There are countless theories about Why did so many Germans join Hitler’s party, National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP)but this is a subject to which relatively little empirical research has been devoted, in contrast to other more analyzed aspects, such as the terror associated with his terrible regime.
BUT NONETHELESS, Jurgen W. Falterwidely known in the world as a leading researcher on the nature of NSDAP voters and supporters, has recently published a new book in which he evaluates new historical sources and tries to return to this issue, to which he has already devoted two books and more than 1000 pages. .
In total, the author reviewed 10,000 pages of documentation, some from the Third Reich and others from the immediate aftermath. These sources shed light on what motivated so many people to join Hitler and his movement. Falter and his team systematically analyzed these documents using state-of-the-art computer analysis methods.
Falter’s findings are included in his new book “Wie ich den Weg zum Fuhrer fand“(“Why did I follow Fuhrer“) and will surely surprise some readers. We assume that Hitler was an ardent anti-Semite, a factor that played some role in uniting 40% of its partners. So far, everything more or less fits into what has been accepted so far.
Beyond anti-Semitism, anti-capitalism
However, the novelty of Falter’s research is that while antisemitism is the basis of NSDAP recruitment and explains his recruitment in the 1920s, this message fades into the background in the phase before he comes to power (1929-1932) when Hitler decided to leave his hatred of the Jews in the background, fearing that this message would scare off the masses. Apparently their extermination plans still existed, but election tactics recommended keeping silent O.
But what then attracted those 10 million Germans who joined the NSDAP, are most of them in the midst of the party or in the early stages of the Third Reich? As Falter shows, the key lies in the mixture of nationalism and socialism that wove Fuhrer. The very name of his party includes such a claim to unify both doctrines, although scholars tend to leave these ideological issues in the background, especially those concerning the economic beliefs of Hitler and his followers.
Many were attracted by the idea of ”volksgemeinschaft” (“national community”), with which Hitler intended to develop his particular way of overthrowing free market capitalism and subjecting it to rising interventionism. “The mentality of many members and supporters of his party often drank from the socialist approach,” explains Falter. Hannah Weber wrote extensively about this and emphasized that this hostile attitude towards the market contributed to and nourished the hatred of the Jewswhich Hitler intended to identify with the hated capitalism.
It is also interesting that many members of his party came from “social democrat or Marxist families,” as Falter’s analysis confirms. The experience of World War I also shaped many National Socialists. “For propaganda purposes,” explains Falter, “Hitler and the NSDAP, with their promise to create a Volksgemeinschaft that would overcome class divisions, combined with the link between nationalism and socialism implied in the name of their party, successfully used the desire of many Germans for more harmony and national unity. that grew out of the disappointing folk experience under socialism trench“.
Among the former party members who regretted their membership in the ranks of the NSDAP, socialism turns out to be, in fact, “the most frequently mentioned ideology.” when explaining your membership decision. Once again, we find that Hitlerism it included many more left-wing bases than is commonly believed, which was consistent with a party that made very aggressive statements against capitalism on an economic level.
In any case, Falter shows that there was never a single overarching reason why people joined the NSDAP. There were many different reasons and paths to the Nazi party. The great merit of Falter’s research is that these motives and paths are not included in the book as a mere assumption, but are based on the analysis of thousands of testimonies and documents of the time, analyzed by an advanced computer method. Thus, Falter’s exhaustive analysis of these primary sources ensures that his research avoids the risk of providing overly simplistic one-cause explanations and helps us to better understand the formulas that led to radicalization and convergence with the political formation that would later cause so much harm.
Rainer Zitelmann is one of the most influential liberals in Germany. He wrote extensively about the socialist elements of Nazism. On February 8, he will give a conference in Madrid to present his new book “Rich in Public Opinion”, in which he estimates that the population of Spain, Germany, France, Italy, the UK, the USA or Sweden (visit the talk Click here).