Bluejackets and brown shirts : the German naval officer corps in the era of national socialism, 1928-1939 / by Charles Spurgeon Thomas.
The dissertation examines the experiences of the German naval officer corps from the appointment of Erich Raeder as head of the navy in 1928 to the outbreak of war in 1939. This eleven-year period witnessed a number of developments that were of monumental importance both for Germany and the navy: the crisis of the Weimar Republic and the concurrent emergence of Adolf Hitler, the National Socialist Machtergreifung, the imposition of a one-party state, military and naval rearmament, and the resumption of an aggressive foreign policy by the Reich. The dissertation, based upon primary research at the Bundesarchiv-Militararchiv in Freiburg, West Germany, and upon extensive secondary materials, analyses the officer corps' responses to these and other developments in the tumultuous decade preceding the Second World War. Chapters I and II examine the legacies of Imperial and Republican Germany for the navy, while Chapter III describes the Service's reaction to the collapse of the Republic from September 1928 until January 1933. A fourth chapter analyzes the officers' initial response to the National Socialist dictatorship and then carries the story forward to the conclusion of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935. Chapter V examines the effects of naval expansion upon the internal solidarity of the officer corps. Chapters VI and VII detail the continuing process of accommodation between Party and Service between 1935 and 1939 and describe the navy's role in the steps leading to the outbreak of war in September 1939. The dissertation reveals a complex picture of the corps. Many officers were troubled by specific features of the Party: its paramilitary bodies, its vehement campaign against the Jews and the Churches, and its reckless foreign policy. Others embraced National Socialism wholeheartedly. Yet, neither of these two groups was as significant as the much larger number of officers who, like their commander, Raeder, put aside whatever private reservations that they might have entertained and served the New Order loyally on the somewhat dubious grounds that this constituted "political neutrality." For the moment, Adolf Hitler could scarcely have asked for more.
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