German Fascism: The NAZIs and Social Class

Figure 1.--This photograph is undated. All we know for sure is that the youth is in the Reichsarbietsdienst (RAD)--German Labor Service. We assume he is standing with his father. The image reflects what occurred during the NAZI era. This youth's father looks like a person with little social standing. Recgardless of this, youths who demonsdtrated political reliability and leadership skills could rise very rapidly in the new Germany. Many achieved positions and status that would have been unimginable before the NAZIs took power. Here we consider the father's pride and the youth's confidence.

The NAZIs are often considred to be a conservative force. They are often referred to as a rfight wing group in contrast to the Socialists and Communists on the left. They did indeed receive support from right-wing forces such as important industrialists and royaliss. Some of the Kaiser's family supported Hitler thinking that the NAZIs would restore the monarchy. Other groups like important elements of the middle-class supported him seeing Hitler as a conservative force. We believe that this is a misunderstanding of Hitler and the NAZIs. They were not a conservative force. Hitler was determined to carry out a through revolution in Germany life, one which he had only partly started when the War began. One of the fundamental goals was a thorogh-going social revolution. And this in part explains the devotion and support he eventually achieved. While the Kaiser resigned after the end of World War I, the Weimar Republic did not significantly change German's social structure. Germany was a class-bound country. Youth from the working-class or farm backgrounds had little chance to suceed in German life. It was hard for them to even enter secondary school. The NAZIs changed this. Under tge NAZIs, family background meant little. In the Hitler youth or the Reichsarbietsdienst boys from working-class families competed with boys from families with social status and substantial incomes. With the NAZIs political loyalty was all important. Academic opportunity opened up as well as positions in government and other areas. The NAZIs are associated withxenephobic nationalism, racial bigotry, and war crimes, less understood is the extent to which the NAZIs undercut Germany's classbound social system.



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Created: 9:21 AM 2/13/2005
Last updated: 9:21 AM 2/13/2005