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Old December 19th, 2010 #45
Karl Radl
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Karl Radl

Originally Posted by Alex Linder View Post
I don't know how many big backers the NS actually had, in the tough years. I think they had Thyssen and not a hell of a lot more.
Not quite: they had quite a few big ones in Bavaria in particular. Thyssen is one of the best known (largely due his 1941 book 'I Paid Hitler' [Co-Operation: New York] as well as Otto Strasser's claims in 'Hitler and I' and 'Germany Tomorrow'), but not actually one of the most important. The Bechstein's (of piano fame) were one of their major ones and also contributed money to Hitler's personal expenses. Another example is Josef Mengele's family who gave a lot of money; which they had made in their agricultural machinery business, to the NSDAP before the NSDAP came to power.

A good book on this; particularly the early funding of Hitler and the NSDAP, is Cris Whetton's 'Hitler's Fortune' (2004, Pen & Sword: Barnsley), which deals with many of the misconceptions about the funding of Hitler's lifestyle [and to an extent the NSDAP] and points out that Hitler in general lived a very ascetic life (within the need to impress and bow to pomp and ceremony).

However; as has long been known (since the mid-1970s when the original research was done), most of the NSDAP's funds came from its membership dues and small contributions from party members. If you read Goebbels' 'My Part in Germany's Fight' (1935, Paternoster: London) he tells a representative story of a working man publicly giving him; Goebbels, his gold wedding band to help the party win back Germany and make it strong again. There is also an interesting anecdote which often gets retold in biographies of Goebbels in that when he became Gauleiter of Berlin: Goebbels immediately solicited for party faithful to pledge 10-15% of their annual income to the NSDAP's Brandenberg Gau to rectify its financial state in exchange for the future promises of good government jobs in the future Third Reich (and the promises were; as far as I can tell, kept). As I recall he got about 300 families to take part in the program at the time and may well have added more at a later date.

Of course, once they got close to winning, then the bourgeois came sniffing around.
You mean Hugenberg's crowd and the slush fund he controlled? They did indeed back the NS, but they did so earlier than you might suppose i.e. from the big NS election breakthrough of 1929 on and off till the assumption of power in 1933 (for example the famous 'Harzburg Front'). On this you might like to read John Leopold's 'Alfred Hugenberg' (1977, Yale University Press: New Haven): Leopold might have been a marxist but his book is generally excellent in both its analysis and use of sources (IMO).

Last edited by Karl Radl; December 19th, 2010 at 09:50 AM.