UCSB Hist 133D
The Holocaust in German History
Oct. 2, 2001
Lecture 3: Explanations of the Power Structure of the Third Reich --
Intentionalism, Structuralism, Functionalism
Note: the topic of the lecture was changed from "Attaining and Retaining Political Control" because I wanted to have a theoretical framework within which I could recount and interpret the so-called Nazi seizure of power.
- Historians and Hitler’s role in the Holocaust
Intentionalism: Holocaust was Hitler's preformed plan (coherent ideology)
corresponds to definition from last time that National Socialism was a coherent ideological program as set out by its leaders
- Structuralism: nature of power structure; "polycratic" (many high-level individuals vying for power around weak leader); dual pyramids of state vs. party administration [note: most of the lecture centered on this]
corresponds roughly to the definition of NS as a variant of a political worldview common at the time (fascism; reaction to "modernity")
- Functionalism: widespread opportunistic behavior radicalized policy, needs of moment, "twisted road"
corresponds (sort of) to the definition: the sum of the beliefs of its adherents (persuaded or convinced? propaganda/indoctrination?)
- Discussion of Massaquoi, Destined to Witness, pre-war years.
- How did Massaquoi’s experience conform to and differ from your preconception of life under Nazism?
- Which of the "power structure" models underlie Massaquoi’s interpretation?
- The Nazi "Seizure" of Power [note: we spent so much time
on the "dual pyramids" that I did not cover this]
- Electoral politics and the Weimar political system: exploiting tolerance (chart of parties)
- Contingency and good luck (Reichstag fire)
- Controlled and skillful use of violence against opponents
- Success breeds success
- Trial and error as method; constant testing of limits (April anti-Jewish boycott; international diplomacy)