How can it be explained that Nazism made real, if partial, inroads into wider German Society?

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How can it be explained that Nazism made real, if partial, inroads into wider German Society?

It cannot be doubted that Nazi Germany was the most destructive political regime of the 20th century, not only because it unleashed World War II or instigated the holocaust but because of its impact on German society. The extent of this impact has been extensively debated by various historians, leading to a spectrum of opinions ranging from Marxist perspectives that emphasise a strengthening of class structures within German society, therefore concluding that Nazi Germany had a reactionary impact on Germany society , to that of liberal historians who claim that the modernisation which took place in Nazi Germany, along with a change in 'subjective social reality' is good evidence that a revolution of class and status occurred. General historiographical consensus leans towards the latter of these two arguments, although there is evidence of social continuation throughout the regime. If one concludes that Nazism did have an impact on German society then why were these social changes able to happen? While it is obvious that National Socialists used terror to achieve social policy, the level of support for Nazism was so great that terror alone could not explain the inroads made into wider German society. Propaganda, foreign policy success, the economic recovery of Germany from the Great Depression, as well as Nazism's promise to create an ordered society for the majority of Germans appealed to a vast portion of the German population, who had been traumatised by the 1929-32 economic crisis as well as the contradictions of modern capitalism. Above all else, Nazism was allowed to make inroads into German society by the German public because it was accepted as the best possible political system to meet the needs of security, sensual satisfaction and social aspiration.

Assessing the social impacts of Nazism on German society is a complex task, much of which is caused by the internal contradictions of Nazi ideology. The extent, nature and mere existence of Nazi inroads into German society have been fiercely debated over the past 40 years, with little agreement being reached among various historians. Various factors make this task even more difficult: distinguishing between the social impact of World War II and that caused by Nazi policy; the argument that most of the social change occurring under Nazism was in the 'subjective social reality' (changes to attitudes, psyche and mentality of the population, which can be very difficult to analyse). Therefore it is to be expected that there are many interpretations of the question 'to what extent did Nazism make real if partial inroads into wider German society?' Marxist analysis stresses the continuities between Wilhelmine Germany and Nazi Germany such as a desire in Nazi ideology for a return to 'blood and soil', asserting that 'Nazism was the dictatorship of the most reactionary elements of the German ruling class.' This interpretation also distinguishes between the social base and the social function of Nazism, claiming that although it was a lower-middle class movement, the regime consistently betrayed their followers in the interests of big business. Obviously there are some major flaws in this argument, the most glaring being a contradiction between the betrayal of the masses and their continued support, as well as 'the break with tradition and thus a strong push towards modernity', which many see as a crucial Nazi policy.

In contrast, analysis by liberal-democratic historians such as Ralf Dahrendorf and David Schoembaum claims that Nazism had a profound effect on German society, to the extent that a 'social revolution' occurred, as Germany effectively became a classless society with unprecedented social mobility. The aim of Nazism to 'overcome the rigid immobility and sterility of the old social order by offering mobility and advancement through merit and achievement, not through...
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