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on 29 May 1933, he summoned ¬fty leading industrialists and bank directors
to listen to their advice on job creation.125 Far from damaging the interests
of big business, the Hitler government enhanced business™s bargaining power
by, in effect, dismantling the system of worker rights erected under Weimar
with a Law for the Ordering of National Labor which was promulgated on 20
January 1934.126
Rather than refashioning society there was a loose ¬t between the goals of
the Nazi regime and the preexisting social order. For this reason the purge
mechanism was poorly institutionalized and only haltingly implemented. The
National Socialist commissioners appointed in March and April 1933 in most
Reich and Land ministries to cleanse these bodies of “undesirable elements”
were used mainly on a one-off basis. In order to prevent the personnel policy
of the state from being taken over by the party, the law of 7 April 1933
on the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service subjected the purging of
the civil service apparatus to clear legal conditions and, crucially, placed the
process in the hands of the state apparatus. In the event, the purges were
quite limited, with only 1 to 2 percent of the country™s one and a half million
civil servants being retired or dismissed without pension on political or racial

On Hitler™s economic policy, see Avraham Barkai, Das Wirtschaftssystem des Nationalsozial-
123

ismus: Ideologie, Theorie, Politik, 1933“1945, 2nd ed. (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschen-
buch, 1988); Richard R. Overy, The Nazi Economic Recovery 1933“1938 (London [u.a.]:
Macmillan, 1984).
¨
See Heinrich Uhlig, Die Warenhauser im Dritten Reich (Cologne: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1956),
124

¨
115“19; Helmut Genschel, Die Verdrangung der Juden aus der Wirtschaft im Dritten Reich
(Gottingen: Musterschmidt Verlag, 1966), 79“80.
It was on the basis of this discussion that in mid-July 1933 a permanent General Council of
125

the Economy was set up.
See Tilla Siegel, Leistung und Lohn in der nationalsozialistischen Ordnung der Arbeit
126

(Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1989); cf. Rudiger Hachtman, Industriearbeit im “Dritten
¨
Reich”: Untersuchungen zu den Lohn “ und Arbeitsbedingungen in Deutschland 1933“1945
(Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1989).
Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen
74

grounds.127 The fear that the party would itself become contaminated was
also milder than in the Soviet Union. Although, in order to guard against
“March converts” a bar on new members was imposed on 1 May 1933 and
an obligatory two-year probationary period was introduced on 26 June, there
were no membership screenings or mass “veri¬cation” programs, the threat of
which almost permanently hung over the Bolshevik party.128 The link between
the purge apparatus, such as it was, and the security services was also far
looser than in the Soviet Union. One reason for this was that Hitler himself
was willing to maintain a safe distance from the security apparatus, delegating
control over its affairs to Himmler, and was far less inclined than was Stalin
to use it against his own party. Perhaps the best example of this was Hitler™s
relative reluctance to strike against the high SA leadership in the summer of
1934. The “Night of the Long Knives” was carried out only after Hitler had
come under considerable pressure from Himmler, Goring, and the Wehrmacht
¨
to act, especially following von Papen™s Marburg speech. The attack, which
also targeted civilians and potential opponents, such as General von Schleicher,
claimed eighty-eight victims and was “ in comparison with the Stalinist purges
“ limited in scope, as were the ensuing dismissals of party members and other
alleged followers of Rohm. Rather than underlining the revolutionary impulse
¨
of the regime, the attack on the SA was meant to bring to an end the party
“revolution from below.”129
It was in 1938 that the regime broke free of these self-imposed ordi-
nances. That year saw the expulsion of conservatives from the army (Blomberg,
Fritsch), the Foreign Ministry (von Neurath), and the economic administration
(Schacht), all of whom had been pillars of moderation and bulwarks against
excessive party in¬‚uence, and their replacement by Hitler™s partisans.130 In
setting up civilian administration in the newly annexed areas of Austria and
the Sudenten territories in 1938, Hitler brought in members of the party™s
old guard and sought to strengthen the party™s role. By deliberately bypass-
ing the ministerial bureaucracies in Berlin the Austrian Gaue presaged the
new “model Gaue” of the annexed territories to the east, which “re¬‚ected the


See Jane Caplan, Government without Administration: State and Civil Service in Weimar
127

and Nazi Germany (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 139“88; Sigrun Muhl-Benninghaus,
¨
Das Beamtentum in der NS-Diktatur bis zum Ausbruch des Zweiten Weltkrieges (Dusseldorf:
¨
Droste, 1996) 60“83; Broszat, 196, 198, 245.
Cf. Michael H. Kater, The Nazi Party: A Social Pro¬le of Members and Leaders, 1919“1945
128

(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983), 72“115; Dietrich Orlow, The History of
the Nazi Party, 1933“1945, vol. 2 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1973), 49“50.
¨
See Heinz Hohne, Mordsache Rohm: Hitlers Durchbruch zur Alleinherrschaft, 1933“1934
129

(Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1984), 286“96; and Broszat, 213. Although there was a relatively high
turnover of party of¬cials from 1933 to 1935, the movement of the vast majority of them had
relatively little to do with the Rohm purge or with any institutionalized purge mechanism as
¨
such. See Kater, The Nazi Party, 190“1; cf. Overy, The Dictators, 141.
¨
See Karl-Heinz Janssen and Fritz Tobias, Der Sturz der Generale: Hitler und die Blomberg-
130

Fritsch-Krise 1938 (Munich: Beck, 1994), 148“9, 154“5.
Political (Dis)Orders 75

structure of the Hitler movement more than they did that of the authoritarian
state.”131
The policy shift of 1938 and, in particular, the start of the war the follow-
ing year marked a turn toward a new radical phase of the Nazi regime from
which it would never fully recover. With it, the precarious balance between the
authoritarian forces of order and the transforming impulses coming from the
party was ¬nally broken. Although this switch happened quite abruptly, it was
not incidental to the development of the state. In fact, it was driven by features
of the National Socialist regime which distinguished it quite markedly from
its Soviet counterpart. The ¬rst of these was the territorial expansionism of
the Nazi regime. Nazi thinking had been characterized by a dynamic impulse
toward territorial growth which had been evident even before the NSDAP
accession in 1933. Many of the Nazis™ early economic and demographic pre-
scriptions had been based on establishing German “living space” in Eastern
Europe.132 Hitler™s revelation of radical foreign policy plans and a will to war
at the end of 1937, as well as his annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland
the following year, were fully in keeping with the regime™s long-term strategic
ambitions. Secondly, the structures of the Reich government became increas-
ingly disrupted through the proliferation of direct special powers from Hitler,
the accumulation of authority in the hands of individual party satraps, and
the establishment of yet more central organs.133 Above all, the growing SS
apparatus, culminating in the establishment of a Reich Main Security Of¬ce,
the incorporation of the ordinary police force, and Himmler™s installment as
Minister of Interior (and, later, as chief of the Home Army), would create a
suf¬ciently independent power base such that, after 1941, it also controlled
occupied territories in East and West and became the main executive arm for
the annihilation of European Jewry.134


Broszat, 123“4, 128, 254. In the annexation of Austria in 1938 Hitler set up Gaue, headed
131

by members of the party™s old guard, which united state and territorial administrative units
and were directly subordinate to the leader™s of¬ce. S. John A. Bernbaum, “The New Elite:
Nazi Leadership in Austria, 1938“1945,” in Austrian History Yearbook, 14 (1978), 145“60;
¨
Emmerich Talos, Ernst Hanisch, and Wolfgang Neugebauer, NS“Herrschaft in Osterreich
´
¨
1938“1945 (Vienna: Verlag fur Gesellschaftskritik, 1988); Dieter Rebentisch, Fuhrerstaat und
¨
Verwaltung in Zweiten Weltkrieg: Verfassungsentwicklung und Verwaltungspolitik 1939“
1945 (Stuttgart: F. Steiner Verlag, 1989), 170“1.
Cf. Klaus Hildebrand, “Die Geschichte der deutschen Außenpolitik (1933“1945) im Urteil
132

¨
der neueren Forschung,” in Deutsche Außenpolitik 1933“1945: Kalkul oder Dogma, 4th ed.
(Stuttgart [u.a.]: Kohlhammer, 1980), 188“9; Gerhard Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler™s
Germany: Diplomatic Revolution in Europe 1933“1936 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1970), 14“24; and Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, “Zur Struktur der NS “ Außenpolitik 1933“1945,” in
¨
Manfred Funke, ed., Hitler, Deutschland und die Machte (Dusseldorf: Droste, 1978), 169“75.
¨
¨
Rebentisch, Fuhrerstaat und Verwaltung, 293“4 and 331“69.
133

Forming something of a “state within a state,” Himmler did not, however, gain control over the
134

Gauleiter or the party Chancellery under Martin Borman, while Albert Speer, the minister for
armaments and ammunition, had his own line of communication to Hitler. The best analysis of
the structure of the SS apparatus is still Hans Buchheim, “Die SS “ das Herrschaftsimperium,” in
Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen
76

As a social revolutionary state the Soviet regime had, in the purge, an instru-
ment for re¬ning its party membership and apparatus. In the late 1930s this
instrument was adapted to rein in and liquidate regional party leaders and
to crush any residue of opposition within the top leadership. As well as cen-
tralizing and disciplining the party-state, the terror opened career avenues for
a new generation of young and recently socialized Soviet cadres. The con-
solidation of the Stalinist regime was based on a combination of industrial
transformation, social revolution, and an extensive and well-organized party
bureaucracy which had fully penetrated the state. In the Nazi case the sequence
was quite different. The relative stability of the early Nazi regime was reliant
almost entirely on norms and state structures inherited from the preexisting
German state and from a power-sharing agreement with national-conservative
allies. When these stabilizing forces were stripped away in the late 1930s the
expansionist dynamic of the state was laid bare and an array of free-¬‚oating
leadership-retinue structures, with no grounding in the constitution, were let
loose.

the war
Arguably more than any other period, the war years present particular prob-
lems of comparison. Not only were the Soviet and National Socialist political
systems highly ¬‚uid in these years, but throughout the war the fortunes of one
were inversely related to those of the other. For much of the ¬rst phase of the
war, Germany fought a war of aggression, while the Soviet Union was engaged
in a struggle for survival. As Soviet forces retreated and much of the coun-
try™s territory was occupied, the Soviet government was relocated and some
traditional decision-making structures were either dissolved or transformed.
For its part, Germany expanded, annexing some territories and setting up a
variety of new political arrangements in others.135 In the second half of the
war, the fortunes of the two belligerents were reversed, with major political


Anatomie des SS-Staates, 7th ed., eds. Hans Buchheim et al. (Munich: Deutschen Taschenbuch
Verlag, 1999), 30“40.
There were ¬ve categories of territory incorporated into German administration: ¬rst were the
135

areas which were formally annexed (e.g., Danzig-West Prussia, Warthegau); second were those
areas which were not formally incorporated but effectively treated as part of the Reich (e.g.,
Alsace-Lorraine, Luxembourg); third were populations which were treated as Germanic and
placed under civilian administration, but slated for future integration into the Greater German
Empire (e.g., Norway, Holland, Flemish parts of Belgium); fourth were areas which were
designated for future German colonization (Protectorate of Bohemia, General Gouvernmnent
in Poland, Reich Commissariat for Ostland); and last occupied areas of continuing military
signi¬cance which were placed under military administration (e.g., areas to the immediate rear
of the zones of operation in the USSR). For a good description, see Jurgen Forster, “From
¨ ¨
˜Blitzkrieg™ to ˜Total War™: Germany™s War in Europe,” in A World at Total War: Global
Con¬‚ict and the Politics of Destruction, 1937“1945, eds. Roger Chickering, Stig Forster, ¨
Bernd Greiner (Washington, DC, and Cambridge: German Historical Institute and Cambridge
University Press, 2005), 94.
Political (Dis)Orders 77

consequences, as the Soviet political order restabilized while the structures of
National Socialist government and administration became ever more fractured
and disarticulated.
On the eve of the war, as we have seen, patterns of high-level decision making
in the two countries had followed different paths. In the Soviet Union, after the
purges, leading members of the Politburo had continued to meet collectively on
a near-daily basis within the framework of Stalin™s “ruling group.” Below the
cabinet, the party existed as a hierarchic organization and committee meetings
of its core bureaucratic directorates, the Orgburo and Secretariat, were held
on a regular basis, normally with the attendance of at least one Politburo
member. By contrast, there was no equivalent collective cabinetlike body in the
German system. Hitler™s ingrained secretiveness and his preference for one-on-
one meetings had eroded formal patterns of government and administration.
Unlike in the USSR, neither a clear-cut party-based hierarchic structure of
command nor a collective body for determining party policy was ever instituted.
Even the Council of Ministers for Reich Defense, formed on the eve of the war,
which could have played a useful role in coordinating civilian industrial and
military requirements, was disbanded after only six meetings as its chairman,
Goring, did not want to challenge the Fuhrer™s political prerogatives.136
¨ ¨
For much of the ¬rst phase of the war, until the victory at Stalingrad, the
Soviet political system embraced “informal” or “extraordinary” principles of
decision making and resource allocation.137 When the new war cabinet, the
State Defense Committee (GKO), was set up on 30 June 1941, members of
the committee were assigned their own teams and granted virtually unlimited
authority to settle issues within their jurisdictions.138 Similarly, the one hun-
dred or so GKO plenipotentiaries who were appointed in the ¬rst six months
of the war were endowed with the supreme authority of the GKO to over-
ride the objections of local leaders and committees, even where the latter for-
mally occupied more senior positions. In fact, these near-total mandates of
authority to individuals to deal with particular policies or issues were some-
what reminiscent of the “leader-retinue” structures which had existed in the
Nazi system since the mid-1930s. In addition, traditional party structures were
undermined in the early phase of the war, as many party cells were deserted or
dissolved, thousands of party of¬cials were conscripted to the front, and the
party was deployed in a more openly “mobilizational” role as Central Commit-
tee partorgs were set up in large enterprises, military commissars reestablished


Jurgen Forster, “From ˜Blitzkrieg™ to ˜Total War,™” 92.
¨

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