History in the Making

Document Type



In popular memory, the Third Reich and the Nazi party are all too often misremembered as a homogenous entity, entirely shaped and led by the figure of Adolf Hitler. This paper challenges the widely held misconception of a homogenous Nazi ideology and critically re-examines the governance of Nazi Germany by arguing that the Third Reich was not a generic totalitarian dictatorship, but rather, a revolutionary totalitarian oligarchy. The unique roles and revolutionary agendas of Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, and Reinhard Heydrich, provide case studies to demonstrate the nature of this revolutionary totalitarian oligarchy. The role of Hitler as the chief oligarch of Nazi Germany remains critical to the entire system of governance. However, the unique roles played by his subordinate oligarchs must be explored in order to properly understand the function, radicalization and unprecedented destruction wrought by the Third Reich.