Hitler’s Compromises –
Coercion and Consensus in Nazi Germany
By Nathan Stoltzfus
Yale University Press – £30.00
Air raids did not crush the German will to fight as some Allied leaders had projected, although they did burden the regime’s capacity for totalitarian control by drawing its credibility into question. Air raids also disrupted home and family life, sharpening the conflict between private sphere values and Nazi demands.
(‘Evacuations, Protests, Soft Strategies’)
Wouldn’t one be right to question the divisive line between ”private sphere values and Nazi demands?” Surely they ultimately overlapped to such a dire extent that Nazi demands were all encompassing; thus eliminating the private sphere (value) to a level of being null and void?
Either way, this more than illuminating book sheds an abundance of light on the degree to which Adolf Hitler and his inner circle demonstrated a high-octane, if not fundamentally insightful political skill, in ensuring a consistently strong home-base of support. A quality where the Nazi leader came into his own by proffering a fine, unquestionable political finesse – finesses being a word not oft associated with Hitler.
Yet, all things considered, maintaining such delicate support when all around was being blown to smithereens, quite literally, was clearly no mean feat. Indeed, this more than comprehensive examination of Hitler’s regime reveals a plethora of strategic compromises the Nazi leader made in order manage dissent.
By focusing on his use of both charisma and terror, Hitler’s Compromises – Coercion and Consensus in Nazi Germany, asserts – among other things – that Germany’s dictator made very few concessions to maintain power.
In and of itself, this is further substantiated by the continuation of the above opening quotation, where author (and Dorothy and Jonathan Rintels Professor of Holocaust Studies at Florida State University) Nathan Stoltzfus, writes: ”The ensuing grumbling challenged the regime’s control over information and its propaganda claims that the overwhelming majority of Germans were united under Hitler’s leadership. Ironically, the air raids did draw the Germans together in a ”community of fate,” in the solidarity of fear, and when this happened, the regime turned to ingratiating itself with the besieged people by playing the role of their best ally.”
Strong societal/social stuff.
There again, ”Hitler did not think he could achieve total state power without forming a total society […]. Nonetheless, in the context of the national humiliation and dislocation the Germans experienced after World War I, Hitler made surprising headway with brass-knuckled solicitations in gaining unquestioning fealty.”
The narrative of these 298 pages (excluding Preface, Notes, Acknowledgements and Index) are overtly well considered and researched, not to mention deft in delivery. As Jill Stephenson of the University of Edinburgh has stated: ”This book is based on a wealth of sources. It rehearses various episodes that give us an insight into the relationship between the Nazi regime and some sectors of society, including the Christian churches, women evacuees in wartime, and the gentile wives of Jewish German men. This is done in greater detail than in many accounts, and the detail is very illuminating. It’s message is that, again and again, Hitler chose to compromise with a group that stood up to him and his regime rather than risk outright confrontation, especially in wartime.”
National, internal confrontation towards Hitler isn’t something we often think of when it comes to the Nazi regime; which, for all intents and persuasive purposes, appeared to work (most of the time).
As such, for a further understanding on such subtle, political assimilation within German society throughout Hitler’s reign, this book most definitely hits the mark throughout.