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and the military, and initiated operational planning.160 In July 1944 Goebbels™s
efforts to create a more effective central government, despite formally gaining
Hitler™s grudging approval, did not lead to a fundamental reform of the leader-
ship structure, largely as a result of Hitler™s continuing fears that measures of
this kind would run into opposition among lower-level leaders and therefore
affect his prestige.161
At lower levels too whatever unity had existed in the government dissolved
as the party began, in an increasingly haphazard and uncoordinated fashion, to
grab more and more powers. Leaders such as Goebbels, Bormann, and Robert
Ley responded to the growing sense of crisis with the notion that only the
party was able to achieve a turnaround in German history. Through repeated
references to the “Kampfzeit” of the early 1920s, and in particular to the pro-
visional defeat of 9 November 1923, they argued that only the party could
reverse the various setbacks which had af¬‚icted the country. Although much of
this assumed a propagandistic aspect, as membership assemblies, propaganda
marches, and public rallies were convened, the process of “parti¬cation” also
impacted on the already fragmentary structure of the state.162 Thus Gauleiter
doubled up as Reich Defense Commissioners and a growing number of them
became chiefs of civilian administration. The party also offered its services as
an auxiliary to the security police and the Gestapo and assumed oversight and

Stimulated by the adoption of mass production and the greater planning integration afforded

by the new Ministry of Armaments and Munitions, labor productivity grew by 60 percent in
the armaments sector between 1939 and 1944, considerably outstripping productivity in the
other branches of German heavy industry. Yet despite Hitler™s initially promising to give Speer
full control, deriving from his own authority as Fuhrer, over the economy, Speer™s Ministry of
Armaments and Munitions had limited authority over labor allocation and aircraft production
and had a fraught relationship with the army, whose generals had dif¬culty deferring to a
civilian institution led by an architect with little military experience. By summer 1944 Speer
in any case appears to have lost Hitler™s con¬dence. See Abelshauser, “Guns, Butter,” 156“7;
and Overy, The Dictators, 506“8.
Forster, “From Blitzkrieg,” 93.

Hans Mommsen, “The Dissolution of the Third Reich: Crisis, Management and Collapse,

1943“1945,” Bulletin of the German Historical Institute, no. 27 (Fall 2001): 11.
The term “parti¬cation” was ¬rst introduced in Orlow, History of the Nazi Party II.
Political (Dis)Orders 83

motivational functions in the military.163 The mushrooming of institutions,
special powers, and speci¬c legal arrangements disrupted the uni¬ed bureau-
cratic state and speeded up the process of radicalization just as much as any
ideological extremism.164
As much as it may have accorded with the propaganda and ideological
dictates of the Nazi leadership, this sudden widening of the party™s jurisdic-
tion could occur precisely because relations between party and state were so
unstable. The internal in¬ghting between party and state of¬cials drained the
energies not only of subalterns, but also of senior party leaders. Efforts to cir-
cumvent these damaging struggles by broadening the authority of top party
of¬cials yielded few tangible bene¬ts. The replacement of Frick by Himmler
as Reich interior minister, for example, did little to reduce the administra-
tive in¬ghting at the heart of the state. The effects of parti¬cation were, in a
sense, self-perpetuating, for in addition to prolonging the war by implanting
the notion that new resources could be unearthed through strength of will, par-
ti¬cation also helped destroy the last institutional legacies from the old order
which could have provided a platform for either resistance or dissent. After the
failed attempt on Hitler™s life, the military leadership was led by fanatical gen-
erals supported by roving ¬eld courts while the nearly omnipotent Gauleiter
and Reich Defense Commissioners unleashed waves of terror by setting up
summary courts in each Gau and turning the Labor Educational Centers into
virtual concentration camps.165
Soviet administrative and political institutions were structurally better
adjusted to the goals of wartime mobilization than were their German equiv-
alents. In the German case, it was only in the second half of the war that
Hitler reluctantly agreed to pursue a strategy of “total mobilization.” How-
ever, although this mobilization was fueled by war aims which were virtually
free of restraint, it lacked a clear administrative or institutional basis. After Stal-
ingrad the main political expression of “total mobilization” was a process of
“parti¬cation” which rested to a large degree on calls to complete the Nazi “rev-
olution” of 1933 and to establish unrestricted party rule in all relevant political
realms. By the very end of the war, after July 1944, “total parti¬cation” had
undercut the last uni¬ed, institutional bases of the Nazi political order, includ-
ing the military leadership. The continuing and ultimately self-destructive mobi-
lization of people and resources, not least the relentless exploitation of forced
labor, occurred decentrally and varied according to local conditions, institu-
tional capacities, and fanatical commitment to the Nazi cause. Overall, it is this

In December 1943 “National Socialist Leadership Of¬cers” were assigned down to the divi-

sional level in order to aid commanders in instructing soldiers in the principles of National
Socialism. Selected and trained by the party, these political of¬cers were attached to every
military unit in order to ensure that commanders were toeing the party line, much as the
commissars had done in the Red Army.
Mommsen, “Dissolution of the Third Reich,” 14“16, 18; and see Kershaw, Hitler, 1936“45,

Hans Mommsen, “The Dissolution of the Third Reich,” 11, 12, 19“20.
Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen

infrastructure of mid-level power in the military, the state bureaucracy (as, for
example, food distribution), the economy, and the SS that kept Nazi Germany
in the war. By contrast, the war con¬rmed the high mobilizational capacity
of the Soviet economic system for military as well as peacetime goals; and it
showed that the Soviet Union™s mobilizational capacities, tried out before the
war on the campaigns to “build socialism,” could be used just as effectively
for military purposes.166 The combination of a more coercive economy and an
institutionally more clearly delineated political order made for a system which
was better adapted to the needs of war.
In the postwar period, there is no longer a benchmark for comparing the
two systems. Certainly, we must beware of ascribing the continuation of the
one order and the ending of the other to the nature of their political systems,
since this had far more to do with other factors, most notably the fortunes of
their military campaigns. Nonetheless, the subsequent evolution of the Soviet
system in the early postwar period was marked by a continuation of some
features whose origins can be traced to the war and prewar periods. First, there
continued to be growing institutional stabilization at the summit of the system,
where a ruling collective carried on meeting on a regular basis to decide issues
of national importance.167 This had not been the case in Nazi Germany since
the mid-1930s. Secondly, the party and, in particular the party apparatus,
not only continued to function, but provided the backbone of the political
system, while the system of party-based patronage, the nomenklatura, which
was consolidated in the postwar period, helped to reinforce and bind together
the centralized hierarchies of the state.168

The Soviet political order was never a smoothly functioning “machine” as it
has been portrayed in some versions of the “totalitarian” model. The Soviet
system was, however, able to remain politically and economically integrated,
even under the most severe external shock of World War II. This high degree
of integration may be attributed to a number of factors. One, certainly, was
the extreme coercion displayed by Stalin against his own population not only
during the Great Terror, but also during the war. Another important factor was
the role of the centrally managed economy, which allowed the state to mobilize
resources very quickly and, through the system of food procurement erected in
the early 1930s, to ensure that farmers could not deny food to the towns.169
From the political perspective, however, the most important factor in holding

Mark Harrison, “The Soviet Union: The Defeated Victor,” 297; Barber and Harrison, 20.

Yoram Gorlizki, “Ordinary Stalinism: The Council of Ministers and the Soviet Neo-

Patrimonial State, 1945“1953,” Journal of Modern History 74, no. 4 (2002): 699“736.
Yoram Gorlizki and Oleg Khlevniuk, Cold Peace: Stalin and the Soviet Ruling Circle, 1945“53

(New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), chapter 2, “State Building Stalin Style,” 45“68;
and Oleg Khlevniuk, “Sistema tsentr-regiony v 1930“1950e gody: Predposylki politizatsii
˜nomenklatury™,” 253“68.
Harrison, “Economics of World War II: An Overview,” 24.
Political (Dis)Orders 85

the political system together was the role of a centralized and institutionally
integrated party, which formed the core of the party-state. Even at the height
of Stalinism, the party existed as an entity independent of the leader. The
fact that the party existed as a continuous, integrated hierarchy, which was
institutionally and ideologically embedded in the system, meant that it always
existed as a resource for correcting and reining in the regime™s more extreme
policies. The institutional continuity of the party provided the basis for self-
containment which the Soviet system had and the National Socialist system
To the extent that theirs was a conception of politics as mobilization, the
main transformation which the Nazis brought about was one of subjective con-
sciousness.170 The Nazis, however, did not bring about a revolution in the sense
of a deep-seated social transformation or the forging of a new state.171 The
political and administrative system of National Socialism was too disjointed
for it to be characterized as a “Nazi state” as such. At its summit there was no
collective cabinet. The key bureaucracies were headed by free-¬‚oating “retinue-
structures” that developed considerable mobilizational energy especially in the
latter phases of the war. The party™s role in the system was far hazier, as was
its relationship to the ordinary institutions of government. Instead, the state
and ideology relied to a far greater extent for what coherence they had on the
cult of the Fuhrer. This combination of a ¬‚imsy institutional basis, when allied
to an expansionist ideology, led to a highly divided and fragmentary political
The divergent paths of the Stalinist and Nazi regimes corresponded to the
strengths and attributes of their leaders. Stalin was very much a praktik, a
machine politician and state-builder who earned a reputation for getting things
done. His ambition was to turn the Soviet Union into a great power by means
of a new type of party-state. Hitler, by contrast, had very little interest in
state-building per se. His conception of politics, by contrast, was largely one
of “agitation” and “propaganda.” Mobilization mattered, not institutions.
“The consistency,” wrote Martin Broszat some years ago, “which the National
Socialist ˜revolution™ showed in destroying the existing constitutional order was
largely absent when it came to constructive organization and to the centralized
exercise of power.”172

This point is made in Kershaw™s textbook, The Nazi Dictatorship, 173“4.

Although we do not accept that there was a fundamental transformation of the class structure

in Germany of the kind that occurred in the USSR in the 1920s and 1930s, our position is
quite compatible with recent research that has identi¬ed relatively high levels of social mobility
among a group of educated National Socialists who had internalized the ideology of race in
the 1920s and who would rise to prominence as ruthless technocrats in the leaderships of the
SS, the police and security agencies, and also in the new ideological apparatus of the state. See,
in particular, Ulrich Herbert, Best: Biographische Studien uber Radikalismus, Weltanshauung
und Vernunft, 1903“1989 (Bonn: J. H. W. Dietz, 1996); and Michael Wildt, Generation des
Unbedingten: Das Fuhrungskorps des Reichssicherheitshauptamtes (Hamburg: Hamburger
Edition, 2002).
Broszat, 133.
Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen

At an informal meeting after the party rally of 1938 Hitler is reported to
have told his companions that if he ever came to the conclusion that the party
was unnecessary for the historical task posed for him, he would not hesitate
to destroy it.173 Such a statement would have been inconceivable for Stalin.
At no point during Stalin™s tenure was there the faintest prospect that the
party as an integrated institutional entity would be marginalized, let alone
destroyed. After Stalin™s death, at the Central Committee plenum of July 1953,
former colleagues, such as Kaganovich, Molotov, and Voroshilov, not only
vaunted the party, but praised its leading organ, the Central Committee, as, in
Kaganovich™s words, the “holy of holies,” in a way that no National Socialist
could have spoken of a leading Nazi committee. The only leader who considered
downgrading the role of the party, Beria, not only was peremptorily removed,
but earned a stinging rebuke from Khrushchev: “Beria denies the ruling role of
the party, he limits its role to cadres (and that only at ¬rst) and propaganda.
But is this really a Marxist-Leninist approach to the party? Is this how Lenin
and Stalin taught us how to approach the party? Beria™s views on the party
are no different from Hitler™s.”174 Notwithstanding Stalin™s own “teachings”
on the party, the powerful party-based institutional continuity that spanned
his tenure rested on “an ideal basis of Leninist party organization, membership
de¬nition, and policy organization” that were, in Jowitt™s words, “independent
from [Stalin™s own] personal insight.”175 This not only meant that there was
potentially within the Leninist party a legitimate basis for Khrushchev to go
on and attack Stalin™s “cult of personality,” but that, unlike Hitler™s Germany,
there was a basis for the Soviet political order to retain its identity, in the longer
term, without the dictator. Under Stalin the Soviet dictatorship had achieved
not only a social revolution but the conditions of a stable political order. The
seeds of this order, which were sown in the late 1930s and in the early postwar
period, would then come to fruition with Stalin™s death.176

Cited from Frank, 1953, 235“6, in Nyomarkay, Charisma and Factionalism, 27.

V. Naumov and Iu. Sigachev, eds., Lavrentii Beriia, 1953: Stenogramma iul™skogo plenuma

TsK KPSS i drugie dokumenty (Moscow: MFD, 1999), 233 (italics ours).
Jowitt, New World Disorder, 8.

For what remains one of the best analyses of this process, see Peter Hauslohner, “Politics before

Gorbachev: Destalinization and the Roots of Reform,” in Seweryn Bialer, ed, Politics, Society,
and Nationality inside Gorbachev™s Russia (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989), 41“90.

Utopian Biopolitics
Reproductive Policies, Gender Roles, and Sexuality
in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union

David L. Hoffmann and Annette F. Timm


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