Why Hitler Came Into Power / Edition 1

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Overview

In 1934 Theodore Abel went to Germany and offered a prize, under the auspices of Columbia University, for autobiographies of members of the National Socialist movement. The six hundred essays he received constitute the single best source on grassroots opinion within the Nazi Party, and they form the empirical foundation for Abel's fascinating yet curiously neglected 1938 book. Although a number of scholars have drawn on these reports, Abel's own treatment has never been surpassed. Of particular value is his presentation of the life histories of a worker, a soldier, an anti-Semite, a middle-class youth, a farmer, and a bank clerk, all of whom explain in their own words why they joined the NSDAP. In the vast literature on National Socialism, no more useful or revealing testimony exists.

In a new Foreword, Thomas Childers discusses how the past half-century of research and writing on Nazi Germany has uphold Abel's original insights into the broad appeal of the National Socialist movement, thereby reaffirming this work's enduring value for students of the topic.

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Editorial Reviews

American Political Science Review

The book's main purpose is to measure, in the light of the author's unique personal data, the relative importance of each of the main factors to which [Hitler's] rise to power has hitherto been ascribed, including Hitler's own leadership, the strategy of the party tacticians, and the favorable circumstances of popular discontent. The results are highly important...There can...be no doubt that the book makes one of the most original contributions to an understanding of Nazism which has yet been written.
— Arnold J. Zurcher

American Sociological Review

Extremely interesting and significant.
— Clifford Kirkpatrick

German Studies Review

One year after Hitler's appointment as chancellor, Theodore Abel, a Columbia University sociologist, went to Germany and offered small cash prizes for political autobiographies by Nazi party members. With the cooperation of the government, he was able to collect about seven hundred essays...It was on the basis of an analysis of these documents that Why Hitler Came Into Power was written. Now, half a century later, this book is still very much worth reading. More than a testimony to the excellence of some of the early efforts at describing the Nazi phenomenon...Abel's study is at the heart of the current debates on fascism, national socialism, and the coming of Hitler to power.
— David B. King

American Political Science Review - Arnold J. Zurcher
The book's main purpose is to measure, in the light of the author's unique personal data, the relative importance of each of the main factors to which [Hitler's] rise to power has hitherto been ascribed, including Hitler's own leadership, the strategy of the party tacticians, and the favorable circumstances of popular discontent. The results are highly important...There can...be no doubt that the book makes one of the most original contributions to an understanding of Nazism which has yet been written.
American Sociological Review - Clifford Kirkpatrick
Extremely interesting and significant.
German Studies Review - David B. King
One year after Hitler's appointment as chancellor, Theodore Abel, a Columbia University sociologist, went to Germany and offered small cash prizes for political autobiographies by Nazi party members. With the cooperation of the government, he was able to collect about seven hundred essays...It was on the basis of an analysis of these documents that Why Hitler Came Into Power was written. Now, half a century later, this book is still very much worth reading. More than a testimony to the excellence of some of the early efforts at describing the Nazi phenomenon...Abel's study is at the heart of the current debates on fascism, national socialism, and the coming of Hitler to power.
American Political Science Review
The book's main purpose is to measure, in the light of the author's unique personal data, the relative importance of each of the main factors to which [Hitler's] rise to power has hitherto been ascribed, including Hitler's own leadership, the strategy of the party tacticians, and the favorable circumstances of popular discontent. The results are highly important...There can...be no doubt that the book makes one of the most original contributions to an understanding of Nazism which has yet been written.
— Arnold J. Zurcher
American Sociological Review
Extremely interesting and significant.
— Clifford Kirkpatrick
German Studies Review
One year after Hitler's appointment as chancellor, Theodore Abel, a Columbia University sociologist, went to Germany and offered small cash prizes for political autobiographies by Nazi party members. With the cooperation of the government, he was able to collect about seven hundred essays...It was on the basis of an analysis of these documents that Why Hitler Came Into Power was written. Now, half a century later, this book is still very much worth reading. More than a testimony to the excellence of some of the early efforts at describing the Nazi phenomenon...Abel's study is at the heart of the current debates on fascism, national socialism, and the coming of Hitler to power.
— David B. King
Clifford Kirkpatrick
Extremely interesting and significant.
American Sociological Review
David B. King
One year after Hitler's appointment as chancellor, Theodore Abel, a Columbia University sociologist, went to Germany and offered small cash prizes for political autobiographies by Nazi party members. With the cooperation of the government, he was able to collect about seven hundred essays...It was on the basis of an analysis of these documents that Why Hitler Came Into Power was written. Now, half a century later, this book is still very much worth reading. More than a testimony to the excellence of some of the early efforts at describing the Nazi phenomenon...Abel's study is at the heart of the current debates on fascism, national socialism, and the coming of Hitler to power.
German Studies Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674952003
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/8/1986
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 346
  • Product dimensions: 0.77 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword, 1986 by Thomas Childers

Introduction

Who Wrote the Life Histories?

General Comments

PART ONE: HISTORICAL

The Background of the Hitler Movement

The Revolution of 1918

Reaction to the Revolution

The Versailles Treaty

War Prisoners and Occupation

Counter-Revolution

Military organizations

Semi-military organizations

Political groups

The First Period: 1919-1923

Origin of the Movement

Hitler Becomes the Leader

The Hitler Putsch

The Second Period: 1924-1929

After the Putsch

Organization

Significance of the local group

Propaganda

Finances

The Third Period: 1930-1933

Opposition

Conflict

Victory

PART TWO: ANALYTICAL

Discontent As a Factor

The Drawing Power of National Socialist Meetings

The Basis of Discontent

Opposition to Other Panics

Ideology As a Factor

The Idea of Gemeinschaft

National Socialism

The Principle of Leadership

Anti-Semitism

The Why of the Hitler Movement

The Function of Discontent

The Functions of Ideology

The Function of Tactics and Strategy

The Function of Charismatic Leadership

Conclusion

Critique of Other Interpretations

The psychoanalytical interpretation

The Marxist interpretation

PART THREE: SELECTED LIFE HISTORIES

Six Life Histories

Introduction

The Story of a Worker

The Story of an Anti-Semite

The Story of a Soldier

The Story of a Middle-Class Youth

The Story of a Bank Clerk

The Story of a Farmer

APPENDICES

Appendix I: Chronology of the Hitler Movement

Appendix II: Statistics

The Growth of the Movement

Number of members in the National Socialist party

Number of supporters in elections

General Statistical Data

Geographical distribution

Education

Religion and marital status

History of employment (1919-32)

Military activities

Membership in organizations before joining the National Socialist party

Miscellaneous data

Index

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