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Volksgemeinschaft. Did the Nazis achieve a social revolution between 1933- 1939?. How far did the Nazis succeed in winning over the hearts and minds of ordinary German citizens?. What is meant by Volksgemeinschaft?. Hitler aimed to create a ‘national people’s community’

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Volksgemeinschaft

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Volksgemeinschaft

Did the Nazis achieve a social revolution between 1933- 1939?


How far did the Nazis succeed in winning over the hearts and minds of ordinary German citizens?


What is meant by Volksgemeinschaft?

  • Hitler aimed to create a ‘national people’s community’

  • Weltanschauung- shared ideals- a common world view

  • Volksgenossen- Fellow Germans

  • Blut und Boden- Blood and soil

  • Outsiders


  • What problems are there with the concept of Volksgemeinschaft?

  • What do you think Hitler was really trying to achieve?


Role of Women

  • ‘One might be tempted to say that the world of women is a smaller world. For her world is her husband, her family, her children and her house’

  • Kinder, Kirche, Kuche- Children, Church, Kitchen

  • Family as the ‘germ cell of the nation’

    State backed motherhood- made an attractive financial proposition


How did women fit in with Nazi ideology?

  • Volkisch ideas about role of women – subservient wife, prolific mother, guardian of moral virtue & racial purity

  • Three K’s – Kinder, Küche, Kirche

  • Restrictions – women excluded from judiciary, medicine & civil service; university places limited to 10%

  • Incentives – free loans to newlyweds,, tax rebates, medals

  • Nuremberg Laws, 1935 – banned sexual intercourse between Germans & Jews

  • Lebensborn – impregnation by SS officers

  • Organisations – National Socialist Womanhood; German Women’s Enterprise


Interpretations

  • Reactionary- in response to the Weimar trend- full employment, vote, fashion, freedom of women- Nazis picked up on a Depression era reaction

  • Contradictions in Nazi policy- family unit, but Hitler Youth, sterilisation programme, euthanasia programme, Lebensborn programme- birth outside marriage

  • Nazi economic recovery-women stayed in employment

  • Ideology versus economic need- many laws relaxed as demand for workers increased


Success?

  • Did women absorb Nazi propaganda?

  • Nazi family values an extreme version of Catholicism

  • Increase in social services for women

  • Unable to reconcile social policy with political,economic and military ambitions

  • No evidence that policies were unpopular- secured the approval - ‘tolerance’ by women

  • Modernism versus traditionalist tendencies within the Third Reich

  • Family used a tool of the totalitarian state- reproduction


Church

  • Shared values?- family / state / nationalism (Lutheranism) anti- communism

  • Church an obstacle to achieving total control

  • Hitler speaks of a need for ‘Positive Christianity’

  • Catholic 32% population / Protestant 58%- Lutheran / Calvinist

  • Catholic Zentrum / BVP political parties

  • Provincial religion- protestant state based


Third Reich and Religion

  • Reich Church- ‘coordination’ of Protestant churches

  • German Christians- ‘racial based’ Christianity (Ludwig Muller)

  • Confessional Church- breakaway from Reich Church- (Niemoller) (Bonhoffer)

  • German Faith Movement- ‘pagan’ Nazi Faith (Alfred Rosenberg)


Stages of Nazi Policy towards the Churches

  • Control

  • Weaken

  • Replace


Interpretation

  • ‘Only insititution which had both an alternative ideology…and retained organisational autonomy’

  • Subservience to the state

  • Ensuring the survival of insititution through cooperation- self defence- rather than political oppostion

  • Individuals rather than Institutions opposing the regime

  • Highlights the limits of the Totalitarian State


Overall- did Hitler break down the classes?

  • How much had society changed by 1945?

  • Descriptions of life in the 1930s before the outbreak of war (Lutz Niethammer 1986)- comments about life - ‘quiet’, ‘good’, ‘normal’

  • People seem more concerned with employment, economic stability, order and peace.

  • Class structures probably not altered as a result of Nazi rule.

  • ‘Revolution of form, not substance’- Hitler’s aim to deceive the people. VMS a propaganda gimmick.


Conclusions continued

  • Social effects were at times contradictory- sometimes modernising/ sometimes reactionary

  • Deep social divisions and discontent existed beneath the propaganda- this was dealt with by repression.

  • If a social revolution was achieved it was as a result of the elimination of people

  • Strongest argument for social revolution is based on the regime’s social destruction- things changed as a result of war- but this was not intentional. Nazi Germany had an impact on society beyond its own existence.


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