M-TH: Class and rise of Nazism

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Fri Oct 30 00:06:53 PST 1998

I posted this last month to marxism-thaxis and the empirical data apparently from detailed analysis of voting patterns, appears relevant to recent posts.

Chris Burford

>I don't know whether subscribers in England can easily browse the latest
>October issue of History Today. This is a popular history journal that is
>not academic but it is unlikely that it would publish anything that is
>completely unserious in academic terms.
>This issue has an article "Who voted for Hitler?" analysing voting patterns
>between 1928 and 1933 in a very detailed way, in terms of class, gender,
>age, and religion.
>It is by Dick Geary, professor of modern history at the University of
>Nottingham and the author of Hitler and Nazism (Routledge 1993). His
>references for further reading are not known to me by include Childers,
>Fischer, Hamilton, Kater, Boak, Bessel, and Feuchtwanger.
>The results are the most detailed for the class analysis by class, layer,
>occupation and location of class, and are presumably based on computer
>assisted psephological analysis.
>Although from a marxist point of view such committed class analysis could
>not be more acceptable, the results are numerous and very specific. I
>would really like to know how authoritative they are, and how this reflects
>on the received marxist analysis of the rise of Nazism.
>The most important finding seems to me to be that although around 40% of
>the party seemed to be working class, this was less than the population at
>that time, and the working class was under-represented in the Nazi ranks
>when compared to the German population as a whole.
>Further, when rural labourers (who inhabitated a world quite different to
>that of the city dweller and factory employee, often paid in kind, and
>subject to landlord pressure) are removed from the equation, a slight
>negative correlation arises between Nazi support and working class presence.
>Voters in large urban centres were less susceptible to Nazi electoral
>The Nazis were also relatively unsuccessful in gaining electoral support of
>the unemployed.
>The article does not analyse anti-semitism but the evidence that the cities
>stayed disproportionately loyal to the SPD and KPD, would fit with the
>theory about racism, that exposure to contact reduces racism.
>The NSDAP drew support from all sections of the population but was arguably
>most successful of all in picking up votes of pensioners and the elderly.
>This group, expecially the women, constituted the largest reservoir of
>previous non-voters in the early 1930's, and the party made a specific bid
>for the support of pensioners, the elderly and war veterans who had seen the
>value of their pensions and savings eroded. Here again the Nazis enjoyed
>success, as with those lacking previous strong political or organisational
>Chris Burford
> --- from list marxism-thaxis at lists.econ.utah.edu ---

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