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The Nazi Volksgemeinschaft: From Myth to Reality
February 11, 2018 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Examining ordinary Germans’ consent to the Nazi dictatorship and the Holocaust, historians have debated the social meaning and the implementation of the Nazi concept of a Volksgemeinschaft, or ‘people’s community,’ the vision of establishing a truly united nation that would be free of the chasms and cleavages of modern societies. While prominent historians dismiss the Volksgemeinschaft as a hollow propaganda phrase, this talk probes into its integrative power and shows how it became real. The Nazis may not have succeeded in standardizing Germans’ mindsets but they succeeded in aligning the choices Germans took. The Volksgemeinschaft became real not in a utopian fashion as a grand community of social harmony and security but in a dystopian mode as the acme of nation building through violent action—through war, terror and genocide.
Thomas Kühne is the Director of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University, where he holds the Strassler Chair in Holocaust History. He studies the cultural and social history of war and genocide in the 20th century, with a focus on Holocaust perpetrators and bystanders. His most recent books include The Rise and Fall of Comradeship: Hitler’s Soldiers, Male Bonding and Mass Violence in the 20th Century (2017); and Belonging and Genocide. Hitler’s Community, 1918-1945 (2010).
Moderation: NOAH STROTE | NC State University, Department of History
This event is part of the North Carolina German Studies Seminar & Workshop Series co-sponsored by CES.