Living in Hitler’s Germany characterized every aspect of what is often referred to as a “police state.” Yet the Nazi police state was to develop far beyond the standard dictionary definition. It became not only an instrument of repression and control in Germany, but also a continent-wide system of terror and murder.
During his time as leader (Führer) he concentrated in his hands complete authority over the state. The Nazi Party was intolerant of individual self-expression; everything was subordinated to the dictates of the Party, and Hitler ruled the Party. All offices were subordinate to his position and had to depend on his instructions. Individual rights were abolished and many people were imprisoned, deported or executed for opposing Hitler and the Nazi state. A special police force, the Gestapo (the Secret State Police – Geheime Staatspolizei) was established to root out dissent and enforce Hitler’s policies.
Hitler’s promises to maintain law and order, generate employment and restore national pride were backed by very stringent and severe measures based on racial ideology. The Nazi Party officially labelled the Jews as especially being to blame for Germany’s economic and social problems after its defeat in the First World War. Jews were regarded as traitorous criminals, working actively to undermine Germany and destroy its racial purity. Nazi oppression was not limited to Jews and Untermenschen, however. All political parties other than the Nazi Party were outlawed, and thousands of communists, socialists, social-democrats and others of independent political views were deprived of civil rights, harassed, imprisoned and often tortured. Deviation from the Nazi norm was suppressed or eliminated. Homosexuality became a capital offence.