The power of domination and authority


How was Hitler able to convince so many Germans to kill so many people? This is a question I been asking myself  for many years now.  What makes him so superior that people do as he say’s?  Obedience ranges from many motives, but in this particular situation is based on legitimacy. They Killed for the sake of science. He engraved the idea of a superior race in the Germans minds. He gave them a sense of power by insuring them that they carried “the best blood”, which ultimately will provide them with leadership. Hitler was fortune enough to be born with the skill of oratory; this made it easier for him to allure his way on to the top. He avoided strict, programmatic definitions of National Socialism, which would have destabilized the charismatic nature of his legitimacy. His speeches enchanted people to the point that they treated him as if he was superhuman and believed he was endowed with godly like powers or qualities. Another, reason why Hitler’s rise to power wasn’t all that challenging was due to the problems Germany was already facing during the great depression, such as mass unemployment, economic threats, fear and social dissolution. Hitler leached on Germany’s weakness and feeling’s of national despair, revolt and the urgency for a strong leader to present himself as a messianic rescuer.  Charismatic authority often is unstable and fades away unless routinized and as seen in Hitler’s dominion it faded.

Although, we might think that the Germans were easily convinced due to their lack of knowledge or weakness, we aren’t immune to falling into the same trap of persuasion. We are persuaded by mass media and authority figures all the time. Below I have attached a video of a replication of Milligram’s experiment on obedience to authority figures to help people better understand how domination can be conducted on ordinary people. This series of experiments began in July 1961, during the start of the trial of German Nazi criminal Hitler. Many questions arose concerning the implications of regular individuals in the mass murders of  the holocaust ; were they just following orders ? Or are they all accomplices? Three subjects were involved in the experiment the person in charge of running the experiment, the subject of the experiment the volunteer, and a one pretending to be a volunteer. These three people filled three separate roles: the Experimenter filled the authoritative role, the Teacher the role anticipated to obey the orders of the experimenter, and the Learner the recipient of the punishment. The subject of the experiment the teacher is told that the experiment is a memory test. The teacher is required to emit painful electric shocks to the learner, who is the  actor .The subject(teacher)  believes that for each wrong answer, the learner is receiving high voltage of electric shocks. If at any time the teacher desires to stop the experiment the authoritative figure most repeat these words, “Please continue, the experiment requires that you continue, It is absolutely essential that you continue, You have no other choice, you must go on”. If the teacher asked whether the learner is being caused any permanent physical harm the experimenter most say,   “Although the shocks may be painful, there is no permanent tissue damage, so please go on.” Watch the video and witness the astonishing final results of the experiment, you’ll be surprised by how authority figures that we respect and sometimes praise have so much power upon our actions. Watching this video help me realized how easily Hitler controlled so many people and i came to the conclusion that his followers were just victims of his evilness and not accomplice.


One response to “The power of domination and authority

  1. Hello Lizeth,
    Since grade schooI I too have always found the holocaust to be one of the most profound occurrences in history. The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its followers. “Holocaust” meaning “sacrifice by fire” is a word of Greek origin. The Nazis, who came to power believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews being “inferior,” were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community. They wanted to create a pure breed. I have read and researched a lot on the holocaust and the stories such as the one of Anne Frank however I never understood how one man was behind such terror. With his charisma, Hitler created one voice, one vision, one agenda. I could never put my head around how he possessed so much authority and carried out the heinous acts involved in the holocaust .Hitler’s charisma became traditionalized because a sense of anti-antisemitism was developed throughout the country. Obedience and conformity had a lot to do with why people followed him. Conformity is defined as the general tendency to go along with the group behavior and obedience as following the rules of someone with out question. His followers conformed and obeyed. Hitler was the authoritative figure which lead the Nazi party. I believed that his followers may have in part been victims as well. Hitler was a powerful source with a strong persuasive message and was able to gather a large audience. This made it easy for him to carry out his agenda. Obedience played a key role. Milgram’s Obedience study is a great example that demonstrates how people obey. This experiment is shown in psych classes. Participants obeyed to “shock” other participants up to dangerous levels of voltage. In this presentation the Nazi behavior often comes up as it is relative. Also think of hamas groups and terrorists. There has to be an explanation as to how people fall under such domination.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s