Volksgemeinschaft Essay Typer

Introduction

The “marriage” of the party and the Volk (people) was celebrated once a year (mid-September) in Nazi Germany at the infamous party rally in Nuremberg. A central aspect of the Hitler State was Gleichschaltung (coordination) and hence the establishment of the Volksgemeinschaft (Volk -community). Gleichschaltung meant to bring all sectors of state and society under Nazi control. In this sense, the Nazis already could look back on remarkable achievements in 1933 as my previous essay1 points out. But what kind of resistance against this policy occurred within the German people, and where did the Nazis fail to reach their goal of total coordination? To answer this question and to measure the success of resistance, my essay will also raise the question of what role Gleichschaltung played in the establishment of the Hitler-State before the outbreak of War in 1939.

Context

Hitler began with the coordination of state governments as early as March 31, 1933. By 1938 he had finished Gleichschaltung in large parts. The Nazis controlled or influenced a lot of aspects in the lives of Germans. With promises and advantages for people who were conforming to the system, and threats and punishment for grousers, Hitler created his Volksgemeinschaft. In Nazi ideology, this meant a national community in which individuals under the higher goods of Blut, Boden und Rasse (blood/soil/race) knew their place within the larger whole, and knew how to serve the community.[2] The price paid by the Germans for this community was individuality and freedom.

A contradiction occurred when the Nazis put their ideology into practise. One of their goals was to return to a pre-industrial, classless world of rural simplicity and functionally defined social groups.[3] But at the same time, they wanted to rise up as a dominant political and military power. This created a need for more industrialisation and urbanisation. Hence, coordination as well as ideology failed to a certain degree when it was put into practise. Especially a closer look at the role of men and women points out contradictions in this context. Coordination was needed to build the Volksgemeinschaft. The ideology implied the removal of women from the labour market, because the “proper” place of women was within their home.[4] Even before the war and even though the NS regime run different programs to put across their policy, women were still an important part of the workforce in the late 1930’s. For while the proportion of female employees declined to 31 percent in 1937, the total number of working woman actually increased.[5]

In contradiction to the Weimar Republic (inflation in January 1923/ the world economic crisis in October 1929), the third Reich provided in its 1930’s a relatively stable and secure economy.[6] The Nazis smashed the trade unions and introduced instead an all-inclusive monopoly organization. All non-civil servants were organized under the supervision of the German Labour Front. It was merely used for the purpose of Gleichschaltung and did neither serve genuine economic interests nor did it regulate wages.[7] Even though the Labour Front was supposed to, among other things, wipe out the last traces of Marxism in the labour movement and gain support from the workers for the regime, it also caused discomfort. The

GeStaPo (Geheime-Staats-Polizei) provided information about disaffection among the workers in 1935.[8] The working class was concerned about high membership dues payed to the Labour Front. Even more workers complained about the KdF (Kraft durch Freude) and the required payments. In the agriculture sector, the National Food Ministry was unpopular for the same reason.[9] For as a matter of principle, the former non-Nazi organisations had cheaper membership rates.[10]

As early as 1933, the Nazis legalized the purging of members of the government bureaucracy.[11] The Nazis could then remove civil servants as well as members of the judiciary who were not conforming to the regime or who were from non-Aryan descent. But even though the NS regime eliminated most sources of opposition, they still needed the established administration and its substructure. They simply did not have enough qualified personnel to replace all employees. Instead, NSDAP members filled in key positions and others were brought “in line”.[12] Due to the fact that the personnel were in large parts the same as they had been before the Weimar Republic, it had faith in status and order. Hence, they supported the Hitler regime. But the Nazis did not have total control. The lack of total coordination became also obvious in the Judicial System. Hitler wanted a compliant and loyal body which interpreted laws in the meaning of National Socialist principles. He tried with a lot of pressure to make judges join the NSDAP and to gain control over their entire lives, as officials, and as private persons.[13] But even in 1942 he complained about judges who were not sufficiently subservient to the party.[14]

By the end of 1933, Hitler abolished the historical and constitutional rights of the states within Germany. Reich governors were, from this point onward, responsible to the

national government.[15] The NSDAP and the state stayed separated which caused rivalry between state and party offices. This problem occurred on a local, regional and district level. Further confusion accrued, because government and party positions were sometimes held by one individual on a state and department level.[16] In practice these policies complicated the relations between state and departments. They caused friction, waste and duplication, with which no doubt did not simplify the administration, but made it rather less effective. Overall, at the level of local government, total coordination was never established. 40 percent of Germany’s city majors were not in the party.[17] Ironically, the Führerprinzip which was supposed to give the Nazis more power, actually gave them less influence in this specific case: The majors had unchallenged authority within their community.

The most opposition in the political sector against the Nazi dictatorship came from Communists and especially from Social Democrats. Even though the Nazis crushed political opposition successfully by the end of 1933, some of the left wing of politics still hoped to overcome the regime.[18] They started to reorganise themselves in exile and coordinated underground work. Whilst, in some areas in Germany, terror and political pressure preluded the establishment of a solid organizational network, other areas indicated a lack of total coordination: The resistance work in some parts of Germany was hardly bothered as the Sopade (Social Democratic Party of Germany in Exile) reported in 1934.[19] Hence, in some areas, they could note down progressing criticism which was silently tolerated. This on the other hand did not mean that their actions were particular successful. Their resistance failed to reach beyond small scale activity.[20] Nevertheless, left wing opposition had been seen as a

threat by the surveillance agencies of the Reich[21]

The Nazis used media merely as a propaganda tool. Joseph Goebbels gained complete control over communication, media, the film industry, theatre and arts by March 03, 1933.[22] In this sector, the Nazis achieved their target coordination. To see how successful the Nazis were in preventing others from using these sources, the Social Democrats, whose party was banned, provide a good example. They were not able to organise their own mass newspaper. Hence, one published Magazine Zeitschrift für Sozialismus (Socialist Journal), was not able to be for the public in general, but rather only meant for underground groups.[23] Another special field of interest for the Nazis was that of the youth. Indoctrination begun as early as at the age of six when the kids entered the Volksschule (compare Table 1). At the age of ten, the kids were supposed to enter Jungmädel/Jungvolk. Besides the influence of NS ideology in the education system, the Nazis were able to gain control over every aspect of life within the youth. Various organisations helped in this process.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Table 1: [24]

[...]



[1]. Tobias Schepanek, Gleichschaltung: Nazi Accomplishments after Six Months in Power, Melbourne, Australia (attached to this essay)

[2]. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translated by Manheim, Ralph, London, Hutchinson, 1969, p. 258 (“Nation and Race”)

[3] Ibid., p.351 (“The State”)

[4] Benjamin C.Sax/ Dieter Kuntz, Inside Hitler’s Germany: A documentary history of life in the Third Reich, Mass Lexington, D.C. Heath, c1992., p.275

[5] Ibid., p.276)

[6] Ralf Dahrendorf, Society and Democracy in Germany, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson LTD, 1967, p.68)

[7] Jeremy Noakes/ Geoffrey Pridham (ed.), Documents on Nazism, 1919-1945, The Viking Press, New York, 1975, p.425 (“The organisation of German Labour: the Trustees of Labour and the German Labour Front”)

[8]. Sax, doc. 108

[9]. Dahrendorf, p.51

[10]. Sax, p.128

[11]. Ibid, doc. 32

[12]. Noakes, p.228 (“The coordination of the civil service”)

[13]. Sax, doc. 33

[14]. Ibid

[15]. Noakes, p.233 (“Party/State relations at the centre”)

[16]. Ibid.

[17]. Ibid., p. 240 (“Party/State relations at regional and local level”)

[18]. Ibid., p. 296 (“Opposition”)

[19]. Sax, doc.113

[20]. Ibid., doc. 114

[21]. Sax, doc.115

[22]. Ibid. doc.34

[23]. Ibid. doc.113

[24]. “The Path of the ‘Co-ordinated’ citizen”, quoted in Tony Barta (ed.), Nazi Germany: Understanding the Third Reich, Bundoora, Vic., La Trobe University, Department of History, c1991, p. 29

Concept of the Ideal Family Within the Volksgemeinschaft

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Concept of the Ideal Family Within the Volksgemeinschaft


Adolf Hitler and the Nazis esteemed Aryan women as heroes in Nazi Germany because of their ability to procreate. Women had no place in such an industrial society so they were encouraged to focus on their role as a dutiful wife and mother. They contributed to the Volksgemeinschaft by constructing the future generation and making more of the Aryan race. Thus, since all women were valued as the creators of the nation’s most important product—pure Aryan people—there were no restrictions on their sexual orientation. Women were allowed to become homosexuals while men were prosecuted and imprisoned for partaking in any homosexual offences. The Nazis were fervent in preserving the concept of the ideal family within the Volksgemeinschaft, and thus they reinforced masculinity within men and instilled the significance of maternity within the women.

The textbook that high school students are studying in the Santa Ana School District barely emphasizes the topic of gender in Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, these high school sophomores will not be able to understand the significance of gender nor will they be able to see Nazi Germany in a different light. The authors of the textbook, however, emphasize the maternity role of the women. The Nazis dismissed women from their upper-level occupations so they could pursue the maternal role. It was the responsibility of the women to increase the birthrate of pure-blooded Aryans. Women were even offered rewards for having more children. Although the text highlights the importance of women in their household roles, it does not offer a comparison between men and women.

The Nazis stressed the importance of maintaining a utopian society within the Volksgemeinschaft. Hitler wanted to keep Germany as pure as possible—meaning no Jews, no homosexual males, nothing outside of the citizens of the Aryan race. Laws were established to preserve the Aryan purity of Nazi Germany. The Reich Penal Code of 1871 was revised in 1935 as Germany had changed under the stronghold of its new leader, Hitler. Section 175 under the revised code listed the penalties for a sex offence between males: “A male who commits a sex offence with another male or allows himself to be used by another male for a sex offence shall be punished with imprisonment.

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Where a party was not yet twenty-one years of age at the time of the act, the court may in especially minor cases refrain from punishment” (269). Aryan men were conditioned to be masculine, intelligent, and strong. They were the husbands of Aryan women and the fathers of the future of Nazi Germany. Their purpose was to prove the prominence of the Aryan race, not to engage in sexual acts with other men. The Nazis had punished men for such homosexual acts because they believed that their ability to procreate was going to waste. They had hoped that passing firm anti-homosexual legislation would prevent the spread of homosexuality. Women, however, were not mentioned in Section 175 of the Reich Penal Code of 1871 and of the 1935 Revision. Although homosexuality in general was not an accepted lifestyle in Nazi Germany, women were not subject to such restrictions.

Women increasingly received more and more attention from the Nazis because of their fundamental roles as wives and mothers within the Volksgemeinschaft. In addition to these positions, women were an increasingly important source of labor. Nazi antifeminism, however, was still rampant in Germany. Women were not considered inferior but they were different from men. Thus, the Nazis asserted the fact that “men and women had distinct roles in life founded on their natural differences” (276). These differences between men and women resulted in women confining themselves to their natural professions—being a wife and a mother. Fortunately for the Nazis, these occupations were beneficial in advancing the development of the Volksgemeinschaft. Through marriage, which is the “lasting, life-long union of two genetically healthy persons of the same race and of different sexes, which has been approved by the national community, and is based on mutual ties of loyalty, love and respect” (282), an Aryan man and an Aryan woman are supposed to further advance the Aryan community by means of reproduction. The sole purpose of sex was to fulfill the objective of procreation. The Nazis emphasized the significance of the progression of the Aryan nation and insisted that besides procreation, there was no other purpose for sex: “If, however, the desire to have a child has been fulfilled and the continuation and enlargement of the nation has been secured by the production of a sufficient number of children, then, from the point of view of the nation, there is no objection to further satisfaction of the sexual urge” (282). The concept of motherhood was often asserted and instilled into German women. The position of a mother was heightened and given much weight in the Volksgemeinschaft:

To be a mother means giving life to healthy children, bringing to fruition all the physical, mental, and spiritual faculties in these children and creating a home for them which represents a place where nationalist and racialist culture is nurtured. It means realizing in the community of the family a part of the ideal national community and giving to the nation, in the form of grown-up children, people who are physically and mentally developed to the fullest extent, who are able to cope with life and face it boldly, who are aware of their responsibility to the nation and race, and who will lead their nation onwards and upwards (282-283).

The Nazis esteemed the role of the mother to be the most important and significant role in all of Nazi Germany. It was up to the mothers to maintain the advancement of the Aryan race. At the request of the nation, “the rights of the parents over the bringing-up of their children…have become a duty undertaken at the behest of the nation and under the supervision of the state and involving unlimited responsibility” (283). The Nazis had put so much emphasis on the progression of the Aryan race in the Volksgemeinschaft and thus had given women the responsibility of advancing the Aryan nation due to their allegiance to Nazi Germany.

There was an enormous emphasis on gender roles in Nazi Germany. Women were expelled from the work place in order to take on their roles as a wife and a mother. The concept of reproduction and procreation was in the best interests of the Aryan nation. German mothers were pushed to have children not for their own happiness and family, but to advance the Aryan population. The Nazis were determined to keep Germany pure with the Aryan race. They refused to deal with people who would pollute Germany, people such as Jews and homosexuals. The Nazis dealt with the Jews by mass extermination while German homosexuals were punished by imprisonment. They believed that German men were meant to be strong-willed husbands and fathers, not homosexuals. Homosexual men would be wasting their reproductive capabilities and, therefore, would not be assisting the rest of the nation in the advancement of the Aryan race. The consideration of gender in every aspect—marriage, family, sex, even sexual orientation—affected the Volksgemeinschft. Any ways that had threatened the purification of Germany had been outlawed. The Nazis were determined to purify Germany by all means. The Volksgemeinschaft certainly was a completely twisted and misconstrued depiction of Hitler’s utopia.



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