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Lecture notes (week three): NS Propaganda and Popular Opinion

Power Point lecture NS-Propaganda 

Lecture 13

Social Revolution?

  • egalitarianism of 1920 programme
  • supports small business against big business cartels & department stores
  • promises protection of farmers against banks
  • promises workers heightened status but not raised wages
  • but not socialist in terms of nationalisation of private property

Historians’ views

  • Ralf Dahrendorf (1965): destruction by Nazis & war unwittingly modernises German society
  • David Schoenbaum (1966): vocational schemes & upwards mobility explain NS popularity
  • Lutz Niethammer (1980s): four-tier roots change:
  • Depression (breaks up working-class milieu)
  • NS policies (creates some upward mobility)
  • war & postwar (1943-48)
  • Americanisation

Volksgemeinschaft (People’s Community)

  • ‘society’ viewed as artificial product of industrial revolution; ‘community’ organic & positive
  • Volksgemeinschaft designed to replace class divisions with racial belonging
  • Aryan members of ‘in-group’ Volksgenossen (people’s comrades)
  • non-Aryan ‘out-group’ of Gemeinschaftsfremde (community aliens), incl. Jews, gypsies, asocials

Workers: Carrot and Stick Policies

  • Hitler’s fear of repeat of 1918 ‘stab in the back’ by militant working class
  • but no strikes in Third Reich (unlike in Fascist Italy in March 1943 & 1944)
  • 1933 smashing of trade unions, outlawing of leftist parties (KPD & SPD)
  • 1934 authoritarian shopfloor relations (master-retinue, Gestapo informants, concentration camps)
  • workers lose political power but retain some economistic power (job-switching, go-slows)
  • 1939: outbreak of war overtime banned, but Nazis have to backtrack in face of worker discontent
  • Discipline of Eastern Front; work of Alf Lüdtke on loyal, anti-semitic worker-soldiers
  • Strength through Joy: incl package holidays, Rhine cruises & Black Forest; KdF-Wagen (Beetle)
  • Beauty of Labour: superficial attempt to cheer up work surroundings, add sports facilities
  • slave labour: by 1944 7 million foreign workers in Reich; upward mobility for German unskilled

Women: Between Production and Reproduction

  • women’s organisations: NS-Frauenschaft for elite, but poor take-up of mass Frauenwerk
  • girls’ membership of Bund deutscher Mädel not compulsory; no threat of draft
  • positive eugenics (marriage allowances, Mother’s Cross); modest rise in birth-rate
  • negative eugenics (sterilisation programme)
  • initial drive from workplace, esp. of ‘double earners’
  • wartime mobilisation, esp. with ‘Total War’ in 1943; relative failure
  • women as social leaders (lone parents, black marketeering, rubble clearance)

War and Social Change

  • does war speed up social changes (Trotsky: ‘war is the locomotive of social change’)?
  • does war put on ice the ambitious social engineering projects?
  • Is it the aftermath of war which sees most change
  • cf standards of living under Third Reich & West Germany’s economic miracle (guns OR butter)

• cf standards of living under Third Reich & West Germany’s economic miracle (guns OR butter)

Religious Policy

  • 63% of Germans nominally Protestant; 33% Catholic, but secularisation beginning
  • Hitler believes in Providence, but despises Christianity, although not publicly anti-religious
  • Paganism: NS cult of Wotan, runes & pre-Christian ritual
  • 1933 Protestant Church leaders welcome Machtergreifung as part of spiritual re-awakening
  • German Christians: believe in nationalism & popular church led by Ludwig Müller
  • Confessional Church: authentic evangelicals, incl Niemöller & Bonhoeffer who oppose
  • July 1933 Vatican signs Concordat (no political Catholicism, but state accepts church orgs.)
  • Oldenburg crucifix struggle: control of public space in schools
  • 1939 Catholic youth organisations dissolved; Hitler Youth has monopoly
  • Euthanasia: bishop Galen of Westphalia opposes
  • Wartime return to religiosity: fear of death & church as only non-Nazi social structure