The first Nazis, 1919-1922

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Ann Arbor, MI
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This dissertation addresses two contentions about the Nazi Party membership: firstly that members who joined after Hitler took over on 29 July 1921 were different than the original members, and secondly that the Nazi Party membership was made up of a certain type of person or social class. Additionally, through analysis of enrollment patterns and of the reasons stated by 194 early members for joining the Nazi Party, this dissertation seeks to determine why one might join the early Nazi Party. Using Party membership registers, I employed two different methods to help understand who belonged to the Nazi Party in its earliest days. The first of these is social composition. This method analyzes the entire group to get a sense of the characteristics of members of the early NS(DAP) and the SA. The second method is prosopography. This statistical method breaks down the data from the membership lists into clusters to ascertain the prototypical members. In conjunction, both the methodologies of social composition and the clustering of members bear out the contention that the types of early Party members before Hitler took over were different from the types who joined afterwards. Both methods also refute the theory that the Nazi Party enlisted only a certain type of person or appealed only to members of a specific social class. In fact, the Nazi Party really was, as it claimed, a Volkspartei, a people’s party that appealed to a broad range of Germans. To establish why people joined the early Nazi Party, I first analyzed enrollment patterns. No internal or outside factors seem to explain the spikes in enrollment. Also,answers to the question “What caused you the enter the [Nazi] Party?” discovered in the personnel files of early members were categorized along common themes. The multitude of reasons given for having joined the Nazi Party, despite the pointedness of Nazi propaganda at the time, is further evidence that membership was not due to any single, overriding factor.
Textdatei ausschließlich in den Räumlichkeiten des Instituts für Zeitgeschichte zugänglich.


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