Hitler's Social Revolution; Class and Status in Nazi Germany, 1933-1939
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"Two decades since its fall and over three since its rise, we know much about the Third Reich. The careers and personalities of its leaders have been reviewed at length. Its foreign policy, military operations, ideology, institutions, press, economy, and art, schools and universities, its conduct of justice and mass extermination-all have captured the historical imagination, all been analyzed and reported in detail. In turn, they have been subsumed in the common denominators of totalitarianism and fascism. What remains is more detail. The odds are against a documentary Rosetta stone, capable by itself of casting new and pervasive light on what till now has been unrelieved darkness. Despite all we know, a lot remains to be understood. The Third Reich was the closest approximation to date of those "last days of mankind" that Karl Kraus had already anticipated a decade before Adolf Hitler's appointment as Reichskanzler. This is presumably self-evident to all but the ignorant or the willful, and acceptable to Germans and non-Germans, East and West alike. But how it happened, why it happened, what it specifically meant to those to whom it happened-these are matters of understanding. They are no less matters of controversy..."
and to enjoy foreign contacts, in the form of birth, travel, education, or marriage, to a greater extent than other groups, and in a manner commensurate with their bourgeois origins. Compared to other groups, the “propagandists” were outstandingly young—93 per cent under 50 compared with 79.2 per cent of the administrators and 56.3 per cent of a random sample of the total76—and well educated—50 per cent of the “propagandists” had been to universities compared with 25 per cent of the
decision to yield power to this particular mass movement was a fatal illusion, the decision to yield power to a mass movement at all was, in its way, a moment of truth. It was also only a step from here to the conclusive demoralization of the industrialists, the intimidation of the generals, and the capitulation of the civil service that followed.3 What had not happened in 1918 happened in 1933. Nazi élan had its complement in the shattered self-confidence of the old social elites. Like the
plants. A further directive authorized the Trustee to order the presence of the “leader,” the chairmen of the board of directors, for example, at the new council’s meetings.55 Court decisions reflected in part the actual power situation within the new institutional framework. In a typical case, an employer had fired the Labor Front representative (Betriebsobmann) in his shop, claiming the man was personally unqualified for his job. A labor court declared the dismissal illegal. “The employer
Baden where the creation of new co-operatives was officially banned—Berlin was not prepared to see them go under. Ley threatened the exclusion of any Party member who laid a finger on them and was supported by Economics Minister Schmitt. The co-operatives were accordingly absorbed in the Labor Front, though as a subsidiary of the banking organization. Their top offices were meanwhile occupied almost entirely by deserving Alte Kämpfer, creating an additional, non-economic vested interest in the
list of sixteen upper ranks—from Regierungsrat (second civil service rank) to Ministerialrat—on provisional status in September 1939 included only two membership numbers over one million. Of the sixteen, twelve were forty or under, seven were thirty-five or under.60 This was accompanied by a notable amount of un-Prussian corruption. An intraministerial survey in April 1934 revealed that Goebbels’ staff had found jobs for 192 of their relatives in the Reich radio alone; a survey of the Ministry’s