National Socialism and Consumption

S. Jonathan Wiesen

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561216
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

National Socialism and Consumption


Many important works in the field of consumer studies focus on the United States and post-World War II Western Europe, with the former often cast as the paradigmatic example of consumer society. Notwithstanding the disruptions of the Great Depression and less-severe business cycles, these societies offer plentiful images of bustling stores, widening economic opportunities, and the emergence of politicized citizen-consumers. The unique violence of the movements – whether manifested in the militant machismo of Benito Mussolini or the genocidal thrust of National Socialism – sets fascism apart from other twentieth-century developments. This article addresses some of the questions that emerge from a consideration of fascism and consumption, focusing in particular on National Socialist Germany, where consumption served a uniquely harsh end. It explores how Nazism envisioned the function of buying, selling, and consuming; the extent to which consumption was shaped by the state's ideological priorities; Nazi visions of consumption; realities of consumption and marketing in the Third Reich; and the debate on consumption and consent.

Keywords: Germany; fascism; Nazism; consumption; buying; selling; National Socialism; consent; marketing

Article.  8563 words. 

Subjects: History

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