The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen

The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen

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In The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen, the author is able to show the reader the support building strategy used by the Nazi party in Northeim and surrounding areas. Allen's thesis is that Nazi party was able to succeed the village of Northeim and else where because they were able to reach out the lower and middle class. Since these classes held the majority of the population, the Nazi party discovered what they wanted from government officials and then used that to persuade these classes to vote for them. To give you a background of the village of Northeim is vital to the understanding of how this party could have come in and take over the political scene so quickly.
Northeim was a small town that was placed in the valley of the Leine River. The concept that you could stand at one end of town and see the other side of town gave the citizens a sense of protection and security. It was a semi-medieval town with actual walls still surrounding the inner core of the city. The dominate religion in the city was Lutheran but the Catholics would begin to emerge in the late 1800s. The city was made up of people from mostly the working class. Because of the emergence of more technical academies and college preparatory schools there was the arrival of teachers, artisans, more government officials, and railroad personnel.
The class structure is built around four different categories of citizens. The lower class, which is made up of the unskilled and semiskilled workers, made up for one-third of the population. The lower middle class, who were the skilled workers, white-collar workers, farmers, and pensioners, made up another third of the Northeim population. The upper middle class that included the craft masters, civil servants, and businessmen made up a little over a fourth of the population. Finally the upper class, which was made up of businessmen, self-employed, and professionals made up barely four percent of the population. Though there was not much difference in the sizes of three of the classes, there were still large differences in the incomes of these classes. From the class breakdown you could see how the Nazi party could be so successful. With the classes set you then begin to see the emergence of the political parties.

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Many Northeimers of the working class, usually the lower class and lower middle class, were members' Social Democratic party, Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutchlands, or the SPD. The party and its members were Leftist in every way you can think. This party was made up of people from all different working class organizations. Some examples of these organizations were the Workers' Funeral Savings Association or the Householders Consumers' Cooperative. This ideology gave Northeim training for a democracy and became a way of life for the working class. If you were not apart of the Socialist then you were a Rightist. It was this small group of people that, at the close of the 1920's, would give the Nazi and Nationalist party its greatest support.
Throughout the course of the early 1930's, the Nazi political party began to really rally support in the town of Northeim. At the end of the 1920's the Nazi party only received 123 votes but in 1932 the numbers had climbed to 4200 votes. The Nazi party was great at focusing in on those who were feeling that the Socialist Democratic parties were not reaching them. These citizens of the lower class and the middle class seem to drift more towards the Nazi party because of what they had to offer. The citizens seem to feel that with this party they would be able to have an opportunity to succeed and excel in life. Not only did the Nazi party focus on the different social class but they focused on the different genders and age difference. The Nazi party made sure that they were appealing to everyone that felt a since of distance from the Socialist party which tended to be the dominant party of the time.
In this book, Allen does a great job of showing the reader the many ways the Nazi Party got their propaganda out to the voters. He also shows how, at first, while the Nazi Party may have not been the first choice in average citizens' mind, how they were able to relate to and change the citizens' thinking over the course of just a few years. His description of the extremes that all the political parties at the time went to in order to get the vote was very intense. With the parades, pamphlets, meetings, and speakers it is no wonder that these citizens of the lower and lower middle class would choose the Nazi party. In a time of economic depression and political instability, this group proved to them that they had everything together and they had the financial backing to support a party of such a great size.
In conclusion, I feel that Allen did a fabulous job of making his point to the reader and supporting it with a great many different examples. I could easily understand why people at this time would tend to lean towards the Nazi party because of what the Nazis offered to the average citizen of Germany.
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