda machine allowed for anything more definite than "rumors" to reach the average German) will fail to believe the worst of their government and so find reasons "not to act" and go on with their lives.

    It takes a huge amount of moral courage to take an individual stand against a government, a non violent stand like Ghandi's will not work against such as Hitler, so that essentially leaves what we now call "terrorism" and that opens up a completely different can of worms where moral issues are concerned.

    So going back to the original question my question my answer would be that the question is misleading, what really kept Hitler in power is the huge "inertia" that any nation state has, without an "effective opposition" a government will stay in power even if it lacks the support of the people, look at all the "mad kings" history is full of, and "effective opposition" is beyond the means of individuals or small groups.

    Thing are different in a well working democracy where elections will allow the people to get rid of unpopular rulers without resorting to active revolt, but Nazi Germany was anything but a "working democracy" :XD:.
     
  12. Chrono

    Chrono New Member

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    Hi all!

    Thank you for you reply! I think your help is leading me to write a more clear and concise essay! I agree with the view that terror wasn't a huge deal for Aryan Germans and that will be key to defining that it was propaganda and the consent of the people. I like the idea that Hitler had given the German public what they wanted economically and millitarially, and this lead for people to "Just go with it", I think that is a brilliant view.

    The final view that it was due to Hitler getting rid of all opposition is interesting as well, and possible I may link that to my terror paragraph, stating that he terrorised other political groups to get rid of them?

    thank you again for you help! I am getting good information to research and fully develop my argument!
     
  13. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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  14. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    Well said
     
  15. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    I will eventually figure out how to quote on this forum . Difficult on my iPhone
     
  16. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Everyone interested in the subject should read Into That Darkness, by Gitta Sereny. She interviewed Franz Stangl extensively, the man who ran Treblinka. What ultimately comes across is the picture of a bureaucrat who saw his job as furthering his career. I think what he tells her is (more or less) honest. He didn't hate Jews, though he had a typical class prejudice. He was a cop and joined the SS as a career move, and rose quickly because he did whatever he was told to do. The people he killed just became cargo - a commodity to be processed; their belongings and even the gold in their teeth to be sorted and packaged. And Stangl evinces a lot more interest in that property accounting than in the murders of the million people that passed through his camp.

    http://www.amazon.com/Into-That-Darkness-Examination-Conscience/dp/0394710355
     
  17. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    I may give it a read, thanks
     
  18. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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