Did the Nazi Corrupt Volkish Ideals
The question remains whether the Third Reich exaggerated the concepts of Volkism as a propaganda tool or if the idea of Volkism had evolved to the point where the transition to intense racism and genocide was a natural progression needing only formal and vigorous instigation. The horrific actions of the Third Reich were a culmination of centuries of German cultural bonding through the ideas Volkism founded and not a drastic misrepresentation of the general ideologies of the time. By the 1930s Volkism had come to imply much more than its initial concepts of culture, heritage and value of a race to the German populous. The anti-Semitism and subsequent deeds that typifies Hitler’s reign had been building up among the German people for decades. The acceptance of the German public of Hitler and his government though irrational, was not unexplainable. To understand to what extent the Nazi Party distorted or extended the volkish ideology to fit its own agenda, one must first appreciate the original meaning and evolution of the concept prior to and during the rise of the Third Reich. As the industrial age swept across Europe in the mid-1800’s it brought society new opportunities but also inadvertently served to increase the individual’s feeling of remoteness and a loss of personal belonging. As Germany became modernized, its people began to feel alone in their own culture and began to desire closer association with their community. Joining the Volk was a way to intellectually rebel against this new, modern world. The Volk was an intermediary between the extremes of individuality and the quest for cosmic identity. A major aspect of the Volk concept centered around the sense of belonging and familiarity along with a strong connection with the rural, pastoral locations of the homeland. Germans of the Volk saw themselves as biologically bonded to those of their community, country and was as one with the spirit of the countryside from which they were born.