Reflections on the Culture and Ideology of National Socialism
This chapter presents some chilling reflections that highlight certain continuities between the Republic and the Third Reich. It demonstrates how fluid and flexible Nazi ideology was in practice—so amenable to multiple interpretations and accommodations, in fact, that the majority of elites and masses could demonstrate fealty to the regime in multiple ways and thereby maintain a continued and even increased level of “normalcy” after the Nazi Gleichschaltung, notwithstanding the tragic fates suffered by too many of those who had once been citizens of the Republic. Biographies and institutional studies of the conservative circles in Weimar and the Kaisserreich reveal that unlike Soviet Communism, intellectual fealty to National Socialism required not so much rhetorical and ideological conformity as an ethos or “Gesinnung,” a willingness to adhere to the precepts of the worldview which was vague and indistinct enough to embrace a variety of related perspectives.
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