Why do totalitarian propaganda such as those created in Nazi Germany and the former German Democratic Republic initially succeed, and why do they ultimately fail? Outside observers often make two serious mistakes when they interpret the propaganda of this time. First, they assume the propaganda worked largely because they were supported by a police state, that people cheered Hitler and Honecker because they feared the consequences of not doing so. Second, they assume that propaganda really succeeded in persuading most of the citizenry that the Nuremberg rallies were a reflection of how most Germans thought, or that most East Germans were convinced Marxist-Leninists. Subsequently, World War II Allies feared that rooting out Nazism would be a very difficult task. No leading scholar or politician in the West expected East Germany to collapse nearly as rapidly as it did. Effective propaganda depends on a full range of persuasive methods, from the gentlest suggestion to overt violence, which the dictatorships of the twentieth century understood well.
In many ways, modern totalitarian movements present worldviews that are religious in nature. Nazism and Marxism-Leninism presented themselves as explanations for all of life—culture, morality, science, history, and recreation. They provided people with reasons for accepting the status quo. Bending Spines examines the full range of persuasive techniques used by Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic, and concludes that both systems failed in part because they expected more of their propaganda than it was able to deliver.
The emigration of Jewish teenagers to Palestine to escape Hitler’s Germany
As Hitler and his followers consolidated power in Germany, a number of efforts were set in motion, both within and without German cities, to facilitate the departure of Jews. Among them was the organization, Youth Aliyah--aliyah is the term for the Zionist goal of a homecoming for Jews in historic Israel. Although the youths saved by Youth Aliyah were but a small percentage of the Jewish population, the program is widely celebrated by those who seek examples of Jewish agency and of attempts to resist the coming horror.
To this day, Youth Aliyah is considered by Israelis as a major contributor to the foundation of a Jewish presence leading to the modern state of Israel. Brian Amkraut details the story of the organization from its origins through its alliances and antagonisms with other Jewish organizations, and the challenges that vexed its efforts from every side, perhaps the greatest being sheer human naiveté ("surely things will get better").
In 1920, at the age of thirteen, Irmgard Gebensleben first traveled from Germany to The Netherlands on a "war-children transport." She would later marry a Dutch man and live and raise her family there while keeping close to her German family and friends through the frequent exchange of letters. Yet during this period geography was not all that separated them. Increasing divergence in political opinions and eventual war between their countries meant letters contained not only family news but personal perspectives on the individual, local, and national choices that would result in the most destructive war in history.
This important collection, first assembled by Irmgard Gebensleben's daughter Hedda Kalshoven, gives voice to ordinary Germans in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich and in the occupied Netherlands. The correspondence between Irmgard, her friends, and four generations of her family delve into their most intimate and candid thoughts and feelings about the rise of National Socialism. The responses to the German invasion and occupation of the Netherlands expose the deeply divided loyalties of the family and reveal their attempts to bridge them. Of particular value to historians, the letters evoke the writers' beliefs and their understanding of the events happening around them.
This first English translation of Ikdenk zoveel aan jullie: Een briefwisseling tussen Nederland en Duitsland 1920-1949, has been edited, abridged, and annotated by Peter Fritzsche with the assent and collaboration of Hedda Kalshoven. After the book's original publication the diary of Irmgard's brother and loyal Wehrmacht soldier, Eberhard, was discovered and edited by Hedda Kalshoven. Fritzsche has drawn on this important additional source in his preface.
Horst Biesold’s Crying Hands treats a neglected aspect of the Holocaust: the fate of the deaf in Nazi Germany. His book covers a story that has remained almost unknown. In the United States, even in Germany, few are aware that during the Nazi era human beings–men, women, and children–with impaired hearing were sterilized against their will, and even fewer know that many of the deaf were also murdered.
--From the Foreword by Henry Friedlander
When the Nazis assumed power in Germany in 1933, they wasted no time in implementing their radical policies, first by securing passage of the Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases. Among those designated by this law as “congenitally disabled” were deaf people. Horst Biesold’s newly translated book examines this neglected aspect of Nazi “racial hygiene” through interviews with more than 1,000 deaf survivors of this brutal law that authorized forced sterilizations, abortions, and eventually murder. Crying Hands meticulously delineates the antecedents of Nazi eugenics, beginning with Social Darwinism (postulated in the mid-nineteenth century) and tracing the various sterilization laws later initiated throughout the world, including many passed and practiced in the United States. This exceptional scholarship is movingly paralleled by the human faces fixed to the numbing statistics, as in story after story those affected recount their irretrievable loss, pain, and misplaced shame imposed upon them by the Nazi regime. Through their stories, told to Biesold in German Sign Language, they have given voice to the countless others who died from the specious science practiced by the Third Reich. And now their own trails finally have been acknowledged.
Growing Up Female in Nazi Germany
Dagmar Reese, Translated by William Templer University of Michigan Press, 2006 Library of Congress HQ1210.R4713 2006 | Dewey Decimal 305.235209430904
Growing Up Female in Nazi Germany explores the world of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM), the female section within the Hitler Youth that included almost all German girls aged 10 to 14. The BDM is often enveloped in myths; German girls were brought up to be the compliant handmaidens of National Socialism, their mental horizon restricted to the "three Ks" of Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children, kitchen, and church).
Dagmar Reese, however, depicts another picture of life in the BDM. She explores how and in what way the National Socialists were successful in linking up with the interests of contemporary girls and young women and providing them a social life of their own. The girls in the BDM found latitude for their own development while taking on responsibilities that integrated them within the folds of the National Socialist state.
"At last available in English, this pioneering study provides fresh insights into the ways in which the Nazi regime changed young 'Aryan' women's lives through appeals to female self-esteem that were not obviously defined by Nazi ideology, but drove a wedge between parents and children. Thoughtful analysis of detailed interviews reveals the day-to-day functioning of the Third Reich in different social milieus and its impact on women's lives beyond 1945. A must-read for anyone interested in the gendered dynamics of Nazi modernity and the lack of sustained opposition to National Socialism."
--Uta Poiger, University of Washington
"In this highly readable translation, Reese provocatively identifies Nazi girls league members' surprisingly positive memories and reveals significant implications for the functioning of Nazi society. Reaching across disciplines, this work is for experts and for the classroom alike."
--Belinda Davis, Rutgers University
Dagmar Reese is The Moses Mendelssohn Zentrum Potsdam researcher on the DFG-project "Georg Simmels Geschlechtertheorien im ‚fin de siecle' Berlin", 2004
William Templer is a widely published translator from German and Hebrew and is on the staff of Rajamangala University of Technology Srivijaya.
"Offers a clear introduction to a fascinating, yet little known, phenomenon in Nazi Germany, whose very existence will be a surprise to the general public and to historians. Easily blending general history with musicology, the book provides provocative yet compelling analysis of complex issues."
---Michael Meyer, author of The Politics of Music in the Third Reich
"Hirsch poses complex questions about Jewish identity and Jewish music, and she situates these against a political background vexed by the impossibility of truly viable responses to such questions. Her thorough archival research is complemented by her extensive use of interviews, which gives voice to those swept up in the Holocaust. A Jewish Orchestra in Nazi Germany is a book filled with the stories of real lives, a collective biography in modern music history that must no longer remain in silence."
---Philip V. Bohlman, author of Jewish Music and Modernity
"An engaging and downright gripping history. The project is original, the research is outstanding, and the presentation lucid."
---Karen Painter, author of Symphonic Aspirations: German Music and Politics, 1900-1945
The Jewish Culture League was created in Berlin in June 1933, the only organization in Nazi Germany in which Jews were not only allowed but encouraged to participate in music, both as performers and as audience members. Lily E. Hirsch's A Jewish Orchestra in Nazi Germany is the first book to seriously investigate and parse the complicated questions the existence of this unique organization raised, such as why the Nazis would promote Jewish music when, in the rest of Germany, it was banned. The government's insistence that the League perform only Jewish music also presented the organization's leaders and membership with perplexing conundrums: what exactly is Jewish music? Who qualifies as a Jewish composer? And, if it is true that the Nazis conceived of the League as a propaganda tool, did Jewish participation in its activities amount to collaboration?
Lily E. Hirsch is Assistant Professor of Music at Cleveland State University.
In the Law under the Swastika, Michael Stolleis examines the evolution of legal history, theory, and practice in Nazi Germany, paying close attention to its impact on the Federal Republic and on the German legal profession. Until the late 1960s, historians of the Nazi judicial system were mostly judges and administrators from the Nazi era. According to Stolleis, they were reluctant to investigate this legal history and maintained the ideal that law could not be affected by politics. Michael Stolleis is part of a younger generation and is determined to honestly confront the past in hopes of preventing the same injustices from happening in the future.
Stolleis studies a wide range of legal fields—constitutional, judicial, agrarian, administrative, civil, and business—arguing that all types of law were affected by the political realities of National Socialism. Moreover, he shows that legal traditions were not relinquished immediately with the onset of a new regime. For the first time we can see clearly the continuities between the Nazi period and the postwar period. The law under National Socialism did not make a complete break with the law during the Weimar Republic, nor did the law of the Federal Republic nullify all of the laws under National Socialism. Through a rich and subtle investigation, Stolleis shows how the legal profession and the political regime both reacted to the conditions of the period and molded the judicial system accordingly.
Breaking the conspiracy of silence held by the justices in the postwar period, Stolleis stresses the importance of researching Nazi law in order to confront ethical problems in today's legal profession.
"Margaret F. Stieg's thoroughly researched study, the first comprehensive examination of public libraries in Nazi Germany, reveals that library policy in the Third Reich was far more complex than we might assume, with the positive and the negative hopelessly entangled. . . . A solid and welcome contribution."
In February 1943 the Gestapo arrested approximately 10,000 Jews remaining in Berlin. Most died at Auschwitz. Two thousand of those Jews, however, had non-Jewish partners and were locked into a collection center on a street called Rosenstrasse. As news of the surprise arrest pulsed through the city, hundreds of Gentile spouses, mostly women, hurried to the Rosenstrasse in protest. A chant broke out: "Give us our husbands back."
Over the course of a week protesters vied with the Gestapo for control of the street. Now and again armed SS guards sent the women scrambling for cover with threats that they would shoot. After a week the Gestapo released these Jews, almost all of whom survived the war.
The Rosenstrasse Protest was the triumphant climax of ten years of resistance by intermarried couples to Nazi efforts to destroy their families. In fact, ninety-eight percent of German Jews who did not go into hiding and who survived Nazism lived in mixed marriages. Why did Hitler give in to the protesters? Using interviews with survivors and thousands of Nazi records never before examined in detail, Nathan Stoltzfus identifies the power of a special type of resistance--the determination to risk one's own life for the life of loved ones. A "resistance of the heart..."
Despite their undeniable importance, the leaders of the Fascist and Nazi youth organizations have received little attention from historians. In Shaping the New Man, Alessio Ponzio uncovers the largely untold story of the training and education of these crucial protagonists of the Fascist and Nazi regimes, and he examines more broadly the structures, ideologies, rhetoric, and aspirations of youth organizations in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.
Ponzio shows how the Italian Fascists' pedagogical practices influenced the origin and evolution of the Hitler Youth. He dissects similarities and differences in the training processes of the youth leaders of the Opera Nazionale Balilla, Gioventù Italiana del Littorio, and Hitlerjugend. And, he explores the transnational institutional interactions and mutual cooperation that flourished between Mussolini's and Hitler's youth organizations in the 1930s and 1940s.
Using recently declassified documents from Spain and the United States, personal interviews, and unpublished and published Spanish, German, British, and U.S. records, Spaniards and Nazi Germany makes a significant contribution to the understanding of Hispano-German relations during the 1930s and 1940s. This study shows that Naziphiles within the Spanish Falange, Spain's fascist party, made a concerted effort to bring their nation into World War II, and that only the indecisiveness of dictator Francisco Franco and diplomatic mistakes by the Nazis prevented them from succeeding.
Bowen demonstrates that while Spain was neutral in World War II, its policies clearly favored the Axis, at least in the early stages of the war. Franco, who had emerged victorious from the Spanish Civil War in 1939 largely because of support from Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, even carefully considered entering World War II on the side of Nazi Germany.
By the late 1930s, members of the Falange saw World War II as a revolutionary opportunity, a chance to lead Spain into a new age as a partner with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy at the head of a New Europe of social justice and authoritarian regimes. By the end of 1939, a significant minority of pro- Nazi Spaniards were unhappy that Spain had not entered the war and remade itself to fit better into Hitler's New Order. Bowen argues that support for Nazi Germany in Spain and among Spanish communities throughout Europe was both wide and deep, and that this enthusiasm for the Third Reich and the New Order it promised to bring lasted until the end of the war. Despite statements of neutrality by the Spanish government, the Franco regime was well aware of this collaboration by Spanish citizens as late as 1944-1945 and did little to stop it. Had Hitler been more interested in bringing Spain into his empire, or exploiting the pro-Nazi sentiments of these thousands of Spaniards, he might have replaced Franco with someone more willing to support his interests even as late as 1943.
Spaniards and Nazi Germany presents many possibilities for what might have been a far different outcome of World War II in Europe. It shows that even without the full support of the Spanish or German governments, pro-Nazi Spaniards, even if they did not quite bring Spain into the war, added to the strength of the Third Reich by serving in its armies, working in its factories, and promoting its ideas to other nations.
Studying the Jew investigates those German scholars who forged an interdisciplinary field to create a comprehensive portrait of the Jew, fabricating an empirical basis for Nazi antisemitic policies. In a chilling story of academics who perverted their talents and distorted their research in support of persecution and genocide, Studying the Jew explores the intersection of ideology and scholarship, the state and the university, the intellectual and his motivations, to provide a new appreciation of the use and abuse of learning and the horrors perpetrated in the name of reason.