Non-Fiction Books:

Visions of Community in Nazi Germany

Social Engineering and Private Lives


Paperback / softback

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Visions of Community in Nazi Germany
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When the Nazis seized power in Germany in 1933 they promised to create a new, harmonious society under the leadership of the Fuumlhrer, Adolf Hitler. The concept of Volksgemeinschaft - 'the people's community' - enshrined the Nazis' vision of society'; a society based on racist, social-Darwinist, anti-democratic, and nationalist thought. The regime used Volksgemeinschaft to define who belonged to the National Socialist 'community' and who did not. Being accorded the status of belonging granted citizenship rights, access to the benefits of the welfare state, and opportunities for advancement, while these who were denied the privilege of belonging lost their right to live. They were shamed, excluded, imprisoned, murdered. Volksgemeinschaft was the Nazis' project of social engineering, realized by state action, by administrative procedure, by party practice, by propaganda, and by individual initiative. Everyone deemed worthy of belonging was called to participate in its realization. Indeed, this collective notion was directed at the individual, and unleashed an enormous dynamism, which gave social change a particular direction. The Volksgemeinschaft concept was not strictly defined, which meant that it was rather marked by a plurality of meaning and emphasis which resulted in a range of readings in the Third Reich, drawing in people from many social and political backgrounds. Visions of Community in Nazi Germany scrutinizes Volksgemeinschaft as the Nazis' central vision of community. The contributors engage with individual appropriations, examine projects of social engineering, analyze the social dynamism unleashed, and show how deeply private lives were affected by this murderous vision of society.

Author Biography

Martina Steber is Gerda-Henkel-Fellow at the Historisches Kolleg, Munich, 2012/13, where she is completing her habilitation on political languages of Conservatism in Britain and West Germany in the 1960s and 1970s. Since 2012 she has been based at the Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich. From 2007 to 2012 she was Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute, London, after receiving her PhD. from the University of Augsburg. Her first book Ethnische Gewissheiten: Die Ordnung des Regionalen im bayerischen Schwaben vom Kaiserreich bis zum NS-Regime (2010) is an enquiry into the significance of regionality in German political culture from the Kaiserreich to the Nazi Regime. She is currently completing an edited collection with Riccardo Bavaj, which scrutinizes German ideas of 'the West' in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Bernhard Gotto is research fellow at the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte, Munich. In 2006 he published Nationalsozialistische Kommunalpolitik: Administrative Normalitat und Systemstabilisierung durch die Augsburger Stadtverwaltung 1933-1945, which reevaluates the impact of urban administration in Nazi Germany. As well as several books on economic history in the 20th century, he has co-edited two volumes on crisis and the perception of crisis in Germany and France in the 1960s and 1970s. Since 2012 he has coordinated a Leibniz Graduate School on Disappointment in the 20th Century. His current research project scrutinizes the effects of disappointment on democracy in West Germany from 1960 to 1989.
Release date NZ
August 9th, 2018
Edited by Bernhard Gotto Edited by Martina Steber
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Oxford University Press
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