Daniel Hawker

The Monarchy is Britain’s Soul

With the ascension of a new Sovereign and the recent controversy surrounding the coronation, the British republican movement has reared its ugly head once more, spearheading a renewed debate as to the Royal Family’s ‘relevance’ and ‘value-for-money’ in 2023. Throughout the day we were bombarded with news coverage of anti-monarchist activism, primarily from Republic and their leader Graham Smith. However, with their focus on democracy and the ‘need for modernisation’, left-wingers fail to fully appreciate the Monarchy’s national function.

Having existed since the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, Britain’s constitutional monarchy has been able to develop organically and overcome numerous challenges (from wars and republican dictatorship, to callous individualists like Edward VIII). With a basis on preparing the heir apparent from birth, many of our kings and queens have been embodiments of duty and moral courage – the late Queen Elizabeth II being a prime example. Indeed, alongside an organic and family-based system comes an inherent sense of national familiarity and comfort – they provide the British people with a unifying and quasi-parental figure, and almost a sense of personal connection with the other royals.

As well as this, the institution acts as a crucial barrier against the danger of democratic radicals and the idiocy and ineptitude that resonates from the Commons. Our entire political class seek to further their own interests, and with the Lords having seen terrible reforms under Blair, the Monarchy is left as the People’s last defence against the whims of power-hungry elites.

They also act as a link to Britain’s past and cultural heritage, as a source of national continuity. The Monarchy embodies our religious character with the Church of England, as well as nature of constitutional government with the different organs. As Sir Roger Scruton eloquently put it, it acts as ‘the voice of history.’ This point fundamentally speaks to the Left’s opposition to the Monarchy’s continuation. They can shout about equality and elected decision-making, but their attack on the Royal Family is inherently an attack on Britain’s history, which they vehemently despise. They want to tear down Britain’s unifying soul, and replace it with some soulless political office, one with no roots in national history or organic development.

The renowned Edmund Burke spoke of the need for national myths, a library of inspiring stories and a rich historical character. This is what maintains a nation’s identity and keeps the people united. It is for this reason (amongst others) that he so fiercely opposed the French Revolution, responding with Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1790. These idealist revolutionaries could topple the Bourbon dynasty and establish a new ‘progressive’ society, but based on what? What would these ‘unifying’ ideals be? Without a solid foundation that had developed and grown organically, what could people possibly hold onto?

Now from the perspective of left-wingers, the transition to a republic would merely be a political one – simply making politics ‘more democratic and egalitarian’. A referendum would most likely be called, people would vote, and the Will of the People would be obeyed absolutely. Consider their preferred alternative, most likely a presidential system. We would be burdened, like so many nations, with yet another incompetent, weak, and self-interested hack at the top – an office created by and for the existing political class to monopolize, the final step in achieving a grey managerialist Britain.

But such an event would in truth represent so much more – a fundamental shift in Britain’s identity. Constitutional monarchy is our one national continuity and forms the basis of our mythos. All else is transient – politicians, the values of the day, social debates. Through the royals, Britons throughout the ages maintain a living link to past generations, and to our Anglo heritage as a people. Once again quoting Scruton, ‘they speak for something other than the present desires of present voters’, they are ‘the light above politics.’

The royals are especially important in Britain’s climate of national decline, with an assortment of failing institutions, from the NHS to the Civil Service to the police. It is increasingly evident that we require a national soul more than ever – to once again enshrine Britain’s history. We can’t survive on the contemporary values of ‘Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion’, on the NHS, Bureaucratisation, or record-high immigration levels. A return to order and stability, faith and family, and aggressive nationalism is the only way forward – Britons need to feel safe, moral, unified, and proud.

This Third Carolean Era has the opportunity to revitalise the role monarchy plays in peoples’ lives. By making it more divine, more mystical – alongside a conservative revolution – we can ensure Britain’s soul remains whole and pure. 

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Fukuyama, Huntington and The New World Order

In the aftermath of the Cold War, a 45-year ideological struggle between the two major superpowers, the USA and USSR, several political scholars have offered forecasts concerning the future of conflict and the geopolitical climate post-1991. Two men rose to dominate the debate, one encapsulating a liberal perspective and the other a realist one – and in the decades since, their ideas have come to form the foundations of modern international relations theory.

The first was the political scientist and economist Francis Fukuyama. A Cornell and Harvard alumnus, Fukuyama proposed his thesis in an essay titled ‘The End of History’ (1989), and later expanded on it in his book The End of History and the Last Man (1992). Essentially, he posits that with the collapse of the Soviet Union came the resolution of the battle of ideas, with liberal democracy and free trade having emerged as the unchallengeable winners.

Society, according to Fukuyama, had reached the end of its ideological evolution – global politics has, since the fall of the USSR, been witnessing ‘the universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government’. Indeed, we’ve certainly seen a massive increase in liberal democracies over the past few decades, jumping from 35 in 1974, to 120 in 2013 (or 60% of states). Additionally, the broad adoption of free trade and capitalism can be seen as delivering benefits to the global economy, which had quadrupled since the late 1990s.

Even communist states, Fukuyama said, would adopt some elements of capitalism in order to be prosperous in a globalised world economy. For example, the late 1970s saw reformists (such as Chen Yun) dominating the Chinese Communist Party and, under Deng Xiaoping’s leadership, the socialist market economy was introduced in 1978. This opened up the country to foreign investment, allowed private individuals to establish their own businesses, and privatised agriculture – these monumental reforms have resulted in spectacular economic growth, with many forecasters predicting that China will overtake the US as the world’s largest economy by around 2028. We’ve seen further evidence of this turn away from communism in favour of capitalism and freedom: upon its founding, the Russian Federation explicitly rejected the ideology, and many former Eastern Bloc states have enthusiastically adopted liberal democracy, with many also having since joined the European Union.

Regarding the example of China, however, the suppression of freedoms and rights has also been a staple of the CCP’s rule, especially under the current leadership of Xi Jinping. This links to a broader and fairly major critique of Fukuyama’s thesis: the growth of authoritarianism across the globe. With Law and Justice in Poland, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines (not to mention various military coups, including Turkey in 2016), liberal democracy is undeniably under threat, and clearly not the globally agreed-upon best system of government (this is particularly concerning as it applies to two major powers, China and Russia). Furthermore, 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings serve as pretty hallowing examples of an ideological clash between Western liberalism and Islamic fundamentalism – more broadly radical Islamism has emerged as an ideological challenger to both the West and to secular governments in the Middle East and North Africa.

The second was the academic and former political adviser Samuel P. Huntington. A seasoned expert in foreign policy (having served as the White House Coordinator of Security Planning for the National Security Council under Jimmy Carter), Huntington laid out essentially a counter-thesis to Fukuyama’s, which first took the form of a 1993 Foreign Affairs article, and then a book in 1996, The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order. Conflicts in the past, Huntington argues, had been motivated by a desire primarily for territorial gain and geopolitical influence (e.g.  colonial wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were attempts to expand the economic spheres of influence of Western imperialist powers).

However, in the 21st Century, the primary source of global conflict will be cultural, not political or economic (and will be primarily between Western and non-Western civilisations). Thanks to globalisation and increasing interconnectedness, people will become more aware of their civilisational roots and of their differences with others – they will aim to entrench and protect these differences, rather than seek common ground with other civilisations.

The Clash of Civilisations identified 9 civilisations specifically: Western (USA, Western Europe, Australasia), Orthodox (Russia and the former USSR), Islamic (North Africa and the Middle East), African (Sub-Saharan Africa), Latin American (Central and South America), Sinic (most of China), Hindu (most of India), Japanese (Japan), and Buddhist (Tibert, Southeast Asia and Mongolia).

Huntington also highlighted the possible revival of religion, Islam in particular, as a major potential issue: it would come to represent a challenge to Western hegemony in terms of a rejection of Western values and institutions. His Foreign Affairs article featured the line ‘Islam has bloody borders’, suggesting that the Islamic civilisation tends to become violently embroiled in conflict with periphery civilisations – Huntington cites the conflicts in Sudan and Iraq as major examples.

It is clear, although still a touchy subject for politicians and policymakers, that Radical Islam poses a serious threat to the safety and stability of the Western world. Aside from aforementioned terror attacks, the rise of extremist fundamentalist groups such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Shabaab in Somalia represents a larger opposition to Western values. However, Huntington’s failure to consider the deep divisions within the Islamic world (especially between Sunnis and Shias) is a major criticism of his argument. Additionally, many of the civilisations he identified show little interest in a clash with the West, mainly as it wouldn’t be in their economic interest to do so (such as India, Japan and Latin America, who are all very interdependent on Western powers).

The Clash of Civilisations thesis does, however, offer a number of steps that the West could take to prevent a potential clash. It should pursue greater political, economic and military integration, so their differences will be more difficult to exploit. Just last year we saw a clear example of this, in the form of AUKUS, the security pact between Australia, the UK and the US.

NATO and European Union membership should be expanded, with the aim of including former Soviet satellite states, to ensure they stay out of the Orthodox sphere of influence. Fortunately for the West, 2004 alone saw NATO admit Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia and Slovenia, followed in 2009 by Albania and Croatia. The military advancement of Islamic nations should be restrained, to ensure they don’t pose a serious threat to the West’s safety – a clear example of this is the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, reducing the nation’s stockpile of uranium to ensure it couldn’t become an anti-Western nuclear power.

Finally, the West must come to recognise that intervention in the affairs of other civilisations is ‘the single most dangerous source of instability and conflict in a multi-civilisational world’. This is a message that Western politicians have certainly not heeded, especially in regards to the Islamic world – troops were sent into Darfur in 2003, Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011.

In his 2014 book Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy, Fukuyama argues that his ‘End of History’ thesis remains ‘essentially correct’, despite himself recognising the current ‘decay’ of liberal democracy around the world. Both scholars’ predictions have, at periods of time in the post-Cold War era, looked very strong and, at other times, laughably incorrect and misguided. Both Fukuyama and Huntington still offer valuable insights into global dynamics between cultures, as well as the future of global tensions and conflict. However, both theses are undercut by the modern global landscape: democracy is currently on the decline, which undercuts Fukuyama, and civilisational identity remains limited, which undercuts Huntington. Regardless of who got it right, both men have undeniably pushed the debate surrounding the international order to new heights, and will no doubt be remembered as intellectual titans in decades to come.

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Putin’s War: A Tale of Soviet Romanticism and Western Ignorance | Daniel Hawker 

With Russian troops having begun a full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, President Joe Biden was recently asked by a journalist “Do you think you may have underestimated Putin?” In response to the question, the supposed ‘most powerful man in the world’ offered merely a smirk and proceeded to sit in silence whilst his team rushed to stop the video recording. This was inevitably due to the honest answer being yes – the warning signs have been evident for decades. Let us first consider the historical basis for the invasion.

Vladimir Putin’s position as a Soviet romantic has come to be a defining aspect of his political image. In his 2005 state of the nation address, he notably referred to the 1991 collapse of the USSR as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century”, an event which left “tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen … beyond the fringes of Russian territory”. It is this Slavophilic perspective that is paramount in understanding the motives and aims of Russian foreign policy in Eastern Europe. With the fall of the USSR came, according to Russian nationalists, the mass displacement of Soviet citizens outside of the Motherland. Millions of Slavic people, all of whom shared a rich cultural history, now living within the borders of independent states, stripped of their collective identity. At this time, young Vladimir Putin was working for the Mayor of Leningrad, and this moment came to shape his ideology and vision for Russia’s future (and the future of former-Soviet satellite states).

Ukraine however, has always occupied a special place within Russian romantic nationalism. The Russian Federation actually has its origins in modern-day Ukraine – specifically the Kievan Rus’ federation (consisting of East Slavic, Baltic and Finnic peoples), which existed from the 9th to the 13th century. Linguistic and cultural roots remain strong, with most Ukrainians also speaking Russian, especially in the eastern and southern parts of the country. Whilst a region of the Russian Empire (and later the USSR), Ukraine was a crucial region for agriculture due to its soil, which is exceptionally well-suited to the farming of crops.

Given this intertwined history, a key tenant of Putin’s romantic mindset is the idea that Russians and Ukrainians are one people, and must therefore exist within the same state. This view was most recently revealed in a 2021 article written by the president, titled ‘On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians’, in which he affirmed that “true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia”. Stella Ghervas, a professor of Russian history at Newcastle University, has explained that “the borders of the Russian Empire in 1914 remain a point of reference from the Kremlin up to this day”.

However, it seems that the West has chosen not only to ignore how ideologically desperate Putin is to reclaim Ukraine, but also how brutally willing he has been to utilise hard power to achieve his expansionist aims. 2008 saw artillery attacks by pro-Russian separatists (backed by Putin) in the South Ossetia region of Georgia; 2014 brought us the infamous annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, and 2021 saw a mass-movement of Russian troops and military equipment to the Ukrainian border, raising concerns over a potential invasion. These examples should have clearly demonstrated to Western powers the lack of respect Vladimir Putin has for national sovereignty, and that once his mind becomes fixated on regaining lost Soviet territory, he can’t be easily dissuaded. With this in mind, the invasion of Ukraine should be viewed as the inevitable and long-awaited finale to Putin’s expansionist concerto.

The response to the latest developments is hardly surprising: economic sanctions appear to be a firm favourite amongst Western leaders; Boris Johnson has sanctioned five Kremlin-friendly oligarchs and aims to target “all the major manufacturers that support Putin’s war machine”, whilst Joe Biden has levied penalties against major Russian industries and frozen the bank assets of the regime’s major figures. An international effort has also been undertaken, with the UK, US, EU and Canada agreeing to cut off a number of Russian banks from SWIFT, the international payment system. However, such sanctions, especially those against individuals, have received pushback. Following Crimea in 2014, the late and greatly-missed philosopher Sir Roger Scruton published a piece in which laid out how believing that sanctions against oligarchs “will make the faintest difference to Russia’s expansionist foreign policy is an illusion of staggering naivety” – having faced the threat of increased sanctions since then, Russia has built up foreign currency reserves of $630bn (akin to ⅓ of their economy).

In terms of military responses, the general consensus is that Western troops won’t be deployed, and there is a simple logic to it – Western populations have no real hankering for a war: two recent YouGov polls revealed 55% of Britons and 55% of Americans oppose sending their own troops to fight in Ukraine (for the United States, last year’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan undoubtedly turned the public off of war for a while). However, NATO troops have been deployed to Eastern Europe, and we’ve also sent 1,000 soldiers to Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Poland, in preparation for the inevitable outpouring of innocent and scared Ukrainian families.

 Whilst the objectives of the Putin regime and the long-term naivety of the Western order are the two primary factors, the West’s role in bringing this situation about must also be acknowledged, for the sake of honest discussion. In the early 1990s, Boris Yeltsin expressed his desire for Russia to one day join NATO; Putin echoed this in 2000 when Bill Clinton visited Moscow. Despite Russia at these times being a fledgling democracy, they were turned down by the alliance – provided the opportunity to start anew and help the Russian people, the West refused to bring Russia into the international fold.

Further evidence of the West’s culpability is the expansion of NATO’s borders. Although an arrangement with murky origins, the generally-understood version is that the US Secretary of State James Baker, told Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO expansion was ‘not on the agenda’. Regardless, the welcoming of former Eastern Bloc states into the alliance (Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004, and Albania and Croatia in 2009) has only served to worsen relations between Putin and the West – despite the availability of open dialogue for decades, we’ve consistently chosen mistrust when dealing with Russia.

Whilst the West may be shocked that Putin actually went ahead with a military invasion, it can’t seriously claim to have been surprised; the president’s intentions regarding Eastern Europe and Ukraine especially have been nefariously evident for at least a decade, in which time we’ve fooled ourselves, downplaying the risk Russia posed. We must endeavour to remember however, the most tragic consequences of this entire situation: the many thousands of innocent Ukrainian civilians who’ve lost their lives, their homes and their feeling of safety within their own borders. For Russia, sanctions will hurt their citizens, all whilst their understanding of the situation is distorted through propagandistic state media. This really is a horrific situation, and one that has occurred because of Putin’s worldview and Western leaders’ inability to take Russia seriously as a threat.

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From Weimar to the Third Reich: the birth of a dictatorship

History has seen its fair share of wicked and corrupt leaders and regimes, from Ivan the Terrible, to Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, to Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein. These men, and others like them, desired to tightly grip the reins of power and not let go, entrenching themselves and their position within the political system. Of all the possible regimes to explore with this piece, Hitler’s Third Reich was chosen because to its dual notoriety and anonymity – Nazi Germany is known to almost everyone as a significant historical period, but the system’s context, beginning and how Hitler came to be Führer is a far more elusive story.

A solid understanding of Hitler’s time in power requires some historical context, specifically the end of the First World War and the subsequent years of the democratic Weimar Republic. The country’s crushing defeat, as part of the Central Powers, saw the victors gather to decide how both to punish and subdue Germany – the result was the Treaty of Versailles, signed by Foreign Minister Hermann Müller in 1919. The terms were far harsher than the Germans had anticipated, due mainly to France’s involvement: they accepted war guilt, had to pay 132bn marks in reparations (as well as all war pensions), their army was limited to 100,000 men, and they lost the key territories of Saar, Alsace Lorraine and Danzig. From the perspective of almost all Germans, regardless of region or class, Versailles represented the most heinous betrayal by the political elites. Having been the catalyst for the Weimar Republic, this new political system never managed to escape the Treaty’s legacy, with its dark shadow tarnishing the concept of ‘democracy’.

For conservative nationalists and monarchists however, even Germany’s military defeat couldn’t be accepted, resulting in the anti-Semitic ‘Stab in the Back’ myth, which essentially argued that, far from being the fault of the soldiers, Germany’s defeat had actually been the result of traitorous elites and politicians (many of whom were Jewish) working to undermine the country’s war effort. This was a narrative that greatly appealed to Adolf Hitler, who similarly couldn’t accept the reality of the situation – he described Germany’s defeat in Mein Kampf as “the greatest villainy of the century”, and one which anti-German propaganda greatly contributed to, “with Jewish, socialist propaganda spreading doubt and defeatism from within”.

With such widespread shared outrage following Versailles, it is no wonder that the Weimar Republic was plagued with social unrest, political violence and attempted coups from the very beginning. From the communist left, you had the Spartacist Uprising in 1919, fuelled by a desire to replace Weimar with a Soviet-style system (inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution), and from the nationalist right, you had the Kapp Putsch in 1920 (and Hitler’s Munich Putsch in 1923), who harkened back to the authoritarian monarchical style of Kaiser Wilhelm II and Bismarck. Add to this list the regularity of politically-motivated street violence, as well as the assassinations of major politicians (the finance minister in 1921, and the foreign minister in 1922), and you have a government unable to defend either itself, or it’s citizenry.

Public confidence in the Weimar regime was perhaps most seriously damaged by the country’s economic instability across the entire period, from 1918 to 1933. Already decimated by mass-printing and borrowing during the War, the German economy would suffer numerous economic crises, beginning with hyperinflation in 1923. The result of a French invasion and occupation, the government was forced to increase its borrowing, further decimating living standards – increased alcoholism and suicide rates were recorded, along with a decline in law and order, and more generally, public trust in the government. Although briefly graced with the ‘Golden Years’ (1923-29), Germany once again faced economic decimation in the form of the Great Depression, which again saw mass social unrest, as well as six million unemployed citizens (1933).

By the early 1930s therefore, extremist anti-Weimar parties were becoming increasingly popular with the angry and struggling German electorate. This is reflected in seat counts: the Nazis went from 12 seats in 1928, to 107 in 1930, before reaching their all-time high of 230 in July 1932 – similarly, the communist KPD reached an impressive 100 in November 1932. Fundamentally, what Hitler and the Nazis were offering increasingly spoke to much of the German population – ending reparations, regaining national pride, the promise of full-employment, a Kaiser-like leader, and an uncompromising stance against the boogeymen of the time, Jews and Communists.

His appointment as Chancellor wasn’t guaranteed by any means however, thanks to President Paul von Hindenburg. Having once described Hitler as a ‘bohemian corporal’, he was concerned with Hitler’s lack of government experience, although had offered Hitler the position of vice-chancellor in 1932. What forced his hand however, was the enormous influence wielded by the industry elites, who viewed Hitler as the authoritarian figure that the chancellorship needed, an opinion fuelled by their fear of communism’s increasing popularity

However, once Hitler’s appointment became necessary and inevitable, Hindenburg, along with former chancellor Papen, conspired to control a Hitler-led government, believing Hitler’s lack of experience meant he would be like a puppet who could be ‘tamed’. The two men thought that, with few Nazis in the Cabinet, and with Papen as Vice-Chancellor, true power could lie with them, with Hitler being Chancellor in name only. How wrong they were.

Having attained the chancellorship in January 1933, Hitler now set about securing his position, first through legislative changes. This came most significantly in two forms: the Reichstag Fire Decree in February 1933, and then the Enabling Act in March. Both pieces of legislation legally grounded the fledgling regime, granting them the authority and power to act as they wish, and silence those who opposed them.

The hurried passing of the emergency Reichstag Fire Decree came in the wake of a suspected Communist-led arson of the Reichstag building. Arriving at the scene alongside other leading Nazis, Hitler viewed the crime as a blatant assault on the German state, and all it stood for. In response, Hitler pressured Hindenburg to sign the Act into law, which saw the suspension of essentially all freedoms and civil liberties (e.g., the right to association, speech, freedom of the press etc). These rights wouldn’t see a revival later on. Aside from removing freedoms, the Decree also saw a brutal crackdown of political opponents (as the police no longer required cause, and could hold people indefinitely). Indeed, the first 2 weeks following the Decree’s signing saw around 10,000 people arrested in Prussia, including many prominent communist leaders. From the perspective of Richard J. Evans, “this was the first of the two fundamental documents on which the dictatorship of the Third Reich was erected”.

Even more significant, however, was the passing of the Enabling Act. Single-handedly transforming Germany into a legal dictatorship, the Act allowed the Cabinet to pass legislation without requiring the consent of either the Reichstag or the president. Indeed, this paved the way for the Nazis to further tighten their grip on the political system – for example, the founding of new parties was banned in July 1933. Fundamentally, with an unrivalled number of NSDAP Reichstag members, Hitler had made democracy into dictatorship in only a few months – in the words of Evans: “By the summer of 1933 all opposition had been crushed, more than a hundred thousand Communists, Social Democrats and other opponents of the Nazis had been sent to concentration camps, all independent political parties had been forced to dissolve themselves and the Nazi dictatorship had been firmly established”. Combining the offices of president and chancellor in 1934 (following Hindenburg’s death), Hitler’s adoption of the Führer title cemented his authority and that of his party.

In consolidating Nazi power, Hitler definitely made his position within the new hierarchy very clear. This can be seen in the ‘Hitler Oath’, introduced for the judiciary, military and civil servants. Having previously sworn loyalty to ‘the German Reich’, officials now swore “unconditional obedience” to Hitler personally. This reflected the broader ruling philosophy of the Nazi regime, one in place since the party’s reorganisation in 1924, Führerprinzip (essentially that the Führer’s decisions are always correct, and that he is all-powerful and above the law). With the effective spreading of propaganda, Hitler came to encapsulate a past era of Germany’s history, one dominated by patriotic and statist authoritarians, notably the much-sentimentalized Bismarckian and Wilhelmine Reich.

Regarding institutional control, Hitler set about ensuring political conformity within branches of local government and the Civil Service. Although dominated by conservatives from the Wilhelmine Reich, a purge of ‘enemies of the State’ was still required of civil servants – this came in the form of the anti-Semitic ‘Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service’, which banned Jews, progressives and others. Germany’s Jewish community would, later on, see further exclusion from institutions, including education (both as students and as teachers). Additionally, the local government saw its own purge of dissidents, as well as an overhaul of its structure, with Reich Deputies introduced to administer the different states – in doing this, the Nazis ensured that all areas of the country were under their top-down control.

Nazi actions were similar towards the media establishment. Fearing the damaging impacts of rogue leftist reporting, the Reich Association of the German Press was set up, to review all content and keep the journalists, editors and publishers in line with the regime’s messaging. The same happened within the cultural and artistic spheres of German society – fearing the spread of ‘degenerate’ modern art (labelled as Cultural Bolshevism), it was the Reich Chamber of Culture that reversed the artistic progressivism seen in the ‘Golden Years’ of the Weimar Republic.

Whilst these two agencies monitored for anti-Nazi media sentiment, it was through the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (headed by Joseph Goebbels) that the regime was able to most effectively spread its hateful rhetoric, with a unified radio system being established in 1934, and radios being mass-produced for the population. Allowing Hitler to more easily speak to his people, this communications technology proved vital in further cementing Nazism into the everyday lives of the citizenry. Aside from this, the agency also oversaw the production of pro-Nazi films, which praised Aryan physical qualities, all the whilst presenting Jews as parasitic, manipulative and barbaric (most famously seen with the release of The Eternal Jew in 1940).

These structural changes however, would only get Hitler’s vision for Germany so far. He could make himself the supreme leader, root out opponents in state institutions and the media, and spread the party’s ideas of racial purity all he wanted, but what the Führer really needed was a population ideologically committed to National Socialism, a concept the Nazis referred to as a Volksgemeinschaft, or ‘national/people’s community’. With the population having been divided under Weimar, Hitler aspired to rule a unified Germany, one with a populace devoted to the Fatherland. For this to work however, all social groups would have to see real life improvements.

With unemployment having reached six million by 1933, Hitler’s aim with Germany’s workers was more jobs and improving their living conditions. Emphasizing ‘recovery’ during the first few years, unemployment was indeed reduced, to a staggering 1.6m by 1936. As far as conditions went, the ‘Beauty of Work’ programme managed an overhaul of factories, including improvements to safety measures and the quality of toilets. Alongside this came the ‘Strength through Joy’ (KdF) initiative, which provided workers with cheap leisure activities, such as holidays in the country and trips to the theatre, all of which were eagerly taken advantage of. Despite these steps taken by the German Labour Front (DAF), modern historians have raised the concern that, far from being genuinely dedicated to the regime, workers simply publicly supported Nazism to continue enjoying these benefits.

Having enjoyed uniquely-progressive freedoms under the Weimar Constitution, women under the Nazi regime were reverted back to their traditional domestic childbearing role. Indeed, women under this system were granted easier access to divorce, as well as the ‘Cross of Honour of the German Mother’, to encourage them to have more and more children. With many women enamoured by the image of the Führer as the eternal bachelor, the regime saw essentially no organised opposition by women, along with emotional displays of love for Hitler at public events.

The Nazis’ approach to the youth was focused on combining physical war training with lessons in National Socialism. Achieved through both schools and the Hitler Youth (which became compulsory from 1936), young German boys went on hiking and camping trips, as well as new Nazi content, such as racial science and reading extracts of Mein Kampf. Indeed, many schoolboys became obsessed with the legendary figure of Hitler, and were successfully transformed into puppets of the regime, reporting their neighbours and family members to the authorities for anti-Nazi sentiment. However, the many opposition youth movements of the late-1930s represented a growing disillusionment with the regime and its ideology – groups like the Swingers, who adopted American fashions and jazz music, and the Edelweiss Pirates, who mingled with the opposite sex.

The extent to which a genuine Volksgemeinschaft was actually created however, is greatly debated amongst historians. Fundamentally, whilst these groups may have appeared satisfied and ideologically committed at public events, they were all terrified of what would happen if they weren’t. Everyone in the country was kept in line by the omnipresence of the Reich’s repressive terror apparatus.

Although relatively small in numbers, the Gestapo was, in the mind of the average German, around every street corner – it was this image that people had that made them so terrifying. Reading mail, making midnight arrests and utilising torture, they served to root out enemies of the regime and strike fear into the population. However effective their own methods were, the Gestapo relied even more heavily on public tip-offs and denunciations of neighbours and acquaintances, from which they received 57% of their information from. Established by Goering as the Minister President of Prussia, the Gestapo would soon be transferred over to the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler.

The parent organisation of the Gestapo, the SS served as the regime’s key intelligence, security and terror agency. Rooting out political enemies (such as remaining party and trade union leaders), it was the SS that oversaw the Fire Decree arrests and executions. Also serving a crucial role in the neutralisation of the regime’s racial targets, the agency would later control the building and running of the concentration (and extermination) camps, as well as the death squads sent into Eastern Europe during the War.

Although these two agencies were ruthless and highly-effective at rooting out opposition, certain figures remained, both within the political and party systems, who posed a serious threat to Hitler’s growing power. This increasing paranoia would culminate in June 1934, with the ‘Night of the Long Knives’. A brutal purge of Hitler’s enemies, it was initiated by growing concern over the direction of the SA, the party’s paramilitary group – they were becoming too brutish and uncontrollable. Thus, to consolidate his position, Hitler had the leadership, including his close friend Ernst Röhm, assassinated in the dead of night. Other victims included internal party rivals, like the progressive Gregor Strasser, and remaining Weimar politicians, like former chancellor Kurt von Schleicher. Serving as a harrowing example of what would become of the regime’s enemies, the purge also guaranteed Hitler the loyalty of the Army, who’d supplied the SS with the necessary weaponry.

Hitler’s rise to power, from a minor nationalist political agitator in the 1920s, to the undisputed supreme leader of Germany a decade later, serves as an extreme example of how charismatic and intelligent figures can take advantage of a peoples’ anger towards the Establishment, coupled with dire socioeconomic circumstances. Having come to be engrossed with the anti-Semitism peddled by Richard Wagner and Pan-German groups in the 1910s, Hitler’s vehement racism, combined with his skill for passionate public speaking, would see him go from a semi-homeless failing artist in Vienna, to arguably the most infamous figure in human history, responsible for the deaths of tens of millions.

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