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dancing phalanges

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Modern History Debate Thread
« on: February 26, 2018, 07:46:20 pm »
+13
Hey fellow historians and welcome to ATAR Notes' Modern History Debate Thread!

How does this work?
Well, every week or so (depending on how much content you guys have covered in class) we will look to put up one question in relation to a specific part of the Modern History syllabus. For instance, we will kick off with Germany and WW1 tonight but if there are any specific questions you want let us know. These questions are going to allow for argument from both sides - those who both agree and disagree with the statement. Basically, we just want you guys to state which side you are for and provide as many statistics and other pieces of evidence to prove that what you are arguing is the truth!

Why should I get involved?
Well, firstly, each week FantasticBeasts3 and I will judge the arguments made and crown one user as the Modern History Debate Champion of the Week - it is just as cool as it sounds  ;) However, most importantly, a KEY skill for success in Modern History is the art of arguing and proving a point - it is perhaps the most critical part of writing a Band 6 Modern History essay. Many students fall into the habit of storytelling in their essays instead of maintaining a sophisticated argument for the entirety of their response. By getting involved, you can practice how to write with conviction and FB3 and myself can also give you some tips! :) Finally, getting involved prompts you to think critically and engage with other perspectives as to more deeply understand your thoughts and views on a topic which could very well pop up in your HSC exam!

This week we have two questions:
Was Nazi Germany a Totalitarian State?
What was the most important reason for Allied victory and German collapse?


I will kick things off :)

Friedrich and Brzezinski’s definition of a totalitarian state also includes the consolidation of power by an autocratic ruler within an organised, monolithic structure, an appearance of the Nazi state which, in reality, was quite different. Historians such as Ian Kershaw and Martin Broszat adopted the Structuralist approach to Germany’s administrative chaos, viewing it not as a deliberate aim of Hitler (as argued by the Intentionalists) but rather as a result of Hitler’s own lack of leadership. In Broszat’s The Hitler State (1969) he argues that the internal power structure in Hitler’s Germany was a “polycratic state.” This is proven through the duplication present in Hitler’s government, with the Ministry of Labour, for example, in direct competition with the German Labour Front.  Intentionalist historians have argued that this was a deliberate tactic of Hitler’s. However, it has been more correctly interpreted by the Structuralists to be a representation of his weakness as a dictator in the sense that according to Hans Mommsen, Hitler was “reluctant to make decisions.” To this extent, Hitler’s style of government and ruling contrasts greatly with a totalitarian state.


The entry of the USA into the war was the most vital reason for Allied victory and German collapse. Given the depleted nature of Germany's resources following the Allied Naval Blockade, the introduction of 1.45 million US troops by July 1918 and the resources they brought with them condemned the disillusioned Germans to defeat.

Do you agree? Let me know below! If you guys have ideas for different debate questions also chuck them below! :) Or, please vote in the poll as to which National Study you do, so we can create questions relevant to your National Study.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 08:43:26 pm by dancing phalanges »
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owidjaja

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2018, 08:11:49 pm »
+10
This week's question: What was the most important reason for Allied victory and German collapse?

I will kick things off :)

The entry of the USA into the war was the most vital reason for Allied victory and German collapse. Given the depleted nature of Germany's resources following the Allied Naval Blockade, the introduction of 1.45 million US troops by July 1918 and the resources they brought with them condemned the disillusioned Germans to defeat.

Do you agree? Let me know below! If you guys have ideas for different debate questions also chuck them below! :)
Omg yes, I'm so ready for this!

Okay, in terms of the most important reason for Allied victory, I'd say Germany's choice in allies brought them down the most. Considering how Austria-Hungary was already unstable prior to WW1, it was already a terrible decision for them to join the war as well (albeit, it's kinda their fault for dragging Germany into the war but that's a debate for another day). It's unfortunate we don't get to look at the Eastern Front but the fact that Austria-Hungary was exhausted in 1916 against the Russians- the Russians! and barely managed to survive the Russian offensive because of instability in Russia basically demonstrates how weak they were as an ally. And don't forget how Italy changed sides half-way through the war, leaving Germany to be like a bank to Austria-Hungary because they were relatively stable (in comparison to Austria-Hungary). And unfortunately, my judgement on Austria-Hungary's alliance with Germany was almost inevitable- culturally, they're quite similar- and the Treaty of Versailles didn't stop them from forming an Anschluss in WW2. On the other hand, looking at the Allied powers, Britain and France were already the top empires prior to WW1 in terms of economy and trade- this would benefit them tremendously during WW1 since they were able to gain support from their colonies.

In terms of your argument on the US being a turning point, to a certain extent, the US did help, however the British Blockade was already doing their bit and they were starving Germany out to the point where German civilians suffered during the Turnip Winter and had to resort in raiding dead animals (mainly horses) off the streets- 80 000 German children had already starved to death in 1916 and if the British Blockade continued to do so, they would've starved Germany out of the war. And how did Britain achieve this? They were economically strong in terms of Allies (Russia was weak but France was also a strong ally) so they had the power to prohibit trade with the Central Powers. Would this take a while? To a certain extent, yes, but at that point during 1917 onwards, the Germans were on the verge of backing out of the war because the famine had hit the civilians (and soldiers) so hard they died from the flu epidemic. Even looking at the statistics on war losses overall, Germany had 2 million dead combatants- according to historian John Keagan- in comparison to other powers such as France/Russia with 1.7 million each and the British Empire with 1 million.

So yeah, my arguments are all over the place today xD.
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dancing phalanges

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2018, 08:28:02 pm »
+5
Spoiler
Omg yes, I'm so ready for this!

Okay, in terms of the most important reason for Allied victory, I'd say Germany's choice in allies brought them down the most. Considering how Austria-Hungary was already unstable prior to WW1, it was already a terrible decision for them to join the war as well (albeit, it's kinda their fault for dragging Germany into the war but that's a debate for another day). It's unfortunate we don't get to look at the Eastern Front but the fact that Austria-Hungary was exhausted in 1916 against the Russians- the Russians! and barely managed to survive the Russian offensive because of instability in Russia basically demonstrates how weak they were as an ally. And don't forget how Italy changed sides half-way through the war, leaving Germany to be like a bank to Austria-Hungary because they were relatively stable (in comparison to Austria-Hungary). And unfortunately, my judgement on Austria-Hungary's alliance with Germany was almost inevitable- culturally, they're quite similar- and the Treaty of Versailles didn't stop them from forming an Anschluss in WW2. On the other hand, looking at the Allied powers, Britain and France were already the top empires prior to WW1 in terms of economy and trade- this would benefit them tremendously during WW1 since they were able to gain support from their colonies.

In terms of your argument on the US being a turning point, to a certain extent, the US did help, however the British Blockade was already doing their bit and they were starving Germany out to the point where German civilians suffered during the Turnip Winter and had to resort in raiding dead animals (mainly horses) off the streets- 80 000 German children had already starved to death in 1916 and if the British Blockade continued to do so, they would've starved Germany out of the war. And how did Britain achieve this? They were economically strong in terms of Allies (Russia was weak but France was also a strong ally) so they had the power to prohibit trade with the Central Powers. Would this take a while? To a certain extent, yes, but at that point during 1917 onwards, the Germans were on the verge of backing out of the war because the famine had hit the civilians (and soldiers) so hard they died from the flu epidemic. Even looking at the statistics on war losses overall, Germany had 2 million dead combatants- according to historian John Keagan- in comparison to other powers such as France/Russia with 1.7 million each and the British Empire with 1 million.

So yeah, my arguments are all over the place today xD.

So glad you're excited by this! What a great first reply! Your argument about the weakness of Germany's allies versus that of the British is one some students neglect but it is super important so props to you! I also really like how you are looking at the war as a whole and how the most important reason for collapse wasn't one event but rather that other reasons such as the Blockade added to these issues. However, given that the Germans gained troops from the Eastern Front and were gaining support, don't you think that the entry of the U.S was vitally important in countering this advantage that the Germans could have used because if the Americans didn't arrive the Germans could have regained control with the troops they were getting back?
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fantasticbeasts3

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2018, 08:35:50 pm »
+4
Omg yes, I'm so ready for this!

......

So yeah, my arguments are all over the place today xD.

You definitely make a valid point - I didn't even think of Germany's choice in allies! However, while you do bring up the British Blockade already being pretty effective, the USA provided a morale boost for the Allies, where after the withdrawal of the Russians, they were able to provide fresh troops and resources. In saying this, the Spring Offensive wouldn't have been as much of a flop if it wasn't for the Americans; where by the end of March, there were ~250000 American troops joining the war on the Western Front.
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owidjaja

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2018, 08:50:28 pm »
+5
So glad you're excited by this! What a great first reply! Your argument about the weakness of Germany's allies versus that of the British is one some students neglect but it is super important so props to you! I also really like how you are looking at the war as a whole and how the most important reason for collapse wasn't one event but rather that other reasons such as the Blockade added to these issues. However, given that the Germans gained troops from the Eastern Front and were gaining support, don't you think that the entry of the U.S was vitally important in countering this advantage that the Germans could have used because if the Americans didn't arrive the Germans could have regained control with the troops they were getting back?
Hence my judgement on the US involvement being to a certain extent. However, their main significance was their presence, whereas you look at the role of Australians who actually helped the Allied victory. Sure, the US provided more troops but they didn't help much with the tactics. For example, the Battle of Hamel, which was a successfully planned battle led by General Monash. Why is this battle significant? Because General Monash was able plan out effectively, taking note of the strengths and weaknesses of each weapon and used it to their advantage- from my memory, I'm pretty sure they used airplanes for reconnaissance, tanks as the first line of offence and led troops behind the tanks as a support. Yes, the Americans were involved in this battle, however only a platoon was attached to each Australian company. They could've used more troops from the British colonies, French troops or transfer more Australian recruits to strengthen the battalions.

I'm pretty sure the Battle of Hamel technically isn't part of the syllabus but my point is, the Allies would've been able to strategically plan out the offensives without the US. Looking at the battle plans for the Battle of Amiens, most of the belligerents who led this battle was the British Empire and France with the US only supplying one division- even Australia had a significant role in the Hundred Days Offensive and they were used as support at the beginning of the war (with the exception of Gallipoli).

Ugh arguing against US entry is difficult xD.
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dancing phalanges

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2018, 09:06:56 pm »
+4
Hence my judgement on the US involvement being to a certain extent. However, their main significance was their presence, whereas you look at the role of Australians who actually helped the Allied victory. Sure, the US provided more troops but they didn't help much with the tactics. For example, the Battle of Hamel, which was a successfully planned battle led by General Monash. Why is this battle significant? Because General Monash was able plan out effectively, taking note of the strengths and weaknesses of each weapon and used it to their advantage- from my memory, I'm pretty sure they used airplanes for reconnaissance, tanks as the first line of offence and led troops behind the tanks as a support. Yes, the Americans were involved in this battle, however only a platoon was attached to each Australian company. They could've used more troops from the British colonies, French troops or transfer more Australian recruits to strengthen the battalions.

I'm pretty sure the Battle of Hamel technically isn't part of the syllabus but my point is, the Allies would've been able to strategically plan out the offensives without the US. Looking at the battle plans for the Battle of Amiens, most of the belligerents who led this battle was the British Empire and France with the US only supplying one division- even Australia had a significant role in the Hundred Days Offensive and they were used as support at the beginning of the war (with the exception of Gallipoli).

Ugh arguing against US entry is difficult xD.

I'm glad it's hard haha! It's so important to challenge yourself and you are doing brilliantly! I would say though that by 1918 the astronomical number of US troops the Allies got was perhaps the greatest strategic advantage anyone could have as the Germans could not possibly compete and this was a great psychological gain for the Allies as well.
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owidjaja

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2018, 09:18:43 pm »
+4
I'm glad it's hard haha! It's so important to challenge yourself and you are doing brilliantly! I would say though that by 1918 the astronomical number of US troops the Allies got was perhaps the greatest strategic advantage anyone could have as the Germans could not possibly compete and this was a great psychological gain for the Allies as well.
Ahaha my argument kinda fell apart. However, I would like to add a final statement that if the US didn't enter the WW1, I would think the Allies and Central Powers would've still formed an armistice, considering how the Allies had more troops than the Central Powers (not a large difference, I would say) in this was because of the number of colonies the British Empire had (going back to the importance of Allies). And also, many French and British commanders disliked the naivety of the US soldiers and how independent they were from their commanders.

It was either an armistice or just mutual exhaustion- but those are my thoughts if the US didn't enter WW1 so these ideas are based on speculation xD.
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dancing phalanges

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2018, 09:21:06 pm »
+3
Ahaha my argument kinda fell apart. However, I would like to add a final statement that if the US didn't enter the WW1, I would think the Allies and Central Powers would've still formed an armistice, considering how the Allies had more troops than the Central Powers (not a large difference, I would say) in this was because of the number of colonies the British Empire had (going back to the importance of Allies). And also, many French and British commanders disliked the naivety of the US soldiers and how independent they were from their commanders.

It was either an armistice or just mutual exhaustion- but those are my thoughts if the US didn't enter WW1 so these ideas are based on speculation xD.

You did so well arguing against the entry of the U.S troops as the most important part of the Allied victory - seriously well done! Seems like you are already ready to sit the HSC ;) Anyone else keen to contribute look at owidjaja's posts for inspiration on how to get started - they don't need to be as long or detailed though haha :P
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Mada438

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2018, 09:39:59 pm »
+5
While i do agree with owidjaja's point that Germanys choice of allies was a major reason for their defeat ( its one of the main ones), i still think that the entry of the US is the major reason. Because of the Luddenhorf offensive. If it continued the way that it started, then it would've pushed the allied line back significantly. They did gain back some territory with it. The use of stormtroopers was a very clever tactic. In principle, if the US had not entered when they did, Germany may not have won outright, but it would've done a serious amount of damage to the Allied effort. Lets not forget that the British and French had also been fighting the same war, it had taken its toll on them too, they were not immune.

In terms of Germany, being a totalitarian state:
What is totalitarianism?
Definition of Totalitarianism
The essence of totalitarianism can be found in its very name; it is a form of rule in which the government attempts to maintain 'total' control over society, including all aspects of the public and private lives of its citizens.

There are several characteristics that are common to totalitarian regimes, including:

Rule by a single party
Total control of the military
Total control over means of communication (such as newspapers, propaganda, etc…)
Police control with the use of terror as a control tactic
Control of the economy

Are these not all common characteristics of Nazi Germany?
Total control and rule by a single party? The nazi party became the only political party in germany at that time
Total control of the military? Hitler was the Fuher-the army pledged alliegence to him as the fuher of Germany
Total control over means of communication (such as newspapers, propaganda, etc…)? There was no such thing as freedom of the press. Joseph Gobbells and others made lots of propaganda in order to rasie levels of nationalism and anti-semitism
Police control with the use of terror as a control tactic? Yeah-the Gestappo as well as the SS and SD, and in the beginning there was the violent SA
Control of the economy? certainly-The nazi party controlled everything

So looking at this from a macro perspective, i  believe Nazi Germany emulated a totalitarian state.
On a micro level, there was indeed problems hence my arguement is not perfect
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dancing phalanges

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2018, 09:52:43 pm »
+1
snip........

To what extent would you argue Germany was totalitarian? You are completely correct in that you can never say it was completely totalitarian as there was always some form of opposition. However, how strong, in your opinion, was this opposition? There was certainly opposition in Youth Groups and the Church. I would say that Nazi Germany was to a great extent totalitarian yet total control was never gained. Do you agree or believe it was even more totalitarian or perhaps less in control as there was much instability internally in the Nazi Party?
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Mada438

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2018, 10:04:24 pm »
+3
To what extent would you argue Germany was totalitarian? You are completely correct in that you can never say it was completely totalitarian as there was always some form of opposition. However, how strong, in your opinion, was this opposition? There was certainly opposition in Youth Groups and the Church. I would say that Nazi Germany was to a great extent totalitarian yet total control was never gained. Do you agree or believe it was even more totalitarian or perhaps less in control as there was much instability internally in the Nazi Party?
I agree with you there; and yes there may always be opposition (unless you're living in Orwells 1984) i don't think that opposition was that strong really IMO. While there may have been some intermal instability, the nazis were pretty good at eliminating their opposition, or at least keeping it to a minimum
"Live life like a pineapple. Stand tall, wear a crown and be sweet on the inside"

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"Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire"

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An open letter to my School Friends
Would 10 year old you be proud of who you are?

2020: Bachelor of Arts @ANU

dancing phalanges

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2018, 10:27:32 pm »
+1
I agree with you there; and yes there may always be opposition (unless you're living in Orwells 1984) i don't think that opposition was that strong really IMO. While there may have been some intermal instability, the nazis were pretty good at eliminating their opposition, or at least keeping it to a minimum

So what do you think was most crucial in ensuring little opposition? Was the context in which the Nazis rose to power eg. The Great Depression? I believe propaganda was by far the most important as it saw the beliefs of Nazism become part of everyday life and thus resulted in indirect indoctrination as to encourage full loyalty to the Nazis. As such, the Gestapo, I believe were important for control in the image they created rather than practically enforcing terror as much of the time, due to propaganda, the ordinary citizens denounced each other.
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Mada438

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2018, 10:37:56 pm »
+2
So what do you think was most crucial in ensuring little opposition? Was the context in which the Nazis rose to power eg. The Great Depression? I believe propaganda was by far the most important as it saw the beliefs of Nazism become part of everyday life and thus resulted in indirect indoctrination as to encourage full loyalty to the Nazis. As such, the Gestapo, I believe were important for control in the image they created rather than practically enforcing terror as much of the time, due to propaganda, the ordinary citizens denounced each other.
Agreed. Definitely was the propaganda. Gobbells was a propaganda master. It contributed to the high levels of nationalism and anti-semitism.

I also believe that the method that they used was successful in stamping out opposition. They preyed on peoples weaknesses (e.g. contextually-the great depressed, WR failure, anti semitism etc) and swayed most of the population over to their cause. They eliminated all opposition from those generations and then they indoctrinated the youth. By making the youth are ALL believing in your cause (with literally no ability to think other wise) and ensuring that opposition in the older generations is suppressed until they die out : THAT is how they destroyed opposition. Hope that makes sense
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"Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire"

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Would 10 year old you be proud of who you are?

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dancing phalanges

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2018, 10:51:48 pm »
+2
Agreed. Definitely was the propaganda. Gobbells was a propaganda master. It contributed to the high levels of nationalism and anti-semitism.

I also believe that the method that they used was successful in stamping out opposition. They preyed on peoples weaknesses (e.g. contextually-the great depressed, WR failure, anti semitism etc) and swayed most of the population over to their cause. They eliminated all opposition from those generations and then they indoctrinated the youth. By making the youth are ALL believing in your cause (with literally no ability to think other wise) and ensuring that opposition in the older generations is suppressed until they die out : THAT is how they destroyed opposition. Hope that makes sense

Have you heard of groups such as the Swing Movement and Edelweiss Pirates? Whilst Hitler gained significant control over the German Youth, these were examples of two groups who actively went against the Hitler Youth and thus demonstrated the lack of total obedience from the youth of Germany.
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Mada438

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Re: Modern History Debate Thread
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2018, 04:18:59 pm »
0
Have you heard of groups such as the Swing Movement and Edelweiss Pirates? Whilst Hitler gained significant control over the German Youth, these were examples of two groups who actively went against the Hitler Youth and thus demonstrated the lack of total obedience from the youth of Germany.
I hadn't actually heard about those groups so i suppose thats true, there was small pockets of resistence. But they were a definite minority compared to the hitler youth. 
But were these groups full of children who ddin't agree with Hitlers way of thinking (were they free thinking) or where they influenced into joining these groups through ways such as propaganda?
"Live life like a pineapple. Stand tall, wear a crown and be sweet on the inside"

"May you grow up to be righteous; may you grow up to be true. May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you. May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong"

"Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire"

Advice for starting year 12
An open letter to my School Friends
Would 10 year old you be proud of who you are?

2020: Bachelor of Arts @ANU