Totalitarianism refers to a system of governance where the leaders have ultimate control over all systems pertaining to the public and private life of the citizens (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica). The citizens are completely subordinate to the government’s authority and as such cannot oppose the rules. The administration ensures that the lifestyles of the citizens are monitored and controlled, form the economic, social and even religious status. A totalitarian leader suppresses the traditional social and political organizations to ensure that only one party is in charge. Totalitarianism is introduced gradually to the public, starting with widespread ideologies that are publicly declared by the leaders. The people are encouraged to participate in public rallies and debates where various agendas are discussed often concerning the government. Once people are fed with the intended ideologies, the leader can then control their actions and push for particular goals. The system of totalitarianism was introduced to German by Adolf Hitler who was a scholar and orator and thus was very successful in convincing the people to dissent from the democratic government.
The successful rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi government was supported by various factors, key among which was totalitarianism. Germany practiced communalism before the first world war, where private ownership of property was discouraged and every individual worked towards national economic growth. In 1924, the country established a parliament and tried to have democratic rule by allowing national elections. However, after WW1, the parliament did not achieve the intended purpose and was severally dissolved until a coalition was formed between socialists and democratic parties. In addition, the economic status of the country was shaky as it had to repay damages of war to various countries in the face of the great depression and high inflation. During this time, a small political party called the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, started to gain popularity. The party known as Nazi in short, was led by Adolf Hitler who was later appointed by the government as chancellor due to his popularity with the people.
Adolf Hitler saw an opportunity to exploit Germans’ fear and frustration over the failed efforts of the government to restore the country’s honorable position after the war. Together with other Nazi supporters, they rallied people to oppose the parliament with promises of better governance. The propaganda was well drafted to fit any class of citizens stating that the unemployed would find work, the prices of agricultural products would go up and the industries would grow their market base. Over time, Nazi ideologies spread among the public and in two years, Hitler and his companions had taken total control of the government. Hitler was a charismatic leader and he gave people hope through propaganda while requiring them to fully support the interests of the state.
One of the major defining characteristics of totalitarianism is centralized economic control as a tool to deal with the mases. Hitler used calculated moves to control the economy through infrastructural development, military spending and territorial expansion. In 1933, when the Reich took power, the unemployment rate was at 30% with a huge national debt. In order to deal with this and the rampant inflation, the administration ramped up automobile and aviation industries significantly reducing the number of those unemployed. Regulations on imports were enacted under the deficit spending program as the construction industry was ramped up via subsidies and credit offering to small businesses. This economic development to the common citizen was increased via access to loans when Germans married with the loan reducing on giving birth.
In a span of 5 years the unemployment reduced from 6 million to less than a million by 1939. The central control of the economy in Germany was executed in distinct steps that involved rationing of production of consumer goods that in turn increased personal savings which were later rent to the state to enforce war efforts. To culminate the complete picture of totalitarianism economic control, German enforced its economy through plundering of invaded countries. Raw materials, precious metals, clothing and slave labor was imported to Germany making it a very strong economy. This was expanded by the total takeover of Jews’ businesses and demolishment of trade unions very early in the Nazi rule (Holocaust). The military spending was highly boosted once the war started making the country’s 40% population to be military and the rest work in various industries like aviation, farming and other industrial work to enhance the regime.
As a totalitarian, Hitler also controlled the information passed on to the people by restricting the number of media and press outlets and ensuring only approved messages were printed (Strauss and Kirby). Since Hitler’s government ended multi-party democracy, they also took over ownership of printing plants from democrats and socialists. The Nazi party owned a printing house that dominated the market, known as Franz Eher. They used the press to propagate threats of impending uprisings from democrats and socialists and thus had reason to hastily arrest the opposition leaders who were identified in the papers. All these factors led to the successful rise of Hitler to power as he embraced totalitarianism.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Totalitarianism | Definition & Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 25 Oct. 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/totalitarianism. Accessed 15 Nov. 2018.
Holocaust. “The Persecution of German Jews After the Nazi Seizure of Power.” Holocaust, 19 July 2011, www.holocaust.cz/en/history/final-solution/general-2/the-persecution-of-german-jews-after-the-nazi-seizure-of-power/. Accessed 15 Nov. 2018.
Strauss, Gerald, and George H. Kirby. “Germany – The Totalitarian State.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 14 Nov. 2018, www.britannica.com/place/Germany/The-totalitarian-state. Accessed 15 Nov. 2018.