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Did Hitler succeed in creating a Volksgemeinschaft?

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    Hitler had a vision- he wanted to use his power to create Volksgemeinschaft, what he called the ‘all pure’ German nation. Hitler interpreted the social revolution as an uncontaminated ‘Aryan’ nation working together for the benefit of the German people and ultimately achieving total national economic self-sufficiency; otherwise known as autarky. Hitler and the Nazis knew that they would have to radically change the system of the country under previous leadership of the Weimar Republic- extinguishing “outsiders” and establishing one social class.

    However, not all of these ideals were “new” to the country, their philosophy regarding some respects to Volksgemeinschaft were not revolutionary. Nazism was a society of the extreme right, and revolutions are normally associated with left-wing political parties. Debates have been raised on this matter; Pro-Nazi revolution historian David Schoenbaum has argued that “Nazism was a powerful and original force in German culture”.He acknowledged that the Third Reich perceived many of the conventional changes one links with an embryonic industrial society, also claiming that “the Nazis effectively anticipated an image of a society without the associated class differences”.

    The Nazi citizens quoted about themselves, “United like no other in recent German history, a society of opportunities for young and old. ” Nazism was a close culture, but in saying this we are also admitting that getting rid of the “impure bloods”, or Gemeinschaftsunfahig, to create complete Volksgemeinschaft was wrong and takes away morality from the ‘close’ people.Another Nazi historian, Hiden, agrees with this view- “The persecution of hundreds of thousands of Germans by the Hitler regime serves to illustrate that the dissent and nonconformity must have been widespread. ” This statement goes as far in saying that civil unrest did arise in Nazi Germany, therefore a successful social revolution had not been fully accomplished.

    Starting a social revolution involves creating a new way of life for the people. Hitler’s plans for world domination began in his book “Mein Kamp”. It was in this that he expressed his plans to alter the German Youth.They were to be completely converted into Volksgenossen- Aryan children.

    Young Germans were to be brought up as good National Socialists and become loyal followers of Hitler. “In our eyes the German Youth of the future must be slim and Slender, swift as the greyhound, tough as leather and hard as Krupp steel. ” A. Hitler From the moment Hitler became the leader of the Nazi Party he realised the importance of educating, hence controlling, young Germans according to Nazi ideals.

    It was the young who would become the future leaders and army of Nazi Germany and the Aryan masters of Europe.A revolutionary idea incorporated by the Nazis was to change the structure of the schooling system- in this way, Hitler would manage to convey his message to every child as schooling was compulsory. A portrait of Adolf Hitler hung in every classroom and Nazi teachers used every subject to promote Nazi doctrines. As the boys were to be the soldiers of the nation in future years, military skills were taught and more time was devoted to physical education and less to studying.

    The future role of the girls was to be good mothers and be the perfect housekeeper and wife for the working men.Their lessons were based around looking after the home and family. Biology lessons were used to teach Nazi racial ideas i. e.

    no mixing of Aryan blood, and History also emphasised Nazi themes of racial struggle as well as German Heroes. Hitler believed that to be a “proper” Nazi, people had to follow Nazism and not other faiths. Hitler was the Fuhrer, or leader, of the ‘Nazi religion’ and to ensure that the Youth agreed with this, he abolished Religious Education lessons and Nazi ideals were taught instead.Special Nazi schools were also created such as the Adolf Hitler School and ‘Napolas’- army cadet academies.

    Every child aspired to gain admission to these and this helped to establish the Nazi policies even more on the students who excelled. The Nazification of schools was effective as pupils were educated in such a politically biased manner that most of the Youth wholeheartedly put their trust in Nazism. “We do not need intellectual leaders who create new ideas, because the super-imposing leader of all desires of youth is Adolf Hitler. ” Baldur von Shirach, Leader of the Hitler Youth movement.

    The Nazis realised that they had to control children’s’ lives out of school as well to maintain total support, hence creating total Volksgemeinschaft. A method used to do this was the creation of the Hitler Youth (Hitler Jugend). By 1936, every child had to be a member of this society and all other youth groups were banned- this implying that the minds of the children could not be affected by other influences, therefore resulting in success for the revolution. Uniforms were issued and children received political, military and racial instruction- exercising Nazi ideals.

    Patriotism and the Fuhrer cult were evoked in songs and poems and Propaganda was constant towards the Youth- rallies, theatre productions, radio stations and comics such as ‘Jung Welt’ were all used to indoctrinate the young. Fun activities such as hiking expeditions helped to keep the children interested, and they grew to love Hitler. The Nazis managed to enforce their principles of the social revolution on the children at Hitler Youth Camps- emphasis was placed on competitiveness and achievement and children were rewarded for sports and vocational competitions with prizes. Live Faithfully, Fight Bravely, Die Laughing! ” Hitler Youth motto for boys.

    “Be Faithful, Be Pure, Be German. ” Hitler Youth motto for girls. However, not all Youth were to accept the Nazi rules. Certain Swing Groups, who were influenced by American Culture which was seen in Germany before the depression, were a small threat to Hitler.

    The Nazis considered the people to be “criminals”- they were mainly middle to upper-class who had money and were anti-politics. Also, more popular and rebellious Youth groups were created.The Edelweiss Pirates were estimated to have had 2,000 members by 1939. They had their own badges with skull and crossbones on them underlining that Hitler’s views were evil and that they were to not be associated with his regime.

    As parts of the Youth of Germany were not willing to contribute to the Social Revolution, this implies that Volksgemeinschaft had not been fully achieved. However, historian A. Wilt argued that, “It has been estimated that as many as 95 per cent of the German youth backed the Nazis; and that opposition for the most part remained vague and diffuse.In this respect, the vast majority of the Youth were willing to sacrifice themselves for Hitler’s Germany and this suggests that unity had occurred, resulting in the Nazis successfully converting “the minds of the young”.

    This was essential for Volksgemeinschaft to fully happen. Women in Nazi Germany were to have a very specific role and Hitler was keen to endorse this. The ideology was that they should be good mothers and bring up the children in a loving Nazi household while their husbands worked. Outside of certain specialist fields e.

    g. nursing, Hitler saw no reason why a woman should work.Her “World is her husband, her family, her children and her home”. Education taught girls from the earliest of years that this was the lifestyle they should have.

    As soon as they were old enough to attend, girls were taught in their schools that the wife’s task was to keep a decent home for her working husband and to have children. The Nazis tried to achieve this by using the Law for the Encouragement of Marriage passed in 1933- This stated that all newly married couples would get a government loan of 1000 marks, resulting in 800,000 newlyweds taking up this offer. This loan was not to be simply paid back.Having two children meant that fifty per cent of the loan was cleared and having four resulted in the loan being wiped out altogether.

    The aim of this law was to encourage married couples to have as many children as they could. As Germany grew, the country would need more soldiers and mothers; hence an increase in population was required. If ‘Lebensraum’ was to be successfully carried out, Hitler needed the manpower to fill the vacant spaces in Eastern Europe. However, encouraging more births was not a revolutionary idea- in the 1920s France encouraged larger families.

    This suggests that Hitler’s Volksgemeinschaft would not be a completely new social revolution. Such was the desire to increase the German population that in 1943, a law was proposed among Nazi leaders that all women- married or single- should have four children and that the father of these children had to be “racially pure”. If a family already had four children, the father from that family had to be released to father more children outside of his marriage to help build the Aryan Race. This law would have contradicted Nazi ideology as family life was encouraged, and this completely overrules this.

    Women were not expected to work in Nazi Germany. In the days of the Weimar Republic, there had been 100. 000 female teachers, 3,000 female doctors and 13,000 female musicians. With Hitler in power, many of these women were sacked and by 1939, very few German women were in full-time work.

    This suggests that Hitler had achieved Volksgemeinschaft for women but in 1937 a law was passed which meant women had to do “a duty year” due to the worker’s shortage. Although the Nazis said this was women working ‘patriotically’, it really contradicted one of Hitler’s main ideals- a woman’s place is at home.Regarding this, a social revolution was not created. Another main ideal that Hitler had for the women of his Volksgemeinschaft was that they were to be equal in appearance.

    They were not allowed to wear make-up or trousers and dying of the hair was prohibited. Hitler believed that women’s behaviour under Weimar ruling was “sluttish and “whore-like” and he wanted to create “proper women” once more. They were also discouraged from slimming as this was considered bad for childbirth. After all, the main objective for a woman in Nazi Germany was to produce the Aryan generation which would be crucial for total Volksgemeinschaft to occur.

    Also, women were not allowed to smoke because it was ‘non-Aryan’ to do so. In Nazi Germany, there was a view held that it was not considered a social problem if an unmarried woman had a child, it was even encouraged. Hitler introduced Lebensborns which were buildings where women could go to become pregnant by a “racially pure” SS man. The government openly publicised them and the Nazis were prepared to go to these lengths in order to create the Aryan race.

    Also, because breeding a stock of Aryan people was essential in the eyes of the Fuhrer, legal divorces were made much easier to obtain.A marriage which was not producing children for the national community was seen as ‘worthless’. This helped Hitler to create the personnel for his Volksgemeinschaft. To combat against women working, the Nazis issued restriction on women’s employment in the Civil Service- in October 1933, the official guidelines for recruiting stated, “In the event of males and females being equally qualified for employment in public service, the male applicant should be given preference.

    ” This shows Hitler trying to achieve his aims, therefore partially achieving social revolution as women remained at home.Overall, the Nazi policies towards women suffered from several contradictions. Family life was promoted as an Aryan family would provide the base for Hitler’s Volksgemeinschaft and propaganda was used to encourage this. However, several of the Nazi policies undermined the family and its ways of life.

    The demands of the Hitler Youth took women away from the family and the quest for the genetically pure race led to the encouragement of divorce. Also, the Lebensborn programmes encouraged promiscuity as in a way they were ‘state-run brothels’.Another contradiction occurred when dealing with the Nazis attempt to drive women back into the home. The number of women in all employment areas increased, mainly due to the economic recovery.

    By 1936, the economy was suffering from a labour shortage in key areas and, by 1939, this had become acute. In 1943 Hitler had to reside to the fact that women had to register to work in order for the country to carry on functioning due to the war. This opposes all of Hitler’s aims for Volksgemeinschaft, suggesting that women were not a successful part of it. Nevertheless, Hitler had been successful in some areas for women.

    The number of Aryan births increased rapidly during the Nazi reign and this was possibly the area which Hitler was most concerned about- to achieve an Aryan Volksgemeinschaft, he needed the Aryan people. Also, the welfare of the German people improved- the infant mortality dropped to 6. 6 per cent in 1936 from 7. 7 per cent in 1933.

    It was a main aim of Hitler that his Volksgemeinschaft consisted of healthy Aryans. Historian Ute Frevert argues that, “The woman who satisfies the political, racial and social requirements…

    .. did not perceive the Third Reich as a woman’s hell.Much of what was introduced was doubtlessly appealing.

    ” Until preparation for the war, ideals for Nazi women were firmly in place and were successful but it was the intervention in 1939 which caused Hitler to contradict his Volksgemeinschaft morals, thus meaning a social revolution regarding women began to fall apart. In the words of Tim Mason, “In respect of it’s attitudes and policies towards women…

    . the most repressive and reactionary of all modern political movements. ” The 1930s were difficult years for Christianity as Hitler stated in his Volksgemeinschaft that “you could either be a Christian or a German”.Despite this conflict there was some clear similarities between the two.

    Throughout the history of religion, the Church had always wanted to control the affairs of the county; Hitler and the Nazis wanted that power which the Church possessed. As the Church had still not been overturned by 1939, it can be concluded that a complete Social Revolution had not taken place. The Church was known for it’s wide respect and ability to comfort people who were in need. Many outsiders suffered throughout the Nazi regime and most turned to the Church for help.

    The Nazis did not want the Church ‘pitying’ those who did not fit in to the Volksgemeinschaft. Some similarities between the two groups include the importance of the family, hostility to communism and anti-Semitism. Hitler however wanted to replace Christianity with Nazism followed and practiced by the Aryan race- the Church stated that there is no superior race. If Hitler had succeeded in overthrowing the Church during his reign then this would have contributed greatly in a true Social Revolution, as this had never been done previously.

    German Christians wanted to Nazify Christianity but war interrupted this and after the war the fall of the Nazis prevented the destruction of the faith. Therefore, without managing to diminish the Church, Volksgemeinschaft had not been fully achieved. Hitler’s methods were to control the Church, reduce their influence then finally replace them. Nazis attacked the Catholic Churches and Priests, while Protestant Churches were traditionally Nationalist and had supported Conservative parties during the Weimar Republic.

    To gain the support of the Catholic Church, a Concordat (which allowed the Church religious freedom) was created in July 1933.It stated that the Church would not interfere with German politics. This agreement contradicted Gleichschaltung (bringing all under control) and therefore with the legislation in place, a Volksgemeinschaft of the Aryan people could not be established. The German Christians were helping to establish a new Reich Church and in 1933 Hitler appointed Ludwig Muller as Reich Bishop.

    This did create much opposition, over 100 breakaway pastors created the Confessional Church- It was not strictly anti-Nazi but was established to keep the traditional Protestantism from political control.This therefore suggests that without the demolition of this movement, Volksgemeinschaft had not fully been achieved. “The churches were the only institutions which both had an alternative ‘ideology’ to that of the regime and were permitted to retain their own organisational autonomy. This made them a major obstacle to the Nazi attempt to establish total control over German life.

    ” J. Noakes (Nazi Historian) The outsiders, or Gemeinschaftsunfahig, contaminated Germany in the eyes of Hitler.Those who fell into this category were the Ideological parties such as Communists who would corrupt the minds of young Germans, the biologically unfit such as handicapped people (even colour-blindness resulted in sterilisation showing the radical nature of the regime), the socially unfit e. g.

    those who were work shy and homosexuals were also prohibited. The Nazis did not hesitate when dealing with people who feel into these categories- they were either sent to concentration camps or sterilised. Only when these people did not exist in the German nation could it be called a Volksgemeinschaft.Euthanasia was greatly favoured by the Nazis as a save of economical resources- “A handicapped soul is a useless soul”.

    Films were made to make people aware of the mentally ill and scare people of them. This technique used by the Nazis was extremely successful as it encouraged the healthy to believe that euthanasia was ok and even people outside the Nazi party supported this. This implies that Volksgemeinschaft was achieved as people discriminated against the asocials- people that Hitler did not want in Nazi Germany. The most abused were the Jews.

    The Nazis used propaganda as a method to encourage people to show prejudice against them. Anti-Jewish text books for the school children were issued throughout Nazi Germany and this encouraged the Youth to hate the religion and the people who believed in it. Nazi children were led to believe that Jews were responsible for the death of Christ. These methods were successful in turning the Aryan people against the Jews, exactly what Hitler wanted in his quest for total Volksgemeinschaft.

    The great discrimination against the weak is not revolutionary and is seen in everyday life through legal abortions.The asocials were the gypsies, beggars, alcoholics, prostitutes, eccentrics, the work shy and juveniles. All those who refused to work “gave offence to the Nazi Community”. In 1933 there was a collection of those who refused to work, and they were sent to concentration camps.

    As far as creating a Volksgemeinschaft was concerned, this was a good idea as it decreased unemployment and got rid of those who were not part of Hitler’s future German nation. Over six million Jews were killed in concentration camps away from the public eye.The tactics deployed by the Nazis were deliberate as if these mass murders were committed publicly, it would have surely driven away members of the German Aryan Nation. Selecting people for his community but yet still exterminating those from the same county who did not fit in suggests that Hitler encountered disunity and this would therefore prevent complete Volksgemeinschaft.

    Historian J. Hiden commented, “The persecution of hundreds of thousands of Germans…

    . dissent and nonconformity must have been widespread. ” Groups did oppose Hitler and his Nazi regime but if they were caught, execution would be the result.A student named Sophie Scholl joined the anti-Nazi group “White Rose”- She distributed anti-Nazi pamphlets and encouraged people to speak up against Hitler.

    Some teachers also opposed the Nazi view; they secretly taught children old ideals away from the public eye. The Marxist Tim Mason concluded that, “The working class showed considerable non-conformism and even wildcat strikes and sabotage” in their protesting against Social Revolution. From 1942, the Army even showed unwillingness to co-operate with the Nazis. Also, Judges tried to maintain a proper standard of justice.

    Although opposition was shown, the Nazis overcame these because one party ruled the country. All others were banned from the Reichstag and this tactic deployed by Hitler was successful as he could pass laws that only he wanted, no votes were needed. Also, because there was not a party strong enough to oppose the Nazis, a “proper standard of justice” was impossible to maintain. However there were three main assassination attempts of Hitler suggesting that a complete Social Revolution had not been formed, but his narrow survival did spark national celebration.

    Although there seemed to be minimal opposition, Nazi Historian M. Housden explains, “In the Third Reich, a person needed courage just to say ‘hello’ in the street to someone wearing a yellow star. ” Using this evidence, it seems acceptable to say that there were lots of Nazi opposition, but the people were too afraid to speak out. This proposes the idea that a total Social Revolution had not been formed.

    It can be concluded that Social Revolution was introduced to Germany but was not fully accomplished by Hitler due to the short amount of time he had to establish his rules.To a large extent, Hitler was successful because there was a return to the traditional values which is what he desired- women were seen as the homemakers who raised the children and looked after the house, and farming became the subject of very positive propaganda. The racial policies were very much enforced, with Jews, Blacks and Gypsies all being sent to concentration camps. Similarly, the same went for those who did not support the party.

    Additionally, the euthanasia projects of the late 1930s ‘assisted’ those who were not able-bodied, leaving the country ‘pure’.Changes like this to society point directly to a social revolution. Support for the party and leader increased with the introduction of the Nazi education system and the Hitler Youth. This group promoted the Nazi ways and discipline style to younger generations, and family values were promoted throughout Germany- another change to social life and behaviour.

    However there are areas which suggest that Hitler was not successful in his mission for Volksgemeinschaft. First and foremost, Hitler needed the elites- big businesses, landowners, Junkers the Church and the army.Without these elements supporting the Party, Hitler would lose massive amounts of influence and control, and the fact that they still existed goes against the proposed classless society. Another point of Volksgemeinschaft was that Hitler would have complete control over the State, which he did not have.

    Due to Hitler’s need to pursue foreign policy targets, this scheme was a failure. The war effort and attempts to obtain autarky led to many changes to an already disturbed society. Also, it would be impossible for Hitler to exterminate everybody that did not match his Volksgemeinschaft criteria, as they were imperative to the war effort.In contrast to the nationalistic point of Aryan workers was the fact that foreign workers were readily used on farms all the able men were conscripted to the army.

    This contradicts the traditional way of life Hitler had promised for Volksgemeinschaft. Also, due to the preparation for the war, women were needed in the factories- once again opposing the traditional lifestyle Hitler wanted for women. As Ian Kershaw explains, the Nazi regime was “a physiological ‘revolution’ rather than one of substance”. Minds had to be won over before a ‘full’ social revolution could take place.

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