The start of the 20th century depicted the upsurge of various authoritarian states and the upsurge to power of history’s most horrific leaders. Most of these leaders were authoritarian. Authoritarian leadership denotes the leadership style that involves the leader having complete control and decision-making power over the citizens. The leaders of such single-party states like Mao, Stalin, and Hitler intimidated the citizens and other nations throughout the globe. In Germany, Hitler established himself as great, god-like leader while concurrently compelling his nation to go through cruel programs of reform. This paper shows that single party state leaders often use force to guarantee their stay in power by using the authoritarian leadership of Adolf Hitler as an example.
Authoritarian governments often maintain power for numerous motives. First, they desire to have control of the public and private life of the citizens to keep opinions and behaviors unified amongst individuals living in the country. If these behaviors and beliefs seemed contrary to those of the leader, there were serious penalties. Frantz defines authoritarianism as denying citizens’ the right to participate, compete, and express freedom in the process of government (23). The states sustain their influence through the single party process where the controlling party or leader decides all aspects of the political practices and constantly influences the process to sustain wealth and power.
Adolf Hitler’s methods of maintaining total control was by the utilization of force and terror. To start with, he gave the German police, popularly known as Gestapo, complete regulation to arrest anyone they felt like and incarcerate them for dubious reasons. In addition, Hitler utilized the shooting squad or SS to spread terror (Mallia-Milanes 74). The SS were Hitler’s personal hitmen. The shooting squad were recruited as his bodyguards but later expanded and were used to wipe out the brown shirts. They managed this in only one night, which was referred to as the “night of the long knives”. Hitler used the squad to send fear and let people know that foul-mouthing Hitler would lead to their death or incarceration at the concentration camps.
The moment Hitler succeeded in ending democracy and turned Germany into a single-party state, He started orchestrating massive propaganda campaigns to attain the cooperation and loyalty of the Germans. He wanted to minimize future resistance by making the entire population believe in his policies. Indoctrination was an essential way in which Hitler and is administration attained their backing from the Youth and included the full interference in the education system and numerous youth groups. The bias in the school curriculum and groups popularity like the Hitler Youth showed that the youth were taught that “the State is essential when compared to individuals, which meant that the individual should have been willing to sacrifice themselves on behalf of the state. The involvement of the Nazi in education was initiated in numerous ways. The majority of teachers had already been sympathetic to Hitler’s regime (Pauley 107). Most of them, mostly through pressure joined programs that had a month long training course focusing on Nazi ideology, and by 1938 about two-thirds of the teachers were part of it. In addition, the Nazi rule asserted further control through keeping of records on the individual teachers, so any individual that did not adequately endorse National Socialism lost their jobs. As such, only a few people would be capable of affording resisting the Nazi rule whether or not their beliefs favored Nazi ideology, as the threats of being dismissed caused overall cooperation. In addition, the curriculum was altered, with emphasis on subjects like the history, biology, physical education, where there was the insertion of the Nazi ideas.
Unlike other single party leaders, he combined force with propaganda since if he did not utilize propaganda, Germans would not have voted for him to gain the position of chancellor. The majority of German citizens were not aware of the occurrences in their nation as the concentration camps, such as Treblinka and Auschwitz were established outside Germany. Hitler used force especially on those he considered as foreigners. The majority of war prisoners and Jews were sent to work in the concentration camps. There was a horrific account provided at the camp commandants’ trials. Hitler’s commander at the Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess, narrated how he was ordered to kill the inmates by any means possible (Pauley 110). He narrated how he searched for the most effective poison gas to murder the inmates, whom he believed the same as vermin. He was able to do this as Hitler had given him full control to deal with the inmates in which way he wanted. The survivors gave an account of how the fittest prisoners were spared to work as slave labor. Since the majority were Jews, their pleas fell on deaf ears. Hitler ensured that every court judges was a Nazi so they would always vote in favor of his ideals. As a result, Jews had zero chances of getting a fair trial since the Nazis hated the Jews.
The majority of German citizens appear to have been so terrified by Hitler’s rule that they accepted his ideas as life was unpleasant for those who did not follow his ideals. There were no other political parties as they were banned and their leaders killed. Other Communist and Socialist party leaders were arrested and sent to the Concentration Camps (Pauley 117). Furthermore, Hitler manipulated and threatened the press to favor him. Hitler knew that controlling what people was the same as controlling their ideas. As such, every press company printed stories that made Hitler look like a Hero as they were afraid of the repercussions.
Hitler waged war on the Communists as they were a threat to his rule. The Nazis were not fond of the Reichstag. Hitler used a fire to blame the Communists in a bid to turn the people against them. Hitler commanded, and was provided with special powers to ensure the situation was dealt with properly. As a result, Marinus van der Lubbe, who was a communist, was detained and charged with the fire incident. During the night of the Fire incident, there were 4,000 Communists who were detained, removing possible threats to Hitler (Purdy 50). To intensify the control of the Nazi, Hitler at this time, persuaded the President at that time to pass the emergency decree that suspended all articles in the constitution that were initiated by the Weimar, guaranteeing freedom of speech. Without the right to express one’s opinions, the citizens had no way of standing up against the leaders. The newly formed act provided the police with powers to confiscate property, search houses, and arrest individuals without a fair trial. As a result, Hitler utilized such powers to threaten the voters, arrest Communists and prevent the Nazi opponents from having public meetings.
Single party state leaders have complete influence over their state and are often not chosen through genuine constitutional elections. The similarity between the majority of authoritarian leaders is that they often maintain the political power through the use of force and propaganda. They usually manufacture the external threats so as to attain regulation over the state and force the people to view them as their only salvation. For instance, Hitler ended up blaming the Jews for all the problems experienced in Germany and defended his cruel acts during the Holocaust through the use of force and propaganda that defamed the Jews. As an authoritarian leader, Hitler is known for his cruelty and use of force during his reign.
- Frantz, Erica. “Tying the Dictator’s Hands: Leadership Survival in Authoritarian Regimes.” SSRN Electronic Journal, 2012
- Mallia-Milanes, Victor. “The Rise to Power of Adolf Hitler.” The Origins of the Second World War, 2007, pp. 74-92.
- Pauley, Bruce F. “Terror, Counterterror, and Propaganda.” Hitler and the Forgotten Nazis, 2011, pp. 104-121.
- Purdy, Elizabeth R. “Hitler, Adolf.” Encyclopedia of Deception, 2012