Was Hitler a Weak Dictator?

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WAS HITLER A WEAK DICTATOR?

Introduction

The question of whether Hitler was master in the Third Reich or a ‘weak dictator' is one of the central debates amongst historians of Nazi Germany. It is not necessary to spend too much time here outlining the debate, as this information can easily be found elsewhere (see, for example, the excellent chapter on this subject in Ian Kershaw's The Nazi Dictatorship). Broadly speaking, historians who have participated in this debate can be located on a scale ranging from the ‘intentionalists' at one extreme to the ‘functionalists' on the other.

The ‘intentionalists' include historians such as Norman Rich, Joachim Fest and Karl Dietrich Bracher. What these historians have in common is their
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All these points would seem to provide the intentionalist point of view with strong support. However, there is also a large body of evidence that would seem to suggest that the structuralist interpretation comes closer to the truth, particularly if we compare Hitler's dictatorship with that of Stalin.

For example, there can be no question that Hitler, especially during the early years of his rule, went to considerable lengths in order to appease traditional elites in Nazi Germany. Before 1938, the Nazis left the army largely to its own devices, and did not really intervene in its internal workings. Nazi flags and salutes were not used inside the army. If a member of the NSDAP entered the army, his party membership lapsed for the duration of his active service. The Gestapo did not operate inside the army, and no effort was made by the Nazis to impose their anti-religious policies in the army. The relationship between Hitler and the Wehrmacht was thus very different to the relationship between Stalin and the Red Army. Where Hitler treated his army before 1938 with kid gloves, Stalin brutally imposed his power on his armed forces. Between 1937 and 1938, Stalin launched a ruthless purge of the Soviet military leadership that led to the arrest of three out of three first-rank army commanders, twelve out of twelve second-rank commanders, and sixty out of sixty-seven corps commanders. The Red Army was thoroughly subordinated to political control, and
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