Historical Social Research

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Thomas Schaarschmidt: Multi-Level Governance in Hitler’s Germany: Reassessing the Political Structure of the National Socialist State. [Abstract]

To explain the fatal efficiency and relative stability of the Nazi dictatorship, it is necessary to analyze how governmental institutions and society at various levels of the political system interacted. Contrary to the expectation that polycratic structures hampered administrative efficiency and tended to undermine well-established political structures it turns out that new models of governance evolved from the chaotic competition and short-lived cooperation of traditional administrations, party structures and newly created special institutions. While key players on the national level claimed to control lines of command from top to bottom the adaptability of the whole system to new challenges depended to a large extent on complex and often improvised arrangements of multi-level governance. During the war these arrangements served to integrate and to mobilize all political, administrative, military, economic and social forces whose resources were essential to sustain the war effort of the Nazi leadership.

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