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The Nazi Party

The Anatomy of a People’s Party, 1919-1933

Paul Madden and Detlef Mühlberger

The social characteristics of the membership of the Nazi Party have been much debated since the late 1920s. The dominant hypothesis which emerged at the time and which became orthodoxy after 1945 was that the Nazis drew their membership and electoral support almost exclusively from the middle class ( Mittelstand), a hypothesis based on virtually no empirical evidence. The research undertaken by the authors since the 1970s at the macro and micro level has been instrumental not only in placing the debate on the sociography of the membership of the Nazi Party on an extensive empirical footing, but also in overturning the received wisdom that the Nazi Party was a pre-eminently middle-class or lower-middle-class movement. The book contains amended versions of a number of pioneering articles on the social contours of the membership of the Nazi Party published by the authors in the 1980s, added to which are new studies examining the social background of members of the Nazi Party recruited in a rural region, in a famous university town, and in one of Germany’s most prominent cities. Collectively the studies presented here underline the diversity of the social types which were mobilised by the Nazi Party, which was successful in attracting support from all sections of German society before 1933, making it a people’s party ( Volkspartei) transcending the class divide, not a class or lower-middle-class affair.
Contents: Who Were the Nazis? A Survey of Historical Opinion – The Sociology of the NSDAP: The Question of Working-Class Support – Some Social Characteristics of Early Nazi Party Members, 1919-1923 – The Occupational and Social Structure of the NSDAP in the Border Province Posen-West Prussia in the early 1930s – The Social Class Origins of Nazi Party Members as Determined by Occupations, 1925-1933 – The Social Dynamics of the Nazi Party in a Rural Area: County Friedberg, 1923-1935 – The Social Basis of the Nazi Party in the University Town of Göttingen, 1922-1935 – Big City Nazis: A Quantitative Breakdown of the Occupational and Class Structure of the Nazi Party’s Membership in Frankfurt am Main, 1925-1935.