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Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte

Ed. by Altrichter, Helmut / Möller, Horst / Szöllösi-Janze, Margit / Wirsching, Andreas

CiteScore 2017: 0.14

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.104
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.940

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Volume 59, Issue 1


Volksgemeinschaft. Potenzial und Grenzen eines neuen Forschungskonzepts

Ian Kershaw
Published Online: 2011-01-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/vfzg.2011.0001


Ian Kershaw, einer der bedeutendsten NS-Forscher unserer Zeit, bezieht Stellung. Er äußert sich zur Debatte über das Konzept „Volksgemeinschaft“, das seit längerem die Gemüter bewegt. Kershaw verkennt nicht, dass sich hier neue Chancen eröffnen, die Dynamik und das verbrecherische Potenzial des Dritten Reiches zu erfassen. Zugleich warnt er aber auch davor, die Reichweite des Konzepts zu überschätzen; es sei nicht präzise genug und verleite dazu, die Vielfalt des NS-Staates zu verfehlen.


This essay indicates three differing ways in which Volksgemeinschaft is currently used: to denote changed power relations; as a mobilising force through ‘affective integration’; and as a vehicle of exclusion, discrimination and persecution. It acknowledges in each area some value in the concept. But it sees nevertheless a major problem in trying to turn a propaganda slogan into a tool of historical explanation. It points to the difficulty in demonstrating consensus in a terroristic dictatorship, to the continued existence of subcultures that challenged the unity of a Volksgemeinschaft, and to surviving pluralistic attitudes even towards the treatment of Jews. It suggests that a binary divide between inclusion and exclusion might be too simplistic a model. The essay concludes that the Volksgemeinschaft concept has prompted some valuable research but that it has major defects as a genuine tool of analysis.

Keywords: Volksgemeinschaft; Forschungen zum Dritten Reich; Exklusion von Juden

About the article

Published Online: 2011-01-11

Published in Print: 2011-01-15

Citation Information: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Volume 59, Issue 1, Pages 1–17, ISSN (Online) 2196-7121, ISSN (Print) 0042-5702, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/vfzg.2011.0001.

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© by Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, Manchester M20 6AJ, Germany. This content is open access.

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