Creating the Nazi Marketplace: Commerce and Consumption in the Third Reich

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Overview

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, they promised to build a vibrant consumer society. But they faced a dilemma. They recognized that consolidating support for the regime required providing Germans with the products they desired. At the same time, the Nazis worried about the degrading cultural effects of mass consumption and its association with "Jewish" interests. This book examines how both the state and private companies sought to overcome this predicament. Drawing on a wide range of sources - advertisements, exhibition programs, films, consumer research, and marketing publications - the book traces the ways National Socialists attempted to create their own distinctive world of buying and selling. At the same time, it shows how corporate leaders and everyday Germans navigated what S. Jonathan Wiesen calls "the Nazi marketplace." A groundbreaking work that combines cultural, intellectual, and business history, Creating the Nazi Marketplace offers an innovative interpretation of commerce and ideology in the Third Reich.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In this deeply researched and richly argued book, S. Jonathan Wiesen suggests that, rather than illustrating the ‘primacy of politics’ over the economy, the Nazi marketplace was central to the regime’s promise of future consumer abundance, the realization of individual achievement, and the creation of a purified ‘racial community.’ In addition to highlighting the contradictions in the regime’s attempt to reconcile communal and private interests and its pursuit of rearmament and war while satisfying civilian needs, the Nazi marketplace also exposed the overlapping desires of business elites and marketing professionals to preserve their autonomy from political interference while advancing the Nazi Volksgemeinschaft.” – Shelley Baranowski, University of Akron

“Shoppers, ad men, Rotary Club boosters, and market researchers are not the kinds of people we usually associate with Nazi Germany. But Wiesen makes precisely this connection as he explores the contradictory interdependence between a racist dictatorship and a modern consumer society. Meticulous research, original interpretation, and lucid writing make this a major contribution to our understanding of ordinary Germans who supported Hitler’s rule.” – Claudia Koonz, Duke University

“S. Jonathan Wiesen’s book analyzes a still incompletely understood dimension of daily life under National Socialist rule, while also drawing attention to the larger issues of morality and violence that remain crucial to an understanding of the Nazi regime. In doing this, the work provides an original and valuable contribution to the scholarship.” – Rudy Koshar, University of Wisconsin–Madison

“S. Jonathan Wiesen tells a fascinating, unsettling story: how Nazi elites attempted to engineer prosperity and how German citizens came to expect getting and taking. Racial comrades slipped easily into the role of consumers, which bound them more tightly to the imperial projects and unceasing violence of the Third Reich. Wiesen shows how Nazism was built on desire and entitlement.” – Peter Fritzsche, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"Highly recommended." -Choice

"I recommend this book to those who are interested in non-military aspects of WWII Germany, particularly the German home front. While I had read other books on the Nazis rise to power, this really brought home the appeal the party had for German consumer businesses and the limits of Nazi control even at the height of their power." - Steven M. Smith, Armchair Journal

"At its core, S. Jonathan Wiesen's impressively researched and thoughtful book is about the evolution of modern marketing in Germany...an indispensable resource for scholars of advertising and consumerism." - Diethelm Prowe, American Historial Review

"This carefully researched and well-written book explores an area of Nazi Germany that has been touched only lightly in the existing extensive literature about the Third Reich." -Gerhard L. Weinberg, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"...Wiesen's study is a good starting point for further research into the culture of the marketplace supplementing the discussion on its material features." -Dieter Ziegler, H-Judaic

"...an important piece of scholarship that highlights the attempt to create a veritable economic middle path between capitalism and communism— but one persistently linked to Nazi criminality." -Mark B. Cole, German Studies Review

"S Jonathan Wiesen’s impressive new book on the consumer marketplace during the Third Reich demonstrates the difficulty the Nazi government had in imposing its ‘racially and morally sanitised consumer capitalism’ on its subjects (232)." -Victoria Harris, European History Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521746366
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/22/2010
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

S. Jonathan Wiesen is Associate Professor of History at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He is the author of West German Industry and the Challenge of the Nazi Past, 1945–1955 (2001) - co-winner of the 2002 book prize from the Hagley Museum and Library and the Business History Conference - and the co-editor of Selling Modernity: Advertising in Twentieth-Century Germany (2007). His work has appeared in multiple scholarly journals, including Central European History, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Journal of Contemporary History.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. National Socialism and the market
2. Commerce for the community:
advertising, marketing, and public relations in Hitler's Germany
3. Rotary clubs, consumption, and the Nazis' achievement community
4. Finding the 'voice of the consumer':
the Society for Consumer Research in the 1930s
5. World War II and the virtuous marketplace
Conclusion.
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