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Reece Jordan

Reece Jordan

Email: reecejordan98@hotmail.co.uk

Total Article : 200

About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.

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How Popular was the Nazi Regime? pt.5

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It is thus hard to quantify how well this boded with the German people. His argument fails to state whether the German people were able to accept such an economic advantage at the expense of a moral one. We know that this was likely the case, however. As Housden states, Official statistics showed that 2.3 million people took KdF holidays in 1934. The figure was 10.3 million in 1938” [1] and that, “the average worker would have been aware that the overall system offered both good and bad experience” but “there was always the chance of a cheap holiday.”[2] But Gellately never addresses this; his argument can thus be said to be too vague in that it he assumes this based on plebiscites: ‘The plebiscite and election have rightly been called ‘a genuine triumph for Hitler’ … at that moment the vast majority of the German people backed him’[3]. Plebiscites and the elections are unsuitable evidence to support a claim that the Nazi party was popular. As Burleigh states, “they were a purely propagandist exercise”[4] because all other political parties were outlawed, thus rendering the percentage figures (mid to high nineties) as, not a vote to display the regime’s popularity, but merely just a vote. Furthermore, we know that around 3 million people spoiled their ballot[5], which can be taken as a sign of nonconformity and resistance against the Nazis. As Gellately’s thesis is trying to establish a strong argument that the German population liked life under a Nazi regime, he may have had motive for using such dubious evidence.

 Laurence Rees reaches a similar conclusion, but his is not based on any statistical evidence, but, rather, drawn from his interviews with those who lived through the Nazi regime. He quotes his interviewee as saying, “‘I thought it was a good time. I liked it. […] there was order and discipline […] I thought it was a better time then.”[6], and goes on to appraise such comments, “it is vital that people like Erna Kranz speak out, for without their testimony an easier, less troublesome view of Nazism might prevail”[7].

Though this may hold some validity, Rees fails to appreciate the defects of such a reliance on interviews. This is mostly epitomised when he states that, “In his [the interviewee] reply he spoke, I believe, for millions of other Germans”[8].

Rees extends the personal opinion of one German to millions, which makes his argument rely too heavily on presumption. The main reason for this is most likely because Rees’ book was released alongside a BBC documentary, which means that, for the sake of viewer intrigue, it would have sought to display interviews rather than facts. Where Rees’ argument is strongest is when he uses statistics (though this is seldom) in conjunction with the interviewee’s opinion: “over 40 per cent of Germans questioned in a research project after the war said they remembered the 1930s as ‘good times’.

 

[1] Houden, M, ‘Resistance and Conformity in the Third Reich’, Routledge, 2003, pg. 45

 

[2] Houden, M, ‘Resistance and Conformity in the Third Reich’, pg. 45

[3] Gellately, R, ‘Backing Hitler’, pg.15

[4] Burleigh, M, ‘The Third Reich’, pg.155

[5] Rees, L, ‘The Nazis’, pg.63

[6] Rees, L, ‘The Nazis’ – pg.62

[7] Rees, L, ‘The Nazis’ – pg.63

[8] Rees, L, ‘The Nazis’ – pg.74

 

Image Credits: rarehistoricalphotos.com

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