Old world craftsmen into modern capitalists : artisans in Germany from national socialism to the Federal Republic, 1939-1953 / Frederick L. McKitrick.
This dissertation investigates the fate of one of the core constituencies of the Nazi movement, artisanal small proprietors, through World War II, the Allied occupation, and into the early years of the Federal Republic. With this unconventional periodization it addresses problems of continuity and change in 20th century Germany in seeking the social roots of post-war stability in the West. While artisans had been originally drawn to Nazism in the 1920s with promises of protection from more efficient industry as well as by a shared opposition to socialism, I discovered that what they got was much different. Instead of a confirmation of their anti-modernism, artisans were forced to become modern capitalists. Nazi technocrats, under pressure to increase war production, did not eliminate artisans, as has generally been assumed, but allowed them to keep their independence while coordinating their services where appropriate with industry. Thus their relation to industry became complimentary rather than competitive. But while this new structural position of German artisans has proven to be crucial to their integration into the Federal Republic, their own institutions have been no less important. Originally granted certain corporate powers by the Nazis as part of their policy of "coordination," artisanal guilds and chambers have managed to hold onto their authority in the post-war period even in the face of American opposition to what the latter regarded as restrictive medieval guild practices. They have used it (especially their control over the apprentice system, the completion of which is required to open up a shop in West Germany) to train artisans in rationalized techniques of production and management. Thus, paradoxically, the origins of post-war stability for this social group are to be found in the experience of Nazism and in the context of apparently pre-modern corporate institutions.
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