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The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen describes the strategies that the Nazi party used in order to build support for their politics in a single German town in the valley of the Leine River, Northheim. The basic thesis presented by Allen presents the notion that through identifying a target audience, lower and middle class, and establishing what this audience valued and needed the Nazis were able to present a campaign which would secure the votes necessary to win power.
Allen describes how the class structure of the town directly corresponded to the political values of the citizens; the lower and lower middle class were leftist supporters of the Social Democratic party, Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutchlands (SPD) whilst the remainder were rightist. The Nazi party purposely targeted those that felt that the SPD party were not meeting their needs and could see the opportunities presented by the Nazi party as offering them a way out from their current existence.
A very interesting notion presented concerns how the Nazis were able to transform an environment which contained a strong sense of community, something which is typically associated with democracy, to such an undemocratic outcome.
In his argument Allen presents two main principles as to why this was possible. The first is that the Nazis actually changed the town of Northeim to gain control and the second that they capitalised existing conditions in the town. Whilst the town inhabitants had formed strong sub cultures these sub cultures did not co-operate or interact across their class, status or ideological principles:
“The many clubs and societies cemented individual citizens together.
Without them Northeim would have been an amorphous society. Yet few of them cut across the lines” (Allen, 1984, p.20). Allen argues that through offering a shared ideology which could appeal to a number of these concentric social groups the Nazis were able to develop a broader solidarity and integration between people who held discrete interests; the citizens were not perhaps drawn to Semitism or a desire to move away from democracy, but were drawn to Nazism and shared the view that the promise that this ideology could bring their country back to greatness.
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