Why did millions of apparently sane, rational Germans join the Nazi Party between 1925 and 1933? In this provocative book, William Brustein argues that the Nazi Party’s emergence as the most popular political party in Germany was eminently logical — that it resulted largely from its success at fashioning economic programs that addressed the material needs of a wide range of German citizens.
Brustein has carefully analyzed a huge collection of pre-1933 Nazi Party membership data drawn from the official files at the Berlin Document Center. He argues that Nazi followers were more representative of German society as a whole — that they included more workers, more single women, and more Catholics — than most previous scholars have believed. Further, says Brustein, the patterns of membership reveal that people joined the Nazi Party not because of Hitler’s irrational appeal or charisma or anti-Semitism, but because the party, through its shrewd and proactive program, offered more benefits to more people than did the other political parties in Weimar Germany. According to Brustein, Nazi supporters were no different from citizens anywhere who select a political party or candidate they believe will promote their economic interests. The roots of evil, he suggests, may be ordinary indeed.
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