"Heil Hitler" [Hitler's actual popularity in Germany]

With a “blockwart” in every apartment building or group of houses, it was easy to report on who wasn’t displaying flags or suitably prescribed levels of enthusiasm or involvement in “encouraged” activities. Not necessary to drag people off to concentration camps most of the time, just maybe arrange a visit from the local party officials to indicate how life could become very difficult if you weren’t getting on with your neighbours…

Two examples that come to mind:

I can’t see anything like this happening America without becoming an ironic joke almost immediately. The least supportive becoming the most zealous applicants with a barely visible wink-wink, for instance.

Came across this quote on Wikipedia on The Meaning of Hitler by Raimund Pretzel (pseudonym Sebastian Haffner)

“Haffner argues that on gaining office in 1933, Hitler achieved many ‘miracles’ in economic and military policy. 90% of Germans approved.” (Going up to 1938.)

Note that ‘miracles’ in quotes. There was a lot of financial shenanigans and what not going on to make it seem like things were really getting better. It wasn’t going to last.

From what I understand, after the Nazis won 37% of the vote in 1932, they instituted a lot of government terror tactics and propaganda to build their base for the 1933 elections. Despite it, they still only won 44% of the vote in 1933.

So I don’t know the exact answer, but in the last election before the dictatorship when the Nazis were using terror and propaganda, they still had a minority of the population on their side.

I don’t personally think Nazi germany is a good example of a cult of personality. I’d say that Stalin in the USSR or Kim Il Sung in North Korea are better examples. They were both deranged, inept, selfish leaders who are widely loved by the people there.

If you want to learn about a cult of personality I’d read up on them instead.

If memory serves, they actually lost ground between the two elections of 1932, while the Communists if anything increased their support. That might explain why the other rightwing forces took the gamble of letting Hitler in, and made the mistake of thinking they could moderate him.

Yes, although Hitler was elected he never had a majority and really never had the support of the middle class. Well until they started beating everyone up but by that stage there were no elections.

I’m not sure about hating the elite- certainly he had no time for certain of them and would never have supported the Kaiser returning- but overall the industrialists benefitted.

However Von Manstein - probably the best General of the war was never a Nazi and thought Hitler a fool. There was plenty of opposition (the White Rose for example) but little could be done.

In the early days the Nazis were anti-industrialist. Remember the “Socialist” part of the name? But people like Göring were constantly bringing their rich friends around to put pressure on Hitler … and bring in much needed money. By the 30s Hitler was officially okay with them. He rewarded them quite well once he got into office. Money trumps ideology.

Hitler had many contrasting ideas. I don’t know that I would say he was anti industrialists but certainly always anti communist. I believe the Socialist bit was pretty much a cover for his wanting a dictatorship on his terms and to compete with the Social Democrats (in other words to give him a platform). After his failed push he was smart enough to realise he had to operate through the system as it was so goodnight Brownshirts- hello SS. (Took quite some time and a Depression).

He also had some Jewish “friends” he used to flog his replica paintings.

Anyway, to get back to the original question he was enormously popular in the late 30’s- not so much in 1944. There is no doubt he had a very good touch for touching public sentiment and surrounded himself with people - such as Goebbals and Borman- who would see what he wanted was translated. And of course Himmler was instrumental in getting his loathsome racist wishes enforced.

Hitler’s party was “socialist” only to take advantage of the propaganda value of the word, and and the same with “workers” at best. But it can be argued that perhaps they copied from others and didn’t purposefully plan for that being as much of a draw from the left as it was.

Otto Strasser was a kicked out because he was supporting “democracy and liberalism.” for assuming they were actually a “thing” in the eyes of the Nazis.
To be honest Hitler probably didn’t understand economics to know the difference at the time and he probably liked the propaganda and used the terms. Complete subjugation of the economy is required to attempt his large scale economically counterproductive xenophobic policies in an attempt to create an economically independent ethno-state.

But any claims Nazis actually were leftists or socialists are pretty hard to justify with the history.

Nazi-Germany and Stalin’s USSR can probably be described as populist movements but not much more is related past that.

I can’t disagree with anything you say- you summed it up pretty well. Actually Hitler did very little at all apart from trying to dictate to the professional staff what the military forces should be doing. He would give a broad outline of his wishes and his toadies would carry them out as they interpreted it “Working towards the Fuhrer”.

You can’t visit the past but it is sad the way things turned out. Bismarck had said “Germany should never fight another war” before being sacked and then you get crazies like Wilhelm and Hitler (okay Hitler was Austrian).

The Beerhall Putsch was in 1923. The Brownshirts were already being called the SA by that time. They continued to be a core part of the organization for many years after. The only big change before the Night of The Long Knives (1934) was in 1931 when Röhm was brought back and he started putting friends in charge, etc.

The Brownshirts operated the same way from the 1923 to 1934. So the putsch had nothing to do with their fall (their underwent a temporary renaming to avoid the Nazi party ban at the time).

Also, their fall had more to do with Hitler being uneasy with Röhm and his use of the group and nothing to do with “operating within the system”. The Nazi’s were the system by that time.

Well I disagree. After the push and his time in the slammer Hitler had time to rethink his strategy. The Brownshirts/ SA had so many members that Hitler could not disasocciate himself with them. That is one of the reasons the SS was formed- initially as bodyguard for Hitler- but also as a parallel force (something Hitler was fond of). The SS was initially a target for the Brownshirts and the police had to rescue them at times but eventually they became strong enough to take on the murder of Rohm.

Buy yourself a copy of The SS- A New History by Adrian Weale.

Could you go on about that psychologically scary stuff? It seems relevant and non-obvious.

Count me equally confused as FTG. You say that after the push (putsch?), he realized he had to work through the system, “goodnight Brownshirts” and “hello SS” and that this took enough time for the Depression to happen.

The Beerhall Putsch happened in 1923, the SS were founded in 1925, the Depression started in 1929 and the Night of the long knives was in 1934. I’m having a difficult time matching the chronology and I don’t see how relying on the SS constitutes working through the system since the SS were not part of the government at that time.

I can’t find it this morning (dammit!) but last night I was watching one of the Steven Spielberg films that are part of the Holocaust Memorial collection. It dealt with the Nazi rise to power and mentioned in passing that in 1936, the government – fully autocratic at the time – demanded all Germans who were part of a long list of jobs sign a loyalty to Hitler. Not Germany itself, not the founding documents of the nation, not the government, not even the NASDP itself, but Hitler, the individual.

It included with the military forces (naturally) and government workers, but went on to include the police and practically anyone wearing any kind of uniform, even tram drivers and street sweepers. Needless to say, teachers were included as well. IIRC in all, some 40% of German workers were included.

His ‘actual popularity’ varied over time. As a bunch of posts have pointed out, when there were reasonably free and air elections in Germany pre 3rd Reich, Hitler’s popularity varied from low (joke, even) in the 1920’s to significant support short of a majority at the time he gained power. Once the Nazi’s implemented an authoritarian/totalitarian state then it’s like other such cases, how exactly popular were/are the Communists or particular leaders in Russia or China over the decades? When there’s vicious repression of existing opposition it’s hard to tell, when the regimes have had decades to indoctrinate successive generations what does it actually mean? Although, of course, the Nazi’s didn’t last long enough to have that much of the latter phenomenon, a large part though not all the population remembered the time before them.

Anyway, seems hard to say how to quantify the exact path of support of Hitler. It’s more or less common sense that it was pretty high ca. 1940 with a number of years to work on the population with propaganda, arguably significant improvements in the average person’s economic situation, and objective fact of major military victories especially against France which had humiliated Germany. And likewise it’s hard to believe it didn’t decline from that as the war turned disastrous. But I wonder what even the best historical research could offer to quantify that except more and better anecdotes.

To which I’d just add that the grandma/grandpa in the German family with whom my daughter lived as exchange student there not many years ago became close to her. And her Germany became quite excellent I’m proud to say. They confided they still had some positive feelings for Hitler, ‘he was trying to help the German people, at least’.

It’s not linear and the time line can be confusing. After the “Putsch” or “push” failed Hitler realised he had to work through the current system as a revolution was not going to hppen given his very small popularity base. However, Rohm and his Brownshirts (SA) had a very much different view in that they wanted a revolution and envisaged a far different system- and way to achieve this. Hence Hitler understood that there had to be a way of marginalising the Brownshirts (SA)which was difficult given their control of weapons and immense base. The SS was formed initially as a bodyguard for Hitler but numbers were small but loyal. As time went by, Hitler gained some political traction but it wasn’t until the Depression that he was able to launch an all out attack on the failures of the system and present an alternative Govt (this was on the back of American loans and such becoming less available) and the economy was a mess. (Rohm had gone to Bolivia). Rohm came back on the request of Hitler but was still after a second revolution and power

Eventually Hitler did gain power through the help of the arch conspiratist von Papen but Rohm and the SA were causing trouble and Rohm wanted control of the armed forces which of course horrified the Wehrmacht General Staff and the industrialists who hoped to make a fortune from military contracts. Hitler assured the industrialists that there would not be a second revolution and in the meantime Goering, Heydrich and Goebbals and Himmler were plotting the end of the SA. The SS had grown to a large (not huge) organisation. Hitler had assured the dying Hindenburg he would end the problems and he did- so the Night of the Long Knives.

I know this is convoluted but there was nothing simple about the regime.

I just want to point out that the order and cause of events that Cicero is presenting here are not in line with the basics of what you get from other sources. (Even Wikipedia does a better job!)

E.g., the statement “Rohm came back on the request of Hitler but was still after a second revolution and power” [sic] doesn’t fit anything I can find. Röhm came back to head the SA (which included the Brownshirts) in 1931. What “second revolution” happened around that time is beyond me.

I find Cicero’s comments quite baffling.

I think that what Cicero is referring to is that Röhm actually was a radical socialist of a populist streak. He thought that once Hitler had gained power by soft-pedalling the “socialism”’ in the party, there would be a second, more thorough re-organisation of German society, such as abolishing the Army, which he saw as a continuation of the Prussian aristocratic elite. The SA, a people’s army, would replace it. That was Röhm’s downfall. Hindenberg and the army would not tolerate that kind of revolutionary nonsense and made that clear to Hitler, who was still trying to consolidate his power and knew he couldn’t risk alienating the Army.

So that was the end of Röhm and the SA.

Maybe rereading Wiki would make it clear- to quote an excerpt "Röhm spoke of a “second revolution” against the Reaktion (the National Socialist label for conservatives). "

I don’t find it baffling.