To What Extent Did The Nazis Establish A Volksgemeinschaft?

4075 words - 16 pages

In order to successfully address this question, one must first consider the definition of the very nebulous term Volksgemeinschaft. It was an expression used to depict the harmonious, classless national community ideal made up of the Herrenvolk, or master race. As a term used polemically by the Nazis to engender a form of "identity politics" and therefore oppose any notion of politics based on universal and objective class interests that it aimed to transcend, it helped them gain collective support from an already economically, psychologically and politically distraught post-war nation. The Volksgemeinschaft ideal was one of the key elements of Nazi ideology and was used to legitimate much of the regime's social policy whilst also providing support for their opposition to liberal individualism and Marxist class antagonism. Although to some extent rather imaginary and mythical, it was the key component to encompass the National Socialist dogma of the party, one which integrated the collective Nationalist spirit with the Socialism of diminished class divisions. It operated as a form of psychological Gleischaltung toward the increasingly totalitarian restructuring of German society in a very radical way that disrupted traditional loyalties between members of the same social class, religion and group organisation towards a more Nazified awareness and consciousness. Every single German was obligated to unite with this community, to embrace and share the common faith. According to Hitler "No one is excepted from the crisis of the Reich. This Volk is but yourselves. There may not be a single person who excludes himself from this obligation." However, the Volksgemeinschaft ideal was flawed, it was duplicitous like much of Nazi policy. Consequently it's establishment entailed various inconsistencies and contradictions. It did not totally engross the "hearts and minds" of Germany's Third Reich into a new system of nationalised beliefs and a new religious dimension that glorified the Fuhrer as cult. To be more precise, people generally accepted National Socialism as a more beneficent political way rather than zealously rejoiced in its ideology.

The revival of the economy in conjunction with Hitler's diplomatic success contributed greatly to the German worker's acceptance or at least tolerance of the regime. In material terms though, the effects varied considerably from one class to another. The propagated classless society ideal therefore can be determined as a myth especially when aligned with the Hitler's foreign policy interests where big businesses with greater economies of scale and productive efficiency had to take precedence. In consequence the Mittelstand's position, which was promised in the 1932 election to benefit under the Nazi government, continued to weaken owing to the harsh commercial realities of the 1930s. Nazi preference for big business whose support was required for rearmament simply perpetuated this trend of economic decline which...

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