Strength Through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich

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Overview

Based on extensive archival research, this is the first major book on the Nazi leisure and tourism agency, Strength through Joy (KdF). The Third Reich aimed to unify Germans in preparation for war and the acquisition of "living space." Yet it was also sensitive to German consumers, whose wish for higher living standards threatened national cohesion and rearmament. The leisure organization Strength through Joy became the Nazi regime's most determined attempt to ease the tension between collective goals and individual desires, as well as between "guns and butter." Its factory beautification, organized sports, cultural events, and mass tourism sought to raise the status of workers and integrate them in the nation, while keeping its costs low so that its clientele could afford its programs without wage increases that compromised rearmament. Nevertheless, if KdF did attract workers, it also drew the middle classes, which sought adventure, personal comfort, and pleasure - especially through its tourism. Although the motivations of Strength through Joy's constituencies often diverged from the Nazi ideal of a united, politicized "racial community," kdF's accommodation to consumer expectations made it the regime's most popular institution. KdF mitigated present sacrifices while presenting visions of a prosperous future once "living space" was acquired. As a privilege extended to racially acceptable Germans, it segregated the Nazi regime's victims from the German "racial community" (Volksgemeinschaft).
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"All in all, this is a very useful book, particularly for those who seek an introductory overview. It convincingly extends the subject well beyond its classic boundaries by opening up new perspectives on the relation between consumption and National Socialism." American Historical Review

"Anyone interested in the history of Nazi Germany, in mass-market tourism, and in an account of a twentieth-century attempt to create a balance between work and life should read Baranowski's thorough and provocative study." Business History Review, Hans-Liudger Dienel, Berlin University of Technology

"Shelly Baranowski provides us with a clear and careful assessment of the impact of Fordism on the changing patterns of German consumption." Journal of Modern History Christopher Kopper, Universitat Bielefeld

"Overall, this is a book that historians will welcome as the first major, scholarly assessment of KDF, from a seasoned scholar who crafts her discussion from fresh perspectives currently engaging the profession."
Geoffrey J. Giles, University of Florida, German Studies Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521833523
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Shelley Baranowski is Professor of History at the University of Akron. Her previous books include The Confessing Church: Conservative Elites and the Nazi State (1986) and The Sanctity of Rural Life: Nobility, Protestantism and Nazism in Weimar Prussia (1995). She has also co-edited Being Elsewhere: Tourism, Consumer Culture and Identity in Modern Europe and North America (2001), with Ellen Furlough.

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Table of Contents

1 Nazism, popular aspirations, and mass consumption on the road to power 11
2 "A Volk strong in nerve" : strength through joy's place in the Third Reich 40
3 The beauty of labor : "plant community" and coercion 75
4 Mass tourism, the cohesive nation, and visions of empire 118
5 Racial community and individual desires : tourism, the standard of living, and popular consent 162
6 Memories of the past and promises for the future : strength through joy in wartime 199
Epilogue : the end of "German" consumption : consumerism and tourism in the postwar Germanys 231
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