We Need a New Edward Watkin

This current period of postmodernity lacks a certain idea of permanence which our forebears once possessed. So much of what this civilisation produces, if one could still deem it such in its hyper-atomisation, is ethereal and consumable in a way that amounts to a sort of permanent revolution. Even those who still build tangible things in this society risk having no legacy. One only needs to think about all the mid-twentieth century modernist and brutalist architecture we destroy, to replace with not too dissimilar glass boxes, when considering the lifespan of today’s skylines or infrastructure.

If civilisation is to thrive once again, we could do worse than looking to a great visionary in our past as inspiration for a better future. I therefore propose Sir Edward Watkin (1819-1901) as an ideal role model for both his repeated proposals of grand projects and the almost surprising feasibility of all of them. I think it is worth first to give a historical account of him, then suggest a grand project based on his ideas.

In short, Watkin was the quintessential Victorian railway baron, yet so much more. The energy he possessed during his life was nothing short of astounding and went far beyond the railways for which he is mainly remembered today, but those achievements remain a good place to start.

From his first position in the industry as Secretary of the Trent Valley Railway in 1845 until the completion of the Great Central Main Line in 1899, Watkin’s presence was felt just about everywhere. ‘The Railway Doctor’ rescued the bankrupt Grand Trunk Railway in British North America and transformed it into the then longest railway in the world. His chairmanship of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway forged a vast network of lines across the industrial North West and North Midlands. He drove the Metropolitan Railway deep into the Middlesex countryside and beyond, ultimately creating swathes of London suburbia and a bevy of other towns. He steered the South Eastern Railway through the Panic of 1866 and further expanded it through that part of England. He became director of the Great Eastern Railway in 1868 and drove it out of bankruptcy, employing the help of fellow MP Viscount Cranbourne, later the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury and Prime Minister. He advised on railways in four continents and built the last main line in Great Britain until High Speed One over a century later. I might add that this list, however impressive it might be, is not exhaustive.

The ever-restless Watkin was not content with merely the above. Whilst saving the Grand Trunk Railway, he was enlisted by the Cabinet to take part in talks to create the Dominion of Canada. This resulted in a buyout of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which he personally negotiated after the British and colonial governments refused to do so. Elsewhere, he pioneered the first public parks in Salford and Manchester, as well as the first footpath in Britain dedicated for public use going up Mount Snowdon. Watkin developed Grimsby into the largest fishing port in the world and neighbouring Cleethorpes into a major Victorian resort. In 1894, he opened a large pleasure garden with a football pitch in a rural parish where the sheep outnumbered the people called Wembley. Readers might have heard of it. Again, this list of achievements is not exhaustive, and I am omitting most of Watkin’s political work in this article for the sake of brevity.

However, Watkin’s life and works were not without their faults, of which he is best known for two. The first was the Channel Tunnel, the only link in his envisioned railway from Manchester to Paris which was not built during his lifetime. He and his French counterpart successfully tunnelled 3.6 miles out of 22 under the English Channel before the British government forbade further work in 1882. This was the point when his contemporary critics pointed and said ‘now he really has gone mad’, but Watkin proved it was entirely possible over a century before the modern tunnel commenced digging. The site under Shakespeare Cliff and his twin tunnel design were both adopted in the 1980s. When the machine drilling the current tunnel broke into Watkin’s forcibly abandoned project, the engineers found it was dry after over a century of sitting abandoned.

The second mark against his reputation was the Metropolitan Tower, intended as London’s answer to the Eiffel Tower and the centrepiece of the aforementioned Wembley Park. The winning design from Watkin’s competition was to be 1,200 feet tall, 150 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower at the time, and the tallest structure in the world until the completion of the Empire State Building in 1931. If it had been completed, it would still be the tallest building in the United Kingdom today. Unfortunately, this would-be monument to heroic materialism was scuppered by a lack of willingness from investors to fund such an extravagant speculation. The first stage was finished in 1895 at a height of 154 feet, but a redesign several years prior to cut costs had already sealed its fate. Only four of the planned eight legs of the tower were built, putting too much pressure on the ground and leading to subsidence. Watkin’s Folly, as it had become known, met its fate via dynamite in 1907. Wembley Stadium now stands on the site, with its arch rising to 436 feet to serve as the constant advertisement Watkin had once hoped for his tower.

It is safe to say that if Watkin were on the parts of Twitter frequented by many readers of this publication today, he would be regarded as a radical Anglofuturist. His manifold ambitions demonstrate an absolute faith in the United Kingdom and its future at the forefront of global civilisation. With knowledge of some of his ideas, energy and determination, one can now imagine a grandiose yet entirely feasible project to strike a course away from national stagnation and decline.

We shall call it the Great Central Railway Company, a fitting revival of a name for what one can foresee as the backbone of a coherent and comprehensive railway system for modern Britain. This cannot be a state venture as most modern railway projects have become, subject as they are to hordes of overpaid bureaucrats and special interests. The GCRC would be a private company naturally responsible for every part of its operations and with the logical aim of out-competing Grant Shapps’s reheated British Rail in every way.

It would first be useful to lay out the technical and aesthetic quirks of this company’s core railways. China has been extremely industrious in its construction of very high-speed lines over the past decade or so, thus Britain can and should do the same. Our trains would be the old British-made InterCity stock on steroids, which one shall call the InterCity 325, with a top speed of 325kmh. It might be pandering, but perhaps we should also incorporate some ideas from the Mallard steam locomotive in these trains; it relates nicely that the refurbishment program for the InterCity 225 carriages was called Project Mallard. Aside from being a rather nice shade of blue, its curved front still maintains a surprisingly modern appearance despite it being over 80 years old.

Infrastructurally, this company would not mess around with glass boxes or minor ventures. GCRC main lines would have four tracks as a minimum to separate the local and freight trains from express services. Stations would be of a two-platform island design, plus as many more platforms as needed for express and branch line services. Smaller stations would be built with a dignified but cosy atmosphere in mind, whilst the larger stations would be designed akin to a palace for the people as the Great Central Railway’s Nottingham Victoria once was. I am quite sure this would actually turn out to be cheaper and more visually appealing than doing something artsy with glass and/or steel for the millionth time.

Now for some actual railway lines, of which I shall discuss two focussed around tunnels once thought of by Watkin. We shall start with what could be called the New Eastern Main Line at Dungeness, which Watkin once wanted to turn into a resort town like Cleethorpes, and strike northwest by ‘borrowing’ a rather straight freight line across the Romney Marsh. We shall carry on until Tenterden, whence it would curve slightly to brush by the east of Headcorn and then go on to Maidstone. There would have to be some urban negotiation by viaduct, as there would be in the Medway conurbation, before emerging into the open countryside of northern Kent around Wainscott. It would then move north, go under the Thames to Canvey Island, and begin its whistlestop tour of eastern English towns. It would travel past Benfleet, Hadleigh and Rayleigh (with interchange for London), then Woodham Ferrers, Chelmsford and Great Dunmow before reaching Stansted Airport to its east. Onwards it would go to Royston, Godmanchester and Huntingdon, then Peterborough (with a complete rebuild of its station) before reaching Spalding. In Lincolnshire, it would follow several mostly abandoned lines to Boston, Louth and Grimsby before ‘borrowing’ a couple more lines to reach a tunnel under the Humber at New Holland. We shall stop discussing this line in detail with Hull, with it having achieved Watkin’s plan of connecting Hull with the south, but from there it could easily go deeper into Yorkshire and beyond.

The other line I shall discuss will be the Great Central Main Line, but with a route beyond Watkin’s achievements which shifts this project from being defined by a semi-romanticised past for the sake of the present to defining the very future of this Kingdom. I think a new terminus next door to the original Marylebone but larger is fitting, then ‘borrowing’ the London to Aylesbury line from its current custodians. It would then follow the old railway up through Rugby, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Sheffield and finally Manchester via the Woodhead Tunnels, but from there we must go further north. It would make its way through Salford and Bolton before reaching Blackburn and Preston. Then it would go in a straight a line as practical near the M6 to Lancaster, Kendal, Penrith and Carlisle before reaching the Scottish border at Gretna. The next leg of this line would see a rather straightforward journey through southwest Scotland, the only towns of note on the way being Dumfries and Newton Stewart. However, at Stranraer we must irrevocably change the political and economic trajectory of the British Isles with a tunnel under the Irish Sea to Larne and ultimately Belfast. There may be a large munitions dump in Beaufort’s Dyke which would merit some praying during construction, but the benefits of joining the two main islands of the United Kingdom, even those which are merely symbolic, cannot be understated.

One could envision the natural evolution of dozens of branch lines serving further towns and cities from just these two lines alone. Indeed, the entire national infrastructure network could reorient itself with just a handful of main lines inspired by Watkin’s vision, prompting a new era of construction which merges the functionality of technology with our primordial desire towards the beautiful. These railway lines would also give many counties much-needed economic relevance through the secondary emphasis on freight, a far more prevalent aim of the railways from Victorian times until Beeching, giving eastern counties in particular the opportunity to have purposes other than being London’s barracks or middle-of-nowheres.

All that is needed is the money and willpower to see this project through. With a new Watkin in our midst, I am sure that we can once again find the willpower, wherefrom the money would follow, to reassert our faith in this country by building something remarkable. I hope readers agree.

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Net Zero Versus Cost of Living

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide levels are rising – that is a fact. Before the industrial revolution, atmospheric CO2 levels steadily remained at around 280ppm (parts per million). This number had remained constant for thousands of years, with very minor increases over the years due to natural processes. In March this year, CO2 concentrations were sitting at 418.81ppm. This huge increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations has already created and will continue to create unprecedented effects on the environment globally. This daunting fact has prompted leaders across the globe to act. 

Last November in Glasgow, the COP26 summit was held which was widely regarded as an instance of the UK taking global leadership in the fight against climate change. The UK has worked hard to bring all participants of COP26 to a consensus about the actions needed to mitigate against the harmful effects of climate change and reduce global CO2 emissions as a means of lessening the damage caused by global warming in the future. In doing so, the UK government has sought to fulfil their end of the bargain and beyond, making bold promises in the hopes of accelerating the UK’s charge to becoming net carbon neutral by the year 2050. 

Energy production is one of the biggest issues regarding our drive to net zero, producing 21% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. As such, the government has placed a levy on domestic energy bills, costing the average UK household an extra £159 per year on energy bills as a means of financing subsidies for renewable energy products. In addition to this, the government has recently raised the household electricity price cap from £693 to £1,971. This will put immense strain on the budgets of many households, not even mentioning the skyrocketing inflation recorded at 7% in March 2022. This financial squeeze is not showing any signs of relenting, with disposable incomes predicted to fall by 1.9% this year – an even bigger decline in living standards than the one seen in the year prior to the Winter of Discontent. 

With all the economic doom and gloom spreading about, a question must be asked – is net zero by 2050 worth it? The UK sits on top of huge shale gas deposits which could easily be exploited by the government issuing licences for companies to begin fracking on these lands, solving the gas supply issues which drives lots of the inflation currently seen. This gas could also be used to generate electricity domestically, reducing the UK’s reliance on French electricity whilst increasing supply to the point where households’ electricity bills could be drastically reduced. The UK currently contributes to 1% of global emissions, meaning that despite being virtuous, the drive to net zero will have relatively little effect globally when countries like China and India make relatively little efforts to reduce their own carbon footprints. Moreover, exploiting domestic energy supplies will likely result in lower overall carbon emissions than the alternative of importing, as huge amounts of carbon dioxide is emitted when transporting these resources to the UK. 

As such, it is little surprise that Reform UK – the largest right-wing opposition party to the Conservative party has begun to campaign against the government’s current plans to achieve net carbon neutrality. Whilst it is a noble cause to reduce carbon emissions, the current economic reality shows that the plans currently in place will massively reduce the quality of life for millions in this country instead of being the ‘Green Revolution’ that was promised by this government. We need pragmatic, not dogmatic solutions to current issues and reviving domestic energy production is the first step to solving the cost-of-living crisis and reducing our dependence on energy imports. We still have twenty-eight years to reach our target. Making sure that people are financially safe should be the government’s priority, only then can we focus on the environment. There is no doubt that this method of mitigating the cost-of-living crisis will encounter large resistance from pressure groups such as the Extinction Rebellion, but a far larger resistance will be seen in the polls if the government does not get a handle on the situation soon.

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Nature vs Nurture: The Failing of Black Caribbean Pupils in Education

According to the race report published last year, 63% of Black caribbean households are single parent households, as opposed to the black african community who is at 43%, the UK’s rate is 14.7%. The culture for the black community in the UK is quite similar to the US which also has problems with black on black crime, low literacy rates and father absence. The larger question that has raged between left and right for centuries is nature or nurture? How much control does an ethnic minority have over their fate?

What we are discussing is not an issue exclusive to the black community. “Redneck culture” , a term used by Thomas Sowell to describe a subculture prevalent in ghettos, encourages a way of life and mentality that is not conducive to the success of any community. A quote from his book White Liberals and Black Rednecks used to describe the southern white population follows: “ proneness to violence, neglect of education, sexual promiscuity… reckless searches for excitement, lively music and dance etc” This is only a short sample from a long list of cultural behaviours that without knowing the topic of focus, would be thought exclusive to the black community.

What the leftist intelligentsia often leave out of conversations about race are the effects of culture and values within a community. Not every ill can be attributed to the supposed “effects of capitalism”. The left’s obsession with proving that racism causes inequality has meant that many problems that could be solved independent of the state, are used as incentives to garner the black vote.

With the data available by comparing the different ethnic communities in the UK we should be able to see the effect that values have on a community, which largely shows that the Black African community does much better in education and has lower rates of expulsion for pupils alongside better mental health. This is especially outstanding as the things mentioned above are named as social behavioral problems, arising from single parenthood. As the lack of a paternal and/or maternal influence are proven to negatively affect emotional control for example higher levels of aggression. Could this be why Caribbean pupils are twice as likely to get temporarily excluded at 10.2% compared to 4.2%. They also have the highest rates of detention under the mental health act.

The black community in Britain faces a large issue of knife crime where between 2017 and 2020 black people aged 15-17 made up 47% of homicide victims. Sadiq Khan even predicts a rise in violent crime in London due to the cost of living crisis.

Aside from behavioral problems, Caribbean pupils are also far more likely than African students to do worse in education. Which should be the top priority for growth in any community as it leads to higher paid jobs. Although black pupils as a whole are more likely to go to university than white pupils. Black Caribbean students are the most likely to go into high tariff universities. Could this possibly be because there is a lack of educational importance in the Caribbean community, which means that African pupils progress further? 10.9% of black caribbean compared to 17.3% of African pupils gain 3 A’s at A Level.

Now immigrants do tend to do better in education, but not all immigrants do equally well. 42% of the Chinese population gained 3 A’s and 33.2% of Indians followed by 26% of white students. Which indicates that their fate is not fixed but contrary, and that immigrant children often outperform white students.

What the black community has is not primarily an issue of race but of culture, which requires steady homes and values to fix, that which conservatism provides.

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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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