Nazi policies towards workers and big business

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Nazi policies towards workers and big business
The workers
Political allegiance of the German workers pre-1933
In 1933 the working class were the largest social group in German society and made up
46% of the economically active population and for this reason their support was needed
by political parties who wanted power in Weimar Germany
A large number of the working class supported the Socialist SPD with a substantial
minority voting for the KPD
Not all voters voted on the basis of class loyalty, In Catholic areas e.g. the Rhineland,
workers tended to join Catholic trade unions and join the Catholic centre party
Trade unions were important and powerful in Germany and the Weimar gov recognised
the legal rights of the workers to join trade unions and participate in the running of their
workplace through workers councils
Mass unemployment in the early 30's weakened trade unions and undermined the
cohesion of the working class communities
Why was I so important that Hitler gained the workers support?
Attracting the working class was a key aim of the Nazi party and by adopting the name the
national socialist German workers party, it was a conscious effort to win working class
Many radical elements within the Nazi party before 1934 were active in the NSBO party
which used anti-capitalist, class war rhetoric to win working class support
Nazism relied, mainly on peasant farmers, small businessmen and shopkeepers and the
party did best in rural areas and small, predominately Protestant areas.
Studies have indicated that in the early 1930's, the Nazis were attracting support from
industrial workers
According to Conan Fisher, 40% of Nazi voters and party members were working class. It
appears that hostility towards the party in working class communities was beginning to
break down by 1933, but it must be remembered that the majority of working class did
not vote for the Nazi party, even as late as March 1933
The Nazi's wanted to create a peoples community in which class differences, religion, age
and gender differences would all be put aside and replaced by national unity.
Given their traditional ties to trade unions and non-Nazi political parties, industrial
workers presented the greatest challenge to Gleichschaltaung
The Nazi's could not ignore the working class, nor could they solely rely on repression to
co=ordinate society
National Socialist Factory Cell organisation
Involved in a number of strikes before 1933
It was useful for Hitler to have a grassroots Nazi organisation which was in competition
with the Socialist and Communists, but it alienated the Business leaders and conservative
elite who Hitler needed to achieve and maintain power

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The leader of the NSBO, Richard Muchow, wanted his organisation to become a giant
trade union which would represent all workers
In 1934, it was purged of its radical leadership by Hitler and subordinated to the German
Labour Front
The German Labour Front
The DAF was founded in May 1933 and ran by Robert Key
It was created to co-ordinate the workers into the Nazi regime
When trade unions were banned and the Hirsch unions disbanded, it became the only
outlet for the working class…read more

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The sense of community would be reinforced by removing sources of conflict
between different groups and achieving mutual cooperation.
The historian Richard Evans saw the Reich Food Estate as "the vehicle through which peasant
farmers would strengthen their economic interests and claim their rightful place in the new
In practice, the Reich Food estate brought mixed results for the peasants:
The regime spent 650,000,000 RM in the years 1933-36 to clear farmer's debt.…read more

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Many villagers remembered the Third Reich as a `time for war in many households'
because of the differing views of different generations. It showed that the aim of creating a
`peoples community' in the countryside was far from being achieved.
The Reich Food Estate had mounting problems and a strong undercurrent of peasant discontent
meaning that Darres influence began to wane. After 1936, the German Labour Front took over
responsibility for the education and training of agricultural workers.…read more


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