Journal Article

The Problem of National Solidarity in Interwar Germany

Moritz Föllmer

in German History

Published on behalf of German History Society

Volume 23, issue 2, pages 202-231
Published in print April 2005 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online April 2005 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI:
The Problem of National Solidarity in Interwar Germany

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The history of nationalism in interwar Germany has mostly been told as a success story in which integration and mobilization loom large. While not disputing this view this article proposes a closer look at the tensions between different proponents of the Volksgemeinschaft and the radicalizing consequences resulting from these tensions both before and after 1933. In practice, the prevailing interpretation of nationalism as the moral foundation for unity and solidarity created various new divisions: refugees from the lost Prussian provinces as well as people in the occupied parts of the Rhineland expected to be supported by their fellow citizens but were often bitterly disappointed. Interest groups adapted the rhetoric of national community more or less successfully to their own needs and purposes, but to their great anger did not manage to improve their public image in this way. Right-wing intellectuals lamented the widespread lack of patriotic attitudes and found good Germans only in utopian spaces outside actual German society. Ernst Jünger, Carl Schmitt, and the proponents of radical antisemitism even abandoned the moral approach to nationalism altogether. National Socialism claimed to solve this problem by both integration through mass propaganda and exclusion through racism and violence. But in the reports of the Gestapo there was still much complaint about morally deficient Germans allegedly unwilling to sacrifice their private interests to the national good. As recent research has shown, many Germans held similar views of fellow citizens and party members. This continuing scenario of moral crisis was an important aspect of Nazi discourse closely related to the ever radicalizing exclusionist tendency of the Volksgemeinschaft.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: European History

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