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The _FüHRERPRINZIP_ (_ listen ) (German for "leader principle") prescribed the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the Third Reich . This principle can be most succinctly understood to mean that "the Führer_'s word is above all written law" and that governmental policies, decisions, and offices ought to work toward the realization of this end. In actual political usage, it refers mainly to the practice of dictatorship within the ranks of a political party itself, and as such, it has become an earmark of political Fascism
Fascism
.

CONTENTS

* 1 Ideology * 2 Propaganda * 3 Application * 4 Notes * 5 See also * 6 External links

IDEOLOGY

The _Führerprinzip_ was not invented by the Nazis . Hermann von Keyserling , an ethnically German philosopher from Estonia, was the first to use the term _Führerprinzip_. One of Keyserling's central claims was that certain "gifted individuals" were "born to rule" on the basis of Social Darwinism .

The ideology of the _Führerprinzip_ sees each organization as a hierarchy of leaders, where every leader (_Führer_, in German) has absolute responsibility in his own area, demands absolute obedience from those below him and answers only to his superiors. This required obedience and loyalty even over concerns of right and wrong. The supreme leader , Adolf Hitler , answered to God and the German people. Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has argued that Hitler saw himself as an incarnation of _auctoritas _, and as the living law or highest law itself, effectively combining in his persona executive power , judicial power and legislative power . After the campaign against the alleged Röhm Putsch , Hitler declared: "in this hour, I was responsible for the fate of the German nation and was therefore the supreme judge of the German people!"

The _Führerprinzip_ paralleled the functionality of military organizations, which continue to use a similar authority structure today, although in democratic countries members are supposed to be restrained by codes of conduct. The justification for the civil use of the _Führerprinzip_ was that unquestioning obedience to superiors supposedly produced order and prosperity in which those deemed 'worthy' would share.

This began as soon as the Beer Hall _Putsch_ ; Hitler used his trial for propaganda to present himself, claiming it had been his sole responsibility and inspiring the title _Führer_.

This principle became the law of the National Socialist German Worker\'s Party (Nazi Party) and the SS and was later transferred to the whole German society once the Nazis took power. Appointed mayors replaced elected local governments. Schools lost elected parents' councils and faculty advisory boards, with all authority being put in the headmaster's hands. The Nazis suppressed associations and unions with elected leaders, putting in their place mandatory associations with appointed leaders. The authorities allowed private corporations to keep their internal organization, but with a simple renaming from hierarchy to _Führerprinzip_. Conflicting associations, e.g. sports associations responsible for the same sport, were _coordinated_ into a single one under the leadership of a single _Führer_, who appointed the _Führer_ of a regional association, who appointed the sports club Führer, often appointing the person whom the club had previously elected. Shop stewards had their authority carefully circumscribed to prevent their infringing on that of the plant leader. Eventually, virtually no activity or organization in Germany could exist that was completely independent of party and/or state leadership.

In practice, the selection of unsuitable candidates often led to micromanagement and commonly to an inability to formulate coherent policy. Albert Speer noted that many Nazi officials dreaded making decisions in Hitler's absence. Rules tended to become oral rather than written; leaders with initiative who flouted regulations and carved out their own spheres of influence might receive praise and promotion rather than censure.

PROPAGANDA

The architects of the Night of the Long Knives
Night of the Long Knives
: Hitler, Göring , Goebbels , and Hess . Only Himmler and Heydrich are missing.

Many propaganda films developed the importance of the _Führerprinzip_. _ Flüchtlinge _ depicted Volga German refugees saved from Communist persecution by a leader demanding unquestioning obedience. _ Der Herrscher _ altered its source material to depict its hero, Clausen, as the unwavering leader of his munitions firm, who, faced with his children's machinations, disowns them and bestows the firm on the state, confident that a worker will arise capable of continuing his work and, as a true leader, needing no instruction. _Carl Peters _ shows the title character in firm, decisive action to hold and win African colonies, but brought down by a parliament that does not realize the necessity of _Führerprinzip_.

In the schools, adolescent boys were presented with Nordic sagas as the illustration of _Führerprinzip_, which was developed with such heroes as Frederick the Great and Otto von Bismarck .

This combined with the glorification of the one, central _Führer_. During the Night of Long Knives , it was claimed that his decisive action saved Germany, though it meant (in Goebbels's description) suffering "tragic loneliness" from being a Siegfried forced to shed blood to preserve Germany. In one speech Robert Ley explicitly proclaimed "The Führer is always right." Booklets given out for the Winter Relief donations included _The Führer Makes History_, a collection of Hitler photographs, and _The Führer’s Battle in the East._ Films such as _Der Marsch zum Führer _ and _Triumph of the Will _ glorified him.

Carl Schmitt
Carl Schmitt
—drawn to the Nazi party by his admiration for a decisive leader— praised him in his pamphlet _State, Volk and Movement_ because only the ruthless will of such a leader could save Germany and its people from the "asphalt culture" of modernity, to bring about unity and authenticity.

APPLICATION

Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann
on trial in 1961

During the post-war Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
, Nazi war criminals—and, later, Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann
during the trial in Israel
Israel
—used the _Führerprinzip_ concept to argue that they were not guilty of war crimes by claiming that they were only following orders . Eichmann may have declared his conscience was inconvenienced by war events in order to "do his job" as best he could.

In _ Eichmann in Jerusalem _, Hannah Arendt concluded that, aside from a desire for improving his career, Eichmann showed no trace of anti-Semitism or psychological abnormalities whatsoever. She called him the embodiment of the "banality of evil ", as he appeared at his trial to have an ordinary and common personality, displaying neither guilt nor hatred, denying any form of responsibility. Eichmann argued he was simply "doing his job" and maintained he had always tried to act in accordance with Kant 's categorical imperative . Arendt suggested that these statements most strikingly discredit the idea that Nazi criminals were manifestly psychopathic and different from common people, that even the most ordinary of people can commit horrendous crimes if placed in the catalyzing situation, and given the correct incentives. However, Arendt disagreed with this interpretation, as Eichmann justified himself with the _Führerprinzip_. Arendt argued that children obey , whereas adults adhere to an ideology.

NOTES

* ^ Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression Volume I Chapter VII * ^ _A_ _B_ "Befehlsnotstand Winkler, Heinrich August (2007). _Germany: The Long Road West. 1933-1990_. Oxford University Press . ISBN 0-19-926598-4 . page=37 * ^ Piers Brendon , _The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s_, p38 ISBN 0-375-40881-9 * ^ Lynn H. Nicholas , _Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web_ p. 74 ISBN 0-679-77663-X * ^ Arnd Krüger : _„Heute gehört uns Deutschland und morgen …?“ Das Ringen um den Sinn der Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung
im Sport in der ersten Jahreshälfte 1933._ In: Wolfgang Buss, Arnd Krüger (Hrsg.): _Sportgeschichte: Traditionspflege und Wertewandel. Festschrift zum 75. Geburtstag von Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Henze_ (= Schriftenreihe des Niedersächsisches Institut für Sportgeschichte, Bd. 2). Mecke, Duderstadt 1985, S. 175–196. * ^ Richard Grunberger , _The 12-Year Reich_, p 193, ISBN 0-03-076435-1 * ^ Erwin Leiser , _Nazi Cinema_ p29-30 ISBN 0-02-570230-0 * ^ Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema p49 ISBN 0-02-570230-0 * ^ Erwin Leiser, _Nazi Cinema_ p104-5 ISBN 0-02-570230-0 * ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, _Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web_ p. 78 ISBN 0-679-77663-X * ^ Claudia Koonz, _The Nazi Conscience_, p 96 ISBN 0-674-01172-4 * ^ Anthony Rhodes, _Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II_, p16 1976, Chelsea House Publishers, New York * ^ " Robert Ley Speech". _calvin.edu_. * ^ "Winterhilfswerk Booklet for 1933". _calvin.edu_. * ^ ""Winterhilfswerk Booklet for 1938". _calvin.edu_. * ^ "Hitler in the Mountains". _calvin.edu_. * ^ "Hitler in the East". _calvin.edu_. * ^ Claudia Koonz, _The Nazi Conscience_, p 56 ISBN 0-674-01172-4 * ^ Claudia Koonz, _The Nazi Conscience_, p 59 ISBN 0-674-01172-4

SEE ALSO

* Adolf Hitler * Autocracy * Charisma * Cult of personality * Führer * _ Meine Ehre heißt Treue _ * Functionalism versus intentionalism * _ Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung
_ * Milgram experiment * Nuremberg Defense
Nuremberg Defense
* State of exception * superior orders * Unrechtsstaat * World War II
World War II

EXTERNAL LINKS

* Blind Obedience:

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