Portland State University. Department of History
Date of Award
Master of Arts (M.A.) in History
1 online resource (3, vi, 468 leaves, mounted ill. 28 cm.)
Pfungstadt (Germany) -- History, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei -- History
Pfungstadt is a small German town which to date has not earned a footnote in the histories of either the Weimar Republic or the Third Reich. Based upon the efforts of men in towns like Pfungstadt (and towns which were not like Pfungstadt) the members of the Nazi party built a political structure which reached to the pinnacle upon which Adolf Hitler stood. Researching the growth of the Nazi party, the intense struggles that occurred with democratic forces, the seizure of power and the installation of a workable system of government is the problem. This thesis in no way purports to be more than a study of the history of the town of Pfungstadt between 1928 and 1935.
Such a research problem demands field research. During a period of four months (September, 1971, to January, 1972) I lived in Pfungstadt. The main sources of the date which I gathered during that time were the town's newspaper, the Pfungstädter Anzeige, and the SPD newspaper, which was published in Darmstadt, the Hessischer Volksfreund. Daily accounts of the political and social events in Pfungstadt were carried in the Anzeiger; the Volksfreund contained a predominate amount of SPD party activities. Also consulted were various records from the town hall's archives. Supplementing, putting some flesh on the bones of the written records of Pfungstadt's history, were personal interviews with all of the living political leaders of the age, plus a broad cross-section of the general populace.
The backbone of Pfungstadt's society was the middle class. Imbedded within that class were the seeds of Nazism. The working class was divided along political lines between the SPD (Social Democrats) and the KPD (Communists). The working class and the middle class (the bürgerlich), political competitors since the 1890's, grew wider and wider apart in political outlook with the advent of the depression in 1929. Ignoring their old association with liberalism, first a small portion, and then, by 1932, nearly the entire middle class fell into the Nazi's hands. The working class fought a double-barreled battle of its own. The KPD constantly scored the SPD for losing its “class identity” and took a sizable portion of the SPD's traditional electorate. The SPD, not desiring the radical programs of the KPD, formulated a liberal set of objectives, but was not able to stem the tide which was running for a "change." Democracy died in Pfungstadt because of the shortsighted vision of the middle class, a shortsightedness brought on by the seemingly insolvable depression. Faced with a choice, in their minds, between losing their social and political significance and voting for a change (any change) the middle class succumbed to an overwhelming political immaturity and voted for the Nazis. On March 7, 1933, with the middle class support assured, the Nazis seized power with the assistance of SA members from Darmstadt. Once in physical control of the town, a systematic series of measures assisted the Nazis in coordinating the town into their system. Everyone in Pfungstadt then was forced to pay an exorbitant price for the political blindness of the bürgerlich.
Arns, David E., "The transition to Nazism, the history of the German town of Pfungstadt, 1928 to 1935" (1972). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 968.