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Weimar Radicals

Weimar Radicals: Nazis and Communists between Authenticity and Performance

Timothy S. Brown
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Weimar Radicals
    Book Description:

    Exploring the gray zone of infiltration and subversion in which the Nazi and Communist parties sought to influence and undermine each other, this book offers a fresh perspective on the relationship between Communism and Fascism a key problem of twentieth-century German history. The struggle between Nazism and Communism is situated within a broader conversation among right and left-wing publicists, across the Youth Movement and in the "National Bolshevik" scene, thus revealing the existence of a discourse on revolutionary legitimacy fought according to a set of common assumptions about the qualities of the ideal revolutionary. Highlighting the importance of a masculine-militarist politics of youth revolt operative in both Marxist and anti-Marxist guises, Weimar Radicals forces us to re-think the fateful relationship between the two great ideological competitors of the Weimar Republic, while offering a challenging new interpretation of the distinctive radicalism of the interwar era.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-908-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. viii-ix)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Chapter 1 The Revolt of the Masses: Populist Radicalism and the Discontents of Modernity
    (pp. 1-14)

    In June 1931, in the midst of Hitler’s drive to power in Germany, an official of the Nazi paramilitary wing (theSturmabteilungor SA) wrote to party headquarters in Munich to report a worrying incident.¹ A crude antiparty newspaper—Der Freiheitskämpfer(The Freedom Fighter)—had appeared in Düsseldorf. The product of a self-styled “Opposition” within the SA, this invective-laced sheet lambasted local party leaders for corruption and challenged the overall direction of the Nazi movement. The paper complained of the watering down of Nazism’s revolutionary goals, a charge it leveled in particular against Adolf Hitler.² Such charges were not uncommon...

  7. Chapter 2 Faces of Social Militarism in the Weimar Republic
    (pp. 15-41)

    On 27 February 1931, a celebrated Hitler supporter, serving a prison sentence delivered in one of the biggest political trials of the Weimar Republic, announced, to the shock and surprise of everyone, that he had decided to join the Communists. This political bombshell—a supporter of Adolf Hitler defecting to the party of Moscow and Stalin—exploded at a time of growing crisis in Germany. The Great Depression was in full swing, producing mass unemployment and social unrest. Government was breaking down, with rule by emergency decree and back-door machinations by a small cabal of schemers around the aging president,...

  8. Chapter 3 National Socialism and Its Discontents
    (pp. 43-81)

    Two weeks before the Reichstag elections of 14 September 1930—elections that would bring the NSDAP 107 parliamentary delegates and make Nazism a major player on the German political stage—a series of anonymous fliers began appearing on the streets of Berlin, Leipzig, and other German cities. “We are nationalists and socialists,” the authors of the first flier proclaimed, “but we are above all revolutionaries. For that reason, the plan to take place in the government after the elections is treasonous.” Any kind of alliance with the bourgeois “parties of the goldsacks,” any kind of participation in the system, they...

  9. Chapter 4 German Communism and the Fascist Challenge
    (pp. 83-119)

    The key to Communist politics in the Weimar Republic lies in what the Communist Party was bequeathed by the Bolsheviks: the claim to an exclusive, scientifically legitimated role of leadership over the masses. Caught between the hammer of a Soviet Union bent on aggrandizing its own security needs at the expense of indigenous Communist parties, and the anvil of a crisis-ridden German society in the grip of patriotic extremism, the KPD faced many difficulties; but its greatest difficulties were a function not of external circumstances but of the very nature of its project. The KPD’s revolutionary orientation, although clearly at...

  10. Chapter 5 Between Gleichschaltung and Revolution
    (pp. 121-148)

    In the summer of 1935, as part of the Germany-wide “Reich Athletic Competition,” citizens in the state of Schleswig-Holstein witnessed the following spectacle:

    On the first Sunday of August propaganda performances and maneuvers took place in a number of cities. They are supposed to reawaken the old mood of the “time of struggle.” In Kiel, SA men drove through the streets in trucks bearing … inscriptions against the Jews … and the Reaction. One [truck] carried a straw puppet hanging on a gallows, accompanied by a placard with the motto: “The gallows for Jews and the Reaction, wherever you hide...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 149-152)

    Two competing ideological incursions—one by Communism seeking to be “national,” the other by Nazism attempting to be “social”—achieved nothing like a convergence at a hypothetical point labeled “National Socialism.” Even if elements of shared ideology were created by the KPD’s self-destructive attempt to remold itself along radical nationalist lines in 1923/1930, and even if defections from one side to the other did occasionally create a literal area of overlap at the grass roots, the space between the two movements is to be seen less as an area of overlap than a space in which the two movements played...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 153-189)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 190-208)
  14. Index
    (pp. 209-213)