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To what extent did Hitlers Policies attract working class support between 1933 and 1939?

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Introduction

To what extent did Hitler's Policies attract working class support between 1933 and 1939? It has been argued that resentment amongst the working classes made this group most resistant to the Nazi regime. Growing resentment seemed apparent in the late thirties, in industrial slowdowns, but it fails to accurately reflect the general sentiment amongst workers. Declining working class support was arguably inevitable when economic promises went unfulfilled, as most historians agree efforts to instill Nazi ideology were least effective amongst workers. Many industrial workers remained influenced by enduring affiliations to the opposing ideology of Communism and its "class struggle". These values represented a barrier to support, which Bartov argued policy could never overcome: making the working class issue, "the most significant case in point as regards the Nazi Regime's failure"1 to overcome class boundaries. The lack of ideological commitment amongst workers prompted Hitler's grandiose economic promises. Support was therefore constantly reliant on economics and the ability to create jobs in the midst of a depression. This made support fragile and temporary: propaganda emphasis on workers' importance provided little comfort during economic instability. Leisure opportunities provided by Strength Through Joy (KdF) were received gratefully, and although ideological impact was limited, the scheme convinced some workers conditions were improving under the regime. Just like the initial economic recovery, its effect was superficial support limited, as the regime's values failed to penetrate working class psyche. ...read more.

Middle

of class struggle, the opportunity of middle class leisure activities alone was enough to convince of a concerted effort to improve conditions and this SOPADE account reflects resignation to attraction of superficial policies for less ideologically opposed workers. SOPADE reports are fascinating due to the variety of opinion which was obtained by their national investigations. One report claimed workers felt "sand [was] being thrown in their eyes"19. This could imply KdF was largely unpopular, or that while its propagandist intentions were too apparent, its benefits and emphasis on workers' livelihood encouraged greater sympathy with the regime. Ultimately these reports reflect despair that by 1939 social policy had increased workers' support: overpowering negative reaction to reduced freedoms. Popularity seems validated by participating numbers: almost 7million short trips in 193820, but ideological infiltration is inherently unquantifiable. Enjoyment of holidays provided only a temporary morale boost and could not affect significant changes in political disposition, in the long term. On top of this generality, the older industrial workers were too "deeply imbued with Marxist ideas of class conflict to yield directly to its appeal"21, which confirms Evans' judgment that superficial social policy would inevitably fail in its wider propaganda function. This imbalance in political sentiment actually led KdF to accentuate class differences amongst workers and the nation as a whole. SOPADE observed middle classes chosing trips with "a more select clientele"22, which clarifies existing prejudices and the lack of integration which arguably represented failure. ...read more.

Conclusion

19 September 1994, pp. 38-40 11 Robert Ley, Speech May 1, 1993 12 Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham, Nazism 1919-1945, Volume Two: State, Economy and Society 1933-1939: A Documentary Reader, University of Exeter Press,2000, (pg 149) 13 Tim Mason, The Worker's Opposition in Nazi Germany. Oxford University Press, pg 122 14 Robert Ley: Speech, May 1941 15 Evans, Richard (2005). The Third Reich in Power. London: Penguin. pp 465 16 Adolf Hitler, 1933 17 SOPADE Berichte 1938 p 172 18 Evans, Richard (2005). The Third Reich in Power. London: Penguin. pp 466 19 Behnken (ed.), Deutschland-Berichte, VI (1939), 468. 20 Fundamente des sieges: Des Gesamtarbeit der deutsches Arbeitsfront, 1933 bis 1940, ed. Otto Marrenbach (Berlin 1941) p 325. 21 Evans, Richard (2005). The Third Reich in Power. London: Penguin. pp.492 22 SOPADE Berichte 1939 p472 23 Adolf Hitler, 1939, 24 Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship, 3rd edition, 1993, pp. 145-6 25 Quoted in- Martin Collier and Philip Pedley, Germany 1919-45, Heinemann, Oxford, 2000 (pg202) 26 Cited in Schneider, Untern Hakenkreuz, 678 27 G. Starcke, Die Deutchshe Arbeitsfront - Berlin 1940 - p124 28 Evans, Richard (2005). The Third Reich in Power, London: Penguin. pp501 29 Omer Bartov, The Missing Years: German Workers, German Soldiers (Neil Gregor, Nazism, pg 272) 30 Tim Mason, The Worker's Opposition in Nazi Germany. Oxford University Press, pg 120 31 M. Housden,"Germans and their opposition to the Third Reich" in History Review, No. 19 September 1994, pp. 38-40 32 SOPADE report, Spring 1937 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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