Untitled Essay Research Paper Hitler and the — страница 3

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economy;and small shopkeepers whose traditional niche markets were being colonised by new department and chain stores.These three factions of the petty bourgeois had one common denominator – an increasing reliance on the money lender who was,unfortunately,usually Jewish and hence were susceptible to the offering of a scapegoat for their problems.Dick Geary tells of how,on average,this lower-middle class constituted 19% of the Nazi party membership – a massive over-representation in terms of their size in the country as a whole (10).It is clear therefore that when Hitler set about bringing the German Mittelstand over to his way of thinking,his job was already half-done. So far,I have neglected to write of any working class support for the Nazis – for the simple reason that

there wasn’t much of it,in relation to their size throughout the country as a whole,until well into the depression of the 1930s.When the NSDAP came into being,as a party commited to Socialism as much as Nationalism,popular(ie middle class) support was scant.On his release from prison Hitler decided that to obtain power through democratic means,he had to shed his party’s reputation for being radical and “socialistic” and to this end he sought to forge closer ties with the conservative right and hence middle Germany.In an interview with a ‘left-wing’ member of his party,one Otto Strasser,Hitler was quizzed on why his priorities had changed. If the move to middle Germany meant losing the support of a few workers,then this was regrettable but acceptable since”The mass

of the working classes…will never fully understand the meaning of the ideal,and we cannot hope to win them over to it”(11) .In any case,Hitler argued,the important differential was not class,since the present class pyramid would never change.His justification for this prediction?”That is how it has been for thousands of years,and that is how it shall always be”.Such prophesies were music to the ears of the reactionary petty bourgeois. Unfortunately for the Nazis,the years 1924-1928 were to be Weimar’s strongest period – the Dawes plan was taking effect and the republic had acquired a degree of economic prosperity which did not leave either the conservative right or,as Daniel Guerin asserts, the wealthy industrialists inclined to fill Nazi coffers(12).Such a witholding

of support was reflected by the poor Nazi parliamentary showing during this period – winning an average of only 19 seats in each of the 3 elections during that period (13).The resumption of funding when the depression set in – and the corresponding increase in the National Socialist vote – underlines their part in Hitler’s rise to power. Emil Kirdorf,owner of the powerful Gelsenkirchen metal trust,inadvertently betrayed this opportunistic attitude towards the fascist cause when,as an elderly 89 year old,he later declared:”When I think back over my life,I cannot be too thankful to God for giving me a long life…and thus making it possible for me to come to the assistance,at the opportune moment[my italics],of our beloved Fuhrer”(14) Their heavy financial backing does

not,however,mean that the non-contributing youth were any less important to the Nazi accesion.The Nazi appeal to youth proved particularly strong – its dynamic style of politics,its proclaimed aim of breaking down class barriers,its leader-follower relationship,and its distinctly young leadership could almost have been tailored to attract youngsters.In return for the staging of these grand parades and rallies,the Nazis earned the right to call themselves the party of the future – a most favourable description as the failures of Germany’s aristocratic past were having all too tangible consequences for the youth of the day.Many middle class youngsters saw the Nazi movement as a means to destroy both the hidebound conventions and social barriers associated with the older

generation and as a national crusade to restore Germany to greatness.The actual policies were not,however,the most important facets of the Nazi party’s appeal to youth.In accordance with the teachings of Gustave Le Bon (15) and other late 19th century anti-rationalists,the charismatic,purely unintellectual element of Hitler would prove to be the element most effective in winning over his subjects who were ruled first and foremost by their emotions.The cynical targetting of youngsters,who are perhaps the most emotional sector of society,is summarised in the lament of one German Protestant school master who declares in an official report to the school governors that his fifth formers were “not really much concerned with the study of Hitler’s thoughts”,it was