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The response of German social democracy to the rise of national socialism / by Donna Teresa Harsch.

Publication | Library Call Number: JN3970.S6 H37 1987

This dissertation is the history of German Social Democracy's struggle to save the Weimar Republic and stave off the Nazi threat. The German Social Democratic Party (SPD) has often been accused of not recognizing the danger posed by the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) to Weimar Germany and, as a result, failing to confront the Nazi movement. This dissertation argues that this view is too simplistic. It details the emergence of Social Democratic concern with Nazism between 1928 and 1932. It is shown that after September 1930, the SPD dedicated itself to holding off the Nazi threat and to protecting democracy in Germany. Despite the SPD's preoccupation with Nazism, it failed to challenge its enemy successfully. The reasons for this failure are explored in the dissertation. The focus is on the internal organization and politics of the SPD. Decisions made by the party leadership are placed within the context of intra-party tensions and debates. The SPD was a heterogeneous organization with diverse centers of influence and political tendencies. Individuals and groups within Social Democracy reacted to the NSDAP in different ways. These differences stymied the development of a coherent strategy and hindered the implementation of effective tactics for confronting the linked problem of safeguarding the republic and defeating the NSDAP. The dissertation discusses the political and economic convictions of Social Democrats, to what extent their beliefs were influenced by Marxism, and how these ideas affected the SPD's response to Nazism and Weimar's crisis. The dissertation also examines Social Democratic analyses of the weaknesses and strengths of their own party, as well as those of the NSDAP. Finally, it considers the efforts of reformers in the Socialist movement to mobilize the SPD on an extraparliamentary basis and to win it to an active economic policy. The dissertation draws on a variety of sources, including the personal papers of leading Social Democrats, the provincial party press, party and trade union journals, and reports on the minutes of party meetings at all levels of the organization.

Harsch, Donna.
Record last modified: 2018-05-29 16:28:00
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