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VOLKSGEMEINSCHAFT (German pronunciation: ) is a German expression meaning "people's community". This expression originally became popular during World War I
World War I
as Germans rallied in support of the war, and it appealed to the idea of breaking down elitism and uniting people across class divides to achieve a national purpose.

CONTENTS

* 1 Development

* 2 Nazi Volksgemeinschaft
Volksgemeinschaft

* 2.1 In propaganda * 2.2 Community Aliens and National Comrades * 2.3 Children and youth

* 3 See also * 4 References

DEVELOPMENT

The concept is believed to have originated in Ferdinand Tönnies ' theory in his work Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft ("Community and Society") of 1887. Decades later, in 1932, Tönnies joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany to oppose the rise of Nazism and protest against their use of his concept. He had his honorary professorship removed when Adolf Hitler came to power. In 1914, the Emperor Wilhelm II proclaimed before the Reichstag the Burgfrieden ("the peace within a castle under siege"), announcing that henceforward all of the regional differences between the different states of the Reich; between rich, middle class and poor; between Roman Catholics and Protestants; and between rural and urban no longer existed and the German people were all one for the duration of the war. During the war, many Germans longed to have the sense of unity that the Burgfrieden inspired continue after the war, and it was during this period that many ideas started to circulate about how to convert the wartime Burgfrieden into a peacetime volksgemeinschaft.

In the aftermath of World War I, the idea of Volksgemeinschaft
Volksgemeinschaft
was used to interpret economic catastrophes and hardship facing Germans during the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
era as a common experience of the German nation and to argue for German unity to bring about renewal to end the crisis. It was adopted by the Nazi Party to justify actions against Jews
Jews
, profiteers , Marxists , and the Allies of World War I
World War I
, whom the Nazis accused of obstructing German national regeneration, causing national disintegration in 1918 and Germany's defeat in World War I.

There is an ongoing debate among historians as to whether a Volksgemeinschaft
Volksgemeinschaft
was or was not successfully established between 1933 and 1945. This is a notably controversial topic of debate for ethical and political reasons, and is made difficult by the ambiguous language employed by Hitler
Hitler
and the Nazis when talking about the Volksgemeinschaft.

NAZI VOLKSGEMEINSCHAFT

Part of a series on

NAZISM

Organizations

* National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) * Sturmabteilung (SA) * Schutzstaffel (SS) * Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) * Hitler
Hitler
Youth (HJ) * Deutsches Jungvolk (DJ) * League of German Girls (BDM) * National Socialist German Students\' League (NSDStB) * National Socialist League of the Reich
Reich
for Physical Exercise (NSRL) * National Socialist Flyers Corps (NSFK) * National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK) * National Socialist Women\'s League (NSF) * Combat League of Revolutionary National Socialists (KGRNS)

History

* Early timeline * Hitler\'s rise to power * Machtergreifung * German re-armament * Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
* Religion in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
* Night of the Long Knives * Nuremberg Rally * Anti-Comintern Pact * Kristallnacht * World War II
World War II
* Tripartite Pact
Tripartite Pact
* The Holocaust * Nuremberg trials * Neo- Nazism

Ideology

* Fascism * Totalitarianism * Führerprinzip * Anti-democratic thought * Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Houston Stewart Chamberlain
* Gleichschaltung * Hitler\'s political views * Mein Kampf * The Myth of the Twentieth Century * Militarism * National Socialist Program * New Order * Preussentum und Sozialismus * Propaganda
Propaganda
* Religious aspects * Strasserism * Syncretic politics * Symbolism * Women in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany

Racial ideology

* Aryan race * Blood and Soil * Eugenics * The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century * Greater Germanic Reich
Greater Germanic Reich
* Heim ins Reich * Lebensraum * Master race * Racial policy of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
* Völkisch equality

Final Solution

* Concentration camps * Deportations * Doctors\' trial * Extermination camps * Genocide
Genocide
* Ghettos * Human experimentation * Labour camps * Pogroms * Racial segregation

People

* Adolf Hitler * Joseph Goebbels * Heinrich Himmler * Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
* Gregor Strasser * Otto Strasser

Nazism outside of Germany

* American Nazi Party * Aria Party (Persia) * Arrow Cross Party
Arrow Cross Party
(Hungary) * Bulgarian National Socialist Workers Party * German American Bund * German National Movement in Liechtenstein * Greek National Socialist Party * South African Gentile National Socialist Movement * Hungarian National Socialist Party
Hungarian National Socialist Party
* Nasjonal Samling (Norway) * National Movement of Switzerland * National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands * National Socialist Bloc (Sweden) * National Socialist League (UK) * National Socialist Movement of Chile
National Socialist Movement of Chile

* National Socialist Movement (United States) * National Socialist Workers\' Party of Denmark * National Unity Party (Canada) * Nazism in Brazil * Nationalist Liberation Alliance (Argentina) * SUMKA * Ossewabrandwag (South Africa) * World Union of National Socialists

Lists

* Books by or about Adolf Hitler * Nazi ideologues * Nazi Party leaders and officials * Nazi Party members * Speeches given by Adolf Hitler * SS personnel

Related topics

* Antisemitism * Denazification
Denazification
* Enabling Act of 1933
Enabling Act of 1933
* Fascism * Glossary of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
* The Holocaust * Neo- Nazism * Völkisch movement * Zweites Buch

* Category
Category
* Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
portal

* v * t * e

In the aftermath of the November Revolution of 1918 that marked the end of the German Empire
German Empire
and the beginning of the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
, there was strong animosity amongst many Germans towards the Weimar Republic and the social democrats who sponsored its creation. This was combined with anxiety in the 1930s and with the severe economic crisis in Germany and abroad, in which many Germans faced unemployment. This situation resulted in increasing popularity for the Nazi Party, including amongst workers who desired a government that would resolve the economic crisis. While ascending to power, Hitler
Hitler
promised to restore faith in the Volk and to bring wholeness while accusing other politicians of tearing at German unity. Richard Walther Darré addressing a meeting of the farming community in Goslar on 13 December 1937 standing in front of a Reichsadler and Swastika crossed with a sword and wheat sheaf labelled Blood and Soil (from the German Federal Archive)

Upon rising to power in 1933, the Nazis sought to gain support of various elements of society. Their concept of Volksgemeinschaft
Volksgemeinschaft
was racially unified and organized hierarchically. This involved a mystical unity, a form of racial soul uniting all Germans. This soul was regarded as related to the land, in the doctrine of "blood and soil ". Indeed, one reason for "blood and soil" was the belief that landowner and peasant lived in an organic harmony. Germans who had sexual relations with non-Germanics were excluded from the people's community.

The Nazis solidified support amongst nationalists and conservatives by presenting themselves as allied with President Paul von Hindenburg who was considered a war hero of World War I
World War I
in Germany. The Nazis sought to gain support of workers by declaring May Day , a day celebrated by organized labour , to be a paid holiday and held celebrations on 1 May 1933 to honour German workers. The Nazis stressed that Germany must honour its workers. Hitler
Hitler
often praised the virtues of labor, declaring in Völkischer Beobachter that “I only acknowledge one nobility—that of labour.”

The regime believed that the only way to avoid a repeat of the disaster of 1918 was to secure workers' support for the German government. The regime also insisted through propaganda that all Germans take part in the May Day celebrations in the hope that this would help break down class hostility between workers and burghers . Songs in praise of labour and workers were played by state radio throughout May Day as well as an airshow in Berlin and fireworks. Hitler
Hitler
spoke of workers as patriots who had built Germany's industrial strength and had honourably served in the war and claimed that they had been oppressed under economic liberalism . Berliner Morgenpost that had been strongly associated with the political left in the past praised the regime's May Day celebrations.

Bonfires were made of school children's differently colored caps as symbolic of the abolition of class differences.

The Nazis continued social welfare policies initiated by the governments of the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
and mobilized volunteers to assist those impoverished, "racially-worthy" Germans through the National Socialist People\'s Welfare organization. This organization oversaw charitable activities, and became the largest civic organization in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
. Successful efforts were made to get middle-class women involved in social work assisting large families. The Winter Relief campaigns acted as a ritual to generate public feeling.

IN PROPAGANDA

Nazis gave a great deal of prominence to this new "folk community" in their propaganda, depicting the events of 1933 as a Volkwerdung , or a people becoming itself. The Volk were not just a people; a mystical soul united them, and propaganda continually portrayed individuals as part of a great whole, worth dying for. A common Nazi mantra declared they must put "collective need ahead of individual greed"—a widespread sentiment in this era. To exemplify and encourage such views, when the Hitlerjugend
Hitlerjugend
and Bund Deutscher Mädel collected for Winterhilfswerk or Winter Relief, totals were not reported for any individuals, only what the branch raised. The Winterhilfswerk campaigns themselves acted as a ritual to generate public feeling.

Hitler
Hitler
declared that he knew nothing of bourgeois or proletarian, only Germans. Volksgemeinschaft
Volksgemeinschaft
was portrayed as overcoming distinctions of party and social class. The commonality this created across classes was among the great appeals of Nazism.

After the failure of the Beer Hall Putsch , Hitler, on the trial, omitted his usual pre-putsch anti-Semitism and centered his defense on his selfless devotion to the good of the Volk and the need for bold action to save them. The Versailles settlement had betrayed Germany, which they had tried to save. Thereafter, his speeches concentrated on his boundless devotion to the Volk, though not entirely eliminating the anti-Semitism. Even once in power, his immediate speeches spoke of serving Germany. While the Reichstag fire was used to justify anti-Communist and anti-Semitic violence, Hitler
Hitler
himself spoke on a new life, honor, and unity in Germany. Similarly, the Night of the Long Knives was justified as a peril to the people so great that only decisive action would save them. Goebbels described Hitler
Hitler
after that event as suffering "tragic loneliness" and as a Siegfried forced to shed blood to preserve Germany.

Devotion to this Volk is common in Nazi propaganda. An account, for instance, of a SA brawl depicted its leader as uncouth and therefore a simple, strong, and honest man of the people. Sturmabteilung speakers were used, in part, for the appeal of their folksy manner. One element of Horst Wessel 's life that was fictionalized out of the movie Hans Westmar was the willfully provoking of violent conflicts with Communists; Westmar preaches class reconciliation, and his death unifies students and workers. This changes was also propagandized to the Sturmabteilung, whose violent, rebellious and confrontational past had to be transformed to community organization to be useful in a Germany where Nazis held official power.

This unity was what justified Nazi propaganda; its pejorative connotation had sprung solely from its selfish use, and the Nazis' honorable goal, the unity of the German people, made it honorable for them.

It also justified the one-party state as all that was needed in a society with a united will, where Hitler
Hitler
implemented the will of the Volk more directly than in a democracy. Attacks on Great Britain as a plutocracy also emphasized how the German, being able to participate in his Volk, is freer than the Briton.

In his pamphlet State, Volk and Movement, Carl Schmitt praised the expulsion of Jews
Jews
from political life without ever using the term "Jew" and using "non-Aryan" only rarely, by praising the homogeneity of the people and the Volksgemeinschaft
Volksgemeinschaft
ensuing; merely Gleichschaltung was not sufficient, but Nazi principles must continue to make the German people pure.

Even Carl Jung 's "collective unconscious" was preferred to Freudian concepts because of its communal element.

The Volksgemeinschaft
Volksgemeinschaft
was also depicted in films on the home-front during World War II, with the war uniting all levels of society, as in the two most popular films of the Nazi era, Die grosse Liebe and Wunschkonzert . The Request Concert radio show, on which the latter film was based, achieved great popularity by broadcasting music claimed to be requested by men in the armed forces. Attempts to get women of "better classes" to take factory jobs were presented as breaking down class barriers and so helping create a true people's community. Failure to support the war was an anti-social act; this propaganda managed to bring arms production to a peak in 1944.

COMMUNITY ALIENS AND NATIONAL COMRADES

National Socialist legal theory divided all Germans into two categories, namely the Volksgenossen ("National Comrades") who belonged to the Volksgemeinschaft
Volksgemeinschaft
and the Gemeinschaftsfremde ("Community Aliens") who did not. In addition to the duties and responsibilities shared by those in the community, the National Comrades were expected to build and create a " Volksgeist " that would encompass the best aspects of the German people. As such, community aliens could not belong, since they were deemed an undermining element in the very foundations of the "Volksgemeinschaft".

The modern German historian Detlev Peukert wrote the purpose of National Socialist social policy as:

“ The goal was an utopian Volksgemeinschaft, totally under police surveillance, in which any attempt at nonconformist behaviour, or even any hint or intention of such behaviour, would be visited with terror”.

Criminals, if deemed unable to be part of the people's community, were severely punished, even executed for crimes that did not provide for the death penalty, such as doubling the sentence the prosecution asked for when a defendant had not helped put out a fire, thus showing a disregard for the life of his “Volksgenossen" and community. In support of this, Peukert quoted two articles from the projected “Law for the Treatment of Community Aliens” of 1944, which though never implemented owing to bureaucratic quarrels showed the intentions of Nazi social policy:

"...Article I.

Community Aliens (Gemeinschaftsfremde)

1.

"Community Aliens" are such persons who:

1, Show themselves, in their personality or in the conduct of their life, and especially in light of any unusual deficiency of mind or character, unable to comply by their own efforts with the minimum requirements of the national community.

2.(a) owning to work-shyness or slovenliness, lead a worthless, unthrifty or disorderly life and are thereby a burden or danger to the community:

Or

Display a habit of, or inclination towards beggary or vagrancy, idling at work, larceny, swindling or other less seriously offences, or engage in excessive drunkenness, or for any such reasons are in breach of their obligation to support themselves.

Or

(b) through persistent ill-temper or quarrelsomeness disturb the peace of the community;

3. show themselves, in their personality or the conduct of their life, mentally disposed towards the commission of serious offences (community-hostile criminals ) and criminals by inclination ).

Article II

Police Measures Against Community Aliens

2.

1. Community aliens should be subject towards police supervision.

2. If supervisory measures are insufficient, the police shall transfer the community aliens to the Gau (or Land) welfare authorities.

3. If, in the case of any community alien persons, a stricter degree of custody is required than is possible within the institutions of the Gau (or Land) welfare authorities, the police shall place them in a police camp."

CHILDREN AND YOUTH

Hitler
Hitler
Youth at rifle practice, circa 1933 August 1941 cover of Das deutsche Mädel and the first issue following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union . The caption reads "Weary and ruined faces characterize the neglected children of the Soviet state. Cheerful and healthy on the other hand, the youth of Greater Germany are participating in sports festivals everywhere in the country."

In their desire to establish a total state, the Nazis understood the importance of “selling” their ideology to the youth. To accomplish this, Hitler
Hitler
established Nazi youth groups. Young boys from 6–10 years old participated in the Pimpfen , similar to the cub scouts. Boys from 10–14 years old participated in the Deutsches Jungvolk , and boys 14–18 years old participated in the Hitler
Hitler
Jugend (Hitler Youth). The two older groups fostered military values and virtues, such as duty, obedience, honor, courage, strength, and ruthlessness. Uniforms and regular military drills were supplemented by ceremonies honoring the war dead. Most importantly, the Hitler
Hitler
Youth did their utmost to indoctrinate the youth of Germany with the ideological values of Nazism. Youth leaders bore into the youth a sense of fervent patriotism and utter devotion to Hitler, including military training so as to be ready to join the Wehrmacht. By 1939, when membership in the Hitler
Hitler
Youth became compulsory, each new member of the Jungvolk was required to take an oath to the Führer swearing total allegiance.

Young girls were also a part of the Hitler
Hitler
Youth in Nazi Germany. Girls from 10–14 years old were members of the Jungmädelbund , while girls fourteen to eighteen belonged to the Bund Deutscher Mädel . Hitler
Hitler
youth girls were indoctrinated in the principles of service, regimentation, obedience, and discipline. Girls were taught to be dutiful wives and mothers. Members of the Bund Deutscher Mädel were educated in the skills needed for domestic chores, nursing, and hygiene.

Daily life in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
was manipulated from the beginning of Nazi rule. Propaganda
Propaganda
dominated popular culture and entertainment. Anti-intellectualism
Anti-intellectualism
was used to prevent the people from thinking and feeding into their strong sense of national and military pride. Finally, Hitler
Hitler
and the party realized the possibilities of controlling Germany’s youth as a means of continuing the Reich
Reich
as they wanted the generation of Germans to follow to be dedicated to the strengthening and preservation of the German Volk and of the "Greater German Reich".

SEE ALSO

* Germany portal

* Blood and soil * Heidegger and Nazism * Integralism * Kokutai * Nazi propaganda

REFERENCES

* ^ Peter Fritzsche. Life and Death in the Third Reich. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2008. p. 38. * ^ A B C D E Fritzsche, p. 39. * ^ Francis Ludwig Carsten, Hermann Graml. The German resistance to Hitler. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, USA: University of California Press. p. 93 * ^ Ferdinand Tönnies, José Harris. Community and civil society. Cambridge University Press, 2001 (first edition in 1887 as Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft). Pp. xxxii-xxxiii. * ^ Fritzsche. p. 41. * ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 18 ISBN 0-674-01172-4 * ^ fascism. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved December 15, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/202210/fascism * ^ A B C "The Volk" * ^ Robert Cecil, The Myth of the Master Race: Alfred Rosenberg and Nazi Ideology p166 ISBN 0-396-06577-5 * ^ Diemut Majer, Non-Germans Under The Third Reich, p.369 * ^ Fritzsche, p. 44-45. * ^ A B Fritzsche, p.45. * ^ A B C Fritzsche, p. 46. * ^ Richard Grunberger , The 12-year Reich: A Social History of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
1933–1945), New York: NY, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971, p. 47. Völkischer Beobachter , Nov. 21, 1936 * ^ A B Fritzsche, p. 47. * ^ A B Richard Grunberger , The 12-Year Reich, p 46, ISBN 0-03-076435-1 * ^ A B Fritzsche, p. 51. * ^ A B C Richard Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p 79, ISBN 0-03-076435-1 * ^ Richard Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p 18, ISBN 0-03-076435-1

* ^ Claudia Koonz , The Nazi Conscience, p 6 ISBN 0-674-01172-4 * ^ Richard Overy, The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, p232 ISBN 0-393-02030-4 * ^ Richard Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p 19, ISBN 0-03-076435-1

* ^ Milton Mayer , They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-45 p105 1995 University of Chicago Press Chicago * ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 21 ISBN 0-674-01172-4 * ^ Richard Overy , The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, p3 ISBN 0-393-02030-4 * ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 25 ISBN 0-674-01172-4 * ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 31 ISBN 0-674-01172-4 * ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 40 ISBN 0-674-01172-4 * ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 96 ISBN 0-674-01172-4 * ^ Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II, p16 1976, Chelsea House Publishers, New York * ^ George Lachmann Mosse, Nazi culture: intellectual, cultural and social life in the Third Reich
Reich
p 18 ISBN 978-0-299-19304-1 * ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 89 ISBN 0-674-01172-4 * ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p. 85-6 ISBN 978-0-674-01172-4 * ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p. 86-8 ISBN 978-0-674-01172-4 * ^ Leila J. Rupp, Mobilizing Women for War, p 99-100, ISBN 978-0-691-60013-0 * ^ Richard Overy, The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, p58-9 ISBN 0-393-02030-4 * ^ Michael Balfour, Propaganda
Propaganda
in War 1939-1945: Organisation, Policies and Publics in Britain and Germany, p163 ISBN 0-7100-0193-2 * ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 59-60 ISBN 0-674-01172-4 * ^ George Lachmann Mosse, Nazi culture: intellectual, cultural and social life in the Third Reich
Reich
p 199 ISBN 978-0-299-19304-1 * ^ Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema p63 ISBN 0-02-570230-0 * ^ Robert Edwin Hertzstein, The War That Hitler
Hitler
Won p294-5 ISBN 0-399-11845-4 * ^ Leila J. Rupp, Mobilizing Women for War, p 131, ISBN 0-691-04649-2 , OCLC 3379930 * ^ Michael Balfour, Propaganda
Propaganda
in War 1939-1945: Organisation, Policies and Publics in Britain and Germany, p373 ISBN 0-7100-0193-2 * ^ Peukert, Detlev Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition and Racism In Everyday Life, London : Batsford, 1987 page 220. * ^ Richard Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p 122-3, ISBN 0-03-076435-1 * ^ Peukert, Detlev Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition and Racism In Everyday Life, London : Batsford, 1987 page 221. * ^ "German Propaganda
Propaganda
Archive: The German Girl". Calvin College. Retrieved 21 September 2012. * ^ A B Walter S. Zapotoczny, "Rulers of the World: The Hitler Youth"

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