Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Stephen Fritz

Committee Members

Henry Antkiewicz, John Rankin


Historiography of the National Socialist Volksgemeinschaft, or people’s community, has traditionally been divided between historians surmising its construction under the Third Reich as a genuine undertaking meant to uplift German society, and those who view the project as a propaganda effort which assisted the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in retaining legitimacy. Utilizing the plethora of works written on the topic, and a handful of primary sources from pre-Nazified Germany, NSDAP officials, and average citizens alike, this work will demonstrate that, as early as 1807, German philosophers, statesmen, and eventually a large majority of the population yearned for the national unity of Volksgemeinschaft; that the National Socialists adapted the concept for their own ideology. Furthermore, this study finds that, although Adolf Hitler indeed exploited the Volksgemeinschaft for his retention of power, the Third Reich’s efforts in its development were certainly authentic, thus combining both schools of thought in the historiographical debate.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the author.