What was most important in the 1930s

National Socialism

1. Historical development

National Socialism (NS) is understood to mean the völkisch-anti-Semitic-national revolutionary movement in the interwar period, which was organized in Germany as the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) and which, under Hitler's leadership, established a totalitarian dictatorship in Germany from 1933 to 1945. The NS also belongs in the context of the European fascist movements of the interwar period, which, except in Germany, came to power only in Italy on their own and without foreign military support. Because of its racial anti-Semitism and its extermination policy, the NS represents the most radical variant within the European fascisms. The history of the NSDAP is divided into the so-called movement phase (1919-1933) and the regime phase (1933-1945). Their path to power was by no means straightforward, nor did they follow a sophisticated political concept or political inevitability.

1.1 The beginnings of the NSDAP

In its early phase, the NSDAP, which emerged from the German Workers' Party, was a militant protest movement in the heterogeneous ethnic-anti-Semitic milieu with an initial focus on → Bavaria. It soon differed from the other nationalist-paramilitary associations and parties through its propaganda and the radical nature of its political appearance. The attention that the early NSDAP soon attracted had to do with the agitation activities of Hitler, who joined the party in September 1919 as a Reichswehr agent and in 1920, together with A. Drexler, put together the party program, which emphasized anti-capitalist elements A cross-section of the contemporary völkisch-nationalist mix of ideas.

Hitler's rise began as an advertising manager. His restless commitment and his missionary charisma soon gave him influential patrons and friends from the bureaucracy, the military (including E. Ludendorff) and the upper class, who offered institutional and social security to the agitator's exaltation.

The early NSDAP won its members from the disbanded military and paramilitary associations. This led to the rapid growth of the SA, which, through the influx of militarily adept leaders, became more and more an independent armed forces, albeit one that was committed to Hitler. The völkisch agitation party also attracted mainly middle-class classes, which were hit by inflation and a loss of social status. The early NSDAP did not see itself as a party, but as a revolutionary movement that wanted to eliminate the hated Weimar Republic from BY on the way of a putsch and following the example of Mussolini's "March on Rome" (1922). In autumn 1923 Hitler believed he could use the serious conflict between the Bavarian government under State Commissioner General G. Ritter von Kahr and the Reich government to signal a "March on Berlin" and the establishment of a "national dictatorship". The "Hitler putsch" of November 8/9, 1923 collapsed with the bloody disbandment of an armed demonstration on November 9, 1923. The NSDAP was banned and on April 1, 1924 Hitler was sentenced to five years imprisonment in Landsberg in a high treason trial. During his imprisonment, from which Hitler was released early on December 20, 1924, the movement, which had grown from 15,000 to 55,000 members in 1923, but was barely organized and now leaderless, broke up into several ethnic groups.

1.2 The NSDAP 1925-1933

After his release, Hitler again became the rallying point for the reconstruction of the NSDAP, which was given a new profile through a changed political strategy and a different party structure. The coup tactic was replaced by a legality tactic without renouncing political violence. Above all, Hitler now tried to turn the → Party into an instrument of the will of the Führer. His leadership role was to be justified by the drafting of his extensive program publication "Mein Kampf".

The hierarchical organization of the NSDAP was gradually expanded from 1926 by youth and student associations as well as other special organizations and professional associations to a comprehensive integration party with the aim of mobilizing and capturing the heterogeneous members and supporters with their special interests. While the state of organization and leadership in the Gauen during the founding phase of 1925/26 was still quite unstable and also programmatically varied, the Munich Reich leadership around Hitler gradually succeeded in asserting itself against centrifugal tendencies and also asserting sole ideological-propagandistic representation. The NSDAP now took on the form of a charismatic leader party, in which the will-formation related to the personal authority of the "leader" and without the participation of the members on the basis of orders and obedience from top to bottom. Intra-party groups did not organize against Hitler, but tried to win his support in the power struggle with other groupings of the party. Hitler tolerated and at times promoted the formation of groups that secured his role as the highest arbitration body. It was only when his supreme authority was in question that he intervened in the numerous internal party disputes. The political successes of the NSDAP remained limited in the years of (sham) stabilization of the Weimar Republic. In the 1928 Reichstag elections, the NSDAP received 2.6% of the vote and 12 → MPs. The party was more successful in ousting all ethnic competitors.

The phase of rebuilding followed from 1929/30 against the background of the world economic and German state crisis, the phase of ascent to a mass party. The party has been since the Reichstag elections on September 14, 1930, in which they received 6.4 million, i.e. H. Received 18.3% of the vote and 107 seats, a major political power factor, the radical agitation of which accelerated the final political crisis of the Weimar Republic. In the presidential elections in March / April. In 1932 Hitler had 36.8% of the vote, and 37.8% in the Prussian elections on April 12, 1932. The NSDAP reached its peak in the Reichstag elections on July 31, 1932 with 37.8% of the vote.

The new mass movement fundamentally changed the political landscape and above all attracted voters and members of the bourgeois parties. Only the Catholic milieu with the center and the tribe of social democratic and communist voters, who formed a solid bulwark until 1933, were able to hold their own against this pull. The NSDAP also succeeded to a large extent in mobilizing previous non-voters for itself. The number of party members grew from 27,000 at the end of 1925 to 150,000 in September 1930 to 1.4 million in January 1933. The NSDAP was a "young" party. In 1930 almost 70% of the members were younger than 40 years, 37% younger than 30 years. Of the party functionaries 65% were under 40, 26% under 30. The social base of the mass movement was mainly recruited from the broad spectrum of the evangelical rural and middle class. Self-employed people from the liberal professions, from handicrafts and trades, employees and civil servants were over-represented in the NSDAP - measured by the proportion of the respective group in the number of all employed persons. At the same time, however, the workers were numerically the strongest social group within party membership, even if they were underrepresented in the NSDAP as measured by the proportion of the total labor force. After 1930, dignitaries also confessed to the NSDAP. It therefore developed into a "nationalistic people's party" that tended to encompass all social classes and whose social profile has changed again and again in the course of the party's history.

The integration of the various interests addressed by the NSDAP and its branches or subsidiary organizations made Hitler indispensable as a leader and figure of integration. The attractiveness of the Hitler party did not lie in concrete social and political programs, but in the cult around Hitler, who was expected and cheered as a savior and innovator. With the popular community slogan, which had an impact on the masses, the most diverse expectations for the lifting of all class and class barriers as well as for status retention were addressed as well as the hope of other groups for social mobility.

In no case can the dynamic of the National Socialist faith and protest movement be explained with material support from big industry. The massive propaganda campaigns of the NSDAP were financed primarily by the members and their contributions as well as by entrance fees, then by the help of sympathizers, especially with small and medium-sized companies. There is no evidence of continuous financial support for the NSDAP by big industry. In addition, the behavior of big industry towards the NSDAP and Hitler's participation in government in 1932/33 was very inconsistent; only a small faction supported Hitler. More important was the role of big business and other traditional power elites in the destruction of parliamentary democracy in favor of an authoritarian form of government, which in the end could not assert itself before the onslaught of the NSDAP.

Source: Andersen, Uwe / Wichard Woyke (ed.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 7th, updated Aufl. Heidelberg: Springer VS 2013. Author of the article: Hans-Ulrich Thamer