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Posted: September 12th, 2023

Totalitarianism Defined and the Example of Nazi Germany

After reading the course material provided on Totalitarianism and example governments, as well as the material provided on Authentic Servant Leadership, discuss what makes a government totalitarian, and provide an example from this week’s regime that best fits that description and why. Then, discuss why Totalitarianism is incompatible with Authentic Servant Leadership. Create a new discussion topic on or before the required date/time by clicking the ‘**REPLY HERE**’ post. Develop a substantive main thread addressing each part of the prompt in full. Your initial thread should be 2-3 paragraphs in length (200+ words total). Support your points with examples or illustrations from the text. Quotations/citations are not strictly required, but APA style should be used if quoting or paraphrasing from the literature or outside sources. Review the How-To Guide: APA Formatting and Citations page (linked in class) as needed.

Totalitarianism Defined and the Example of Nazi Germany
Totalitarianism is a form of government that attempts to assert total control over the lives of its citizens, eliminating all political opposition and severely restricting individual autonomy and freedom of expression. Totalitarian regimes maintain power through omnipresent surveillance, propaganda, censorship, and often extreme measures of repression such as extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, and concentration camps.
The key characteristics of totalitarianism include the following: single-party rule, usually led by a dictator or supreme leader; strict control over mass communications and information; suppression of opposition groups; a cult of personality around the leader; and an official state ideology that is imposed on society through propaganda and indoctrination in schools and the media. Totalitarian states also typically mobilize the population in support of the regime through mass organizations such as labor unions or youth groups.
One of the clearest historical examples of a totalitarian government was Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1945. The Nazi Party established a one-party fascist dictatorship after coming to power in 1933. Hitler acted as the Führer or supreme leader of the Nazi state. All other political parties were banned and opposition groups were suppressed through intimidation, imprisonment, and violence.
The Nazi regime exerted strict control over the press, radio, movies, and other media. Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels ensured that all information and culture promoted the Nazi ideology and glorified Hitler. Books deemed “un-German” were burned in public ceremonies. Independent thought was discouraged and dissent was not tolerated.
The Nazi government mobilized the population through organizations like the Hitler Youth for children and teenagers, the German Labor Front for workers, and the National Socialist Women’s League for women. Membership in these groups was essentially compulsory. They indoctrinated members with Nazi ideology and prepared Germans for their roles in the totalitarian state.
The Nazi secret police, the Gestapo, used surveillance and terror to crush any resistance. Political opponents, labor leaders, clergy, homosexuals, and other minority groups were arrested and sent to concentration camps. By the late 1930s, Hitler had established a totalitarian police state with complete control over all aspects of life in Germany. This level of totalitarian control made Nazi Germany incompatible with principles of individual freedom and human dignity.
Authentic Servant Leadership and Its Incompatibility with Totalitarianism
While totalitarian regimes demand absolute obedience and control, authentic servant leadership is based on empowering and developing people. The philosophy of servant leadership was originally proposed by Robert Greenleaf in 1970 and focuses on ethical and caring behavior.
Authentic servant leaders place the good of their followers over self-interest. They seek to nurture their personal and professional growth rather than exerting power over them. This involves active listening, empathy, awareness, persuasion through rational argument, and developing trust.
Totalitarian dictators like Hitler, on the other hand, demand blind loyalty and crush any dissent. They centralize power and control in their own hands rather than empowering citizens. Totalitarian states treat people as tools to serve the goals and ideology of the regime rather than individuals with inherent worth.
Servant leaders build community and make ethical decisions through consensus and participation. Totalitarianism allows no participation in decision making and imposes a single ideology on society through coercion. While servant leaders value diversity and individual conscience, totalitarianism demands rigid conformity to state doctrine.
Perhaps most importantly, servant leadership is based on ethical and spiritual principles of serving the best interests of others. Totalitarianism has no concern for ethics, human rights, or human dignity – only the consolidation and expansion of state power. Individual lives are expendable for the goals of the totalitarian system.
In conclusion, the authoritarian and dehumanizing nature of totalitarianism is simply incompatible with the caring, empowering, and community-focused approach of authentic servant leadership. Totalitarian states like Nazi Germany concentrated power in an unaccountable leader rather than developing citizens to their fullest potential.
Works Cited
Greenleaf, Robert K. The Servant as Leader. The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, 1970. https://www.leadershiparlington.org/pdf/TheServantasLeader.pdf. Accessed 23 Sept. 2023.
Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. Houghton Mifflin, 1971.
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: A Biography. W. W. Norton & Company, 2010.
Merriam-Webster. “Totalitarianism.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/totalitarianism. Accessed 23 Sept. 2023.
Northouse, Peter G. Leadership: Theory and Practice. SAGE Publications, 2016.

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