This essay will look at different interpretations from the different views of intentionalist and structuralist types of historians on the debate of Hitler as a weak or strong dictator. It will also analyse the role of the SS and other police agencies, the role of the Army and of the Nazi political party and its members.
Power is the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events. It implies complete control over both the political and the financial systems.
Debate focuses on” whether the terrible events of the third Reich are chiefly to be explained through the personality, ideology and will of Hitler or whether the dictator himself was not at least in part a prisoner of forces of which he was the instrument rather than the creator, and whose dynamic swept him too along in its momentum.” Ian Kershaw
Hitler retained a total level of authority inside the government, and supreme power was concentrated, at least in theory in his hands. Access to the Führer became the most important thing for government to proceed, and ministers who did not have access to him quickly fell from authority. Obviously the competence of this ruler to govern such a massive country was limited by many factors, especially by the information he received and the people who carried out his direct orders. Many have said however that he was not able to exercise the level of actual control of the country that his personal authority implies. This argument is part of the continuous debate between the "Intentionalists", who believed that Hitler was a strong dictator who was in control and had a clear premeditated path towards the atrocities committed during his rule, and "Structuralists" who see Hitler as a weak dictator who does as others tell him, is not interested in details and plays along events as they develop. The argument revolves around whether or not Hitler had a clear plan of policies to follow, and whether he was able to put this into practice. Norman Rich is a traditional intentionalist and this is clearly stated in his work: “the point cannot be stressed too strongly: Hitler was master in the Third Reich”. On the other hand, Hans Mommsen, a convinced structuralist, looks in his work at a Hitler “unwilling to take decisions, frequently uncertain, exclusively concerned with upholding his prestige and personal authority, influenced by the strongest fashion by his current entourage, in some aspects a weak dictator”.
Hitler ended the use of independent heads of departments with their own authority, replacing them with dependant secretaries with no authority to do what he told them and no more. For example, he never had the support of a war minister or Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, assuming