How did totalitarianism manifest in Nazi Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union?

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Totalitarianism is the complete control of the economic, political, and social aspects of a state by a single party or person. By its very definition, the government is brutally oppressive towards its subjects. In a totalitarian state, citizens are not permitted to have their own ideas or beliefs. The Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin and Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler are Exhibits A and B of the definition of totalitarianism. If you look up the word in the dictionary, you should see their pictures as illustrations. Both dictators utilized the same mechanism of control in their respective states.

To control the populations and to spread the message of the state, propaganda is a major weapon. The media is governed by the state and the free press is nonexistent. The dictators do not allow public discourse. Public opinion and dissent are crushed through a secret police force that routinely executes dissidents. The utilization of forced labor camps was utilized by both dictators as well. Millions of citizens in both countries were killed if they were suspected to be enemies of the state. Many died in the labor camps.

Indoctrination of the youth is also important to totalitarianism as schools are used to brainwash the children to accept the ideals of the state. Religion is also forbidden as the leader is more important than God. Church leaders were persecuted in both states.

Joseph Stalin

  • Secret Police--People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD)
  • Indoctrination--Komsomol
  • Propaganda--Glavilit
  • Prison Camps--Gulag

Adolf Hitler

  • Secret Police--Gestapo
  • Indoctrination--Hitler Youth
  • Propaganda--Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
  • Prison camps--Concentration Camps
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To what length did the idea of Totalitarianism exist in Nazi Germany and in the Soviet Union under Stalin? Give the uttermost detail with lots of evidence.

There are two slightly different senses of "totalitarianism", but both of them fit both Germany under Hitler and the USSR under Stalin perfectly.

In the first sense, a totalitarian government is any government that seeks to completely control the behavior of its citizens, through constant surveillance, strict laws, and brutal enforcement.

In the second sense, a totalitarian government is one that fits the above description, and in addition is largely or entirely controlled by a single individual who acts as an absolute dictator.

Detailing all the examples of totalitarianism in these two states could fill entire books (indeed I'm fairly sure it has), but here is a brief summary:

Under Hitler: The government had total control over the media, and used propaganda heavily to manipulate public opinion. They had secret militarized police who arrested, detained, and even executed people without trial, often for "crimes" such as being Jewish or disagreeing with the government. Hitler himself, called the Fuehrer (meaning basically "Leader"), had essentially absolute power. 

Under Stalin: The government instituted mass surveillance, monitoring letters and phone calls, and planted spies everywhere to monitor the population. Their system of espionage was the most powerful in the world. The media was heavily censored. School curriculum was dictated according to the interests of the Communist Party, resulting in large distortions of content especially in history and social sciences (but also even physics and biology, lauding the "achievements" of minor Soviets while downplaying anything invented by Westerners; also Darwinian evolution was viewed as anti-Soviet and was thoroughly excluded). Stalin himself had absolute power and used it ruthlessly, frequently ordering the detention or execution of people for believing the wrong things or even simply because he didn't like them. Stalin was so ruthless indeed that he detained members of his own family when they crossed him. Millions of people, mostly political dissidents, were rounded up into labor camps.

In both cases, a single man held enormous power over a government that itself had near-total authority over the behavior of its citizens. Everything you could read or see on television was controlled. You had to be careful what you said, lest secret police come to take you away. Millions of people were murdered by both governments.

There are many similarities between the two systems of government, but also many important differences. Hitler loved corporations and sought to integrate them into his system of government as a kind of capitalist oligarchy. Stalin (and other Soviet leaders before him) abhorred corporations and had them all completely dismantled and replaced by new government-controlled institutions that were far more corrupt and inefficient. Hitler's mass murder was explicitly genocidal, particularly against Jews, while Stalin's was much more political and based on eradicating political dissent.

I could easily go on, but hopefully that will get you started.

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To what length did totalitarianism exist in Nazi Germany and in the Soviet Union under Stalin?       

"Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas." -Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler ran their regimes in very similar fashions. It is hard to imagine at any point in history that anybody else was as destructive in their practice of total control as these two despots. Both dictators used a secret police to brutally suppress their political opposition or any citizens that they felt were a threat to their regimes. In this way, both dictators were responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of their own citizens.
A characteristic of all totalitarian regimes is the control of information. Hitler and Stalin controlled the media agencies and reported to the people exactly what they wanted them to believe. This started at a young age as the dictators sought to indoctrinate children. Both countries had youth programs that looked to glorify the actions of the dictator in the eyes of the children.
The end result of these actions was that the dictators exerted complete control over their citizens. They utilized fear and misinformation to gain complete and total power in their countries.

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To what length did the idea of totalitarianism exist in the Soviet Union under Stalin and Nazi Germany under Hitler? What would be a sophisticated and insightful thesis for this?

Totalitarianism refers to a form of government that does not allow any individual freedom. All aspects of an individual's life are subordinated to the will of the government. In such a system, citizens are oppressed and forced into submission. The authority of the state cannot be questioned or challenged. Totalitarian regimes are normally fronted by a dictator whose every word is law. 

A good thesis with regard to Stalin and Hitler's adoption and application of such a system of control should include the measures both leaders took to ensure absolute authority and what they did to maintain their power.

The following factors should be considered: 

  • The establishment of a dictatorship
  • No elections—one party rule
  • Using fear as a method of control
  • Media censorship 
  • The use of propaganda in education, public speeches, and in the media 
  • Severe punishment or sanction for criticism of the state
  • Compulsory military service
  • The creation of a secret police or government agency to investigate and suppress dissent
  • State meddling in the reproduction of the population in the hope of either increasing or decreasing its numbers
  • Acts of genocide and the targeting of specific religious or political groups
  • The development of a nationalist party and an exaggerated nationalist fervor 

If all the above aspects with regard to each leader are covered, the essay will have done more than enough to prove that both Stalin and Hitler were dictators in charge of totalitarian regimes.  

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To what length did the idea of totalitarianism exist in the Soviet Union under Stalin and Nazi Germany under Hitler? What would be a sophisticated and insightful thesis for this?

A thesis statement for this particular topic should focus on human rights abuses committed by both of these regimes.  Hitler and Stalin perpetrated some of the worst human rights abuses in history on their own people in an effort to secure absolute control.  While Stalin and Hitler did not agree on fundamental political and economic philosophy, they had strong agreements on strategies for achieving control.  The worst human rights abuses of both dictators were the imprisonment and execution of citizens without due process of law.  Hitler and Stalin utilized secret police forces to crush dissent.  Citizens could be arrested or executed for simply disagreeing with the party.  Many different groups were targeted by both leaders.  In this way, people became fearful to take a stand against the policies of either leader.  The number of people that were treated this way was staggering, with millions dying at the hands of these despots and their secret police.  I would focus the essay on research concerning the Gulags in the Soviet Union, and the concentration camps in Germany.  

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