“Hitler had more success in establishing a totalitarian government than Franco” The twentieth century brought a radical reform in the political system for Europe. Throughout the whole continent a trend of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, with political features the world had never seen before, was developing. These reforms were mainly started by the anti-democratic movement; however the reasons differed in each country. Before we are able comparing Hitler’s regime and Franco’s we should look at the term totalitarianism itself. The idea of totalitarianism mainly means total control of the entire state, a complete way of life in which the government try to reach the great mass of ordinary people, to arouse and mobilize them, to control and organize as much of the people’s lives as possible. It involves complete revolution of the state with ideological backgrounds; the greatness of the state was more important than the interests and needs of the individual. It also meant a regime which is more centered on the acuteness of the society and stability in political ideas. When we look at Hitler’s Germany there were many characteristics of a totalitarian state.
The Government had total control of the media. Every form of communication was liable and was heavily censored; there was no freedom of speech. This enabled the government to influence popular opinion via propaganda and also false news messages. Especially propaganda within the Nazi regime was highly effective. They released the importance of the Radio and newspaper as a media to communicate with the masses. The Nazi’s were totally aware of the power that propaganda had and the level of influence and manipulation that this had over the people. They carefully planned radio broadcasts and also used rallies and films to make a whole population believe that Hitler and the party had the overwhelming support of the masses. They manipulated news so they were engineered to show the successes made by the party’s policies and techniques such as subliminal messaging were used to “brainwash” the public. In the end all news, rumours and opinions within the state were produced or at least influenced by the government; a classic sign of a totalitarian leader exerting his control. However not everyone is sensible for propaganda; you cannot force someone to watch television, to read the newspaper or to listen to the radio. To reach also these people alternative methods of ensuring control were developed.
Part of this plan was the secret police which had the role to find enemies of the state. People were very afraid of getting caught by this organization; there sanctions were disproportional harsh, making people think twice before questioning the state. Often they would be publicly humiliated or even tortured. But that was not all, the police and Gestapo had the authority to remove people from their homes and send them, quite often without trial, to concentration camps. Once again this was made to frighten the people but also ensured that the more determined opponent of the state was removed from the public domain. In total Germany under Hitler is a good example of what a totalitarian state is. People did not question decisions, even if they appeared totally absurd. It was evident that working against the party, or even being perceived as a potential threat would lead to prison. Through careful manipulation and misleading information the authorities could do what they wanted to do as the people either knew nothing about actions made or were too afraid to speak out about them. In Spain, after the Civil War, the authoritarian regime which came to power was headed by the leader of the Nationalist forces, General Franco.
In addition to being generalissimo of the armed forces, he was both chief of state and head of government, the ultimate source of legitimate authority. But different to Hitler’s Germany Ideology or political theories were not the primary motivators in Franco’s developing of the institution. The political structures established under Franco’s rule represented his pragmatic approach. He was able to deal with changing domestic and international situations quite easy because he never formulated a true, comprehensive, constitutional system. Seven fundamental laws decreed during his rule provided the regime with an appearance of constitutionalism, but they were developed after the fact, usually to legitimize an existing situation or spread of power. Propaganda was also in Franco’s regime an important keyword, used to put a twist on things and make them more desirable to the people. Similar to the propaganda use in the Nazi regime it acted as a method to make the society think what they wanted them to think.
Franco employed new political strategies to mobilize public support, using the new mass media such as radio broadcasts and mass rallies as well as posters. Franco also had a secret police following his orders but it was relatively tame compared to Hitler’s system of terroristic police control. However the regime’s strong degree of control, Franco did not managed totalitarian domination of all social, cultural, and religious institutions, or of the whole economy. His leading also lacked the ideological concept characteristic of totalitarian governments. Later in his regime he gradually relaxed the repressiveness. Workers got a right to strike, though it was limited, military courts were disestablished and for some members of the parliament there were even elections introduced; political parties were still banned. Franco’s rule can be characterized as authoritarian rather than totalitarian.
Franco, set up a government which was similar in many ways the one of Hitler in Germany. Repression, military courts and mass executions were used. However this regime was not completely fascist in supporting the church for example, which kept the control over education. In the Hitler regime that would never have happened. In Germany repression in general had a much heavier impact on society as well as the actions taken by the secret police used to frighten the public. In conclusion we could say that Hitler indeed had more success in establishing and leading a totalitarian government. However this should not be seen as a positive aspect and both of these regimes are unacceptable.