Volksgemeinschaft when translated means “peoples community”. It was the Nazi ideology to try and create a perfect German society, which would be united through different factors, including race, blood and traditional values. Hitler’s aim was to create a class-less society and return German people to a rural way of life; this in turn would lead to a total loss of individuality. This society included the creation of a “master race”, or “Herrenvolk”, of Aryan Germans, this would include Hitler’s ideal humans whose characteristics must of included, blonde hair, blue eyes and a strong athletic build.
This was thought to be based on Darwin’s theory of evolution, stating that the white male was the most highly evolved being. The nazi propaganda poster and Melita Maschmann both show the Nazi commitment to creating unity and ultimately achieving their main goal of Volksgemeinschaft. By the state providing cheap radios for “all of Germany” it allowed German people to listen to Nazi broadcasts and propaganda. This commitment to unity is also shown in youth groups as Maschmann describes them as successful small-scale models of Volksgemeinshaft.
Melita Maschmann’s account also demonstrates the positive steps being taken towards achieving Volksgemeinschaft, along with George Clare’s commitment. Maschmann comments on the success in terms of unity and equality which was being shown in youth groups, while Clare makes the point on how the success of removing the undesirable community was going. These “undesirables” included outsiders such as Jews and Homosexuals. Maschmann supports Clare’s comment on how Nazi Germany was a “wonderful place to be alive” for those inside Volksgemeinschaft by speaking of her enjoyment of youth group activities.
George Clare’s comment also implies that there was successful persecution of the Jews taking place at the time, which is backed up again by Kershaw’s acknowledgement that the Nazi’s succeeded in “enhancement of existing prejudice against the Jews”. However, it is quite clear to see that this is propaganda, it shows what the Nazi’s wanted to achieve and what they wanted the German people to believe, this is not reality.
Maschmann’s source is also limited as she only experience Hitler’s Volksgemeinschaft from the youth group point of view, not from the view of German society as a whole, so the success shown in the source is limited to the youth. Also Maschmann’s experiences as a former BDM leader could be exaggerated and affected by the different indoctrination that she would have been exposed to. Clare, despite the amount of research, can only interoperate the past as neither her or Kershaw were there at the time. The subjective view in a satirical tone also affects the reliability of his comments.
However, in contrast, Ian Kershaw’s cynical view of the Nazi success in creating Volksgemeinschaft highlights the lack of any “social revolution”. He refers to how Nazi ideology and values had barely any affect on the German publics consciousness. This is shown as the German people continued with traditional class-values which the Nazi’s aimed to abolish. Similar to this, Phillip Gibbs who was a non-German journalist gives his account of indifference in Berlin 1034. He explains how “no one in the crowded cafi?? listened to Adolf Hitler” when a Nazi broadcast was on the radio.
This supports the idea that people of the German community were not affected by Nazi ideas. However, Gibbs only gives an account of one cafi?? , this does not give a fair representation of the whole Germany. There is evidence which shows some did accept Nazi ideology but it cannot be found in this source. Gibbs account also highlights the failure to create Volksgemeinschaft nationally, which was ultimately the Nazi’s main aim. Melita Maschmann also supports this point in her view of the youth camps and how Volksgemeinschaft was only successful on a small scale. Also critical on any sort of success of Volksgemeinschaft was Kershaw.
The Gestapo statistics of anti-Nazi leaflets seized shows some opposition to the Nazi party, this is supported by Gibbs account of indifference to political broadcasts. Clare’s statement, which suggested the Nazi’s were persecuting outsiders, and Kershaw noting “signs of conflict, tension and opposition” within youth groups, also support this too. There is also a similar contradiction within the Nazi propaganda poster, as the poster implies unity, as “all of Germany” listens with the “peoples receiver”, while the statistics show opposition to the Nazi party during this period.
Although this is what the statistics show they could of easily manipulated to prove anything, this does not make these statistics a particularly reliable form of evidence. Also as the statistics show such a small percentage of opposition compared to the population, many small groups may not have been recorded, as they only existed subversively. Gibbs account demerits the Nazi’s hopes of loyalty and unity inside Volksgemeinschaft, which is portrayed on the propaganda poster.
The two separate accounts of Gibbs and the poster show the inconsistencies between Nazi ideology, and what was actually achieved in Germany. As Gibbs gives a view from the point of an outsider looking in on Hitler’s Germany his points are more objective, and in a way less reliable as it is an outsider’s impression of Germany. Once again this sources reliability is affected by his cynical tone, – “little fellow with his tie creeping over his collar” – this is a mocking description of a man who was listening to Hitler’s speech.
As Kershaw is a respected Nazi Germany historian his source quite rightly contains a lot of information on the area of Volksgemeinschaft. Although because of his experience with this area of history he is subjective, like many other historians, as he will of created his own views on the subject over time. In conclusion I believe that the impact of Volksgemeinschaft policy on those inside it was not always as intended, and although the Nazi’s had some success, the failure to create national unity was a huge failure and Nazi’s were unable to prevent opposition in peoples minds.
Mainly the sources show the failure of Volksgemeinschaft, although you do get aspects of success. It is clear that the differing views and opinions found in the sources show the different experiences of those involved at the time, different perceptions of the past and also the lack of sources. It would be impossible to get an accurate view of the past from six sources and the question could never be answered fully, also the success of Volkgemeinschaft can never be accurately determined, as any interpretations of the past will always contain aspects of subjections.