The Sanctity of Rural Life

The Sanctity of Rural Life : Nobility, Protestantism, and Nazism in Weimar Prussia

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In this ground-breaking study, Shelley Baranowski not only explores how and why church-going Protestants in eastern Prussia turned to Nazism in large numbers, but also shows that the rural elite and the church propagated a myth of the stability, the wholesomeness, and the class-harmony--in short, the "sanctity"--of rural life, a myth that was a key component of Nazi propaganda that helped secure support for the Third Reich in rural areas. Of great interest to historians and students of the period as well as anyone interested in how a fringe radical movement gained wide popular support.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 278 pages
  • 167.1 x 228.6 x 23.1mm | 616.9g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 2 maps
  • 0195068815
  • 9780195068818

Review quote

Her carefully researched study, based on a wealth of widely dispersed archival source material, newspapers and memoirs, amounts to a powerful indictment of the Pomeranian Junkers and their willingness to join hands with the Nazis in areas where they perceived common aims ... her book is an intriguing and convincing argument, written in an accessible and clear style, which offers fascinating insights into the 'partial symbiosis' (p11) between National Socialism and
Junkerdom in the final years of the Weimer Republic. * Stefan Berger, University of Wales, Cardiff, EHR Nov 97 * a readable, well-researched and informative study of a neglected area * E.D.R. Harrison, University of Salford, Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 48, No. 2, April '97 *
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Back cover copy

In The Sanctity of Rural Life: Nobility, Protestantism, and Nazism in Weimar Prussia, Shelley Baranowski explores how and why the rural population of eastern Prussia turned to Nazism in large numbers. She explains the role of the rural elite and the church in propagating a myth of the stability, the wholesomeness, and the class-harmony - in short, the "sanctity" - of rural life that encouraged the spread of Nazism. This study identifies the contributions of the rural elite in the eastern Prussian provinces, namely Junker landlords and the Protestant clergy, to the rise of National Socialism in a region where the rural electorate's attraction to the Hitler movement became critical to the Nazi takeover in 1933. Using the province of Pomerania as a primary example, Baranowski argues that rather than emerging strictly as a protest against the domination of elites, as is regularly suggested, the Nazis had to address issues that rural elites defined in order to establish a foothold among rural voters. The most significant issue was the conviction that the urban bias of the Weimar Republic threatened the survival of the rural economy and culture. Despite the social tensions that surfaced periodically, the anti-republicanism which united all rural classes encouraged rural dwellers to turn to Nazism as the salvation of rural society. This ground-breaking work makes a major contribution to our understanding of Protestant and rural support for Nazism and adds an important cultural and religious dimension to our understanding of the underpinnings of Nazi power. It will be of interest to historians and students of modern European and German history.
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