Who Voted For the Nazis?

1. Review the evidence concerning who voted for the Nazis in the elections in Germany of 1928 to 1933. Consider the different groups in society and the reasons why they may, or may not, have voted for the Nazis. Since 1928 the Nazi leaders had deliberately directed their propaganda at rural and middle class/lower middle class audiences. This therefore made it obvious that they were very likely to vote for the Nazis. Also, it has been estimated that the party attracting new voters and persuading many people who had not previously participated in elections to support their cause won nearly half of the Nazi seats.

Hitler had a lot of support from the conservative right who had dominated Germany politically since 1929.

Hitler seemed to appeal to each class and sector within the electorate by making specific pledges to suit each group.

The middle classes made up the largest single proportion of Nazi support. It is thought that the reason for this is something to do with the Great Depression. They felt that they would not be able to cope with a second economic crisis so they moved to the more radical fringe. By middle class I mean artisans, small retailers, peasant farmers, civil servants and teachers.

The upper classes-landowners, businessmen and industrialists-saw that Hitler would protect them from trade unions and the threat of communism and socialism on the left.

The unemployed, peasants and young people supported Hitler but the party was weak in the south and in industrial cities.

2. Read the extracts below, which are taken from a variety of historians’ views. What are their answers? To what extent do they agree? The answers, which are given by these extracts, tend to be along the same line. All of them seem to agree that the Nazis were very successful in protestant rural and middle class Germany. They also agree that it was big businesses, the young and the well off that were most likely to be in favour of the NSDAP.

However the point at which some of them disagree is to do with the workers. The question seems to remain-did the workers vote for the Nazis? On one hand it seems obvious that they didn’t because of what the Nazis offered (it was aimed at the middle classes and above), but on the other hand it was said by J. Falter in his work, “How likely were workers to vote for the NSDAP?” that one in three workers of voting age backed the Nazis. More than a quarter of the members were workers. Apart from the issue of the workers though, everything else seems to agree.

3. Considering all your information, and the ways in which it has been interpreted, write a short essay [500-600 words] to answer the question: “The traditional stress on the middle class basis of Nazi Support is now open to question”. How far is this true?

This statement is true in a way because of the many other areas of support, which have been revealed. It was said that it was really only the middle classes that were voting for and supporting Hitler and the Nazis but this is not entirely true. As well as middle classes (who were mainly protestant) there were other groups, which showed an interest in the NSDAP. These included the working classes, although, their support was minimal at first there was still some shown. It is also true to say that some Catholics were for the Nazi party but again, their numbers were very small as most Catholics went with the Centre Party.

Another area of support for the Nazis came from the different genders. There was a huge amount of male supporters, more than three times as many as the female supporters. But going back to the subject in question, the middle classes were not the only big supporters of Hitler and the Nazis. If we were talking about different groups we might say that it was men who were the basis of Nazi support but that would be too vague. In fact, if would be easier to say that it was middle class, protestant males who were the basis. Although this would probably be true I feel it is too similar to the original argument.

It is believed that Hitler was so popular (to begin with) because he was seen to be moderate.

As time went on the working class liked Hitler and the Nazis more. This is because a lot of the workforce saw the Nazi regime as the source of their economic recovery.

However, I believe that the statement, “The traditional stress on the middle class of Nazi support is now open to question”, is not true. My reasons for this are that I have done a lot of research into this statement and what the possibilities are and the answer is always the same. Every bit of information that I find says that the middle classes were Hitler’s main source of support. E. g. “An impressive body of evidence…supports the overall picture of National Socialism as a predominantly protestant middle class movement…” Conan Fischer, The Rise of the Nazis.

I think it is because the majority of Germany was middle class, protestant or both. This therefore makes it quite obvious that these groups would have the basis of the Nazi support.

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