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The inter-war period saw a flowering of comparative research on emergency administration in response to the Great Depression. This article argues that Weimar and Nazi Germany was an important point of reference for scholars comparing different policy responses to the Great Depression. Centralization and administrative discretion were considered pivotal for effective crisis governance, irrespective of the political context. The resulting administrative ideology was ignorant of the polycratic realities of the Nazi state and frequently lauded its hierarchical features while condemning the Weimar Republic as anarchic. Faced with the challenge presented by Nazism, of squaring efficiency and accountability in the context of New Deal America, scholars of public administration developed ideas for training a new type of civil servant who was capable of acting beyond the control of legislative institutions. By exploring the ambiguous relationship between public administration and Nazism, this article highlights the complex issues confronting scholars of public administration in times of crisis.